Fancy a first-class lifestyle like a celebrity or royalty?
Camilla Parker Bowles’ nephew Ben Elliot spoke to Gallery about Quintessentially, the concierge service he co-founded a decade ago.
Words | Louise Hannah
Money isn’t the only thing needed to lead a first-class lifestyle. You could have countless zeros spilling across your bank statement, but without access, some events or opportunities will always remain unreachable. Quintessentially’s aim is to provide a key to that world >
> It brands itself as a ‘global, luxury lifestyle management company’. What that means is that for a fee, members are able to call their account manager twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year with any request and expect to have it fixed. Ben says this can range from the mundane – such as wanting a table at a fully booked restaurant – to the truly mind blowing. “We’ve received some amazingly elaborate requests, such as closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a private climb so a member could propose to his partner, or hosting a private and romantic dinner on an iceberg. We’ve organized trips to the North Pole and even arranged a private party in one of the Angkor Wat Temples in Cambodia.”
He insists they’re rarely unable to come up with the goods. “The main reason some requests are tougher than others are short deadlines. We’d only definitely say no if it’s illegal or immoral. Apart from that, we’d hope to be able to fulfill anything that was physically possible – or at least give it a good go!”
Ben – who’s cultivated one of the most enviable contacts books in London – is also prepared to pull in favours for charity. Darcy Bussell, the UK’s most famous prima ballerina, recently performed a private dance at a gala organized by Quintessentially in aid of Unicef. Champagne sponsors provided the drink, there was an eight course dinner by Michelin-starred chef Tom Aitken and a vocal performance by Katherine Jenkins. And he says London isn’t the only place where they can fix favours. “We offer exceptional access on an international scale. We currently have offices in 56 different countries around the world with more opening soon. We believe this provides an unrivalled global reach that really sets us apart from the rest.”
He adds: “When we created the business ten years ago, the small team of founding partners were the ones sleeping with their mobiles by their ears in order to make sure their clients had uninterrupted support.”
He believes it’s this attention to detail that remains the most important factor. “Within the luxury industry, service is paramount. It has to be proactive, attentive and efficient. Every client has their own idea of what luxury is, whether it’s blanketing a ball room of a 16th century country estate with fresh yellow roses, or having Dire Straits perform at your wedding. Knowing your member is crucial, and attention to detail is vital, especially when creating something bespoke that will be one of a kind. The level of perfectionism should flow through the entire production, down to even the tableware with unique glasses and striking decoration.”
The problem, surely, with consistently coming up with such spectacular events, must be how to keep surprising clients? Ben says they’re working on a project – ready in 2013 – which should trump even the most demanding and decadent customer’s expectations. “We’ve created a deluxe floating private members’ club on board a 700 foot yacht, which will travel the globe. It’s called Q one and will have 12 private residences on board, a first class hotel, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and a casino. There’ll also be a recording studio, cigar lounge, luxury spa, a gym with the latest equipment, a luxury shopping emporium, a state-of-the-art business centre and a beach club on the top deck of the ship.” And if that wasn’t audacious enough, there’ll also be a retractable marina at the stern of the ship which can be extended to provide berths for large private yachts who want to come and visit.
It will cost an eye watering ten thousand euros to become a member, but islanders without that kind of money could still see the floating first class palace from Jersey’s shores. Ben insists there’s no reason the yacht wouldn’t be able to pay the island a visit.
He adds: “Quintessentially is a service for all. It’s hugely important for getting to grips with the exploding global luxury market and helping clients who want to lead a certain lifestyle, but who don’t always have the time or contacts to organise it. Islanders can definitely benefit from the large number of services on offer”.