development area

Media

An Interview with Antnony Melikhov

Anthony Melikhov captured the American Dream when he ventured to the United States from Belarus. Taking the pharmaceutical sector by storm he founded a company which became one of the largest pharmaceutical enterprises in the former Soviet Union and eventually entire Eastern Europe. Today he has moved his focus to shift today’s philanthropic consciousness in a movement known as unite4: good. With high-profile supporters already on board to help inspire and lead the movement, including President Bill Clinton and Eva Longoria, unite 4: good is set to make an extraordinary impact.

You have an incredible background. Could you tell us a bit about your story?

I was born and lived in a former country of the Soviet Union, Belarus. At the time when my wife was pregnant with our daughter we left the country for the United States. As immigrants in Chicago we did not have anything. We had no money and I could not speak the language. 

I started an over-the-counter pharmaceutical business together with two of my friends and partners, which we developed from ground zero with an entire brand line. We eventually had presence in each of the different markets in Eastern Europe and hundreds of millions in sales. 

Whilst I was president, I eventually felt disconnected, disengaged and unhappy to continue my corporate life. In 2008, pharmaceutical giant Bayer Pharmaceuticals purchased the company and suddenly I was free.


I started looking for my cave and I found my cave in the jungles of Panama, one of the most pristine places I had ever seen. I spent one year away from this world focusing my time on meditation and Thai Chi. However, I found that I still needed something else and I realised there is a higher purpose in this life. So I came back to Chicago and that’s when my philanthropic walk started. 

You have had a great deal of success in the pharmaceutical sector. What motivated you to work in this field?

We have to remember that when the Soviet Union disintegrated it became a completely different society. The pharmaceutical industry in the former Soviet Union was very underdeveloped, especially in the over the counter sector. When we came to the United States my good friends and I saw quite a substantial difference in perception of over the counter products; products with bright labels and very easily accessible. We saw the opportunity to introduce these products in Eastern Europe, where branded products did not yet have a presence. 

Why did you decide to leave the pharmaceutical sector?

At some point we start thinking about the purpose of this life. No matter how much money you have or how much power it gives you, it is only temporary pleasure. In order to become a happy and joyful person you need something more. I realised that no matter how much I do, how much wealth I accumulate or power, I am not happy. I still desire something else. I am also lucky enough to have my wife who is very spiritual and who is a genuine person; she lives by giving back. She was a big inspiration for me.

Could you tell us more about establishing Bright Future and the programmes it runs for children?

Initially we started establishing Bright Future International with the purpose to help children in different parts of the world to learn kindness, compassion, empathy and love. Those are the values that are universal. We wanted to give children from unprivileged communities a chance to connect with those values through a discipline: art and music, for example. The programme expanded to Russia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Central America, such as Panama. In Russia we helped families of criminals, drug addicts and alcoholics, for example; In Rwanda we helped children in families affected by HIV and Aids; and in Kenya it was refugees from neighbouring countries, such as Somalia. We wanted to teach children to become happy.

Unite4: good was only launched early last year but has already made substantial headway in uniting non-profits and inspiring individuals to volunteer. Could you tell us a bit more about what motivated you to create this organisation? 

At Bright Future International we eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to do something more. We found that the core root of the human problem is in effect that we live in a negative society. All you have to do is turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or read newspapers and the stories are filled with a society which has been disempowered by scandals, wars and violence. 

In response, we decided to create a movement which we called unite4: good. The idea is to create an alternative society to foster completely different values. We wanted to aggregate positive energy that comes from activities such as volunteering and selflessness; we wanted to amplify this to the world. To make people realise that acts of kindness can be very simple, easy, and fashionable; making acts of kindness a global brand. 

There is an enormous explosion of social consciousness. Here in the United States we have 1.7 million non-profit organisations. There were only 250,000 organisations less than 10 years ago. Many organisations are still underfunded. However, we can do more if we can unite our efforts. 

