With Firstclass Holidays Izabella Dolgos created a travel studio in 2011, for which she and her team are constantly on the lookout for special domiciles: Exceptional villas in special places, fincas behind whose historic walls art and modern comforts merge to create a unique ambience, chalets, at peak altitude or boutique hotels where renowned designers have realized their dreams.
“And everything that the guest doesn’t find in our travel studio, we find for him,” is the credo of the Firstclass Holidays founder, who has been developing travel concepts and arranging luxurious vacation accommodation (click: vacation homes that you don’t want to move out of) for more than 25 years. For “special jewels” they also like to lend a hand themselves with the program “How to create a luxury villa”. For example, they coach property owners who want to rent out their villas as vacation accommodation or for events and, together with local designers and artists, create a luxury villa entirely in the style of the region for Firstclass Holidays customers.
Especially in the time with and after Corona, vacationing as a family or with friends in a vacation home offering privacy becomes an attractive destination. How the vacationing according to desire and measure in selected vacation houses functions, which one must plan (at budget), which wine luxury one can experience now and which experiences are made possible, the foundress Izabella Dolgos in the interview revealed to me.
Knows a thing or two about style when traveling: Firstclass Holidays founder Izabella Dolgos
What are (besides booking period) the most important framework data required by the customer – country? Main focus?
First and foremost, we try to get to know the dreams and vacation wishes of our customers. Where and how does he see himself? What does he like to do on vacation? Who does he travel with and is there a theme that is particularly important to him? To find all this out and to create a tailor-made first class vacation, we usually have a telephone conversation with the customer or ask the most important questions via e-mail. Besides that, of course, some technical information is needed: the number of bedrooms, main criteria on the equipment, desired destinations, etc.
Usually there is also information about profession, place of residence, lifestyle and hobbies – all this helps us to fulfill the dream. We have many regular customers who we already know well and know what they are looking for and what expectations they have for their vacation. The planned budget (scale) is also a factor in the object selection. Accordingly, we then put together the appropriate proposals.
What are the most popular destinations?
It depends on the season. Our specialty is “vacation by the sea” or “the great summer vacation”, so the most booked destinations at Firstclass Holidays are Mallorca, Ibiza, Saint Tropez, Marbella, Provence, Sardinia, Lake Garda, Tuscany, Dalmatia, Mykonos. In winter, the Maldives, Caribbean or ski resorts in Austria and Switzerland are highly popular.
What does the consulting or compilation process look like?
The focus is always on the object – the villa or chalet. First we find the perfect object and finalize the booking. It is important to secure the desired period of the customer. After that, we have time to fulfill all other wishes and put together the individual offer. In the second step, we advise the customer on their service preferences and tailor a custom vacation experience to each booking. We work on larger bookings for months and keep in close contact with the customer during this time. Our well-developed network of different service providers enables us to fulfill almost all wishes – no matter how unusual the ideas are, so far we have been able to realize almost everything.
The Firstclass Holidays service can be grouped into 3 themes:
1) In-villa services (villa manager, cleaning staff, cook, butler, waiter, trainer, etc.)
2) Mobility services (private jet, airport transfer, exclusive rental car or supercar, local transfer)
3) Other (on-site activities – from restaurant and beach club bookings to yacht rentals to various sports, cultural or entertainment programs – the list is endless).
It often happens that the customer wants to host a birthday or even wedding party on site. In this case, if desired, we will take over the organization and coordination on site.
Service requests are as individual as the people themselves who book with Firstclass Holidays. Most guests definitely want daily cleaning, breakfast service and first shopping/fridge filling. In addition, the private chef is very popular and almost always booked with.
Vacation home example: Winter sun on the Mediterranean Sea – Villa Elektra in Dubrovnik
Villa Elektra is located in the third line of the sea, exactly 450 meters from the popular beach club Banje and 750 meters from the old town. Due to the hillside location, all 5 levels offer fantastic sea and old town views. The spacious terraces, 3 pools(indoor, outdoor and jacuzzi) and club rooms provide enough relaxation adventure playground with family or friends. A total of 500 sqm of living space over 5 levels provide accommodation for up to 14 people – in 7 en-suite double rooms.
Villa Elektra in Dubrovnik, more via www.firstclass-holidays.org/de
What is the minimum budget you should plan for?
Prices are also on a wide scale – depending on the location/destination and size. A country house in Istria and a villa in Saint Tropez or Sardinia are 2 different worlds. It starts from about 8,000 – 10,000 EUR per week, up to 6-digit amounts. But this is put into perspective when you consider that there is room for up to ten or more people in the location and you can divide the budget accordingly.
What additional experiences can be made possible?
Quasi everything. From own cook, truffle search with subsequent cooking, to experiences with dreamlike rental cars – nothing is impossible. Popular are the yacht excursions, but we have also had
- Ferrari race
- picnic with helicopter
- private flamenco shows
- and individual visit to the Vatican organized.
