Need An Alligator?

There’s always one person in every group of friends that (to any request) says, “Oh, you need that? I know a guy.” That was never us. At least, that was the case until we met the guys behind Element Lifestyle, a luxury travel company and private members’ club where the word ‘no’ is simply not part of the company culture.

For a certain fee a year, members’ needs (both normal and outlandish) are catered to in both the travel and lifestyle realms. Want to fill your wife’s apartment with penguins? Element knows a guy. Want to get a lion for your bachelor party? No worries, Element’s got a lion guy. On top of that, members are made to fill out a fifty-page survey at the start of their membership so that Element can customize experiences for their clients. So if you happen to say that your favorite drink is coconut milk from an actual coconut, it may just pop up on your flight, hand-delivered from the stewardess (courtesy of Element).

We wanted to test just how crazy things could get with these guys, so when they told us they could either show up to their photo shoot with a human sized snake or an alligator, we sprang for the ‘gator (snakes give us the heebie-jeebies). Check out our interview with the-ultimate-guys-who-know-a-guy, founders Edgar Estrada and Joubin Bral (neither was harmed, mauled or bitten in the making of this photo shoot)…

Your first priority when dealing with a client… 

Joubin: Our first priority is to understand all aspects of their request so we can immediately get to work and deliver what they need in less time than they expect. Everything we do is in the details, so knowing budgets, dates, timelines, milestones centered around the request, etc., is top priority for us.

Edgar: First priority is to gather all of the necessary details to get the job done within the project timeframe. Once all of the details are gathered, we start strategizing and implementing the next steps.

The one thing you’ll say no to…

Joubin: Anything illegal.

Edgar: The word “no” is not in our vocabulary. Our clients expect us to make the impossible happen, so no is an answer we don’t accept, nor do our clients. Of course, if it’s an illegal request, we will not fulfill it. We are very tenacious and sometimes it will take nine no’s before we get a yes.

The craziest thing you’ve done for a client…

Joubin: You mean this week?

Edgar: We once arranged for [live] penguins to be waiting in a client’s hotel room as a surprise to his wife on her birthday. It was so cool.

Your top experience with a client and why…

Joubin: One of the top requests for a client was convincing Eric Ripert to fly to Las Vegas with his two sous chefs and prepare an exquisite seven-course meal for eight people, as a gift from our client to his wife and her seven guests. Everything about the experience was world-class, from the food, to the wines paired with each course (including a port from 1834), to the simple elegance of the table. It was so rewarding because Eric almost never does these private events. There were so many rewarding “elements” to the experience. One of them was the satisfaction of making the impossible happen, and seeing the exuberance from our client’s wife and her close friends and family sharing the experience with her.  Another rewarding moment was watching Chef Ripert explain each course moments before they were served.  At one point, he was explaining a dish involving truffles and he started to get emotional. His passion oozed from him and each guest received it in such a beautiful way.

Edgar: One of my favorite experiences with a client was in the summer of 2013, when we arranged the most outrageous, expensive bachelor party in Las Vegas that I have ever heard of. The party included about sixteen gentlemen who expected us to arrange activities and events that included all aspects of what the city has to offer, including penthouses and suites at the Wynn, private cabanas at beach clubs, stage access to the night clubs, amazing restaurants, a lot of Dom Pérignon and much more. It was truly one of the craziest trips we have designed yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the people at the Wynn were still talking about it, especially after our client spent over 1.4 million in four days! Not to mention that I love electronic dance music, so we got to party with the best DJs in the world. 

Is there such a thing as an ‘unreasonable request’?

Joubin: Yes, but it is our jobs to find the reason in the request and make it happen. If you are asking us to plan a beach vacation but you only want to go to a ranch in Utah, and you happen to be allergic to horses, that is unreasonable. And that is actually a past request from a client.

Edgar: I suppose so. But even if it’s unreasonable, we love figuring out a way to make it happen. 

The most out-of-the-ordinary food request you’ve received…

Joubin: Cater a G-V flight for our client with food from The French Laundry.

Edgar: The sandwich from the O2 Arena in London. A potential client loved a particular sandwich he once had at the O2 Arena, so he challenged us to get the actual sandwich to his office in the US. Not only did we get the sandwich, but we brought the chef from London to make the sandwich right in front of him. That potential client became a member of Element that day. 

Words to travel by…

Joubin: “Wherever we go we must go naked and alone. We must each of us learn what no other can teach us; we must do the ridiculous in order to touch the sublime.” – Henry Miller

Edgar: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius

What you’ve always wanted to do personally, that you haven’t gotten to yet…

Joubin: Fly up with Virgin Galactic into space!

Edgar: Go on an “around the world” trip for six months, and attend sporting events and concerts throughout. I’ve seen a lot of the world, but to one day do it in one shot would be amazing

One person in the world (who is not yet a client) that you would like to have as one…

Joubin: Mark Zuckerberg. He is young and needs expert assistance on how to travel and best spend and enjoy his money.

Edgar: The obvious one here would be Warren Buffett or Carlos Slim. We prefer working with clients that are extremely wealthy, well-known and recognized. Someone like Ray Dalio or Jeff Bezos.

*Element Lifestyle, photographed in Los Angeles, California by Danielle Kosann.