The Amberlair Story: Part 3

Hi there!

It means so much to us to be able to share our story with you! Our last two blogs, Part 1 and Part 2 gave you the general backstory of what inspired our idea of a crowdsourced boutique hotel and how the concept developed. Today, we’re back to give you a download of where we are now!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - The Amberlair Story Part 3

The Amberlair founders and Mrs. O Around the World

 

 

Social Media Presence

After we chose the name Amberlair among an overwhelming 700 crowdsourced submissions, we were on a roll. It became immediately clear that social media was a great tool to connect with global travelers and boutique hotel enthusiasts – our community! So our first step to make the first crowdsourced boutique hotel a reality was to spread the word far and wide on social media and build our online presence as much as possible. We were inspired by Mark Schaefer’s book, The Tao of Twitter, and decided to reach out to him for advice. It was through him that we connected with Mrs. O Around the World, our social media strategist. Mrs. O helped us create #boholover, a hashtag we use to identify all you fantastic boutique hotel fans.

 

 

The Search for a Location

With the launch of our social media and online presence, it was time to get the ball rolling on the next crowdsourced decision: the location. We asked global travellers if they knew of a piece of land or property anywhere in the world that would be suitable for Amberlair. The response was even more widespread and successful than our first crowdfunded decision, and we were ecstatic! We posted the top submissions online – which fascinatingly turned out to be Spain, Italy and South Africa – and sent them back out to the crowd, giving everyone a chance to vote for their favorite.

 

With a huge amount of support and participation, we watched the numbers come in. It was a nailbiter, but in the end, we had a winner. The world’s first crowdsourced boutique hotel would be in Italy! Completely overjoyed, we packed our bags and spent six weeks traveling through Italy, exploring every last inch of the country. The result? We fell in love with Puglia.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - The Amberlair Story Part 3

Kristin & Marcus, founders of Amberlair in Puglia

 

 

The southeastern heel of the Italian boot, Puglia is rich in history, which we noticed right away in its beautiful, ancient architecture and friendly people. We could almost see the Amberlair boutique hotel – your hotel – resting somewhere amidst a sea of olive trees and vineyards. Because Puglia offers world class wine and cuisine, fascinating cultural experiences and gorgeous scenery, we knew we had made the right choice. [A map and image of Puglia would be great here!]

 

Kristin & Marcus, founders of Amberlair

 

This month, we’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign to give you the chance to invest in the first ever crowdsourced boutique hotel. After the campaign’s completion, we’ll be hard at work (with your input!) preparing for a very exciting grand opening sometime in 2020. We’ll need help deciding on style, decor and amenities – you won’t want to miss out!

 

We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, but the future of Amberlair looks bright! Once we’re on our way to a successful hotel opening in Puglia, we will start preparing to have openings around the world. Of course our main purpose is to listen to you, our trusted travel community, when it comes to choosing new locations and fine tuning the details of the perfect boutique hotel. Our success is riding on your support. These hotels are made for you, by you and because of you.

As always, thank you for your continued support and belief in us!

Cheers,
Marcus & Kristin

#BoHoLover: Meet hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

We have asked hospitality aficionado Nadia Gallo to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

It all depends if I´m travelling for leisure or work, which makes a very big difference in my needs but not in my preferences. In both cases there is one thing in common; I try to book independent hotels with less than 100 rooms or small hotel chains. There are many reasons why I do this,  but mostly it is because I believe in the individuality of each hotel which in a way, represents the city or country which is located and do not like standardized hotels. I need that personalized service that in my opinion is easier to find in these type of  properties and some time is taken for granted in bigger ones or massive international chains. Also I must say that I do not “believe” in the actual hospitality star rating system, therefore, the number of stars will not be a conditioning fact for me when choosing a hotel anywhere in the world.

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

Casa do Batán – Viveiro, Lugo – Spain: This is an independently owned very small (3 suites) only adults hotel where you feel that special luxury service I refer to. The ambience, the local products they use, homemade meals,  the atmosphere,  the sound of the two river nearby, the forest that surrounds this beautiful property.  The couple who owns the hotel are there for you 24h taking care of all your needs including (I love this!) preparing breakfast for you at any time of the day!! That is luxury for me.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

Casa do Batán in Viveiro, Spain

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

Casa do Batán in Viveiro, Spain

 

Danai Beach Resort  –  Halkidiki – Greece: Less than 80 suites and rooms with a private beach, butler service and all type of commodities without being ostentatious .The owner himself is most of the times on the grounds to speak and entertain the guests.

