The Zug startup offers exclusive Nobel apartments for «elite travelers» – including a digital butler who knows all your personal wishes.
Le Bijou on Handelszeitung
The business idea
The privacy of your own apartment and the 24-hour service of a hotel is linked by the Zug startup Le Bijou. “We offer luxury apartments in the best location every day,” says founder and CEO Alexander Hübner.
We often cooperate with property owners who can increase the profitability of their holdings by participating. “This is not only strongly reminiscent of Airbnb, but is actually inspired by the intermediary provider portal.
Almost eight years ago, Hübner rented his small apartment at the inner city location in Zurich via Airbnb: “So I could earn something for it,” he says. And he quickly realized: “The more beautiful and unusual the design of my apartment became, the higher demand and the price gap have been.” One thing was missing for the perfect holiday experience: personal care and service as in the hotel.
His idea: “Think big! We have a big bar instead of a mini bar and a digital butler, that can be reached with just a finger tip 24×7 via a tablet computer, “says the CEO,” we are bundling the best of Airbnb and the hotel world. “With partner Madeline Fallegger, who is responsible for the acquisition of apartments and partners, and Renato Steiner, who brings technical know-how into the team, we developed the idea. They were looking for accommodation, created the first designs for luxury apartments following our “Le Bijou Chalet Chic”, developped the technical equipment including the media, lighting and fragrances, and were looking for partner service providers – from the cook to the shopping, styling and up to wellness coach. In June 2013, Le Bijou Hotel & Resort Management AG launched its first apartment in Zurich.
“In the meantime we have thirty apartments in Zurich, Zug, Lucerne and Berne,” says Madeleine Fallegger, “apartments in Geneva and Basel will follow in 2017.” And despite the impressive price of an average of 1,200 francs per night at the best location, Bellevue or Paradeplatz in Zurich, the apartments were booked to 92% in 2016. “Our main business group is business and leisure elite travelers with high standards,” says Fallegger. But the apartments are also regularly booked for exclusive corporate events, unusual weddings and rushing birthday parties.
A very special business traveler was 2015 Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “With a Twitter post he totally surprised us,” says Alexander Hübner. Wozniak’s words: «The most outstanding hotel experience I have ever had. “Especially the computer-based personalized service he found unique.
With equity of CHF 300,000, Le Bijou launched in 2013. And already in the first year, with only one apartment, the startup wrote black numbers. This made a special financing concept possible: “We have placed a private bond with a daily interest rate of 7.125 percent per year,” says Hübner, “which has proven itself – the first tranche over 1 million Swiss francs was completed within thirty days . “This concept also includes Tesla founder Elon Musk for the financing of Solar City. “In the meantime, we have forty employees and are very satisfied,” says Hübner.
In 2016, the founders generated revenue of 2.7 million Swiss francs, by offering luxury lovers and elite travelers their desired environment.
“The first four years have shown that Le Bijou has the potential to become a global franchise model”, Hübner is certain that «one hundred apartments will be realized in Switzerland. At the latest by 2018, we will expand our idea internationally in prestigious cities. »Singapore, Hong Kong, Munich and Rome are some desirable cities.
Read the complete article in the Handelszeitung HERE.