The Real Deal New York

Come Awaze with me: Europe’s $1.3B vacation rental giant gets a new name

Wyndham sold a portfolio of brands to LA-based private equity firm last year
March 09, 2019 02:00PM

The portfolio of Awaze brands was previously owned by Wyndham Destinations (Credit: Trip Advisor)

A portfolio of European vacation rental brands, once an Airbnb acquisition target, has unveiled a new corporate identity as it prepares for further consolidation and expansion on the continent.

The new company, Awaze, includes brands like UK-based cottages.com, James Villa Holidays and Hoseasons, as well as Denmark-based Novasol and Netherlands-based Landal GreenParks. The portfolio of brands was previously owned by Wyndham Destinations, who sold it to Beverly Hills-based private equity firm Platinum Equity for $1.3 billion last year.

“By pooling together some resources and building better tech solutions we think we can do things, still keeping the local brand flavor, but the technical solutions behind it will be done more at a group level,” Awaze CEO Henrik Kjellberg told Skift at a trade conference in Berlin. Kjellberg had previously spent 12 years in various roles at travel tech company Expedia.

The company also plans to integrate its brands further by making its full listing inventory available on each brand. “It is crazy that if you go to Cottages.com today and look for Croatia, where we are by a country mile the market leader, you can’t find the properties because they’re on Novasol,” Kjellberg said. Awaze also provides its listings to third party sites such as Booking.com and Expedia.

With a private equity firm in charge, industry observers expect Awaze to pursue an aggressive growth strategy in the coming years. “We’re constantly looking at opportunities,” Kjellberg said. “We have so much left to do in Europe so that will be the main focus, but we’ll look at other things if they come up.”

Awaze currently has over 110,000 homes in 36 countries, and was the largest manager of holiday rentals in Europe at the time of its sale last year. Wyndham sold off the brands prior to spinning off its hotel and timeshare businesses into two separate companies.

Two years ago, Airbnb was reported to be interested in acquiring the portfolio. The short-term rental platform recently announced its biggest acquisition to date, buying HotelTonight for $465 million. In 2017, Airbnb acquired Canadian rival Luxury Retreats for about $200 million.

Though operating in the same general sector, Awaze’s business model differs from Airbnb’s in that most of its properties are exclusive, and the company controls management and pricing. And with most of its properties being vacation homes located outside of cities, it has been able to avoid the kind of controversy Airbnb regularly faces in cities like New York. [Skift] — Kevin Sun