How luxury travel solves the ‘last mile problem’

In business, the “last mile problem” refers to the last stage of the delivery of goods or services to a customer. Whether it’s a package or a person heading home, the last mile is usually the most expensive and complicated segment of the journey. It’s often the most important, which is why companies like Amazon have invested huge sums to streamline their infrastructure.

There is also the problem of the last mile in luxury travel. For standard travel, it’s usually easy enough to find a flight from your hometown to your final destination—with an airport shuttle that takes you to your hotel front door. But what if the resort is hours from the nearest airport? What if the daily flight is scheduled so early that you need a layover the night before, or if the flight only operates a few times a week?

These situations are becoming more common as luxury travelers seek more remote and unique experiences and hotel developers build more distant destinations. This is where the travel industry problem and last mile solutions come in.

Here’s how luxury travel solves the “last mile” problem.

Tradewinds flies to St Barts from a number of airports in the Caribbean

As advisors, we’ve seen how the hassle and stress of reaching a remote destination can discourage travelers. Not only are we seeing innovative ways to bridge the gap, but these creative modes of transportation can become a highlight of the trip.

Take the Maldives: For travelers from the United States, flying to these remote Indian Ocean islands usually means a layover and a full day spent traveling to Male, its capital. Also, your resort isn’t even in Malé—it’s on a secluded atoll inaccessible by car or public ferry. The fix? Resorts such as Cheval Blanc Randheli and Velaa Private Island now offer seaplane transfers, while One&Only Reethi Rah and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi have fleets of yachts that make the final leg feel like the start of an adventure.

You see this in the Caribbean too. St. Barts has made last-ditch jumpers its hallmark for decades; Tradewind has raised the bar with the latest aircraft combined with world-class service. Guests at Jumby Bay, located on a private island in Antigua, are transported by yachts after customs clearance. To get to Anguilla, most travelers from New York can expect a long layover in Miami, while guests of the Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club can fly directly from Westchester Airport aboard a private jet.

Jumbo Bay, located on a private island in Antigua, has its own yachts.

The Greek islands can be extremely difficult to navigate, especially if you want to avoid going back to Athens or taking a crowded ferry. Fly Cycladic, a new airline, has expanded its route map to include more islands such as Paros, Naxos and Rhodes. This means you can have breakfast at Canaves Epitome in Santorini and lunch at Kalesma Mykonos.

And it’s not just island resorts: Hacienda AltaGracia, located in the mountains of Costa Rica, meets its guests at the San Jose airport, takes them through a special customs area and flies them to a private airstrip. The 40-minute flight is a scenic alternative to a three- to five-hour drive on Costa Rica’s notorious roads.

The more remote the resort, the more creative the solution. Shinta Mani Wild, deep in the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, allows guests to go ziplining – setting the tone for a luxurious but out-of-the-way adventure – while their luggage is transported by van over rough roads. You can paraglide 1,000 feet down a cliff to the beach to reach Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman or go rafting to Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica (less adventurous guests can take a helicopter).

Even in hotels easily accessible by car, worsening traffic can create a problem on the last mile. Along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the transfer from Cancun airport, normally 50 minutes, has the potential to become a two-hour job on a busy Friday afternoon. Hotel Esencia offers guests a 25-minute private helicopter transfer.

Of course, not every resort has its own helicopter or seaplane, but they may partner with third-party operators. The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort in the Bahamas flies guests from Ft. Lauderdale aboard Tropic Ocean Airways. The Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo on Mexico’s Pacific coast will soon offer semi-private flights to the small town of Manzanilla, about 50 minutes away, as opposed to a four-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara.

However remote your destination, an experienced travel advisor will be able to get you there comfortably, perhaps using Flexjet, a private jet ownership company, or Blade, which is expanding its fleet of helicopters.

Discerning travelers are constantly seeking the new and the unknown – places that feel unspoiled and undiscovered. And with the help of innovative resorts, emerging airlines and resourceful travel consultants, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel.

Paul Tumpowski is a member of Travel + Leisure’s A-List and specializes in air travel and luxury hotel stays. He is the founder and CEO of Skylark. He can be reached at [email protected].

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