Behind the Deal: How Luxury Escapes Changed Travel Retail

6 September, 2023
Bar with seats
Luxury Escapes Champagne BarCredit: Vicinity Centres


Have you ever seen something that makes you just stop in your tracks? Something able to completely consume your attention for a second before you continue sipping your latte or resume your mid-morning doom scroll of social media. 

Well, Luxury Escapes has done just that with a new bricks and mortar store at Chadstone – The Fashion Capital. It seems odd to say ‘flagship store’ as it is the brand’s one and only, but it is without doubt a flagship and a first step into the evolution of the travel booking industry. 

That’s the view of Vicinity’s point person on the Luxury Escapes project, Paul Pellegrino.  

As a Leasing Executive at Chadstone – The Fashion Capital, Paul has worked with some of the world’s most exciting brands to bring their store concepts to life, but Luxury Escapes was something different. 

There are some projects you really believe in, you’re passionate about and you’re all-in on the concept.
Paul PellegrinoVicinity's Chadstone Leasing Executive

“With Luxury Escapes I was all-in from day dot. I really did think it could change the travel booking landscape for customers because no one is doing what they’re doing and offering that premium booking experience.” 

Planting the seed 

The concept to explore a new travel booking experience in a physical retail location was one discussed between Luxury Escapes, Pellegrino and the broader Chadstone team a couple of years earlier when the COVID-19 rebound began and Australians’ appetite for travel was insatiable.  

Luxury Escapes had built a very successful and popular online business, working with hotel providers to offer customers unique travel experiences to luxury destinations, in Australia and beyond. 

But there was room for growth, with Luxury Escapes Co-founder, Adam Schwab recently telling The Australian he would like to transform his “technology-driven travel company” into a $5bn and then $10bn business with bricks and mortar playing a part. 

“People associate bricks and mortar with more brand trust and quality, and it’s an investment…there’s definitely a cohort of people, maybe 10 to 15 per cent, who want to buy in-person (and) our average in-store order value is four times that of online,” Schwab told The Australian. 

Open plan store with tables
Luxury Escapes ChadstoneCredit: Vicinity Centres

However, from the Chadstone team’s perspective, there was more to think about. Luxury Escapes wanted a physical retail presence, but the Chadstone team had to determine where in the centre, what they could do from a design perspective, and when it could launch. 

“Chadstone’s leasing strategy is governed by precincts – luxury, premium international, Australian designer fashion, dining and entertainment, athleisure and so on,” Pellegrino explained. 

We use in-house data science and insights to improve customer experiences, making it easy for them to visit similar retailers close to each other.
Paul PellgrinoVicinity's Chadstone Leasing Executive

"Planning the optimum location for each retailer also helps them perform better and encourages them to offer even more to our customers – so it’s a win-win."

“Luxury Escapes was something a little different, but Chadstone is a first-to-market location and we found a great space close to our luxury and premium designer precincts expecting that customer to appreciate what Luxury Escapes was going to deliver.” 

A test phase 

After finding the perfect location and sized space on the lower ground level - Pellegrino and the team the team had an issue – only part of the area was available. 

But, with each challenge comes an opportunity and the Vicinity Leasing team recommended Luxury Escapes create a temporary pop up store in the available space until the full-sized space became available.  

“We recommended Luxury Escapes open in the available space and use it as an opportunity to introduce themselves and test the market. A small, pop-up type physical retail space would allow them to trial different concepts, make mistakes and learn from them before they opened the full-sized store,” said Pellegrino. 

The test phase went well, better than expected. Not only did luxury Escapes capture the interest of the Chadstone, they also gained valuable understanding of what type of products customers were looking for and how to sell them to people in-person. 

From concept to reality 

With the location agreed, the project – coordinated by Pellegrino - moved into its design phase which is where Luxury Escapes really made a statement. 

The first clue to suggest to customer that Luxury Escapes wanted to change the game with its first full-scale physical retail store is the façade.  

Tour of Luxury Escapes, ChadstoneCredit: Vicinity Centres

The inviting entrance archway is surrounded by Chadstone’s first full digital façade. Inspired by the design of Louis Vuitton at Singapore’s Changi airport, introducing the breathtaking visual required careful consideration, as Pellegrino explained. 

“When designing a store, we have to be mindful of the adjacent retailers. If you go overboard with one store, you risk the others getting lost and digital façades are so eye-catching, they can do that sometimes. 

“We went through rigorous rounds of consultation with the with the team at Luxury Escapes and our own design team to nail down the size and impact the digital façade would have. The other thing we need to be mindful of is how it looked. Positioned in the premium part of the centre, we didn’t want garish sale banners displayed as that would conflict with the premium feel of the area. 

“Fortunately, Luxury Escapes were on the same wavelength and the end product was far above our expectations and is a true reflection of a first to market flagship brand at Chadstone – The Fashion Capital.” 

Step past the façade and once in the 400 sqm space, customers are treated to private bookings booths, interactive displays and a stunning fit out that wouldn’t go amiss in some of Melbourne’s top restaurants. 

Booth with bench and tv
Luxury Escapes premium booking boothsCredit: Vicinity Centres

Elevating the customer experience further are cues from higher end retail like barista-made coffee and a champagne bar allowing customers to get into holiday mode right from the point of booking – a purposeful strategy from the team at Luxury Escapes. 

“Our mission is to make the entire travel experience – from the first step of booking to landing back home – the very best it can be, and our amazing new retail arm is another step forward in this mission,” said Ben Chan, CEO of Luxury Escapes International.  

Bar with seats
Luxury Escapes Champagne BarCredit: Vicinity Centres

The introduction of a champagne bar is a growing trend according to Pellegrino. Having existed in luxury retail for a while – albeit not quite as overtly as in a champagne bar setting – allowing customers to relax with a drink as they shop has been a growth area, most recently also seen at Rodd and Gunn’s The Lodge Bar housed in Myer Chadstone.  

After its first week of trading, the new Luxury Escapes store at Chadstone has received plaudits among customers and media. It’s managed to introduce the business to new customers and allowed it to display its brand in a new and exciting way.   

For Chadstone, it’s another first-to-market, and a perfect example of how it’s knowledgeable and innovative leasing team are able to partner with retailers to deliver ground-breaking concepts in-keeping with the centre’s strategy and position as Australia’s favourite shopping mecca. 


To discover how Vicinity’s leasing teams can help your brand transition from online to a physical retail space or grow your existing retail footprint, head to our Leasing hub. 


This article featured quotes from the following sources:

The Australian 

Shopping Centre News 

Luxury Escapes 

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We are one of Australia's leading retail property groups, who are reimagining the way Australians live, work and play. We own and manage some of the most recognisable and loved retail destinations across Australia and are evolving to transform our portfolio into destinations that offer a broad selection of retail, residential, and office spaces.
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