Rough Luxe

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Restaurant at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Restaurant at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

In a world of toned-down excesses, remarkable things are beginning to happen. For one thing, luxury is being redefined, at least by some. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal proclaimed:

“Authenticity is the new luxury. The Rough Luxe definition of luxury may very well be: time for reflection, personal encounters with people, nature, architecture and environment as well as food and drink, social and cultural experiences. It is also intellectual solicitation, listening to one’s own feelings as well as comparing objects and thinking of their hierarchy.
…Rough Luxe is about the experience, the surrounding, the intrinsic value of objects, art, culture and the people surrounding us as well as the ‘consumable’ items that you come across in a Rough Luxe hotel, restaurant or affiliated business or event.”

Some are calling this new “rough luxe” the latest way of looking at specific things in life such as travel and dining out. The idea of luxury is perhaps morphing into enriching personal experiences instead of being simply the shallow ownership of expensive objects.

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Restaurant dining room at the Four Seasons Hotel, Washington DC

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Restaurant dining room at the Four Seasons Hotel, Washington DC

Lori Cioffi, Editor in Chief of MCMag, referred to “rough luxe” as the “anti-brand.” If authenticity is the new luxury, we are also seeing brand  companies embrace this new angle. For example, Marriott has announced a new hotel brand, Autograph Collection, to add to its global portfolio. “Each hotel will be highly unique and distinct with its own identity, appealing to a growing segment of our customers who are looking for an experience that an independent hotel can deliver,” says Don Semmler, Executive Vice President of brand management for Marriott International.

Kimpton Hotels has been going down this road of the anti-branding brand for some time now. Another new company, Obadon Hotel Group, whose portfolio includes The Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach, presents a stylish and sleek boutique hotel environment in which the well-heeled consumer can luxuriate. Amenities vary from the Meditation Garden to elegant dining at Michelle Bernstein’s signature restaurant. “The Omphoy is an entirely different hotel concept than Palm Beach has ever seen,” said Bobby Schlesinger, President of the Obadon Hotel Group. “The décor is clean and simple, the atmosphere is energizing, and the audience is younger than Palm Beach is used to. We have created a chic and hip boutique hotel experience that comes without pretension.”

The OmphoyRestaurant businesses like The Buckhead Life Group based in Atlanta with its 11 unique restaurants in that metropolitan area, or the Mina Group based in San Francisco with Chef Michael Mina’s 11 restaurants in 5 states, all demonstrate an experiential approach with their unique offerings.

These hotel and restaurant companies are striving to attract guests through a distinctive experience. Whether it’s a resort, historic inn, boutique, or urban-edge, the vibe involves creating warmth and charm through personalized service, exceptional design, and a sense of place. This is what the Wall Street Journal refers to as “authenticity.”


Pricci - AtlantaAccording to an article in The Press Democrat, the Direct to Consumer Symposium keynote speaker Nadira Hira, a reporter for Fortune, told attendees the most important thing to remember in marketing to millennials is that they crave authenticity. While millennials, or Generation Y, are more open to wine at a younger age than baby boomers and Generation X were, they require a different type of marketing. For example, millennials tend to reject heavy advertising that comes on too strong. They’re more interested in exploring brands on their own, which makes them fickle consumers. They’re also computer savvy, so Nadira suggested that wineries get on social networking sites, set up blogs on their websites, and access consumers’ mobile phones – as long as the message is authentic.

We’d love to receive your input on this subject! Leave your thoughts on where you think the concept of luxury may be headed.