In Hollywood films, big business CEOs board private jets for a weekend on the Riviera, to hit the casino in Monte Carlo, or dine at the Paris Ritz. But how close is the silver screen to reality?
Pretty bloody close, it seems.
When entrepreneur Richard Branson wants a break he simply catches one of his planes to his own private Caribbean island – Necker – in the aptly named British Virgin Islands. And when casino mogul James Packer wants to woo diva Mariah Carey, he cruises her around the Mediterranean on the family's 88-metre superyacht, the Arctic P.
And it must be nice to work for Chinese billionaire Li Jinyuan (president of the Tiens Group). Last month he treated 6400 of his workforce to holiday with him on a four-day holiday to Paris and the Cote d'Azur at a total cost of $50 million.
High rolling holidays
Kate Smith (not her real name) works for a commercial travel agency specialising in clients from the big end of town in Melbourne. Although most of her work involves organising business trips to New York and London, she says 10 per cent of her time is spent arranging family holidays for extremely high wealth, high-profile individuals.
There really doesn't seem to be anything that money can't buy.Jonathan Pacey
"I've seen clients spend up to $150,000 on a three-week holiday," Smith says. "It's not about the money, it's about the experience and the ease; they want everything to go smoothly, whatever the cost."
Smith says the Mediterranean is the place most executives head during the Australian winter. They will typically fly first class to London with Qantas or Emirates, and then use private jets, helicopters and super-yachts to get around Europe.
Check in and check out
Hotels such as the Langham London and Ritz Paris are popular stopovers, before heading down to Monaco, St Tropez, and Cannes for a few weeks in the sun.
Smith takes care of every aspect of the trip, from chopper charters and booking Michelin-starred restaurants, to jet-ski hire and organising luxury shopping trips.
"Our job is to ensure the client doesn't have to think of anything," says Smith . "I'll organise spa appointments, have champagne put in their room, and organise tickets to a West End (London) show. Everything is done for them."
No expense spared
Mr Aristotle.com, a company started by two former Fairfax employees, is one of several in Australia dedicated to making the holiday dreams of the uber-wealthy come true. They recently flew an executive and his wife to Paris for an extended weekend that included private dining and a cooking class with a Michelin-starred chef, to truffle hunting at the chef's private chateau, followed by a private box at the Paris Opera.
"Running this business, we've discovered that there really doesn't seem to be anything that money can't buy, if you have the right connections and expertise," says Mr Aristotle.com commercial director Jonathan Pacey.
"If you can think of it and you have enough cash, we can probably make it happen; whether it's throwing the first pitch at a LA Dodgers game, to training with a Sydney to Hobart yacht team and actually participating in the race as a crew member."
Pacey says his favourite holiday experience is the helicopter pub crawl in the Northern Territory. The crawl sees you picked up from your Darwin hotel by limousine and taken to a waiting chopper where you're flown to five classic outback pubs, some only accessibly by boat or helicopter.
"CEO's from overseas love this one," says Pacey. "At one of the pubs they can fish from the bar for world class barramundi. Another pub has a pet crocodile with the bar named after him."
Pacey says both male and female CEOs enjoy Mr Aristotle's 'retail therapy experience' in Milan, where they are ferried around the boutiques by the former personal shopper for the Royal Family of Monaco.
"She'll take you to the private dressing rooms and help you select clothes, followed by dinner at Nobu," Pacey says. "People on this tour will happily drop thousands of dollars on a new outfit."
Other experiences include a private Catalonia cooking class in Barcelona; a trip to Sullivan's Cove in Tasmania to watch a barrel of your own whisky being distilled; driving a classic Alfa Romeo through Tuscany; and climbing aboard a helicopter to enjoy a gourmet picnic on a private island in the Coral Sea.
One of the newest experiences will feature a day on Red Bull's Sydney-based Extreme Sailing Series high-performance catamaran. "We only have access to the catamaran for 10 weeks and we're expecting it to be huge," says Pacey. "These things have more than 200 square metres of sail area and get along at 75 kilometres an hour."