Jaclyn Sienna India, the travel guide for presidents


Jaclyn Sienna India, whose clients include former US President George Bush, talks exclusive vacations, post-pandemic challenges and why even billionaires can get kicked out

Jaclyn Sienna India, whose clients include former US President George Bush, talks exclusive vacations, post-pandemic challenges and why even billionaires can get kicked out

Exclusivity, discretion and personal touch are the signatures of Jaclyn Sienna India. From closing the Sydney Opera House, Hagia Sophia, the Louvre, the Great Sphinx of Giza, Machu Picchu and the Taj for an exclusive visit, to working with local partners to build luxury camps for its clients, she is not your average travel agent. For this Beverly Hills-based “super travel agency,” serving presidents, billionaires, studio heads and celebrities such as Mariah Carey is a routine day.

India fell in love with luxury hospitality during her college years. While studying art history at Temple University in Philadelphia, she worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Bec Fin. “I understood the incredible level of knowledge and personal touch that came with the service. It was a learning ground,” says India, who started her boutique travel agency, Sienna Charles, in 2008. Since then, it has morphed into a lifestyle concierge company, with $100 million club members (reportedly paying between $75,000 and $150,000 a year).

Siena Charles Luxury Properties

Siena Charles Luxury Properties

What money can buy

Having traveled to 90 countries – she is on the road 200 days a year, personally checking out every venue, yacht, villa and restaurant she recommends to her clients – India prides itself on going the extra mile for its clients. “When I accept a new client, I meet them in person,” she says. “I see what they look like, what they like to eat, the way they interact with people [I have no hang-ups turning down people who are rude]… We discuss their passions: do they love wine, pursue history, or seek to reconnect with their life or family. When I understand their expectations, I kind of pull out my toolbox and create a new experience for them.

Like, for example, when former US President George Bush traveled with her to Ethiopia in 2015. She was not happy with the accommodation offered, so her team bought furniture, bedding and linens new and has built beautiful homes from scratch. “I will never accept a no if I can do better. I know my customers’ preferences and fight for them even before they arrive,” she says. “When you’re willing to spend, everything becomes a little easier to get the things you want.”

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza

It’s no wonder she closed monuments in Egypt for a world leader, or covered the entire floor of a private villa with exotic ‘Cherry Snow’ roses from Ecuador for the wife’s birthday. of a customer. On another occasion, she hosted a private breakfast atop the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and across the Atlantic Ocean, worked with movie set producers and styling experts to creating a Parisian movie scene in the heart of Miami, where celebrity chef Eric Ripert has crafted a special menu. “Nothing is a weird request anymore.”

Relationships, not transactions

India’s journey with its clients (“there is always a waiting list”) never ends with the end of a tour. “We become a family. We have a personal-professional relationship that lasts about ten years,” she says. Recently, when she visited a new Indian restaurant in London, she called one of her customers famous for his love of Indian food and asked him to check out the place for the authentic cuisine he offered.

Jaclyn Sienna India

Jaclyn Sienna India

“It’s a very collaborative relationship that I cultivate,” she says, explaining that her clients typically stay with her for years. “It naturally becomes easier to satisfy them after the first trip. If there’s a place we decide I haven’t explored before, I make it a point to scout. I spent time in the field choosing the hotels, tasting the food in the restaurants and finding unique personalities to take my clients on their visits,” she says. “Of course, there were also times when I came back and said, ‘It’s not a game, I think we should find another place to go. My clients have always trusted my decisions.

Roadblocks and family time

The pandemic has brought its share of challenges. Whether it is entering a restaurant or a hotel, or even a country, there is paperwork and problems, she laments. “We’ve had families in the US want to travel with a private chef. And that’s a challenge because private chefs are rare. But the demand for more meaningful experiences is also growing. The focus is on well-being, with requests for drug treatment centers and yogi mastery. And as she recently told barrons.com, “Yachting is the most popular it’s ever been. Clients sometimes pay between $100,000 and $300,000 a week and bring their multi-generational family on the trip.

Getaways at sea

Getaways at sea | Photo credit: @siennacharles

Post-pandemic trends

* People are buying assets – jets, villas, yachts, vacation homes – instead of renting them. It is certainly more hygienic and safer if you can afford it.

* They are also looking for “different” destinations. The billionaire calendar is no longer about skiing in Aspen or visiting France in August. Italy is still big, but the people are too crowded like Tuscany. They are now looking to find something pristine.

Remote private getaways are growing in popularity

Remote private getaways gain popularity | Photo credit: @siennacharles

Five destinations for 2022

* Seoul for its amazing food and unique beauty

* Singapore for its comprehensive food and wine scene

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

* Northern Italy — from Parma and Lake Garda to Turin — still unexplored and full of surprises

* Iceland for cool skiing options

* India for its moving experiences. “I loved my stay at Ananda [just before the pandemic]; I think it’s one of the most serene moments I’ve had.

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