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Airbnb Gets Swanky With Chateaus and Beach Homes

Airbnb is making a bigger push for luxury travelers who want to stay in French chateaus, Moroccan villas, and South African beach houses with infinity pools.

Te Kahu, Wanaka, New Zealand. Image Courtesy: Airbnb Luxe

The company unveiled a service called Luxe featuring more than 2,000 high-end homes for users with expensive tastes. The company sends inspectors to check whether the homes meet 300 criteria including that they have a unique design, high-quality furniture, and chef-grade appliances.

Prices for the accommodations range from $1,000 to nearly $150,000 nightly, for an average around $2,000. Luxe also offers guests a “trip designer,” an around-the-clock concierge who can help guests plan their trips, from finding their dream vacation home to local activities.

Airbnb Luxe Punta Mita, Mexico. Image Courtesy: Travel + Leisure

 “The last couple of years, we’ve been focused on how do we create an Airbnb for luxury travelers,” said Eshan Ponnadurai, Airbnb’s global marketing director for luxury. The luxury tier furthers the company’s goal of “creating an Airbnb for everyone,” as if the wealthy didn’t already have enough options.

The news comes two months after hotel giant Marriott entered the luxury home-rental space with Homes & Villas. In April, Marriott said that service would rent homes in 100 cities across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It boasted listings like a six-bedroom villa in Sorrento, Italy with an infinity pool that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, and an 18th century Irish Castle with a private lake.

Airbnb Luxe Offfers Castles & Villas. Image Courtesy: Engadget

Now Airbnb is punching back against Marriott with Luxe listings that include an entire private island in French Polynesia with space for 52 guests in a master villa and in 15 additional bungalows. The booking comes with an entire staff including a chef, massage therapist, and activity coordinators. Luxe also lists a Jamaican oceanfront villa, complete with housekeeping and a butler, where author Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels.

Airbnb is not only competing with home-rental industry players, but also with luxury hotels.

“These are not all unattainable, crazy high-end luxury homes,” said Nick Guezen, global director of portfolio strategy for Airbnb, who then went on to redefine the definition of luxury. “When you compare it to a five-star hotel, the price for a bedroom per night is more than competitive, but you have your own private pool.”

Airbnb Luxe Listing, Villa Samira in Phuket. Image Courtesy: Phuket News

Most of the listings on Luxe are vacation homes in rural areas. Though, Airbnb does have some urban listings in a few cities, including a cottage near Kensington Palace in London and a French country-style mansion in Los Angeles, the company said it plans to another 12 cities, including Paris, Milan, and Austin, later this year.

Airbnb has spent the last two years researching the luxury space after acquiring high-end rental company Luxury Retreats in 2017 for an estimated $300 million. Luxury Retreats has continued operating as a standalone arm of Airbnb and served as a source of expertise for the development of Luxe.

Airbnb said it’s also watched as its guests have aged since its founding in 2008, as early adopters of the app have moved from renting a cheap extra room in someone’s house to entire properties in resort towns.

Last year, Airbnb users booked 60% more listings for $1,000 or more nightly than year prior.

The rollout of Luxe follows the debut of Airbnb Plus in February 2018. Plus, Airbnb’s mid-level offering, offers guests listings in nearly 300 cities that pass a 100-point inspection and cost a couple hundred dollars a night.

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