Finca Cortesin – Casares – Spain: Eye for detail is one of the main mottos for this hotel and they totally exceed it, if they know what you like they will go head over heels to have it ready for you. As an example, they serve personalized buffet breakfast at your own table, yes, you read correctly, your own buffet all set for you on your table. The grounds are also to mention with extensive gardens and beautiful pools where even with a full house you will believe the hotel is not even half booked.

Cap Rocat –  Mallorca – Spain: One of those special hotels you could only find in Mallorca, a military fortress with very few suites and stunning location for relaxation. Again service and food is impeccable at this hotel.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

Cap Rocat in Mallorca, Spain. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

Cap Rocat in Mallorca, Spain. Photo by hotel.

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

  • Staff are the heart & soul of a hotel and their wellbeing gets reflected in the service. This is not an easy task at all but my number one focus will be to ensure their happiness making sure they love their job and what they do.
  • Might seem contradictory with my other point,  but  high-tech should always be a must.  Small things such as enough sockets in the rooms, appropriate apps for guests to use and make their life easier as well as updated social media amongst other things that I consider to be essential for hospitality now a days.
  • No reception as we all know it, no desk with a “person” behind the counter, the guest will be greeted by the receptionist or the concierge at arrival with a glass of wine, champagne or even if we know they have a preference for a cocktail we will prepare that cocktail to surprise them. Most of the paper work should had been done in advanced (Passport, credit card, etc) and the few things that are missing will be asked while they enjoy their drink and their luggage is taken to the room.

All this keeping in mind that my ideal boutique hotel should not have more than 30-40 Rooms.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

  1. In my case it is all about small details. I like it when they remember my name if I´m a returned guest and they totally have me if they recall my preferences (food, pillow, wine, room views, etc..)
  2. Personalized service in general is the key. High quality amenities is a must, tired of all same names and brands, amenities are often taken from granted in hotels.
  3. Few weeks ago I stayed at a hotel in Budapest that offered 24h whatsapp concierge service and decided to use it (more as an experiment to be honest) they booked me a restaurant for lunch, changed my transfer time for the airport and ordered room service. All of these done within minutes and no mistakes.  I must say that this was actually quite a big hotel with more than 200 rooms, impressive.

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

  1. As horrible as it might sound, I despise waiting in line whether it is for food, information or any other thing during my vacation, therefore buffets is something I try to avoid. Unfortunately not an easy task these days.
  2. First thing I do when I enter my hotel room is opening the curtains and windows, I normally request high floors. Once stayed at a beautiful hotel, forgot to specify this and they gave me an interior room with almost no natural day light.
  3. Going to a hotel either for work or leisure and being under construction is a nightmare, always ask if there is any of these going on and how this will affect your stay before booking. Same goes for out of order outlets; spa, restaurants, etc…

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

Love it! Putting all the travels ideas together and choosing what is best for this stunning project. Hope you have great fun doing so and I’m happy to be a small tiny part of this.

 

 

Where are you off to next?

London in a week… work, just for one night, but I’m planning my family Christmas vacation and we are thinking Dubai for the first time, no hotel has been decided yet!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #boholover and hospitality aficionado Nadia @NadiaGalloPT

 

I am Nadia Gallo. Hospitality has been my passion since a very early age when my parents taught me to appreciate every culture together with the hotel business through our numerous travels. I studied Hospitality Management at Les Roche and I´m proud to say that since the day I fished collage I never stopped working and loving this industry. I worked in almost every department there is in a hotel, something everyone should do in order to have an appropriate perspective.

 

Follow Nadia on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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#BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

We have asked Carmen Caballero of Exotik Traveler to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

It depends a lot where I travel, but personally I look for location (not necessarily centric but a location that offers and experience to the guest too, such as a historic spot or a calm park), efficient service, originality and authenticity. Bathrooms are also very important for me, I like them big and clean looking! I will also check out online reviews to see what visitors have commented.

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

Hotel del Parque in Guayaquil, before cruising the Galapagos Islands, this hotel is number 1 option in the city. This is a one of a kind boutique hotel in Ecuador, located in Parque Historico of Guayaquil, and has been fully renovated. The hotel used to be shelter to the homeless and elderly, now it is a luxury boutique hotel where you can experience the peace of the park where its located and also experience Guayaquil’s culture. Eclectic modern and antique furniture contrasts are present all around the hotel and rooms… Even the most basic room category is quite big with 7 metres high ceilings and the bathrooms are nearly as big as the room!

