Inside The World of Luxury Lifestyle Managers, the Fixers of The Super-Rich

That is in the middle of a pandemicand Jon Dove’s client needed a car. Not just any car – a brand new, right-hand drive, Mercedes-specific model. The only problem is, when the supply chain is closed, the fastest time a company can get a product off the line is 18 months. And Dove’s customers aren’t the kind of people who like to wait.

So the 29-year-old picked up the phone and started calling: contacts at Mercedes, then in the car industry in general. Finally, he reached out to the factories, asking if they had any canceled orders. He eventually found one sitting in a shipping port in Germany, waiting to be returned. It can be delivered to London in a week. “It is the only one [one of these cars] exists on the planet and is available for purchase,” he said. “And we understood.”

In some circles, Dove is known as a “luxury lifestyle manager”. The job goes by many names – mentor, attache – but they all serve the same purpose: enriching the people they want, when they want. Whether it’s tickets to the Oscars, a reservation at an exclusive restaurant, or a trip to the French Riviera, Dove and a select few, an international team of experts like him use a honed set of connectors. their closeness — and a few golden handshakes — to make the impossible possible.

“Sometimes you have to say no to these people,” says Dove. “But what you want them to know is that you looked at 16 different ways how to get it.”

The kind of people that Dove and his colleagues serve—“extreme net worth individuals,” as they are known in the business—have an army serving them at home. Luxury lifestyle managers are not personal shoppers, they are not personal chefs, and they are certainly not personal assistants. They are the fixers that the rich call when their PA can’t get the job done.

Follow Donna McGovern. A former event organizer, she has been a lifestyle attaché for more than a decade, ever since a hedge fund manager with whom she plans a party asked her to He manages his lifestyle on the side. (“I said, ‘I don’t know what that means, but okay,’” she recalls.) She now has a list of dozens of clients, some of whom keep her around and one number of people calling her for special services.

A customer recently reached out because he wanted to dine at Rao’s, an Italian business often called the most exclusive restaurant in New York because all 10 tables “belong” to longtime customers. McGovern called through her extensive network and eventually found a desk clerk who would make room for him for the night — in exchange for a $75,000 donation to a charity he he chooses. For that price, McGovern told the client, she could take him to Italy and have a meal prepared by a gourmet chef. The customer was polite, but refused. “’I need to be seen dining at Rao’s,’ ‘ he told her.

Lifestyle professionals come in many forms, from independent contractors like McGovern and Dove to large companies with armies of instructors around the world. The most prominent of these, Quintessentially, is based in the UK and employs 700 people in 40 different cities. (It also got mired in controversy management practice and political transactions by its co-founder, Ben Elliot, grandson of the Duchess of Cornwall. A company spokesperson said it is “trading profitably and is in the best financial position we’ve had in a while.”)

Michelle St. Clair, 37, from San Diego, California, founded her own lifestyle management company in 2014, after discovering a book about concierge services in a local bookstore. She now has 12 employees and about 50 clients, including the founder of a famous computer company, a former Zoom executive and a very famous – “if not the most famous” person. – player for the Yankees.

Her high profile clientele pays at least $25,000 a month for her company’s services, and they don’t expect to be turned down. A client, she said, was on his yacht off the Amalfi coast when he asked her to send him a “hot female saxophone player”. (He had apparently seen someone at a nightclub in France and wanted to recreate the experience for himself.) St. Clair scoured social media to find the right person, then posted a video of the top candidate. The video features a woman pole dancing in the background; The client asks her to send both.

St. Clair received a seemingly endless number of these strange requests: a hot tub delivered to a rental house in Aspen on Christmas Eve; an inflated flamingo delivered – fully inflated – to a yacht in Croatia; four dalmatians in a photo session that day. Cristiano De Rossi, a luxury lifestyle manager in London, said he once hosted a private screening for an unreleased film. “You can always ask for favors,” he said when asked how to ensure that. “It knows exactly what you can ask without sounding ridiculous.”

Many lifestyle managers come from the events, fashion or hospitality worlds, where they have built a network of premium connections to facilitate the needs of their clients. De Rossi worked for years at the iconic British department store Harrods, forging links he still uses to rate elusive jewelry and handbags for his personal clients. . He has recently expanded his offerings to include off-market real estate and what he calls “unique experiences,” like expeditions to see the Titanic or long-term wine tastings. years under the sea. He’s currently working on sending a client into space.

Managing the lifestyles of the rich and famous also requires a kind of deep, highly niche knowledge not taught in any school. Anyone with enough money can charter a private yacht, but a good lifestyle manager knows the difference between a yacht for a 70-year-old billionaire and his wife and a 40-year-old single and his sons. ta. (The latter requires a team that is ready to serve drinks 24 hours a day and not complain about the thumping music at 3 a.m.)” Dove says of hiring a crew. “‘Can your crew handle that or will there be problems?'”

The same goes for chartering a private jet. Skilled lifestyle managers know pilots who won’t fit when a client is certain to arrive three hours late, and have contacts at the airport to open a hangar if they arrive after hours. McGovern was once called in to pre-screen rental jets for a customer who was unhappy with the planes he leased. She took videos and detailed notes on each and sent them back to the client. Among the requirements: Airplanes must be manufactured after 2015 and must never be smoked.

One of these people said to me, ‘If you told me no, I’d want it 10 times more.’

Jon Dove

The job also requires an almost obsessive level of attention to detail. When McGovern plans trips for her clients, she not only researches online, but flies to her destination and stays at all the luxury hotels in the area. That way, she can let her customers know which hotels have commuters handing out damp towels every 15 minutes and which rooms have the shortest walk to the pool. Dove keeps a confidential record of all of his guests, marking which hotel rooms his guests like and which items to tell staff to have the room ready before they arrive.

It’s no surprise that the job is often stressful and demanding for clients. (“I was told by one of these people, “If you tell me no, I want it 10 times over,” says Dove.) Lifestyle managers often have to be available to anyone. Anywhere, any need. McGovern said she was once fired by a client because the woman didn’t like her handwriting. She had to drop another customer who yelled at her because she couldn’t get them to Italy amid the pandemic. “I have to laugh at it,” McGovern said. “Their sense of reality is a bit off.”

But most lifestyle managers will tell you that, despite some less sympathetic clients, they love their job. There are perks — Dove says he’s been treated by some of the best doctors in the world when he’s sick, being polite to his clients — along with the satisfaction of delivering something hard to reach. a satisfied customer.

“I think someone either loves this piece or they hate it, because it’s definitely not mundane,” St. Clair said. “But for the most part, it allows you to be creative and think outside the box.”

Plus, sometimes it’s fun to see what the other half’s life is like.

“It’s great to be able to dream and see how you can travel if you don’t have a budget,” she added. “The way some people live, it’s really fun.”

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