Burned-out billionaires are hunting with Bushmen and diving with sharks in SA on extended multimillion-dollar 'sabbaticals'
- Burned-out billionaires are taking extended luxury vacations to recharge.
- These 'sabbaticals' span anywhere from a month to two years and can cost tens of millions of rands.
- Some of these ultra-wealthy travellers want to learn new skills, while others want to recharge and reconnect with family.
- One paid over a million dollars to hunt with Bushmen in the Kalahari and film a documentary in SA.
But the world's super-rich are changing the definition of sabbatical, taking months-long, multimillion-dollar trips to recharge and reconnect with family. These vacations range from extreme adventures and educational excursions to luxurious getaways – including bow-hunting in the Kalahari.
"We've had a significant spike in clients, largely between the ages of 35 and 50, looking to take extended sabbaticals," Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Travel, whose clients include New York financiers and Hollywood moguls, told Condé Nast Traveler.
"The common denominator is a Type-A overachiever, either between jobs or having recently sold off their company- or just at a meltdown point of complete work and personal life imbalance," Ezon told the magazine. "It's their chance to really disconnect so they can reconnect to themselves, their loved ones, and the world around them."
Some of these lavish trips entail extreme adventures such as diving with sharks in South Africa and skiing in brutally cold conditions in the South Pole, while others are meant for recharging and taking time to reconnect with family.
Nick Newbury, co-founder of London-based agency Original Travel, told Condé Nast Traveler that they arranged an extended world tour for a 40-year-old tech CEO who, fresh off selling his multimillion-dollar business, visited 66 countries over two years via private jet. The trip included learning to hunt with a bow and arrow with Bushmen in the Kalahari and filming a documentary in South Africa - and it cost "well into the seven figures."
An American executive based in Mexico told the Guardian he was about to embark on a seven-month sabbatical with his wife and two children, which will include a road trip from the southern tip of Chile back to Mexico.
This trend is becoming so prevalent that Original Travel is opening a new division of the firm to cater specifically to ultra-wealthy clients, the Guardian reported. Another co-founder of the company, Tom Barber, told the Guardian they had arranged 80 sabbatical trips over the past six years, all of which lasted at least a month. And bookings spiked in 2018.
These wealthy clients are "looking for an escape," Barber said, and some want that escape to be educational as well.
"Often they want to get some sense of a back-to-basics lifestyle and learn the skills of our ancestors, like how to hunt and cook their own food," Barber told the Guardian. "For others, it's 'braggability.' They want to use their money to open doors that normal people can't and to tell their friends all about it. If you're in the 0.01%, you are going to be a competitive type of person."
Predictably, the costs for these trips can add up - especially if clients have a family they're bringing along.
But "these are very, very wealthy people and they can afford it," Ezon told Condé Nast Traveler. "It could be a couple of million dollars to take your family around the world with a teacher in tow."
Some CEOs might not need to pay for their own sabbaticals. As Business Insider previously reported, some companies pay their high-level executives to go on luxurious "executive getaways" that can cost up to $25,000 – the equivalent of some R350,000 – to de-stress.
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