The Thinking Traveller secures £7m investment from Piper

UK: London-based luxury villa rental brand The Thinking Traveller has received £7 million in investment from specialist private equity firm Piper.

Founders and joint-CEOs, Huw and Rossella Beaugié, will remain in their roles as well as being majority stakeholders, while former Audley Travel CEO Ian Simkins joins as executive chairman, having helped turn his previous company into a $250 million global business.

Founded in 2002, The Thinking Traveller has grown out from seven villas in Sicily to operating 220 “highly curated” properties, priced at between £3,000 – £50,000 per week, which are all exclusively listed through the platform.

Its business is spread across seven European destinations: Sicily, Puglia, The Greek Ionian and Sporades islands, Corsica, and the Minor Italian islands. The company has also recently expanded into the Balearic island of Mallorca.

In October, The Thinking Traveller was voted as the winner in the Best Villa Companies in the World category for the fifth consecutive year in the Readers’ Choice Awards, run by renowned travel publication Condé Nast Traveller. In doing so, it beat off stiff competition from the likes of Oliver’s Travels, Wimco Villas, Onefinestay, Airbnb, Le Collectionist and VRBO Villa Rentals.

According to Piper, the business has become “popular with multi-generational families, couples and groups of friends” and the brand has been recognised for its personal service and the expertise of its local managers. Services include a 24-hour concierge and a variety of curated experiences, such as guided cultural tours and excursions, in-villa culinary experiences and chefs, yacht charters and yoga teachers.

The private equity firm says it will use the investment to help the business “curate a broader selection of exclusive villas in new destinations around the Mediterranean through strategic acquisitions and partnerships, market the brand further in its core markets including the UK, Europe the US and Australia, and scale the team to ensure clients and owners continue to experience excellent service and support”.

Private villa rentals have been regarded as a preferred accommodation type during this year’s pandemic as guests see the value of the privacy and seclusion they provide. Last week, Accor announced the launch of its “Apartments & Villas” website, following in the footsteps of other hotel companies such as Marriott [Homes & Villas] and Four Seasons [Private Retreats] in diversifying beyond their core business into the privately-owned residences space.