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Luxury tourism is one of the fastest-growing market segments in the hospitality and tourism industry. Luxury tourists are undoubtedly the target of many tourism businesses worldwide, as evidenced by the large investments made in recent years especially in the private sector, while the competition between luxury tourism destinations has been particularly intense. Elounda is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for luxury vacations, having the largest concentration of 5-star hotels in Greece. The aim of this research is to investigate the current status and the characteristics of luxury tourism development in Elounda, as well as the prospects for the future. In order to meet the above objective, qualitative research was conducted using semi-structured, in-depth interviews with the managers of nine 5-star hotels in Elounda. Findings and discussion of this study are useful to tourism professionals, academic researchers and other stakeholders interested in luxury tourism.
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Nikolaos Trihasa,*, Georgia Panagiotakib, Anna Kyriakakic
aDepartment of Business Administration and Tourism, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Heraklion, Greece.
ORCID: 0000-0001-9084-4036 / e-mail:
bDepartment of Tourism Business Administration (M.Sc.), Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece.
ORCID: 0000-0002-0656-120X / e-mail:
cSchool of Business, University of the Aegean, Chios, Greece.
ORCID: 0000-0001-6792-2876 / e-mail:
Luxury tourism
5-star hotels
Luxury tourism is one of the fastest-growing market segments in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Luxury tourists are undoubtedly the target of many tourism businesses worldwide, as evidenced by the large
investments made in recent years especially in the private sector, while the competition between luxury
tourism destinations has been particularly intense. Elounda is one of the most popular tourist destinations
in the world for luxury vacations, having the largest concentration of 5-star hotels in Greece. e aim of this
research is to investigate the current status and the characteristics of luxury tourism development in Elounda,
as well as the prospects for the future. In order to meet the above objective, qualitative research was conducted
using semi-structured, in-depth interviews with the managers of nine 5-star hotels in Elounda. Findings and
discussion of this study are useful to tourism professionals, academic researchers and other stakeholders
interested in luxury tourism.
1. Introduction
Luxury tourism is one of the fastest-growing
market segments in the global tourism industry, with
the advantage of being little affected by the global
economic downturn. According to available data
(Xenia, 2008), luxury tourism accounts for about
3% of total international tourist arrivals, however,
in terms of revenue it accounts for about 25% of
international tourism revenue. These percentages
increase from year to year. It is easy to understand
that luxury tourists are a very attractive segment of
the market for tourism businesses and destinations.
However, due to the high demands and expectations
of luxury tourists, attracting them is not an easy task,
as it requires high investments for the development
of appropriate infrastructure. Nevertheless, there
are already established luxury holiday destinations,
and the competition between them is intense. In
recent years, Greece has entered the map of luxury
      
Elounda, Mykonos and Santorini being recognized
internationally as luxury destinations.
Elounda is a small town on the northeast coast
of the island of Crete, Greece. It skyrocketed in
         
Crete was built there. A building boom of luxury
     
into the lively cosmopolitan resort it is today, the
most luxurious in Greece, hosting some of the most
prominent representatives of the world’s social,
*Corresponding Author.
Received 11.06.2020; Received in revised form 18.08.2020; Accepted 24.08.2020
is article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
e-ISSN: 2687 - 3737 / © 2020 e Authors. Published by Anadolu University.
political and economic life (Trihas, Zouganeli,
& Antonaki, 2012). Elounda is home to some of
          
place with the highest concentration of Greece’s
5-star hotels. Most of these hotels belong to large
hotel groups (e.g. Marriott, Leading Hotels, Relais
& Chateaux, Small Luxury Hotels). Elounda is
characterized as ‘the epitome of a luxurious holiday
(Trihas & Konstantarou, 2016). The visitors have the
opportunity to choose between bungalows, suites
and villas with sea-view, modern and contemporary
design and specialized facilities. Swimming pools,
      
and non-heated, spa and thalassotherapy centers,
tennis and golf courses, private beaches, private
heliports, award-winning gourmet restaurants give a
complete picture of the area’s luxury tourist product.
While there is a growing volume of literature
about luxury tourism, there is a lack of empirical
studies focusing in the Greek context. This paper
         
