Switzerland: Independent investment company Viadi Group SA has acquired a majority interest in villa rental company WhereToStay.com, partnering with the founders of the business, Thom and Shawna Dunaway, and general manager [and chief beach officer], Andrew Macafee.
Based in Boerne near San Antonio in Texas, WhereToStay.com rents villas in the Caribbean, with more than 2,000 villas across 22 islands.
The transaction was facilitated by boutique advisory firm AJL Atelier and its CEO, Simon Lehmann.
Thom Dunaway, co-founder of WhereToStay.com, said: “After more than 25 years of running the business, we’re excited to partner with Viadi to take WhereToStay.com through the next chapter of growth. Access to a wider pool of resources, economies of scale and fresh insight will all serve to propel the business and we’ll be sure to retain the fun and charismatic approach to renting villas that we’ve always had – born out of the team’s passion for the Caribbean islands.”
Viadi Group is now the holding vehicle for three travel brands, including WhereToStay.com, specialist travel agency group Leo Trippi [which rents out exclusive luxury ski chalets and summer villas], and exclusive safari business The Explorations Company.
Auret van Zyl, co-founder & CEO of Viadi, said: “From the outset, we wanted to add a villa business to the Viadi portfolio. WhereToStay.com has an impressive track record and is well-positioned to capitalise on the strong market growth we have seen within this sector.
“The acquisition also bolsters the cross-selling opportunities within the Viadi Group and provides a springboard into the US market for our other travel brands, including Leo Trippi and The Explorations Company, which was acquired this time last year and already has a strong US following,” he added.
The WhereToStay.com team, led by Macafee, will continue operating from its head office in Texas and will be supported by members of the wider Viadi family to scale up the business.
Macafee said: “The first port of call will be business as usual, making sure we serve our clients and continue to grow in the Caribbean with new products. In parallel, we’ll start working on plans to expand into Europe.”