After almost a decade developing the technology behind its version of commercial space tourism, World View is beginning to hone the guest experience for the voyages launching in 2024. The Arizona-based company hired Dale Hipsh as president of tourism and exploration in February. Most recently the senior vice president of hotels at Hard Rock International, Hipsh is a veteran hospitality executive who worked on the development of Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Grand Hyatt Wailea and Ritz-Carlton Bali among other properties. He is charged with crafting the guest experience both on terra firma and inside the capsule lifted about 19 miles into the sky by a helium balloon. The first flights will take off from near the Grand Canyon, with plans for more “spaceports” at the Great Barrier Reef, the Pyramids at Giza and other renowned sites. Hipsh recently spoke with Travel Weekly senior editor Tovin Lapan about his plans.

Dale Hipsh

Q: What made you want to jump from earthbound hospitality to space tourism?

A: Throughout my career, I feel like I’ve continued to level up, from the Hyatt to the Ritz-Carlton to the Atlantis to the Hard Rock. Something like this comes along, and you have the opportunity to blaze a new trail in a completely new space within the hospitality industry.

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

Q: What details about the experience can you share?

A: We look at it as a five-day experience so that we have the adequate amount of time to not only prepare you for the ascent into near space but also amplify the experience. One of the most important parts of what we’re doing is the goal of our customers experiencing the overview effect. In conversations with astronauts and those who’ve been in the International Space Station and been lucky enough to experience the overview effect, it is most likely to occur when someone sees something they recognize from space. So what we’re going to be doing in the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef and the other wonders is really anchoring your experience in that place. I want you to experience the majesty of this incredible massive-scale thing on the planet in relation to you. So, when you ascend, you see that the Grand Canyon becomes so much smaller in that context. 

Q: What will the spaceports and accommodations be like?

A: My vision for the spaceports, though not fully designed or fleshed out yet, is like the great lodges, where we’re going to have a diverse range of clients because we’re really keen on accessibility and affordability. So it’s not going to all be super high-end luxury unattainable, and we’re going to have accommodations that allow for a range of guests.

But the experience, in general, will be very high end, very curated, very tailored to every individual guest. We’ll have amazing food and beverage offerings, great entertainment, immersive wellness experiences, music … basically all of the things you can imagine as a hospitality professional we would want to offer to a guest.

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

A: The capsule is still being refined, but essentially, it will be a luxury experience for eight guests, and there will be two staff on board. There will be wonderful luxury-caliber food and beverage, there will be lavatories, there will be a captain and a docent on each of the flights. I think about [the capsule] as looking like the interior of a luxury automobile, with the seats beautifully stitched and ergonomic, and they’re going to individually swivel. Every seat will have a panoramic window. The capsule itself is generously designed so that you can move around, and you’re strapped in the entire time.

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

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


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