Wanting to rent a chateau in the South of France? How about a modern villa in Jamaica? Perhaps a private Polynesian Island? Or, is a sleek and chic London penthouse more to your liking? Airbnb Luxe, the company’s newest tier, offers magical experiences in some of the world’s most beautiful homes.
Above, top left: Chateau d’Estoublon, Fontvieille, France. Top right: One of 10 bedrooms at Chateau d’Estoublon, Fontvieille, France. Bottom: Te Kahu, Wanaka, New Zealand.
Having met as students at Rhode Island School of Design, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia moved to San Francisco and became roommates. Rental properties in the Bay Area are costly and making ends meet was challenging for the recent grads. In October 2007 when the Industrial Designers Society of America was hosting a conference in San Francisco and all hotel rooms were booked, the pair purchased three air mattresses. Effectively turning their living room into a bed & breakfast and marketing their idea as Airbed and Breakfast, three guests stayed for the four-day event. The idea took hold and one year later Airbnb launched.
Now completing its 11th year, Airbnb is a major force in hospitality, becoming so recognizable that its name also serves as both a noun and a verb. Through this online marketplace, members can arrange lodging and tourism experiences both domestic and abroad. Over the years, Airbnb has been upping its luxury levels, first offering private rooms in hosts’ homes and entire apartments under its regular Airbnbs, and then launching Airbnb Plus in 2018, which added personally inspected homes that meet a 100-point checklist for amenities and design.
Above: Casa Koko, Punta Mita, Mexico.
Building on its success, the decision to expand its offerings to include five-star luxury listings was based on extensive research. A representative of the brand noted that in 2018 the number of Airbnb bookings priced at $1,000-plus per night increased by more than 60-percent. With a dramatic rise in consumers seeking all things super-luxe, Airbnb was poised to go all-in to cater to the top-echelon traveler. The company acquired Luxury Retreats one year ago, then carefully evaluated the portfolio to select only those properties that measured up to Airbnb’s highest standards in both design and function. In fact, only 2,000 of Luxury Retreats’ 5,000 villas and homes made the Airbnb Luxe cut.
Last month the company announced the launch of Airbus Luxe. Guests wanting access to extraordinary accommodations can choose among chateaux, villas, estates, mansions, townhouses and penthouses via the Airbnb app. Properties featured on the new Luxe platform include The Fleming Villa in Jamaica, where James Bond author Ian Fleming penned his famous novels; Nukutepipi, curated by Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, a 52-person resort on a private island in French Polynesia; a chic four-bedroom penthouse in London’s tony Sloane Square, Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, a 10-bedroom chateau in Provence and an out-of-this-world getaway jutting out over a lake on South Island, New Zealand.
In case a past private or shared rental experience still has you in doubt, the brand’s methods of evaluation for Luxe rental properties are rigorous. “Airbnb’s local Host Team sources homes and uses our design standard as a benchmark for initial evaluation,” a brand representative confirms. “They then score properties against our design rubric to ensure that all aspects of the exterior design, interior amenities and design elements are in perfect condition.”
Airbnb also vets the property’s technology, security, privacy, and overall accessibility. Recommended homes are then re-evaluated by a Global Design Expert, who scores the home. Only then is the property sent into the on-boarding process which includes an in-person visit from a Home Consultant with a 300-point checklist in hand.
“A Luxe rental gives guest’s around-the-clock access to AirBnb’s trip design team who ensure the stay is tailored to the traveler’s unique needs every step of the way,” explains an Airbnb rep. “After booking a property, the trip designer can help ensure effortless check-in, coordinate local bespoke experiences and activities and arrange a wide range of services from childcare to private chefs to in-house massage therapists—or, for the dedicated, personal training sessions in your own private gym. And, just in case, there are emergency 24/7 contacts in each destination, so there’s always someone ‘on the ground’ to help solve any issues.”
A trip designer is included in your property’s rate, so you can use their help in booking other parts of your trip as much or as little as you’d like. Want someone to pick you up from the airport? Done. Need childcare? They can do that, too. Want a chef? How about a butler? Or even just a fully stocked fridge with fresh groceries when you arrive? Yes, yes, and yes. You’ll have to pay for the additional services, of course, but Airbnb isn’t levying fees for organizing these extras: “The cost of the groceries is the cost of the groceries, the cost of renting a catamaran is the cost of the catamaran,” says Nick Guezen, Airbnb’s Global Director Portfolio Strategy.
Brian Chesky, Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community adds, “Today’s luxury traveler 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. With Airbnb Luxe, we are applying the same approach we’ve used since we launched Airbnb more than 11 years ago—creating local, authentic and magical travel moments now in amazing places to stay—to reimagine the way people think and experience luxury travel.”
To view Airbnb Luxe listings, visit www.airbnb.com/luxe