Sienna Charles: Luxurious journey agent plans journeys for former US presidents and world leaders


(CNN) — On a private journey to Ethiopia in 2015, former US President George W. Bush encountered a nice shock.

When he arrived within the historical Christian city of Lalibela, dozens of kids sporting royal blue Texas Ranger hats — one of many Texan’s favourite sports activities groups — gave him a heat welcome.

“I strive to think about cool methods to make (vacationers) excited, so I purchased about 100 Texas Rangers hats. And when Bush got here to the village, all the youngsters had them on.”

Private touches, exclusivity, safety, discretion — these are the issues that world leaders have come to anticipate whereas touring.

“It’s totally very similar to theater — world leaders have this imaginative and prescient of what this place might be like, how unique and the way superb,” provides India. “And we wish to fulfill that imaginative and prescient with particular moments.”

Bush was not the primary world chief India labored with. Her company has deliberate greater than 100 journeys for no less than 15 presidents, prime ministers and premiers since 2012.

“Whether or not it is a former president or billionaire or movie star, everyone’s a person,” she says.

“In case you perceive what makes them tick and why are they taking that journey, it will likely be a profitable relationship.”

In 2015, luxury travel specialist Jaclyn Sienna India accompanied former president George W. Bush to Ethiopia's Omo Valley.

In 2015, luxurious journey specialist Jaclyn Sienna India accompanied former president George W. Bush to Ethiopia’s Omo Valley.

Courtesy Sienna Charles

Delivering tailor-made experiences

India discovered all in regards to the artwork of luxurious hospitality at now closed Le Bec Fin, on the time a fantastic eating restaurant with three Michelin stars, the place she labored whereas incomes a bachelor’s diploma in artwork historical past on the Tyler College of Artwork at Philadelphia’s Temple College.

“I fell in love with servicing the ultra-high-net-worth,” she remembers. “I actually excelled and understood their wants. That is actually been the success of my profession — understanding the wants of every particular person after which with the ability to ship that have.”

After school, the New York native moved to Palm Seashore, Florida, along with her then boyfriend and now husband, Freddy Charles Reinert, the place she rapidly realized the extent of service in “luxurious” tourism paled by comparability.

Sienna Charles has even managed to gain its clients private access to the Louvre.

Sienna Charles has even managed to achieve its shoppers non-public entry to the Louvre.

Frédéric Soltan/Corbis/Getty Photos

“It simply did not make sense to me; on the restaurant, you’d sit down for 3 hours and spend $5,000-10,000,” she remembers.

“You’d have seven folks ready on you with silver (tableware); the somm knew each grape and winemaker; the chef got here out to your desk and knew the place the foie gras got here from.”

The whole lot was obsessive and service-driven on the restaurant, she says, however that was not so in luxurious journey.

“The identical kind of clientele could be spending $100,000 on a visit to Italy or France however the (journey agent designing) the journey had by no means even been there,” says India.

Striving to supply a greater various for high-net-worth vacationers, the pair launched Sienna Charles in 2008.

Each journey is tailor-made to the shopper’s wants, be {that a} multi-generational retreat in Umbria or a non-public island in Indonesia.

“I personally vet all of my suggestions and am obsessive about high quality and repair,” she says.

An journey via Egypt

In 2012, Sienna Charles had an opportunity to plan and execute a visit for a world chief for the primary time.

When approaching India, the shopper (whose identify can’t be shared resulting from a non-disclosure settlement), had their sights set on Egypt.

The chief had beforehand visited the nation for work and was “actually focused on Egyptology,” says India.

"We closed down monuments for (the leader), and they just wanted to dig deeper into their personal passion," recalls India of a trip to Luxor, Egypt she planned in 2012.

“We closed down monuments for (the chief), they usually simply wished to dig deeper into their private ardour,” remembers India of a visit to Luxor, Egypt she deliberate in 2012.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Photos

So the journey skilled organized a multi-stop, 12-day journey that peppered in historical past and cultural discussions with a number of professionals and teachers.

The journey took the world chief from Cairo to a Nile cruise on a non-public yacht, with a number of stops at historic websites alongside the best way.

They completed the journey within the historical capital of Luxor — nicknamed the “world’s biggest open-air museum” — the place a number of the nation’s oldest tombs and temples will be discovered.

