The Wild Requests Of The Wildly Rich

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Yacht charter company Y.CO says yacht adventures are in high demand during
the Covid-19 pandemic.

The appetites of the ultra-rich can be a little "extra" sometimes. But when you've been everywhere and done everything, you need to get rather creative to experience new things… like asking for penguins in your hotel room and ordering a $300,000 private dinner with a celebrity chefs.

CNNTravel's Kate Springer has uncovered some of these not-so-guilty pleasures of the super wealthy. 

Last summer, luxury concierge service Element Lifestyle secured the key to the Sistine Chapel so a New York family of six could open the doors and enjoy Michelangelo's stunning artwork alone -- an experience that cost roughly US$75,000.

Then there was the time Element Lifestyle hired a trio of penguins, borrowed from the San Diego zoo, to surprise a man’s wife who was "obsessed with penguins" in their hotel room. We don't want to know…

Element Lifestyle also recalls arranging a private eight-course dinner hosted by celebrity chef Eric Ripert, of the world-renowned Le Bernardin in New York City. Element Lifestyle founder Michael Albanese says it took over nine months to convince Ripert, who rarely does private events of this nature, to agree. And apparently, it wasn't even a milestone or a birthday. The client's wife simply had a thing for Ripert.

"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," Albanese says.

In Iceland, luxury adventure travel specialist Black Tomato made a dream proposal come true by hiding a diamond ring inside an ice cave for the bride-to-be to discover.

But behind the scenes, before any of these escapades could happen, the well-endowed had to rely on teams of highly skilled, adaptive and creative travel experts to turn wild request into reality.

"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!"

Just like the rest of the world, luxury travel is changing due to the pandemic. Luxury travel professionals say clients are increasingly looking for open spaces where they can rent a private home, embarking on road trips, requesting more immersive stays in remote places, and flying off on months-long trips, since many people can now work anywhere.

But one thing will remain no matter what the current travel trends are among the ultra-rich: that luxury is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it's penguins in a hotel room. For others, it's penguins in the wild.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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