existing literature, as it attempts an analysis of
luxury tourism and luxury tourists, using Elounda in
Crete as a case study.
Insights into Luxury Tourism: e Case of Elounda, Crete
2. Literature Review
Several attempts have been made over the years to
conceptualize the term “luxury” given its subjective
nature and the extensive context in which it is
applied. At the core of any effort is the wide range
of quality products and services that meet the
needs and expectations of a highly specialized and
demanding consumer group (Hallott, 2013). The
English word “luxury” derives from the Latin word
“luxus” and encapsulates the concepts of opulence
and extravagant lifestyle in order to satisfy desires
that quite often exceed the usual daily needs
(Dubois, Czellar, & Laurent, 2005). It suggests, inter
alia, superiority, uniqueness, exclusivity and social
status and is used to describe something majestic
and emblematic with unlimited applications in
everyday life (Vigneron & Johnson, 2004). Moreover,
according to Park and Reisinger (2009), luxury
goods give personal and social identity to those
who buy them and are characterized by creativity,
high quality, limited production and high prices. In
addition, crucial is the role of the brand name that
accompanies luxury products as it presupposes all
the above characteristics, while it can also form a
repetitive clientele, which arises as a result of trust
in them (Kapferer, 1997).
Moving towards the concept of luxury tourism
and taking into account that the meaning of luxury is
constantly evolving, there is no commonly accepted
 
on the perceptions of each traveler. However, its
essential components are: a) the excellent service,
b) the high quality, c) the exclusivity, and d) the
rarity, characteristics that justify the high prices
that represent the value and level of services offered
(Kemp, 1998). In addition, it is a combination of
tangible products, services and experiences (Park &
Reisinger, 2009). Based on the above assumptions,
        
the type of tourism that includes travel which
has as its main purpose the acquisition of unique,
authentic and quality experiences that are acquired
mainly through the provision of personalized and
exclusive services usually at higher costs compared
to other types of tourism (Xenia, 2008). According
to IPK International (2017), this cost usually
exceeds €750 per night and per person for a stay
of 1-3 nights, or exceeds €500 per night and per
person for a stay of more than 4 nights. Of course,
the above amounts are a minimum expense which
     
  
of innovative, unusual and exotic experiences
works as a catalyst in the decision-making process
(Park, 2000). Luxury experiences may include
accommodation at exclusive 5-star or 6-star
hotels, suites and villas around the world, dining at
sophisticated award-winning restaurants that offer
unique culinary experiences, wellness activities
such as spa and massage treatments, luxury cruises,
yacht chartering, sports facilities such as tennis and
golf courses, and specially designed activities that
emphasize comfort, relaxation, attention to detail
and demanding consumer standards (Bakker, 2005).
Luxury tourism adds high added value to the
basic primary product (Dykins, 2016). Although
the global economy is characterized by successive
     
on their holidays and are prepared to pay higher
prices for it (Park, Reisinger, & Noh, 2010). In 2019,
global luxury tourism market reached $831 billion
with an expected growth of 7.3% until 2023 (CPP
Luxury, 2019). At this point, it is worth focusing on
the changes in luxury tourism over the years and
the transition from “old luxury” to “new luxury”.
Initially, until the 1990s, this type of tourism was
the exclusive prerogative of the few (elite), while
such trips were made for reasons of impression
and prestige (Hallott, 2013). Nowadays, luxury
travel seems to be accessible by a larger group of
consumers. The emergence of “new wealth” and the
greater professionalism with which this particular
tourist product is now treated (Brenner & Aguilar,
     
Increased demand for luxury tourism as well as
        
wide range of luxury products and travel options
(Sukmawati, Ernawati, & Nadra, 2018). New markets
are emerging beyond existing ones. Indicatively,
China is the fastest-growing market with the highest
demand for luxury products with an annual growth
rate of 20%, while it is expected to be the largest
luxury market in the coming years (D’Arpizio, Levato,
a noticeable difference between the old and the new
era of luxury.
The increasing demand for luxury tourism creates
the need to explore the characteristics and behavior
of tourists who choose this type of vacation. Luxury
tourists are an important segment of the global travel
smaller sales volume (Demir & Saribas, 2014). They
are not seeking the best price, but the best product,
which concerns the accommodation and the whole
range of tourist services: service from travel agencies
/ tour operators, transfer to and from the airport to
the destination, meals at sophisticated restaurants
as well as activities and services inside and outside
the hotel (Yu & Littrell, 2003). Nevertheless, although
luxury tourists have great purchasing power and
spend huge amounts of money on luxury vacations,
they are focused on value-for-money in their travel
choices (Demir & Saribas, 2014; Novotna & Kunc,
2019). Moreover, luxury tourists are distinguished
by those who choose luxury tourism by choice due to
their lifestyle, and by occasional luxury tourists, who
simply want to try this type of holiday at some point
of their life in order to live a special experience (Park
        
