MY CLUB • February 2020
When it comes to marketing luxury travel to the masses, no one does it with quite so much flair as Jill Kluge. We chatted with Mandarin Oriental Hotels’ chief marketing officer about the world of high-end hospitality, bucket-list rail journeys and her Gold Executive Club Membership
Where’s the most exciting place you’ve ever visited?
One of my most thrilling adventures was when I lived in Lhasa, Tibet, for a couple of years in the 1980s. Tibet had just opened its borders to outsiders and so many exciting types were coming in: mountaineers, explorers, historians... I loved my time there, meeting intrepid travellers, learning about Buddhism and driving to Kathmandu with Everest in view against a crystal-clear sky. The country is 12,500ft above sea level, so it quite literally takes your breath away.
What does your average day look like?
It all depends whether I’m waking up in one of our spectacular hotels, or commuting to our London office on the Tube. In any event, what’s brilliant about my job is the variety of talented professionals I work with. One minute I can be talking to advertising agencies about our celebrity fan campaign, the next I’ll be working with the editorial team to produce compelling copy for our guest magazine. Ultimately, it’s about making sure we’re supporting all our hotels in all their magic.
Which is your favourite hotel?
There’s nothing better than sitting on the banks of the Chao Phraya river eating fresh papaya at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, or ogling views of Central Park from Mandarin Oriental, New York (pictured top of page), but choosing a favourite from our hotels would be rather like choosing a favourite child, so I’ll go for the King Arthur Hotel in Wales (pictured above). I’m Welsh, and find the Gower Peninsula has a special magic about it. It’s one of my favourite places in the whole world.
What is your bucket-list trip?
I adore train journeys and have always wanted to take the train back from Hong Kong to London, with a trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway, a visit to St Petersburg (pictured below) and lots of stopping off in Europe along the way. Some friends of mine did the same journey years ago and they still talk about it to this day.
What are your three in-flight essentials?
Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a selection of audio books (at the moment I’m really into the classics) and my cashmere wrap that I picked up in India.
Do you have any travel hacks or habits?
I always used to arrive at the airport last minute; I wanted to leave home as late as possible. However, having had one or two mishaps, I am now reformed: I get there super-early and enjoy the lounge facilities (pictured below). I catch up on work; I always eat before I board; I sit and people watch, plane watch, and always end up treating myself to some little potion that I don’t really need.
What is the best thing about the Executive Club?
Being a Gold Member, I can bring two guests into the lounge and use the First class check-in desk, which are both amazing perks. I also find the Executive Club app on my phone extremely helpful for keeping track of things, and of course all the lovely content produced here in The Club.
Do you collect and redeem Avios?
I certainly have plenty of them. I take advantage when I can, but I mainly use them for family and friends. Most recently I used my Avios to redeem Reward Flights to Munich with my son, and before that a trip to New York with a great friend of mine for her birthday.
Who would be your dream travel companion?
My son and I love to dive, and a recent diving trip to Indonesia with him got me thinking about David Attenborough and how amazing it’d be to visit a remote destination with him. I could listen to him all day. As a group, Mandarin Oriental has made a commitment to be single-use plastic free across our entire portfolio by the first quarter of 2021, so I would enjoy talking to him about what more we could be doing to help support the environment.
Executive Club Members can collect and redeem Avios at Mandarin Oriental hotels worldwide including in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Marrakech and Bodrum.