A brand new service introduced is the wine concierge: after arrival, our sommelier takes the guests on a wine tasting. They then choose their favorites, these are then delivered to the villa and the guests are supplied with wine and champagne for the vacation. As part of this service, we also introduce lesser known winemakers, smaller family wineries with excellent products. In addition, the cooking classes or other tastings of local products (olive oil, truffles, etc.) are popular.
What criteria are used to select the experiences or the partners for them?
When choosing a partner, we make sure that they work at the same level of service as we do. In addition, we value flexibility and good communication skills, so that our guests are taken care of in the best possible way. We are constantly expanding our partner network and adapting it to the interests of our clients. We ourselves also always keep our eyes open and look for exciting new offers and opportunities. It is a creative process in which we – also together with our customers – come up with an idea and then look for suitable partners to realize it. Great new partnerships are formed along the way. Working with local service providers is the key to success. Everything has to work perfectly. The more people working on this work of art, the greater the risk of a mistake. Therefore, the professionalism of the partners as well as quality of cooperation is crucial for a good result.
Vacation home example: Chalet vacation in Switzerland – Chesa el Toula in St. Moritz
The exclusive family residence is located in the exclusive Suvretta area, about 2.5 km from the town center and Lake Moritz. The chalet was until recently only used privately, after the last, extensive modernization, the owner family has opened the doors to guests. The traditional Engadine construction with wood, natural stone and marble create an elegant setting for the cozy-classy interior design. The impressive 900 sqm living space over 5 levels offers numerous living, sleeping and entertaining spaces with individual decoration and designer furniture by Le Corbusier, Rugiero, Casa Milano or Porta Romano. Among many highlights, the spa and entertainment areas are highly recommended. Large indoor pool with loungers, steam room, fitness room and outdoor Jacuzzi await guests after a challenging day of skiing,hiking or relaxing. A Heritage Land Rover Defender is available for local trips. 6 luxurious bedrooms each with en-suite bathrooms provide accommodation for up to 10 adults and 4 children.
Chalet El Toula, St. Moritz, more via www.firstclass-holidays.org/de
What criteria must a property meet to end up in the portfolio?
We are always on the lookout for unique properties in attractive tourist locations. Location is important, but a fantastic property in a less interesting location also fits well into the portfolio. We love houses with soul and history, which create an exceptional living space. Our villas are usually also an attraction themselves – with unique furnishings, designed by a famous architect or decorated with famous works of art, designer furniture. Furthermore, exclusive marketing is also important. We do not like to include villas in our portfolio that are bookable at more than three agencies and Airbnb & Co.
What would be exciting locations / houses / experiences for beginners who want to treat themselves, but also have to watch a budget?
I would suggest a beautiful villa in Istria. The price is comparatively low and the quality of the properties is high. Why many vacationers prefer hotels is because they assume they have to take care of everything themselves: going to the supermarket, cooking, cleaning, etc. and this is not very relaxing and you hardly get to enjoy your vacation. That’s why I always suggest a villa with basic services, especially for beginners: Shopping service, cook, villa manager and cleaning staff. This way the experience is complete.
What are the biggest challenges for the consultant and what is the great attraction of this profession?
The profession could rather be considered a vocation, as it requires omnipresence and great flexibility. This can only be done out of passion. The biggest challenge is to meet the taste of the customer, to offer the right villa and the ideal service for the customer. When the guest is on site, everything must be perfect, because correction is usually no longer possible. The attraction is, exactly this constant challenge and travel. You can only sell a luxurious lifestyle if you live the dream yourself. This brings many advantages and enjoyment.
What qualities are particularly important in this profession?
Above all, it’s the know-how that counts – knowledge of the destination and the property. Only in this way can the customer be competently advised and guided to his vacation dream.
Vacation home example: chalet vacation in France – Chalet Pelerin in Le Miroir
The chalet is located in the heart of the picturesque Savoy High Alps, in the historic mountain village of Le Miroir. From here you can reach a different ski resort every day, including Sainte Foy, Tignes and Val d’Isére. Daily transfers to the surrounding 7 ski resorts and ski passes are already included in the rental price. The proximity to the Italian border gives access to 3 heliski bases with slopes ranging from 1000 to 2000 meters. After a day of skiing, warm up by the fireplace or in the whirlpool. Chalet Pelerin offers luxurious alpine coziness over 3 levels with 5 bedrooms for up to 12 people.
Chalet Pelerin, France, more via www.firstclass-holidays.org/de
The cottages start with space for 2 people up to 14 . I have already clicked through the majority and it is really for every travel group size and taste what there. Clearly the price may startle the piggy bank at the beginning something, but divided by several people and calculated on a week’s vacation among themselves with everything you need – can each decide for himself whether he wants additional services such as a cook or concierge service on top or puts himself on the stove and / or grill – then relativizes again or calculates. A little saving on a trip also increases the joy factor. Who would like to be inspired, can start wanderlusting at firstclass-holidays.org.de