Another great hotel I have stayed at is Aman Sveti Stefan in the coast of Montenegro.The resort used to be an old fishermans village dating back to the 15th century, and is now a luxury resort. Rooms are equiped with 21st century commodities but also keep the authencity of the old village combining modernity with old historic features. The location, the pink sand private beach, and the hotel features and unique setting make it a very special experience.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro. Photo by hotel.

 

The third most special hotel I have ever stayed at is La Mamounia in Marrakech. Located in the heart of the city, it has one of the most unique gardens of Marrakech and also 3 signature restaurants.The decoration is moorish and the colour contrasts are lovely all around the property. The hotel offers to guests a riad experience with a private entrance and also, hotel rooms that do not loose morrocan authencity and where attention to detail is present in every corner of the hotel and room.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

Carmen Caballero at Mamounia in Marrakech

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

I’d have a small number of rooms, no a big hotel… Also, try to give the clients a very personalized service and a feeling of “home away from home”, and, I’d place it in an old building / house / palace and remodel it combining old / authentic features with modern ones and id also create a brand for room ammenities with a characteristic smell to associate to the property.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

I have loved when the service is positive, educated and efficient, original details in decoration or hotel features/rooms, and, also love to know about the history of the properties.

 

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

I think the worst is rude, unpolite/aggressive hotel staff, bathroom showers working properly is also very important for me and brand new hotel soaps…. nothing worst than the appearance of a shower gel or body lotion refilled…

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

I really like the project. I think that it is very important that guests have a positive relationship with the brand, this is essential. I am loving the idea to get “boholovers” involved in this project… I think this will help have different points of view for the boutique hotel concept, and also, its starting with a warm touch to this business idea. Id love to stay at the Puglia property before it opens, been to the area before and it is absolutely stunning, but a “boholovers” hotel is still missing :) Cant wait!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

 

 

Where are you off to next?

My next trip is going to be a road trip along the French Coast, We are flying to Nice, France and we will be visiting unique hotels such as Cap D’Antibes, Chevre D’Or, Cap Estel, Eden Roc, FS Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat and Five Seas in Cannes…

 

I am Carmen Caballero, owner and founder of Exotik Traveler: luxury travel blog and also, luxury travel consultant. I studied BS Economics and International Business in St Louis University (Missouri), and then, I decided to follow my dreams and create my own travel company where I design luxury travel journeys all around the world; this was 7 years ago and until today I can say I am proud of what I have achieved, and I happy to have turned my passion into my profession. Most of my life, before deiciding this was going to be my job, I used travel a lot myself, and even my friends and family always reached out to me to help them organize their trips. This was the perfect boost when I started my own business, and word-of-mouth and satisfied clients have taken me to where I stand today. I have to admit I have become social media addicted, I like to share my journeys and also travel inspiration in my social media channels specially in my Instagram account, be sure to follow me also in: TwitterFacebook and Youtube.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Carmen Caballero of Exotic Traveler @Exotiktraveler

 

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#BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

We have asked Michele Robson of Turning Left for Less to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

I am pretty detailed in my hotel research before making a decision. As I usually spend quite a lot of money on a hotel, I like to make sure I am getting my money’s worth. When I am looking for a hotel, I usually start by narrowing down a pretty specific area that I want to stay in based on nearby restaurants, attractions and nightlife. My next step involves looking at reviews by the specific destination. I look at photos a lot as a picture often tells a lot when taken by an actual guest. I always look for a bath as well as a shower and a pool or spa is usually a must too. Once I have narrowed it down to 3 or so hotels, I will then look at how to get the best deal on price before making my final decision.

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

It is a tough question as I have been lucky enough to stay in lots of fabulous hotels, but if pushed I would chose The Sanchaya in Bintan, Indonesia,  Lympstone Manor in Devon, UK and the Four Seasons in Oahu, Hawaii.

The overriding factor in all of them was service and personalisation. The Sanchaya is in a fairly isolated beach location in a magnificent colonial style house where you feel like you could have stepped back in time. Everything is personalised and you can even chose not to sign for anything in the hotel and just get a bill at the end. At the pool, hampers are presented with chilled towels, still and sparking water and a water spray to cool down.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

The Sanchaya in Bintan, Indonesia.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

The Sanchaya in Bintan, Indonesia. Photo by hotel.

