Cindy Heo isn’t a regular chalet owner. She has a luxury cottage — but what really stands out is how she’s making money from it.
She found Ron and Nir Zahavi, the Toronto brothers behind Retreatify. They hope to become the Airbnb of business retreats by helping cottage-owners make money from their properties by pairing them with companies like Bell, CIBC and Shopify.
“[Retreatify] unlocked a new revenue stream for myself,” Heo says. “[It] placed respectful guests that treat my property with care, and the level of effort from my side has been minimal.”
Nir Zahavi, co-founder and CEO of Retreatify, says they’re picky. To be considered, properties need at least 2,000 sq. ft. of livable space, a large, open common area, at least five bedrooms and a modern design, but the company remains open to other options.
Owners who make the cut get anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of the total commission for renting out their chalet. They also get five per cent commission on any add-ons which include private chefs, yoga instructors or murder mysteries.
Despite all the wild activities, Retreatify ensures owners are satisfied. It vets customers, handles all communication, hires professional cleaners and charges a deposit in case of any damages.
One night can cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000 a night, but for businesses looking to get the most out of the extra amenities, it could be up to $20,000. It also provides its guests with a detailed welcome package.
“I knew exactly what to do when I checked out,” says Laura Barrington, who brought her co-workers from InfoTech to a Retreatify cottage. “I knew what the expectations were, where to put the garbage and all that stuff. I didn’t have to call [Retreatify] one time. In fact, they emailed me to check in and see how things were going.”
The 12 luxury locations in Muskoka, Orillia and Barrie are within 200 kilometres of the Greater Toronto Area. Zahavi says they’re eyeing properties in Prince Edward County and also looking at expanding to camp sites and boutique hotels.
The brothers are focusing on Toronto customers until the end of 2019. They may have a bigger conversation after this year.
“We’re trying to build a movement,” Zahavi says. “We’re absolutely looking at making this go national. If it works here, it can work elsewhere.”