What VIP experiences are available to the luxury and business class traveller in Iceland? What are some attractions that only the few get to see, and how can you ensure your luxury holiday in Iceland will exceed the quality of trips elsewhere? Read on to find out all you need to know about Luxury and Business Travel in Iceland.
To avoid any confusion, it is important to first clarify exactly what constitutes both the terms in question. For starters, Luxury Travel describes a trip that is customised and catered to near-enough exactly the wishes of the traveller. This is also sometimes known as Private Travel.
Those working within tourism will often debate what is meant by luxury; on the one hand, it is argued that luxury connotes location, quality and privilege, whilst others state it refers to the authenticity of the product (ie. what truth will the traveller find about their location.) In all honesty, luxury travel packages incorporate both world views, making it one of the most specialist areas in the industry.
Luxury travel could include anything from private flights and transfers to stays in 5-star hotels or intimate holiday cottages, to specialist guides who spend the entire duration of the holiday with the tour party. It could involve nights in the finest restaurants, partaking on unforgettable tours, meeting friends or escaping on multi-day excursions. It could include such special occasions as a wedding or family reunion, or even prove the perfect foundation from which to propose to the loved one.
Business travel, on the other hand, is just as its name suggests—travel for the intended purpose of doing business. Thanks to Iceland’s geographical position bang in the middle of the northern Atlantic Ocean, the country is widely utilised as a stopover for businessman and women travelling between North America and Europe.
The capital, Reykjavík, is known the world over for its friendly, forward-thinking population and modern amenities, making it the perfect staging post for business meetings. The iconic Harpa Concert Hall, whilst most famous as a venue for various musical performances, also serves as a conference centre, and thus stands as a continuing reminder of this city's growing place in the world of commerce.
Iceland's major airlines have jumped on this trend, offering free stopovers in Iceland for those making the transatlantic journey. To read more about the benefits of stopping over in Iceland, make sure to read: What To Do During Your Stopover in Iceland.
Within both of these methodologies, there are ample chances to discover unique sights, sounds and activities. But what are some of the most notable differences between travelling in luxury, and travelling for business?
Luxury travel in Iceland means seeing the country in the exact way that you have imagined it. Whether this is comprised of a fully-scheduled, private and customised itinerary, or perhaps a range of tours directed towards Iceland’s world-famous spas, nothing is impossible when it comes to organising the holiday of one’s dreams.
The first means of ensuring your holiday in Iceland feels luxurious is to take a private transfer from Keflavík International Airport (KEF), found on the Reykjanes Peninsula, to the capital city of Reykjavík. This journey of just under forty minutes is usually taken either by rental car or by the public FlyBus, an airport transfer that leaves the terminal every fifteen minutes.
One reason why a private transfer overshadows the Flybus is, quite naturally, the isolation from other holiday-makers, meaning there is no reason to stop at any accommodation save your own.
This can save value time for those with appointments, or simply for those who wish to maximise every single moment of their time in the country. A private driver will also be able to talk to you directly, answering your enquiries, and pointing out sites of interest during your drive along Reykjanes.
And luxury traveller should know the next box on their list to tick off—the world-famous Blue Lagoon Spa. This geothermal spa is renown for its healing silica mud, tasteful bistro and cafe, and range of massage treatments. Nothing quite beats the jet-lag like soaking those tired muscles in steamy azure waters, closing your eyes as the face-mask begins to take hold.
One important note with the Blue Lagoon; it is crucial to reserve as many places as needed as soon as you know when you are travelling. This is due to the competitive nature for places, given its Iceland's most recognised visitor's attraction. Due to its close proximity to the airport (roughly fifteen minutes) and the capital (roughly thirty minutes), most travellers to Iceland choose to visit the Blue Lagoon on either their arrival or departure day.
The next important quantity is your level of accommodation. Obviously, being luxury travellers, we will be expecting a level of quality quite unlike that experienced by the average holiday-maker.
Fortuitously, new hotels are popping up in 101 Reykjavík every couple of months; the majority of these are directed toward travellers in a wealthier financial bracket, meaning they sport all the amenities associated with modern hotels.
Of course, there is no reason to stay in Reykjavík, though it is always advised to spend a couple of nights in the city, if only to experience its wide array of cultural attractions, insatiable nightlife and the friendly local population. So for now, let's look to a mere handful of recommendations for sumptuous lodgings, as well as fine dining, in the world's northernmost capital. Understand, Iceland boasts a wide range of accommodation options.
