One Fine Stay Is Your New Home Away From Home

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The pool at a house in Southern California
The pool at a house in Southern California

Imagine a world where you could spend one week lounging by the pool at a villa in Cannes, the next hosting meetings on a deck overlooking Hollywood, and the following exploring the steps of Rome with that special someone—all the while never having to stay in a hotel or deal with the hassle of stocking an Airbnb? A luxury, globetrotting lifestyle is achievable and no, you don’t need to own houses in France, California, and Italy to have it. Allow us to introduce you to Onefinestay, a home-sharing platform unlike any other. What makes it unique? First, every property in Onefinestay’s database is visited and vetted by a trained team member. Each home must meet a series of rigorous hospitality standards that include cleanliness and decor. Second, there is no interaction between the homeowner and the guests. Instead, guests are greeted and welcomed into the home by a Onefinestay employee. Third, homes are managed like hotel rooms. Each property is stocked with bed linens, towels, and bath products—all of the typical amenities one would find at an upscale multi-star hotel resort.

Upon arrival, the guest is given an iPhone with a local phone number and helpful travel apps to use throughout the duration of the stay. This phone also directly connects to Onefinestay’s concierge. With on the ground  teams in all their current cities, someone is on call 24 hours, seven days a week. “If you look at something like Airbnb, it’s not an incredible platform. So you’re dealing directly with the homeowner, and you’re talking to your host, and you can’t get hold of them, and you can’t figure out how to work the air conditioning, well that’s gonna be a pretty hot night,” Julia FitzRoy-Chow told Haute Living in a telephone conversation. FitzRoy-Chow is the West Coast director of commercial activities for the brand. “The difference with us is that you have that phone and when you call, you’ll be able to get a hold of someone. A Onefinestay representative will be able to talk you through it and be able to resolve it.”

A Chelsea Townhouse
A Chelsea Townhouse

The Onefinestay concierge is not only there if you need them during your stay, but throughout  the entire process, from the moment you open the website in your internet browser to long after you’ve turned in the home’s keys. Require a crib? Want the house to be cleaned daily while you stay? Arriving late at night and need the kitchen stocked with eggs and coffee for breakfast the next morning? All of these things, including transfers to and from airports and train stations, can be arranged. Simply consult with your liaison, explaining your personal requirements and all of your desires will be waiting for you at the home. “Being able to curate an experience from start to finish and knowing that you’re dealing with Onefinestay throughout is a really big differentiator for us,” FitzRoy-Chow explains.

The superlative experience isn’t just for guests, but also homeowners who list their properties on Onefinestay. Homeowners benefit throughout the entire operation, from marketing and insurance to cleaning and maintenance. The only prerequisite is that the house is available for Onefinestay guests for a minimum of six weeks per year. Prospective homeowners can fill out a  two-minute online questionnaire to see if they are a proper fit for the brand. “The homeowner experience is kind of interesting. We guide the homeowners through it. Someone comes out, they see your home, they understand what your kind of needs are, and what you’re looking for, or what your concerns are,” FitzRoy-Chow says. “They vet the home and that’s the first meeting, and when you’re on board, then, someone will come to take stock of your home. What is the make of the oven? What are the little things, like do you have to wiggle this drawer like this to open it? All the little things that our guests are going to need to know. The homeowner can say ‘I would like this to be a no shoes household, a no smoking household. I actually want to be able to lock this cupboard’ or whatever.”

A bathroom at an estate in the Hamptons
A bathroom at an estate in the Hamptons

The Onefinestay team also works with the homeowner to determine whether or not to remove personal possessions like family photographs. It’s all about making the homeowner feel as secure as possible. “We do the things that are going to make you feel comfortable, knowing you go away on your vacation, and no one’s going to bother you. Onefinestay handles everything. Your house will be taken care of and it looks like it did when you left. But you have a nice check waiting for you. As a homeowner you should be able to go off on vacation and the guest doesn’t call you, everything goes through us. Obviously, if there’s something really important, we’re going to keep you in the loop but we want the homeowner to be able to go off and enjoy themselves.”

An upmarket Airbnb competitor that provides services to both guests and homeowners is a natural extension of the sharing economy. In 2009, Onefinestay’s founder, Londoner Greg Marsh, had a lightbulb moment while on vacation. “Marsh was traveling and he was looking around the streets and he thought ‘All these beautiful properties and no lights on. All vacant.’ He couldn’t find a great solution for where he wanted to stay and he was thinking ‘Hang on a minute, how great would it be to experience this city in one of these homes and live like a local in one of these empty properties?’” FitzRoy-Chow says of the startup’s birth. “He thought, ‘There’s gotta be something here.’ So, it really emerged as a solution actually, to a new type of travel.” Onefinestay launched in major cities across the world: Paris, New York, LA, Miami, and Rome. Earlier this year, it debuted in San Francisco, the South of France, the Hamptons, and a few other locals.

An apartment in Paris
An apartment in Paris

In 2016, Marsh sold Onefinestay to French hotel chain AccorHotels. Although he wasn’t actively seeking a buyer, when AccorHotels came knocking Marsh couldn’t say no. He has since moved on from the company and today Onefinestay is run by Javier Cedillo-Espin. Espin’s first task is assimilating two other brands owned by AccorHotels—Travel Keys and Squarebreak—under the Onefinestay umbrella. Both are similar concepts to Onefinestay with Travel Keys offering luxury villas in exotic locals and Squarebreak’s properties in southern Spain and the French countryside appealing to the London-based European traveler.

If Espin succeeds in transforming the homes into Onefinestay locales, AccorHotels will have arguably the largest luxury home-sharing service in the world. “The great thing about this merger is we’re going to have ten thousand properties around the world, globally,” FitzRoy-Chow says. “That’s really exciting. It’s very fresh. One of the things that we heard a lot from our guests was ‘We love you guys. We wish we could stay with you in more places.’ The nice thing about this merger is that it means they can stay with us in more places. So we have a real growth opportunity now to be global.” FitzRoy-Chow acknowledges that it’s going to be a challenge, but is certain that the brand can scale on a worldwide level. “We have a lot of work to do at the moment. We’re in the process of working out how we merge these [brands] and how we deliver that consistent Onefinestay experience, which is what the brand is all about.”

A pool in Canne
A pool in Cannes

Appealing to just about anyone, from multi-generation families to individuals traveling for business, is essential to Onefinestay’s growth. “We really try to curate a portfolio, so we have one-beds, and we have five-beds, and six-beds, and different price points and all over town.” Onefinestay has a strong presence in the design world and a loyal following of repeat customers, so remaining consistent to its core is also crucial. What it comes down to is simple hospitality. If Onefinestay can provide better quality services than a hotel, why would anyone else choose to stay elsewhere?

“There’s a reason why people are not staying in a more clinical hotel environment, or another alternative. They want that curated experience. It has to come through in the pre-stay. We find out a little bit about why you’ll be there. We know if you’re repeat guests. We know your likes and we’re able to make it bespoke and personalized at that level. You get there and someone’s going to greet you, they’re going to be friendly. They know the house. They will tell you how to use the WiFi. There will be snacks. You will get you a phone, with information about the local restaurants, the area, top tips, anything in the house that you might need to know. You’re going to have an experience where you feel supported immediately, and yes it’s an adventure and you’re experiencing something new, but you know what you’re walking into and you have the consistency in your mind, of that branded experience.” All of this adds up to make one incredible, fine stay. One we’ll gladly have at any of the brand’s expanding locales.

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