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  1. Luxury
January 24, 2024

Health-conscious younger travellers to drive rise in demand for wellness retreats

Ultima Collection founders Max-Hervé George and Byron Baciocchi, who recently left the company, reveal the forces at work in HNW travel

By Aisha Alli

The demand for wellness-focused retreats is expected to rise as travellers continue to prioritise health in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the co-founders of Ultima Collection tell Spear’s

Max-Hervé George and Byron Baciocchi, who announced last month that they were leaving the luxury travel company, explained this demand will be partly driven by the priorities of the emerging generation of health-conscious HNWs.

[See also: Why the Great Wealth Transfer will be a dangerous time for global capitalism]

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‘This surge [in wellness-related getaways] can be attributed to a collective shift towards prioritising self-care and a desire for rejuvenating experiences,’ Baciocchi explains. 

Max-Hervé George and Byron Baciocchi
Co-founders of Ultima Collection, Byron Baciocchi and Max-Hervé George

An understanding of this type of customer has been pivotal to the success of Ultima Collection, which has incorporated wellness facilities including state-of-the art spas and immersive fitness programmes across its 48-strong property portfolio. 

‘Our aim was to provide a sanctuary for guests seeking balance and rejuvenation,’ Baciocchi says.

The desire for wellness-focused holidays is proving especially popular with the next generation of high-net-worth travellers; a segment of the market who expect more from luxury experiences than their grandparents did, according to George. 

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This transfer of wealth from the Baby Boomers to their younger family members is shaping the travel industry – as well as the interconnected fields of property, law and wealth management – and is forcing HNW service providers to adapt quickly if they want to stay in the game.

‘Things are moving faster than they ever have,’ says George. ‘Trends used to change every three years, now it’s every three months.’

Founded in 2016, the aim of Ultima Collection was to create a ‘real estate business based on the acquisition of great locations’. George and Baciocchi grew the company from their first hotel venture – a ‘home away from home’ in the ski resort of Gstaad – to 48 properties across Europe, incorporating private and exclusive-use residences.

Ultima Collection Gstaad
Ultima Collection properties centre around five-star service, wellness and sustainability / Image: Ultima Collection Gstaad

The company entered the Bern Stock Exchange in 2019 and, according to George, was one of the first providers of ‘bespoke ultra-luxury’. He continues: ‘The idea was to create a brand where everything was made for the client. Now everyone talks about bespoke ultra-luxury but when we started almost ten years ago, the market was completely different.’ 

Now, both co-founders are parting ways with Ultima Collection. 

Baciocchi has resigned from his position as COO and George, formerly the CEO, sold his 33 per cent stake in the business to Luxembourg fund Global Hospitality Services

Hailed one of Europe’s youngest billionaires, George will continue to lead as CEO of investment group Icona Capital, which oversees assets of around £10 billion. 

Baciocchi, meanwhile, will focus his attention on Unica Capital, a property investment firm he founded in 2021 which has a combined portfolio value of £380 million. 

Although going their separate ways, the pair hope to work in tandem on their new ventures. George is optimistic that the future looks bright for both Unica and Icona Capital. He adds: ‘We’re a duo and that works really well’.

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