 

Lympstone Manor is a newly opened hotel from Michael Caines, the Michelin starred chef. Again it is a beautiful Manor house building but the attention to detail and reflections of the estuary surroundings were what made it special and of course the wonderful food from Michael. Each room was named after a estuary bird and decorated in the birds colours. There were lots of little extras such as gin tray, homemade biscuits and fresh milk to go with your tea or coffee and 2 different sets of toiletries in case you didn’t like one fragrance.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

Lympstone Manor in United Kingdom. Photo by hotel.

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

Lympstone Manor in United Kingdom.

 

The Four Seasons is situated on a lovely lagoon away from the strong waves and currents on Oahu. The rooms are newly decorated and the pool side service is second to none. There is an adult only pool where staff will come round with sunscreen, water and frozen treats on a regular basis. Service is superb in all areas of the hotel from the beachside fish restaurant to the Hawaiian influenced spa. Your name is used at all times by the staff and service feels very personal.

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

  • Service and service recovery is very important, guests can overlook short comings if you have great service!
  • I think making sure the guests have everything they need in the room such as high quality toiletries, a great coffee machine, a comfortable bed with high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and a pillow top mattress are important.
  • Finally I love a good soak in the bath, so I would have large free standing soaking tubs big enough for two in my bathrooms.

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

  1. I recently stayed in the Aria Sky suites in Las Vegas and when you walked into the room the curtains drew back automatically to show you the view whilst music played. That was a pretty special entrance.
  2. I also loved at the Sanchaya that all your preferences were noted so that if you ordered sparkling water or coffee for example, they would bring you that next time you were in the restaurant.
  3. Another favourite is little gifts or extras such as the Gin tray at Lympstone Manor complete with lime and tonics or a nice pillow spray at turndown service.

 

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

  1. Being locked out of our hotel for the night during the Vegas shootings was something I hope to never repeat. At the less extreme end I really hate the trend of  open plan bathrooms with glass walls and doors, if any at all. No matter how much I love my partner I really do not need to be that intimate with them and it is definitely a no-no with friends!
  2. Noise is a big factor for me, as I recently had a room in a very well-known hotel that appeared to be above a nightclub that went on into the early hours.
  3. In Asia I have had a cockroach in the room of luxury hotels a couple of times. Just thinking about that makes me shudder!

I think in a lot of cases it is often not just the fact that something is wrong, it is also very important how the hotel deals with your complaint. I always mention if something wasn’t right so the hotel can correct it for the next guest but often all I get is a thank you letting us know, not even an apology!

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

I really like the Amberlair concept. It is certainly a very unique way to develop a hotel by involving guests from the very beginning. All too often hotels are built solely on designers concepts of what looks good rather than what a guest actually wants.

 

 

Where are you off to next?

My next 6 weeks are a repeat visit to a fantastic hotel in the Algarve, the Conrad, Abu Dhabi to try Etihad Airways First Class apartment and my first trip to Mauritius.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Michele of Turning Left for Less @turningleftfor

 

Michele Robson is the Founder and Editor of Turning Left for Less and has spent the last 23 years working in the travel industry.  Her passion for travelling has now turned into something of an obsession! This along with a taste for the finer things in life has necessitated finding the cheapest way to indulge her habit which she now shares with readers of her blog. Last year alone she flew over 85,000 miles on 37 flights but used miles, discounts and sales to never pay the full price.

Follow Michele on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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The Amberlair Story: Part 2

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.

 

Kristin & Marcus in Marrakech

 

 

Readjusting

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.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - The Amberlair Story: Part 2

Massai in Zanzibar

 

 

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.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - The Amberlair Story: Part 2

Kristin in Bagan, Myanmar.

 

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.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - The Amberlair Story: Part 2

Kristin & Marcus in Cappadocia, Turkey.

 

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!

Cheers,
Marcus & Kristin

 

The Amberlair Story: Part 1

Hello all !

It has been quite the journey. When we made the life-changing decision seven years ago to travel the world, we could not even imagine that the impact and inspiration would lead us to create Amberlair. On a Saturday morning in 2010 Marcus decided to quit his senior strategic planning role at the world’s largest plane manufacturer to act on a long-overdue passion. He wanted to travel the world. And because Kristin had made travel part of her life for years, lived in different countries and was working in the tourism industry, she was eager to begin a new adventure as well.

