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Luca Franco on the Wood Couture video podcast with Filippo Sona

Luca Franco, CEO and Founder of Luxury Frontiers, recently joined Filippo Sona, Hotel FFE Entrepreneur, Investor, and Hospitality Expert Consultant, on the Wood Couture video podcast. Wood Couture takes a new approach to custom furniture supply for commercial and hospitality use. Franco and Sona’s conversation covered a diverse range of topics centered around the topic, “Transforming Lives Through Luxury Experiences”. To see the full interview click here, and read below for the best quotes from Luca Franco (and timestamps) throughout the interview:

Is there something in your childhood or past that made you passionate about transformational experiences or transforming lives through travel?
“I always dress like a local, eat like a local, eat with the local techniques, for me it was always about being a local, but really embracing the local experience.” (3:26)

What are you looking for when you travel? 
“It’s always about looking for the spirit of a place… in latin we call it the Genius Loci. When we do architecture or when we design an experience, it’s all about contextualization and it’s all about embracing that sense of place and spirit of place, and that can be in relation to heritage, culture, traditions, diversity, wildlife…” (5:00)

“Everything we do is always about leading, learning, getting inspired by the context and nature and culture, and that creates the layers of the narrative that we can bring to fruition.” (5:30)

What do you feel when you learn about another culture?
“Consumption travel is being replaced by empathetic travel, conscious travel, where people are really looking to have an immersive but empathetic relationship with the context of where we travel to… a three-way relationship with the hearts, the guests, and the community.” (7:30)

How did Luke Bailes (Founder of Singita) inspire Luca? 
“I have a lot of mentors in life because it is always about being humble, curious, and trying to take lessons from anyone, and everybody contributes a piece of the puzzle of who you are and what you aim [to do].” (10:30)

What did it take to create award-winning tented camps around the world? 
“When we go to a place… we go without any preconception. And we go and really feel the spirit of the place.” (11:43)

“The first thing that we do is understand what the guest experiential script is when they come to a property and for us it is about creating the contents instead of designing the box.” (13:45)

What do you look for when you recruit people to work for you?
“The spark in their eyes and if we are in tune together and with the other employees.” (15:50)

Have you ever been to a place that has brought tears to your eyes?
“I get transformed every time I get to a place because I lower my boundaries … because of my connection with a place.” (16:45)

What do you create that is different to a normal travel experience?
“People think pitching a fancy tent somewhere in the jungle makes the experience, but that is absolutely not true. A tent is only one layer of the whole experience, and the experience has to be sustainable, alternative, contextualized, meaningful…” (19:45)

“It’s about curating the experience in a meaningful way, the guest wants to learn and be inspired and rebalanced with nature and to be connected.” (20:43)

“The reality is, sustainability is not enough anymore because you cannot sustain a dying system ­– it is not sustainable by definition. The only way to create sustainable ecosystems is to regenerate and to leave a place in a better condition than when you found it – that is regenerative travel.” (21:23)

Is the hospitality industry focusing enough emphasis on sustainability?
“We are nature. We don’t own the land, the land owns us. We need to understand that. We need to take care of nature because nature is taking care of us.” (24:04)

What is the ROI of sustainability for the hospitality industry? 
“People are willing to pay for something unique and with a purpose.” (29:40)

Why do transformative experiences have to come at a luxury price tag? 
“Luxury is experience not appearance. Luxury can be a four-star product, but a 6-star experience.” (32:27)

What does Luca do when he loses focus?
“I go out running, if the elements are harsh, even better. Connection with nature is how I recalibrate myself.” (34:34)

Do you think guests that visit your projects feel a sense of freedom? 
“Freedom can mean different things for different people. We are all wired up with this technology (phones and computers) so freedom is going to a place to un-wind yourself, to disconnect to connect.” (41:50)

“Freedom is to remove all those chains that our day-by-day lives build around us.” (41:38)

What is an impossible frontier Luca would like to create a project in?
“The trigger for me, the motivation 10 years ago, was to create something meaningful to people and to the environment… small or big, it doesn’t matter, but to make some contribution.” (45:50)

“I think the present and the future will be about meaningful transparent purpose and traveling with purpose.” (52:15)

What would Luca like to share with the world? 
“Re-Wild. To go back to original habitats, to what it was in origin, and learn from nature and help nature go back to what it was before. Re-wild is not just for environments, it is for your spirit and your soul.” (54:20)


For more information on Luxury Frontiers’ design and strategic advisory services, contact us at team@luxury-frontiers.com.