Robb Reader: Geordie Mackay-Lewis

Co-founder of luxury adventure company Pelorus

Named after navigation tool from the golden era of discover, Pelorus was founded by ex-British Army Captains Geordie Mackay-Lewis and Jimmy Carroll with a view to offering luxury travel experiences which most of us would think are totally off-limits. Fancy encountering the world’s most off-the-radar tribes, or endangered Royal Bengal tigers and Ganges river dolphins? Or what about night-diving around the barrier reef off Belize, or perhaps heli-skiing on virgin slopes in the state of Kashmir? We talk to a man whose bucket list knows no bounds…

Would you concur that luxury travel is increasingly becoming about rarefied experiences than material pleasures? If so why is this?
We completely agree and it’s one of the reasons Pelorus exists – to create the most rarefied and extraordinary experiences on the planet. We believe this trend is happening for three main reasons. Firstly, scarcity” we’re living in the greatest extinction phase that our planet has ever seen, and this generation will be the one to see many species, environments and tribes for the last time. They want to explore these rare opportunities with sensitivity, and with a focus on conservation.

Diving experience in Baja California, Mexico

Secondly, luxury – the meaning of the word is evolving and our clients want to experience things that few, if any, others have. It must almost be something that is very hard to replicate. Thirdly, social media. Most of the content people post on social is experience-based, as the younger generation place more emphasis on this than tangible goods. They want to be seen doing extraordinary things, and are happy to pay more for these “Insta” moments.

What measures do you take to make clients’ experiences authentic and stimulating?
We always plan asymmetrically, ensuring our clients have a multi-dimensional experience from the air, surface and sub-surface. I would confidently say that we invest more time and resources into researching new and innovative ways to see the planet than most. We also try to work with experts from outside the travel industry wherever possible, and ensure that these people are a great match for our clients. They bring the journey to life in a far more stimulating way, and also allows us to unearth more authentic experiences in the destination. For example, we work closely with anthropologists in Papua New Guinea that allow us access to tribes that other tourists can’t reach, in a fully sustainable way. We also work with individuals from the BBC Natural History Unit, bringing our clients closer to a wildlife and nature than they thought would ever be possible.

Who is your typical customer?
Families, couples, groups and individuals of all ages. This year alone we’ve planned experiences for groups of friends in their 30s to 70s. We’ve designed some extraordinary honeymoons and have also been creating more and more family experiences for children of all ages. The thread that binds them is that they are all looking for something out of the ordinary, with highly personal service and that fresh, creative look at travel. 

Cycling through Norway’s Fjords. Photo: FjordNorway (fjordnorway.com)

Is there any experience you’ve had which you’d pick out as being your most life-enriching to date, and why?
Giving back is one of most powerful ways in which we help our clients enrich their lives. We’re very conservation-focussed so incorporating this into, or making this the focus of, an experience is key. We were involved in an incredible opportunity to collar the first elephant in the Zambezi delta, which provided vital conservation research for veterinary groups in Southern Africa. Similarly, tagging Manta Rays in Indonesia to understand their movements and why their numbers are declining in the regions was a very moving and enriching experience for our clients.

Is there any place in the world you’d love to experience, but it just isn’t feasible for any reason?
The Island of Socotra. This remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site is part of Yemen. It’s been isolated from the war there but also from the rest of the world and is currently hard to reach. Socotra has a huge amount of endemic flora that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the planet, alongside unique environments and landscapes. The good news is we’re close to creating a comfortable and safe way of exploring Socotra and should be able to offer this to our clients at the end of this year.

Private boat experience in Argentina 

Do you recall any catalyst moment that led to this as your life path?
No single moment but a series of events. Having an adventurous spirit and being lucky enough to serve in the UK Military, I wanted to find something that was equally as enjoyable and exciting. I figured that jumping out of helicopters in remote parts of the planet, shooting with a camera instead, might come close! Being able to offer this to other people and see how much they enjoy it is even better. The spark for Pelorus was realising there was a way of making these unattainable experiences possible and then making them as memorable as possible for our clients.

In what places/situations do you get your best creative ideas?
Almost always in a far flung location, surrounded by nature with no other distractions from the modern world. Funnily enough it’s the same for our clients.

 

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