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All that money can buy: that's how millionaires travel

There is a growing class of wealthy people who are taking the limits of luxury to its extreme. We tell you how and where that 0.01 percent travels, and experience for yourself what it is to enjoy a vacation in the purest billionaire style.

For two days I have had at my disposal the entire wing of a huge estate on the private island of a billionaire and I have surrendered to the attention of a butler who has been watching me at all times. I have tasted three course lunches, I drank rum and champagne cocktails, I worked out in a fully equipped gym just for myself, I swam in a boat the size of a ship and had a full yacht at my disposal. I have bathed in the Caribbean, my prints being the only mark in the sand. Suddenly it is difficult to imagine a vacation different from these. I even begin to feel with this right.

I'm in the caribbean Calivigny Island, just south of the island country of Granada (next to San Vicente and Barbados), where for € 126,000 a night you can live with 59 of your best friends this vacation paradise owned by a French businessman and his wife: includes the main house of 1800 m², two swimming pools, five outdoor showers, four boats and a permanent service of 30 people.

Although the price may seem a bit exorbitant there is a good number of wealthy travelers who can afford it, And it's growing Last year, more than two thousand people in the world had 1 billion dollars (765 million euros) or more, 185 people more than in 2011, according to a worldwide survey by WealthX. And those are the fat fish. If we go down a step in that ranking of millionaires we find that there are about 187,000 people with a fortune of at least 20 million euros around the world. So it is not to be surprised with your holiday spending: almost a quarter was spent 40,000 euros or more in leisure and travel Last year, according to a study by Spectrem Group, an Illinois (US) consultancy that conducts studies for the banking and retirement industry. Half was spent up to 80,000 euros.

Calivigny Island, a private island in the Caribbean at 126,000 euros a night © D. R.


In its most basic form, for super rich Traveling means not having to bother with insignificant procedures and, above all, enjoy all the privacy and services that money can buy. The super rich want space, much space, feel safe away from the bustling and less fortunate crowd. Employees have to please any craving, no matter how mundane, crazy or logistically extravagant it may seem. Have you tired of the cloying smell of Easter lilies? They are removed from the entire hotel. Do you need to reserve rooms for your wife and two of her lovers in different hotels so that some do not notice the presence of the others? Agents, hotels and janitors who serve the richest will do their best to get it.

"The word 'do not' It is not part of our vocabulary, because what is impossible today may not be tomorrow, ”he says. Jody bear, from the New York agency Bear & Bear / Tzell, which, like the other companies in this article, is a great specialist in this area. “There are customers who have called me from their Parisian hotels to 'my' four in the morning to manage a late checkout; since Milan to change the time at the hairdresser and from Hong Kong because suddenly they feel like another type of breakfast. With less than 24 hours in advance I have organized a special Christmas dinner prepared by a chef with three Michelin stars”, He says.

After all, if money is not a problem, everything is possible. "We will do everything a client asks us, as long as it is legal," he says Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal, of Fischer Travel, an agency that only provides its services by recommendation and that has an entry price of 80,000 euros (It is rumored that Barbara Streisand is one of his clients). One of his travel agents remembers earning 15,000 euros in tips during a group trip of several weeks. Money flows easily when you have to deal with customs security to speed up the luggage process or when you have to make a reservation for 40 people in one of the best restaurants in Cannes during the film festival.

The businesswoman and philanthropist Tatiana Maxwell She was in Morocco a few years ago with her best friend, on a meticulously planned vacation by an agent specialized in super-luxury travel, and the only thing she missed was her husband. “I probably mentioned my friend: I would love that Paul was here. It would be fantastic, ”he remembers. And one night, while wandering through the chaotic food stalls of Jemaa el Fna, heard a familiar voice. "I turned around and there was my husband, in one of the posts with a mandrel and a spatula," she tells me. To please her client the agent had gotten her husband to take a night flight from his home in Jackson hole, Wyoming (USA).

The owner of Calivigny invested 75 million euros to become synonymous with sumptuousness © D. R.


The global financial crisis that has affected most people It has not made the richest decrease their travel expenses. In fact, luxury hotel companies are expanding at a dizzying pace to meet demand, especially in China. Ritz-Carlton has just opened its second first level reserve in Puerto Rico, with rooms that cost 1,000 euros a night. The Beverly Hills hotel recently sacrificed one of its tennis courts to make room for two bungalows Presidential of 170 m² (14,000 euros a night, almost three times more than what the most expensive bungalow in the hotel used to cost).

