The Thinking Traveller names Fennell as new CEO

UK: London-based luxury villa rental brand The Thinking Traveller has named Zuleika Fennell as its new CEO.

Fennell joins The Thinking Traveller from restaurant group Corbin & King, where she held the position of managing director. She also operated globally renowned restaurants and hotels, including The Wolseley, The Delaunay and The Beaumont Hotel, and left the group eight months after it was brought out of administration.

Meanwhile, Huw and Rossella Beaugié, the founders of The Thinking Traveller, say they will continue to remain heavily involved with the business, as well as supporting Fennell during the transition phase.

Huw Beaugié said: “We believe that bringing in an experienced and devoted CEO is the right step as the company expands and aims to become leaders in sustainability. Zuleika brings with her the experience and expertise we need to help us reach our goals, whilst at the same time enabling Rossella and me to focus on other areas of the company where we can add the greatest value.

“Zuleika has significant experience not only in operating businesses that deliver exemplary high-end service but also in working closely with founders, and we’re thrilled that her ambitions for the brand are so closely aligned to ours,” he added.

Two years ago this month, The Thinking Traveller secured £7 million in investment from specialist private equity firm Piper. At the time, former Audley Travel CEO Ian Simkins joined the company as executive chairman, having helped turn his previous company into a $250 million global business.

Founded in 2002, The Thinking Traveller operates villa rental properties in European destinations such as Sicily, Puglia, The Greek Ionian and Sporades islands, Corsica, the Minor Italian islands, and the Balearic Island of Mallorca.

Fennell said: “I’m extremely excited to be working with Huw, Rossella and The Thinking Traveller team. I’ve long admired the brand and its laser like focus on delivering unique, unforgettable experiences for travellers by carefully handpicking each of their unique properties. 

“As a result, the brand has gained and retained incredibly loyal customers and won multiple awards. I can’t wait to work with the team to build on this deserved success,” she added.

Last week, French luxury holiday rental brand Le Collectionist raised €60 million in a growth funding round to accelerate the expansion of the business through acquisitions.

The investment was led by private equity firm Highland Europe, while experiential luxury specialists, OLMA, X Ange and Famille C, Swiss banks Pictet and Lombard Odier, investment company Kostogri, business angels Fabrice Grinda, Nathalie Le Roy and Xavier Romatet, and existing investor Red River West also participated in the round.