The Rise of Travel Dating : Crossing the Dateline

Travel-dating is on the rise amongst successful City people scouring the globe for their perfect partner.  Mark Southern lifts the lid on the industry that brings a new meaning to ‘wanderlust’

As first published in The Exchange Magazine, 2011

Hollywood’s got a lot to answer for.

Until recently it was quite possible to be happy leading a ‘normal’ life with a ‘normal’ girl, going to ‘normal’ places.  After all, what could possibly be wrong with a regular life, and getting away for a couple of weeks of sunshine every summer?

But no, not now.  Not since the world’s most prolific dream factory polluted our minds with its fancy fairytale love stories.

Now, thanks to Spielberg and co, it’s out with the old tried and tested technique of being moderately content with life, and in with the rather showy concept of having a dream life with a dream person, in a dream place.  It’s sickening.

Except, it’s not sickening.  It’s actually a jolly good idea.

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For from the streets of wartime Casablanca, to the dusty great plains of Gone With The Wind, Hollywood has long recognized the intrinsic link between far-flung lands and star-crossed lovers; the greater the backdrop, the more intense the cinematic sonnet.

However, whilst for decades cinemagoers with a ticket for one stared at the silver screen grinding popcorn to make up for the bitter disappointment in their souls, a growing number of single professionals are not just wanting their cake and eating it, but are prepared to put their cake in their suitcase to find their perfect partner on foreign shores.

For travel-dating amongst successful people is now box-office gold, and shows no sign of retreating back to its battered old VHS box in under the stairs.

Luxury inter-continental introduction agency, Berkeley International is the World’s leading pioneer in travel-dating, as the global elite come to their senses and demand more from what little time they have for romance and travel.  And business is booming.

Berkeley CEO, Mairead Molloy is the blonde cupid making magic happen for successful people the world over.  Offering a unique matchmaking service, Molloy travels the globe looking for that very special person that will be just right for her clients, regardless of constraints like borders.  Once she finds the right person, she then plots their perfect first date in exotic locations.

Molloy said, “I know how tough it can be to balance a career and a love life, and unfortunately the more successful your career becomes, the less time you have for love.  Some people don’t have the time to settle down and start a family whilst others have had done that and for one reason or another things have not worked out.”

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That’s where Molloy and her team come in.  But what kind of person would you meet with Berkeley?

“I never reveal my clients as privacy is paramount to how we operate, but we’ve got A List actors and celebrities, CEO’s and entrepreneurs; all sorts of high flyers, really.  The one thing they’ve all got in common is they are successful in life.  I even set up two Hollywood actors in the past but I really mustn’t tell you who!

I suppose the difference with us is that everything has that personal touch. We don’t have catalogues of men and women to choose from, or holiday packages to send people on.  We get to know our clients, find out what they want and then we make it happen.  It’s all about trust.  Our clients don’t have to do anything, just enjoy themselves.”

And the number of people enjoying themselves is rising, with Berkeley reporting a 25% growth over the past year.

Michael Clarkson* is one such City worker who realized the wonders of travel-dating after reading an article online two years ago.

ForEx Trader Clarkson remembered, “I’d not long come out of a long term relationship and was daunted by the London dating scene.  Everything was so much more complicated than I remembered it being, and every date I went on felt so transient.  Also, for a big city, London can be claustrophobic seeing the same faces all the time.

“At the same time I remember work had been stressful, and I needed to get away, but the problem was I hadn’t been on holiday with anyone other than my former girlfriend for years.

“I was looking online for travel ideas when I saw a company offering high-end dating introductions overseas, so emailed them my details.  I wasn’t expecting much back, but got a call just ten minutes later inviting me to come into their office for coffee.

“I arranged a time for the following week, and was pleasantly surprised to see their Chelsea offices were plush and professional (for some reason I thought they would be seedy), and the matchmaker was genuinely interested in finding out about me, and what I wanted from life.

“Afterwards I went away not expecting a great deal until they called me the following day saying they had dates lined up for me in Milan, St Tropez and Madrid with women they thought I’d get on well with.

“Work was as busy as ever, so I was delighted that the matchmaker made all the arrangements, including flights and excellent hotels, and the next weekend I finished work early on the Friday and made my way to Heathrow to fly out to Milan for date number one.

