Zoie Kingsbery Coe on founding the family travel website of the future
How did the company start? To what do you attribute your success?
We were on tour in Sydney as a family and were lucky enough to be checking in to the Four Seasons through my husband’s work, planning to stay there for a few weeks. But within two days we realised it wasn’t going to work for us as a family. Once Luca was asleep at night, we were tiptoeing around him in the dark, whispering so we wouldn’t wake him. I think all parents that have stayed in hotel rooms with their kids know this scenario! We realised he wouldn’t be eating any healthy home-cooked meals and we just needed more space to enjoy our family time together.
That’s how it started. From that I realised that staying in a house as a family was the way to go. Spending too much time going through uninspiring websites, looking at uninspiring houses that claimed they were family-friendly made me realise there was a real lack in the market for people who need the space of a home the most.
That first-hand understanding of what works for families is behind our success. As a team, we include parents from around the world with children of differing ages, and we know our market well because we are our own market, which makes a real difference.
Do you review the properties personally? What’s the criteria for making it onto the site and do you organise home swaps?
We hand-pick the properties on the site according to whether they suit our criteria. We look for family-friendly homes, vacation rentals and hotels with charm and style, where children would be welcome and safe. Neighborhood is important – the more family-orientated, the better – and it’s a great bonus if the property has toys, books and games for kids, too. We accept listings from family homes, hotels and vacation rentals that fit these categories.
Any property you see on the site with Kid & Coe Select highlighted is a property we have visited. As a team, we try to get to as many as we can, but with 1,300 properties worldwide, we haven’t got to them all yet.
In terms of Exchanges, we help facilitate them by setting up a system that makes it easy to enquire about matching dates with another home exchange property, and offer advice, if needed, to help make it happen.
You’re married to DJ Sasha. Did the touring life instill a love of travel in you?
I had a love of travel long before that – my mum was an air hostess and we used to travel a lot as a family. Quite a lot of my early travel experiences centered around being in the back of that car on a road trip! But we would also take spontaneous trips to Paris or Milan, just for a long weekend, because we could all hop on a plane and fly, space available. Thinking on it now, how my parents did that without the wealth of knowledge available to us on the internet now is pretty cool!
What have you observed are the positives effects of travel on children?
I’m the first person to admit travelling with kids can be extremely challenging. Yet, as soon as the opportunity arises, I’m plotting our next “adventure”. It’s a bit like childbirth in that regard – you forget the painful bits! There is no better tool to help teach gratitude and awareness. Travel helps you remember the magic.
Are there any downsides as far as you can see?
The logistics and planning are a downside for me as a parent, and flying with a toddler is no picnic. For the kids, I really only see benefits for them (apart from, maybe, the damage that regular ice cream does to their generally healthy diet!).
You recently moved to Ibiza. What does daily life there look like?
Ibiza is such a wonderful place to be, at least out of the “summer silly season”. The babysitter arrives early to help with Ivy, our littlest, and then I take the big kids into school, and then I head into the office, or the gym first, depending on the day and if Sasha is in town to help out with school runs and the like. The Kid & Coe team is in Europe and across the USA, so the day can be long. Working hours in Spain and Los Angeles don’t coincide at a happy time, so I know, usually, I’ll be on call late in the night. I try to plan my day so I’m able to get some exercise, eat well and fit my work in as well. Staying fit and healthy is essential for getting through high-stress days. After work, when the kids are in bed, I might meet my friends in a wine bar in the old town; other days I pick the kids up from work and we have a picnic on the beach for dinner. It’s all very easy-going and lovely and I’m grateful to call it home for now.
Before that you lived in New York City – why the change?
I think a lot of parents go through this process when they live in a major city – thinking through whether they are in the right place to bring up their kids. We moved from New York City to Los Angeles for a year as my husband had some opportunities on the West Coast that he wanted to pursue, and we wanted to see if we liked it. After a year, we knew it wasn’t the right place for us. Ibiza has always been my happy place – we’ve been spending the summer there for years and years. Pregnant with my third baby, and unsettled in Los Angeles, we took the plunge to move to Europe as a family – and it’s all worked out well so far.
When travel is so much a part of your life, what do you look for in your hometown?
I love calling Ibiza “home”. It’s very different in the winter – it’s a calm, kind of sleepy Spanish village. It feels very safe and almost old-fashioned (not one store is open on a Sunday!). I most definitely miss home when we are away! I’m funny because I crave routine and the structure of having the kids at school, but I’m the first to say “yes!” when my husband suggests pulling them out of school to go on a family adventure somewhere for a month.
Do you have an absolutely favourite place to be/holiday?
This is a hard one as there have been many great trips with my babies, all special in different ways. A recent trip that comes to mind was when we went to Playa Las Tortugas and Sayulita, in Mexico. We had recently moved from NYC to LA, and had left behind all our family and friends. It was a bittersweet time, so we decided to pick somewhere close to Mexico to go on a mini “adventure”. We celebrated my son’s eighth birthday at the lovely Palmeras Residence, where they made him his favourite meal of fish and chips, and chocolate cake. There was no Wi-Fi, which was refreshing, and the kids roamed the beautiful grounds. We released freshly-hatched baby turtles into the sea and enjoyed the simple connection with nature and each other.
If you could travel anywhere without kids, where would it be?
I’ve just come back from São Paulo, and I can’t recommend it more. What a vibrant, exciting city…