Sir Edmund Hillary never had it this easy
Move over St. Moritz and Verbier. There’s a new destination that only the strictly super wealthy are heading to this winter: Antarctica. And they’re flocking to White Desert which is the continent’s first and only luxury resort.
CEO Patrick Woodhead (he was part of the youngest and fastest team to reach the South pole back in 2002) co-founded the resort along with his wife Robyn 11 years ago and it received a complete overhaul last year. They’ve built six fibreglass pods with a view of a 200-ft ice fall in the distance. Each heated pod which can withstand winds of up to 180mph and is designed for two people. Constructing these pods at a location that they’ve named Camp Whichaway isn’t cheap. According to Patrick, it costs nearly $38 per pound to fly in the material. Each pod weighs three tonnes. Add to that furniture and daily provisions.
The eight- to eleven-day itinerary begins with a five-and-a-half-hour chartered flight for a dozen guests from Cape Town. On arrival, the guests check-in to their respective pods. There are a number of excursions planned over the next few days. They can explore ice caves, zip-line over frozen lakes, kite ski and even visit a 6,000-strong Emperor penguin colony. The highlight though is another short flight, organized midway through your stay at the resort, to the geographical South Pole which is located 150 miles away.
Back at White Desert, no one’s slumming it here. Each pod has an en-suite bathroom. There are animal skin pillows, warm parkas to throw on after a shower, hot water bottles swaddled in fur and even toothbrush holders which are made from crystal. There’s a lounge and a well-stocked bar and the ice used in your drink could very well be a thousand years old. The dining table includes a large oak wooden table with chairs lined with fur. Evening meals are three-course affairs rustled up by chef Katheryn Stone.
Located in one of the most remote and ecologically-sensitive locations on Earth, Patrick and his wife ensure that they minimise the camp’s adverse impact on the environment. All the waste generated by the visitors is flown back to South Africa where it is disposed of responsibly. The pods and the showers are heated using solar panels (although there’s 24-hours of daylight during summer, there are propane heaters as a backup), and the flight and car emissions are offset by a carbon neutral company that White Desert has partnered with.
There’s a steep price that you pay for this extravagant holiday – around $80,000 per person covers flights, accommodation, meals, guides and all the activities. Some of the resort’s previous guests include Prince Harry, Buzz Aldrin and Bear Grylls. Just so you know who you might be bunking up with should you book a holiday.