The way in which we travel and experience the places we go to has changed dramatically over the past decade. Technology has been a vital turnkey, especially apps like Uber, Velocity and Airbnb. The latter has gone on to dominate the way we rent and share spaces on business trips or vacations. Traditional mediums for booking hotel and other stays are becoming part of a bygone era – people want efficient booking services that put them in control and allow them to see places first-hand and secure them in a matter of minutes. Throw in a unique experience, and you’re in the butter!
Founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia had the idea some 11 years ago to inflate three airbeds in their living room in San Francisco. And voila – Airbnb was born. The company has come a long way since then: from airbeds, spare rooms and entire homes to Airbnb Plus, boutique hotels and, launched today, Airbnb Luxe.
The travel-tech company is upping the ante with its latest offering – an innovative approach to luxury travel. A few years ago, the brand acquired Luxury Retreats and, as a result, Airbnb Luxe is built on vast expertise in luxury travel. What does this mean? The new tier launches with over 2,000 hand-picked homes from around the world – South Africa included – which have passed strict criteria to meet standards in both design and functionality (think premium materials, unique features, chef’s-grade appliances and a bathroom for every bedroom). Want to stay in a castle in France? How about immersing yourself in author Ian Fleming’s villa in Jamaica? Better yet, book an entire island in French Polynesia, Nukutepipi, and have it all to yourself. Because, really, why stay in a shared room or an ordinary house when you can rent a friggin’ castle, right?
Beyond the four walls (in this case, mansions), Airbnb Luxe also provides vacationers with dedicated trip designers who are tasked with crafting their five-star stay to perfection. They deliver bespoke experiences and services such as childcare, private chefs and in-house massage therapists and can assist with flight check-ins, secure a table at the latest on-trend Michelin-star restaurant – you name it, they can do it. As Chesky puts it: “Today’s luxury traveller is craving more than just high-end accommodations; they seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination.”
At a time when the luxury travel market is believed to be worth more than $200bn with a projected upward trajectory, it’s no surprise Airbnb has decided to move in. And Airbnb Luxe is not only limited to secluded chateaux and chalets – it will also focus on cities because, again, why rent a normal apartment in Milan when you can rent a penthouse there instead?
This new venture promises to reimagine luxury travel, so grab your Louis – it’s time to indulge. And to think, this all started with three inflatable beds …