By Tova Syrowicz
Though Abercrombie & Kent has undoubtedly come a very long way since it was established in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent and his parents, Kent never ceases to innovate and has recently launched a Real Estate arm (September 2012) and a special Lifestyle Club (January 2013 in the UK and March in the US), in addition to bringing back A&K’s grand private jet trips.
Geoffrey Kent is always thinking. Indeed, he keeps post-it notes by his bed, so he can jot down his ideas at all hours and revisit them in the morning. He is personally in touch with A&K’s Chairman’s Club, a group of elite clients who have his phone number and email address, so he can better serve them and “sniff the wind,” as he calls it.
To turn one of his grand ideas into reality, he sought out Frank Rejwan, previously CEO and Group COO of Quintessentially (he is still a shareholder) and quite the tech guru when it comes to building database systems that enable global concierge services par excellence. Rejwan had just started a new interim post when Kent contacted him, but two years later, he and Kent have launched the Lifestyle Club, a comprehensive service that delivers high-touch, dedicated concierge, travel and personal safety support anywhere, anytime (literally).
Pay $3,750 to join, and $10,500 a year, and you get three in one: One phone number that connects you to your personal Lifestyle Manager (think VIP access to the Beyoncé concert that’s been sold out for weeks, or the best table at Per Se), your dedicated travel consultant (he/she books all your travel, knows your preferences—and kids’ preferences—inside out) and a Travel SOS rep, a literal lifesaver should you fall desperately ill in a foreign country (as Kent did in remotest Japan, where he had a very close call), lose your passport, need emergency dental care, etc.
The lifestyle services are truly global: A&K has leveraged an enormously vast and well-connected series of networks throughout the world, so members get exclusive recommendations and VIP access whether they’re at home in London, on business in Baku or vacationing in Cape Town. For the Travel SOS service, they’ve partnered with a 10,000-strong international organization, experts in the field, who have huge databases of vetted hospitals, clinics, doctors, dentists and more, in every crevice of the earth. Best of all, if members’ kids are traveling on their own, they too can call on Travel SOS. Talk about peace of mind.
Last but not least, as A&K is travel at its heart, members not only have access to a dedicated travel consultant, but also a slew of tangible travel benefits, including a 5 percent discounted rate on all A&K travel, two complimentary nights a year in A&K villas and exclusive closed offers on last-minute travel opportunities (think 70 percent off A&K’s next luxe trip to the Galapagos).
Though not technically part of the Lifestyle Club, should you be on an A&K trip, fall in love with a destination and think you might like to buy a second (or third or fourth) home there, A&K now offers an international real estate service with over $550 million worth of properties (and growing) on the books. General Manager Robert Green, who hails from Soneva, says that about 90 percent of people who buy holiday residences at a given hotel property do so after staying at the resort and taking a particular liking to it. A&K International Estates connects the dots from travel to purchase, making the experience all the more seamless.
And should you be on the hunt for your next “Grand Adventure,” Abercrombie & Kent’s 2014 private jet trips will take the path less traveled, introducing you to movers and shakers, including presidents, local celebrities, authors, artists and more on two to three-week, way-more-than-sightseeing itineraries. On a very special Cairo to Cape journey, for which tickets are already half gone, you’ll sit around the campfire in the veld with Geoffrey Kent, witness the Great Migration, see parts of Africa you’ve never laid eyes on even if you’re a regular. Kent will also join the Around the World trip, scheduled for fall of 2014 and making stops in a few places Kent himself has never been.