There are 4 major factors that will shift people to become part of the movement: 1-Motivation; 2- Entertainment; 3- Modern technology; 4- Sense of Unity. 

We are building a platform which we internally call a Facebook for charity, bringing together a multitude of non-profit organisations and uniting people with those organisations. One way in which we will motivate the youth to volunteer is through a point system. For example, if you go to a nearby shelter to help the homeless you may get 5 points to redeem for a free latte from Starbucks. For 20 points you may have a chance to speak to your favourite celebrity, such as Eva Longoria or for 50 points you could visit an eco-resort in Costa Rica. This is a way, especially for young people, to be entertained. We anticipate over a period of time those people that need motivation at some point will realise that these activities are rewarding by themselves. They will motivate others and will have a snowball effect. 

Note from our Editor: On February 27th, 2014, unite4:good will hold a celebration of philanthropy calledunite4:humanity. The event will be held at the Sony Studios in Los Angeles, CA and will feature everyday heroes, philanthropically minded celebrities and musical performances by Grammy-winning artists. The goal of the event is to empower and inspire individuals to make a positive difference in their communities, and to create awareness for the unite4:good philanthropic social networking platform that u4:g is set to unveil early this year.

 


 

Images:http://www.brightfutureinternational.org/

 


An Interview with Per Wimmer

Per Wimmer: Adventurer, Space Astronaut, Author, and Financial Entrepreneur. Wimmer has certainly checked off more than most in his list of accomplishments. He is currently the founder of three companies: Wimmer Financial, a corporate finance advisory boutique specialising in natural resources and real estate; Wimmer Family Office, a family office with an investment strategy focusing on hedge funds and ETF; Wimmer Space, a company focusing on Wimmer’s adventures and charity efforts, as well as publishing, which also falls under the framework.


Sky diving over Mount Everest is not a small feat. How did you muster up the courage to do something that no one before has been successful doing? 

The courage has always been there and the desire for adventure. I have travelled to more than 60 countries on earth, lived with the Indians in the Amazon and skied the highest ski resort in the world at 5500 meters. I am also lucky to have three space missions lined up.

I always wanted to do something with Mount Everest before going into space. I felt that taking on the highest point on Earth would just be fantastic before leaving this planet as it were.


Hunger and passion are often considered the most important elements to success. Do you agree? Where does your hunger and passion come from?

Yes, passion, for sure. When you do what you like you don’t think of what it costs or how long it takes. You do it because you want to do it. If you convert your life into doing what you love then you have a good formula for success because you can be on holiday, like me, 365 days a year.  


You are expected to be the first Dane in Space. Can you tell us a bit more about Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and your involvement?

I have three trips lined up on three different rocket ships. So far I have gone through training in preparation for this. Training has consisted of Zero G flying, weightless flying, flying on Russian cargo planes, as well as flying Russian fighter jets and being in the centrifuge spinning around as you see in the James Bond movies. You effectively simulate a rocket launch. In my involvement with Virgin Galactic I hope to inspire other people to live out their dreams to the max.


You wrote a book called Wall Street. What motivated you to write?

I wrote Wall Street after the fall out of the credit crunch. The drive was that I felt it was necessary and interesting to tell a bit of the inside story about how things went so wrong as they did: ‘what caused it?’ and ‘how does it happen?’. So the book is essentially about the bubbles of the financial markets: ‘what creates them?’, ‘why do they appear?’ and ‘how do they explode and why?’.

I also described the dot com bubble and credit bubble. In Wall Street I tried to predict the future, the next future bubble, what that will entail and why. It was an analysis of those bubbles and why they appear. 

Right now I am just putting the finishing touches to my next book which is called the The Green Bubble, which is about green energy, due to come out this month.


What advice would you give members of PHS?

My advice would be to follow my 7 principles:

1)    Allow yourself to be inspired. Think ‘out of the box’.

2)      Follow your heart and passion. Have fun.

3)      Focus and Execution.

