Extreme vacations: Ultra-wealthy travel to space, depths of ocean

When it comes to dreaming up vacation plans, many people are looking for the first opportunity to get out and take a road trip, perhaps even getting on a plane again in 2021. But for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, they’re literally shooting for the stars.

For $55 million per ticket, Roman & Erica, a travel firm catering to the ultrawealthy, helped find one of three individuals suitable (and wealthy enough) to make the trip with Axiom Space, which is planned for early 2022.

“People who have only thought of these things as a dream now reach out to us and say, ‘I’ve been cooped up in my fancy Hamptons house for seven months, I’ve been thinking about going to space and it’s time to do it now,’” said Roman Chiporukha, who co-founded Roman & Erica with his wife.

The duo is used to pulling out all the stops for ultra-wealthy clients to make their biggest dreams possible, as their firm charges a minimum of $62,500 per year to manage the lifestyles of the well-to-do.

“Paying us is like having a personal assistant of lifestyle and leisure in your office. We’ve been working with the ultra-high-net-worth for nearly two decades,” Chiporukha said. “Whatever people do after they’re done working is what we do for a living.”

While some clients aim high, others are thinking deep: Another extreme trip that Roman & Erica facilitates takes one passenger on a 12-hour submarine ride to the ocean’s floor. The $750,000 experience provides access to the Mariana Trench, which sits nearly 7 miles below sea level.

“That is the deepest point on Earth, and it’s called the hadal zone, named after Hades, the god of the underworld,” Chiporukha said. “It goes to a depth of almost 36,000 feet or 11,000 meters.”

Another client got to experience some time under the sea during an elaborate dive: “We helped him sink a boat so he can go and dive it, and he named it after his daughter,” Chiporukha said.

Other ultra-wealthy individuals and their families have taken the step of fully relocating to make elaborate vacation experiences more accessible. For Eric Casaburi, founder of Retro Fitness and TIGER 21 Chair in Orlando, he moved his wife and four kids from New Jersey to Central Florida.

“We were visiting often as vacationers, and on one of the trips, we decided to visit a community we really liked and we bought a vacation home here,” Casaburi said. “A few years later, we decided to move here permanently.”

Since moving to Golden Oak at Walt Disney World six years ago, the family has found they don’t need to travel far and wide for pristine beaches and recreation opportunities.

“From Orlando, you’ve got the East Coast beaches that are, you know, some 45 minutes or less away and you’ve got the West Coast beaches within striking distance,” Casaburi said, adding that the Orlando airport provides easy access to many destinations: “In two hours, you’re in a lot of places.”

In talking with other local members of TIGER 21, a network of high-net-worth individuals, Casaburi has found that many of his peers are looking at domestic travel opportunities this year.

“What kind of travel plans do you have for your next getaway?” he said, referencing a survey sent to TIGER 21 members. “Sixty-three percent of those people answered domestic travel, 31 percent answered international travel and 7 percent answered they’re not traveling at all.”

And though these people can opt to fly on private flights, many choose commercial airlines while planes remain unfilled.

“It’s almost like we’re unpausing the pause button from a year ago where we were talking about plans and now we’re starting to have these conversations again,” Casaburi said. “I can’t tell you how many people are dying to go on cruises.”

For a travel professional like Chiporukha, he said it’s hard to feel like he’s truly on vacation as he and his wife constantly search for the best experiences for their clients. But he understands how important leisure is.

“Leisure is your only nonrenewable asset,” he said. “If you take a step back and ask yourself, ‘Why do I work so hard?’ ... It’s really to have truly unique and enriching experiences with those that you love. At least that’s why I work hard.”

Find me on Twitter @PConnPie, Instagram @PConnPie or send me an email: pconnolly@orlandosentinel.com.