By Neelima Agrawal
The most relaxing or romantic getaways are all about being one with nature. A getaway that allows one to experience the authentic ambience, bang in the middle of the habitat, to frolic with the locals, man or animal, imbibe new cultures, wake up to a sunrise atop a tree, or just dine at an offbeat treetop café – and all this without compromising on comfort, yet be beyond the predictable environs of a five star chain. Our quest for ‘who on earth could fulfil these criteria’, was duly rewarded when we connected with Luxury Frontiers, a Chicago based firm that has successfully executed several out-of-the-box hospitality projects of exactly the kind we were thinking of.
The Luxury Chronicle connected with Luca Franco, one of the partners at Luxury Frontiers. In an exclusive one-on-one with us, he explained all about what they do. More than words, it is the pictures that speak about the dream projects that Luxury Frontiers has executed. We bring here for our readers, excerpts from our conversation, and information about the company.
You Are A Formidable Team Of Partners, All Five You. Tell Me About Your Business Model?
LF – The main focus of our business is experiential travel and drafting memorable experiences, which is what people are looking for. Experiential travel and luxury travel are the fastest growing industry. Our business model is two pronged – either we provide a full turnkey solution that takes care of every aspect of a business in the hospitality industry from initial idea to finished product and operational handover. Or else we provide our customers with a menu of à la carte services from which they can pick and choose what they require as the project evolves.
What Made You Opt For A Business Of Tree Houses And Tents?
LF – More and more, people are looking for a memorable experience when they travel. The need is for outdoor engagement with nature -travelling with the family to new places. But it is no more about just seeing. It is about learning through engaging in activities, with the local people, local heritage. As per 2014 MasterCard Affluent Report, research shows “a shifting tendency among the affluent to seek and discover authentic experiences as opposed to purchasing and owning physical luxury items.”
What Is The Impact Of Your Projects On The Natural Habitat?
LF – For us, social responsibility is very important. We take utmost care about environmental stability and sustainability. Our projects are all low impact and some, even zero impact.
What About The Tree Houses?
LF- With our tree houses, we do not put even one nail in the tree. It is built in such a way that it does not hinder the growth of the tree. We work closely with the operators, especially for tree houses. We monitor the growth of the tree to be able to adjust the tree house accordingly.
Tell Us How You Go About Installing These Structures? Are They Long Term Or Can They Be Shifted?
LF- The design aspect of the project is taken care of in our facility first. But depending upon the project, we usually use local material, contractors and engineers, as much as possible. Usually it takes about 3 month from start to finish, or less, to set up these structures. They are fast, and hence cheaper. Depending upon the project, they could last for 20 years or more. Or as in Serengeti where the purpose is to follow the animal migration, the set up can be shifted quickly. For some projects, we take it down in the rainy season, and put it back up in September after the monsoons are over.
From What I Understand, So Far Luxury Frontiers Has So Far Undertaken These Projects For Other Operators. Do You See Yourself Entering The Business With Ownership Of Entire Operations?
LF- Yes so far we have been suppliers and consultants. We can take on the full management of a business and run it. Possibly we may independently launch such a project.
India Has A Huge Potential For Such Facilities. Any Plans To Come Here?
LF – Yes we are in talks and may soon have something in India too. Perhaps this year.
Luca Franco is no stranger to India. He has visited the country several times and loves it here. The key players in Luxury Frontiers, besides Luca Franco, are partners Graeme Labe, Jesús Parrilla, Roy Paul and Frank Stork