The concept of luxury in the 21st century is still the same as it was in previous generations when you consider the importance of exclusivity as a status symbol. Today, exclusivity still matters when it comes to luxury, but what has also risen in importance is the value of the experience of luxury. Contemporary luxury is more than enjoying the exclusivity of a high-end product or service; it’s about the exclusivity of the experience. Consumers are demanding that luxury brands stand for something significant. This desire is what luxury eco retreats hope to meet.
In Turkey, there are plans for a luxury eco retreat that is essentially a forest. Simply called “Urban Forest” for now, the 643-acre project will have an unusual look. Even though it will include retail, cultural, and entertainment sections, this retreat will be quite different from the norm. Instead of the typical resort design of primitive structures offering beautiful views of the landscape, the urban forest will put guests within the landscape. There will be a merging of architecture and nature as one—not architecture being used as the vantage point to observe nature. In one part of the project, there will be an elevated walkway built to look as if part of the scenery, where guests can experience the forest from the perspective of the treetops. This will literally give guests a heightened appreciation of the natural wonders around them, by putting them closer to the details of nature. This project is being designed by WATG, a design firm that specializes in luxury hospitality all over the world.
What makes luxury eco retreats such as this compelling is the spatial conversation between indoors and outdoors. Many of the structures and buildings will not be fully enclosed, strengthening the connection between architecture and nature at as many instances as possible. This respect for nature is what the consumer will be paying for. Those of us who care about the environment, which includes those fortunate few who can go to a luxury retreat, love enjoying nature without destroying nature. There may be some who see the idea of disturbing nature to build any sort of man-made structure as a form of destruction, no matter how lightweight or open those structures appear to be. However, it is not like all of the world’s natural forests are being taken up by luxury eco retreats. Projects like this are offering an experience, by emphasizing the importance of preserving the environment, especially in an increasingly urbanized world.