Tips & Trips - Turning Dreams Into Reality
Houston Chronicle, August
dreams into reality
travelers prefer budget motels for overnight accommodations.
splurge for Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons.
there are those who luxuriate at Mick Jagger’s vacation retreat
on the private Caribbean island of Mustique, at Jane Seymour’s
castle in England or in Acapulco mansion staffed by a butler,
chef and housekeeper.
people design homes; I design experiences,” says Houstonian
Gregory Patrick, whose Tours of Enchantment eschews traditional
lodging and instead pampers clients in any of 650 private
residences around the world.
mantra: The more elaborate a traveler’s request, the more
exciting his challenge. “Our service is limited only by your
imagination,” he says. I’m not a travel agent. I’ve never
sold the same elements, but I never just pull something off
on the client’s whim and bankroll accommodations are only
part of the service.
determined that his mother would celebrate her 75th
birthday in grand style. Arranging limousines, police escort
and private lodging in a palatial Florida home was routine.
“Then, when she arrived, a white gate opened and an 80 piece
local high school band was lined up in the walkway waiting
to play for her,” Patrick says. “It wasn’t difficult to arrange;
I just struck a deal to have their uniforms cleaned.”
wait. There’s more.
a 60-foot yacht, and a vintage plane flew overhead, carrying
a banner that read Happy Birthday, Mother,” and dive-bombed
hundreds of red roses onto the boat.
we rented a little private island between the U.S. and Cuba,
transported the birthday party in on seaplanes and catered
a white-jacket dinner.”
most of us can’t afford to rent islands and dive bomb roses
says, “We can custom design an experience for as little as
$1,500 per person for three or four nights in Acapulco.”
customers are corporate executives eager to impress their
clients or willing to reward employees through incentive programs.
But Patrick says more and more individuals invest in that
one special vacation experience they’ve always fantasized
biggest trend we’re seeing is a need to slow down and get
some enjoyment out of life,” he says. “There are more e-mails
and voice mails than we can handle. Even when we get away,
airplanes and hotels are crowded. People don’t want that;
they want to be pampered.”
of Enchantment, a division of Houston-based Retention Resources,
aims to personalize luxury vacations. A ninth-grade dropout,
the 36 year-old Patrick says, “I Travel six to seven months
each year, meeting people and making arrangements to have
butlers and chefs available whenever we need them. With every
chateau we utilize in Europe, we work directly with the owners.”
accomplishment: arranging for a group of clients to stay at
Princess Diana’s family home, Althorp Castle, 11days before
bet for a traveler who craves just a rare taste of luxury?
“Consider a private villa in Acapulco,” Patrick says, “You’d
have a private staff of servants, and if you want to be guaranteed
three days of good weather, Acapulco is the place.”