Credit: Kvosin Downtown Hotel
The building that houses Kvosin Downtown Hotel dates back to 1900, adding a truly authentic and traditional feel to your stay in Reykjavík. Set in a square directly behind Reykjavik Cathedral and the Icelandic Parliament, with only a minute's walk to the downtown pond, Lake Tjörnin, Kvosin Downtown Hotel is smack bang in the most sought area of the city. On the hotel's ground floor can be found Restaurant Bergsson and Klaustur Wine Bar, both of which are renown for their quality of service.
Only a short distance away is ION City Hotel, itself 500 metres from both the Einar Jónsson Museum and Hallgrímskirkja Church, making it another authentic, downtown and accessible choice for luxury travellers. With a snazzy, futuristic interior design and current facilities, ION City Hotel is a great choice for smaller parties looking to spend their time strolling the capital's quaint streets.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavík Marina, located in the popular Old Harbour area of Grandi, boasts its own restaurant, Slipbarrinn, a gymnasium and a cinema, making it not only a hub of comfort and entertainment, but also one of the most accessible hotels in the city. Two minutes walk from the hotel, one can engage in whale watching and birdwatching tours, take a stroll downtown, or try out some of the finest eateries in the city.
Roughly forty-five minutes drive from the city, one can find the Frost and Fire hotel (Frost og Funi in Icelandic), located in Hveragerði. Set away in the majesty of Iceland's nature, this hotel provides the perfect getaway for couples, families and even business associates. Aside from the incredible surroundings, Frost and Fire Guesthouse is looked upon favourably for its restaurant, Varmá, which provides "slow food" from locally sourced ingredients.
For the most luxurious time in the Icelandic capital, it is best to know of the more high-quality establishments in which to drink and dine. One example would be Snaps Bistro, an airy and well-lit restaurant bar that summons up such delicious delicacies as oysters, cheese platters and garlic shrimp, as well as a varied list of champagnes. There’s even a piano in the corner for those brave enough to demonstrate their melodic skills.
Credit: Snaps Bistro FB
Another establishment worthy of note is Reykjavik’s only wine bar, Port 9, located at Veghúsastígur 9. This dimly-lit basement bar offers both glasses and bottles to purchase, though their most expensive wines come in a handwritten ‘secret book’ with the prices unlisted; this option is only for those who are truly embracing all dimensions of luxury travel.
If you prefer the taste of beer, why not visit Skúli Craftbar? This is an establishment that boasts 14 Icelandic craft beers on tap, thus providing the perfect introduction into Iceland’s burgeoning home-brewing scene. If you're looking to find the most golden of Iceland's nectar, this is the best place to start.
But what of tours? What tours would fit within the criteria of ‘Luxury Travel’, rather than your usual day-tour or multi-day excursion?
One of the most VIP tour activities in Iceland is helicopter flightseeing, allowing guests to appreciate the country’s most beloved natural attractions from the air. Helicopter flights will normally make a landing at chosen sites (check with your tour provider beforehand), allowing one to gain a closer perspective, often away from the crowds of onlooking tourists.
Alternatively, one could take to the skies in a private aeroplane tour, offering the same aerial view over Iceland's visceral landscapes, without the capability of landing. One of the great benefits of flight-seeing, however, is its ability to cover so much ground in such a short space of time.
For instance, take Iceland's most popular sightseeing route, the Golden Circle, which will usually take eight hours or so on a guided tour by minibus. By taking to the skies, you can cover the route's three main sites, and more, in little under an hour. This allows you to tick off Iceland's biggest tourist attractions from the list, allowing you to spend the remaining time as you see fit.
Naturally, all of Iceland's most popular tour activities can be undertaken in private. This covers such tours as snorkelling, scuba diving, glacier hiking, ice caving, Northern Lights and hot spring hunting, horse riding and even whale watching. Though private tours are obviously going to ratchet up the price, they do have the great benefit of providing a guide who can solely attend to your experience, whilst also keeping the group setting intimate and familial.
When it comes down to 'luxury attractions', one must rely on the knowledge of your specialist guides. After all, Icelandic nature is open and available to everyone—save the Highlands during the winter. Contrary to that point, however, is the knowledge that private tours invest significant time in locating hidden attractions, be they waterfalls, glacial tongues or hot springs. These are found knowing the promise of unseen locations is a strong draw for travellers, especially for those on a repeat visit who have already visited the most recognised sites.
