Wealth

‘Quiet luxury’ was once all about fashion — but now it describes how the top 1% travel too

Heli-skiing on virgin snow in Antarctica for a cool $2.2 million. A polar bear safari in an “off-limits” area of Norway’s Svalbard for $300,000. How about tracking snow leopards in the Himalayas with renowned explorers for $100,000? 

Big-ticket travel experiences like those are indicative of the “quiet luxury” trend which began in the world of fashion, with timeless lines trumping brand-blaring outfits.

Now, stealth wealth is spilling into the travel industry, as one-percenters are increasingly forgoing glitzy see-and-be-seen destinations, such as Capri, for more discreet getaways. 

Less limelight, more connection

Jaclyn Sienna India, the founder of the ultra-luxury travel company Sienna Charles, said she considers herself a longtime quiet luxury disciple.

While others may prefer the boulevards of Paris or the shores of Monaco, she escapes to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City once a year.

Monaco has long been a playground for the elite, but wealthy travelers are increasingly opting for more remote locations, say luxury travel advisors. 
Alexander Spatari | Moment | Getty Images

She said her clients are focused more than ever on their families, well-being and mental health “because the world is a lot more stressful.” As a result, they seek more connection than limelight when they travel.

But another important aspect of the quiet luxury movement concerns security. Since celebrity homes have been a target for thieves of late, high-profile events like the Super Bowl are less attractive, India said. 

Consequently, clients are seeking remote destinations, often at a moment’s notice, she said.

“We just booked a billionaire family on an island in a villa in Brazil. Brazil is not a place that immediately comes to mind … But, to me, it’s a place that still holds authenticity and soul. It’s got great food and an incredible spa and wellness culture,” India said.

Jaclyn Sienna India said she recently booked a “billionaire family” on a trip to a remote Brazilian island, despite Brazil not being “a place that immediately comes to mind.”
Sean De Burca | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Africa is another place where clients can seek solitude, she said. It was the choice of former U.S. President George W. Bush, whom she accompanied on a painstakingly organized personal trip to Ethiopia in 2015, she said.

Exclusivity and privacy

Roman & Erica is a luxury lifestyle company run by husband-and-wife team Erica Jackowitz and Roman Chiporukha. Jackowitz, a New York City native, compared quiet luxury to the understated elegance of cashmere, contrasting it with the Noughties trend of “wearing Chanel across your chest.”

Jackowitz manages the lifestyle needs of 30 families, from politicians and tech CEOs to hedge fund executives, she said. For them, quiet luxury travel is about exclusivity and privacy, she said.

Africa is also a popular spot for wealthy travelers looking for solitude, said Sienna India.
Thomas Barwick | Digitalvision | Getty Images

But the pandemic accelerated a desire among wealthy travelers to have meaningful experiences — which can range from requests for recommendations on where to take a quiet morning hike to organizing a game of tennis with Roger Federer, she said.

The next frontier

The business of catering to the ultra-rich comes with a fresh challenge: availability.

According to a 2023 Henley & Partners report, there are 28,420 centi-millionaires worldwide, which are those with investable assets of at least $100 million. That’s nearly 12% more than 2022 estimates and twice the amount that existed in 2003.

Yachts are more popular than ever because “more people … can afford these kinds of experiences,” said Roman & Erica’s Erica Jackowitz.
Anastasiia Krivenok | Moment | Getty Images

Jackowitz said her clients never opt for conventional cruises, as they prefer chartering private yachts. In fact, she said the booming charter market recently prevented her from securing a last-minute booking. 

“You’re now competing with 10 other people traveling with friends and family,” she said. “There are just so many more people who can afford these kinds of experiences.”

That’s leading moneyed travelers to search for new places for solitude, she said.

Wealthy clients are focused more than ever on their families, well-being and mental health “because the world is a lot more stressful,” said Sienna India. 
Thomas Barwick | Digitalvision | Getty Images

The next frontier? Space, she said.

For a client, Roman & Erica secured a place on the first all-private astronaut mission for $50 million, she said. Space travel is so sought after that Chiporukha founded a separate entity, SpaceVIP, to cater to the demand.

Space Perspective plans to start flying six-hour journeys to the edge of space aboard its spherical capsule next year. So far, 50% of bookings are for full capsules that eight people, according to the Florida-based company. The price tag: $1 million. 

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