Mindful luxury and how Arksen is giving meaning to luxury travel
‘People have started to dream bigger, to plan further ahead, to commit to a different lifestyle,’ begins Jasper Smith. ‘Arksen is an enabler of a new way of life that embraces adventure, science and philanthropy,’ says the founder of a brand that perfectly embodies new thinking within the luxury landscape. ‘We exist only to allow people to take the first step towards their greatest adventures.’ Our correspondent Nargess Banks has been speaking with Smith during the coronavirus crisis. ‘Each of us has felt the effects of the pandemic in different ways, but one thing that shines through is our desire to set off on adventures and to feel the great outdoors.’
Smith is an entrepreneur and an explorer with a portfolio of highly successful businesses. He set-up Arksen in January 2019 with a mission to bring an element of philanthropy to luxury travel. The brand proposition is simple: Arksen customers dedicate a certain percentage of their vessel’s time to support vital marine research and conservation projects. In return, they get to experience grand curated expeditions alongside the explorers and scientists, photographers and artists and filmmakers who are conducting the research work. It is a win-win situation.
‘Running through all of our adventures is a desire to take people beyond the normal realms of experience – to provide life-enhancing journeys,’ says Smith. The spirit of sustainability is reflected in every aspect of his business – from the fleet which uses ecological materials and is efficient to run, through to the travel routes that respect marine life. Arksen works alongside expedition experts Pelorus to design voyages to some of the least explored oceans with a set of itineraries that focus on conservation and research activities, sprinkled with adventure sports and cultural explorations. For instance, the ‘Viking Rally’ takes passengers from Scotland to Norway, onto Lofoten and the volcanic Jan Mayen island in the arctic ocean, continuing to Iceland and Greenland, cruising the Labrador Coast, and finally mooring in Halifax.
Arksen partners with ecological organisations such as the Coral Yachts for Science, which give scientists greater access to the oceans by matching them with vessels and routes to continue their research. Smith explains: ‘We can encourage yacht owners to host vital ocean explorations while we are building our own research-capable vessels. It also helps shift the existing paradigm of travel as well as improve the utilisation of these vessels.’ The organisation has also started the ‘10% for the Ocean’ campaign to address why only 1% of philanthropic funding goes towards ocean-related causes. ‘Given that the ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface and supports 94% of the planets’ species, we see this deficit as a systemic failing, posing a huge risk to a sustainable future.’
Many thought leaders and brands within the luxury world are seeing the global pandemic as an opportunity to step back and rethink the landscape. It has, for some time, been looking tired and somewhat disconnected to a new generation who want objects and experiences to give meaning to their lives. Smith is evidently passionate about the subject. ‘The post-pandemic recovery presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset our relationship with business, consumerism and the planet,’ he says. ‘Capital drives change and so in the first instance, it is essential that all capital flows are linked to sustainable outcomes. We will not get a second chance.’
Smith is clearly charged with enthusiasm. ‘This, more than the definition of luxury in a post-pandemic world, must be the mantra of recovery. Achieving positive momentum towards sustainability will enable us to redefine luxury as the opportunity to live comfortably today without depleting the resources that may be required by future generations.’ While acknowledging that all forms of travel use energy and are therefore harmful to the planet, Smith says that we can do better by investing in technologies, systems and processes that promote change. ‘We can design products that embrace the principals of a circular economy: design out waste, design for longevity, design for reuse, repair and recycling. The definition of a luxury product becomes one that is built with these principals, with heart and soul and with purpose… ideally, one that opens doors to a new world of experiences.’
All images Arksen 85, copyright © The Boundary for Arksen. Read about luxury transport in the age of reuse, repurpose and recycle here, and see why many brands are looking to natural wines and no-low alcohol spirits here.
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