Holiday planners for the mega wealthy have lifted the lid on how multi-millionaires and billionaires go on vacation.
Two consultants with the OvationNetwork, which aims to provide the highest possible service for ultra-rich clients, have told of the enormous lengths they go to to ensure a six-star experience.
As well as regularly turning down would-be customers who don’t have enough cash, Fiona Bayne and Lindy Sack’s jobs involve concocting mega-premium holidays in enormous detail for some of the world’s richest people.
If their clients want to find a picnic set up on the hill top after a helicopter ride across a bay, they have the logistical chops to make it happen.
If a last minute demand for an exclusive, completely booked out restaurant comes through, they have the contacts to ensure the maître de finds an extra table.
“You won’t find an advert for us on the tube or in a newspaper,” Lindy explained from her home in Cape Town.
“My clients come with a very clear idea of what they want. My clients don’t come up with a budget. I say it costs this.
“If they’re speaking to me, there’s a cost of my time, if they come to me with a low budget, I would send them away.
“If they have $1,000 or $100,000, it takes the same amount of my time.”
One of the keys to being a successful high-end holiday planner is to get the small details right.
Another important quality is the ability to pick out the best rooms and the world’s best hotels.
“If they’re going to a hotel, we let them know it’s their birthdays, their anniversary, or that the three-year-old’s teddy bear needs to be in the room,” Lindy said.
“Six stars is everything. The Four Seasons, for example, is six stars. It has exemplary service, when you leave the bedroom on the first night, they know and they will welcome you by name at the restaurant.
“Six stars means leaving no stone unturned.
“I had clients check in to a hotel in the UK, the three and four-year-old kids had monogrammed pillows and a gown. That is six stars.”
Another essential quality of a billionaire’s holiday is that they’re not made to wait.
“Sometimes we will arrange a Mercedes S-class to come to their hotel to pick them up,” Lindy said.
“Last month I helped my clients in Paris skip the queue at the Eifel tower. It’s done properly.”
This season helping their flushed charges skip the queues at for check in and luggage reclaim is a major part of their job.
Even for the very rich airport logistics can’t be completely ignored.
Lindy continued: “The airport thing makes them frustrated, but it’s out of their control. I pre warn them.
“They can throw their toys out of the cot. With high net worth individuals you have to stroke their ego. Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir.”
One of her clients insists on travelling via Gatwick’s Sussex Suite, a £6,000 upgrade to the first class lounge which lays on private immigration officials to check customer’s documents and a chauffeur driven car to take them to the plane.
“It’s for people who don’t want to stay with the commoners in the first class longue,” Lindy joked.
“A Mercedes takes you to the plane.”
When asked whether they ever pushed back on some of the their clients seemingly less-cash efficient choices, Fiona said: “It’s about being separate, it’s about saving time. You don’t tell people not to spend their money.”
One thing that is popular with the very rich at the moment are cruises – albeit done the exclusive way.
“I do quite a lot of cruises,” Fiona said.
“Multi-generational trips. They work really well for that. I was recently on a ship, a new one, they have a separate area where they have the most beautiful suites. They have their own private swimming pool, their own restaurants, there is a division with the rest of the ship.
“The kids like going to the main ship and the parents stay in the private part. The suites are fabulous. They are enormous.
“Two bedrooms with full sitting room, terraces, dining room, jacuzzi, you name it. One cruise I did recently was £40,000 for the big suites, £30,000 for the smaller suite.”
In terms of destinations, Italy, Greece and South Africa are “huge at the moment”.
Lindy admitted that after 17 years in the industry, very little shocks her when it comes to opulence.
“I did a yacht about two years ago for a man who’s on the Forbes List in the US,” she said.
“I didn’t know at first. He’s the most down to Earth, low-key guy. He took his family on a $300,000 yacht on the Med for a week.
“Nothing blows me away anymore. The helicopters, the yachts, clients wanting a table at a top restaurant when it’s full. Getting tickets to sold out concerts.
“It’s about having the contacts, then throwing the money. Some clients will say ‘I don’t say what it costs, make it happen. We’re talking the Wimbledon final, Formula One. It can be super stressful.”
While working for people busy running companies the size of a small country can be exhausting work, there are perks.
“One time one of my clients loaned me his hundred foot yacht to take my clients out on cruise in New York,” Fiona said.
Successfully delivering a dream holiday for a difficult to please customer also gives her a great deal of satisfaction.
“One of my clients, a couple, were coming up to a big birthday and they were going to go around the world, and have two weeks in New Zealand,” Fiona explained.
“She is quite a difficult, exacting person. I happened to do the travel for the whole family. I do the lot for this family. Every body said there is no way she’d do the whole month, she’d be home in two weeks.
“She has a short attention span, so everything has to be really interesting for her to continue. She came back and I got the loveliest letters and flowers saying how lovely it was.
“I organised private helicopter flights and a walk up to this beautiful bay where they found a private picnic waiting for them. They absolutely adored it.”