A Secret Escapes commercial YouTube
In The Lap

A members-only luxury travel site claims it has hit on a 'global multi-billion' business

UK-based Secret Escapes is promising “hand-picked hotels and holidays”.

A UK-BASED TRAVEL site offering “luxury, hand-picked hotels and holidays” has raised $60 million (€54 million) from backers including Google’s investment arm.

Secret Escapes, which was launched in 2011, aims to join the ranks of major international travel sites as it uses the cash to expand into the US and Asia.

It operates on a membership-only model – currently free – and promises discounts of up to 70% on luxury travel.

The company reports over 19 million members and it has booked over 2 million rooms so far, although CNBC reports it is yet to turn a profit.

Secret Escapes CEO Alex Saint said the money would help the startup “replicate the success of (its) UK business”.

We forecast to be a global multi-billion turnover business by the end of the decade,” he said.

SE4 A Secret Escapes commercial YouTube YouTube

The $60 million in funding came from Google Ventures, Index Ventures and Octopus Investments.

The company currently runs sites specific to nine European countries as well as the US. Deals include discounted luxury hotel stays in the UK as well as packages for the Greek Islands, Tuscany and Mauritius.

Tough competition

Saint told CNBC that Secret Escapes was making money in the UK but it took “two to three years to become profitable” in each new territory it targeted.

That meant it had to be selective about what regions it expanded into, with Japan and Australia earmarked as two key future markets.

SE3 YouTube YouTube

However it will join an increasingly crowded online booking scene in which major players have already carved out large swathes of territory.

The Priceline Group, which runs sites like and Agoda, has a market value of over $62 billion (€56 billion) while rival Expedia, which also runs and Trivago, is worth over $13 billion (€11.7 billion).

Saint said Secret Escapes differed from rivals because of the “stringent selection” it applied to its bookings to ensure high quality across the board.

READ: An Irish startup thinks it can stop you from blocking online ads >

READ: Ben & Jerry’s millionaire co-founder is ploughing some cash into Ireland >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.