It's a tough job, but somebody has to search the globe for little-known destinations for discerning travelers. For the past 35 years, Mike Thiel has been happy to oblige. He's climbed aboard all manner of transportation—from hot-air balloons to vintage steam trains to dogsleds—in order to curate upscale and exotic vacation experiences. As the son of a United States Diplomatic Corps officer who became a consultant for the oil and gas industry, Thiel has long been globetrotting and seeking respite from overcrowded beaches and tourist-filled hot spots. He founded Hideaways International, Inc. to share what he knows about luxury travel with everyday people. As his company has grown over the years, Thiel has advised high-profile media outlets such as Forbes.com on how to get away from it all, with a 2007 article about the world's best private beaches and a 2008 feature on avoiding spring-break crowds.
Thiel and his team of travel specialists guide people to high-end cruises, breathtaking Italian villas, and vacation-home rentals in the Caribbean. They even help clients rent a private island to feel like a celebrity or test out a dinosaur-DNA cloning project. Members of the Hideaways Aficionado Club also receive exclusive perks and discounts with participating partners.