Founded in 1999, Joe Poulin’s Luxury Retreats has rapidly grown to become one of the world’s most renowned curators of personalised villa vacations.
Amongst its lavish properties are the iconic Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s private paradise situated in the British Virgin Islands, where rates start at a cool $42,500 per night for up to 16 guests.
The brainchild behind the company is Joe Poulin, who began his successful venture at the remarkably young age of 17. Paul Joseph caught up with Mr Poulin to find out more about Luxury Retreats, his advice for budding entrepreneurs, and how he sees the luxury travel industry changing in the future.
LM: Can you start by telling us a little about the background to Luxury Retreats and the services you provide?
JP: Founded in 1999, Luxury Retreats creates personalised villa vacations, offering over 2,000 villas in more than 50 destinations. Its global team of 150+ passionate travel enthusiasts and partners hand pick and personally inspect each luxury villa ensuring that its guests are offered the very best.
As a full service villa rental company, Luxury Retreats provides visitors with complimentary concierge services, worldwide guest support, as well as villa specialists who help travellers find their perfect property – all without charging any membership fees.
LM: How many villas do you have across the world and spanning which regions?
JP: We’re currently offering over 2,000 luxury villas with the majority of our portfolio consisting of properties in the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and Italy. We also represent villas in destinations such as South Africa, Thailand, and Bali. We launched LA, Morocco, and Bonaire in 2013.
LM: What are the key criteria for the kind of villa you would add to your portfolio?
JP: We’ve developed an exclusive 100+ point inspection that our Quality Inspectors apply when viewing villas. We want to ensure that we’re offering the best locations in any given market. Beyond the obvious amenities, some of the key questions we ask are, “Does it have a pool or is it beachfront? Is it well maintained? Is it exceptional….does it wow you?”
LM: How does the concierge aspect of the service work?
JP: Once our villa specialists have helped our guest find the perfect luxury villa we then assign an individual a dedicated concierge. Our team will arrange for airport transfers, car rentals, and for the villas to be pre-stocked with customised grocery lists based on dietary needs. Some guests may request specialty wines to be flown in or even their favourite milk from a specific organic farm. Clients are limited only by their imagination!
LM: How would you describe your typical client?
JP: Our guests tend to be affluent, well-travelled people living primarily in North America. A typical Luxury Retreats customer will spend on average $2,000 USD per night for a week, on the villa alone.
LM: Can you take us through the kind of price range a client can expect to find?
JP: Our villas range from $300 USD per night up to $50,000 USD per night for your own private island. Often when you divide the cost with a group, the rates are very comparable to luxury hotels but villas offer much more value in terms of privacy, space, and personalisation.
LM: What is the most outlandish request you have had from a client?
JP: We have a guest who lives in the UK and he loves waking up early in the morning to feed his ducks. During his villa vacation in Barbados he called his Luxury Retreats concierge and asked if there was anything that we could do to make his mornings more interesting.
Our concierge worked hard in making it happen and in the end, we arranged to have ducks brought in to stay on the pond of his Barbados villa. Just one example of the many things our amazing team has done for our guests.
LM: Do you have many villas that are located in areas that may appeal to superyacht owners and charterers?
JP: Absolutely. Right now we have a client of ours who’s arriving at his Luxury Retreats villa in the Caribbean via a superyacht. I would advise your readers to consider our Caribbean portfolio of over 900 villas or our properties in Greece.
LM: I understand that you founded the company at quite a young age – would you be able to give any tips to other young, budding entrepreneurs?
JP: One of the key points is the need to hire excellent leaders. Without a great management team in place, your company will be limited in how quickly it can grow.
I would also like to say finding your niche and being enthusiastic about it is key. You need to be prepared to put in the hours and this is why adopting a passionate approach is so important.
LM: Finally, how do you envisage the luxury travel industry evolving in the coming years?
JP: I think that luxury companies like Luxury Retreats, which invest so heavily into technology and focus on solving problems, will be the ones that truly succeed. At the end of the day, you need to add value or else clients will move on elsewhere. Make it easy for people and they’ll keep coming back.
By Paul Joseph