The upheavals that came with our new reality in 2020 hit travel and tourism with a devastation that has been well documented. As the sector has sought to recover, it has had to reckon with shifts in travel patterns and demand — and the manner in which these demands are met.
At the upper end of the market exclusivity and curation play a bigger role than ever, as individuals with means seek to extract as much value as possible from their experiences and look for the right partners to deliver that to them.
Steadfast Africa, the luxury curated-travel provider, is one such partner. We spoke to co-founder Nick Sadleir.
What prompted the establishment of Steadfast Africa — was there a particular pain point?
I travelled the world as a cricket journalist. Friends and friends of friends would always ask for recommendations on where to go and where to stay, so I turned it into a business with Olivia [Burton Barbour, his wife].On the villa side [Steadfast Collection] of Steadfast Africa, we started with Whale Song (the “penguin house” in Simon’s Town), with management through Airbnb. Friends and friends of friends then reached out to ask if I would also manage theirs. This did so well that the portfolio grew and Steadfast Africa now manages over 37 Airbnbs.
What, in terms of luxury travel, does one find nowhere else but with Steadfast?
We are on the client’s side, get preferential rates from the best properties, and add a personal touch, with top-end and full concierge services — restaurants, activities, contacts with nannies and chefs — at no additional cost. We give hotel-level service at our villas, while striving to save you money. Our footprint is mixed and we have local and international clients. Our marquee properties include Farsight Villa at Taaibosch [wine estate], Cheetah Plains [safari], and Sandcastle Villa [Eastern Cape beach].
What is your process in selecting properties and curating experiences?
We aim to get to know each client individually in order to make the best suggestions. Our well-travelled team choose from personal experience. We prefer to stay away from mainstream destinations and experiences, and lean more towards private and boutique properties with nature immersions, placing an emphasis on conservation and sustainability. Curated travel in Africa is the best in the world, so we want to share it with everyone — solo travellers, couples, and families.
What are some of the post-2020/2021 luxury travel trends that may just stay with us?
Luxury villas are the new way to travel. Africa is a top destination for a new kind of intentional traveller who emphasises the importance of experiences — and documentation thereof — with a trailblazer mentality towards new destinations.
• From the May edition of Wanted, 2023.