The ultimate travel opportunity: Meet the Pope and play ping pong at the Vatican


A world leading table tennis company has teamed up with a luxury travel firm to offer a $25,000 trip to meet the Pope and play some ping pong at the Vatican.

Conde Nast reports that Chicago's table tennis firm Killerspin and the tour company If Only are offering a meet-and-greet with Pope Francis at the first ever World UnPlugNPlay Day.

The event has been dreamed up by Robert Blackwell, head of Killerspin, to try and get people away from virtual reality on mobile and computer screens and into play in the real world.

Events around the world will include a six-day pingpong showcase at the Vatican, in partnership with the Italian Table Tennis Federation.

Beginning at the end of August, there will be top champion-standard matches and a workshop discussion on the digitisation of society. The whole event is a fundraiser for Best Buddies, a charity that helps create jobs for people with disabilities. 

The meet-and-greet will take place before the Pope makes a public speech at the tournament.

Blackwell, who has already given the Pope his own table tennis table for the Vatican, told Chicago Business: "People want a natural experience and are concerned about how much time kids are spending with technological devices. This day is really to connect with people you love, your family, friends, customers, employees and the people that need your love."

The travel package includes private tours of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. 

Blackwell told 2luxury2 that the idea for UnPlugNPlay idea came out of a discussion he had with the Pope about the effects of technology on society, and his fears of a growing alienation.

Blackwell said: "The Pope and I spoke about how technology is changing the way we communicate, to the detriment of our relationships with others and our health. For at least this one day, we hope people will put away their devices in order to have fun, and connect with those they love."

The Vatican, Killerspin and If Only have all been contacted for comment.