So, we packed up and began our travels for over two years and through more than 40 countries on six continents. Traveling to this extent (we became exposed to so many different cultures and lifestyles!) gave us a new perspective, and exploration fueled our creativity.

 

Kristin & Marcus at Haast River in New Zealand

 

During our trip, we discovered that the most special and unique experiences were brought on by staying in smaller, independent hotels. The hip hideaways we found gave us a taste of the local culture and people. We learned how these small businesses operated, and it was so refreshing to discover that none of these owners came from a hospitality background; these hotels were driven by passion. We soon realized that we were not the only avid travellers who preferred to get a truly authentic experience through boutique hotels.

 

Kristin at Củ Chi tunnels in Vietnam

 

We did encounter some difficulty in our quest to find the best boutique hotels around the world. They were hard to find. In some countries, we couldn’t find a single boutique hotel. The big chain hotels and cookie cutter accommodations simply lacked the same personal and authentic touch that we loved about our favorite boutique accommodations. It was at this point that we felt the urge to do something. How could we make boutique hotels more accessible to travelers, while still tapping into the passion and knowledge that made these spots so special?

 

Marcus in Goa, India

 

This period of travel, inspiration and discovery sparked something in us that would ultimately become the motivating factor for launching Amberlair…

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our story!

Cheers,
Marcus & Kristin

#BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

We have asked Pamela Chieffallo of  Travel Like a Chieff to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

When choosing a hotel my husband and I look for the following:

  • Five Star accommodations
  • Well located; proximity to shops, restaurants and city attractions when it is a city escape or if it is a beach vacation the pool is very important as well as the proximity of the beach.
  • Great reviews
  • I cross reference several lists like: Travel and Leisure World’s Best Hotels, Conde Nast The Gold List, Telegraph 50 Greatest Hotels In The World and Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Luxury Hotels
  • Look at traveler photos on TripAdvisor
  • Restaurant options in resorts is also a deciding factor
  • Modern minimalist décor is our preference but not a deal breaker if the hotel doesn’t fit that design style

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

Four Seasons Bora Bora: The over water bungalow overlooking the turquoise lagoon and mount Otemanu are what dreams are made of. The staff were friendly and the service was excellent. This little paradise was the perfect setting for our honeymoon and we enjoyed the serenity and beauty of the resort. We experienced the most romantic private island dinning experience on a white sand motu lit by tiki torches which began with a short canoe ride from the shore. It was followed by a spectacular Polynesian fire dance performance. Our one-bedroom mountain view overwater bungalow suite was luxurious and spacious with a deck overlooking mount Otemanu where you can relax while sipping champagne on the chaise longues.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

Amanzoe Greece: This luxury five-star resort is perfection! The Pavilions are positioned to ensure maximum privacy and are a little over 2200sf. We had the Pool Pavilion with Premium Views of the Aegean Sea and olive groves with a private 6m pool. The décor is modern, with pale walls, natural stone features and a touch of pine, exactly how we like it. The service was impeccable, the hotel amenities were the best we’ve had and the attention to detail was second to none. The restaurant options on the resort were excellent even for foodies like us. Amanzoe also offers a variety of activities like personal training, Pilates, a fabulous spa and many other excursions. For more on this hotel you can check out my hotel review on the blog.

Hoshinoya Tokyo: This is our most unique hotel experience to date. The Hoshinoya Tokyo is a five-star ryokan hotel located in the city’s financial district. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese hotel that originated in the Edo period. Guests are required to remove their shoes upon entering the hotel, are provided with a kimono and encouraged to wear it throughout the hotel. Every floor is covered by a seamless mosaic of tatami mats making it enjoyable to walk around barefoot. The rooms offer a minimalist traditional design with bamboo closets, and shoji paper sliding doors. Every floor has an ochanoma—a lounge that serves as an exclusive living and dining room for guests. There is a hot spring (onsen) located on the top floor of the hotel. The service was exceptional and the hotel staff went out of their way to accommodate restaurant reservations and bookings before our stay and during.

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

  • A unique welcome gift that is specific to the region.
  • A pillow menu, sleep is incredibly important to us and we’ve had sleepless nights due to terrible pillows.
  • A spa is always welcome and particularly ones that offer great facial treatments. I also prefer when they are open late since I like to experience the spa before bed.
  • Late check-out and early check-in options even if it is at an extra fee.

