02.12.2008 Vision Voyage — South Africa
«The best for the best» - was the slogan under which the Vision Grand Voyage – a voyage unique in all regards – began on 2 December 2008.
It might seem strange to some that right after the voyage of a lifetime to Tunisia, Vision would set up a no less grandiose voyage to South Africa, only this time according to different parameters.
“The Company declared 2008 the Year of Voyages, and that explains it all,” VIPG Director for Sales and Distribution Mikhail Kurylyov comments on the situation. “Certainly the voyage to Tunisia was the main event of the year. More than a thousand distributors were awarded that voyage. The Company is aware that the basic and main work that promotes the Vision philosophy and accomplishes its strategic tasks is done by distributors. And they do it very well. But the basic work with distributors is done by leaders. It was for them, for top leaders, for the Company’s avant-garde, that the voyage to South Africa was organized. We determined immediately that it would be an elite voyage and that only those who held a qualification of VIP 4S or higher over the course of nine months with total sales of over 1,000,000 CV points would be able to go. From the outset only those countries and tours that could be classified as “deluxe” were given consideration. Italy, Switzerland, and several other prestige spots in Europe figured in the list. But preference was given to the South African Republic. It conformed most fully to the idea of our business: this country at the ends of the world seemed to emphasize that there exist neither barriers nor borders for the business of Vision.”
- “When preparing the voyage for the leader elite, we were guided by the principle ‘The best for the best!’” Michael’s thought is developed by Marketing Communications Manager Marina Karaseva, the expert who was directly responsible for organizing and running the voyage.
“We immediately set ourselves the very highest bars, realizing that we were inviting people of the very highest level – millionaires – to take the Grand Voyage. That is, those who can allow themselves a lot. This was no simple task: to provide new impressions and sensations to people who had already seen the whole world. But we knew that we would cope, because with us were our tried and trusted partners – the ART-TOUR Company, which had organized our Presidential Vacation to the Seychelles. In 2007 it won the ‘Tourist Brands of the Year’ prize, and in 2008 it received the silver crown in the category ‘Best Tour Operator of the Year – Travel Abroad.’ These professionals never say ‘no’ to their clients, and to any request they are prepared to offer the most diverse of solutions, right down to the most offbeat ones. ‘The art of vacationing’ is how they define what it is that they train their clients in. In South Africa we were provided with the care of the very best tourist company on the continent – Walthers, the winner of a sort of Oscar in the tourism industry: the Crystal Award for organizing corporate tours. The plan for our stay was scheduled right down to the minute on 74 pages, and the company’s people never deprived us of their attention even for a minute. Over the course of the voyage, we made seven flights by airliner, and, naturally, we entrusted our comfort and safety to a reliable company – Emirates. On its airliners we were provided with service of the very highest level, thanks to which ten-hour flights were like leisure time. The night spent at the five-star hotel at the Dubai airport while awaiting the flight to Capetown should be remarked upon specially. In all the other cities, we stayed at Sun International hotels, which unfailingly stand at the top of the ratings of the best hotels in the world. Over the period of the entire itinerary, our menu included only haute cuisine dishes. It could be said that this was a gastronomic tour with a wide choice of South African wines. Such a refined style was dictated by the level of the restaurants at which breakfasts, dinners, and suppers were served during the voyage. It would suffice to mention the freshly-caught oysters with champagne at the Table Bay Hotel mornings and the sumptuous supper on the Royal Livingstone Express with truffles and other gourmet foods. Of course, the voyagers could also partake of typically South African cuisine – impala medallions, crocodile steak, or ostrich ragout. When specifying the program for the voyage, we sought the right balance, the happy medium, so to say, between impressions and relaxation. Every day presented us with something new and unusual; everything progressed on a rising curve, when one high point replaced another and afforded new occasions for surprise. We hope that every voyager took away impressions from this voyage that he can call some of the most dramatic moments of his life. Having gained marvelous experience, we plan to develop the line of elite getaway packages and vacations for the Company’s elite in the future, too. We are counting on it that the leader ranks will gain further momentum and grow, and at subsequent events those who know that the high lifestyle of Vision is for them will join us.
Thirty-three leaders set off on the Vision Grand Voyage. In Capetown they were met by the Table Bay Hotel. A brass oval with the engraving “Vladimir Putin” gazes right at the sunrise. Stair steps run down to the renowned Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, where alabaster yachts belonging to billionaires stand at anchor, where seals warm their portly sides, sprawling right on the gangplanks, lazily waving their fins at passersby from whose faces smiles of affection never fade. In the hotel windows, as on huge TV screens, around the clock they show a delightful clip about how the sky lays a tablecloth of clouds on Table Mountain. In the morning the tablecloth is white as snow. At sunset it is purple and scarlet.
- “To be honest, I didn’t expect such a reception,” Valery Fedotov admits. He is sitting in a deep armchair under the crystal chandelier in the lobby, enjoying a violin, guitar, and piano trio. “I’ve been to a lot of pretty places with the Company, but this outdoes all of them. This is a real fairytale. A plush hotel. Great people, the leaders of countries, stay here. Just the mere fact that we are here does us honor. Maybe we’ll announce promotions in our downlines. So that my distributors can enjoy this blessing with me; then there will be far more joy from the voyage.
