One of the benefits of accumulating more wealth than the average Joe could spend in a lifetime is that it affords you access to a certain level of exclusivity.
Browse the Neiman Marcus’ Fantasy Gifts 2020 catalogue, for what’s possible, especially when it comes to destinations and travel.
Fancy a stay in a luxury hut, complete with a private chef, and a private photographer to follow you around on private glacier tours? They’ve got you covered.
It tracks that renting luxury properties while travelling, if you’re tired of boring old five-star hotels, would also have its own point of access.
While the rest of us have to settle for Airbnb, the rich have Stay One Degree, which The Telegraph describes as “an exclusive members-only community allowing discerning travellers the chance to rent luxurious homes from each other”.
It’s recently earned a substantial investment by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
The rentals span the world, from Provence in France through to South Africa.
Founded by two friends, Thomas Bennett and Jorge Munoz, in 2017, it’s a website to connect someone who owns, say, a rarely visited private island in Indonesia, to someone else with, let’s suppose, a large and currently empty chalet in Morzine.
While money does change hands, this isn’t a timeshare. You are renting someone else’s (super swanky) property for your stay.
“I was sick of staying in hotels, or renting a holiday villa that didn’t feel like a home,” explains Bennett. “And when I went to stay at friends’ houses, it always felt much more fun. And I treated the property differently too.”
We’ve all been there. Staying in a stranger’s castle is so awkward. If it’s a friend’s castle, you feel more at home.
Private islands are also best enjoyed when you know the owners.
Neither renter nor rentee is anonymous so everything is more transparent.
It’s quite a step up from Tripadvisor. And that’s because both you and your property have to be thoroughly vetted before you are allowed to join.
But once you’re in it’s worth it, what with private islands in the Bahamas, 14th-century, 73-bedroom castles in County Durham and 11th-century châteaux on the French Riviera on its books.
Despite a rough year, the business has gone from strength to strength.
“We’ve grown so we now have 4,000 homes,” he tells me.
“Of course, it’s not a normal year, but because of travel restrictions, if you’re stuck in the UK, you’ll stay in a British property, so all through the summer everything we had in the UK was full. In America people were taking staycations, in France everyone wanted to drive or take the train somewhere else in the country. Spanish members wanted to stay in Spain…”
You get the picture.
Properties in South Africa include the observatory in Vaalwater, Limpopo:
You can read more about a Stay One Degree experience in New York here.
Hey, if you’ve got cash to burn, enjoy it.
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