"The rich are the least affected by the financial crisis," says the owner of Calivigny Island, Georges Cohen, who is a billionaire since he sold his technology company in 2000-. It is a terrible time for poor people, but the economic crisis has not changed the way of life of rich people at all. ”

In Calivigny 'life is Beautiful'. Cohen bought 32 hectares when he was little less than wild land and, together with his wife, spent approximately 75 million euros to make this place synonymous with sumptuous. The main residence of the island, called humbly beach house (beach house), has marble floors, carved wooden doors in Calivigny's own workshops and French colonial style furniture.

During a lunch consisting of Steak, chips and mousse of chocolate and served by a butler, Cohen emphasizes that the island is a private home, one that is not to be shared unless expressly desired otherwise. That includes the Cohen, who spend the winter on the island, but who escape in their megayacht to any of their other houses or to any place if they have reserved Calivigny. When a group of 30 occupied the island in December, the Cohen reserved a luxury cabin in the Queen Mary 2 to make your first commercial cruise. The truth is that they did not know how it would be to mix with the masses.

The desire for privacy is not necessarily pure snobbery, no, really, they say those who work with the wealthiest travelers. The safest places, those that protect guests from both the press and possible attacks on their integrity, are the most popular among the jet set. Think of the Arctic, Africa, any place that can only be reached with a helicopter, ship, seaplane or with all of them. Experts say there is a significant number of billionaires who want to venture where no one, or at least none of their friends, has been before. "They want to be the first to say: I was in Cartagena before Gansevoort opened," he says. Lia batkin, from In the Know Experiences, an agency in New York that works with celebrities, presidents of large companies and even royalty.

The new presidential bungalow of the Beverly Hills hotel © D. R.


Some of the exclusive destinations of the moment for the most demanding clients are the Swedish Lapland, the salar Uyuni in Bolivia and the Emerald coast In Nicaragua. An exclusive travel specialist is taking her clients to Afghanistan already Sudan. The taboo with which these places are usually related because of the danger of their situation is attracting the super rich, says Batkin. "It's pure and hard bluffing"concludes But with all the amenities, of course.

There are still many who travel to more conventional sites, especially those who are not new rich. They take a yacht on the Mediterranean or rent luxury villas in Eel, San Bartolome, Costa Rica, Italy or the South of France. For those who want to stay near Wall Street is The point, the old vacation spot of William Avery Rockefeller, grandson of the oil tycoon. Completed in 1933, this quirky vacation spot on the shores of Lake Saranac (2,300 euros a night), in the state of New York, attracts many of the Manhattan big fish, who avoid the six-hour car by taking a private flight to the Adirondack regional airport.

The point it seems at first glance the antithesis of Calivigny. While Calivigny is an example of ostentation, The Point has a simple and somewhat rustic atmosphere. It does not offer services such as television or internet in the rooms and, as a staff member tells me, the mobile phone works with 'AT & Tree', a gentle way of saying that there is no coverage. But really both are part of a long tradition of exclusivity and solitary hiding places built by and for the stratospheric rich.

For those who 'they have seen everything', money can buy new holiday emotions above your expectations. Partly counselors, partly psychologists, partly janitors and partly organizers, travel agents adapt to each client to create a customized itinerary.

“It's about making every experience flatly perfect,” he says Philippe Brown, founder of Brown & Hudson, an agency located in London with clients in United Kingdom, China and the United States (Maxwell, whose husband 'appeared' in Marrakech is one of them). It can be from a private pyrotechnic show to a balloon ride over the Arctic to see polar bears (organized by Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions, a Toronto-based company). They may only wish to go unnoticed in an already exclusive event.

Based on a True Story, a company that organizes excessively exclusive experiences, organized a trip to Burma for a family that paid more than one million euros to visit a traditional Buddhist monastery where they ate and received a special blessing from the main monk. They also took part in an initiation ceremony in which 14 young people were going to become monks: they left in procession and they helped shave the boys' heads as part of the Buddhist ritual.

Musha Cay, the star resort in Bahamas © D. R.


Maybe they just want to mix with what Brown calls 'influential individuals', ranging from journalists to historians, to wine experts or exceptional people. Brown once organized a honeymoon for a couple who made it clear that he wanted to meet 'to local people'. Brown asked them to be more specific: “Do you mean the picturesque masas or Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu? It was the seconds. Mandela, the former president of South Africa, was unavailable, but Brown was able to make the couple meet Tutu, the pacifist cleric and human rights activist. The price: a donation whose value he did not want to reveal.

