Today, more than ever before, travel is becoming less about the destination, less about the journey and more and more about how and where you will stay. As stratospheric as Airbnb’s rise has been there have been a number of players entering the market offering luxurious private homes and bread and breakfasts around the world. One of those doing it best is Welcome Beyond.
Travel veterans and Berlin-based brothers Chris and Oliver Laugsch have curated a collection of extraordinary properties from across the globe. From Phuket to Mexico and Australia to Switzerland their portfolio is outstanding.
The inspiration for Welcome Beyond came from their shared love of good design and architecture. Oliver has worked as both a designer and art director and Chris’ background was in finance. They wanted to create a travel site that was as much about your home base as it was the importance of finding inspiration from your surroundings. Their unofficial motto? ‘Where you stay is as vital to the experience as what you see and do’.
They handpick each Welcome Beyond property and have a relationship with the property owners and managers. Many of the properties they feature are not only magnificent; some are quirky, some opulent while others are more rustic. From Phuket’s spectacular Villa Amanzi to the quite eccentric Kolarbyn forest huts in Sweden.
There are minimalist small hotels with unbelievable views such as Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway than in summer or winter is made for romance or adventure. Situated on a steep natural levee in a little village, each of the nine rooms is detached to guarantee an extraordinary perspective of this breathtaking landscape. According to the owner Knut, the minimalist architecture is not to distract from nature, “Yes, it’s all about what you see on the outside. There is hardly anything inside, no paintings, for example, just the basics. It is also quite dark inside. In a way, it is giving you the impression of being in a camera and the window is the lens. That’s what it’s all about. All the rest is only for your protection.”
The Sextantio Grotte della Civita on the other hand is built in the ancient caves of the UNESCO Heritage-listed Matera in southern Italy. For Danilo, the owner the philosophy was clear, “to restore the caves without destroying their history. We wanted to keep the original function, the integrity. Nothing was done to change the caves, we only restored and protected them over a period of ten years.”
But if a beachside escape with absolute luxury is more your style, The Koh Samui Villa could the ultimate in pure indulgence. For 20 people (the property is exclusive to one group per stay) you have 25 staff including a European and two Thai chefs, a bartender, masseuses and breakfast included. Communications and Marketing Manager, Desmond believes, “The sense of space and privacy makes it totally unique for a beachfront villa in Thailand and we are fortunate to have a virtually private beach — there are no official private beaches in Thailand as all belong to the Royal Family but this is as close as it gets”.
Indeed, the variety and locations of Welcome Beyond’s listings are really quite incredible. From astounding Mexican seaside homes to wonderful yurt hotels in Norway, it seems the Laugsch brothers are the virtual custodians of the world’s most intriguing properties.