You guys have traveled so much in search of the perfect location for your boutique hotel. But before Amberlair was even a twinkle in your eye, you both traveled significantly with your previous professions.
Tell us a little about why and where you traveled in the past!
Marcus and Kristin: In 2011, we decided it was time to make a change in our lives, so we quit our nine-to-five jobs and started traveling together. We traveled around the world, for over 600 days and through 45 countries. During our trip, we fell in love with boutique hotels in so many unique destinations. That was when the idea for Amberlair started to take shape.
You call Amberlair the “Worlds first crowdsourced Boutique Hotel”
Can you tell us what that means to you?
Kristin: What we want is to gather together like-minded luxury travelers to build a global community around this idea of the perfect boutique hotel. And then we’re going to build that hotel with their input from the very beginning. With online tools like crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, this travel community has a say throughout the entire process of building the perfect boutique hotel—not just financially, but creatively as well.
Marcus: We discovered that there are plenty of other well-traveled people out there who share our passion for small, authentic hotels in inspiring locations. And Amberlair’s crowdsourcing process is tapping into that global enthusiasm. Our crowdsourcing actually goes all the way back to the beginning. We requested input on the name — asked people to suggest two words that they thought would sum up our ambitions. We landed on Amberlair because it fit so perfectly. In pieces, amber is this fossilized resin that’s always distinctly unique, and “lair” brings to mind a cozy refuge. These are both qualities that resonated with us as we imagined the first crowdsourced boutique hotel.
How many locations have you visited while scouting locations for Amberlair to be built?
Kristin: Well, actually we visited lots of countries in Asia and Europe in hopes of finding a suitable location for a boutique hotel. Finally, we thought it was better to ask our continuously growing boutique hotel lover community where the first Amberlair should be located. And the winner is Italy.
You must have seen some pretty incredible places? Any standouts that we should be sure to add to our list?
Marcus: We saw so many great sights during our travels, but we particularly fell in love with the solitude and loneliness at the Haast River beach in New Zealand, the untouched nature of the Andaman Islands in India, the beaming smiles and the kindness of the people of Myanmar, and the outstanding food and the fancy interior design of the Grillmarket restaurant in Reykjavik. Those are just a few of our favorites, but as we look back, they stand out as the most incredible.
You finally decided on Italy – which we’re super stoked about – how did you come to that decision?
Kristin: We received lots of suggestions from our #BohoLover community around the world. It was really exciting to see all the ideas coming in. The top three countries that received the highest number of suggestions were South Africa, Spain and Italy. So, finally, we put these three countries to a vote.
Marcus: Our #BohoLover community finally voted for Italy. We’re super excited because we love Italy, and we think it has potential for a truly unique boutique hotel. In Puglia in South Italy we found an incredible location. Soon, we’ll be revealing the launch date of our crowdfunding campaign and ask the crowd for support.
With your #BohoLover feature on your blog, you ask other travelers about some of their favorite and least favorite travel experiences and destinations.
How have those answers shaped your vision for what Amberlair will be?
Marcus: The great ideas and suggestions we have already received from travelers and boutique hotel lovers around the world. These will constitute a strong foundation of what our future customer wants and doesn’t want in a hotel or travel experience. And we won’t stop collecting great ideas that will shape our concept as long as Amberlair exists. Crowdsourcing will always be one of the key drivers of Amberlair. This is part of our foundation.
In keeping with the #BohoLover theme, what are some of your personal favorite and least favorite travel destinations and why?
Kristin: We love stylish destinations with boutique hotels that merge with the local culture and design. We’ve found that this concept works best in places with a powerful history. We love Marrakech, and we would go back again and again. The culture, the architecture and the local interior design of the Riads there are so beautiful. Italy is another beautiful place we adore, of course. The food is amazing in Italy, the people are friendly, the natural landscapes are stunning. And we particularly love the historical buildings and the ancient cities.
India is another favorite. The colors, the palaces, the atmosphere, the natural environment. This incredible country is so full of energy and we love going there. Finally, on the other end of the spectrum is Iceland. It’s one of our favorite places because of its dramatic and almost melancholy landscape. In Iceland, we experienced a sense of vast solitude that we’d never experienced before.
We don’t like destinations with too many tourists: we tend to avoid places like Mallorca, Miami, and most of the beaches in Thailand. We’re also not fans of any kind of destructive tourism. We will skip destinations that are a part of the checklist tour of mass tourism groups. By opting out of Unesco World Heritage sites, for example, we’ve been able to have some less mainstream (but no less incredible) experiences.
What can we expect to see in Amberlair’s future?
Marcus: Amberlair’s vision is to set up boutique hotels in different countries around the world. We will always invite and encourage our community to get involved with Amberlair. They can bring their heart into this project with us, to get the best ever imaginable guest experience.