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

  1. Amanzoe offers personal training services and a state of the art Pilates studio where you can participate in group classes or take a private lesson. We loved this!
  2. We don’t book full board (breakfast included) in hotels anymore unless it is room service breakfast since we never make it on time. I like to eat my breakfast in my pyjamas.
  3. Free laundry service is always nice to have! More room in the suitcase for shopping!
  4. I must add one more! Separate bathrooms, one ensuite with a separate powder room is one of our favorite things in hotels.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

  1. Loud air conditioners drive me nuts! I’ve stayed in hotels where it sounds like you’re sleeping by the highway with your windows open. And yes, these were 5-star hotels.
  2. No hand-held shower head, this is my biggest pet peeve! Can we please have a rain shower AND hand-held in ALL hotels.
  3. Poor WIFI connection.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

This is a wonderful concept! I love the idea of having a hotel designed by the customer for the customer. This is the future of travel and it is so exciting to be part of such and innovative project. Avid travelers will have the opportunity to contribute to the design which can only make the Ambelair a one of a kind hotel. Think about it! You’re gathering ideas from an experienced travel community from all over the world and combining those ideas to create something magical! And it’s in Italy, it doesn’t get better than that! I can’t wait to see the final project!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

Where are you off to next?

Our next big adventure is a safari in the Masai Mara game reserve and Serengeti National Park in Kenya; we’ll be staying at the Cottar’s 1920s Camp. We will also be visiting Zanzibar, Tanzania and staying at the Park Hyatt and the Residence. We are staying at two different hotels because I don’t want to miss out on Stone Town and the hubby wants pure relaxation; marriage is all about compromise! I’ll probably sneak another weekend trip in before then so if you have any suggestions on where we should go in Europe in November and/or December please send me a message

 

This is Pamela Chieffallo, also known as the Chieff in Travel Like A Chieff. I left my career behind after moving to Dublin, Ireland from Toronto, Canada, became a housewife, nearly lost my mind and then started a blog. And that’s how Travel Like a Chieff was born! My mission is to discover the highest quality experiences, services and brands, share them with people all over the world and inspire them to do the same. Follow my adventures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or if you want to connect professionally check out my LinkedIn profile.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Pamela Chieffallo @LikeaChieff

 

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#BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

We have asked Katie Dillon of  La Jolla Mom to share her thoughts with us about her love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

I adore luxury hotels and choose destinations based on whether they have a hotel or two that really piques my interest. I have a handful of trusted luxury large and boutique hotel groups that I turn to first because they’ve earned my loyalty and I don’t need to worry about whether or not I’m going to have a good stay, I know I will.

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

I’ve been a guest of Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong consistently since it opened in 2005. It remains my favorite hotel in the world for sentimental reasons because we spent almost five years living in the hotel apartments. The staff is largely why its special to me and some of the same people have worked there since the beginning (while other have been promoted to other FS hotels). I think it’s also a testament to the hotel and brand as a great place to work. I like seeing familiar faces every time we walk in. My daughter is 10 now but I still remember the day we brought her home to the hotel at 5 days old and how excited they were to finally meet her (not to mention our hotel driver, a father himself, had to install our car seat because my husband forgot to read the manual).

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

 

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is also sentimental to me as that is it was a social hub for us when we lived in Hong Kong. I’ve been checking in as a guest annually for about six years. The top two things that I love about this hotel are the rooms and how they’ve managed to win the hearts of locals with their spa, dining outlets and other services.

In regard to the rooms, I do not think that I have stayed in room that is better equipped than theirs as they are fully-stocked with amenities and user-friendly technology. They have Hermes bath amenities and drawers full of other bath necessities you may have forgotten to pack. While there is an ample mini bar with premium spirits and snacks, they also put in a hot water kettle, Nespresso bar, gorgeous tea pots and ornate ice buckets (if the ice bucket wasn’t heavy, I would have bought it already), dishware, flatware, cloth napkins, full-sized wine glasses, and more.

I also love that they have a valet cabinet to minimize disturbance. In lieu of ringing the doorbell to deliver laundry, for example, they simply slip it into the valet cabinet. A notification light illuminates in your room so that you know to grab it. They really want you to feel at home here and I do. Beautiful decor and a stellar breakfast buffet helps, too.

