Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has made an investment worth $5 million in Stay One Degree, as the global appetite for high-end homestay options accelerates as a result of the pandemic.
The Hong-Kong based hotelier is now the largest shareholder in Stay One Degree outside of co-founders Thomas Bennett and Jorge Munoz, who secured the investment as part of a Series A funding round.
They launched the business in 2018 as an exclusive members community that allows luxury travellers to rent top-end holiday homes directly from like-minded members.
It has grown from the founders’ own homes to feature more than 3,500 properties in 250 destinations, rented to members in 70 countries. Each home undergoes a rigorous vetting process, and all guests are also carefully verified to maintain a “trusted community of like-minded luxury travellers”, the brand said.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have closed this Series A funding round and have a new strategic partner and shareholder in Mandarin Oriental, which in my mind is the most luxurious hotel brand in the world, offering legendary service standards and impeccable attention to detail,” said Stay One Degree co-founder Thomas Bennett.
In essence, while the company is for members, agents and concierge can also access the range.
“You do not need to own a property to be able to become a member and rent our homes – and we have a dedicated sales team that support enquiries from luxury concierges and agents and can recommend homes that are popular with our members, and make all the necessary booking arrangements,” he added.
“We totally understand that while some customers love the peer-to-peer element of our business, some UHNW clients do not have the time and prefer to use trusted intermediaries; our platform seamlessly accommodates for both.”
The home rental market has been booming, with Airbnb valued this week at $100 billion, despite being heavily damaged by the pandemic earlier this year.
Stay One Degree said the investment would now allow it “to accelerate the expansion of its global portfolio of exceptional luxury homes and move into new under-penetrated markets”.
A mobile app and new website will also be launched, as well as an online concierge service “and a range of exciting collaborations with global luxury brands”.
The two companies will also look for opportunities to develop a range of curated experiences, combining Mandarin Oriental’s service and Stay One Degree’s homes.
“With the boundaries between luxury holiday homes and hotels becoming increasingly blurred and the needs of the luxury traveller constantly evolving, we are delighted to be partnering with Mandarin Oriental, bringing together our two luxury brands via a strategic partnership,” added Munoz.
The co-founders said they will also explore avenues for customers to benefit from exclusive access, privileged benefits and superior recognition across the combined portfolio of destinations offered by both brands.
“We look forward to working closely with Tom and Jorge as they expand their exceptional offering of wonderful homes and services to discerning global travellers. We see definite opportunities for our brands to collaborate together and look forward to exploring ways to introduce new luxury experiences that combine the best of both brands,” said chief executive of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group James Riley.
Mandarin Oriental operates 33 hotels and seven residences in 23 countries and territories, and is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.