How the super-rich beat jet lag, from IV drips to Aztec rituals

Writer Hazel Plush boarding VistaJet
Writer Hazel Plush boarding a VistaJet aircraft - Sam Churchill

“If you’re a chief executive being paid five million pounds a year, then losing just one day to jet lag will cost the company tens of thousands – or more,” says Matteo Atti cooly, unphased by such extraordinary figures. “That’s why in-flight wellness isn’t indulgence: it’s an investment. You need to be in good shape to meet your investors, or to shake on that billion-dollar deal.”

While the rest of us make do with eye masks and neck pillows, private jet passengers have a vast array of gizmos and advisors to help them hop between time zones. In-flight menus designed by nutritionists, on-board double beds with memory-foam mattresses, pre-departure IV drips to boost rehydration: in Atti’s world, these are all de rigeur. And as chief marketing officer of VistaJet, the world’s second-largest private aviation provider, he doesn’t just have first-hand experience of this way of life – he’s driving it forward.

We met on a grey March morning at Farnborough Airport, one of the UK’s busiest private aviation hubs – and not even the lashing rain could dampen its runway’s ritz. Gulfstreams, Embraers, Cessnas: these sleek, multi-million-dollar aircraft rested on the apron, poised to whisk the jet set to Geneva, Dubai, Aspen and beyond.

VistaJet's client list includes the likes of the Clooneys, the Obamas and the Beckhams
VistaJet's client list includes the likes of the Clooneys, the Obamas and the Beckhams - Eric Thayer

But the most eye-catching of all was VistaJet’s Bombardier Global 7500, the largest purpose-built private jet in existence, dubbed the “Ferrari of the skies” by those in the know. Its RRP is US$75 million (£59 million), and VistaJet has 18 in its fleet – the world’s biggest single collection – each available for US$25,000 (£19,700) per hour, the flagship of its membership-based charter offering.

The company’s client list is equally eye-popping: the Clooneys, the Obamas and the Beckhams have all been spotted emerging from its silver-and-red livery in recent years. Taylor Swift even reportedly used a VistaJet plane to fly from Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas last month, grabbing even bigger headlines than the game itself.

Food fit for F1 champions

You might think that if you cross the globe while snoozing in the Global 7500’s double bed, or reclining in its ergonomic “zero gravity” leather seats, you’ll land at their destination feeling pretty sharp. “But what if you could arrive feeling better than you did when you left?”, pondered Atti rhetorically, a smooth segue to VistaJet’s new wellbeing programme, devised with the expertise of nutritionists, physicians and other health experts – the first of its kind in the aviation world.

Taylor Swift's flight from Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas grabbed bigger headlines than the game itself
Taylor Swift's flight from Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Las Vegas grabbed bigger headlines than the game itself - Getty

“We start with a 90-minute pre-flight consultation,” explained Jenna Daou, the company’s private dining specialist and a trained dietician. “I learn about the members’ lifestyle, tastes, medical history and dietary requirements, creating a profile which I use to curate menus for all of their flights.”

No time for a consultation? Daou has also devised sample menus, including a Performance Athlete menu created in collaboration with F1 champion Charles Leclerc. Think grilled chicken, vegetables, salmon, wholegrains – the kind of food your GP recommends. VistaJet flies Ferrari’s drivers around the world – “and they’re very particular about what they eat”, Daou smiles.

Alternatively, the Rejuvenate menu features ingredients laden with probiotics, collagen and antioxidants – such as beetroot juice, asparagus and fermented foods. The Revitalize menu includes iron-rich organic filet mignon served rare, with raw spinach and watercress.

Buddhism, baths and ‘biohacking’

VistaJet’s billionaire founder and chairman Thomas Flohr reportedly spends more than 200 days every year in flight, travelling between his homes all over the world – as well as those of his daughter Nina, who married into Greek and Danish royalty.

Hazel trying out some of the Guerlain cosmetics that are provided in-flight
Hazel trying out some of the Guerlain cosmetics that are provided in-flight - Sam Churchill

His aircrafts’ range is equally vast: since 2004, VistaJet’s fleet has flown to 2,400 airports across 96 per cent of all countries. “And we thought to ourselves, this puts the world’s greatest wellness treatments at our fingertips,” said Atti, handing me a weighty brochure entitled Private World. Its pages are filled with extraordinary in-destination experiences: think helicopter rides to Everest base camp for guided meditation with Buddhist monks – or “biohacking” at Six Senses Ibiza, featuring cryotherapy (extreme coldness) and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, both typically used by top athletes to aid muscle recovery.

If flying to Mexico, you could join a cacao ceremony, a “euphoric experience” rooted in Mayan and Aztec rituals, the brochure explains – which involves drinking pure cacao while “engaging in meditation, ecstatic dance and breathwork”. In Costa Rica, “sound bath” healing uses the vibrations of Tibetan singing bowls to “clear excess negative energy” after your journey, while in India, mangal snãn (meaning “auspicious bath”) entails oil anointments and massages – all accompanied by live musicians, a ritual historically performed on royalty.

Inflight yoga and ‘daylight simulation’

True to brand, the Global 7500 also sports a wealth of ways to lessen air travel’s toll. I snooped inside the airy aircraft – all soft leather and polished wood, with huge windows and touch-screen temperature controls for every seat. The cabin’s “daylight simulation” lighting system uses set wavelengths to synchronise its passengers’ circadian rhythms with their destination’s timezone, and it is pressurised to mimic the altitude at 4,000 feet: more forgiving environs than commercial planes’ usual 8,000 feet.

Hazel chats to Naomie Shortt, a VistaJet 'Cabin Host'
Hazel chats to Naomie Shortt, a VistaJet 'Cabin Host' - Sam Churchill

“When you land, it feels like you’ve barely been anywhere; no bloating, no tiredness,” smiles Naomie Shortt brightly, one of the cabin crew – or “Cabin Host” in VistaJet parlance. I peeked into the bedroom, with its high-thread-count sheets and built-in library, and wondered if Clooney had ever dribbled into its hypoallergenic pillows.

Cashmere socks, cotton pyjamas, bespoke face creams and serums by premium brand Guerlain – all are provided in-flight, as well as yoga mats, massage balls and rollers (there’s more than enough room in the cabin for an inflight ashtanga session). I had to suppress a laugh at the four-disc yoga DVD, a rather Noughties throwback – provided in case you can’t stream a workout from your phone.

It’s all so noble, so at-odds with the notion of a rock-n-roll private jet lifestyle. When did the 1 per cent get so wholesome? “The jet set has a reputation for excess, but that’s wholly inaccurate,” laughs Atti. “Once you’ve tasted the best champagnes, you’ve tasted them all: it becomes dull, doesn’t it? But with wellness, the possibilities – and benefits – are endless.”