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Saturday October 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday October 19, 2013 MYT 8:25:53 AM
WHEN Frenchman Stéphane Junca co-founded the Secret Retreats brand over a year ago, he did so with the intention of providing a form of Asian hospitality that’s often missing in most hotel and resort chains in the region.
“The company is very young but the concept and founders’ network go back many years. When we worked for travel corporations, we felt that they have a different understanding of Asian values.
“When the travel corporations talked about luxury, it was about extravagant decor and 5-star accommodation. And when they talked about hospitality, it was as per the training you get in schools,” says Junca.
He was conscious of the uniformity of luxury hotel chains around the world that has deprived today’s travellers of authenticity and individuality. So Junca decided to establish Secret Retreats, a collection of some of the finest boutique residences, hotels and boats throughout Asia that seeks to redefine the meaning of luxury travelling.
“Secret Retreats is a community of owners of small, experiential properties, sharing a same vision for hospitality and who are eager to share their insight with our guests,” says Junca in an e-mail interview.
“Our vision of Asian values is different, as is our perception of luxury. It’s not about extravagant decorations, but rather what comes from people’s hearts,” he adds.
The Secret Retreats brand sets a new reference point in the hospitality industry by advocating exclusive boutique hideaways and promoting bespoke travel experiences.
The unique thing about the brand is that each and every one of the properties is privately owned by passionate individuals who’d love nothing more than to show guests the soul of Asia.
Operating under the concept of “our home is your home”, property owners who’d like to be part of the Secret Retreats brand could apply at www.secret-retreats.com.
Some of the properties under the brand include the Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp in Bali, Rachamankha in Chiang Mai, Rak Ko Jae in Seoul and Villa Samadhi in Kuala Lumpur.
For one, Rak Ko Jae is a beautifully restored hanok (traditional Korean house) that’s located within the Unesco heritage site in Hanoe, Seoul. The place is encircled by mountains and skirted by a river, making it a haven of peace and serenity.
At the core of it all, though, Secret Retreats’ template is moulded upon the warmth and hospitality of people in this region, says Junca.
“People in Asia are fun and sharing. They open their house to you gladly and pamper you with the best they have to offer.
“To me, this is the supreme lesson in hospitality and that’s the kind of Asia we want to find and share with the world,” he says.
The property owners of the residences and boutique hotels under the Secret Retreats brand believe that luxury is not about acquiring extravagant products and lavish facilities. Contrary to that, they believe that luxury is about the authentic interactions with the local people. Or in other words, the intrinsic value of luxury cannot be derived from a monetary exchange but rather it is found in the enriching moments that are shared when making new connections and experiences.
“Luxury is free if you’re open to receive it. It’s something that you earn if you’re worthy of it. And you can find all this in people in Asia who are genuinely hospitable,” Junca concludes.
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Lifestyle, Travel, Secret Retreats, Stephane Junca, travel, boutiques, resorts
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