4)      Time discipline: Be conscious about time allocation.

5)      Teamwork: The sum of the parts is greater than the individual parts alone.

6)      Take calculated risks: Assess risks/rewards.

7)      Inspire others, especially children, and encourage them to live their dreams.


How do you take a dream and turn it into reality?

The key ingredients are my 7 principles [as described above]. The key values and principles that make things happen for me in terms of how I go about executing my dreams, coming up with the adventures, following my passion, following my heart, executing it, and focusing on it, whilst managing my time, discipline and remembering in the process to inspire others to live out their dreams.

 

 


Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell

An Interview with Saint Clair Cemin


Internationally renowned artist and sculptor Saint Clair Cemin speaks to People and High Society about his beginnings as an artist, his travels and the New York East Village art scene.


Please tell us your story. 

It was 1974 when I, in company of my brother, took an ocean liner from Santos in Brazil to Cannes. Our destination was Paris.

We were young and curious and my idea was to stay in Europe to study art. That is what I did; I stayed in Paris for 4 years and enrolled in the Ecole de Beaux Arts. I was drawing constantly; already in Brazil I was making surrealist drawings with pen and ink. I was also creating illustrations for magazines. My ideas on art were limited and I was more interested in philosophy, anthropology, religion, mythology, rather than in the “Avant-garde” art of that time. I was, on the other hand, well acquainted with it since I frequented artists in Sao Paulo; I used to “hang out” with them during the Sao Paulo Biennials. 

In Paris I learned the art of etching and became very good at it. At a certain point I felt that I need a more stimulating atmosphere and I moved to New York in September 1978.

In New York I had a chance, after only a few months, to meet a group of artists and other people involved in art, all friends of the art critic and writer, Alan Jones, a good friend of Leo Castelli and also with all the crowd that very soon became my own. I quit etchings and began making sculpture in 1983.


We understand you were first inspired to become an artist through conversations with intellectuals, whilst a teenager in Brazil. What was it about those conversations that moved you?

Between the ages of 15 and 17 I was best friends with a young man, my class mate, Jose Augusto. He was a real genius in math and also in music. I became friends with his father as well, who happened to also be friends with my parents. Gilberto, the father, with whom I used to spend many afternoons, was a farmer (which was quite normal in the city I came from), but also a polymath philosopher and highly eccentric intellectual.

He introduced me to philosophy, to the German idealist tradition of Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schopenhauer. He knew a number of languages, including ancient Greek. He enjoyed reciting Sappho poetry while playing traditional “Milonga” on his “Bandoneon” (an instrument like an accordion). His influence in my intellectual formation was crucial, but not really in what concerns sculpture, that came later.


In the 80s you were an integral part of the New York East Village art scene. What was it like being in a close circle with artists such as Jeff Koons. Was there a great deal of idea exchanging and collaboration?

I lived on 9th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue. My friends, besides Alan Jones, the writer, were Jeff Wasserman, a wonderful painter disciple of Hoffman, Jeff Plate, a sculptor, Jeff Koons, and many others. Jeff Koons was a good friend. One thing that struck me about his personality was his relentless pursuit of perfection. One time, visiting his apartment, which was impeccably clean (at least to my standards) he excused himself profusely for the “mess” in which the apartment supposedly was. At that time I met Peter Halley, the painter, Jonathan Lasker and Not Vital. Subsequently, after my first exhibition of sculpture in 1985 at Daniel Newburg Gallery, I didn’t cease to meet artists, many of who are still my closest friends today.


Which one of your works are you most proud of and why?

There are nuances in the word “proud” and they have to do with the public. There are works that, let us say, are discovered over and over again by the public, on which I have received many compliments. This is the case for my work with the Musee de la Chasse in Paris (2006), where I made all the bronzes, reliefs, bannisters, candelabra, etc.