Beyond are truly eccentric vacations, fantasies as carefully orchestrated as money can buy. These fantastic elements are included in Musha Cay, a resort on a private island of the Bahamas who has hosted Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Sergey Brin, as well as Saudi and European royalty. Wizard's property David Copperfield, their unofficial motto for guests is 'anything they can dream can come true'. For 28,000 euros a night for 12 people or 40,000 for a maximum of 24, guests can, if they wish, watch a movie on a movie screen on the beach, all'daring' with 50s signs and retro-style candies.

In another scenario, the helicopter Musha force It will land on the beach, creating a laser light show. If, as usual, guests do not want to take care of the waste they have left on the beach, no problem, the island has a team of trained macaws to pick up the trash and leave it in the containers. “The best of all is to entertain people who have seen everything”says Copperfield.

The macaws show is insignificant compared to some of the trips organized by Based on a True story. The founder of the company, Niel Fox, is an English adventurer who jumped into the media in 2000 for traveling from the United Kingdom to Antarctica simply for charity and using only transport propelled by force or that of animals (bicycle, kayaks and dog sledding). Along the way he met people with a lot of money and "it occurred to me that we could teach the whole world to them," he says.

Among the house brand creations, Based on a True Story has built scenarios, igloos with leather carpets, fishermen's cabins and scripts generally designed to attract the children of the super rich. In 2011 the company set up a Christmas trip to the Arctic for the family of a billionaire in which the children helped a Santa Claus who was suffering from the great demand of a greedy world. For an Russian family, he organized an eleven-day trip that took the group through several countries using transport media as striking as camels, yachts and a hot air balloon, and that ended with a colossal pirate battle here, on the Spanish coast.

The New York elite comes to spend the summer at The Point, in the Adirondacks mountains © D. R.


He also organized what he baptized as 'The children who saved Greece', a multimillion-dollar family vacation in which he had the collaboration of the greatest European authority in Greek mythology; the talent of hundreds of actors dressed in period costumes And a treasure to find. “The children had the mission of locating a gold stash with which to save Greece from its problems and thus restore the power of the greek gods. They were able to keep a part of the gold, which of course was real, but they had to 'give in' the rest. The message was: children have to help, not keep all the profits, ”sums up the adventurer.

It is really he who injects the message into these moralistic tales, not his clients. Although it is also true that there are few billionaires who try to use these exclusive vacation to teach lessons to their children, with somewhat different results. "There are many who have a blindfold," the doctor diagnoses Jamie Traeger-Muney, a psychologist who works with both financial institutions and people analyzing the emotional consequences of wealth. “They often take their children to know the other extreme: they go to the India and they see people living in the street. It is really important that before throwing children into that environment parents have a previous talk about gratitude, how lucky they are and how lucky they are, the advantage of having an education and the responsibility they have for owning so much money, ”he recommends.

Although most of the rich are comfortable with this kind of travel, there is an emerging class of millionaires, much younger and newer in dealing with a great fortune, who feel uncomfortable with the excesses. This group still prefers to fly below the radar, even if it does so in first class. In The pointI met a couple of financiers in their 40s who spoke in derogatory terms of the extravagant resorts they had visited. They were looking for places with character, the husband told me, not exaggerated. A feeling that some friends of mine share, a young couple of retired billionaires who cannot stand the enormous disparity between the people who are served and those who attend in this type of places.

Call me bourgeois, but after two days of residing in Calivigny I am longing to get out of this fancy bubble. My butler fulfills my wish and takes me to Pomegranate. In its capital, San Jorge, people live in humble homes with goats grazing everywhere. In 2004, Hurricane Iván disappeared the main source of wealth of the island, the industry of the nutmeg. The trees are already growing again, but for many locals life is hard. I climb to the top of Fort George. "A 300-year-old structure built by the French," Alice, a jovial tourist guide, tells me, "after they conquered and massacred the Caribbean Indians and the Arawakes and brought the African slaves." When he asks me where I am staying, I tell him, but suddenly, embarrassed by the revelation, I quickly add: "I'm there for work!".

Back in Calivigny, I think about whether I would really enjoy this kind of life all the time, far from the world, away from anyone who is not from my social class ... unless it works for me. It's a nice place to visit, I decide, but I wouldn't like anything to always have to live here.

This report was published in number 62 of Condé Nast Traveler.

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