It should come as no surprise that business is booming in Iceland. With the tourism industry having come on leaps and bounds since 2010, and the subsequent enlivening of the economy that went with it, both local and international entrepreneurs have jumped on the potential to make a profit here. Of course, looking back to the financial meltdown of 2008, one could be forgiven for disbelieving an economy could recover so quickly economically.
As previously mentioned, Iceland is the ideal stopover destination for business people travelling between North America and Europe. The country, in fact, will often be utilised as a meeting point, saving both parties from travelling unnecessary distances.
Credit: Reykjavik City Helicopter Tour
Iceland is, after all, a staggeringly beautiful country, and Reykjavík is one of the most picturesque Nordic cities on earth—it would seem a shame for forward-thinking businessman to even consider meeting anywhere else.
One important difference between business travel and luxury travel is, of course, the intention of the traveller. Business travellers are unlikely to have a large amount of free time around their appointments, meaning the sights, sounds and experiences they are exposed to is quite in a contrast to a traveller whose sole purpose in the country is to sightsee, discover and immerse themselves in culture.
What these appointments are exactly could take any number of forms: a professional development course, networking, assessing new trends and markets, visiting a project site, evaluation, hiring and firing, building new partnerships, etc. The list goes on, but no doubt, such intentions also come with their own beneficial realities, namely, experiencing Iceland, be you a tourist or not.
Another differentiation between luxury travel and business travel is who ends up paying the bill. Usually, luxury packages are purchased by the person partaking, whilst business packages are paid for out of the business itself.
Business travellers, in this light, will often have less choice as to where they are staying, for how long, and exactly what to do with their free time. In all likelihood, they will also be made to take receipts so that expenses may be repaid at a later (—unless you have your hands on the company credit card, you lucky thing)!
With that being said, business tourists, on average, are wealthier than the common leisure tourist, and thus are expected to input more into the local economy.
Business travel can often be combined, and so treat as such, with small group travel. It is commonplace, for instance, for a number of employees to make a business trip in order to achieve the company's desired goal.
This is one of the major reasons as to why business travel is split into two separate categories of activities; business, being the primary motivator, and leisure, being the second. Whatever the reason for travel, be it a conference, deal or employee incentive, it is a safe bet that business travellers enjoy the novelties of spending time abroad as much as your average tourist.
Accommodation is one of the main areas of enquiry when it comes to business travel. Such travellers usually expect a level of quality to their hotel rooms, as well as easy access to the inner-city and travel routes. Naturally, one works in business to make in money, money for the finer things in life—business travel should, by no means, untether itself from this foundation.
One integral thought, for instance, is how your style of dress, your vehicle, your choice of hotel and restaurant, all come off to potential clients, partners and investors. This, more often than not, can be the breaking point when it comes to making a deal, and so is of vital importance to the business traveller, and the business itself.
Credit: Grand Hotel Reykjavik
As before, only a spattering of potential options will be recommended here, given the sheer number of hotels that cater to business people travelling in Iceland. Those mentioned, however, are among the top-tier business hotels in the country (the majority of business here, quite naturally, takes place in the capital).
One of the most popular accommodation options for business travellers is the Grand Hotel Reykjavík, largely because the establishment boasts 300 modern rooms and 11 conference halls of varying size, making it the perfect choice for a wide range of events. Another similar choice would be the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, fifteen minutes walk from Reykjavík city centre, and sporting eight different meeting areas, plushly decorated with conference plasma screens and leather furniture.
Downtown, one can find another Radisson Blu, this time the 1919 Hotel. Easily accessible to the city's major shopping districts and transport routes, the 1919 Hotel offers a business centre, 88 contemporary rooms, meeting halls and the stylish 1919 Bar & Lounge for downtime. Other downtown options well suited to business-types include CenterHotel Plaza and Centerhotel Arnarhvoll, both of which belong to the same chain, and thus offer the same level of professional setting.
Wherever you choose to stay for your business dealings in Iceland, you will find the accommodation well suited to your needs. The city too will offer its fair share of variety for the time off available, making this country one of the cleanest and most naturally dramatic destinations in which to do business.
Did you enjoy our article about Luxury and Business Travel in Iceland? Are you planning on a luxury trip here, and if so, what are your plans? Do you have a business meeting arranged to take place in Iceland, and what kind of benefits did you find available to you? Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below.