Exciting and engaging the most seasoned of travellers can be near impossible, especially among those for whom money is no obstacle. With astonishing new travel methods to surprising locations, however, bespoke travel companies are curating enlightening opportunities for even the most jaded adventurer, and immersive experiences appear to be the way of the future. In this series, Canadian Family Offices explores exclusive, uniquely crafted travel experiences.
As Canada’s men’s soccer team gets thrillingly closer to a spot playing at the FIFA World Cup tournament for the first time since 1986, demands for travel to Qatar are increasing. For those who seek luxury travel, a bespoke experience can be crafted for soccer fans looking to witness the historic event on a level of style above the average spectator.
Duane Penner is the vice-president of sales at Roadtrips, a Winnipeg-based company that specializes in luxury and bespoke travel experiences to the world’s most popular sporting events. He says inquiries regarding unique trips to Qatar – where the World Cup will be held this year from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18 – have increased dramatically in recent weeks.
“Canada is a sports and soccer mad country,” said Penner. “We have competed well in ice hockey for most of our existence, but as we become a more globally focused country, and a culturally diverse country, the fact that we are now competing on this grand stage is mind boggling. The World Cup is the biggest and most watched sporting event in the world by far. It is one of a very few sports where ‘world champion’ is accurate.”
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The Canadian men have risen up the FIFA world rankings, setting a record for the team by climbing to No. 33. The team was named the “Most Improved Side” by FIFA in 2021 and has now climbed 39 places since the end of 2020.
Penner’s team offers custom travel experiences to Qatar for the big event, and no expectation is too lofty. Private planes to Qatar can be arranged, as can personal drivers for trips to tourist sites and to stadiums for matches. A choice of the country’s luxury hotels is also curated by the company, and a dedicated, personal concierge can be on hand, and Michelin star chefs are available for private catering.
Penner says completely private, unique itineraries, might suit a couple, a or a father and son, for example, who want to experience a completely custom trip.
Qatar will host the World Cup at eight stadiums (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium, Khalifa Int Stadium, Lusail Stadium, and Stadium 974), each special for their design, architecture and capacity. FIFA’s official site offers a wealth of information on all the stadiums, as well as the entire World Cup experience, including bespoke, immersive possibilities.
An elite selection of travel options is available through FIFA’s official hospitality team. Even the most experienced sports enthusiast is likely to be wowed by FIFA’s Venue Series, through which the stadium of one’s choice is the backdrop for a custom viewing experience. Clients can select a series of matches at their preferred stadium and choose a private suite or exclusive lounge through which to watch the match with champagne and personal catering.
“The FIFA Hospitality Programme secures guaranteed tickets to the matches, along with the perfect blend of luxury, preferential access, and unbeatable pitch views, in some of the most spectacular stadia ever built,” said Imran Patel, legal and business affairs at Match Hospitality.
“If money [is] no object, [we offer] first-class seats, direct flights from Montreal on Qatar Airways – the world’s best airline [according to] Skytrax 2021. [Clients can] stay on a super yacht moored off Lusail or the Pearl, [worth] approximately US$350,000 for an eight-cabin, fully serviced and catered. Viewing from the Pearl Suite for the Final Round Series [can be arranged, as can] a private chauffeured limousine – Rolls Royce or Mercedes S class – to move around the city.”
Another exceptional way to experience World Cup is through FIFAs Amazing Series, through which elite soccer fans can view all matches at the Lusail and Al Bayt stadiums, including the opening match, quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final. Clients are provided a selection of private suites with the very best views of the match, and with luxe food and cocktail menus.
Along with luxury travel and soccer-viewing options, FIFA helps visitors explore Qatar, offering clients the opportunity to create their own tourism experience between matches. FIFA highlights include the chance to take a helicopter tour of Doha, viewing iconic attractions of old and new Qatar from new heights.
Private, luxury boat trips can also be arranged through Dhow Boat Sunset Cruises. Floating along the Corniche allows for slow, stunning views of Doha’s skyline after a long day of screaming for one’s favourite soccer team. For a journey into the ancient art world, the Museum of Islamic Art features 14 centuries of Islamic works, and the architecture of the building itself is a sight to behold, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning I.M. Pei.
While Canadians cheer on our men’s team, the World Cup experience transcends a national perspective with a truly global sporting event.