As senior vice president, luxury brands for Marriott International, Chris Gabaldon has had a unique perspective on Covid-19 and its effect on luxury travel. But now that the world is deep into the vaccination process – roughly 31 percent of Americans are said to be fully vaccinated – he’s feeling optimistic that luxury travel is back, and he’s got the bookings to prove it. Gabaldon leads global brand operations and marketing for the company’s luxury portfolio – more than 440 properties under The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, EDITION, The Luxury Collection, JW Marriott and W Hotels – and is busy defining the rare and enriching experiences that today’s modern luxury traveler craves. We sat down with Gabaldon to talk top travel trends, emerging destinations, and which properties he’s most excited to open.
Marriott International’s luxury brands reported an uptick in business, specifically within the leisure space. To what do you attribute this increase in bookings?
With so many people forced to put travel plans on hold for the past year, there is incredible pent-up demand, specifically for leisure travel…