Welcome back friends!
Our last blog post described our two years of travelling the world – an experience that sparked our inspiration for Amberlair. It may seem like two years of travel is a long time, but we never felt homesick. To us, the joy of travel doesn’t require much, as long as you have a truly enriching experience. In this post, we want to continue our story about what happened when we returned home to Hamburg after two years of travelling and exactly how Amberlair got started.
The intensity of long travel, while incredible, did take its toll. It’s easy to compare your homeland to the other places you’ve seen, since we found that we understood more about our home country after having seen so many places during our travels. Coming home was not only an eye-opening experience, but it was also difficult. We faced the passing of Marcus’ father, and stepped in to help care for his mother. On top of that, Kristin’s mother was suffering from dementia and required our help as well. With all that, it took us over a year to get accustomed to being at home again. Through it all, however, we never lost sight of what traveling the world showed us.
First Attempt at Finding a Location
The boutique hotel experience was something we couldn’t shake. It was so impactful to our travel experience. We were determined to pursue this newfound idea of opening our own boutique hotel. The next step was to decide on the location. We first looked at Myanmar, one of our favorite destinations. It turns out that foreigners can’t own land in Southeast Asia; this only works if you have a local partner who owns 50% of the company. India was also one of our favorite destinations but, after a thorough search, we couldn’t find a property suitable for our needs. We had numerous meetings in an attempt to let some top-level people know about our plans. (A quick aside: To our surprise, we actually met with the German Ambassador! Since we didn’t expect to talk to him in person, we arrived completely unprepared. Flip flops and shorts don’t necessarily scream serious business meeting attire. However, he was more than welcoming and actually seemed relieved to not be meeting with another suited up individual.) Our research and meetings taught us one thing: Opening our first boutique hotel the traditional way in Asia was going to be too difficult.
Developing the Concept
So, we went back to square one. We always thought it was a great idea to tap into the knowledge of avid travellers. Even during our two-year stint, we came across tourists who shared our love for stylish, authentic boutique hotels. We wondered why we shouldn’t just start with the people who love boutique hotels – begin with the customers first to find out how we should proceed. Going down this path, we discovered that crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are actually great ways to develop a product made for the customer and by the customer. We instantly loved the idea.
Next on the agenda was to come up with a name. To uphold the idea of a truly crowdsourced company, we created a campaign to help us find a name. We asked everyone and anyone connected to us on social media what the name of the first crowdsourced boutique hotel should be. The response? Over 700 submissions (wowza!). We were totally taken aback by the enthusiasm for the idea, and it confirmed that we were on the right path. We parsed through the names and chose three finalists. Among those three, the ultimate name that spoke to us was Amberlair. Here’s why: each piece of amber, the translucent fossilized resin, is totally unique. And a lair is a secret retreat with a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. Together, they made the perfect combination of what this company aimed to embody.
Amberlair, the world’s first crowdsourced boutique hotel, was born. Stay tuned for our third and final blog post of this series, to learn more about our story and where we are now.
Until next time!
Marcus & Kristin