by Michael J. Shapiro | April 08, 2016

Paris-based AccorHotels has purchased the luxury home rental site Onefinestay for 148 million euros (US$169 million). The London-based sharing-economy platform, which was once dubbed "Airbnb for the rich," generated a lot of buzz a year ago when it received a US$40 million investment from Hyatt Hotels -- the first instance of a major hotelier investing in a sharing-economy company. Hyatt will now sell its shares.

AccorHotels now holds the keys and has big plans for Onefinestay: Accor will invest an additional US$73 million to expand the company internationally. Currently, Onefinestay has exclusive management rights to 2,600 properties in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris and Rome. Accor plans to expand that to 40 new cities over the next five years, and grow revenues tenfold. Onefinestay will remain an independent business unit within the group and continue to be run by its CEO and co-founder, Greg Marsh.

Onefinestay, which is marketed to both leisure and business travelers, allows property owners to rent out their luxury homes via the platform. Unlike sharing-economy sites like Airbnb, however, Onefinestay services the properties, offering a personal welcome and 24/7 on-call help for guests, as well as handling marketing, distribution, insurance, guest-screening, professional cleaning, management and maintenance for the home. 

AccorHotels was drawn to the sharing-economy company partly for its unique business model, according to chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin. "Onefinestay has successfully captured a sweet spot," he noted, "a combination of needs that neither traditional hotels nor new actors of the sharing economy can meet."

The Onefinestay deal comes amid a spate of acquisitions by the French hotelier in recent months, of both alternative and more traditional names. Last December the company announced it would buy the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands, and in February AccorHotels acquired a 30 percent stake in Oasis Collections and a 49 percent stake in Squarebreak, both of which offer platforms for private vacation-home rentals.

"We are accelerating the transformation of our business model to capture the value creation linked to the rise of private rentals, and also strengthening our presence in the luxury market with a complementary offer," said Bazin.

For its part, Hyatt considers its work with Onefinestay to have been a valuable learning experience. "We wish our friends at Onefinestay continued success," said a Hyatt spokesperson. "We have learned a lot about their business and this segment in our work together. Our 'test and learn' approach, including our investment with Onefinestay and our exploration of other alternative accommodation platforms, underscores our focus on understanding our guests and providing them with distinctive, powerful experiences."