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Citizen Enfants

The Private Concierge Teams Going Above And Beyond For Families

We know that travel concierge companies can source villas and make restaurant reservations, but these private concierge teams will pack your perfect wardrobe, fly DJs to the top of mountains, or FedEx your teenager’s school work to your villa. Yes, really. 

Enlist the help of a concierge company and everything – from the ideal destination and accommodation, a vacay-ready wardrobe, and an itinerary so bespoke you won’t even realise you want it all until you see it – will be taken care of. 

We chat to six of these ‘super-fixers’ about how they create the most magical trips for their clients.

It’s not hard to book a luxury holiday: the internet is teaming with five-star beach breaks on Caribbean islands and exclusive tented safaris in the African bush. Better still, you can have your two-week trip in the bag – all within minutes of sharing your credit card details.

But if you want something ‘extra’ from your holiday, a stay perfectly tailored to meet your family’s every need, then it’s time to talk to a concierge company. Increasingly popular (and accessible), more travellers than ever are enlisting their services to ensure that family holidays are meticulously planned and hassle free.

And it’s not just those with a celebrity bank balance who are recognising the benefits of this level of service: many time-poor parents are deciding that the cost to outsource the effort of holiday planning is worth every penny. 

Need to find the perfect villa? Source an entire vacation wardrobe for you and your children? Hire a private chef? Gain access to exclusive events? Rent a yacht? Something else? No request is too big or too small for a good private concierge team. With client lists that read like the Vanity Fair Oscars Party guest list (though they will never divulge any names, of course), a private concierge knows all the strings to pull to offer the wow factor.

“We arrange literally everything for our clients and provide them with an itinerary that is completely bespoke,” explains Sophie Shelton, co-founder of 48 London, a lifestyle management and concierge company. 

“We act as that safe space for families before, during and after their travels, taking the weight off parents when travelling with children of any age and ensuring everything is prepped for their arrival. This can be anything; from making sure their villa is packed with their favourite foods and games, to ensuring they are met at the airport and escorted through to the gate by a helping hand, so that they can solely focus on them and their family. It’s all about enjoying quality time from start to finish of their holiday. It’s these kinds of things that make a difference to people.”

Shelton, who has arranged dream family holidays everywhere from Mallorca to New York and Singapore, previously worked in private shopping for Harrods and has set up 48 London to help clients who require her expert eye and attention to detail. She has spent the past nine years building up her contact book so that whatever a client needs, wherever they are in the world, she can source it for them. Her bespoke membership package starts from £14,000 per annum but she is flexible on ad hoc projects such as planning a particular holiday.

“We are often asked to put forward the best family-friendly destinations and locations which we can do because we constantly keep our fingers on the pulse with who and where are offering the very best for children and adults alike,” she explains,  “understanding our clients helps us with this as we know their hobbies and what they like to do as a family. Having this intel and organic, genuine relationships with clients really equips us to be able to tailor-make itineraries for the whole family to enjoy.” 

While most top hotels have their own in-house concierge, their services can generally only go so far. They don’t know your family personally and they aren’t on call 24/7. Many now deal directly with a family’s own personal concierge, who relay specific details and pick up where a hotel team leaves off. 

“If your flight is cancelled and you need a private jet or a new travel plan by rail, hotels won’t necessarily be able to quickly arrange that for you,” explains Shelton. “Of course we can get reservations at the best beach clubs or restaurants but it’s often when things don’t go to plan that you fully realise the value in a personal concierge. We are just a WhatsApp away at all times.”

Brits spend hours, often days, planning their holidays with many stating they feel overwhelmed by travel choice anxiety, and stressed by committing to a booking. For busy parents, designating so much time to planning a holiday is generally not an option.

“Lack of time is one of the main reasons our clients ask us to arrange their holidays,” explains Gaby Stanley, Business Development Director at Ten Lifestyle Group, one of the world’s leading travel and lifestyle concierge companies that has been running for 25 years. Their services are available via private banks or wealth managers to over a million HNWIs globally and their clients include Coutts, HSBC, NatWest Private Banking and St. James’s Place. Private membership is also available in the UK starting from £4,500 a year. 

“We really get to know every aspect of our members’ lives so we know exactly what they want from their holiday – from the location and time of year to activities and the work commitments they have to fit in. We can be proactive and make suggestions, things they didn’t even know they wanted until we tell them about it,” Stanley explains.

“For example, we recently arranged a trip to Switzerland for an American client who was travelling with three very young children. They wanted to stay in four different locations so we made sure each hotel met their needs perfectly and had all the equipment they required for their children. Our team on the ground in Switzerland even planned the exact route their driver would take so as to avoid any winding roads as two of the children suffered badly with car sickness.”

It’s that attention to detail that helps people to have a wonderful and stress free experience,” says Stanley who has access to offices all over the world all offering excellent local knowledge to clients. 

As well as saving members precious time and inspiring them with suggestions based on their previous vacation preferences, Ten Lifestyle offers access to experiences that would otherwise be unavailable to most people. Stanley has organised private tours of DisneyLand Paris, sourced sold out tickets to Broadway shows, and arranged after-hours toy shopping trips. 

Figures show that more and more families are employing concierge companies to help make their day-to-day lives less stressful. A recent report showed that the Concierge Services Market was valued at USD 334.75 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 496.73 million by the year 2028. The demand is there, and travel is one area that’s seeing steady growth. Ten Lifestyle have noted that 30 per cent of all their enquiries are now travel related, compared to their entertainment and lifestyle management requests.