“We closed down monuments for (the chief), they usually simply wished to dig deeper into their private ardour,” remembers India. “They’d this romantic sense of the world the place they only could not wait to find this place.”

Because of referrals and this primary profitable journey with a world chief, India went on to plan journeys for George W. Bush, amongst a number of different world leaders.

The Bushes in Ethiopia

In 2015, India meticulously choreographed a visit to a number of the most distant corners of Ethiopia for Bush, his spouse Laura, 4 mates, his physician and 30 Secret Service employees.

As a result of huge entourage, phrase obtained out in regards to the journey.

“We’re all about discretion and privateness,” says India. “However with so many employees and Secret Service brokers, it simply grew to become a media frenzy. Some world leaders simply go together with one safety agent and a baseball cap — and no person is aware of that it is them.”

Lalibela, Ethiopia is famed for its gorgeous rock-hewn churches.

Lalibela, Ethiopia is famed for its beautiful rock-hewn church buildings.

Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Common Photos Group/Getty Photos

She says Bush selected Ethiopia as a result of he had been there throughout his presidency however did not have sufficient time to get out and discover in additional depth.

“He instructed me that he visited about 80 nations throughout his presidency, however could be at an exquisite monument just like the Taj (Mahal) and by no means actually see something (because of the demanding schedule),” provides India.

To immerse the previous president in tradition and historical past, she deliberate a multi-leg journey from the distant Omo River Valley — dwelling to a number of the world’s most remoted tribes — within the south as much as Lalibela within the north.

The logistically difficult journey required numerous modes of transport, from SUVs to helicopters, non-public jets and riverboats.

“Lalibela is all about Christianity — that was superb,” says India, alluding to Bush’s non secular affiliation. “Once we had been within the Omo Valley, (villagers) did a ceremonial dance to welcome him.”

All in regards to the private touches

India’s group catered to extremely particular requests for food and drinks, since “the journey is all about them.”

For instance, she says Bush likes consolation meals like peanut butter sandwiches and pasta when he travels, so India ensured all of his favourite meals had been accessible even in essentially the most distant elements of Ethiopia.

“For world leaders, service is at a stage of madness of their houses they usually have govt assistants in all places they go,” she explains. “So after they journey, they actually have excessive expectations — and understandably so.”

"When you're willing to pay, it's a really easy conversation," says India of how Sienna Charles managed to close down major world monuments for clients, including the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, pictured.

“Whenever you’re keen to pay, it is a very easy dialog,” says India of how Sienna Charles managed to shut down main world monuments for shoppers, together with the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, pictured.

Yunus Emre Gunaydin/Anadolu Company/Getty Photos

For the reason that accommodations in Ethiopia didn’t meet India’s expectations, she labored with native companions to construct luxurious camps for the previous president and his entourage as an alternative.

They bought model new furnishings, bedding, sheets — constructing stunning lodging from scratch.

The good factor about working with world leaders, she says, is that they know the right way to delegate.

“I inform them what we’re considering they usually let me run with it. These are individuals who run nations, in order that they perceive the facility of hiring specialists and might relinquish (management) to people who find themselves good at what they do,” says India.

As soon as, she helped a world chief rejoice his spouse’s birthday by protecting your entire flooring of a non-public villa with unique “Cherry Snow” roses flown in from Ecuador, she says.

One other time, she labored with film set producers and styling specialists to create a cinematic Parisian scene within the coronary heart of Miami, the place famed chef Eric Ripert designed a particular menu.

And in Italy, she organized for a world chief to get pleasure from a non-public go to with a well-known jewellery designer. The chief helped design a singular reward for his spouse — a gold Navette ring with an oval-cut faceted ruby and 24 round-cut diamonds for $714,000.

Discretion, safety and exclusivity

Normally, India says her shoppers come to her with a imaginative and prescient of what they hope to expertise on a visit.

Maybe that is taking a deeper dive into Chinese language tradition, lazing by the pool in St. Barts, or just renting a home and being a grandpa for per week in Italy.

After an preliminary session, India — who has traveled to greater than 80 nations and insists on experiencing every advice first-hand — will usually counsel three to 5 choices, outlining the professionals and cons of every.

From there, the journey skilled works intently with the shopper’s chief of employees, private assistant and safety to iron out the main points.

“From the room kind to meals allergy symptoms, what kind of eating places they like, what time they wish to get up, what newspapers they need within the room, what kind of tour guides they like … we take each element under consideration,” she says.

