Putting a Face on Concierge Services
Today’s market for concierge services demands the highest attention given to the smallest detail. And in the world of luxury villa rentals, concierge reputation is everything. West Indies Management Co., or simply WIMCO, whose portfolio of properties in St-Barths continues to become more and more luxurious, found that making concierge services more personable is key to happy, returning customers.
“At WIMCO, our principle of concierge service is to form a bond with and be accountable personally to clients,” explains WIMCO president Stiles Bennet, who’s been with the company for 11 years.
“From behind the traditional hotel desk, to your front door delivering champagne, gluten-free snacks, SIM cards – you name it.”
In St-Barths, concierges are the single largest booker of reservations at restaurants. Upon arrival at many restaurants in Gustavia, it’s easier to find the reservation under the name of your concierge than that necessarily of your party. Just mention that Jules from WIMCO made your reservation for 9pm and you’ll be whisked over to Jules’ favorite table.
WIMCO rents their luxury villas year-round and our group was fortunate enough to experience life in two of them: Villa Eternity and Villa La Plage.
Villa Eternity is a modern marvel in all white with pops of color in modern sculpture and art throughout the property. Perched on a hillside, it overlooks Flamands and is a two minute drive to the local bakery, La Petite Colombe. The bedroom arrangement of independent units with en suite baths was perfect for our larger party of people who wanted privacy. With two pools and a hot tub, a common kitchen and open-concept dining room-living room combo, it was easy to gather for breakfast, plan for the day and go.
Villa La Plage, in Lorient, was beach front with more traditional Caribbean features. A long low profile along the water and a steeply pitched roof to resist damage from hurricanes contained a traditional, separate kitchen great for a private chef to work without interrupting; a large common room with three sitting areas and a grand piano. Along the front, the pool paralleled the ocean. Five independent bedrooms with en suite baths were situated behind the main living areas. Down a few steps from the pool and deck was the path to the beach and the private beach front property.
The State of Real Estate in St-Barths
“The St-Barths real estate market attracts a diverse, global collection of affluent clients,” said Bennet, who is active on the St-Barths real estate side as well. Doug Foregger, director of WIMCO International Real Estate confirmed the spike in real estate activity.
“Additionally, under French law, there are zero comparables. This creates an imperfect market as well as opportunity,” he said. Purchasing property in St-Barths is easy and the process can take as little as four months. More than 50% of real estate sales are to Americans, Foregger said. “We’re seeing a record number of sales and we’re on track for our best sales year in 30 years.” With a few transactions over $75 million this year, it’s easy to see why.
Almost everyone can agree: St-Barths is one of the world’s most unique places. The sense of safety and security you feel because of the seclusion of the island, the quality of people who vacation here and the reputation as a luxury destination all correlate into villa rentals and real estate sales. “St-Barths has no private clubs,” Foregger said. “Once you’re here, you’re in the club.” And that is exactly the feeling you get during your time in St-Barths.