An unforgettable night on the volcanic Sicilian island of Stromboli, followed the morning after by a descent down a lava scree slope to dive into the limpid waters below, changed the lives of British engineer Huw Beaugié and Sicilian cell biologist Rossella D’Anna.
That was in 2000, when the couple decided to give up their jobs in Paris and relocate to Sicily with a plan. Struck by the lack of high-end villa operators in all the island, they seized the opportunity to create something above and beyond the typical villa rental company. The Thinking Traveller was born in 2002.
The couple began by persuading Rossella’s friends to open up their glamorous homes for holiday rental. They started with seven villas in Sicily, and now have nearly 200 across Sicily, Puglia, Corsica and Greece’s Ionian and Sporades islands. The company is widely regarded as one of the best in the world, drawing repeat customers and garnering the most prestigious awards. In September 2016, and again in 2017, it was awarded ‘Favourite Villa Rental Company’ at the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards, lauded by voters for its ‘unshakeable consistency’.
All this is built on The Thinking Traveller’s simple mission statement: to hear clients say, ‘That was the best holiday we’ve ever had. We’ll be back.’ And come back they do, year after year. This is thanks to the company’s core values: villas and houses are rented out exclusively through The Thinking Traveller; extremely knowledgeable staff proffer ideas that are meticulously tailored to a client’s preferences; expert teams on the ground act as part-concierge, part-guidebook, to direct you to the best local gelateria, taverna, doctor or secret beach; and then there are experiences such as guided tours of Mount Etna in a 4×4, cookery lessons, private vineyard visits, yacht charters and in-house wine delivery. This is joined-up service at its best.
It helps that The Thinking Traveller has secured some of the most fabulous rental properties to be found in the Mediterranean, from 12-bedroom, fully-staffed palazzos and architectural gems with infinity pools, to luxurious trulli or idyllic countryside and beachfront hideaways. Whatever a client’s predilection, The Thinking Traveller can supply the best in the category. And clients know that each property has been vetted to ensure it upholds the high standards required to join the portfolio.
Feedback from The Thinking Traveller’s well-travelled, sophisticated clients shows that the company manages to exceed the highest expectations. ‘The easiest, most professional travel organisation we have had the pleasure of doing business with. We thank every one of you for providing us with a holiday that we will not forget,’ wrote one guest. ‘Your team in London was outstanding, extraordinarily competent and charming. The local manager was simply wonderful. Personality, charm, knowledge all well beyond what one could reasonably expect,’ raved another.
The Thinking Traveller is a family-run company with a relatively small staff united in the passion for what they do. It has expanded thoughtfully in existing destinations and gradually transferred its core values to new ones – but only when the right opportunities to excite its clients have arisen. Perhaps not surprising for a dynamic company, whose birth was inspired by the energetic pyrotechnics of the volcanoes of Sicily.
THE THINKING TRAVELLER THE OLD TRUMAN BREWERY, LONDON E1 6QL +44 (0)20 7377 8518