is the most prevalent and most populous and is
subdivided into smaller market segments. Typically,
luxury tourists have a high disposable income and
available time that allows them to travel. They are
Trihas, Panagiotaki and Kyriakaki TOLEHO, 2020, 2(2): 62-70
experienced travelers, well-educated, knowing very
well the product they are buying and having high
demands on the expected quality. They usually travel
individually and not in groups. The main source of
information for luxury destinations is the internet
and social media, following international market
trends. They are not a homogeneous group of the
tourist market, as they differ by demographic (i.e.
gender, age, marital status, occupation, income,
religion, country of origin) and psychographic
characteristics. In addition, new segments of the
luxury market are being added to the already
established ones. Consequently, luxury tourists could
be distinguished into the following subcategories: (a)
young professionals between 25-35 years old with
high disposable income, (b) families with children,
(c) middle-aged professionals between 45-55 years
old, known as “Generation X”, (d) pensioners aged
60+, known as “baby boomers”, (e) celebrities, and
(f) High Net Worth Individuals (H.N.W.I.). HNWIs
are of particular importance as they hold the largest
share of luxury travel. The term refers to those
individuals whose fortune exceeds a certain amount.
In particular, the net worth of their assets ranges
between $1 million and $30 million (Hayes, 2019).
The percentage of this category has been growing
in recent years. In addition, 61.2% of the world’s
HNWIs population comes from four countries: USA,
Japan, Germany and China. The country with the
largest increase in HNWIs population for 2017 was
India, surpassing 20% compared to the previous
year. It is followed by South Korea, North America
and Asia. Europe saw a 7.3% increase in the HNWIs
population in 2017, with Germany and Ireland in the
lead (Hayes, 2019). As for the countries of origin of
luxury tourists, the majority come from the United
States (13.7 million luxury travel abroad) and China
(10 million luxury travel), while Japan, the United
Kingdom, Australia and Taiwan are additional large
markets (Chen & Peng, 2014).
3. Method
The aim of this research is to investigate the
current status and the characteristics of luxury
tourism development in Elounda, as well as the
prospects for the future. In order to meet this
objective, a sample was selected with all the 5-star
hotels in the area. Selected hotels were initially
contacted, in order to identify their willingness to
participate in the study. Of the 10 hotels targeted,
      
are presented in Table 1. For the purpose of
    
       
research using semi-structured, in-depth interviews
with ten managers of the nine 5-star hotels followed
in order to examine: (a) the course of tourism in
Elounda during the previous tourist season, (b) the
characteristics of Elounda that have established it
internationally as a luxury tourism destination, (c)
its comparative advantages over other destinations,
(e) the features which a hotel must have to meet the
challenges and demands of luxury tourists, (f) the
competition between hotels in Elounda as well as
hotels in other luxury destinations, (g) the degree to
which the image of Elounda responds to the luxury
tourist product of the region, (h) the potential for
(i) the prospects that are erased in the future for
tourism in Elounda. The ten interviews took place
during February 2020.
4. Findings
Initially, participants were asked to rate last year’s
(2019) tourist season in Elounda. All respondents
agreed that it was a very satisfying season that in
the end left a positive mark. The arrivals of tourists
in Elounda started timidly, but then they developed
     
for 2019. There was a decline in July-August, which,
according to one respondent (R5), is due to the
“extremely hot summer in Europe with unprecedented
high temperatures, which interrupted the last minute
reservations that are usually made when the weather
is not good in Europe. An additional reason for this
decline was the intense competition from other nearby
destinations, such as Egypt and Turkey”. Another
       
