Founder and CEO Stephen Wise on the success recipe of The Hideaways Club
CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed exclusively Stephen Wise, the Founder and CEO of The Hideaways Club. The Hideaways Club combines intelligent investment and lifestyle benefits through collective ownership of luxury holiday residences. All properties are fully maintained and serviced by the Club’s bespoke Concierge Service.
How did you come up with equity backed investment and what makes it different than other types of owning or sharing a holiday home?
The founders (Helmut and Stephen) were celebrating a friend’s birthday and spent the weekend at Stoke Park in early 2004. A friend had recently joined a destination club in the USA. They liked the idea of having use and ownership of a portfolio of properties, but discovered nobody was offering this combined with a luxury lifestyle. Whilst several companies were offering certain elements, there was no one offering the combination of ownership and lifestyle in a format that would work for them. They therefore decided to create a new club that would fit their needs and the needs of like-minded individuals. The founders spent 2005 fine tuning and testing our model that combined intelligent ownership with a luxury lifestyle and raised initial finance in 2006. The first fund was launched in 2007.
Your collection of properties includes purpose built villas such as Masseria L’Olivo in Puglia, Italy. For newly built properties, is there a common denominator in terms of style and/or construction? – a DNA factor that would make the property recognizable as being part of The Hideaways Club?
All properties whether newly built or existing have to meet the exacting standards of Donald, our head of Operations. Villas must be able to comfortably sleep at least 8 people and the Apartments at least 4. In addition there are strict criteria in terms of facilities and the level of decor. All properties have to be located centrally or near landmarks and in a safe location. In addition they have high speed Wi-Fi (this has involved in at least one case installing satellite Wi-Fi), top-class audio-visual equipment, including flat screen TV, Bose music systems, and an iPad. The Hideaways Club have preferred interior designers, but will also consult with local interior designers to ensure the right blend of consistent quality with local ambiance.
Besides the Concierge, what other benefits do you offer to your members? Are there any key differences between a stay in one of your properties and an exclusive resort hotel? i.e. you do not offer on site Spa or dining.
The concierge service is geared towards ensuring that our Members gain all the benefits of a hotel, but with the privacy that comes with being in a Villa or Apartment. The Concierge will arrange bookings in exclusive restaurants or a private chef at the Villa if desired by the guest. We have close ties with many of the best spas in the world close to our properties and can arrange appointments for our Members at the spa or arrange for a specialist to visit the guest at the property. The Concierge team pride themselves on being able to arrange everything from tickets to a sold out show, a table at a restaurant that only the locals know about right through to an elephant for a child’s birthday party. We also run a number of private Members events every year to enable Member to network between each other as well as enjoying everything from driving classic cars through the streets of London, right through to a private wine tasting.
What is the profile of your members? Are there certain nationalities which stand out?
The Hideaways Club is formed of like-minded individuals from across the world. They are typically captains of industry, sports stars or entrepreneurs. What they share is a desire for hassle free holidays combined with a prudent eye for a safe investment. The membership has a western and northern European bias, but Members come from all over the world from Dubai to Hong Kong.
Has the profile of your members changed in the past 3 years?
The profile is slowly evolving over time, but the core membership profile remains unchanged.
Are you targeting any emerging market in particular for the near future?
The Hideaways Club is considering several new markets in the future including potentially Russia and China.
What are the best communications channels in reaching potential new members?
The Hideaways Club prides itself on the fact that our number one source of new Members is referrals. The Members own the properties and are justifiably proud of The Hideaways Club. This results in Members sharing their enthusiasm with their friends and colleagues.
You have less City locations than Classic ones. Is this a business you are focusing a further expand?
The City Collection was only launched in 2011, whereas the Classic Collection was launched in 2007. In order to keep the balance right we maintain strict ratios between Members and properties. For the Classic Collection we acquire one new Villa for every six Members who join; for the City Collection the ratio is 10/1.
For city locations, are you considering apartments in one building, the type of ‘service apartments’?
This is an option in our acquisition strategy. We recently opened a new City Apartment in Bangkok in The River complex which includes a gym and a riverfront infinity pool as well as multi-purpose sports courts in the building facilities.