Tim, you initially looked at joining The Hideaways Club many years ago when you were considering buying a holiday home abroad. Tell us how and why you decided to become a Member?
I stopped playing professional tennis in 2007 and had much more free time on my hands! My wife and I had thought about buying a property overseas and, as we both love the sun, the south of France and Italy appealed to us. However, my wife has always skied and I was never allowed to ski when I was playing tennis due to injury risk, so I was all the more desperate to get on the slopes. This posed a dilemma…were we going to buy somewhere in the sun, a ski chalet - or both?
A good friend of mine happened to be working with The Hideaways Club and he introduced us to the concept. On paper it had a massive appeal; having travelled so much of my life and having spent most of my career living in hotels, a holiday in a villa was much more attractive to us. It's very much about space and privacy - we didn't want to see many British people!
He suggested my wife and I flew down to La Retraite, just north of the Côte d'Azur, to spend some time there and see how we found it. We were pretty much sold immediately, and shortly after we became Members.
Where was your first holiday with the Club?
Ironically the first holiday we had as Members was at La Retraite! We went with another family and I remember thinking at the time that the villa was so good, I'd happily return there year-after-year. However that slightly defeats the concept of the Club and what attracted us to join in the first place, so for our second holiday we stayed at one of the residencies in Tuscany.
Fast forward 10 years and we've been close to 20 of the properties. I am a self-confessed travel snob and we have never been let down! Now our daughters are 16, 14 and 11, a long-haul holiday slightly further afield is more of an option than it was when they were younger. We did Sri Lanka for new year last year, and Koh Samui a couple of years before that. In fact, I remember the Concierge doing a sterling job of getting my wine order to Thailand…no easy task!
That leads me on to my next question. One of the Club's unique selling points is the Personal Concierge service it offers to all Members. It means that upon arriving at a residency and in the run up to a trip, someone is on hand to help organise your holiday. How has this experience been for you?
The Concierge teams, based both centrally and local to the residencies, are invaluable as they ensure a stress-free and memorable holiday. As soon as we became Members, we were allocated a Personal Concierge who helps organise things like car rental, catering, grocery shopping or restaurant bookings. A Local Concierge always welcomes us at the villa on arrival and is available to help with any arrangements or provide local tips.
A great example of a tailored service was on our last ski trip. The Local Concierge ensured the whole family were suited and booted and we enjoyed the best spots in the best conditions. On a jam-packed activity holiday, the service really comes into its own. Having said that, they have gone above and beyond at all the residences we've stayed at and saved us valuable time by recommending the best places to eat, drink and shop.
This service stems from negative holiday experiences our founders had in the past. At The Hideaways Club we are constantly doing all we can to enhance service for our Members and provide them with one-off experiences that only our teams on the ground can offer. How have you found this?
I believe that you join the Club to experience new places and make new memories. Nine times out of 10 we'll holiday with another family and friends and the Concierge team help to keep everyone entertained, from the kids to the adults.
When we look back at the photos of the past 10 years, it reminds us of the unbelievable places we have visited as Members and we feel very fortunate for the experiences we have enjoyed.
With the Club you can pass on your 'points' to family and friends. Has this been something you've enjoyed?
Absolutely, it's a great perk. I have a brother who I have passed over points to. Fingers crossed I'll get something in return from him…we'll see!
My parents also went with a group of their friends to Bali for their wedding anniversary celebration and had an amazing time. It's a really great perk to be able to share such special places with those special to you.
Why did you become an Ambassador for the Club?
I'm involved with many Blue-Chip companies; I don't just put my name to anything. I joined The Hideaways Club as a Member. I then became an Ambassador, and now I am an Investor.
I truly believe in the concept, the properties and the service. It's all about the lifestyle and enjoying our second homes without the usual hassles of owning property from afar, leaving us to enjoy every minute of our holiday time. We've never been disappointed.
Wimbledon gets underway on 1st July. We may be bias, but we'll be perched on Henman Hill with a picnic throughout the tournament…
To find out more about The Hideaways Club membership plans, click here.