Secret escapes for the super-rich: interview with Paolo Macchiaroli, CEO of My Private Villas
Want access to the world’s most spectacular villas, complete with Michelin starred chef, security team and a private jet? Paolo Macchiaroli is the man with the little black book. Since setting up My Private Villas in 2011, Macchiaroli can offer the keys to over 650 of the best addresses in the most exclusive destinations on the planet – and no request is too much trouble. Last-minute dinner at (twice-ranked No. 1 restaurant in the world) El Celler de Can Roca, Girona: check, a private out-of-hours tour of the Sistine Chapel: check. It’s all in a day’s work for his on-the-ground teams and in-the-know concierge partners. Tidlrs met up with Paolo to find out more about the man behind the brand.
Photo: Paolo Macchiaroli at World Boutique Hotel Award
What led you to set up My Private Villas?
I first jumped into the villa market when I bought some shares in a villa rental company in Tuscany 12 years ago. It was a business-to-business company and they presented properties to travel agencies over the world. However, the various agencies would then change the names of the villas and mark the prices up, often varying wildly between them. So despite the villas having official rates, the price of the accommodation would be different depending which agency it was booked through. I was indirectly involved in a system I wasn’t comfortable with and I realised there was a better, more transparent way, so I decided to set up a private club of villa owners.
Where did you start?
I already had twelve years experience in marketing and communications and I knew of friends and other contacts with luxury villas, so I moved to London from Italy and set up My Private Villas.
What sets you apart from other villa rental companies?
We have good relationships with all of the owners and we promote their individual properties rather than our brand, using twelve PR and marketing representatives worldwide. We’ve hosted the Kardashians in Costa Rica and the X Factor judges in Rome in our member’s villas. We’ve had plenty of press on other properties too. The owners appreciate the visibility as it results in increased bookings and in return they’re often more accommodating to our clients.
What types of properties do you offer and how do they pass muster?
It is always about the quality. It doesn’t matter if it costs €15,000 or €200,000 per week, we visit them all with our check list and make sure the hidden elements like the mattresses or the wi-fi are as good as the things that can be seen, such as the furniture, fittings and decoration. If something isn’t up to our standard, we suggest changes before we can accept a property. The types of villas vary depending on the location. In Tuscany or the Amalfi coast, they can be aristocratic homes or of heritage status, with original paintings and antique furniture.
Photo: Villa Borghese, Tuscany
Photo: Villa Astor, Amalfi Coast
In Ibiza or on the Cote d’Azur, they might be super-modern, minimal and white with huge windows – and in the Alps, often rustic with timber beams and log fires. Most have 4-6 bedrooms but we have some properties with up to 20 bedrooms, which are popular for family reunions and weddings.
Photos: Tagomago, Ibiza
Photo: Villa O, Cap Ferrat
What duration can someone book for?
It depends on the season; most clients book for one or two week’s holiday, but we can do corporate events for one night, a photo shoot for a few days or sometimes a booking for a month or two.
What services do you offer?
In addition to the staff already employed at a villa, some people require a chef, butler, chauffeur or private tour guide, but we can also arrange private jets, private yachts and security teams. We work with a number of top class concierge partners and have been able to secure a table for 16 at the world famous restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, jumping the 9-month waiting list the client had been advised of. We can also arrange private out-of-hours tours in museums and galleries etc.
Where in the world are the properties and which are the most popular?
We have access to beautiful villas in Africa, Asia, Europe and North, South and Central America. In the summer months European destinations, such as Tuscany, Lake Como, the Amalfi Coast, Mykonos, Ibiza and the French Riveria are the most requested. In the winter it’s the ski resorts; Courchevel, Vermatt, Verbier, or the Caribbean; St Barths - or Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand and Seminyak in Bali.
Photo: Volla Balbiano, Lake Como
Photos: Villa Bayview, Ville French sur mer
Do you actively seek out properties or do people come to you?
We have a waiting list of villas that are being proposed by their owners for our collection, but if we receive requests for a destination where we don’t yet have a property we will actively seek a property out.
In your view, what makes a great holiday experience?
A beautiful place to stay, top service, and the chance to explore where you are and experience the culture and location.
How do you prepare for a holiday?
I research thoroughly beforehand, so I’m well informed about a destination and where I’d like to go, as it saves time when you’re there. That’s not to say I have a daily programme - plans change, particularly if you get a recommendation that you won’t find in a Guide Book, but I believe it’s important to plan to get the best experience.
Why have you chosen Tidlrs.com to showcase your brand?
Tidlrs is an innovative online platform with a luxurious aesthetic. Its customers’ interests are aligned with our brand, and I believe that this luxury platform can reinforce our brand with existing customers and potentially introduce some new ones.