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Essential Escapes takes off with The Capital Fund
Luxury spa tour operator secures £240,000 of new investment

The Capital Fund has invested £200,000 into spa holiday specialists Essential Escapes as part of a £240,000 founding round, with the balance of the cash coming from existing shareholders. Established in 2002, The Capital Fund is a £50 million venture capital fund that backs fast-growing small and medium-sized companies in the Greater London area, and is the largest of the nine UK regional venture capital funds.

Essential Escapes is a dedicated luxury tour operator specialising in luxury spa holidays, serving the top end of the travel market. The company provides a tailor-made service, organising holidays for clients ranging from solo travellers seeking a rejuvenating short trip to family holidays where parents feel pampered and their children have the time of their lives, via Essential Escapes’ Tots Too brand.

Essential Escapes founder and Managing Director, Emma Barnett, said: “We have an outstanding portfolio of the best spa destinations worldwide available to our clients. Not only that: we have personal experience of travelling to practically all of them and so are in a much better position than other bigger tour operators to supply our clients the best holiday possible. Our ethos is ‘nothing is too much trouble’ when it comes to sourcing the best deals with the top resorts. We also realise that couples with young children may not want to compromise on their holiday experience, which is why we developed Tots Too, enabling our clients to enjoy the same levels of luxury and service, while their children are also comfortable and well looked after.”

Spa holidays are becoming ever more popular, and for different types of traveller. Burnt-out executives are attracted to spa holidays as they can provide instant and complete relaxation in a luxurious environment, allowing the client to recuperate and rejuvenate in just a few days. Some people take spa treatments for a specific reason: this can include tackling a detox course or attempting weight loss in a controlled and safe manner. More people are taking spa holidays as their honeymoon, where they can relax and recover from the stresses of the run-up to their wedding. In addition, there are those who just want to be pampered for a few days and get away from it all.

Ms Barnett said: “We are seeing spa holidays become much more accessible to new and different clients. In the past, some have been a little intimidated by spas and the treatments available, but now people are more aware of the benefits of a little bit of indulgence. A luxury spa holiday is a ‘total you moment’, the ultimate personal reward, and when times are tough we all need a chance to recover properly.” And the choice for the top-end market is enormous, with long-haul destinations in Asia – especially Thailand – now providing some of the best spa facilities in the world.

The new investment will be used in a number of ways by Barnett and the eleven-strong Essential Escapes team. Ms Barnett said: “Developing our sales team is one of our major focuses as we expand the holiday options we offer, including new hotels and destinations. Also, we are looking at continually improving how we communicate with our clients, including using text messaging and mobile devices if that’s what’s most convenient for them. With a new dedicated concierge team, we can enhance our service by pre-booking any requirements clients have before they go away - including meet and greet airport parking, baby-sitting, or specific spa treatments.”

The company is developing some new products, including a partnership with a leading UK winter sports operator to offer skiing holidays, and customised adventure holidays aimed at the family market with older children, which will be added onto its existing family programme Tots Too. So that the best prices will always be available for clients, Essential Escapes is investing in extending the use of online tour operator systems. During all this expansion, though, the personal touch and tailored service that their clients have come to expect from Essential Escapes will remain central to the company’s offering.

Commenting on the fundraising process, Ms Barnett said: “It was a pleasure to work with Ian Cameron and his team at The Capital Fund. While the required due diligence took some time and effort to get through, it provided us with insights into our business that we had not previously had, and so was extremely useful.”

Ian Cameron, Investment Director of The Capital Fund, said: “It is a new departure for the Fund to invest in the tourism sector, and we are delighted to be investing in Essential Escapes and helping them develop their products and services in innovative and dynamic ways.”

- ENDS -
Notes for editors
Press enquiries to Margaret Henry, PR Consultant, The Capital Fund.
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 811199 Email:

Photos of Essential Escapes spa resorts available on request

1. About The Capital Fund
Launched in 2002, The Capital Fund is a £50 million venture capital fund that backs fast-growing, small and medium-sized enterprises in Greater London. The Capital Fund is the largest of the nine Regional Venture Capital Funds and has a mixture of public and private sector investors. To date, the Fund has made over 60 investments in London-based companies. For further information:

The Capital Fund is managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and part of the YFM Group. The YFM Group provides investment capital and business development services to SMEs throughout the UK. It currently has over £300 million in funds under management, with over 90 employees. For further information: Since April 2008, the YFM Group has been part of GLE Group:

2. About Essential Escapes
Essential Escapes was launched by sibling entrepreneurs, Emma and Deborah Barnett, in 2002. As the UK’s first luxury spa tour operator, Essential Escapes was created out of a passion for spa travel and a desire to redefine the meaning of personal service.

With a hand-picked selection of the world’s best spa hotels and resorts, the knowledgeable sales team are able to answer the needs of the discerning and demanding traveller. The result is that each client is made to feel as though they have their own personal travel consultant who understands their needs completely and more importantly, has already experienced the destinations and the hotels they are talking about.

In 2007, Essential Escapes launched Tots Too, their specialised service for families. This was in response to requests from some of their clients who wanted to continue their luxury holidays but were finding it difficult having started a family. The Tots Too service was built on detailed research into family-friendly facilities at the world’s most luxurious hotels, enabling clients to search the hotels on the Tots Too website by key factors such as whether bottle warmers are available or infant seats for car transfers. The Essential Escapes team had road-tested many of the properties in the portfolio to ensure that that they met specific family-friendly criteria.

In 2008, a further innovation saw the launch of the Concierge service, a dedicated after-sales service at the disposal of the Essential Escapes and Tots Too clients to help them with any aspect of their holiday, right up until their return home, such as pre-booking spa treatments, babysitting, or the table for two with the best view. Other new developments in the pipeline include the launch of family-friendly luxury ski holidays in partnership with a leading ski tour operator and family adventure holidays.
For further information: and

Publisher Contact Information:

The Capital Fund
+ 44 (0)1865 811199

Company profile of The Capital Fund
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