Chic Retreats Lulu Townsend founder

Hotelier News & Industry Insights

We spoke to Lulu Townsend, our founder, to discuss her background, setting up a luxury hotel marketplace and her future goals for the company.

What was your introduction to the world of boutique and luxury hotels?

I was PR and Marketing Director for my parent’s hotel Palazzo Terranova, the first boutique hotel to open in Umbria. I have always torn out hotel features from every magazine I ever read in any language.

You have worked in the industry for over 20 years, what keeps you engaged and passionate about it?

New hotel openings, passionate owners. A hotel is only as good as the people behind it.

What inspired you to found Chic Retreats back in 2002?

Working for my parent’s hotel which had only 14 rooms, made me realise there was no affordable marketing or booking platform for small, independently owned hotels.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to grow Chic Retreats?

I founded it in the early days of the internet. I built the website and built the platform myself in my garden shed, it was a sharp learning curve. The industry and technology have evolved enormously since then though that in itself presents new challenges.

What do you believe Chic Retreats does that isn’t offered by any other OTA?

An experience. We love to represent hotels and owners who have a history and an interesting story.

What excites you most about what Chic Retreats is doing right now?

The dedicated team behind the brand – a bit like the best hotels, it is all about the people. The development of our new platform as a marketplace for hotels is a one of a kind for independent hotels.

Where would you like to see the company in five years?

The only go-to option to book the best boutique hotel experiences.

What ingredients make the perfect boutique hotel, in your opinion?

Passionate owners and a passionate team who love what they do. Stars don’t interest me, it is all about the experience, the little details and the service.

Where do you like to travel to most in the world?

Anywhere and everywhere. To live is to travel.