Airbnb is a phenomenon that is helping to change the way we travel. While the idea of renting out another person’s home or apartment isn’t a new one by any means, the company was able to catapult the idea to an entirely new level.
And although some companies are not so happy about the influx of nonregulated short-term rentals, other businesses are able to reap the benefits of the growing trend of authentic traveling.
Luxury Retreats was founded in 1999 by 17-year-old Joe Poulin in Montreal, Canada. Then named CaribbeanWay, the company focused solely on villas. Within two years of starting, the company it pulled in $1 million in sales and expanded its offerings throughout Mexico, Florida, Central America and into high-end vacation rentals and even private islands for its most exclusive clientele.
Further expanding, Poulin launched a second villa rental company called Luxury Retreats in 2002 that covered some of the most popular European destinations. Today, Luxury Retreats offers more than 2,000 villas in more than 50 destinations throughout the world to its dedicated guests.
Luxury Retreats recently made an announcement that it raised $11 million in a Series B round funding, which was led by iNovia Capital. While currently not disclosing its valuation, the company and founder Poulin reported that Luxury Retreats wasn’t actually looking for funding but wanted to expand its offerings to different destinations.
This isn’t the first funding it received from iNovia Capital, either. In 2012, the company was funded $5 million led by iNovia to brand out its business, which was the first time it was funded. At this time, Luxury Retreats was annually bringing in $100 million in rental revenues.
It’s perhaps the increase in the sharing economy that Airbnb has helped to make even more profitable than before. And for Luxury Retreats, there is a whole new level of service and consistency that they are now able to offer guests because of the added interest and appeal.
One major differentiation between the typical home share service and Luxury Retreats is that it pairs its beautiful properties with specific high-end customer service. It has 180 people working remotely and locally to provide guests with whatever service or product they are in need of, and for the luxury renters that can be just about anything.
Chartered boats and yachts, specific wines and party planning are among the services that are more commonly offered, but the requests can be incredibly exotic and specific such as building a synagogue on the grounds of a home. But whatever guests are in need of, they receive.
The typical price range for a three- to five-bedroom home is between $1,500 and $2,500 a night, and listed properties include those owned by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Richard Branson, among others. There are some property owners whose names cannot even be publicly disclosed.
Commission rates and pay structure is set, offering a more “turnkey” type of service than Airbnb. Where the company really differs from Airbnb is that Luxury Retreats must certify every property before listing to ensure the company is willing to 100 percent back its luxury appeal.
This unexpected funding is one that proves the market is there, and Poulin is set on continuing the business’ current model because it’s what works for them.