 

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire offers activities that are simply different than any other luxury hotel we’ve been in. My daughter learned how to care for a pony, we took a private falconry walk around the estate, you can explore its 500 acres by bike, and they set up an incredible sunset picnic for us near the lake with fishing poles, etc. It’s the type of place you would come for a weekend getaway and never leave because you really don’t have to.

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

  • As you might be able to tell already, amenities inside the room are incredibly important to me. I need to feel like the hotel has thought about who might be staying there and that they have taken care of the little things. Are there enough coffee cups and glasses? Is there an office kit in the desk? What about plugs and voltage converters? Extra toothbrushes? Kids robes? Nice towels? I think the reason why I care is that I want to feel that there is value in paying more to stay in a luxury property.
  • Speaking of kids, amenities for them are also important. A welcome gift resets moods after a long flight. I love it when a hotel picks up on queues and does something to blow their minds. I happened to mention in conversation to Brown’s Hotel in London that we were going to do some Harry Potter tours and the pastry chef really knocked my daughter’s socks off with a gorgeous Harry Potter amenity. Later I heard that this was the first amenity that he had created like this. He really stepped up to the challenge! It is always nice when restaurants are flexible enough to alter menu items to suit a child’s taste or honor little requests without hesitation (like banana smoothies in our case) that might be off-the-menu. Traveling can be tough on kids and they, too, need a little familiar comfort food sometimes.
  • I also feel that online photos of the hotel should showcase what the property is really like without glamming it up too much. There’s nothing worse than booking into a hotel thinking it has a nice big pool based on the photos when in fact it’s tiny and was just photographed well. This recently happened to us and it was a huge let down for my daughter, too. The pool was awful.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

 

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

  1. Cool kids amenities such as in-room pop-up tents. Yes, even a cheap pop-up tent can give a child hours of enjoyment while creating a positive and memorable stay. My daughter celebrates a birthday near or during our spring break trips. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong filled our room with balloons.
  2. A complimentary glass of champagne at check-in is a nice touch, especially, if you have to wait for any reason.
  3. I am of the opinion that you can gauge what your stay is going to be like based on the thought that goes into a hotel’s flower arrangements. I look for and love extraordinary flower arrangements that are well-maintained.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

 

 

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

  1. We once had construction debris and cords in the hallway near our room in a five-star hotel that cost and arm and a leg. And, the construction noise was terrible.
  2. Ill-designed bathrooms are not my favorite. I was recently in a hotel where the shower flooded the bathroom floor every time.
  3. In-room coffee is a must. I am not a fan of it absent from my room.

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

I think it could be really amazing and they sure picked a gorgeous location. I also suspect its challenging to decide which traveler suggestions to really implement so I’m curious to see the balance that they strike. Through watching this process unfold, I’ve also found it really interesting to read what’s important to other savvy travelers. I do believe that if they really can build a hotel based on needs and wants of travelers, it should be a hit. I really look forward to checking in!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom @lajollamom

 

 

 

Where are you off to next?

Argentina for the Adventure Travel World Summit. It will be my first trip to South America.

 

Katie writes a luxury family travel and lifestyle site called La Jolla Mom that is named after her seaside community in San Diego. Before settling in La Jolla, she and her husband spent seven years as expats in London and then Hong Kong where her daughter was born. Her knowledge of luxury travel stems from plenty of first-hand experience as most of the Dillon family’s time overseas was spent living in a Four Seasons hotel apartment. Luxe Getaways Magazine, Luxury Retreats Magazine and Four Seasons Magazine are a few of the publications that Katie contributes to. She is also the San Diego editor for USA TODAY/10Best and never fully unpacked.

 

Connect with Katie on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

 

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Love boutique Hotels? Become a #boholover

We have created a community of #boholovers – i.e. boutique hotel lovers from around the world. They know their hotels like no one else – and what needs to change. Are you one of us? Or rather, would you like to become part of this movement? If so, we would love to hear from you and feature you on an upcoming blog post.

In order to be featured, just send us your answers to the questions below (but take some time before responding – don’t just say yes or no or a list of bullet points. Let yourself go, be detailed or poetic. All part of the Amberlair spirit.

Also please include a short bio and tell us a bit more about yourself. We will respond back as quickly as possible and will ask you for at least three high res photos with you being the star of one of them.

 

 

 

  • Drop files here or

 

THANK YOU

Cheers, Marcus & Kristin

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#BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of @PureHouseIbiza

We have asked Caroline & Rushan, the owners of Pure House Ibiza to share their thoughts with us about their love for travel and hotels, and Amberlair, of course. And before you ask, a #BohoLover is a Boutique Hotel lover …  just like us!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

 

 

How do you choose a hotel when you travel?

