If you're in the luxury hotel or resort business, let's face it, you're not alone.
Years ago I developed something I called "the tendency theory" which runs roughly like this: this is a tendency for every hotel manager to think their hotel is in a category higher than it really is."
The hotel world worldwide has demonstrated the tendency theory on steroids -- just about any hotel that has a bath and phone in every room (and hasn’t smartened up to the reality that most travelers stay in modestly priced, efficient properties that meet their functional needs with powerful emotional squirts that stimulate emotional dopamine and build lasting connections, but I digress) refers to itself as a luxury experience. The truth is, they may be right! Luxury is ethereal and different for everybody. Luxury is not what the hotel does, it's how the guest experiences what it does
A couple of examples (Read the full article here):
A hot bath in the morning is experienced as part of daily ablutions, necessary, maybe pleasant, but certainly not (for most people) a luxury (same can be said for a shower). But a hot bath in the evening, after putting the kids down, savouring the peace and quiet, is experienced as luxury. Same bath (hopefully different water), same person, totally different experience.
Ritz Carlton and a couple of other chains deliver ultimate luxury by providing butler service. To some this may be a real luxury (those who have no butler of their own); to others, having a butler is part of their lives and not a luxury (rather it is a necessity, albeit an expensive necessity, available to only a very few); to the really affluent it's entirely unnecessary (they travel with their own butler); and to most travellers it's just silly (which makes the service technically a luxury, but in this case not a motivating luxury).
This all comes back to defining who you are looking to engage and welcome as your guests, and how do they experience the level of service and amenities that you are most capable of offering. If you are a Luxury Resort and you really believe your business model is sustained by the top .01% of travellers, then you would not talk about the Butler service as a luxury, in fact you would not talk about it at all (it's an expected amenity). You would try to understand what really delivers the 'wow' factor for each guest individually.
If, on the other hand, you are a three star hotel, you would understand that the luxury a business traveller experiences is the freedom to watch whatever he or she wants on TV -- and you would come up with what I personally believe is the best hotel advertising I have ever seen (more or less); watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3agNLMuy-T8, and compare it to the previous Days Inn campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng6wu-aB5Jo