“I arrived in Italy for mid-afternoon, checked in and had a panic attack; what the hell was I doing here, miles from home, about to meet someone for dinner I hadn’t even seen a picture of?  It was ridiculous, and surely there could be no other ‘normal’ person doing this; they must have some kind of major fault in their personality or appearance to go down this route, I thought!

“I was all set to pull out there and then and get on the next plane back to London before the matchmaker calmed me down over the phone and reassured me pre-date nerves aren’t all that unusual for the first time travel-dater, and a relaxing bath and glass of wine would be a good idea.”

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The pep talk worked, and then it was time to go.

“The car the matchmaker had arranged for me was waiting for me outside the hotel, and took me to the Michelin-starred restaurant where the matchmaker had arranged the very best table in the house for the date.

“And then Maria* arrived.

“Maria was from California, and was one of the most beautiful girls I had seen in my life, making a mockery of my pre-date per-conceptions.

“Not only was she insanely attractive in a strangely recognizable way, but she also was warm, funny and clearly very bright.  It wasn’t until she had shown a huge interest in my career that we even got talking about hers, when she revealed that she was a model, and had done a bit of television, which is where I had recognized her from!”

However, whilst Maria was great company, the spark wasn’t there, and a lovely dinner remained just that.

“The following day, I boarded the plane for Toulon before being picked up by the matchmaker’s driver and taken to my hotel in St Tropez.

“By now I was a veteran travel-dater so rather than spend the daytime paralysed with pre-date neurosis like the previous day, I instead chose the rather more enjoyable option of reading by the pool, before getting ready for date number two.

“Once again, the restaurant was exceptional, with this time the matchmaker securing a private terrace with our own waiter, and once again my dining companion was breathtakingly stunning.

“Julia* was Australian, and also in trading but worked out of Dubai rather than London.  She had genuinely funny stories to tell, and laughed at my own clumsy efforts, and was just pretty much perfect.

“The end of the night came, and the whole idyllic Mediterranean setting, award-winning food and fine wines created a spine-tingling atmosphere.  I remember thinking clearly that this is what I wanted from life, and thought I’d chance it; afterall, you soon realize that one of the beauties of travel-dating is that it makes you more spontaneous.  Luckily, Julia also felt the same way.

“The following day arrived and, despite having one more date in Madrid on my weekend break, I didn’t want to leave Julia.

“I called the matchmaker who was thrilled that things had worked out so well, and politely cancelled my date number three.  However, the reservation for the restaurant was still in my name, and I had a flight booked anyway, so Julia came with me and we jetted off to the Spanish capital to make use of that restaurant booking together, before walking dinner off in the nearby vineyard.

“Julia and I now live together in London and, whilst I didn’t tell anyone I was going before setting off to Milan, having seen how life-changing it can be I now recommend it to all of my single friends.  It’s incredible.”

Clarkson’s story rings true of many of Berkeley’s clients, but has Molloy had any unusual dating requests from her globetrotting matchmaking?

“I get all kinds of weird and wonderful requests, some are specific, others more vague.  Either way, I always try and make them happen” she said.  “I recently had a lovely male client who worked in the City but wanted a break in Cape Verde with a partner from Russia.  It took a lot of organization, and I even travelled to St. Petersburg to find the right girl, but I made it happen and they had a great time!  They have met up again since and make a perfect couple.”

But whilst many of Molloy’s matches end up made in heaven, what of those who don’t have that special something?

“Everyone is different and no outcomes are the same.  Some people come back and start a relationship, others arrange another trip away and some lose touch.  That’s the beauty of my line of work; nothing is set in stone and you can never predict how things will end up.  However, I can guarantee that you will have the most glamorous escape with a bit of fun along the way!”

There’s no such thing as a real Hollywood ending in life, but as the travel-dating phenomena continues apace, anybody can be the star of their own epic adventure, spanning spectacular vistas and walking away into the sunset with the leading lady.

And that, my friends, is a wrap worth waiting for.

If you’d like to pack romance into your travels get in touch with Berkeley International at www.berkeley-international.com.

*We have changed the names to protect the anonymity of contributing parties.

 

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