The Cape of Good Hope
All of us know from grade school that the southernmost point in Africa is Cape Agulhas, but as the years go by it somehow unnoticeably passes into our consciousness that the garland of southern primacy goes to the Cape of Good Hope. And even being here and clearly seeing to the left of us a chain of mighty mountains stretching far into the ocean in the direction of the Antarctic, just the same we continue to be sure that we are standing on the southern tip of Africa. Because it is such a mystical spot. Not for nothing are the local waters called False Bay. Here the voyager is glad to deceive himself into thinking that through his opera glasses he clearly distinguishes the ice of a sixth continent and an iceberg sailing in search of its Titanic. There are even two lighthouses here: one that is majestic, but deceptive (since it can’t be seen because of the clouds) at a height of 271 meters, and a working, but modest lighthouse on a shelf only 88 meters above the sea.
Andrei and Oksana Sergiyenko, standing on the edge of a bluff and turning their faces to the south, are recording a video message to their distributors. Snatches of what they are saying reach one’s hearing.
Andrei: “That we find ourselves in South Africa is amazing… In two years to visit Cuba, the Seychelles, and South Africa is astounding in and of itself, and it is possible only in such an amazing company as Vision… Here, at the Cape, where two oceans come together, you sense the power of both environments and experience something phenomenal. Oksana: “When you see that distant point on a map for the first time, and then you realize that you are standing right on it, literally at the edge of the earth, that makes an impression. It’s very unusual, like in a splendid dream.”
“To be honest, I had never been to the mountains before,” admits Tatiana Panova, reluctantly giving in to the twenty-fifth reminder by the guide that the excursion was over and it was long since time to descend. “For me it was like a real climb. Incredibly pure air, an amazingly beautiful view… It was free and easy to breathe, and, of course, I perceived everything that surrounded me, our entire world, as a unified whole, and myself as an inseparable part of it. That is unforgettable.”
“Exactly, unforgettable,” Dmitry Safronov chimes in. “To raise the flag of Vision over Africa, standing on a shelf at Table Mountain, when Capetown lies under your feet, when the breeze blows clouds right in your face, and you can simply grab them in your hands, and, like a cloud, lift your flag of vision into the sky – that’s unforgettable!”
On the grounds of the Royal Livingstone Hotel, zebras nibble grass alongside the paths, giraffes peek into second story windows, and little monkeys lay waste to the minibars in the rooms if the residents haven’t taken pains in their absence to lock the balcony door with a special lock.
“Just imagine,” Svetlana Yefimova tells someone by telephone, “giraffes and zebras stroll around everywhere here. The monkeys are like cats in Russia. One came into my room here. It jumped up on the chiffonier where some candy had been, but it didn’t find anything, because the monkey before it had eaten it all while I was gone. Then it looked around the teapot – apparently it had long since been familiar with all the places to look, and then it set eye on my purse. I had taken its picture and hadn’t interfered with it. But when it reached right for the purse, I decided that this was too much, so I grabbed a robe and began chasing it out. But it decided that I was the one who was overdoing it and began rushing at me. I really did take fright and realized that I should retreat to the balcony. I caught sight of a hotel staff member down below and asked him to help. But before he could climb the stairs, the monkey left of its own accord, only empty-handed.”
In principle, that could happen to anyone. It’s a good thing that crocodiles don’t climb around on roofs. But it’s even better that the hectares of woods and fields belonging to the hotel are surrounded by a reliable high-voltage fence. And if someone really has an itch to feast his eyes on reptiles and hippopotamuses, then he’s welcome to sail along the Zambezi on the African Queen – a spectacle worth a fourteen-hour flight. But even these exotic beauties fade on the background of a great natural wonder – Victoria Falls under the shimmering of a lunar rainbow.
- “I just wanted to experience the feeling that sometime comes to me in my sleep,” Sandrija Kudirkaite explains with burning eyes to those awaiting her on the bridge, unable to move after her dizzying jump. “Some kind of danger comes to me in a dream, and I spread my arms like wings, relax, look ahead, and take off into the air. I’ve always believed that something like that is possible when you’re awake, too. I was very curious about whether I could experience that. Only five minutes before I had been very scared. And then I suddenly imagined that I was dreaming, and I took off smoothly, jumping forward—not down, but forward—straightened my arms, and began flying. I call such sensations ‘beyond,’ that is, ‘beyond the boundaries of ordinary life.’ That means that you can’t use the categories we use to measure all humdrum events, because they won’t measure that.”
Supper in the velvet-lined restaurant car of the Royal Livingstone Express rushing over the savanna at sunset became the equalizing counterpoint to the “wild” adventures of the departing day.
- “During the voyage, every evening came to an end for us with an incredible supper,” says Dmitry Safronov. Dima stands on the open platform at the end of the last car in the Express and waves at groups of African kids watching the train when it passes through sparse settlements. - “Supper today was a special one. The Royal Livingstone Express is really something. We are in the only train in the world that has survived in operating condition since the century before last. The whole train belongs to us. That is one of the most expensive pleasures there is for millionaires – to ride around Africa behind a genuine steam locomotive. Everything here is extraordinary. Here we see what you will never see anywhere else anymore. But for us, these impressions are more vivid than they are for others, because we are experiencing them with Vision.