This week we are shining a spotlight on Gabriel Easton (Wassup.Bruh), who runs Highlife Destinations with his family and takes our breath away with his virtual landscaping. You know someone’s really good at something when they make it look easy! Gabriel’s attention to detail has produced numerous regions that look and feel like absolute paradise.
How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I've been in Second Life for almost 15 years. I first heard about SL through a friend I was hanging out with, and they heard about it from an episode of CSI. They got curious and made an account and I watched them walk around for an hour. They were walking into people and we wondered why no one was talking… or doing anything for that matter. It was a strange world to us. They eventually grew bored but I wanted to see for myself what it was about and make the most of it. I signed up the next day and did the same thing. Just walked around. I learned to teleport and found some people who actually spoke. They taught me a few things, not much. I learned to shape my avi and got some freebies. I thought I was cute but man, looking back, I was still a hot mess! I rented my first apartment within that first week and met some cool people. That's what really made me stick around longer: the connections I made. Now, here I am 15 years later. I've gone with the flow of things and I'm happy I stayed to see all of the improvements.
What drew you to virtual landscaping, and what styles have influenced your approach?
My love for landscaping started with another platform where you could design your homes. I would spend more time building the home and decorating than I did actually playing it. The same passion applied here in SL but with more of a learning curve. I always did my own landscaping and I didnt start out good, no one does. But with practice, I kept at it and got a little better. I didn't have it in my mind to make a business of it at first. That came later through encouragement from my Second Life family. I started out doing landscape work for my family and friends only. After I posted my photos, I gained more clients and kept at it. I haven't really defined my own style per se but one thing I will say about myself is that I tend to be a perfectionist. I have my landscaping pet peeves: floating trees, bare undecorated areas with so much potential, and bald grass! I just like for things to be perfect and beautiful and I go the extra mile to make that happen. I take a lot of pride in my work and those who experience it can see and feel that.
Since you work with your family as a creative team, please explain what role each person has, and what exactly your duties entail?
Highlife Destinations is a family company. For our destinations, I create the landscaping, decor and activities. My wife Tye handles the administration part as far as bookings, events, and so much more. Our son Roman does a lot of beautiful decor work on the hotel rooms and administrative work. Our daughter Sage does a lot with spa services, helping with check-ins and much more. Our daughter-in-law Savoeigh is our main check-in specialist. We have a full staff of team members like Jordan, A'storia, Lori, Bunny, Leta, and Angel that do various jobs in our restaurants, spa, cooking classes, and sip and paint classes. As for myself, I bounce around where I'm needed. I help with check-in, I may fill in for a spa here and there but mostly I serve dinners. Everyone works hard to provide excellent and fun roleplay experiences for our guests and I appreciate them all wholeheartedly.
When building resorts or seasonal regions, what types of activities and amenities do you include to make a visit to these places different from regular exploration, i.e. an actual virtual vacation?
The difference is in the roleplay and immersion. With regular exploration, you go to a place, look around, take photos. Some places are interactive, but most are not. With our destinations, you are really on a vacation. People book for a day or two, sometimes more. They come with their luggage and start out in our airport, where they are greeted and checked in at our concierge just like a real hotel stay. Guests stay with us for their honeymoons, group vacations, or a quick getaway. They get to stay and make lasting memories together.
Each resort will have activities that pretty much match the destination. In Timor Isles @ Bali, we had lots of fun water activities as well as underwater, zip lining and hang gliding. We didn't have a restaurant but we did serve dinner at their bungalows or a private romantic one on a mountainside.
Winter in New York had ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza, a Fun Zone arcade, Empire Steak restaurant, and more.
Ibiza had water activities but it was more of a Nightlife resort with LOTS of parties on the water, in the club, and main pool area. We also had a nice mini golf and amusement park.
The Poconos had lots of winter activities such as skiing down a huge mountain and hang gliding. We also included a hot air balloon ride.
With Las Vegas we have packed it all in! Vegas has zip lining, a hot air balloon, paintball, pools, bowling, sand dunes, a drive-in movie theater, live shows, and more. We put together live shows every other week that feature showgirls, dancers, and singers. We also have a Viva Las Divas Drag show! Our shows have really been amazing and bring so much more to the Las Vegas experience that you can't get anywhere else. I am honestly so proud and thankful for everyone that has had a part in them. They have worked so hard and our guests see that and have a really great time.
How many regions is your team currently operating, and what can we expect from you next?
We usually keep our destinations for six months or more and then change it to something else. We are currently running Las Vegas, and it has four regions to explore. For our next destination, we will be bringing Timor Isles back for Bali 2.0! It will be bigger and better than ever before!
We hope you enjoyed learning about Gabriel and the creative potential of virtual landscaping. Make sure you check out his website and treat yourself to a magical escape!
Each of these weekly Spotlight posts will feature a different Resident to showcase the spectrum of experiences and personalities found in our virtual world. If you have created something inworld that you’re proud of, or have had a deeply meaningful experience that could brighten someone else’s day, please sign up! More info here: https://second.life/spotlight-signup.