collaboration with various tour operators. Thus,
“the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook had no effect on any
of the luxury hotels in Elounda, but it did affect the
mid-range hotels that operate almost exclusively with
major tour operators” (R8). Moreover, according to
another participant (R6), some markets were more
dynamic than last year, compared to others where a
decline in arrivals was observed. For example, “the
British market, due to ‘Brexit’ and other conditions,
showed a decline, while markets such as Germany and
Russia rose” (R6). Finally, in terms of hotel occupancy,
the percentages were about the same as last year.
High temperatures during September and October
Regarding the elements that have established
internationally Elounda as a major luxury holiday
destination, all participants agreed that the 5-star
Table 1. Proles of the parcipants
Code Position Hotel
R1 Assistant General Manager Blue Palace
R2 General Manager Domes of Elounda
R3 Assistant General Manager Elounda Beach
R4 General Manager Elounda Bay Palace
R5 General Manager Elounda Peninsula
R6 Senior Sales Manager Porto Elounda
R7 Executive Housekeeper Aquila Elounda Village
R8 General Manager Elounda Gulf Villas
R9 Sales Manager Blue Palace
R10 Reservations Manager Elounda Mare
Insights into Luxury Tourism: e Case of Elounda, Crete
luxury hotels of very high standards are the key
feature. As R10 characteristically stated, “luxury
     
Elounda on a tourist map”. In addition, its connection
initially with the arrival of political leaders and later
celebrities (VIPs) from around the world, actors,
the formation of a unique brand name worldwide.
“The starting point for the formation of this brand
name was the Elounda Beach Hotel, which was the
     
tourism in the area in the 1970s, making it then
famous in Europe and the rest of the world” (R3). Still,
“there was a good strategy from the entrepreneurs
        
tourism right from the start. This contributed
       
high standards” (R6). An additional element that
has gained international recognition is the services
provided. “The excellent services provided to its visitors
distinguish Elounda in relation to other competitive
destinations” (R2). Elounda is also well-known as a
MICE destination. Prominent personalities not only
from the domestic political scene but also from other
countries visit it in order to negotiate major political
issues. Regarding its comparative advantages, all
the respondents mentioned the ‘magical’ location
where Elounda is located and the excellent climate.
The morphology of the area and the wild beauty it
has as it harmoniously combines the mountain and
the sea make it special and extremely attractive as
a travel destination. Furthermore, “the fact that in
     
in the region, Elounda was completely unknown,
      
village, made it even more special and authentic as
a destination” (R8). In addition, the microclimate of
the area has helped a lot in the tourism development
of the area. Additional advantages are the hospitality
of the locals, the safety and the proximity to many
      
R5 stated, “Crete is at most 3-3.5 hours away from
many major markets, such as Russia, United Kingdom,
Germany and it is one of our great strengths that
we are close to Europe and at the same time we are
a safe destination compared to other countries such
as Egypt and Libya. Customers of the high standards
which are our target group put their safety and the
safety of their family as a priority”.
Elounda, they are obviously of high-income. Their
nationality varies from hotel to hotel. For example,
in the Blue Palace and Domes of Elounda hotels,
the main nationality of customers is American.
The integration of these hotels into the American
hotel chain ‘Marriott’ affected this fact. However,
in Elounda tourists come from all the traditional
markets of Greece, mainly from the UK, Germany,
France, Switzerland, Russia and the Arab countries.
“Nationalities vary depending on the hotel, partner
travel agents and tour operators as well as the
product offered by each hotel”, R1 said. The Elounda
Peninsula and Elounda Beach, for example, are a
popular choice in the Russian market due to their
villas and spacious suites. Finally, the Israeli market
has been showing increasing trends in recent years,
while the markets of Asia, Australia and Oceania
are showing very little percentages. In addition,
depending on the time of year, the clientele that
chooses to spend their holidays in Elounda varies.
Thus, at the beginning and end of the tourist season,
couples of all ages meet in higher percentages, while
mainly in the peak of the high tourist season families
with children dominate in arrivals.
An exception is
the Aquila Elounda Village, which “due to the fact
that it belongs to the ‘adults only’ category, accepts
only adult visitors and mainly couples” (R7). As for the
age of the visitors, it varies covering the whole range
from young people aged 30 to people aged 60 and
over. Usually older people are also repeat-customers.
The younger age groups are absent in Elounda due to
the lack of nightlife they are looking for.
As for the motivations of the visitors, the majority
of the respondents agree that the main motive is
relaxation. In addition, due to the natural beauty
of the place and the tranquility it exudes, there are
several couples who choose Elounda either to get
married, or to spend their honeymoon or wedding
anniversary. Of course, there are also corporate
meetings that take place during the tourist season
and mainly concern MICE tourism, and other
incentive-leisure trips. One respondent argued that
the age of the customers often affects the reasons
why they travel. “There are tourists who travel to get
to know the history and culture, the gastronomy or
wines of the destination or just to relax in a protected
environment offered by an organized resort” (R8).
Regarding the average length of stay, it varies
depending on the hotel and the nationalities of the
tourists. So, in six of the nine hotels of the sample,
the average length of stay is seven days, in two
hotels is four days and only in one hotel is twelve
days. For example, the US market, which holds the
largest share in Blue Palace and Domes of Elounda
hotels, chooses a smaller length of stay as it usually
combines travel to Crete with some of the popular
Cycladic islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini.
Concerning the average daily expenditure, there is no
many different factors, such as whether the holidays
are booked individually or through a travel agency
as well as the customer’s extras that usually involve
F&B or Spa consumption. In fact, some agencies,
such as Sovereign, offer customers a holiday voucher
for free meals or drinks at hotel restaurants / bars.
R3 stated that “hotels in this category have been
          
