x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The Insider: Quintessentially Lifestyle’s 10 strangest requests

After a decade of catering to the whims of its well-to-do customers, Quintessentially Lifestyle's Caroline Hargreaves counts down its 10 most unusual requests.

Caroline Hargreaves. Courtesy Quintessentially Creative
Caroline Hargreaves. Courtesy Quintessentially Creative

Quintessentially Lifestyle has been giving its members in the Middle East “access to the typically inaccessible” for a decade and, in that time, the luxury lifestyle management and concierge service has dealt with its fair share of outlandish requests. To mark its 10th anniversary in the region, Caroline Hargreaves, the managing director, reveals 10 of the more unusual demands made by its UAE members.

1 A member once called whilst in the middle of a trivia quiz to find the answer to one of the questions: “How many people are employed by Google”. This was unusual and perhaps not entirely ethical, since this was a quiz, but a simple Google search yielded the answer for our member and was emailed to them immediately. We never found out if they won.

2 We were once asked to transfer 250 cows from London to Sri Lanka. The first task in hand was to understand the deadline and the specifics of the breed. A few calls to livestock suppliers and a quotation was agreed upon. The hardest part was the logistics of the transport arrangements. Luckily, livestock breeders are well versed in the permits and preparations required.

3 We had to supply a kangaroo and a koala for couple on an Australian holiday who wanted the animals to join their kids on a trampoline in the garden of their holiday home. The difficulty with this request was that typical sources of animals, such as zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, require written permissions, which are almost impossible to get, for the release of their animals. So this required lots of calls to the most unusual of sources. A private owner was found who was willing to oblige our member and lend them his pets. The kangaroo was none too pleased with the trampoline idea, but the children were delighted.

4 A member once lost their car keys in the snow whilst on holiday in Scotland. It might seem daunting to assist from so far away, but we pride ourselves on staying calm and thinking creatively. Quite by luck, a team member on holiday from the London office was staying not far away from the member’s location and was able to find a metal detector belonging to his father and send it over. The keys were found, thankfully.

5 We’ve had to source a tiger for a private party. Animal requests do come up quite regularly. Again, zoos and sanctuaries are not the best source. We have another member who owns more than one tiger and was happy to assist with a loan for the event.

6 We were asked to source sticker tattoos exactly like the ones in The Hangover movie, for the same day. One Dubai blessing is the innovative and entrepreneurial nature of the city. There are many manufacturers and suppliers of the unusual here. With a picture of the tattoos in hand, Dragon Mart yielded what we needed. It took about four hours of searching, though.

7 We’ve even helped with MBA coursework. A member wanted us to do their homework. This was unusual, but is not the only instance of this request. The lifestyle manager asked for the coursework title and details to be sent to the office and then set about researching the subject. We even contacted a very well respected banker to ask for quotes. Legally, we could not write it, but the member was happy with the extra help.

8 We have arranged for a bag of loose human hair to be weaved into a clip-in hair extension. Hair extensions are very popular in Dubai but this was unusual because someone had real hair that they wanted to use. But our favourite salon was quite happy to oblige and did an excellent job.

9 We had to find a copy of an old commercial that a member had appeared in 15 years previously. All the lifestyle manager had to go on was the name of the song featured on the commercial and an approximate year. We started with Google to find the brand that the commercial was associated with. Then began the slow process of working through archives with the brand’s marketing team. But our perseverance paid off.

10 We once helped to track down a long-lost father. These are the requests that make it all worthwhile. A member wanted us to help their best friend, who had lost contact with their father. Supplied with only a photograph and a vague address, the team contacted the Thailand office, who started a trail, calling landlords at the addresses he had lived at until, eventually, they found him. Needless to say, he was extremely surprised, overwhelmed and happy.