The XOJET 10: Jason Beckley
As the global marketing director for Alfred Dunhill, one of the oldest and most prestigious British men’s luxury brands, Jason Beckley’s travels over the years have taken him from apprenticing with a master craftsman shoemaker in Malaysia to collaborating with augmented reality software companies in California. Whether he’s in London, Shanghai or Dubai, Beckley oversees every aspect of production, from the design of handmade leather goods to bespoke iPhone apps. Always joking, always curious, and always working but never taking himself too seriously, Beckley thrives on a year-round travel schedule that most would find grueling, and which he kindly took time to discuss with XOJET.
1. Growing up, what was your first dream destination?
Believe it or not, it was London. I grew up in the English countryside, and whenever I used to drive on the motorway—well, whenever my family drove on the motorway, I used to see signs for London on the road, and it just seemed so magical.
2. Tell us about the first time you flew on a plane.
To be honest, I got a late start, and I didn’t fly on a plane until my late teens. But there was an air base close to my house, growing up, and I did once have the chance to fly in a simulator when I was very young. I’ll never forget being able to touch all those control boards—it felt real enough to me as a boy. I wouldn’t fly any better now, but I’d kind of like to do it again, actually.
3. How many days a year do you travel now, and what percentage is for business?
Every other week. So, really, I travel half the year for business. And the truth is I love it—in fact, I wish I could travel more, but please don’t tell my wife I said that—she wishes I loved it less.
4. When you travel for business, what’s most important to you?
A damn good Wi-Fi signal!
5. What’s the biggest difference between how you travel for leisure and how you travel for business?
Of course long flights always give you time to think, whatever the reason for traveling, but the difference between business and leisure for me is simply how I use that time in air. Because when I travel for work, I get on a plane with one problem—well, there are usually a few problems in my head—and I step off the plane with those problems solved. Or at least one problem solved. One’s always a good start.
6. What was your most luxurious travel experience?
Working in the luxury market, I’ve had the opportunity to stay at some of the best hotels in the world, and I thoroughly enjoy myself every chance I get. There are a few experiences that come to mind, thanks to the people who made those experiences incredible. But what comes to mind, when thinking about luxury and what that really means, are the times I have flown over extremely impoverished areas en route to my final destination: that incredible contrast—that disparity—that I’ve seen looking down has always made me most grateful of my good fortune.
7. How have your attitudes about travel changed over the years?
The more I travel, the more I want to travel, the more I want to see—technology might make for a smaller world, but travel makes it so much larger—and if it weren’t for my family, for missing my kids so much sometimes I could cry, I would.
8. How do you spend your time in flight?
Reading, definitely, but most of all, I love watching movies—it’s the only time I have to catch them.
9. What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given you about traveling?
Don’t eat in restaurants the locals don’t frequent. Good advice. Especially true in Asia.
10. What’s your dream destination now?
I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice, but I still dream of returning to the Maldives one day. it’s as close to heaven as I’ve ever been.
And for extra credit: Given how much you travel, what’s one thing you never leave home without?
Easy: photos of my children.
THE XOJET LIST
Favorite city: At the moment, I’d have to say New York City. Because I had such a fantastic time there last week.
Favorite hotel: The PuLi in Shanghai.
Favorite restaurant: A few come to mind, but actually, one of my favorite things to do when I travel is explore different restaurants, all types of dining, to try as many different places as I can. On the other hand, I have gotten a little too adventurous for my own good on many occasions—and I’m afraid I still haven’t learned my lesson.
Favorite bar: I don’t much care for hotel bars in any city, but there’s a pool bar in Tokyo I like very much and where I’ll take anyone who’ll join me at two in the morning.
Favorite resort: I don’t frequent resorts, really, so again, I’d have to say anywhere in the Maldives qualifies.
Favorite spa: Spa? No spas, please, I’m English.
Favorite museum/gallery: The New Museum in Manhattan.
Favorite travel device: I’m a hopeless gadget freak, but I’d have to say my Canon G12 camera.
Favorite piece of Dunhill luggage: The Heist Traveler. Because it’s small enough to carry onboard, and it has two separate compartments for suits and shirts. I take it everywhere, truly.