Alex Malcolm, founder of Jacada Travel, knows luxury travel is about steering clear of crowds and having access to exclusive experiences—especially in far-flung destinations. With the changing face of the hospitality industry, tour operator itineraries have shifted from off-the-rack to custom-tailored. That’s exactly what Jacada does for its clients since 2008. They just announced a customizable journey to Antarctica and the South Pole for (just) $83,000. We caught up with Alex in-between his busy travel schedule to learn more about Jacada and what sets it apart from other operators.
LP: How was the name Jacada chosen for the company?
Alex Malcolm: Our name is based on the jacaranda tree. Like us, the tree was originally from Latin America, but has spread across the world because people loved it so much.
LP: What sets Jacada Travel apart from other luxury travel tour operators?
Malcolm: Jacada’s main strength is its people, from the first person you’ll speak to when you call the office to the last guide to whom you wave goodbye at the airport. All local guides are handpicked, ensuring that our clients will get the best experience of every place they visit. Our travel designers have spent long periods of time in the destinations we offer, and we won’t expand to a new country unless we have first-hand knowledge of that place. Above all, we are a company that delivers thoughtful, personalized, warm and intelligent service. This is one of the main reasons why our clients come back to us.
LP: Why are Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa your main locations?
Malcolm: We started with Latin America because of my personal experience in the region and have since expanded to Africa and Southeast Asia because we feel these are areas that we can fill a gap and offer something new.
Right now we are focusing on our new Polar tours (Antarctica and the Arctic Circle) and increasing the number of countries we work with in Asia: luxury trips to Nepal are on the immediate horizon.
LP: What’s your experience with travel?
Malcolm: I have always loved to travel, but it was during the period I lived in Rio de Janeiro that I first entered the industry. When I returned to the UK, I wanted to encourage other people to travel to Brazil and the rest of Latin America, but I recognized the challenges posed by visiting such a massive region with the short amount of time people usually have at their disposal. I set up Jacada because I wanted to provide a means for people to get the most out of their time, while traveling at a comfortable pace with five-star standards.
LP: What is the price range for these customized trips? What is the added value for travelers?
Malcolm: The prices of our trips vary widely because everything is bespoke, but the value comes in the quality of our service. The advantage of traveling with Jacada is simple: it’s the experience.
On a practical level, we take care of all the details and logistics so that our guests don’t have to: we know which room has the best view or the most privacy; for every leg of the journey we’ll have a driver waiting; we can whisk people through airports with our VIP service; and if any unforeseen circumstances arise, we can be reached around the clock.
Furthermore, when you read our testimonials in which people talk of a ‘life changing experience,’ it’s clear that we offer far more than seamless travel. One such way we provide these experiences is through our amazing local guides who can show guests a side of a destination they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access or might not have known about. For example, there is part of a national park in Namibia that the public can’t enter, but because we partner with one of the research stations, we are allowed to bring our clients to this untouched, wildlife-rich area.
LP: What type of customers are you getting right now?
Malcolm: Most of our clients are couples, including honeymooners, but we also work with a lot of families. A growing client base is groups of friends taking annual big trips.
LP: What is the process for creating a new itinerary or offering a new location?
Malcolm: It varies: we often create itineraries where we feel there is a gap in our offerings, but it might also be because of a new product launch that we want to incorporate into itineraries. These are only ever used as inspiration, as our trips are all tailored to the individual client.
In terms of new locations, we launch areas that we see as exciting, that we know well, or, in some cases, that are newly open to travelers (such as Myanmar). Sometimes we are inspired by our own travels. [We have a new] honeymoon itinerary to Vietnam and Cambodia, which was created to mirror a trip that our head of Southeast Asia recently took with her partner.
LP: What would you suggest is a great experience for a guy’s getaway?
Malcolm: We specialize in adventure travel, which I think is suitable for LuxuriousPROTOTYPE’s audience. For an all-male group, I would suggest a tour of Costa Rica, for the zip-lining and whitewater rafting, or a trip to Namibia (the best adventure travel destination in Africa) for sky-diving, dune boarding, wind-surfing and quad biking.
To learn more about Jacada Travel, go to www.jacadatravel.com.
Nubia DuVall Wilson is a contributing travel writer for LuxuriousPROTOTYPE. She is a luxury travel expert and published author of Encounters with Strangers. Learn more at www.encounterswithstrangers.com. Follow her on Twitter @NubiaWilson.