Airborne Stays

type - trends
sector - travel & hospitality
A new category of travel experiences is taking off and catering for a growing appetite for air-scapism – airborne cruises where the flight and destination are of equal importance.

Drivers : what's happening

The travel industry is rebounding ­– in 2023, travel revenue is expected to be 47% higher than 2019 levels, largely driven by high-net-worth (HNW) individuals (source: Virtuoso). But affluent voyagers’ expectations are changing. Nearly half (48%) envisage traveling ‘off-grid’ if the stay is indulgent, signalling a rise in remote exploratory getaways, while the global cruise tourism market is expected to more than triple between 2022 and 2032 (sources:, Statista/Future Market Insights).

HNW travellers seeking exclusive, private and lavish experiences will soon have a new type of escapist getaway to indulge in – air hotels. Instead of focusing on the destination, a slew of airborne hospitality projects are turning the journey itself into an experience and hope to bring air cruises into commercial use.

Made possible thanks to technological advances, a new generation of hyper-efficient airships don’t need airports to take off or land, and combine breakthrough aerodynamic principles with helium’s lifting power to fly autonomously for days.

Published by:

11 January 2023

Author: Marta Indeka

Image: OceanSky


Sky Yacht by Lazzarini Design Studio, Italy

Case studies : what's new

OceanSky : Set to take off as early as 2024, OceanSky’s North Pole Expedition is an air cruise that will take up to 16 passengers from Norway’s northernmost city to the North Pole in a 136-feet cabin in a helium-filled airship.

The cruise will last 36 hours, at an altitude low enough for wildlife-spotting. Mid-way, participants will disembark for a hike, skiing or a dip in Arctic waters, and to enjoy a lunch in the snow before the return journey.

Nimbus : The upcoming Saudi mega smart city Neom will be home to Nimbus, the first five-star hotel inside a sustainable hot air balloon, fuelled by bio-propane.

During the several day-long itineraries, guests will enjoy views of Neom’s most remote and spectacular landscapes from the comfort of a luxury hotel room. ‘Nimbus embodies this vision: a carbon-neutral model that offers thrilling excursions while protecting the destinations and leaving no footprints,’ explains the team behind the project.

Air Yacht : Designed by Lazzarini Design Studio, the Air Yacht is an emission-free private jet and mega-yacht hybrid, boasting an onboard swimming pool, 10 bedrooms and a helipad.

Thanks to a carbon-fibre structure and the use of helium gas, the Air Yacht is able to sail on water or fly in the air for up to five days at a time. An initial prototype of the Air Yacht is set to take off this year.

Analysis : what this means 

Adventure-hungry affluent travellers are already showing an acute interest in space travel, and with air cruises they will get to fulfil their altitude appetite without leaving the Earth’s atmosphere.

Powered by breakthrough technologies, experiential air travel backed by next-generation airships will enable sustainable, ‘low and slow’ ways of travelling to sought-after and remote destinations like the Saudi desert and the North Pole, without threatening their fragile eco-systems.

The idea of luxurious, exclusive and sustainable air travel at the frontier of technology and hospitality is inspiring some future-forward and ambitious projects. In July 2022, a video featuring Tony Holmston’s Sky Cruise prototype sparked online conversations. The project is a supersized nuclear-powered flying luxury hotel, which could stay airborne for years at a time with up to 5,000 guests on board.

While this large-scale future-facing project is only at the conceptualisation stage, the demand for airborne experiences is well under way.

‘Air-scapism provides the comfort and exclusivity affluent travellers expect, while unlocking new possibilities to explore remote destinations, but minimising the environmental footprint’ says Marta Indeka, foresight analyst at The Future Laboratory. 

‘Experiential travel is going to ignite the [travel] industry. Airships open up the corners of the world, the wilderness that is out there, and we have to take care of that.’
Carl-Oscar Lawaczeck, CEO, OceanSky Cruises

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