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Picture yourself in Venice during
the Carnival. Youre on the guest list for several masked balls, and you
dont want to show up in just any old 18th-century gown. So you head over
for a fitting at one of the most prestigious costume collections in the
city, where the actors for Dangerous Liaisons and Eyes Wide
Shut were outfitted. Later during your stay youll take cooking lessons
with a countess, rub shoulders with a gentleman wearing a live python
at a private party off San Marco, talk to local artisans about their work,
and listen to a string quartet in a sumptuous palazzo.
Gilbertson, in Venice for the Carnival.
is hardly the experience of the typical tourist, acknowledges Jacqueline
Gilbertson WG83, founder of Culture Capsules, a company based in Beverly
Hills, which arranges behind-the-scenes journeys to destinations like
Venice, Paris, and Provence. I really make the distinction between being
a traveler and being a tourist, says Gilbertson, quoting Marcel Proust:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes,
but in having new eyes. I really think thats what its all about. Ideally,
she explains, one returns from a journey with changed perceptions, not
just a checked-off list of landmarks.
Gilbertson, the business is a natural outgrowth of her artistic temperament,
cultural interests, and the extensive traveling she did in her former
career in the international marketing of cosmetics. While working in Paris
for one company, she says, I had the opportunity to meet fascinating
creative people, including architects, art historians, and master chefs.
Thanks to such contacts, guests on Gilbertsons journeys can count on
having interesting dining companions and invitations to local artists
trips, which include luxury-hotel accommodations, may be expensivein
the case of one recent Venice excursion, the cost was $8,750 per-person
for a week, not counting air-farebut Gilbertson says one really cant
put a price-tag on the programs, which depend on personal relationships
that took her years to cultivate. She credits her Wharton experience for
many of these friendships.
of her French classmates from a Wharton exchange program in France went
on to become a director at the famous luggage maker, Luis Vuitton, providing
Gilbertson and her fellow travelers with an entrČe to the private Luis
Vuitton Travel Museum. A friend from Wharton who married a Frenchman put
her in contact with a perfumer and a master chef in Burgundy.
participant [in Culture Capsules] is like a personal guest in the country,
and they have the opportunity to establish relationships with the local
people. Were so high-tech these days. I think theres a very human need
to connect with people and have a personal experience.
envisions hosting journeys closer to home in Los Angeles, where seldom
viewed private mansions and art collections abound, and as far away as
India, where shes made friends through other Wharton classmates. If the
growth of her company means spending even more time abroad, she doesnt
mind. I never tire of travel, because its so personal, she says. Im
going back to see friends, so it almost feels like a home away from home.
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Gazette Last modified 6/28/01