Named after the average human lifespan, 700,000 Heures is the world’s first ‘wandering’ hotel, opening every six months in a new place before disappearing forever. Founder Thierry Teyssier speaks to Globetrender about what guests can expect from its next stop in Japan, and why only a few hundred people will get to experience what the company creates.
What is 700,000 Heures?
Launched in 2018, we travel around the world, moving from one country to another every six months, offering a unique experience for our members. We ask: “What are we doing with our hours?” The idea is instead of trying to add some years to our life, we should add more life to our years.
So far we have set up in three locations, in Italy, Cambodia and Brazil. From December 20, 2019, for just six weeks, 700,000 Heures will host stays in two rooms in Paris.
How exactly does it work? Do you have to be a member of the Amazirs’ Circle?
To book a stay with us, you must become a member. You must pay an entrance fee and, also, an annual fee, which starts at €2,000 euros and €500. But all this money will go towards your next stay as a deposit.
Why is it innovative?
A hotel is usually described in terms of its location and number of rooms. With 700,000 Heures, that is difficult. We offer a new kind of hospitality, completely focused on our guests – we are travelling with them.
What inspired you to launch it? Why create a nomadic hotel?
I needed to go further than Dar Ahlam [a luxury hideaway Teyssier founded in Morocco] or Route du Sud [an expedition that he organises across Morocco for small groups]. I wanted to work with non-professional people to create a new kind of hospitality.
Luxury is not about the biggest private pool or presidential suite anymore. It’s about unique moments with people you love. I also wanted to welcome the same guests around the world, not just in Morocco. I wanted to create a new relationship with them.
How many members do you have?
We have 148 members and would like to limit this to around 250 to be sure we know everyone perfectly.
How do you decide where to open the next site?
We work on a list of destinations three years in advance with, for each period, two or three options.
Tell us about the 2020 Japan launch and what guests will experience?
Between April 5 and November 1, 2020, we will take over an historic temple in Koyasan and a traditional house in a fishing village. It will cost €2,500 a night for two people sharing a room. Activities will include mochi pounding (a Japanese sweet made from rice), visits to hidden bars, learning the art of Japanese gardening, calligraphy classes and fire ceremonies.
How long to people typically stay?
It depends on the destination – there will be no minimum stay in Paris or Japan. There are no rules. Each opening is different and unique.
What kinds of unique experiences can guests have?
In Salento, Italy, it was breakfast in a cave by the sea, a day trip with a fisherman to pick sea urchins, taking vintage Cinquecento cars to visit traditional villages and special tastings of olive oil and wine. We take a set of trunks everywhere so we can serve lunch or dinner in the middle of nowhere.
In Cambodia, it was special temple openings, meetings with archeologists, nights on floating houses in the and a journey in a circus. In Lençois, Brazil, we had the first authorisation to sleep near a lagoon.
Who is your target audience?
The new generation of travellers who don’t want to spend their life in luxury hotels but rather live unique exclusive moments. They want a backpacker philosophy connected to locals but with comfort and storytelling.
How do the logistics of managing a nomadic hotel work? Do you have staff that move around?
I have a group of people around me. They come to one destination or two, then stop for a moment before coming back to another destination. It is too difficult to follow me all year long. In each location, we work with non-professional people from local communities.
Tell us about the 100 travelling trunks that you have.
When you go back to a place you liked, you’re happy to be back in the same room, you remember all the details from your last stay. With 700,000 Heures, that’s impossible. I needed to find a way to help you to feel back with us. And what could better symbolise the art of travelling than trunks?
Also, I don’t know in advance what I will have at my disposal in each location. With this furniture, I can organise every set up I want. We have sofas, tables, kitchens, beds, sinks, showers, bars, all in trunks.
Are there any other companies doing what you are doing?
Absolutely not. We are the first and only wandering hotel in the world.
What are you plans for growth over the coming years?
We don’t want to grow. We just want to enjoy travelling around the world with our members.
Our private club won’t ever return to the same location but after, members will be able stay in a few houses in local communities around the former 700,000 Heures site. They will be simple and traditional but in the same spirit.
I will also create a foundation before the end of the year to help local communities. We will train them in hospitality and will help them to create their own projects.
What do you predict for the future of luxury travel?
I would like to convince everyone to join us around our philosophy of #TravelforGood. We must give tourism back to locals and help them to protect their lands and their cultures against mass-market tourism.