Experiences are the new possessions. Transformational travel is the new authenticity. Expeditions are the new vacations.
By now, anyone who has been paying attention to the world of travel knows these things. But even as we’ve watched this evolution unfold, there are quite a few of us who aren’t ready to let go of our creature comforts. We may no longer need dedicated butlers and Italian linens, but we don’t necessarily want to carry a 40-pound backpack and pitch our own tent.
Which is where Brown + Hudson’s new soft-but-serious adventure trips come in. Everyone’s 2018 travel predictions, from sources as varied as Booking.com and JW Thompson Intelligence—Future 100, envisioned a travel landscape marked by more remote and challenging destinations (what JTW called “anti-luxury luxury”).
Maybe it’s Bear Grylls’s fault. Maybe it’s Blue Planet’s. Maybe it’s the steady stream of coolness and badassery we’re constantly consuming on social media. But something is making us want to explore and to be physically and intellectually challenged. But, you know, comfortably.
That’s exactly what Brown + Hudson’s “Luxpeditions” offer. Granted, plenty of other companies have been playing in this space for a while, including Black Tomato, GeoEx, Explora and Eleven Experience. But Brown + Hudson gets some credit for coining a catchy term and giving a name to our luxury travel desires, circa 2018: an actual expedition elevated to the highest realms of comfort, pleasure and exclusivity.
As Philippe Brown, the founder of Brown + Hudson, put it in a press release, “A Luxpedition is for those who want their Bear Grylls experience during the daytime but, at night, want to blast away the dust, dirt and sweat with a power shower and slip beneath crisp, clean sheets. Or maybe, somewhere along the trail, they’d like a loved one helicoptered in to join them—so they can share in the excitement for a night or two.”
Each trip is one of a kind, but so far their clients have explored the earth’s uncharted jungles, deserts and mountain peaks. Here’s an example: Eight hours into a 12-hour Middle Eastern camel trek with the sun showing no mercy, clients found ice-cold glasses of their favorite craft beer waiting for them by the cool shade of an oasis.
Another: After a day of driving a pack of huskies across Kamchatka’s frozen tundra in the Russian Far East, clients were mightily relieved to welcome the idea of bedding down that night in a luxury tent with under-floor heating. And a third: Feeling the adrenaline from sand-boarding down the ashen slopes of a Nicaraguan volcano, guests savored a decadent picnic that included local rum and cigars. And that was before they moved to a boat off the coast of Costa Rica, where they were joined by a team of marine biologists and given access to all sorts of aquatic toys, including a custom-built one-atmosphere submarine, capable of carrying a pilot and two passengers to a depth of 1,500 feet and giving them 360-degree views.
And here is where the metaphor of the swan comes into play. On the surface, everything seems to float along placidly. Underneath, there’s some furious paddling going on. Creating itinerary for each of these trips—and the same goes for custom trips designed by other luxury adventure operators—involves hundreds of man-hours of planning and draws on the company’s extensive network of on-the-ground experts, who are more likely to be documentarians and researchers than run-of-the-mill tour guides.
Of course, all this comes with a price. Brown + Hudson is the first to say that their audience is cash-rich time-poor professionals who understand what it’s like to live with extreme pressure in their work lives. Taking them out of the office and into nature but giving them something that plays to their steely determination and competitive spirit is the perfect release. The result is a different sense of achievement and fulfillment.
Oh, and some pretty good bragging rights.
More Info: forbes.com