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Luxury travel site gets $60M backing led by Google

Luxury online travel company Secret Escapes announced a $60 million funding round on Sunday, as it looks to expand its appeal to Asian holidaymakers.

Google Ventures and Octopus Investments will lead the funding, with Index Ventures and Atlas Venture the other investors on board.

Secret Escapes is a British start-up that runs a members-only website that offers deals on high-end hotels and holidays at comparatively cheap prices. The hotels are hand-picked and Secret Escapes claims to have over 19 million members.


Rubina A. Khan | Getty Images

The start-up is currently in 13 territories and opened operations in the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Spain this year.

Alex Saint, the company's CEO, said the new funding round would be used to continue Secret Escapes' aggressive expansion drive, particularly into new countries.

"We are looking at opportunities in Asia, we have been scoping out which territories we might embark on, which is super exciting," Saint told CNBC in a phone interview.

The CEO added that the company needed to be choosy about the countries to which it markets, with Japan and Australia being key targets.

"The U.K. is profitable but each territory will take two to three years to become profitable. The funding will allow us to push aggressively into all of those territories at the same time," he told CNBC.

Despite its success in the U.K., the company is not yet profitable overall.

Last year, Secret Escapes' total revenue rose 75 percent from the year before. Saint said he was looking to double 2014's revenues this year, but did not disclose the revenue figure.

He added that the current funding round would be used to increase marketing, to help make existing markets profitable.

But Secret Escapes is not the only player in this market. Companies like Groupon and Time Out offer regular holiday deals to top destinations.

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However, Saint said that on competitors' websites, consumers often had to buy a holiday voucher first, before sorting out dates with an airline and hotel.

He added that Secret Escapes differentiated itself by allowing users to directly book their packages via the Secret Escapes website, as well as through the high standard of hotels.

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"There are quite a few people out there who have a poor imitation of the top-quality execution of our model," Saint said.

"I think if you look at the quality standards, the selection criteria, they don't come close to the stringent selection we have."