Welcome: Welcome Beyond

One of my favorite design sites, Yatzer, interviewed Berlin based brothers Chris and Oliver Laugsch that are the founders of  Welcome Beyond.  It is an amazing collection of unique hotels and homes all over the world.

Welcome Beyond

By Lauren Del Vecchio,

Welcome Beyond is a new travel site with a fresh perspective and delicious eye candy in the form of architecture, design and ambiance. Founders (and brothers) Chris and Oliver Laugsch curate one-of-a-kind places to rest your head across the globe. A villa in Majorca, a modern chalet in Austria, the architectural marvel that is the Treehotel in Northern Sweden… only a few of the many destinations that can be found throughout the site. Explorers by nature and avid world travelers, Laugsch brothers founded Welcome Beyond with the intention of sharing their philosophy that ''where you stay is as vital to the experience as what you see and do''. One look at the images that pop up and you can’t help but agree with them.

How was the idea for Welcome Beyond born?  What was your inspiration? Our dream was always to start a business together, to do something a bit more meaningful and rewarding with our lives. Both my brother and I were at a point where we were fed-up with our jobs and Welcome Beyond really was the culmination of our favorite past-times. We have both lived abroad for many years, we love to travel and we have a passion for good design and architecture.  So it only seemed natural to combine these elements in one place.  We did not go about it in the traditional manner, doing market research and all that. The idea or concept just seemed right, so we went for it. There are, of course, difficult moments, but looking back it has been incredibly rewarding. Every day we deal with fascinating people who all love what they are doing.

How do you find these spectacular properties and architectural beauties?  I know there are a few boutique hotels, have any been built specifically for Welcome Beyond or were they all built originally as residences? They are all the product of passionate owners who often spent years developing, restoring and decorating their properties. And through our personal interviews with the owners, we try to tell their story – how a couple sailing around the world fell in love with a small island and ended up adopting it, how a single mother went on holiday, bought a derelict property and never went back home or why the British building authorities were not amused by the name ‘Love Shack’.  Initially, we found the properties by spending many months looking through newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. Today we have a number of people scouting and recommending properties to us, and more and more owners are approaching us as they want us to list their property. Unfortunately, we can only accept a small percentage of them in order to keep our collection to the standard it is today.

At Yatzer, we find your philosophy refreshing.  You explain that it is about gaining new perspectives:  "...Not just geographically, but beyond the obvious, the predictable, the expected. It’s about gaining new perspectives on regions, cultures and places of incredible beauty."  As a design site we’d really love to ask your opinion, what is it about one's surroundings that transcends an experience to another level? Absolutely, I believe it is about gaining new perspectives. We are all immersed in our day-to-day lives, the usual, the familiar – it is hard to break out of the routine. It requires time and effort to create a truly inspiring space.  And that is what all of the owners of the properties we have listed, have done. They have invested a lot of time and effort into creating a very personal space – often a reflection of their own character. The owner of Casa de Madrid put it this way:  “The decoration of each room is very different yet on the whole, when you walk through the house, you can feel the harmony. It is like the same person with a different sense of humor. It’s my personality, from one day to another, and that’s carried over into the rooms themselves.”

Guests appreciate that. People who use our website regard shelter as a meaningful part of their travel experience. They are looking beyond the obvious, predictable and standard hotel you find in every corner of the world. Because being in beautiful surroundings helps recharge the batteries.  So, people do love beautiful and functional things. But we are simply overwhelmed with impressions, everything is constantly changing. It is difficult to find a calming and soothing spot, to find the time to appreciate something beautiful and be inspired by it.  Wilber Das, Creative Director of Diesel and the owner of the Uxua Casa Hotel, is a very good example. The fashion industry is constantly changing, things don’t last. The Uxua Casa Hotel was a reaction to that, a longing to create something that lasts.

Welcome Beyond is also about giving back. You call it a ''social business''. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? *Editor’s note:  This is something that the owners have planned to roll out in their next “phase”.   More to come in the near future! Welcome Beyond is all about finding amazing places to stay and promoting great locations. In order to put some greater meaning into the enjoyment of these luxuries and to be able to give something back, we have decided to operate Welcome Beyond as a social business. In the future we will use profits generated through Welcome Beyond to support those who are less fortunate. We don’t want to simply give away the money to a charity, though. We want to put it to a better and more immediate use. We are already thinking about some ideas and projects but none of them are confirmed yet. It is incorporated into our phase two and is still some time away.