India has taken clients on exclusive, private tours of Machu Picchu.

India has taken shoppers on unique, non-public excursions of Machu Picchu.

Pablo Porciuncula Brune/AFP/Getty Photos

Transport tends to be comparatively easy since 100% of her shoppers have their very own non-public yachts, helicopters and personal jets.

As a part of safety protocol, Sienna Charles typically wants to shut down main monuments and museums so shoppers can expertise them alone.

“We have closed down the Sydney Opera Home, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Louvre, Versailles, the Nice Sphinx of Giza, Machu Picchu… tons of monuments,” says India. “Whenever you’re keen to pay, it is a very easy dialog.”

Sometimes, Sienna Charles first tries to rearrange a go to throughout off-hours. If that is not doable, they try to make a donation of anyplace from $20,000 to $100,000.

“We need not spend cash only for the sake of spending cash,” she says. “You simply should know who to name. But when they’re capable of view it in a non-public method, that is a win.”

Leaving room for spontaneity

Safety is way more difficult, particularly when working with world leaders who are inclined to journey with no less than one safety agent.

“They’ve loads of safety — and the safety desires an itinerary,” she says. “They need it mapped out from actually what number of steps now we have to take from the automobile to each monument to each restaurant.”

Initially, this was fairly irritating for India as a result of she believes that “journey is all about being serendipitous.”

“The journey unfolds as (our shoppers) are touring. We discovered fairly rapidly after that first journey (in Egypt) that sure, we’ll put together a minute by minute account of what we will do for the safety groups, however we additionally should handle the shopper,” she says. “And if the shopper feels prefer it’s an amazing journey, that is a win for me.”

Meaning, at occasions, venturing off the minute-by-minute itinerary. For instance, when she took Bush to Ethiopia, India had an sudden alternative to go to a distant tribe within the Omo River Valley.

However the group must shimmy down a really steep path with poor visibility to achieve the river, then take a ship to get there.

“I requested his employees if he might do it so (Bush) might see extra. They usually mentioned completely not,” remembers India.

“However this is able to be the one approach we’d get a second with this tribe, so I requested Bush straight, and he mentioned, ‘Completely.'”

“I’ve discovered to respect the safety and employees who wish to maintain the particular person secure, however that (strict itinerary) may protect them from having fun with issues,” she says.

A brand new period for ‘uncontrolled’ spending

The pandemic hasn’t impacted the travels of the ultra-wealthy and elites, says India.

“There are loads of locations like Fiji and Thailand that began letting non-public jets in about six months in the past,” she says. “It is an advantageous time to be an ultra-high-net-worth particular person. As a result of, like anything, cash talks. Persons are keen to spend the cash to do no matter they need.”

She has observed a number of ultra-luxury journey tendencies spurred by the pandemic. As an illustration, India’s shoppers are inclined to plan journeys on the final minute — generally only a day or two prematurely — because of the uncertainty of border restrictions and quarantine necessities.

They’ve additionally began skipping intermediaries totally, buying their very own yachts and personal jets and shopping for trip houses.

What’s extra, India says discretion has grow to be the norm.

Gardens of the 'Orangerie' of Versailles Palace.

Gardens of the ‘Orangerie’ of Versailles Palace.

Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Photos

“They don’t seem to be touring only for the sake of journey. However after they do go, the rich are usually not sharing on-line anymore,” she says. “When a lot of the world is struggling, they are not going to publish pictures aboard their mega yacht.”

Nonetheless, the cash spent on journeys proper now could be “insane”, she provides. “Folks simply need what they need. If they’re chartering, it may be the most costly yacht. They usually’re not messing round with employees who do not know the right way to cope with them.”

Earlier than the pandemic, India would assist shoppers constitution yachts for roughly $200,000 to $300,000 per week. Now, they’re reserving boats that price as much as $1 million per week.

In relation to trip houses and estates, spending has skyrocketed from a median of $10,000 an evening to $35,000 or extra for Sienna Charles shoppers.

“The spending is definitely uncontrolled,” says India. “It is throughout the board. Persons are simply keen to pay for exclusivity and being on the proper place on the proper time. All the time.”

High picture: Jaclyn Sienna India, founding father of the Sienna Charles luxurious way of life firm. Credit score: Anna Gunselman


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