- Ex-British Army Captains Geordie Mackay-Lewis and Jimmy Carroll are the cofounders of Pelorus, a company which plans travel experiences for the super-rich.
- The company specialises in three categories: Private Adventures, Yacht Expeditions, and Special Projects.
- The trips are unique and range from a £40,000 ($US52,000) Angola tribe experience to an espionage mission with counter-terrorism experts.
- Pelorus recently launched a 10-day “Top Gear” style experience in Patagonia, complete with envelopes containing challenges, which costs £50,000 ($US65,000).
During their time as Captains in the British Army, Geordie Mackay-Lewis and Jimmy Carroll led desert patrols and helicopter operations for soldiers.
Now, they plan rainforest camp parties, desert treasure hunts, and Top Gear-inspired expeditions for the super-rich.
The pair, both of whom were in reconnaissance regiments, met while on an operation in Afghanistan.
After serving, they went their separate ways – Mackay-Lewis becoming COO for an electronics company across Europe before moving to a post as Managing Director of high-end travel company.
Meanwhile, Carroll was appointed expedition manager for a medical research expedition conducted on Mount Everest, called XTreme Everest 2. He then moved on to become global tour manager for football club Manchester United.
“I had a slightly more eclectic career,” he told Business Insider, adding that his time with Man U involved “doing commercial deals and delivery around the world.”
“Prior to leaving I delivered the tour in the US,” he said. “It was a different side of things working with a global brand and travel at a high level – it was very demanding.”
At the same time, Mackay-Lewis was realising that there were plenty of opportunities in the world of high net worth travel.
“I was looking at what other companies were doing, and it was a no brainer that there was so much not being created,” he said.
When the pair met again, Carroll was heading up marketing and communications for superyacht, private jet, and architecture design studio Winch Design in London.
“Having not seen each other since Army days, we bumped into each other in Amsterdam at a global superyacht forum,” Carroll said. “Our imaginations [started] kicking off.”
Together, they had experience both designing and leading superyacht expeditions around the world.
However, according to Mackay-Lewis, they thought: “Nobody is even taking them to where they should go.” He said a lot of the world “wasn’t being looked at” – so they wanted to create an organisation where they became “experts in the rest of the world outside the Caribbean/Mediterranean.”
Designing travel experiences for the super-rich
Named after a tool used to maintain the bearing of a sea vessel, they launched Pelorus in November 2017. The company plans travel experiences – such as skiing, fishing, hiking, surfing, or even tribal immersion – for individuals, families, or corporate groups using a global network of local experts, including scientists, archaeologists, marine biologists, and conservationists.
Both men are mountain leaders and advanced divers themselves, as well as fellows of the Royal Geographic Society, while Mackay-Lewis is also a paragliding pilot and skydiver.
The company specialises in three categories: Private Adventures, Yacht Expeditions, and Special Projects.
Private Adventures are experience-led trips and involve “looking at the world in a different way,” according to Mackay-Lewis, who added that Pelorus works with people from outside the travel industry – such as government agencies, conversation groups, and even BBC Natural History – to “enable us to be creative and make sure everything we offer is different from the travel sector.”
The adventures can involve skiing, fishing, diving, safari, surfing, mountains, islands, and the desert, just to name a few.
One is a £40,000 ($US52,000) Angola tribe experience, where you “come face to face with a handful of different tribes who have different heritage and traditions,” according to Mackay-Lewis.
Taking a helicopter, travellers can visit a tribe who were formerly cannibals until the 80s.
“It’s not for everyone, but it’s still incredibly exciting,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yacht Expeditions focus on going further afield and “developing new destinations for yachts around the world.”
“Working with owners, captains, brokers, shipyards, ice pilots, marine biologists, and guides, PELORUS is able to discover uninhabited islands, hidden beaches, rarely-contacted tribes and incredible diving spots,” according to a company statement.
This can mean a three-month cruising plan around South America, including trips to the Galapagos Islands to work with conservation groups or a visit to the jungle in Papa New Guinea, where “few people can operate safely and securely,” for a cost of around £70,000 ($US91,000).
From counter-terrorism missions to ‘Top Gear’ challenges
Finally, Special Projects are “production and events experiences” for clients where nothing is off-limits, according to Mackay-Lewis, and can involve anything from conservation projects to military experiences or espionage missions with counter-terrorism experts.
“We’re doing a Top Gear experience for private clients in Patagionia for 10 days,” he said, adding that it targets “Land Rover enthusiasts” and costs around £50,000 ($US65,000).
“Someone is giving them a brown envelope with a challenge each day,” he said. At one point, a helicopter takes them to a glacier where they have lunch, spend the night, then paraglide to their vehicles that have been moved to another area.
Other experiences have involved a group being picked up in Israel and having a “massive dessert party” in Jordan over a long weekend, or a treasure hunt across the Namibian desert involving camels, quad bikes, planes, and “a host of support staff to make it a reality.”
“The planning was hellish, but the clients had an incredible time,” according to Mackay-Lewis.
Carroll added that they’re also involved with long-term planning – such as planning an experience to take a client’s seven-year-old son through to his 18th birthday with a different experience every year, “built around what he’s learning in school.”
So what does an experience like this cost?
According to the company, a trip that lasts between six and 12 days can range between £25,000 ($US33,000) and £70,000 ($US91,000).
“We are looking predominantly at the high net worth and ultra high net worth market,” Carroll said. “What we’ve seen traditionally is the older demographic of clients and baby boomers who have wealth behind them, either inherited or from a productive career, have the most time available for travel.
“We’re rapidly seeing that moving down. [They are] sharing wealth amongst the family and want to do family trips and take younger generations away.”
These family trips, though, involve seeing polar bears and the Northern Lights in Svalbard, off-roading in Patagonia, heli-skiing in Alaska, or cruising around the Philippines.
Carroll added that while the UK has been at the forefront of this shift, they’re also seeing clients from “across Europe, America, the Far East and Russia,” as well as China.
Buying experiences over assets
He added that there’s now a “different style of traveller” who wants to “get away from buying tangible assets and wants to buy experiences.”
According to Carroll, Pelorus also gives something back, both through support work with the likes of the Blue Marine Foundation and World Land Trust, and by giving a percentage of their profits to each foundation.
“People want to go out and not just see, but have a hands-on experience as well,” he said. “Charities facilitate that.”
According to the company, no two Pelorus trips are ever the same – and the duo pride themselves on “challenging the traditional travel and yachting sectors and giving deeper access to many of the world’s hidden secrets.”
Carroll said: “We had a clear vision when we set out – taking people around the world to see the most incredible things.”
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