|By Grace Ching, The Straits Times,
Singapore / Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 26, 2012--SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) -- What does a high-flying model and actress-cum-television host know about business? When armed with a degree in finance, plenty, it seems.
Ms Stephanie Chai, 28, who has been modelling since she was 18, is behind The Luxe Nomad, a new online portal for luxury hotels and villas at special rates.
One investor in her start-up is Singapore-based Tigris Capital. Ms Chai did not want to disclose the sum involved as she is working on the next round of funding.
The Luxe Nomad opened its 'doors' yesterday. It has eight employees and offers about 100 hotels and resorts, and it will add new resorts over time.
Based on a 'flash sale' model, it offers hotel rooms at highly discounted rates.
To get the deal, holidaymakers need to buy the rooms before a fixed expiry time.
Currently, the portal offers special rates for exclusive resorts in destinations such as Hong Kong, Phuket, Bali and Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos.
Ms Chai saw the opportunity as more affluent middle-class travellers are looking for holidays at exclusive resorts but 'don't want to sift through a mass market online travel site which has every hotel on it'.
According to global travel research firm PhoCusWright, the Asia-Pacific online market is set to be worth about US$15 billion this year.
Other online entrepreneurs are muscling in on this potentially lucrative market.
Another private sale portal that offers high-end luxury and boutique hotels is Impulse Flyer, which was started by Korean Steven Gong. Funding for the site was led by Neoteny Labs.
Mr Gong, 32, founded the company last year after noticing a need among affluent consumers for an easy-to-use online travel brand that they could trust for high-quality, unique travel experiences.
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