From model, actress and TV host to successful business woman, Stephanie Chai, founder of The Luxe Nomad, has taken over the travel realm one luxury villa at a time.
Originally launched as a luxury travel flash sales website in 2o12, The Luxe Nomad has since expanded to become Asia-Pacific’s leading luxury villa and hotel booking portal.
Now, the dedicated, multi-tasking guru travels the world to personally hand-pick the very best properties.
Read on as she talks about what it takes to launch a start-up, travel the world for a living and stay healthy with a busy schedule.
Meet Stephanie Chai
Tell me a bit about your business, how did you come up with the idea of The Luxe Nomad?
Initially when we launched TheLuxeNomad.com, it was a flash sales site with luxury hotels at up to 70% off; an idea sent to me by a friend in the start-up scene as it was ‘on trend’ at the time. However, as we grew (and as the whole group dealing flurry died down), we found that the villa market was working really well for us. Thus, we relaunched the site last June with a focus on villas.
My family, my friends, the world around me. In terms of people in the public eye, successful entrepreneurs such as Natalie Massenet (pictured above and founder of NET-A-PORTER) show you that a dream can start anywhere – she launched her business out of her bedroom, which is something I did as well…the living room of my apartment to be exact!
As a businesswoman, what top three tips would you give to someone aspiring to launch his or her own start-up?
Ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Do you believe in the business model 100%? Don’t do something half-hearted.
2. What is your work ethic like? Are you someone who can work late into the night or over the weekend if need be? If you are lazy and do the 9-5, forget about it, because nothing great comes easy.
3. Do you have a strong head on your shoulders? To run a start-up, you need to lead. And sometimes that can mean sitting at a table with Venture Capt reps (who are overtly accomplished and intelligent on paper) and disagreeing with their points. Make sure you have the self-awareness to know when you are wrong and when you are right.
How many staff full time does The Luxe Nomad employ?
Who are your favourite travel social influencers/ bloggers?
In 2016, I’ll be spending a lot of time in Hong Kong!
Where are your favourite places to eat, workout and relax in Hong Kong and Singapore?
Locofama has amazing food especially for lunch. And if you want the best Italian, then go to Carbone. A little pricey, but worth it. For a drink, try the new jazz bar Foxglove or Japanese whisky bar Stockton.
Open Farm Community is my favourite! I could go there for lunch and dinner everyday of the week. They change the menu month on month and the produce is locally sourced, which is great. Also pop by Neon Pigeon for fun cocktails and great Japanese fusion food.
How do you stay healthy with such a busy schedule?
I try to minimise meat intake and buy organic whenever I can.
What does an average work day look like?
I wake up. Check my phone. Go back to sleep. Wake up again, check emails and then get out of bed and straight to my laptop. It’s either a day at the office with a few meetings here and there or traveling to Bali or one of our destinations to meet up with partners. Last year I was in Bali for August, Philippines in September and then Hong Kong in October. Sounds great in theory and I know I shouldn’t complain, but in all honestly too much travel can be a bit tiring and lonely at times – so hopefully will be a little less nomadic this year.
What are your in-flight essentials?
My laptop. I’m actually on a flight right now, answering these questions
Spotify! Love it. I’m terrible at looking for new music so what a fantastic app this has been.
Where are the best places in the world to travel in 2016 and why?
I would pick the Philippines. There are 7000+ islands there and it’s not a destination that has been top of everyone’s lists. Notably because you usually need to take two flights and then at times, a boat or car to get to where you need to go. But with turquoise water and white sand, I’m certain that it will be an up and coming destination.
First thing I did when I woke up this morning:
Checked my phone.
Most people probably don’t know this about me, but:
I have a fear of getting on escalators (when they are going down). I had a nightmare as a child that I got stuck in the escalator and came out a flattened pancake. Till today I have to pause at the top of the escalator a few seconds before stepping on it…
Workout I’m currently obsessed with:
Tennis and cycling.
If sugar were a superfood, my diet would consist of:
I never leave home without:
My phone. But I have forgotten my wallet a few times…luckily there’s Uber!
My favourite holiday destination is:
Italy. Wine and cheese…yes please!
My favourite emoji is:
The ghost…does anyone else use it? Apparently not according to my friends! LOL.