Many travel companies brag about offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But with Blink by Black Tomato — an adventure luxury tour operator named after Russia's rare black tomato — it's not hyperbole.
The ultra-exclusive travel service caters to travelers who want to do something that has never been done before: Blink builds custom pop-up luxury camps in the some of the most remote parts of the earth.
A Blink trip goes way beyond glamping (glamorous camping) — every element of the experience is customized, from linens to interiors.
"It's a completely bespoke, luxury pop-up structure that we create and curate just for you," Black Tomato founder Tom Marchant, tells CNBC Make It.
"No one else will ever have the same experience again."
Marchant came up with the idea for Blink in 2015 and rolled it out in 2016. So far, the company has done roughly 20 of these trips in locations ranging from the wilds of Patagonia to the Chegaga sand dunes of Morocco to the banks of the Mekong river in Cambodia.
The goal is to experience a location no one has visited before.
Marchant has personally accompanied several Blink trips and says one of the most memorable was spending six nights in remote Southern Iceland.
Helicopters transferred everyone from Reykjavik to Hafursey, where spectacular black-sand beaches are flanked by a Tolkien-esque mountain. They went snow-kiting and dined on Langjokull Glacier and in ice caves. At night, they witnessed an incredible display of Northern Lights, then slept in a sleek geodesic dome tents decorated with Sferra linens and fur throws.
The group then went to the stunning Westman islands, where they stayed in luxury yurts, flew to the top of Eyjafjallajökull volcano and got a private access to the famous Blue Lagoon.
"It was the kind of experience that I will never forget," says Marchant.
One of the most extravagant adventures Black Tomato has created was in the middle of the Bolivian Salt Flats, which are known for otherworldly, Instagram-worthy landscapes.
The cost for a three-night trip for two people? A cool $198,000.
The price included the basics — staff, guide, meals, helicopter transport, a fleet of 4x4s and dune buggies — plus any activity you can think of, including stargazing with an astrologer and vintage-car racing on the salt flats.
Rowe said the meals were prepared by one of the best chefs in the country and a sommelier did wine pairings.
Blink prices start at $10,964 per person for a group of six taking a three-night experience in Morocco.
"Think of the far corners of the earth that you want to see but not just see — stay," says Harry Rowe, a Blink travel expert at Black Tomato. "Glaciers in Iceland, jungles in Guyana — places there aren't set-ups for travelers. What I'm doing is pinpointing your wildest dreams on a map, then making it all happen."
Rowe works with clients to customize every element of the trip, then travels to the destination to make it happen. "Simply put: If you dream it, we can build it," he says. "No limits."
Rowe oversees every aspect, from hiring a team to build the structure to working with local communities to source food, chefs and staff to collaborating with designers to curate and source tapestries, rugs, furs, tables and more. If you want to bring in Frette linens and a Hästens bed to a private island in Myanmar, he'll make it happen.
Not surprisingly, Blink appeals to a wealthy crowd. "We are seeing a lot of high-net-worth millennials, and even some corporate clients, have us organize Blink trips for them," says Rowe.
It is also popular with multi-generational families who want to celebrate a landmark event in private or honeymooners craving the ultimate escape. "It allows couples to really switch off post-wedding and connect to each other and the landscapes," says Rowe.
Matthew D. Upchurch,chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel advisors, says that Black Tomato's Blink trips are the ultimate expression of the "me" trend. "It ups the ante by combining it with customization, immersion and sustainability," says Upchurch. "The opportunity to have an experience that no one else has had – or will have – is hugely appealing."
Marchant calls it "the ultimate luxury — you are the tastemaker and this is yours and yours alone."
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