A long time player in the online travel industry, Brian Schwimmer co-founded Rental Escapes – one of the world’s leading online luxury villa rental agencies. With luxury travel at a pivotal growth point, Rental Escapes is pushing the envelope for what guests can expect when renting a villa for their vacations.
What experiences lead you to co-found Rental Escapes?
I’ve been involved in the online travel industry for close to 15 years and always had a passion for entrepreneurship. My first villa experience was in St Martin with my wife, and my amazing experience confirmed that I wanted to be part of the growing vacation rental industry that I knew had tremendous potential. After co-founding Travel Rental Network I started to see a huge opportunity in the luxury rental market. Luxury villas combine the privacy of a vacation rental with the amenities of a 5-star resort – truly the best of all worlds.
What would someone booking through Rental Escapes be looking for that would set their vacation apart from the ordinary?
Rental Escapes is all about creating unforgettable experiences. We have over 2700+ homes in our collection, but renting out the villa is only part of what we offer. Our concierge department helps curate the ultimate trip – whether it’s organizing live music at your pool, having a private chef for all your meals or organizing a catamaran tour for the day, we can make it happen. We offer 24/7 guest support so that guests can reach us at any time no matter where they are in the world. It’s all about forming relationships with our guests to make sure each trip is their best one yet.
What are the perks of a villa versus a hotel or all-inclusive resort?
Villas first and foremost offer unappalled privacy compared to a hotel or resort. Having an entire home, pool, and staff to yourself creates the ultimate setting for relaxing and having fun. If you’re planning a getaway with family or friends, there’s nothing better than having everyone under one roof. Villas are also incredibly spacious compared to a hotel room. Things like a full gourmet kitchen, bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, and private gyms take vacations to a higher level of comfort.
What is the most unique property that you feature?
One home we’re really excited about is C’est La Vie in St. Martin – I stayed there during my last visit and it’s incredible. The home is beachfront on Plum Bay and totally decked out with state of the art technology and special touches – a one of a kind pool, 2 fire pits, beach sofas, cool hammocks throughout the deck, ultra modern bathrooms with outdoor showers, surround sound throughout the entire home…the list just goes on. Truly one of the most impressive villas that I’ve seen in a while.
What types of things should we be wary of when booking stays at a property, sight unseen?
There are unfortunately a lot of scams out there when booking vacation homes online. One of the reasons we started Rental Escapes was to provide a trusted source for luxury home rentals. We personally inspect all of our villas to make sure they meet our standards so guests can feel confident that the home they select is exactly as advertised.
How many days are you traveling a year?
For business I’m travelling about 6 weeks out of the year and 2 weeks for personal. I have to admit I’m lucky because most of my business travel involves inspecting some of the world’s coolest homes!
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
One of my favorite destinations is St. Bart’s. It’s a small Caribbean island covered in incredible luxury modern villas. The restaurants are amazing, the people are extremely friendly, and it’s so safe you can leave your keys in the ignition of your car and have no worries that someone will take it.
Aside from your company/job, what is your greatest success?
My family, for sure. I have a wife and two small kids – it’s great to give them the opportunity to see some of the world’s most beautiful places.
What is one book you would recommend to everyone?
The Everything Store by Brad Stone about Jeff Bezos and Amazon. It’s an inspiring read for anyone looking to get an idea off the ground.
Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Anthony Bourdain is great – he tweets equal parts travel and delicious food from around the world.
What is one app that all FoundersCard Members should be using?
I use Tripcase every time I travel – having flight information, alerts for delays, and everything else in one place makes the trip way less hectic.
Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next.
We’ve had a big year so far and have lots of exciting things on the horizon – on top of introducing new travel experiences like luxury safaris in Africa we’ll soon be releasing our own Concierge App. Our guests will have every detail of their upcoming trip at their fingertips from the villa wifi password to where to dine out in the area. They will also be able to book concierge services like massages and car rentals on the fly.
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