Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumn 2016!

After our long awaited summer vacations, leisurely trips to the beach and backyard cookouts with family and friends, it's time to put the suntan lotion aside I guess, buck up, and get ready for autumn. What's about to hit us is not unlike a tsunami!

It's a crazy busy time of year for everyone; football games and tail-gate parties, Halloween coming up next month, followed quite rapidly by Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's celebrations! Which involves all kinds of running around, making preparations, and bracing ourselves for the flood of friends and family popping in and out - some of whom don't pop out quite as quickly as they pop in, do they?

For the rich, in addition to all this madness it's also the high social season for charity balls, fund raising events, and grand galas just to celebrate their wealth together and show off their latest haute couture, diamonds and fancy new cars - all squeezed into the already busy holiday calendar. But unlike most of us, the rich have a cadre of helpers to handle the work load; Personal Assistants, Personal Shoppers, Party Planners, caterers, and of course their own house staff and chauffeurs to tie up all the loose ends.

For those of us in service to the rich, this time of year is up there with the most maximum stress God ever created for an employee. I'm in this category of course, and basically regard myself as an errand boy throughout the whole season. But I'll also have to say it's the most fun and challenging time of the year, stressing our social and creative skills along with our patience. I both dread it and look forward to it, and the knot in my stomach starts to tighten up along about now, the first day of autumn.

This year however (and I just found this out today) my employer will be away for almost the entire month of December! What?

My spy confidant at the office told me the old man and some of his cronies are doing the grand tour of London, Paris, and Rome, plus a two-week luxury river cruise throughout the Continent! Absolutely awesome! Cracking a bottle of champagne as we speak!

No cocktail parties, no charity events, no pompous inflated egos showing up during December? Amazing! But best of all, she told me not to bother with the annual Christmas party for the office staff this year - which is as boring to them as it is to me and all the house staff here. She said that instead of coming here she'll book us into a high-dollar restaurant one evening in December - on the old man's ticket of course, Yes!

Of course we still have greeting cards to get out. But I already started that process back in the summer with our card designer. In early October I'll be delivering them to the calligrapher for addressing - although the office hasn't sent me a finalized list yet. Whatever it is, it's greatly diminished in number since the frazzling divorce a couple of years back.

It's also my task to send out gifts to our most vital contractors, and to our hateful neighbors. But this is easily dismissed by calling up our trusted liaison at Harry and David. Specializing in professional gifts, they have food and wine baskets in a wide range of prices, and therefore suggestive of  the value placed on the recipient. Our contractors will get the full treatment, but I'm afraid to say our dreadful neighbors will get one step above bupkis. In any case, you can't go wrong with these guys. Just tell them what you want to spend, give them an address, and that's that.

Needless to say the house staff and I are ecstatic about Christmas this year! There'll by lots of time off for them of course, and chef will probably go off on a month-long binge. I'll still have house sitting / dog sitting to do of course, but to be free of my cranky old employer allows plenty of time to sleep in every day - and for family and friends to pile into the guest rooms.

As I'm writing this I realize it's only September, right? But I'm thinking Christmas is already lurking in the back of our minds, whether we want to admit it or not.

Thanks for dropping in this evening, and Happy Autumn!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Experiential Travel For The Rich!

With Labor Day having come and gone, summer vacations and time off from work has come and gone as well, at least for most of us. Our pitiful one-or-two-week paid vacations have slipped into history and it's time now to settle in for autumn and the grisly holidays ahead.

But not so for the rich. As you might imagine, they're free to come and go as they please - any time they wish, any time of the year. In fact, the very word "vacation" is not really in their vocabulary. For them it's called a jaunt, a journey, an exploration, or an adventure. With their private jets and pilots on retainer standing by, this could occur within moments from when the mood strikes. "Lets go to Paris for dinner!"

Our friend Ben down in Australia recently told me one of the executives in his corporation asked if he'd be up for a snow-skiing trip to Iran. Not entirely enthralled by the idea, he asked me if this is the kind of unusual thing rich people do for new experiences and thrills. Which brought up the whole idea and relatively new topic of Experiential Travel, which you may have heard of.

Bear with me for a moment, but there's actually two branches of this concept. Back around 1985 Experiential Travel was also known as Immersion Travel. Let's say instead of doing the grand tour of London, Paris, Madrid and Rome in two short weeks, you spend what precious time you have in one spot - getting to know the culture, the language, history, politics and traditions of that one particular place - and perhaps making steadfast friends along the way.

Then around 2012 the term Experiential Travel was seized upon by travel agents, luxury hotels and concierges worldwide who cater to the rich and super rich - promising new experiences, adventures, sights unseen, and of course tempting cuisines at any remote spot on the globe rich people might want to explore. In fact our friend Lorre White, widely known as the Luxury Guru in the media, stated that "Experiential Travel is the fastest growing segment of the business and leisure travel world."  Here's a link to her fascinating article.

Back when the British Empire ruled half the world, rich and elegant tourists with their Louis Vuitton steamer trunks would depart London on luxury steamer ships or the stylish Orient Express railway to visit Asia, Africa, Egypt, India and Hong Kong to explore the worlds they had conquered. Was this merely idle tourism or Experiential Travel?

As a young student traveling in Europe all I could really afford was visiting one country at a time. I had no idea it was called Immersion Travel, much less Experiential. But what I can tell you is that those visits which could last for weeks or months have generated friendships that sustain my whole life. And those same friends still visit me here in America to this day.

The thing is, you don't have to be rich or have a private jet to explore this beautiful world we live in. Just get out there and do it, no matter what kind of shoestring budget you're dealing with. Just go! Live, learn, and enjoy! As Saint Augustine said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page".

Thanks for dropping in this evening and happy autumn!