Airbnb today announced that it has bought up luxury retreats rental platform. The acquisition will put Airbnb s user base in direct competition with Luxury Retreats, a renowned high-end private retreat haven that boasts its own airport, lodges, villas, cottages and other accommodations. The acquisition is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by the Seattle-based company that is drawing attention not only because of the high quality of the offerings, but also because of the wide range of destinations it covers across North America. It follows a recent round of acquisitions in California including the purchase of Big Leaf Dining Room & Cafe in Napa, as well as the acquisition of Pure Comfort Kitchen in San Francisco’s SoHo district.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Matt Shardlake, chief executive of Luxury Retreats, discussed how his company plans to counter the popularity of AirBnB, which also owns hotels in resorts worldwide. “We think that AirBnB have got it right in terms of the service, but we think they’re missing one thing… the flexibility in their pricing,” he said. Luxury retreats allow their clients to choose from a host of destinations around the globe, from luxurious spa retreats to idyllic getaways in the woods. However, guests who book a stay through the company’s portal to find themselves at the mercy of the schedule for when they arrive, as well as whether they can stay an extra day if they are travelling on a tight budget. “The experience isn’t what it used to be… with the rise of the mini-vacation, we’re seeing more people booking luxury vacations for families and groups,” says Shardlake.
“They come with everything – four-star amenities, gourmet meals, access to fitness and wellness centre, sauna and steam room, wine cellar, 24-hour fitness centre, indoor swimming pool, and more. The villas even include a swimming pool, which is a huge selling point for many people.” However, some luxury retreats do offer more in the way of luxury features compared to others. Some of the luxury retreats and villas will be located in the best parts of an island, whilst others will be located at the base of a mountain and/or in the middle of a desert.
In terms of overall quality and variety of activities on offer, some luxury retreats offer the best in both. “We’ve found that some of the villas are right on the beach and have the best views over the ocean… but all the amenities are top notch, with cable TV, full kitchen, internet, and so on,” says Shardlake. “Then there are the resorts, which are fantastic… they provide the best in relaxation and health, with their fitness centres, yoga and Pilates classes, pools, hot tubs, tennis courts, etc.” In addition to the activities and the locations, some luxury retreats also offer the best in relaxation and wellness features.
Luxury resorts and other destinations that offer the best of both wellness and relaxation can be expensive. “But if you’re willing to put in the work and the effort, you can find great deals, and some of the best destinations are in Mexico, Belize, Jamaica, or California, among other places,” says Shardlake. “You just need to do some research and compare travel rates to determine the best destination for your vacation. Sometimes it’s a matter of spending a bit more money, depending on what you’re looking for in the first place, and where you want to go,” he continues. “Even if you get the best deals, there’s no such thing as returning to a poor location; what you should aim to do is choose a destination that has excellent wellness features for you to enjoy, while still experiencing the best in relaxation and recreation.”
Many luxury retreats prefer to hire concierge services and / or chefs. If a certain cuisine is not available at the location, concierge services may be able to arrange alternative menus. The chefs may be skilled in cooking exotic dishes and can cater for private events, such as children’s parties. Some concierges also offer spa treatments, which can be a great perk for those who are traveling with children. Once the party has wound down, the chefs and staff can then assist guests in packing their personal items.
For those who want a little bit more privacy than a typical luxury retreats, many Caribbean destinations offer secluded cottages or villas with private pools for visitors. There are also private islands, which offer all inclusive trips that include food, drinks, tours, activities, entertainment, and more. A private island might have a swimming pool, a beach, and even a spa. The villas tend to be located on beautiful private beaches, and have private cabins.
In Malindi, for example, a private villa might offer an ocean view and access to the airport, while a private beach access could allow guests to swim without having to go through security screening. A Malindi luxury retreat might also offer transportation services to the airport, depending on the destination. Another popular activity in Malindi is a traditional village fair, which is held every year. This traditional fair is held at the end of August and provides handicrafts and other gifts for locals. Travelers can purchase beautiful dresses, jewellery, cookware, bamboo jewelry, traditional costumes, and other unique items for a small fee.