of luxury tourists within a reasonable frame”. As an
       
a few years ago in a few hours on the beach of
Elounda Beach at the request of a customer from
Trihas, Panagiotaki and Kyriakaki TOLEHO, 2020, 2(2): 62-70
Saudi Arabia. In general, customers’ requirements
are mainly due to the large sums of money they
spend during their stay in the 5-star hotels in the
area. Their requirements may also be related to their
eating habits, such as food allergies or intolerances,
      
day, such as kosher food. All of these are challenges
related to the food that we are called to meet” (R4).
       
  
as a bottle of wine or fruit, or the way they want the
beds to be made. In addition, their requirements
may relate to their religion or nationality. A typical
example is the markets of Israel and India, both in
terms of religion and diet. As new markets continue
to rise, hotels in this category should embrace all sorts
of peculiarities in order to deal with them successfully”,
R2 emphasized.
Participants were then asked about the elements
a hotel must have in order to successfully meet the
challenges and requirements of luxury tourists.
Most of the answers focused on the infrastructure
       
as it once was as something expensive, gold, heavy
and obsolete. “In order for a hotel to have the 5-star
      
infrastructure. Focusing on the rooms, they should be
large, modern, with sea view, have enough light and
    (R5). For example,
“the Arabs want luxury bedrooms and very large
spaces, the Russians want many bedrooms in the same
villa and there are customers who are happy to stay in
a suite on the sea and enjoy the sun”, R3 said.
Luxury tourism is intertwined with the unique
architecture, the modern design, the large capacity,
the variety of restaurants, bars and places of
entertainment, as well as the wellness and sports
facilities. However, apart from the infrastructure,
what distinguishes the 5-star hotels from the other
categories of hotels is the high-quality service to the
customers. As everything evolves at a very fast pace,
and the needs and requirements of customers are
constantly changing, the elements that will make the
difference are the ones that will keep the customer
in a hotel. “Personalized service plays a decisive role
from the moment of arrival until the departure of the
customer and not the mechanical and impersonal
provision of services”, R7 underlined. The hotel
should constantly surprise them with small gifts in
their room or during the day at the hotel, paying
close attention to their needs. Repeat customers are
a typical example, especially when choosing the same
hotel for a number of years. “Luxury tourists now
want experiences and this is the future of tourism. So
the hotels have to offer them experiences that will be
unforgettable and will make them come back again”
(R4). The element that will offer the added value to
the provided high-level services is the well-trained
staff. R5 pointed out that a lot of specialization is
needed in gastronomy, as the competition in this
        
      
  
