Matthew Robertson is founder of Momentum Adventure, a high end, boutique company specializing in luxury adventure travel. He usually is on the road not taken, or rarely taken by others. His company is a reflection of himself, a person whose sense of adventure involves seeing and experiencing distant vistas in memorable ways. We recently interviewed him as his company is coming to the U.S, and will be launched this month.
Pursuitist: I am curious about your personal sense of journey, and of pilgrimage. The words adventure travel often confuse the true meaning of these types of experiences, which can be quite luxurious. What led you to this place in your life right now, and how has your own travel sense played into what Momentum Adventure has become?
Matthew: As a child, my father and uncle would take me into the Scottish Highlands to climb, explore, and melt away into the wilderness. I found those times to be some of the most exciting in my life. Those experiences have had a profound impact in the way I live. I think the essence of those early days very much set me on the path I’m on today. The very same wonderment, anticipation and excitement — the way it made me feel in the past remakes itself into every trip that I create in the present..
Pursuitist: Momentum Adventure travels to unusual places — do you choose these journeys or does the client?
Matthew: I don’t think I have ever had a client that knew what they wanted to do. They just knew they wanted to do something different and memorable.
Pursuitist: What is the process by which you plan these extraordinary experiences?
Matthew: As a client speaks to me, my mind goes through all the locations and options. From there, I organically start to form the trip of a lifetime for them. This process is what makes me happily bounce into work everyday. The world is quite literally our playground. My company gets to design the ultimate unique experiences for our clients.
Pursuitist: Tell us about your accomplished guides and staff.
Matthew: I have traveled all over the world and been to some pretty dramatic places. During these journeys, I have had the chance to work alongside some truly extraordinary guides. They all have incredible tales of taking the road less traveled. I always stayed in touch with all of them and when I launched Momentum Adventure, I invited them to come on board. It’s a certain type of person that chooses a career in the outdoors, and I believe it is because we know the joys it can bring. I like to think that Momentum is a family of passionate, outdoors-motivated, and highly experienced people.
Pursuitist: Generally speaking, how long are these journeys, what is the price range per person, and how long in advance does an interested potential traveler need to contact your company?
Matthew: Our trips run anywhere from a weekend, week, weeks, even months. Prices are oriented toward the discerning traveler. People with exacting taste that demand a bespoke and authentic one of a kind experience. Our prices equate to this high level of service. Prices generally begin at $20,000 per person, but it isn’t out of the ordinary for experiences to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per traveler. Advanced bookings are a rare luxury for us that we don’t usually encounter. Our clients often call and want to leave for across the world within a month, which is quite little notice. Just today, we had two days notice from a client for a lavish getaway. We made it happen. I feel that Momentum Adventure is small enough to care and big enough to deliver.
Pursuitist: Since your launch in 2005, what area of the world has been most surprising to you, and to your team? When I say surprising, I mean the most unexpected and wonderful.
Matthew: That is a really difficult question as there have been so many amazing journeys. Iceland is proving to be very popular with our clients right now. It provides convenient access, but is literally like stepping into another world. Morocco and the high Atlas Mountains are simply stunning. Antarctica and the Arctic Circle are very powerful. The silence is perfect, necessary, lyrical, and the landscape is as pure as it is mystical. People often don’t realize the constant barrage of noise and clutter in their daily lives until they travel with us. I took my 10-year-old daughter to the Arctic last year. It made such an impression on her that she wrote a paper on the trip for school. She got an A. I think adventuring runs in the family.
How do you pair luxury with adventure?
Matthew: Everything must flow seamlessly. When traveling to these destinations, convenience and timing are imperative. The little things matter the most in this experience. Pairing luxury with adventure is a delicate craft. Finding where adventure and luxury intersect is a science, and that is where we absolutely shine. It sounds simple, but our team always listens carefully to the clients’ wants and needs. Once we personally interview clients, we perfect the route, accommodation, guide, and mode of transportation. Some clients enjoy private aviation. For others, it is traveling with a master guide, and enjoying the simple pleasures. Adventure, just like luxury, has different emotional dimensions for different people.
Pursuitist: When people talk about adventure, many think it has to do with the extreme, but adventure is a nuanced concept, different with every person. How does Momentum Adventure work with clients to make sure each journey defines their ideas of both adventure and luxury?
Matthew: Again, the key is to really listen to the client. The joy in operating a bespoke business like Momentum Adventure is that we are not ruled by volume. We deal with quality, not quantity. One has to join and then KNOW the client’s adventure and luxury dreams before we know how to exceed them.
Pursuitist: What was the first trip you ever went on that made an impression on you? What was the first excursion that you realized you wanted to found Momentum Adventure?
Matthew: Definitely climbing with my father in the Scottish Highlands. But the true catalyst that really made me start Momentum was sitting on a remote mountain in the Himalayas. Looking out across the vast mountain ranges changed my life. It was simple, honest, beautiful, quiet, and mesmerizing. A view, but what a view. It was such a simple unabashed delight that it made my heart sing. I had never been so content as in that moment. I knew right then that recreating that feeling and bringing it to others was it for me – my mission and vision combined.
Pursuitist: You deal in awe-inspiring, life changing experiences. How and why do you think this type of travel so dramatically changes a person?
Matthew: Ultimately, we find that the simple pleasures offer our clients the most joy. There is something primal about these locales that stirs up contentment and happiness. These are priceless sentiments. Many times, the right journey can completely recalibrate one’s perspective of the world. We bring clients to places they have never experienced, rare destinations where the mind can be unfettered and free. We want people traveling with us to feel exhilarated, truly alive again. We bring our travelers to that place and Mother Nature does the rest.
Pursuitist: What changes, if any will be in store for Momentum Adventure in the near and distant future?
Matthew: We are launching in North America this month, which I am really excited about. I believe we can offer a kind of travel that isn’t currently available in the United States; experiences that are unique, authentic, and above all, inspirational. With a dedicated team with decades of experience guiding the globe, we look forward to making velvet-lined adventures more accessible to North Americans.
Pursuitist: I am curious about your experience traveling to remote places. I think, personally, it is easier to move away from civilization than to return? Last year, I stayed in an ice hotel in Kirkenes Norway near the Arctic Circle in February. The cold and the quiet were so purifying, and so much a part of a human essence. Let me know about your experiences of leaving and returning.
Matthew: I completely agree. I often find myself setting up a hammock in the woods in our garden in England after a journey and dreaming about the remarkable experience I’ve just had. Beautiful things like that stay with you. Reflecting on the experience when we return home is one of the lasting joys of traveling with us but it would be a lie if I didn’t say I was also thinking about where we will be headed to next!