How premium hotel services – from concierges to child-minding – are being delivered in private properties. Let’s meet Squarebreak.
Concierge is a French word, and no wonder. French premium hotels, from the Ritz in Paris to the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cannes, have a reputation for exemplary service.
Squarebreak wanted to bring this French touch to the private rental market for holiday stays. Their vision was to reimagine our towns and cities as giant hotels, where streets are corridors, and private houses are the rooms.
The journey began when two real estate and hotel industry professionals, Hugues van Heesewijk and Maxime Lesaulnier, met working for Wimdu, a European private apartment rentals startup. Interested in managing quality stays, they teamed up with serial entrepreneur Réda Berrehili and launched Squarebreak.
Unlike Wimdu and Airbnb, Squarebreak is less a marketplace for deals between homeowners and travelers, and more an operator focused on ensuring that the experience of renting someone’s home is as pleasurable as staying in a premium hotel.
Homeowners sign a management and operation contract, entrusting their property to Squarebreak for the duration of its rental. Beyond handing over a set of keys, they are required to do nothing more.
A Break Manager assumes the roles of Hotel Manager, Room Service and Concierge. Before a guest’s arrival, they check to ensure that the property is spotless, the beds are made with the finest linen, the towels are soft and fluffy, and the bathroom is stocked with premium toiletries. A basket of local delicacies is left as a welcome gift.
Guests booking a Squarebreak stay can also reserve a number of services usually associated with premium hotels: from babysitting and personal chefs to bike/boat/ski rental, theatre or restaurant bookings. The Break Manager is available throughout the stay to attend to guests’ every need, while the app makes reservations easy.
Currently, Squarebreak has around 500 properties on its books in two categories: principal residences in cities such as Paris or Nice, which are mainly rented during the summer months when owners are absent; and holiday villas or chalets available for short-term rentals all year round. They operate in France, Spain and Morocco, with plans to take Squarebreak to
Italy and Portugal.
Clients are looking for a high-end experience without spending millions. Prices start around €2,500 per week for a house sleeping 8-10 people, with average bookings coming in around €6-7,000. Break Managers, who are trained by Squarebreak, take 50% of the commission, from which they have to pay operational expenses.
In their first year, Squarebreak generated revenues of €150,000, rising to €1.5 million the following year, enabling them to raise funds to develop the service. Shareholders include AccorHotels, the world’s leading hotel group.
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