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This year, travel has become the ultimate luxury. Amid the challenges of these unprecedented times, domestic and global excursions have completely evolved. Safety and service are now of vital importance. And a new partnership between Sparfell and the Oetker Collection is bringing those two qualities together like never before.
The international leader in private aviation Sparfell and the hotel and resort group Oetker—known for such iconic locations as Eden Rock in St. Barths—now offer a luxury travel experience from your home to theirs. Guests can bypass the stress of the airport and commercial flights by boarding a private Sparfell airliner, flying direct to any of the Oetker Collection’s Masterpiece Hotels, Estates, or Private Villas across Europe, the Caribbean, and South America.
Sparfell chairman Philip Queffelec and Oetker chief project development officer Philippe Perd recently met at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes to discuss this new height in hospitality, and the value of comfort and security.
WHITEWALL: What does travel represent to you at this time?
PHILIPPE PERD: I think luxury travel should be a tailor-made experience and should answer the needs of our customers, which are very different from one client to the next. A guest could enjoy a first-class cabin when traveling, but another guest would prefer to sit on a private plane—which is why we are very pleased to have developed this partnership. It’s about how you can best deliver a service which is aligned with the expectation of that particular guest.
Having this partnership with Sparfell, we can start that experience not at the door of the aircraft here in Nice, but at the door of the home of the guest. It’s a dream.
PHILIP QUEFFELEC: I started traveling with my parents. My father was a captain. At that time, luxury was something quite different from today. Very few people were able to fly because of the cost and the aircrafts were only capable of doing a long range. You felt really privileged to fly—it was a real adventure, and a luxury atmosphere.
Today, luxury in travel is private jets. You are flying with dedicated service, you know the people you are traveling with, you are safe—which of course in the COVID-19 period is very important. This is the luxury today, to be able to bring people in a comfortable, efficient, and healthy manner.
WW: How did this collaboration come together?
PP: In the context of COVID-19, sometimes when you go through challenges, opportunities arise. Our travel partners in the United States and in Europe have clearly said that guests are traveling privately more and more because of the health crisis we are all going through. We had spoken with Philip for three or for years about different projects, so we reached out to Sparfell and agreed that a partnership could be developed that could answer the needs of our guests.
The service level is perfectly aligned. What a guest would expect at one of Oetker Collection properties is similar to what they would expect flying with Sparfell. We can really custom-make the experience. There should be a seamless experience from the moment the travel experience starts, at the doorstep of the guest’s home, to arrival and departure. The quality of the service we provide is consistent throughout that experience.
PQ: The first duty for Sparfell is, of course, safety for the customer. We have the highest technology, and now with Oetker, we want to have the service that corresponds to the spirit of Oetker Collection. In the past we have been awarded to be the official transport for the royal family and we are doing all the tours for His Highness Prince Charles.
In this partnership we feel we have the best of the world. It’s a combination of what is the highest standard in luxury. In hotels, there is no doubt you find that in the Oetker Collection and in our duty to bring to our clients the highest standards in safety.
WW: How do you see travel evolving from here?
PQ: I think the way to travel will change. For private jets it’s an opportunity to demonstrate that we can provide a service door to door.
We have a fleet that corresponds to any needs. We have a small jet for European or domestic flights, accommodating six to seven passengers. We have mid-size aircrafts where you can have 10 people with more range. At the top end we do have long-range aircrafts, capable to fly from Europe to Australia direct with 14 passengers.
PP: And we have, for decades, families traveling together, and we sometimes see four to five bedroom accommodations reserved for that family stay purpose. So, of course, to offer our guest the possibility to travel together in an aircraft that can accommodate 12 to 14 persons, that’s perfect.
WW: How are Sparfell and the Oetker Collection thinking about their impact on the environment and sustainability?
PP: I would say 2020 will not be a year to forget, but a year to remember. There are many opportunities that arise when you go through challenging times. This crisis has proven that the planet is suffering. On the other hand, we must have people traveling, because in our industry, without people traveling we cannot survive. So, we have to be clever, smart. So we make sure that our dear guests, dear travelers, can offset the impact of their carbon footprint by contributing to philanthropic associations.
PQ: Aviation has a negative image if you’re speaking about pollution. But aviation is just two percent of global pollution. In this two percent, .002 is from private aviation. We are not putting an aircraft in flight just to make it low cost, 10 flights a day even if empty. We go on demand.
Growing up in Madagascar, I’ve always cared about the environment. We’re working now on a special program—we will announce that in due time around the issue of water on our planet.
WW: What is an ongoing challenge for you?
PQ: The challenge is to find a team that subscribes to your spirit, and who is loyal to the customer. We are very lucky to find the people for that. We are different in this industry because we are a family business. I think this is what we offer to our customers. And this is important for me.
PP: The right people make the difference, in your industry and in our industry. It’s not easy to say to people, “Welcome home.” That home feeling in the Oetker property is extremely important. The family spirit is essential.