Hot Pursuits

Nov 28, 2017 | Luxury Trends

The super-wealthy are increasingly choosing to enrich their lives with unique adrenaline-filled or mind-broadening experiences

The ultimate statement in status and lifestyle, a speedboat or yacht offers a sense of adventure and escape that few other purchases can give. Riva Yachts has a history that dates back to the mid 1800s. The Italian company creates boats ranging from 27 to 115 feet, all designed with unmatched elegance and craftsmanship.

Rather than merely adding value to an investment portfolio, increasingly, the luxury “items” that the wealthy are choosing to spend their money on focus on the impermanent – or intangible – pastimes and hobbies that, although expensive, don’t always result in the acquisition of a material asset. Or when they do, involve so much more than just owning the physical object. 

The most recent Knight Frank Wealth Report details the importance and rise to prominence of the “experience economy”, exploring how leisure activities allied to investments that enrich one’s lifestyle in a meaningful way are becoming the priority among the super-wealthy. Aside from the status, capital appreciation and
personal enjoyment – the three top priorities when it comes to luxury spending – there are the allied benefi ts that come with these pursuits and activities, such as social or spiritual enrichment. Indeed, the next most crucial factors include “becoming part of a like-minded community”, “intellectual curiosity” and “becoming an expert”.

 “Niche trends show that people are looking for tailored experiences that cater to their personal interests.”


The motoring fraternity is one area in which a passionate collector or enthusiast can achieve this sense of community, and acquire and share expertise. A shrewd financial investment as well as a living breathing passion, collecting classic cars has consistently topped the Knight Frank Luxury Index
for the past decade.

Likewise, the other top-performing assets all have some leisure element attached: private jets, yachts, racehorses and sports teams. After 10 years of playing second fiddle to cars, wine finally knocked them off the top position this year, with value of the Knight Frank Fine Wine Icons Index rising by an impressive 24% in the 12 months to the end of March 2017. According to Roland Peen, director of fine wine merchants Wine Cellar, wine as an investment has also seen an increasing interest locally.

When it comes to the wines people are buying, it depends on whom you speak to. Although classic varieties are safe investments, millennial enthusiasts are also weighing in on the direction wine will go in. There’s curiosity about different wines, less obvious varieties and regions, and a focus on authenticity: the where and how a wine is produced. “A big change is that consumers want to know the backstory of the wine: where it is made, how it is made, and who the characters are behind the wine,” says Roland. This means that not just the big players get a piece of the action.
As far as South African wine and its standing on the world stage goes, the combination of smaller volumes (rarity), relatively low prices and improved quality makes it an increasingly worthy contender.

“There has been a surge of quality as winemakers have discovered precious old vineyards, vineyard quality has increased, and winemaking in general has been improved. South Africa is now producing some of the hottest and most highly sought-after wine in the world,” says Roland.


From the tangible to the intangible, travel is one area with no material outcome. And yet, despite belt-tightening on everyday luxuries, it continues to increasingly be something the wealthy are willing to spend money on. Here, Knight Frank’s findings for “experience” over physical possession are most apparent. Niche trends within the broader tourism spectrum show that people are looking for tailored experiences that cater to their personal interests. Travel, especially ecotourism and adventure-orientated itineraries, has gained prominence, to the point that the UN World Tourism Organisation designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This extends further than the roughing-it category of travel to luxury hospitality. A resort such as Tri Lanka on the shores of Koggala Lake in Sri Lanka, which is run on fully sustainable principles (living walls, local building materials, green roofs, solar power and food gardens), offers a luxury experience with a light footprint. Every need is catered to and box is ticked, proof that it’s possible to travel in the utmost comfort without sacrificing your sense of responsibility.

On the adventure side, once-in a lifetime experiences like tracking gorillas in the Central African jungles or hiking the world’s peaks are becoming more alluring for today’s intrepid travellers than beach and city getaways. These trends highlight the fact that the super-wealthy want more than just the latest tech and run-of-the-mill trips: They want the experiences that come with what money can buy.

Cars have been a purchase of passion for as long as they’ve been built. They’re perennially popular and these days quite lucrative, especially if you’re investing in a brand like Jaguar with its legacy of quality and refinement. | As the wealthy increasingly seek to replace the material with the more intangible, travel companies and hotel groups like Aman with its strong sustainability focus are looking for new ways to keep up in a competitive market, with offerings such as spiritual getaways, health retreats and eco destinations. | Wine has climbed to the top of the luxury index this year. Mullineux Family Wines discerned the appetite of the consumer for collecting and drinking wine and, in 2013, joined forces with Analjit Singh, businessman and founder of Leeu Collection, leading to the establishment of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines.

Bisate Eco Lodge in Rwanda, a Wilderness Safaris destination, offers the rare opportunity to see gorillas in the wild. | The popularity of South African wines for investors comes down to smaller volumes and often more favourable pricing. | Eco- conscious travel has exploded, with luxury hotel groups jumping on the bandwagon as the combination of sustainability and luxury proves irresistible to tourists. Tri Lanka in Sri Lanka offers every comfort and mod con, and is run according to sustainable principles.

Credits: Photo: Supplied, Text: Julia Freemantle