Finally, another point on which the participants
focused is that luxury tourists seek value-for-money.
In other words, they want to be sure that what they
are spending on is worth the money they pay.
In terms of the competition that hotels in Elounda
face, opinions differ. Some of the participants believe
that the competition between the hotels in Elounda
exists but is within reasonable limits and mainly
takes the form of noble rivalry. This is because each
hotel offers a different product to a different market
segment. There are, for example, hotels that only
have suites, such as the Elounda Peninsula and the
Domes of Elounda, and do not have simple room
categories. These hotels automatically target a
different category of customers than other luxury
hotels that provide simpler types of rooms. On
the other hand, some respondents who consider
the competition intense not only among hotels in
Elounda but also in other competitive destinations.
Regarding the competition between the hotels in
Elounda, some participants reported that although
the number of beds is constantly increasing on an
annual basis and new luxury hotels are opening in
the area, the number of visitors does not follow the
same upward trend. Moreover, customers in this
category are not only looking for hotels in Elounda
but also in other destinations, such as Mykonos,
Peloponnese, Chalkidiki and abroad Mallorca and
Bodrum. In any case, “the political-economic and
social changes greatly affect the situation and are
constantly reshaping the scene”, R1 pointed out.
“There has been intense competition with Turkey over
the past season due to the sharp fall in the Turkish lira,
with the result that Europeans have the opportunity
to vacation in Turkey’s best hotels for 2 weeks at
extremely low prices” (R9).
The intense competition requires appropriate
action from hotels to deal with it. All respondents
stressed the importance of continuous vigilance,
upgrading and improving their product. “Hoteliers
in Elounda should not treat their guests as data,
but constantly claim them, even if they are repeat
customers who choose the same hotel for a number
of years”, R2 argued. Room or outdoor renovations
of hotels must be carried out on a regular basis.
In addition, the key role of promotion and
advertising of each hotel through its participation
in international tourism exhibitions, promotion in
the international mass media, utilization of digital
marketing and meetings with top tour operators
must be recognized. At the same time, the shift
to new markets beyond the established ones is a
priority of all 5-star hotels in Elounda. Moreover, the
pricing policy of each hotel takes into account two
factors: a) its microcosm, i.e. everything related to
the hotel itself, but also b) the competition both in
Insights into Luxury Tourism: e Case of Elounda, Crete
something unique and different in order to attract
the interest of potential visitors. For example, TUI
launched a new concept at TUI Blue Elounda Village
and created an Escape Room where customers are
asked to solve puzzles over a period of time, which
immediately increased demand, as there is nothing
similar in the area. Also, the company Elounda S.A.,
which owns the hotels Porto Elounda, Elounda Mare
    
Senses Spa’ brand to Greece and Europe, a fact that
had very positive effect for these hotels. Respectively,
the existence of a golf course in Porto Elounda,
which is the only one in the area, is another strategic
advantage over the competition. Careful selection
and continuous training of personnel is another key
action of hotels, in order to offer impeccable services
to demanding luxury customers.
The participants were then asked to comment
on whether Elounda responds to the luxury tourist
product for which is famous. All of them described the
situation in Elounda as disappointing. Elounda does
not respond at all to the luxury tourism product it is
trying to promote, as there is heterogeneity between
the interior of its 5-star hotels and the outdoor
environment of the area. The village of Elounda
itself is characterized by an anarchic construction
and a lack of aesthetics. “We all need to realize that
travelers don’t just come to see a luxury hotel with
a nice village, to take a ride in the car or on the bike,
In any part of Europe, even on islands such as Tenerife
and Mallorca there are amazing little villages next
to the luxurious resorts that enchant their visitors”
R9 said. Elounda’s product has lagged behind for
many years in contrast to its reputation, with the
result that a more general upgrade of the area in
terms of organization, utilization of resources and
improvement of facilities is considered imperative.
“When leaving, the visitor must have created an overall
picture of the destination he visited, as it appears both
inside and outside the hotel” (R8).
In recent years, there have been continuous new
investments in the area of Elounda with new luxury
hotel units, villas, etc. Participants were asked to
what extent they believe that Elounda can support
further tourism development or if, on the contrary,
it is a saturated tourist destination. The majority of
respondents were moderately optimistic. Thus, six
out of ten answered that if it was a saturated tourist
destination, new hotels and villas would not be
constantly built. At the moment, there is a great deal
of momentum with huge investments. Hotels of 500,
700 and 1000 beds are being prepared. “The main
reasons why luxury tourists choose Elounda are the
and the services they expect to enjoy going there, as
it is considered the top luxury destination in Crete”,
R7 said. In fact, R5 did not hesitate to state that in
the next 10-15 years there will be a tourist boom in
the area. After all, the growing competition leads to
existing hotels constantly improving their product.
One of the respondents said that a destination needs
all categories of hotels because even if there is a
decline in some categories, visitors will have more
options. On the other hand, two of the respondents
strongly expressed their skepticism, focusing on the
issue of sustainability in case investments are made
without control. Also of concern is the fact that
luxury hotel units are on the rise, but the number of
visitors remains the same. As a result, luxury will be
limited to far fewer hotels, as many of them will be
forced to drop their prices to attract more people.
So, “although the new hotels will be much better in
terms of infrastructure, they will still lag behind in
their clientele” R10 argued. Finally, two respondents
considered that Elounda is marginally in terms of
luxury investments. The hotel industry is evolving,
but the place is not following, especially since there
is stagnation in its basic infrastructure. In addition,
    
