Happiness, Hotels & Coe
When her Hawarden-born husband Sasha began his career as a DJ playing the best nightclubs and parties in the world, Zoie Kingsbery Coe was living the jet-set lifestyle and stayed in the very best hotels in almost every main city across the globe. As the superstar couple then became a three (and now a five), a switch change happened. Zoie began seeking out kid-friendly property rentals that made her family feel at home wherever they were in the world.
As increasing numbers of parents asked Zoie to share her travel expertise and property secrets, Kid & Coe was born. Here Zoie talks to The Cheshire Magazine about how and why it is possible to really have it all on holiday with the children in tow.
Can you tell us about life before becoming a mum and what changed in relation to how and where you travelled when you had babies/toddlers?
Life before kids was pretty different. We travelled a lot - my husband is an international DJ - and in many ways, that travel was a lot easier, with just two adults to please.
And then…My husband, our baby and I were travelling and realised that it took a lot of effort to find properties that were truly child-friendly and suitable. The hotel experience is wonderful - but it’s not always wonderful with kids. The room service menu wears thin, you’re worried about your children being disruptive, and night times can be a trial if you’re all in the same room. Like so many parents before and after us, we realised that our travel habits had to change if we wanted to keep on enjoying this lifestyle - and we certainly did.
What was the lightbulb moment that inspired you to create Kid & Coe?
That would have to be the Bali pool villa we checked into… if memory serves me right, I don’t think it had proper doors, was surrounded by pools, and loads of little pebbles. All my toddler wanted to do was pop those pebbles into his mouth or throw them into the pool. I was looking for a solution out there that would help - a website with recommended properties for families, or a way to search for villas that would work for us, and I couldn’t find one. So...the idea for Kid & Coe was born.
What are the essential elements that make travelling with a family easier and better for those who like the finer things in life?
One of the things that we champion at Kid & Coe is freedom to travel the way your family wants and needs to. Family travel doesn’t have to mean hotels with kids clubs, resorts with all-inclusive setups and everything tailored around the kids - but of course, it can! We believe there is a balance between something that works for kids and something that works for parents - and you don’t have to compromise.
Every family is a little bit different, so I think it’s important to not be too prescriptive. Just speaking for my family (we have a toddler daughter, a 7-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son), we’re looking for something that keeps Ivy safe and occupied, that’s close to activities that Luca and India will enjoy, and that is luxurious so it feels like fun for us too. Travel with kids of different ages needs a different touch, so we make sure all our listings have the right details on them so parents can decide for themselves if it’s going to suit their children. Anyone who has had more than one child can attest that one baby can be very different from another!
How do you select the places that feature in the agency?
We get a number of applications per week from families wanting to rent out their homes when they are away - for a minimum of four weeks per year. We look at the location to see that it’s really family friendly, examine the property carefully to check it is safe and welcoming for children, and look for properties with a high standard of decor. A lot of properties include toys and books for kids, plus maybe bikes, a playhouse, high chair and crib. Some will also have add-ons, like a cleaner, private chef, chauffeur and other staff options, depending on where they are in the world. It’s hard to make a blanket statement about Kid & Coe homes because features can vary, but one thing I’d say is that they are all places we would love to stay in ourselves.
What is it like to be a host family or to swap your home?
We get really great feedback from our hosts and I’m one myself - our Ibiza apartment is on the site, as were our houses in New York, Los Angeles and London when we lived there. I’ve also participated in the rental and home swap options. It gives you a chance to meet a like- minded family from another country, and we’ve seen great friendships spring up from these interactions on the site. It’s much more than just a way to make money while you travel - being a Kid & Coe host is a way to join a select group of families who love travel, design and kids.
Do you ever use third party services like babysitters, car rental and day our guides when you’re away and what would be your top tips on finding ones that are good?
Absolutely. These extras can turn a stay into a vacation and I’d highly recommend considering them! We partner with a concierge service for most of our American properties, where you can book all these extra items easily, and we also work with Baby Quip to offer supplementary baby equipment so you don’t have to travel with it.
In terms of finding babysitting, car rental and guides in other locations, my first port of call is always my network. Mums know everything! And there’s always that friend who can provide extra insight. Second to that, I’d be asking the host of the property I’m staying in. Local mums are such a good source of genuinely useful information - it’s one of the reasons Kid & Coe works so well. Being left a hand drawn map showing the nearest kid-friendly spots when you arrive along with ideas of what to do can really make your trip fantastic. Lastly, we work closely with Babyccino - they have a great selection of travel guides on their website, all written by well informed local mums, which serves as a good inspiration point too.
What has been your ultimate favourite destination since starting Kid&Coe and where do you get the best feedback about from families?
This is a hard one as there have been many great trips with my babies - all special in different ways. A trip that comes to mind was when we went to Playa Las Tortugas and Sayulita, in Mexico. We celebrated my son’s 8th birthday at the Palmeras Residence residence, where they made him his favourite meal of fish and chips and chocolate cake. There was no WiFi, which was refreshing, and the kids roamed the beautiful grounds. We released freshly-hatched baby turtles to the sea and enjoyed the simple connection with nature and each other.
In terms of feedback from our guests, we ask guests to review their stays - it’s a great insight when you want to book a stay yourself - and we get reports saying our properties have topped their all-time best lists, and that they are keen to make another trip. It’s so good to see! Two of our most popular properties - with a vast number of five-star reviews each - would be The Bluestone Road Residence in upstate New York, and the Christian IX Gade Residence in Copenhagen, Denmark
What are your hot spots/top destinations for 2018?
We think the UK’s going to continue to be popular with overseas visitors - and staycationers too - with Brexit looming, so we’re actively looking for new properties all across the country. If you want to find out more about renting your home out with Kid & Coe or joining our home exchange program, take a look at our website!
Other than that, in Europe, demand for design- led Portugal just keeps coming - not just Lisbon, but also beach spots like Comporta and the city of Porto too. We cover all the popular areas for family travel - Provence, California, Amsterdam, and more - and expect to see them continue to be highly popular places to travel with kids.
If you’re looking for somewhere a little untapped, we have some lovely properties in Morocco, including Marrakesh and Essaouira, a cute hippy town with beaches, surf lessons and camels. Marrakesh is a direct flight away from Manchester airport if you’re thinking of winter sun already.
Where in the future will you be expanding into?
We’re looking to grow all over the world. We currently list 1,500 properties that are all fantastic for families, in 52 destinations worldwide, and add more every week. We’re continually looking at destinations that work for families, and accommodation options that work.
Booking hotels for families can be a little tricky and one of our upcoming challenges is to find a way to make it better. So expect to see more family-friendly hotels in the mix as we go forward - we know that a private home rental is great, but sometimes for a shorter stay, you’ll need a hotel. It’s all firmly in our sites and we’re looking forward to making travel with kids easier across the board.
Finally, is it possible to have children and still have a luxury break?
Of course! Get the fridge stocked in advance, book a car and driver, make sure there is daily cleaning and book a private chef! You don’t have to do the boring chores when you’re on vacation - there’s always a way round it…
Visit www.kidandcoe.com for more information.
The Cheshire Magazine readers can get £75 off their first stay with Kid & Coe by using the code ‘CHESHIRECAT’ on the check out page. Offer valid until December 31 2018, one per household.