The problem, from Christian Jagodzinski's perspective, is that you can't get the service of a 5-star hotel when you rent a house. It's that simple, and he has a simple solution: build a network of vacation rental properties that come stuffed to the gills with superior hotel service that is anything but star-crossed.
So far his company, Villazzo, has 14 properties, including rentals in Aspen. The idea is to have ten villas each in luxurious locations like St. Tropez and Aspen. Jagodzinski hopes to never again face a situation where he had to go out and buy his own espresso machine, rather than have one up and running in a rental when he got there.
"The good thing about our concept is rent your own house," he says, "kind of a club situation but you pay exactly for what you're getting. The idea was always replicate a hotel but with private individual homes. It came myself because I myself was traveling and saw how bad the management and service was when you rent a house. Basically real estate people paid for putting a signature on the property, but vacation rentals don't work that way. What people expect is a vacation experience not a real estate experience. Some realtors have specialized on providing basic services but still they're retailers. They don't come from a vacation standpoint."
The idea, according to Jagodzinski, is to find luxury rentals that come with "typical hotels and accessories."
"Do you want to sleep in the owner's linen?" he asks. "Or wear the owner's bathrobe?"
Aspen, he says, is uniquely situated for Villazzo to provide hotel-like services to private homes.
"Aspen is one of the markets in the world with the most high-end short-term rentals," he says. "We analyzed a couple of locations but it was important for our concept is we need a certain number of houses where there are potential clients. You need a large influx of wealthy travelers. These villas are in relatively narrow regions because they need to be serviced from one central office. They need to be in one place."
VILLAZZO VILLA VACATIONS Q & A
Q: What is the difference between Fractional Ownership Clubs (such as Exclusive Resorts, A&K Destination Clubs, Quintess, etc.) and Villazzo?
A: Villazzo is not a club! You do not have to pay a hefty fee to join, nor an annual membership fee. With Villazzo, you pay for your stay as you book, just like you would pay for a hotel stay.
Ask yourself: Would you join a club that costs $400,000 to join and then "allows" you to stay at normal hotels (a Ritz-Carlton, for example) - if you could also book that hotel directly, without being a member? Certainly not! So why would you join a Fractional Ownership Club when you can now a same or better experience (more exclusive homes, better service, and personalized travel arrangements) WITHOUT paying a huge membership fee first?
Q: When does a Fractional Ownership Club make sense, and when does a Villazzo stay make sense?
A: A fractional Ownership Club makes no sense at all. It's a big marketing scam. Do the math: You lose interest on your initial fee each year. You pay a yearly fee. And you only get a fraction back when you leave - if you get anything back at all. Adding all that up, you'll pay well over $50,000 for each year in your club. And even though the club will tell you that you can use their villas for up to 60 days, or some even unlimited, when you really want to book them (Summer, Christmas, Easter), none is available. And if you are finally lucky to get one, you can only stay for one week. After 2-3 years you will see that you have used the Club Villas on average 1-2 weeks per year. For the same time, if you book a Villazzo Villa of the same price range as their houses, you only spend $15,000, not $50,000. And you are free to not book one at all one year, or to stay 2 months in the same home. You have more flexibility, and spend less money.
Q: Does Villazzo offer a club concept?
A: No. We have been examining whether a club of any kind would make sense for our clients. and we could not find a way to make a club less expensive than paying for each individual stay. But why would you join a club if at the end it'll cost you more per realized vacation week and on top of that you are locked in with paying your membership dues each year? Believe me, if there was a way for you to save money and for us to still make money by having a club concept, we'd offer it. A club is a marketing scam.
Q: I have just joined Exclusive Resorts by paying $400,000. What would you recommend me to do?
A: Get out as soon as you still can! At least now you would get 80% of your $400,000 initial fee back. If you read the fine print, you can only get 80% of your initial deposit back if they find at least three new members for one leaving. Once people realize how bad a deal a club really is and want to leave, your full initial fee will be lost, as they will not be able to recruit enough new members to replace the leaving ones. Get out now, and book your next vacation with Villazzo!
Q: How long in advance do I have to make a reservation?
A: Villazzo can take reservations on very short notice, up to 48 hours before arrival.
Q: Is daily housekeeping and daily restocking of minibar, wine, cigars, fruit etc. included in my vacation price?
Q: How do I get from the airport to my Villazzo Villa?
A: A chauffeured limousine will be waiting for you at the airport. The driver will meet you in person when you step off your flight. Your local Villazzo Manager will greet you at your house. A Villazzo bellboy will take care of bringing your luggage to your room. He can also unpack your bags if you wish, and have your shirts ironed.
Q: What is the difference between booking a hotel and booking a Villazzo Villa?
A: Villazzo has accomplished to offer a full hotel environment in a private home. The service and amenities are exactly the same as in the most luxurious hotel suites. By staying in a Villazzo Villa, you do however have your own private pool, your own private backyard, your own kitchen, and your own common areas. You do not have to share those with 300 other guests.
Q: Villazzo Villas are a little more expensive than other rental villas. Why?
A: Villazzo has selected the best houses in each of our destinations. These are residences that are in immaculate shape, maintained to the highest standards, decorated with taste, and fully functional. In other rental villas, you might have experienced the A/C not working, the paint peeling off, the house not being clean etc. Our villas are the best the local market has to offer, and we ensure that they are equipped to our strict Villazzo standards.
Q: There is a Fixed Vacation Price which will be added to the daily or weekly rate. What is it for?
A: Before your arrival, your villa will be turned into a hotel. Our manager and his staff will remove a personal belongings of the owner, replace all towels and linens with luxurious new Villazzo towels and linen; set up every bathroom like a hotel bathroom; stock-up bar, minbar, gift shop, wine, and cigars. They will put in fresh fruit and magazines. That set up takes a staff of 3-4 people one to two days, depending on the state the house is in. That's what the Fixed Vacation Price pays for.
Unlike hotel rooms, Villazzo Villas are privately owned. We thus have to do the conversion hotel/home every time a guest checks in or checks out, and cannot leave it at hotel setup all the time. And servicing entire residences is much more expensive than servicing a single hotel room.
For further information: