The wildest holiday requests from the super rich

(CNN) — Whether they’re arranging $300,000 personal dinners with celeb cooks or pop-up luxurious campsites in the steppes of the northern Sahara, luxurious journey brokers and concierge providers handle to make the unimaginable a actuality.

Last summer season, luxurious concierge service Element Lifestyle managed to safe the key to the Sistine Chapel so a New York household of six may open the doorways and luxuriate in Michelangelo’s beautiful paintings alone — an expertise that value roughly US$75,000.
On a flight to Seoul, the Asia journey specialists at Remote Lands helped a outstanding Korean-American household of 4 purchase out all 12 First Class seats — at about $20,000 per seat — on Korean Air so they might get pleasure from the cabin in personal.
When a household forgot to get a visa to Myanmar for one in all their youngsters, award-winning journey firm Red Savannah’s native fixer managed to persuade the head of immigration in Yangon to approve the kinds whereas the shoppers had been in the air. When the vacationers landed, the visa was ready for them airside.

Luxury journey specialist Black Tomato pulled off a novel Hollywood-style Indonesia crusing journey for a consumer.

Black Tomato

In Iceland, luxurious journey journey specialist Black Tomato made a dream proposal come true by hiding a diamond ring inside an ice cave for the bride-to-be to find.

On one other journey, Black Tomato despatched a Hollywood cinematographer, who had filmed blockbusters like “Star Wars” and “Interstellar,” to shoot a household on their six-week crusing odyssey via the Indonesian islands. In whole, the group spent roughly US$665,000.

Super-elite vacationers can afford to go anyplace and do something, however usually depend on groups of extremely expert, adaptive and artistic journey consultants to make it occur.

“The only reason any of these things are possible is that we’ve got a fantastic network of fixers around the world, who know us and the types of experiences we like to provide,” Tom Marchant, co-founder of Black Tomato, tells CNN Travel.

“There is sometimes a Willy Wonka element to the way we work. Is this possible? I don’t know… Let’s explore it!”

Going above and past

Element_private concert we did with LMFAO for a client

Element Lifestyle has organized personal live shows for its shoppers, together with this present by LMFAO.


Some folks may stroll right into a San Diego lodge suite and discover a basket of fruit or maybe a bottle of wine. Others uncover a trio of stay penguins, borrowed from the zoo for the afternoon.

That’s how Element Lifestyle founder Michael Albanese as soon as shocked a consumer, whose girlfriend was obsessive about penguins.

“When we learned that [the girlfriend] loved penguins, it sparked an idea. Can we hire an animal wrangler? Can we get the hotel on board? We started making calls and it came together pretty easily,” he tells CNN Travel.

“There were three penguins in total — one was a bit grumpy and stood off in the corner. But needless to say, that set the tone for the entire weekend.”

Albanese, who works with ultra-high web people spending roughly $100,000-$200,000 per two-week journey, has additionally created treasure hunts round Europe for households and pals, full with a novel theme track written and carried out by a well known recording artist.

For one other consumer, the firm organized a personal eight-course dinner hosted by celeb chef Eric Ripert, of the world-renowned Le Bernardin in New York City.

Element Lifestyle once arranged a private $300,000 dinner featuring port recovered from a shipwreck older than Abraham Lincoln.

Element Lifestyle as soon as organized a personal $300,000 dinner that includes port recovered from a shipwreck older than Abraham Lincoln.


“Clients ask us for the impossible and they know it. Usually, these requests are so far outside of the box, it presents an exciting and unique problem to solve,” says Albanese. “These wishes require time, patience and tenacity.”

In the case of Ripert, he says, it took over 9 months to persuade the chef, who not often does personal occasions of this nature.

“It wasn’t even a milestone or a birthday or anything. The client’s wife just loves Eric Ripert, so this was a dream dinner. We also hired the sommelier from French Laundry to suggest wine pairings, and he found this port on a shipwreck that was older than Abraham Lincoln. It was easily a $300,000 dinner.”

Personal, distinctive, immersive

At Black Tomato, the extra private and artistic the itinerary, the higher.

A number of years in the past, Black Tomato organized a visit for a Canadian philanthropist who had his personal set of “7 World Wonders” on his bucket listing.

Black Tomato Get Lost (24)

Wealthy vacationers need distinctive, customized experiences, say the founders of Black Tomato.

Black Tomato

He began with a dive between the tectonic plates in Iceland, then went diving with nice white sharks in Cape Town for a couple of days with one in all the world’s main marine biologists.

In India, he frolicked educating English at a faculty in a slum to present again, then took an after-hours tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing to have the complete place to himself.

The journey culminated with a significant go to to Hiroshima, Japan.

“There is sometimes a Willy Wonka element to the way we work. Is this possible? I dont know … Let’s explore it!”

Tom Marchant, Black Tomato

Growing up, the philanthropist learn a ebook, written by a survivor of the nuclear assault, that had deeply influenced his life philosophy. Black Tomato tracked down the writer and organized for the consumer to have dinner together with his hero.

“That kind of highly personal experience, that is completely tailored to the client is what makes a memorable trip,” provides Marchant. “I think that is one of the embodiments of what luxury is these days: demonstrating genuine thought for our people.”

In addition to personalization, he says that ultra-high-net-worth vacationers additionally worth exclusivity. That’s why they arrange a service referred to as Blink — basically a pop-up lodging that has been designed by the consumer.

“The word unique is thrown around pretty liberally. But is it really unique? In this case, yes, because you designed it yourself.”

From the thread rely of your sheets to the transparency of your ceilings, vacationers can design the good distant retreat.

Black Tomato BLINK - Dome tents Uyuni Salt Flats (Bolivia) photographer Stéphane Gautronneau (3)

Through its Blink service, Black Tomato can prepare pop-up lodging in distant areas.

Black Tomato

The firm has arrange some beautiful personal pop-ups, together with a US$100,000 luxurious camp in the depths of the southern New Zealand mountains accessible solely by helicopter.

On one other journey, they constructed short-term luxurious lodging in the center of the Sacred Valley in Peru.

To attain the tented camp, the shoppers took a personal practice trip via the valley, and Black Tomato shocked them with a fireworks show alongside the approach. The journey value slightly below US$1.four million in whole.

“We set them up in remote parts of the world that have never had accommodations, so you are basically the first person to ever stay overnight in that place. That sunrise or sunset that you’re watching from your bed? No one else is going to have that moment.”

What ‘luxurious’ means to millionaires and billionaires

For Red Savannah’s prosperous clientele, luxurious would not merely imply infinity swimming pools and glamorous spas.

Elite vacationers are looking for extra “experiential journeys of substance and authenticity” over “sanitized” luxurious.

Founder and CEO George Morgan-Grenville tells CNN Travel that he not often receives outlandish requests.

“While there can be a very definite keenness to push boundaries and experience what others never have, I balk at some of the outlandish claims made by travel companies,” he says.

Tanzania-Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Red Savannah’s founders say “experiential journeys” are extra fashionable than over-sanitized luxurious journeys.

Red Savannah/Singita Mara River Tented Camp

“For example, they have clients who requested a celebrity chef fly to Antarctica to make them an eggs Benedict while being entertained by a world-class mezzo-soprano.

“I’ve personally handled quite a few very well-known names — together with taking His Royal Highness Prince Charles on safari and in addition strolling in the Himalayas — and in 33 years, I’ve by no means seen an absurd request like that!”

Even so, the company has managed to accommodate a few wild cards.

For a special anniversary, for instance, a client asked Red Savannah to purchase an expensive Cartier bracelet for his wife, then help him surprise her at dinner in Dubai.

“To trigger a distraction, we organized for the couple to have a desk by the restaurant’s large aquarium. We had a scuba diver seem and wave frantically at the consumer’s spouse.”

“Having attracted her astounded consideration, [the diver] then held up a message which learn ‘Look at your house mat’.

Of course, when she seemed down, there was the Cartier field.

Another consumer — a well known fintech entrepreneur — was visiting a Tuscan villa for the second time.

As a tennis fanatic, he requested that the villa’s personal tennis courtroom be prolonged sideways by precisely 40 centimeters to have extra space between the aspect of the courtroom and the web.

“We duly arranged for the work to take place with no charge for the client, who now returns every year for two to three weeks,” says Morgan-Grenville.

“It is only possible to operate at the high end of the travel industry with deep-rooted knowledge and a very substantial black book of contacts. Pretty much any request can be fulfilled providing you know the right people.”

Access and help

Catherine Heald, the CEO and co-founder of Remote Lands, says true luxurious can also be about logistics.

“Ultra-wealthy travelers are looking for access and assistance,” she tells CNN Travel.

“These clients want to be able to navigate destinations with the highest precautions and to know that they are working with people that can get this done for them regardless of price.”

She cites a visit to Mongolia final summer season, the place two ultra-high-net-worth people needed to take a day journey to Lake Baikal — “the largest, deepest, clearest and oldest freshwater lake in the world, which holds 23% of the world’s fresh surface water” — in neighboring Siberia.

They hoped to fly through personal jet to Siberia’s Baikal Airport, then take a helicopter to Olkhon Island inside Lake Baikal the place they’d meet a grasp fisherman.

This aspect journey proved to be very tough to perform in at some point, attributable to potential climate and delays.

“Chances were high they might end up having to stay in Ulan-Ude or Olkhon Island, or not even get off the ground at all.”

But the jet took off and the stars aligned. “They had what they described as ‘the best day of our lives,'” says Heald.

“Around sunset, they boarded the chopper and then the jet on time. They were back in their warm beds at the Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar by midnight. Mission accomplished!”

The final isolation

Motor Yacht LEGEND - Greenland Yacht and Heli - Image Credit Y.CO photo by Powderbird

Secluded yacht journeys are rising in reputation attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic, says constitution firm Y.CO


For some elite vacationers, a gorgeous yacht in a secluded cove is the definition of luxurious, particularly in the center of a pandemic.

Yacht administration, brokerage and constitution firm Y.CO has organized some epic adventures over the years, together with a journey via Norway the place the group gave them a virtually limitless price range.

The temporary was easy: “Create an adventure that was beyond their wildest dreams.”

“The request started a project that took months of planning and culminated in all kinds of weird and wonderful events,” Charlie Birkett, Y.CO co-founder and CEO, tells CNN Travel.

“We had mermaids delivering riddles to the guests, leading the children on a magical fairytale treasure hunt, a dramatic classic car chase along the coast (watched live from the yacht) and we even arranged an ABBA-themed party on the roof of the ABBA museum.”

Yacht journeys are in excessive demand as of late. Y.CO has seen a 50% uptick in enquiries since pandemic-related lockdowns started earlier this 12 months.

“More and more, the yacht is becoming the base by which to unlock amazing adventures,” Gary Wright, Y.CO co-founder and chairman, tells CNN Travel.

“We’re seeing a lot more demand from clients who want to explore more secluded areas, spending more time onboard and less time in busy ports.”

In addition, individuals are selecting their locations to go well with altering journey restrictions. For instance, US shoppers are extra curious about French Polynesia, whereas European shoppers are eager on the Mediterranean.

Luxury journey vs Covid-19

Motor Yacht DRIFTWOOD - At Anchor in Fiji - Image Credit Y.CO Photo by Tim Mckenna

Y.CO, an organization specializing in yacht journey, has seen a 50% uptick in enquiries in latest months.

Y.CO/Tim Mckenna

Just like the remainder of the world, luxurious journey is altering attributable to the pandemic.

According to Albanese of Element Lifestyle, ultra-wealthy shoppers are searching for open areas the place they will lease a personal dwelling.

They’re additionally touring extra domestically. For instance, Americans have proven elevated curiosity in locations like Lake Tahoe, the Hamptons, Twin Farms in Vermont, Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, and the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana.

Likewise, Marchant says Black Tomato’s vacationers are reserving home highway journeys and longer, extra immersive stays in distant locations.

“In the short term, we are seeing people’s decision-making processes being driven by where they can go and how easy it will be,” says Marchant.

Luxury vacationers are additionally taking longer, months-long journeys since many individuals can now work anyplace.

“Some want to hole up in a private house in Montana or stay on a private island with their family — we’ve found lots of private properties and private yachts for clients,” says Marchant.

“That way, you can work during the day, but over the weekend or evenings, you are surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature and new things to do.”

Multigenerational journey could also be one other lasting development, as many individuals wish to spend extra time with their family members.

“And a lot of families have not been able to see each other, because everyone’s been so separated, so we are seeing bookings of big family groups coming together for a private home somewhere beautiful next year.”

Private islands, yachts and jets are additionally in excessive demand, in line with Red Savannah’s Morgan-Grenville.

“There is a defined swing away from urban towards more remote areas and most people are typically requesting low-density accommodations, such as safari camps and private villas,” says Morgan-Grenville.

“Exclusive private islands such as Thanda Island, off the coast of Tanzania, will also be much in demand, as will resorts in the Indian Ocean with private beaches and overwater accommodations… Glorious isolation will be the order of the day.”

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