Earlier in October this year, we came across Secret Retreats, a collection of authentic and luxurious residences around Asia, which sparked off the realization of how experiential travel has become such an evolution.
Today, we took time off to chat with one of the founders and managing director of Secret Retreats -- Stephane Junca, to find out more about experiential travel as well as what Secret Retreats is all about. Looks like there's really so much more to defining a good stay during your vacation.
LifestyleAsia (LSA): What was the inspiration behind opening Secret Retreats?
Stephane Junca (SJ): Secret Retreats is a collection of small luxury and independent hotels, which are all Asian in essence. There are many hospitality organisations that represent hotels, but either they are too generic and global in scope (and without a focus -- we focus only on Asia) or their portfolio is simply too big -- which means they are not able to "handpick" the properties in order to really know them.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are also collections which focus on a single country but often the selection is too limited in the variety of properties.
Secret Retreats was created to highlight the diversity of destinations, cultures, architecture and sense of hospitality in Asia. It is a select community of boutique hotels, which share a variety of services which they would otherwise not have access to, by leveraging economies of scale, as many of these properties are too small to be able to afford these services as a standalone property. These are services such as a web platform, Central Reservation System with online booking system and a payment gateway, PR agency and marketing support, exchange programs, quality control and so on.
LSA: How do you set yourselves apart from other hotel collections? What's the appeal?
SJ: As I mentioned above, our specialisation in Asia, that we have a selection of very small boutique properties and often located in remote places -- and always with a unique character and experience. Secret Retreats was created by boutique hotel owners with a pure Asian essence at its heart. There is no equivalent in the market today.
It's also worth noting our unique mentoring system which we have in place and also our eco and social responsibility programmes which are also unique.
Our guests are travellers -- not tourists -- who are looking for a cultural and gastronomic experience and discovery.