Travel

Dale Hipsh on advances in commercial space tourism: Travel Weekly

Dale Hipsh on advances in commercial space tourism: Travel Weekly

After nearly a decade of developing the technology behind its version of commercial space tourism, World View is beginning to refine the customer experience for travel launching in 2024. The Arizona-based company has hired Dale Hipsh as president of tourism and exploration in February. Most recently Senior Vice President of Hotels at Hard Rock International, Hipsh is a seasoned hospitality executive who has worked on the development of Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Grand Hyatt Wailea and Ritz-Carlton Bali, among others. properties. He is responsible for creating the customer experience both on land and inside the capsule lifted about 30 km into the sky by a helium balloon. The first flights will take off near the Grand Canyon, with plans for more “spaceports” at the Great Barrier Reef, the Pyramids of Giza and other renowned sites. Hipsh recently spoke with Travel Weekly editor Tovin Lapan about his plans.

Dale Hipsh

Q: What made you want to move from terrestrial hospitality to space tourism?

A: Throughout my career, I feel like I’ve continued to progress, from Hyatt to Ritz-Carlton to Atlantis to Hard Rock. Something like this happens and you have the opportunity to chart a new course in a completely new space within the hospitality industry.

I grew up in the hot air balloon space. My family was gas balloons. We were hot air balloons. We sponsored Rosie O’Grady’s Peace Balloon, Joe Kittinger’s solo transatlantic crossing in a stratospheric balloon. So when that opportunity came, it was like kismet, it really was.

Q: What details about the experience can you share?

A: We consider this a five day experience so that we have plenty of time to not only prepare you for the near space ascension, but also to amplify the experience. One of the most important aspects of what we do is making sure our customers feel the big picture effect. In conversations with astronauts and those who have been on the International Space Station and been lucky enough to experience the bird’s-eye view effect, it’s more likely to happen when someone sees something they recognize from space. So what we’re going to do in the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef and the other wonders is really anchor your experience there. I want you to experience the majesty of this incredible thing on a grand scale on the planet relative to you. So when you go up, you see the Grand Canyon becomes so much smaller in that context.

Q: What will spaceports and housing look like?

A: My vision for spaceports, although not fully designed or fleshed out yet, is like the grand pavilions, where we’re going to have a diverse customer base because we really care about accessibility and affordability. So not everything will be unattainable ultra high-end luxury, and we will have accommodations that will allow for a range of guests.

But the experience, in general, will be very high-end, very curated, very tailored to each guest. We will have amazing food and beverage offerings, premium entertainment, immersive wellness experiences, music…basically all the things you can imagine as a hospitality professional that we would like to offer to a guest.

Q: What will the hospitality experience look like inside the capsule?

A: The capsule is still being refined, but essentially it will be a luxury experience for eight guests, and there will be two staff members on board. There will be luxury food and drink, there will be restrooms, there will be a captain and a docent on each of the flights. I think about [the capsule] as resembling the interior of a luxury automobile, with nicely stitched and ergonomic seats, and they will swivel individually. Each seat will have a panoramic window. The pod itself is generously designed so you can move around and you’re strapped in all the time.

Q: What are some of the limitations or special considerations you need to keep in mind?

A: Every bottle of gin we take into space, we have to have helium to lift it. So there is definitely a conversation about charging. I’d much rather my guest drink a martini than a gin and tonic because I don’t need to up the tonic. One limitation is that we won’t have an open fire, so there won’t be any Hibachi on the pod.