Founded by John Spence in 1993, after he bought his first piece of land in Goa, Karma Group is an international travel and lifestyle company with 43 resorts across Europe, Asia and Australasia. John’s self-labelled ‘Five Star Hippy’ model focuses on combining a stay in a high-end villa or hotel with access to top-notch amenities and curated experiences, from holistic healing retreats to hedonistic wine tastings. Clients can also purchase villas which are then managed by Karma Group. Properties are split across four boutique brands – Karma Resorts, Karma Estates, Karma Retreats and Karma Royal – and include Le Preverger, a sprawling estate on the French Riviera that previously belonged to Laura Ashley; Karma Kandara, an award-winning blissful retreat on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, known as ‘Billionaire’s Row’; and Karma Bavaria, a chalet-style hotel near Schliersee in Germany.
During the pandemic, Karma Group supported all its 2,500-plus staff. It also provided around 900 weekly food parcels for villages in Bali and rolled out its own staff vaccine programme in Indonesia and India. ‘Over the years we have been blessed with fantastic loyalty and many of our staff have been with us for over two decades,’ says John. ‘This was very much a chance to repay that loyalty in a personal way.’ They also set up Karma Mayday with HRH Prince of Wales Trust, sending desperately needed oxygen to India, and Karma Frontline, a partnership with Operation Recuperation in the UK, which gave away 500 holidays to frontline medical staff around the world.
Over the last year they have added to their portfolio with eight new properties. These include Karma Salford Hall, a Tudor manor in the Cotswolds; Karma Salak, a highland retreat in Java; and Karma Seven Lakes, a natural stone boutique hotel with a rooftop pool in an affluent neighbourhood of Udaipur. It also opened up new channels of communication with customers (including a weekly ‘Chairman’s Message’ from John) and launched Karma Concierge, a new UK-based service for clients wanting help arranging anything from catamaran charters to spa treatments on an upcoming trip. For those who become Karma Group members, the Karma Club offers extra benefits, such as rugby dinners in London with celebrity players and speakers, monthly drinks gatherings and tickets to music events.
Other new initiatives include Karma Nomad – where members can hire caravans or camper vans and travel across Australia and New Zealand – and Karma Kasa, a network of new escapes that are geared towards domestic travellers across its portfolio, in response to global travel restrictions. ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for our clients to travel again by giving them the support they need,’ continues John. ‘After being stuck at home, holidays are something most people are looking forward to. They’ve spent time compiling bucket lists of places they want to visit and things they want to do. Hopefully we can provide some of those fantastic adventures over the coming years.’