Another work is the large fountain I made in Reston, Virginia, called The Mercury Fountain. This fountain, one of my largest public works, was inaugurated in 1991 and is made of Carrara marble and bronze. It looks like a work from the nineteenth century. One day, I was visiting The Mercury Fountain with my parents who hadn’t seen it yet. While I was taking some photos of it, an older gentleman approached me and said: ‘This is a magnificent fountain!’ to which I said, distractedly: ‘Do you like it? I made it…’ He only said, ‘Yeah, sure!’ and left, quite irritated, thinking he had spoken to a mad man.

Of course I’m always most satisfied with my latest works; ideas that I’m developing now, and when they work well, they make me happy.


What new works or projects are you working on currently?

I’m now preparing a show in my gallery in NYC, Paul Kasmin Gallery that will take place in the fall.

I have some large pieces that are going to be in the show, some in stainless steel and some in marble. They all have to do with ‘Love and Mathematics’, which is the title of one piece in the show.


Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell

Frieze Fair

16-19 October 2014

 

Frieze London 2014 will take place 16–19 October 2014, and is sponsored by Deutsche Bank for the eleventh consecutive year.

 

Frieze London 2013 brought together 152 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries to the UK. Exhibitors from 30 countries participated in the 11th edition of the fair confirming the fair’s position as one of the world’s leading contemporary art events.  

 

During the 2013 event, Nicola Lees was the curator of Frieze Foundation and conceived a programme of commissions that centred around ideas of play and governance. It focused on how these exchanges can be brought to light through participatory contemporary art practices.

 

The Frieze Fair also included an interesting line-up for the Frieze Talks 2013, which included international artists, filmmakers, curators and cultural commentators. The series of lectures, conversations and panel debates provides a forum during the Fair to discuss some of the most pertinent issues in contemporary art and culture today. Presented by Frieze Foundation, Frieze Talks is programmed by the editors of frieze magazine, Jennifer Higgie, Jörg Heiser and Christy Lange.

 

Images: bbc.co.uk, theguardian.com, artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com  


Tate Modern, The Richard Hamilton Retrospective

Pop art enthusiasts will have marked their calendar for the 13th of February as Richard Hamilton’s work is at the Tate Modern for a 3 month exhibition. 

Widely regarded as a founding figure of pop art, the full scope of his 60 year career has been showcased, from the 1950s to his final works in 2011. The focus of the exhibition is Hamilton’s relationship to photography, painting, design and television, as well is collaborations with other artists.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is his renowned Fun House 1956. His famous works depicting Mick Jagger, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe have been featured, as well as some of his political works of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. These pieces alone are worth the visit!


An Interview with Giles English, Co-Founder of Bremont Watches

Co-Founder of luxury British Watchmaker Bremont, Giles English speaks to People and High Society about bringing life back to British watchmaking, flying vintage planes and testing watches fit for an adventurer’s next trip to Mount Everest.


Please tell us more about founding Bremont watches?

It all came about through my father who was an amazing engineer, a PHD engineer from Cambridge. Although he had the brain for it he was also very practical with his hands; he loved building things. He had a workshop where he built planes, and he built a boat which we went to live on as kids. One of his passions was also watches and clocks. So we grew up around watches and clocks and always loved them.

I went off to go study engineering and was also involved in the family business of restoring old aircrafts. Life changed in 1995 when my father was in a plane crash with my brother. My father died and my brother, Nick, broke 30 bones and was in intensive care for many months. When he recovered Nick and I thought life is very short and lets do something we both love doing. So that’s exactly what we did. We decided to make watches. It was five years until we launched our first watch. It’s very much created out of passion, a lot of sweat and tears.


Hunger and passion are often considered the most important elements to success. Do you agree? What motivates and drives you?

Definitely passion is the driver. What is lovely about manufacturing something like watches is that you are creating something beautiful. So you become obsessed; you want to make it better and better. You want to improve so that’s driving you like an artist; you want to perfect it. If you are three years into it and you haven’t made a watch yet you aren’t going to give up there. You’ve got to turn to your wife and explain why it’s been a disaster so I think there is pride as well pushing you forward.