problem for these hotels with adequate, specialized
and experienced staff.
Globally, luxury tourism has promoted a socially
responsible and sustainable tourism development
model. To what extent do Elounda hotels follow
this trend? In the managers’ answers, the urgent
need for the sustainable orientation of the hotel
units where they are in charge was unanimously
expressed. They follow strict guidelines to ensure
a clean environment for their visitors, which will
luxury tourists are very aware and one of the criteria
based on which they choose a hotel is the actions
it takes in terms of sustainability. Initiatives for a
sustainable environment have been underway in
Elounda for many years. Thus, recycling and saving
water and electricity are a major concern of all its
5-star hotels. All lighting systems have been replaced
      
minimum energy consumption, while all rooms have
water pressure regulators. In addition, detergents
and cleaning products are used ecologically, without
chemicals and special cards have been placed in the
rooms of the clients who inform them about the
frequency of change of the bed linen. The reduction
of plastic and its replacement by other biodegradable
materials is another action taken by all the hotels.
The products used for cooking are organic and come
from local producers. In fact, some hotels, such
as the Blue Palace, have eco-gardens for organic
production. At the Porto Elounda Hotel, there are
solar panels all over the roof of the Spa, which is
essentially powered exclusively by these panels.
In addition, in the hotels Porto Elounda, Elounda
Peninsula and Elounda Mare there is desalination,
i.e. the water used is from the sea, so there are water
savings. There are also composters in all hotels. Blue
Palace in addition to the above actions also carries
out activities such as beach cleaning, tree planting,
participation in the social grocery store, while
there are facilities for greywater. Finally, Domes of
Trihas, Panagiotaki and Kyriakaki TOLEHO, 2020, 2(2): 62-70
Elounda applies digital information transmission by
     
can be informed either through smart television
or through the hotel mobile app. The participants
strongly believe that such actions have multiple
        
also for the region and its population.
Finally, participants were asked about the future
prospects for tourism in Elounda. All of them
argued that the future of Elounda as a luxury tourist
destination can be positive, but under certain
conditions. As R1 characteristically stated, “the
prospects for the future could only be positive if direct
cooperation is achieved between hoteliers, the local
community and the state, so that the whole region
can be reshaped while maintaining its authenticity.
Otherwise, if the sole goal is to bring tourists without
infrastructure, at some point the destination will be
saturated and the brand name that has been built
for so many years will start to decline”. In addition,
“if the hotels continue to provide the hospitality and
the high level of service for which they have gained
recognition in the market and if there is respect for the
environment, tourism in Elounda will last for many
years and with much better conditions than those
that have prevailed so far”      
tourists increases in the country, so will in Elounda.
The brand name of the area and its development
with luxury hotel units belonging to large tourist
    
up new markets, create many new jobs and further
develop it. One of the respondents stressed that
“no one should be complacent about his product, but
instead invest constantly in both building and living
material, giving employees the opportunity to evolve
and serve Elounda’s visitors in the best possible way.
Also, businessmen in the area need to reconsider the
bad mentalities of the past, love their place more
and realize that if they don’t, there will be no tourists
are used to so far” (R3).
5. Conclusion
Luxury tourism is one of the dominant international
tourism trends in recent years. Greece has a strong
presence in luxury tourism with popular luxury
destinations and luxury resorts of high standards.
In this context, this paper contributes to the existing
literature on luxury tourism, focusing on Elounda in
Crete, as a case study. Elounda is considered to be
one of the top luxury destinations in Greece. The aim
of the research was an analysis of luxury tourism
in Elounda. The research yielded some interesting
First of all, the course of tourism in Elounda is
upward, following the continuous years of growth
of the tourism sector in Greece. Undoubtedly, the
attractiveness of the landscape, the safety of the
destination, the microclimate, the 5-star hotel units
of high standards, the very high level of personalized
customer service, the celebrity and other VIPs
arrivals, and the well-established brand name are
key advantages of Elounda which have established
it internationally as one of the top destinations for
luxury tourism. However, hoteliers do not rest on
their laurels but instead try to satisfy the changing
needs and desires of their customers and thus,
successfully countering the intense competition that
exists both between hotels in the region and with
other regions of Greece (e.g. Mykonos, Santorini,
Chalkidiki) and abroad (e.g. Mallorca, Bodrum). After
all, the growing competition leads existing hotels to
constantly improving their product.
      