Our main criteria are aesthetics, location and exclusivity. Having explored travel blogs and searched for specific hashtags on Instagram we check social media channels and the website of hotels to get a feeling of the place. A quick confirmation on TripAdvisor rounds up our search. As owners of a boutique hotel, we are lucky to share a lot of good addresses and experiences of our like-minded clients from all over the world. Word of mouth is always the best way!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

Pure House Ibiza by Caroline & Rushan

 

 

If you had to choose 3, which were the most special (boutique) hotels you have ever stayed at and what made them so special?

  • Paradise road in Sri Lanka – Villa Bentota, nestled in a coconut grove on the seaside, Paradise road is a discreet boutique hotel designed with taste. Attractive contemporary artwork of Sri Lanka’s most famous artists is featured throughout the walls of the hotel. The Villa is magically romantic; the boutique is just irresistible.
  • Casa Malca has the feeling of an intimate beach house perched above the sand of Caribbean Sea and surrounded by a lush jungle. Here, all is about art, the owner exhibits his amazing contemporary art collection. The perfect mix of unmatched luxury and ultimate privacy in Tulum’s white sandy beach and the laid-back atmosphere.
  • Desa Seni Village resort in Bali. A few Java’s pavilions set amid a lush tropical garden, rooms offer views to the swimming pool or to the vegetable garden supplying the organic restaurant. The staff is extremely helpful and friendly. The yoga classes and spa with holistic treatment are spectacular.

More than hotels, they are houses personalized with a creative design and we love it!

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

Pure House Ibiza by Caroline & Rushan

 

 

If you had your own boutique hotel, what 3 things would you make sure existed?

Ahaha! We are running a Boutique hotel so it’s an interesting question, 3 things are not enough!

  • A friendly and welcoming staff with and helpful concierge service
  • Free Wi-Fi in rooms and all over the hotel is a given!
  • Very comfortable beds for a good night’s sleep to rest your body and mind

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

 

 

Name 3 things you loved in hotels you stayed in before…

  1. Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok for the exceptional and personalized service of the staff and for the stunning view on the river from the bed.
  2. Inle Princess Resort in lake Inle (Myanmar) for the arrival to this haven by a small boat where the captain paddles with one foot. A timeless peaceful and intimate hotel. I have loved the spa treatments.
  3. Desa Seni Village resort in Canggu (Bali) for the feeling of living in a world apart. The best yoga class in Paradise.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

 

 

Name 3 things you wouldn’t want to experience in a hotel ever again.

  1. Dirty and noisy rooms
  2. Impersonal welcoming
  3. Disappointing breakfast

 

 

How do you feel about the Amberlair concept?

Never heard of such an innovative concept before! It’s an amazingly inspired, creative, original and ambitious way to launch a Boutique hotel. We are looking forward to be one of your first guests.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

Pure House Ibiza by Caroline & Rushan

 

 

Where are you off to next?

Casa las Tortugas in Holbox island is located at the tip of the Yucatán peninsula or Desa Seni, which is a healthy yoga retreat that gives you the feeling of being in a world apart. We have to make a choice between those two well-hidden paradises.

 

We both travelled far and extensively before finding the peace, the lifestyle and the incredible mix of people here in Ibiza.

Rushan is originally from Albania, he worked in one of the best hotels in Mykonos. In 2003, he came to Ibiza and ran a renovation company. Rushan is an artist creating furnitures and sculptures like our beautiful pieces of art, tables, lamps, …  

Caroline is from Lyon where she worked as a photographer in a big studio, primarily shooting furniture and decoration developing her sense of style and decoration. In 2010, she decided to change her life and Ibiza was calling her.

 

Amberlair Crowdsourced Crowdfunded Boutique Hotel - #BoHoLover: Meet Caroline & Rushan of Pure House Ibiza @PureHouseIbiza

Pure House Ibiza by Caroline & Rushan

 

By chance we met here in Ibiza in 2010 and started the Pure House Ibiza project together: an Agroturismo, with a boutique hotel feeling, filled with art and handmade craft pieces that are also for sale. Our lives bloom here together, as the hotel fuses our main shared passions: decoration, travel and interacting with other cultures, via contact with our cherished guests and our annual travels in the off-season.

Connect with Caroline & Rushan on  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

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