Operator profile: NEST Geneva

George Sell By George Sell
Uploaded 20 April 2017

SAN talks to NEST Geneva, a Swiss operator which won the Best Architecture category at the 2017 Serviced Apartment Awards.

• Who are the team behind NEST Geneva and when was the property conceived, built and opened?

"Tara and Christoph Wondraczek share a common passion for design, entrepreneurship and great service. When they met six years ago, both looking for places to stay in Geneva, they found these elements distinctly missing. Now husband and wife, they have set up the NEST business to respond to this lacuna in the industry, hoping to do to the serviced apartment industry what Soho House did for hotels."

"Christoph, from Vienna, brings his strategic and financial eye, and attention to detail to the brand, whilst Tara comes from London and has a background in marketing and product design. Together they have approached this largely hotel-dominated industry with a freshness and a passion that now characterises their brand: honest, understated luxury, providing their guests with everything they need, and nothing they don't. The Maison Dumont is the physical execution of these brand values.  Conceived in 2004 by renowned architect Philippe Meyer, it then took 10 years of planning permissions and 18 months to build with the launch of the Maison Dumont in April 2016."

• How has the property been received since opening and who are the typical guests?

"Since opening, the Maison Dumont has attracted unanimously positive attention, ranging from reviews in local newspapers and international press, to write-ups and feedback by guests and locals alike. Monocle put their stamp to the NEST brand as one of the 'finest new openings', and those who have stayed at NEST are similarly positive: the spaces are beautifully thought-out and wonderfully practical to live in; the contemporary architecture in the heart of the old town is a marvel; and the peaceful setting, discreetly tucked away from a bustling main square, is unparalleled.  Especially positive feedback is always given to the much-loved operations manager, who accompanies the guests from their first to last day."

"Guests come to NEST looking for space, independence and discretion, without compromising on style or service.  And they receive just that. In terms of the typical guest profile, most are executives, in Geneva for weekly/monthly/yearly placements. A few come to NEST as they are relocating long-term, and need temporary accommodation while finding their new home. And the final group sit in the leisure traveller section, in Geneva for personal reasons ranging from health to family to tourism. With many returning guests and an occupancy rate of 90 per cent in only the first year, NEST is proving the need for a high-end offering in Geneva."

• What is your ratio of business v leisure travellers?

"Being a well-known hub for bankers, traders and humanitarians, Geneva largely attracts an international, professional set, who are often on work postings in the city anything from one month to one year. NEST guest profile reflects this, with 80 per cent business and 20 per cent leisure.

• How well known is the serviced apartment concept in Switzerland, and how many other properties operate in Geneva?

"When NEST first started in 2009, the serviced apartment concept was practically non-existent in Geneva, with most accommodation solutions for the mid- to long-term stay traditionally sitting with hotels, which were often under-sized, over-priced and fundamentally impersonal. Rooms in hotels are often bed-centric, with kitchens more like cubby-holes, and long, impersonal corridors and lobbies: it's understandably very hard to ever truly feel at home. Christoph and Tara therefore wanted to set up a brand that caters specifically for the mid-to-long term stay, and responds to these issues." 

Now eight years later, there are an increasing number of international brands such as Frasers and Aparthotel Adagio (Accor). Vision Apartments is also due to open soon, not to mention the selection of independents: Swiss Luxury Apartments, Starling Residence Geneva, Résidence Dizerens, to name a few."

• Do you have plans to open other properties, and if so where?

"After a few tweaks to our old town offering, we will be looking to expand this model to other business hubs in Switzerland and Europe."

• What do you think will be the impact on the business of winning a Serviced Apartment Award?

"Many thanks for giving us this award. As a small, boutique brand, operating in a world of big global players and unregulated small operators, it is a challenge to make a mark and to ensure reliability.  This award gives us more credibility and more visibility, and will also raise our profile in the UK, where the industry is more mature."

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