Working with a brother there is definitely a complete sense of trust; you are in it altogether and you want the same thing for each other. We’ve always been very close and after the plane crash we are even closer and more reliant on each other. 


You and your brother are known for being quite adventurous, flying vintage planes for example. What is the most daring or dangerous thing you have ever done? Also, what would you like to do?

Being that I broke my back in August 2013 in a plane crash I think that probably sums it up. Flying old planes doesn’t necessarily have to be dangerous; it’s calculated risk. I think the older you get the less risks you want to take and you have family you don’t want to let down.

However, I think the adrenaline is a real buzz; getting into an old aircraft, flying it long distances over mountains and over the sea is incredibly exciting and very liberating. There is definitely a sense of risk involved with it, but when you come close with death you see life in rose coloured spectacles again; you appreciate things more. Unless you push yourself in life you don’t realise how wonderful life is really.


How has watchmaking evolved within the UK?

Britain has this amazing history. Two world wars wiped out our industry. We had to build guns, planes and tanks. The Swiss, the neutral country, were building watches so their industry flourished and ours died away. There has always been an on-going industry in clocks and specialist restorations, which kept going. However, for new build of watches on any scale there has been no one until we came along.

We saw that there was a wonderful history of British watchmaking. Probably 60% of the modern movement was designed by British watchmakers and the world sets its time by Greenwich meantime, yet the history of British watchmaking was largely forgotten. So we felt if we could create a beautiful watch we could re-launch this history of British watchmaking and differentiate ourselves.

Today, we have a big apprenticeship scheme for training watchmakers. The industry is growing, but it takes time and a lot of investment.


Bremont watches have gone through an incredible amount of testing. Can you please tell us a bit more about this?

We realised before we launched that we needed to go through a proper testing regime and that’s partly where our relationships with adventurers and explorers came from; if you have a man climbing Mount Everest or walking through the South Pole its really testing your watch. We also worked with a company that creates ejection seats for about 75% of the world’s military flying aircrafts. We had a 2.5 year testing phase where our watches were ejected, crash tested, etc. We developed new mechanisms in the watch to protect it. As a result of that we received a lot of requests from the military. About 20% of our business is delivering to military squadrons around the world, whether it’s air force of military. It is a very proud part of our business.

We also just announced a long term partnership with Boeing. We are creating some watches for them and working with their advanced materials testing research centre, so we can use new materials that have never been used in watches before.

www.bremont.com



Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell

Premier-Class Polo in the Snow

St Moritz Snow Polo World Cup: 30 January-2 February 2014 The next Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the renowned polo event. Last year around 12,000 spectators enjoyed a spectacular top-class polo tournament in beautiful sunshine albeit freezing cold temperatures. For the 2013 Cup Cartier sealed its victory with a result of 5:4 against BMW thanks to Jonathan Munro Ford (patron), Max Charlton, Nacho Gonzalez and Chris Hyde. “The key to winning a match is to anticipate not only your opponent’s next move but the one after that, wherever possible; and on the snow, a little bit of luck sometimes comes in handy,” commented the delighted patron Jonathan Munro Ford on his victory. Ensure you secure your tickets for this coming year’s not to be missed event. St Moritz White Turf: 9, 16 and 23 February 2014 Your Polo Calendar is not complete without St Moritz White Turf. Undeniably glamorous and unforgettably beautiful, the event is set among the stunningly beautiful snow-capped mountains of St Moritz. The combination of horse-racing, gourmet catering, live music and art exhibitions leaves little to be desired. The attendee numbers tend to be in the ballpark of 35,000. Join them for rounds of champagne in the snow this winter. Images: newinzurich.com, swiss-images.ch


Front Row at Fashion Week: Frills and Thrills for S/S 2014

New York, New York The Fashion Pack’s first stop for S/S ’14: NYC. Top trends for the season: sheer fabrics provided a visual feast for the eyes, whilst monochrome is a must-wear. Tropical patterns, 90s flashback and vibrant orange lips brought light-hearted fun to the runway. Legendary make-up guru Gucci Westman perfected the season's new lip hue at the rag & bone show, proving that orange really is the new black. Parties to be seen: The Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Awards Luncheon and the tenth annual Style Awards. Michael Kors was honoured for his services to the industry at the Fashion Awards. Guests included Hilary Swank, Lily Aldridge and Harley Viera-Newton. Later Nicole Richie presented at the Style Awards whilst Patrick Demarchelier, Kate Upton and Zac Posen left as happy winners. London Bound Dries Van Noten strutted pleats and ruffles down the runway, creating a dramatic and fluid collection, whilst, Dolce and Gabbana felt very golden with rich tones. Colours for London Fashion Week were bright and details were gorgeous. There was a focus on wearability and, like in New York, on customers' seasonal needs. "Usually there is a huge diversity in London, from the romantic to the very modern, but this season it feels like there has been a convergence and they've really sung with one voice […] Very modern, very slick, very conceptual, but without being tricksy." Vogue UK’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers Ciao Milan! SS14 Milan got fresh. Themes, colours and presentation felt young and flamboyant. Milan’s shows were a riot of punchy, rainbow drenched colour. As seen in New York and London, Milan paid homage to the crop top. Plus, sport luxe, retro, arty prints and heavy embellishments were strong trends. Party to be remembered: Condé Nast’s night of music, One Night One Voice, to celebrate Italian culture. J'aime Paris Paris: final stop for the shows. Off the shoulder, power to the 80s and oversized silhouettes were hot trends. We also saw crop tops, colours and prints emerge on the runway. With the biggest news of the season breaking on the last day of Paris Fashion Week - that of Marc Jacobs leaving Louis Vuitton after 16 years- that wraps up SS’14! Images: Msn.com, Style.com, Topshop


The Waldorf Astoria, New York

In Midtown Manhattan, a retreat from the bustling streets of New York City, we find the Waldorf Astoria. It’s the name that is on everyone’s lips when asked about the best of the best in New York City.  


An official New York City landmark since 1993, this Art Deco hotel leaves little to be desired: mosaics, murals and elaborate plaster ornamentation add to the opulence of this striking hotel. It’s a regular for Presidents visiting the city so certainly won’t disappoint. We especially love the individually decorated rooms and suites so it never feels dull coming more than just once. In our experience we have found the service to be impeccable; with 24-hour room service there is little to complain about. Try the Waldorf Salad, it’s a classic. If you would like a bit of relaxation the Guerlain Spa does the trick. 


An Interview with Paolo Macchiaroli, Founder and CEO of My Private Villas

Paolo Macchiaroli, luxury holiday rental entrepreneur, speaks to People and High Society about why the discerning luxury client is now swopping a 5 star hotel for a private luxury holiday villa experience. He talks to us about how the industry has changed and the perks of joining the club to rent your own villa.

 

Could you please tell us more about founding My Private Villas? What inspired and motivated you?


I’ve been in the Luxury villa rental market for about 10 years. Before My Private Villas, I was the CEO and President of a B2B
company which promoted luxury villas to a network of international rental agencies. 

The villa market has changed very much in recent years, due to the incredible number of villa rental agencies that have appeared on the internet. Some are very professional but unfortunately others are not. Websites are simply cutting and pasting information from another website without having any contact or contract with the owners. They simply add mark-ups and offer the villa for a higher price than the standard rate. This has created a huge confusion in the market. Now the villa rental market is a jungle. It’s not like yacht or chalet rentals where official rates are always used. One villa can be available online for 3, 4 or 5 different rates through different sites. It is not fair for clients as they are overpaying and it is not fair for the owners as they can’t control how much the client is spending. The behaviour of the client has changed as well. Before the client only contacted one villa rental agency, which they trusted. Now they contact 5 to 10 villa agencies, so they do what I call ‘shopping around’. For these reasons almost three years ago I decided on a change as I no longer agreed with the business model. I sold my shares and moved to London. 

When I moved the villa owners I previously worked with tried to convince me to continue to promote their villas. I had an incredible portfolio of contacts and I felt I should either create something new and unique or nothing at all. Then I had a very simple idea to create a private club of owners. 


Do you think websites such as My Private Villas and Homeaway are changing the hospitality landscape?

High net worth individuals are increasingly renting villas rather than visiting a hotel considering these villas have 5 star luxury services, incredible chefs, some villas even have Michelin star chefs. So they have the same or better services than a 5 star hotel simply because they are the only guest. In proportion they spend less, because if you visit a 5 star hotel with a group of 10 people and book 5 penthouses you will probably spend more than booking a villa. This kind of experience is completely different because you are at your private villa, your private home. 

There are also new markets, for example South America or India that did not even know of the possibility of renting villas, they are now discovering this.


My Private Villas offers a luxury experience; what does it offer that makes it most different from its competitors?


From the client side we are able to offer clients the best prices through the owners. Also, we are almost ready to launch an incredible service that none of the other villa rental agencies offer, which is a 24/7 concierge service for all of our villas (with the exception of one in Thailand). This is incredible value as we offer it for free. 

From the owner’s side we offer villa owners promotional and marketing activities, as well as transparency. Usually a rental agency advertises its own company but not the individual villas. We run dedicated promotional and marketing activities for our villas through social media and newsletters. For a villa in Tuscany we might create a promotional activity around food and wine. We have a database of clients already divided in different sectors. We would write personalised emails to all our clients that are lovers of food and wine; it’s like knocking on the right door. 


There is quite a substantial return on investment by renting out one's villa when not in use. Could you please tell us a bit more about the advantages?

Many villas cost a fortune to maintain: fixed staff that take care of the property, general maintenance, etc. Renting the villa when not in use can cover these costs. 

Others rent out villas as a business. Some owners have created companies that own several villas like a small hotel chain. They do it for investment purposes.


My Private Villas has properties in some of the most beautiful places in the world, including the Cote d'Azur, Sardinia and the French Alps. How many properties does the website now feature?

When I launched the company two years ago we started with 60 villas; now we have more than 300 villas. The most important part of my job was to discover new villas. To be honest I don’t have to do this anymore, simply because there is a long queue of villa owners that are waiting to be part of our portfolio because they want to be part of the club. They like that we dedicate energy and time to promote them individually. We share the promotional plan with them every year and they don’t feel just like a number in a portfolio. They feel that someone is really taking care of them. 

We visit all the properties. Word of mouth is the most incredible advertising we can have. We therefore need to control all the villas every year: the sheets, towels, glasses, etc. I have visited thousands of villas in my life and now have an eye for those that will be successful and those that won’t. 


What is your vision for the business this year and for the future?

I always prepare a plan for 3-5 years to create a base for a successful business. I strongly believe especially now with the crisis the solution is to keep the price low and offer extra and dedicated services. 

We are always looking for new properties. We don’t want a portfolio of 1000 villas because we need to control the quality of each villa individually. Instead we will increase the quality of the villas. 

It is also the market that decides how we will expand. Last year if you asked me ‘Paolo, what do you think about enlarging the destination portfolio to the Caribbean?’ I would have probably told you ‘No way- because we can’t control the quality in the Caribbean.’ Then what happened was that we began receiving enquiries from our return clients saying that ‘We had a fantastic experience in your villa in Europe, do you have a villa in St Barts?’. For the first client you think ‘No’, the second ‘No’, the third ‘No’… then you start to think that we should develop a portfolio with the same quality with the most requested destinations outside of Europe. It’s the market that decides, not us. 

For more information about renting a villa or renting out your own villa, visit www.myprivatevillas.com.

 

 


Saphira Turrell, Pearl Publicity, London

Saphira Turrell