Mitch Willey gets around…the world. And that’s an especially good thing. As Curator-In-Residence at Time & Place Luxury Rental Homes, Willey scours the earth for exceptional properties that will make your ultra-luxury vacation experience unforgettable.
Willey has long been a tastemaker in exclusive, high-end travel. He founded Time & Place to create a fully-vetted, curated vacation experience over twelve years ago. That was long before luxury home stays or villa rentals were on anyone’s radar. Youd think choosing the worlds finest vacation retreats would be an easy gig. Think again. Neither price, nor provenance is sufficient criteria for Willey. Discovering a home, estate or villa that meets Time & Places Best-In-Class standard requires on-site, in-person assessment. Thats Willeys job. And hes very, very good at it. It’s why Travel + Leisure magazine just named Time & Place among the Top 5 Global Villa Rental Companies in 2014.
Given his job, its hard to know what time zone Willey is in at any particular moment. But we ran him down recently to ask: what criteria must a vacation home meet to make the grade as an ultra-luxury Time & Place property?
Concierge Team: You’ve traveled all over the world. How do you determine which destinations will appeal to Time & Place clients?
Mitch Willey: I’m kind of the quintessential Time & Place client myself, so I’m attracted to world-class destinations. I’m able to discern the best luxury destinations because I’ve already traveled there. I just know. Travel isn’t just business for me; it’s a personal passion. To my eye, Best-in-Class destinations have a very palpable aura of sophistication and exclusivity that appeals to me – and subsequently – to our Time & Place clients.
CT: There are now a lot of players in the ultra-luxury home rentals market. And they all seem to be offering similar locations. What are you doing that’s different?
MW: I like to find locations that aren’t on everyone’s radar. Punta del Este in Uruguay is a great example of that. Back in the 1960s, it was the St. Tropez of South America. Fergie vacationed there. Mick Jagger stayed there. Today, the Punta del Estes beaches are some of the most chic I’ve ever been to. If you go out to a restaurant there, people are dressed so beautifully, yet so understated. It almost feels like a movie set.
CT: Is value among your criteria and does it really matter in the luxury vacation market?
MW: Everyone cares about value. Typically, successful people became that way because they spent and invested their money wisely. Our properties are selected and priced with a definite intelligence value. For example, in the off-season, in the area I just mentioned [Uruguay] you can rent a home with a full staff, a helipad AND a soccer field for about $1500 a night. Those are the kinds of insider deals our Time & Place clients really appreciate.
CT: What about the property itself; the house, the grounds and amenities? What are you looking for?
MW: I seek out properties that can inspire decorating and design ideas for our clients. Many of the vacation homes we offer are worthy of an Architectural Digest profile and many of them have been featured in the design as well as the travel press. When I’m on site, I’m assessing the appeal of these properties down to the quality of the linens. I personally like modern design and clean lines. I’ve also found that a home with beautiful architecture wont feel like home to its guests if the interior design is cluttered or confused. For me and for Time & Place, it’s really about the whole package.
CT: On-site service is a critical element of the ultra-luxury vacation experience. What do you look for in a Time & Place Concierge?
MW: I want people who are passionate about their city; not just someone looking to add Time & Place to their resume. I also want a Concierge who knows how to listen. Understanding precisely what the client wants is essential to delivering an exclusive, curated experience. There’s also a practical getting things done facet to the Concierge job that varies from location to location. For example, when it’s July in Nantucket and an air conditioning unit fails, you better have a Concierge who can push your property up to the top of the repair call list. If clients want a Parisian restaurant where they’ll be the only Americans, you need a Concierge who has the insider relationships to facilitate that.
So, if you’re looking for the next best thing in ultra-luxury vacations that actually IS the best, Mitch Willey has probably been there. Just ask him. He’d love to tell you about it. Then Contact Time & Place and let their well-traveled experts book it for you.