People spotlight: Michele Bayens
Celebrating the wonderful women behind onefinestay
To mark International Women’s Day, join us in raising a toast to all the wonderful women behind onefinestay. We are very proud of the fact that 63% of our employees are female, including a staggering 75% of our Management Committee, showcasing how women are really forging the future of the travel industry.
Today we caught up with the marvellous Michele Bayens, Director of Concierge Services, to discover what about onefinestay inspires her and hear her thoughts on the tourism sector in general. Having been with the company for over 16 years (first at Travel Keys and then at onefinestay), Michele is one of our longest-standing female members of the team and is a wealth of knowledge for everything and anything travel related.
Give us a glimpse into the daily life of the concierge team?
The term concierge encompasses many different meanings. At onefinestay, our goal is to help guests plan for a seamless arrival and memorable holiday. We assist with all pre-planning needs, so once a villa is booked a dedicated concierge is assigned and the fun begins. We arrange services, from private charters (land or sea), land transportation, in-villa chef, spa, wellness and ski valet services to yachting, white water rafting and even dog sledding experiences. As soon as a guest arrives at their destination, we have prepared them so they know what to do, where to go and whom to contact to start their well-deserved vacation. If they have questions or need help during the trip, we are happy to help there too.
Your favourite trip/destination? And why?
To pick one destination as a favourite is almost impossible. Each place is special for its own reasons. That said, here are a couple that I am particularly fond of:
It feels like Paris but better (I mean, who can resist those Caribbean breezes, views and sunshine?) The food, the services, the beaches, the shopping and of course the villas!! St Barts represents the standard for all things luxury.
The hustle and bustle of the city of London always excites me. On my first visit, I was lucky enough to stay in an adorable townhouse in Notting Hill (thank you, onefinestay!). It was late when I arrived and the neighbourhood was quiet, so I made a cup of tea and went to bed. The next morning I woke to the sounds of people laughing and milling about. I peeked out of the window only to find the Portobello Road Market in full swing right below! What was more exciting was that it was snowing! Needless to say, I couldn't get dressed fast enough to go outside to "play". As a woman travelling alone on that trip, it was an exhilarating experience.
What interests you about the travel industry?
Villa living has always been the industry's best-kept secret. I am delighted to see the secret is finally out and catching up to mainstream travel. Finding your own private piece of paradise on a far-flung tropical island has to be one of the most relaxing ways to spend your vacation. And I just love introducing guests to the beautiful hideaways we have at onefinestay and ensuring their getaway is unforgettable from beginning to end. That’s what’s so magical about the industry - the joy it brings everyone who experiences it.
What is the best trip/special service you’ve organised for a guest?
We've arranged marriage proposals in Versailles (she said yes!), birthday fireworks over the Sea of Cortez in Cabo, breakfast with the elephants in Bali, helicopter trips in the Virgin Islands that land on a private beach for a secluded BBQ lunch. The team has so much fun arranging creative itineraries because the possibilities are endless.
Here at onefinestay, we are proud of our team culture and can-do spirit. How has this influenced your time at the company?
It's definitely not just the guest journey that is important to onefinestay. The teamwork and dedication of our whole team is what makes it work - that's the magic. Travel Keys and onefinestay were born from grassroots, family fed businesses. That close-knit family feeling continues to fuel our teams, driving them on to achieve great things. Without solid teamwork, nothing is possible.
And finally, why have you stayed with us for 16 years?
How could I not?! I truly believe in the product and I love to travel. Though there have been ebbs and flows, it is the leadership, camaraderie and freedom to create exceptional experiences for guests and team members alike that keep me going.
Looking for more inspiration?
Take a look at our insider guide to St Barts, one of Michele's all-time favourite destinations.