On a practical level, travelling with children can be daunting, especially if you are a first time parent. Tiffany Norris, founder of The Mummy Concierge, holds the hands of her new-parent clients as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby, sourcing everything from nursery furniture and prams to obstetricians and nannies. She has found that her clients are now asking for travel advice too. 

“It’s a natural next step for parents who want to go on holiday with their little one but don’t know where to start. There is so much involved even if you are just going away for the weekend, and I can help them figure out exactly where they want to go and what they need when they get there to have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday,” points out the mum-of-two.

“On many occasions my clients have flown me out to the villas that they either own or are renting so that I can prepare everything for their arrival. I will take the children’s luggage, plan their outfits, toys and sleeping arrangements. If they are weaning I’ll have all the food their little ones like – freshly cooked and then frozen – so it’s all there waiting for them.” Norris, who has travelled ahead to Italy, New York, St. Tropez and even Australia for her clients who include high net worth individuals, celebrities and royalty, tells us: “I source all the equipment they will need – no one wants to turn up and find no arm bands for their toddler. I’m a dab hand at putting up stair gates in villas now!”

Having worked for parenting publications for many years, Norris set up her company seven years ago to help parents navigate this new and often bewildering time in their lives. “My contacts book is extensive and packed with parenting experts around the world, this extends to travel too,” she explains, “I don’t have partnerships with any particular hotels because I want to give completely genuine, unbiased advice.”

An initial consultation with Norris costs £175, thereafter she charges the same amount per hour to make it easy for clients to decide exactly what level of service they want – and to keep track of the bill. 

According to Norris, babymoons are another popular request. “A pre-baby holiday is something a lot of parents are keen to plan and I can help them consider things like safety, vaccinations and accessibility so they have a really wonderful break.”

Holidays with older kids and teenagers come with their own set of requirements. Favourite sports, dietary preferences, birthday celebrations and even private tutors are all things 48 London have taken care of over the years. “We know how vital these elements are and make sure they are thought of, but we are also there for the unexpected,” explains Shelton. “If your teen forgets their vital GCSE homework, we will let ourselves into your house, find it and have it FedExed to you anywhere in the world. Nothing is too much trouble.”

Some travel concierge companies will not only help you plan your trip, but also what you will wear when you are there. Seeing a gap in the market, Sophie Caulcutt – who has a background in fashion and has worked for luxury children’s brand Marie Chantal – set up a private concierge, The Voyager Club, in 2018 and now helps busy women all over the world not only design their dream holiday but pack the perfect capsule wardrobe for it too.

“We send out a questionnaire to our members to get a feel for their style, destination and size. We put together an edit of 25 pieces for them to choose from and work with them to create the perfect selection,” explains Calucutt. “This can then be packed and delivered to their home or we can arrange to have it hanging in the wardrobe of their hotel, villa or chalet when they arrive,” she continues.

Many of The Voyager Club’s members are mums, so they offer curated maternity-vacation wardrobes too, working with big name brands and retail partners. Membership costs from £2,500 which includes two vacation wardrobes, unlimited hotel and villa recommendations, reservations, and access to exclusive events. Caulcutt has worked with five-star hotels including Estelle Manor in the UK, Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Cobblers Cove in Barbados and The Lowell in New York, as well as countless breathtaking villas all over the world.

“Our clients can easily spend £50,000 a week for a villa in the Caribbean and when they are paying that much money they expect it to be perfect: we make sure it is. They will arrive to find their favourite foods, the gym equipment they like and all the beach toys their kids could wish for. We even delivered a piano once so that a child could have lessons,” says Caulcutt. 

One of the trickiest family holidays to get right is skiing. A trip on the slopes requires so much planning, from the chalet to the lift passes. Bella Syme set up ALS Ski, a travel concierge company for skiing, 10 years ago to plan seamless snowy-stays. A former professional skier and off-piste ski instructor, Syme is well-versed in what it takes to create the perfect skiing holiday, and has the connections to make it happen.

“I have contacts in every resort across Europe so when a family requests a ski instructor I can match them to the perfect person,” she explains. “We deal with some of the very best chalets in the world and we take all the hassle out of skiing. We know each resort so well and can advise on exactly where to stay, eat and ski, down to the tiniest detail.”

On a basic level expect to find your lift passes and all ski equipment waiting in your chalet – no trekking to the hire shop – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Syme offers. “Once a client who was staying in Verbier at Christmas asked us to source all the presents for their family and guests. We did it all – including 25 pairs of matching Moon Boots. We have flown DJs from Ibiza to parties at the top of mountains; created pop-up Moncler stores in chalets so clients can shop in privacy; we even turned a chalet into Narnia once for a Chinese client whose children had never seen snow,” says the mum-of-one who is on call to her guests throughout their stay. “When I set up my business 10 years ago not as many people expected this level of service, but now 95 per cent do. It’s not unusual for people to spend upwards of £100k but we can also create a wonderful ski holiday with a budget of £25 to £30K,” she highlights. 

Far from just being the preserve of the super-rich, this level of assistance is now in demand amongst those who simply want to ensure a special family holiday is faultless. While some concierge companies require membership, many such as 48 London and Stratfield Fairlane, are happy to work on a project basis, with clients paying them to plan one particular trip.

“Everything we do is bespoke,” says Julie Selfe, MD of Stratfield Fairlane, a VIP concierge service who look after the travel plans of footballers, film stars and royalty. “But we understand that people don’t always need a membership, so work on a project-by-project basis so you only pay for what you need. Once clients have engaged our services they quickly realise that we offer so much more than a travel agent. They are tapping into years of knowledge that has been acquired through time, research and the building of excellent contacts,” she continues. “Anyone who wants the peace of mind that their holiday will be the best it can be should consider working with a personal concierge.”

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