This article is part of STYLE’s Luxury Column. In a recent masterclass for luxury hospitality, I tried an exercise. I asked the participants to name three hotels in any part of the world. Their first choice was in Dubai, the second in Paris, the third in the Maldives. (Almost) the final frontier: hotels to set you dreaming of the stars All three properties position themselves in the luxury space and all of them were priced above US$500 per night. I asked the group to open the three hotel websites and analyse the content and storytelling. From 007 to Lost in Translation: 5 famous film hotels you can stay in All had a brand video on their website. When we compared the messages, imagery and even social media, we found they told the exact same story. All promised their guests a paradise-like experience, all showed images of the location, hotel facade, check-in area, guestrooms, restaurant and bar area. We joked that they could have saved the money and simply asked one provider to do the websites for all of them to save money. This is not an isolated example but a harsh reality for many brands in hospitality. They define “luxury” by beautiful real estate, cavernous rooms, efficient service and generous amenities, but what many hotels are unable to do is to create lasting memories for their guests . This has dramatic implications for the top and bottom line: less loyalty, reduced opportunities to raise prices, customers that only come back because of loyalty programmes and not because they were mesmerised by the stay. It’s only luxury if the customer feels it. Don’t get me wrong. A beautiful location and great interiors – paradise, as many hotels call it – are critical preconditions for a hotel stay to be perceived as a luxury experience. But they are not enough. In luxury, great real estate is simply expected and “priced in”. A true luxury experience needs to go much further. In a recent conversation with an expert who manages experiences for ultra-wealthy and celebrity clients, I asked him when his clients feel true luxury. His answer? “When they feel taken care of, treated as humans, not as celebrities.” The ability to make someone feel valued, taken seriously and offered experiences that feel extremely personal is what makes people feel special. Can Larry Ellison really turn Lanai, Hawaii, into a ‘health utopia’? To make a stay extraordinary, a hotel needs to understand what makes them special, beyond great architecture and design. It must develop a strategy to differentiate itself from others through how they make people feel, and to create internal systems and training that ensures that the feeling they provide is not just sporadic but systemic. Every interaction counts. Ideally, from the perspective of the guest, the stay should feel curated without ever giving the feeling of being forced or strained. And of course, there is a difference between a one-night or two-week stay, a visit for business or pleasure, and whether the guest is a regular or visiting for the first time. Very few hotels differentiate their approach to cater to different situations. The ultimate ego trip? Who knew Trump owned all these New York landmarks In the end the only thing that counts is whether the hotel created a lasting memory for the guest? Moments worth experiencing, treasuring and sharing. If there is no memory, then no value was created. In luxury hospitality, neglecting this will prevent brands from building up brand equity and successfully attracting loyal guests willing to pay significant premiums for the experiences they receive. Is Nobu Matsuhisa taking the dining destination trend to new heights? As the world prepares gradually for a return of post-pandemic travel , hotels must be able to describe what sets their “paradise” apart from the other alternatives out there, and make customers feel exceptional. Consider this a call to action for many hotels all around the world. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .