development area

Media

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