Elounda, of course, they are wealthy but the rest of
their demographic characteristics vary depending
on the hotel and the product they choose. Thus, most
of them are 30 years old and over while there is a
fairly large percentage of repeated tourists who are
usually over 60 years old. They usually are couples
or families with children, their average length of stay
ranges between four to twelve days, and the main
countries of origin are USA, UK, Russia, Germany,
France, Switzerland, the Arab countries, while new
markets such as Israel are emerging. In addition,
one of the efforts of hotels is to attract customers
from new emerging target markets. In some cases,
the brand of the hotel group to which a hotel
belongs attracts tourists of a certain nationality (e.g.
Marriott for Americans). The main visitors’ motive is
relaxation, while there is a fairly large percentage of
visitors traveling for business.
The paradox is that while Elounda is considered a
top luxury holiday destination, the area itself, which
is characterized by anarchic construction and a lack
of aesthetics, cannot support this reputation. Elounda
as a tourist destination created its reputation based
on 5-star hotels. However, it is necessary to take
measures that will lead to a complete overhaul of
its image. Basic facilities and infrastructure in the
area need to be improved and modernized. The
cooperation of private and public bodies, i.e. private
companies with the Municipality and the local
community is necessary towards that direction.
Nevertheless, despite the current problems in the
region, the future of tourism seems to be bright.
New investments in luxury tourist infrastructure are
constantly being made, with forecasts for a tourist
boom in the coming years. The latter proves that
Elounda is not yet saturated as a destination.
6. Limitation and Future Research
In this research, the issue of luxury tourism was
examined from the point of view of supply, exploring
the views and perceptions of the executives of
the 5-star hotels of the region. Thus, in the future,
luxury tourism in Elounda could be examined from
the point of view of demand and research could
be carried out on its visitors, in order to explore
their motivations, the reasons why they chose
Elounda for their vacation and the degree of their
satisfaction. Furthermore, a corresponding survey
Insights into Luxury Tourism: e Case of Elounda, Crete
could be conducted in other luxury destinations in
Greece and abroad in order to compare the results
with those of the present survey. Luxury tourism in
Elounda could also be examined by other tourism
service providers, such as luxury taxi companies,
restaurants and other businesses such as jewelry
stores. Finally, this research was conducted before
the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. It would
be interesting for a newer study to look at the effects
of this crisis on luxury tourism.
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Nikolaos Trihas is an Assistant Professor in
the Department of Business Administraon
and Tourism at Hellenic Mediterranean
University in Greece. He is also a tutor at
Hellenic Open University. He holds a PhD in
e-Tourism, a Master Degree (M.Sc.) in
“Tourism Planning, Administraon and
Policy”, and a B.Sc. in Business
Administraon from the University of the
Aegean, Greece. His research interests include e-tourism, tourism
markeng, and special and alternave forms of tourism.
ORCID: 0000-0001-9084-4036
Georgia Panagiotaki holds a Master’s
Degree (M.Sc.) in Tourism Business
Administraon” from the Hellenic Open
University. She has also studied Classical
Greek and Lan Philology at University of
Crete. She works as a “Les Clefs d’ Or”
Concierge at a 5-star luxury property in
Elounda, Crete. Her research interests
include special and alternave forms of
tourism, tourism markeng and social media and tourism.
ORCID: 0000-0002-0656-120X
Trihas, Panagiotaki and Kyriakaki TOLEHO, 2020, 2(2): 62-70
Anna Kyriakaki is an Academic Teaching
Sta in the School of Business at University
of the Aegean. She is also a tutor at
Hellenic Open University. She holds a PhD
in Sustainable Tourism Development and
Locality and a Master Degree (M.Sc.) in
“Tourism Planning, Administraon and
Policy”, and a B.Sc. in Business
Administraon from the University of the
Aegean, Greece. Her research interests include sustainable tourism
development, tourism and locality, and special and alternave
forms of tourism.
ORCID: 0000-0001-6792-2876
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