Family-owned luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has a history of offering access to places and experts that are largely inaccessible. Think of an expedition to the South Pole with the man described by the Guinness Book of Records as "the world's greatest living explorer" Sir Ranulph Fiennes as your guide. Or take a photography master class at dawn while touring Siem Reap, Cambodia, in the company of a professional photographer.
On the Greek island of Patmos, minutes from both 10th century monastery St John the Divine and the beach, Abercrombie & Kent rents out fully-staffed Villa Annabel, home to the same Greek shipping family for hundreds of years. One client arranged a two month voyage by sea and land from San Francisco to Beijing.
This December a philanthropic mission leaves London on a journey to the fastest warming area on the planet, Antarctica, led by Professor James McClintock, who amongst other things, will speak about his recent discovery of an anti-cancer compound in an Antarctic marine invertebrate. The trip will also dedicate a new piece of equipment for climate change research and contributions are included in the cost of the cruise.
Eponymous London department store Harrods meanwhile, has had a suite dedicated to kings, queens and heads of state for over 50 years. Five years ago, the store opened up its By Appointment service, giving customers the opportunity ask for anything they could dream up. Requests have included a zebra, a banquet for 20 delivered to customers' doorsteps in a matter or hours and a Valextra suitcase collected by plane and delivered personally to a client leaving for her holiday the following day.
Earlier this year Abercrombie & Kent and Harrods came together in what seems to be a match made in heaven (or some other blissful, though as yet inaccessible location), in the form of a discreet and comfortable area dedicated to private travel customers in the world famous store.
Now Abercrombie & Kent at Harrods has also joined forces with another family-owned venture, Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain. Open since November on the site of the family's former home in Alicante, it brings together Eastern and Western healing philosophies, combining an interdisciplinary team of specialists in macrobiotics, natural therapies, advanced anti-ageing treatments and orthodox medicine.
It is guided by Japanese 83-year-old Michio Kushi - macrobiotics expert, educator and writer and the man responsible for healing Sha founder Alfredo Bataller Parietti from colon cancer in a staggering two weeks. Judging from the photos of the place, just looking out of the window at Sha is guaranteed to make most people feel better.
Founded in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie and Kent still keeps the family at the centre of the business's day to day activities. With 65 offices in 34 countries and 2499 staff worldwide, Geoffrey is the chairman and CEO, while his son Joss Kent is the COO and Jorie-Butler Kent runs the philanthropy division.
Proof, if it were needed, that you never know where an adventure with Abercrombie & Kent might lead comes in the form of Sir Ranulph Fiennes's book The Secret Hunters, published in 2002. While in the Antarctic giving a lecturing tour with Abercrombie & Kent in 1995, Fiennes found a rotting diary in a deserted hut. It took him five years to get round to begin separating the pages with the help of experts.
The journal revealed the important and gripping story of a Nazi hunter whose family had been brutally killed during the holocaust and whose fascinating quest for justice had finally and fatally led him to the Antarctic. Not every Abercrombie & Kent voyage will make for life-changing reading, but there's a high chance it will be worth writing home about.