Curated tours by private jet

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Four Seasons uses a VIP-configured Boeing 757 for its private jet journeys.

Choosing where to go on holiday can be a traumatic experience, especially for a large family.

Each person has individual ideas of what makes the perfect holiday, and often the views conflict. For some, the perfect holiday is a sand-covered beach, with little more than just watching the tide roll in every day. But for others, the chance to explore a new city and culture, with always something to do is the way to go.

And even when you can decide where to go, you need to fit within a budget.

But what if you had no budget worries? What if you could go anywhere, for any length of time? The majority of us have probably often had daydreams about winning the lottery, and where we would go if we could go anywhere.

For the tiny percentage that can go anywhere they want without having to win the lottery, decisions on where to travel can still be hard to make. And even when that decision is made, the tiny per cent want to ensure that they get the finest that a destination has to offer.

Fortunately, there are companies out there that will take care of everything for you. Most of us are able to take an all-inclusive tour, but for the tiny percent, the tour swaps a coach for a private jet, a rundown hotel on the outskirts of town for a luxury resort, and an all you can eat buffet with an inordinate amount of brown food that you won’t be able to recognise for handpicked ingredients cooked together by some of the world’s finest chefs.

One of these is Four Seasons, the luxury hotel chain. They offer tours using a converted 1996-build 757.

Originally delivered to Dutch charter operator Transavia (which was later bought by KLM) the 757 spent time with operators in Finland, Iraq and Mexico before undergoing its conversion.

In airline service the aircraft seated 233, now it seats just 52 people in a single-class configuration with two-abreast seating. Externally the aircraft was painted in an all-black livery by Norwich UK-based Air Livery, internally the aircraft is light and airy, with the seats designed by Iacobucci able to convert into a lie-flat bed that stretches for 6.5 feet.

The Four Seasons website lists one tour that uses the 757 still available for 2019. It starts in Seattle and ends in Miami three weeks later. During those three weeks, the tour takes in Kyoto, Bali, Seychelles, Rwanda, Marrakesh, Bogota and Galapagos Islands.

If you want a seat on the flight, which also includes nights stays in Four Seasons properties in the places that you will visit, it will set you back a mere $143,000. If you are travelling by yourself, the single room supplement is $14,300.

As well as all the flights and hotels, you also get all meals both on and off the aircraft. What you don’t get is your flights to Seattle for departure and from Miami at the end of the trip.

But if you can afford to spend $143,000 on a three-week holiday, there is a strong chance that you’ll be able to afford flights to and from the US, or from one city to another if you live in there.

Aman resorts also offers curated tours, although unlike Four Seasons and Deer Jet, they do not own their own aircraft.
Using a chartered Airbus ACJ318, the Aman tour starts in Tokyo and ends in Venice. Along the way, the 22-day tour stops at Aman Resorts locations and includes cultural activities that have been hand picked by the Aman team.

These include having Sumo lessons in Tokyo and Yoga in Phuket. The tour also takes in India, Greece and Venice. The websites show the full itinerary, although does not include a price. The chances are though that if you need to ask, you probably cannot afford it.

Another company operating curated holidays by private jet is Chinese operator Deer Jet, although the aircraft operated by their Hong Kong-based subsidiary Hongkong Jet.

Unlike the narrow-body Four Seasons Boeing 757, the Deer Jet aircraft is a widebody Boeing 787. The aircraft itself was originally ordered by a different customer, who was unable to take delivery.

A Boeing 787 found normally find itself in airline service carrying around 220 passengers, but the VVIP conversion for Hongkong Jet has seats for just 40.

The majority of the seats are in the ‘Guest cabin’ on the aircraft: an area at the front of the plane that is configured with just forty seats, behind this section of the cabin is a larger a lounge and dining room cabin, and behind that a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom.

Whilst Hongkong Jet do offer curated trips on the aircraft, it is also available for individual charter. If you do want to travel in the ultimate luxury, it’s going to set you back a cool $74,000 per hour.

Moving up one step in widebody aircraft is the Crystal Luxury Cruises Boeing 777-200LR. Originally delivered to Air Austral in 2011, the Crystal Luxury 777 was reconfigured by Greenpoint Technologies and now seats just 88 passengers in a staggered 2x2x2 configuration.

With so few seats on board, the 777 has an extended range of 10,000km, making it possible to fly from London directly to the west coast of Australia, from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, or from Beijing to Caracas. On board, passengers are promised an ‘extraordinary culinary experience’ thanks to award winning executive chef Kerry Sear.

But curated private jet tours are not just confined to large, converted airliners. Deer Jet, mentioned above as the owner of the world’s first VVIP 787 also offer tours on a Gulfstream G650.

The most prominent of these is in conjunction with White Desert, a UK-based tour operator that specialises in tours of Antarctica.

Using a G650, passengers fly to Cape Town in South Africa, which is one of the closest departure points to the Wolfs Fang Airport landing strip on the northern coast of Antarctica. Guest have a choice of how long to stay.

The shortest time involves spending just six hours on the frozen continent, during which time you can trek through the frozen countryside, explore ice tunnels, or just hang out and take lots of Instagram-worth pics.

After dinner, the Gulfstream makes the five-and-a-half-hour flight back to Cape Town.

The one-day trip is priced at $15,000 per person. The company does offer longer tours, with guests having the option of staying for up to a week in Antarctica.

With this option, you are transferred from the Gulfstream directly on landing onto a DC-3 prop plane. Although the DC-3 is an old aircraft, its rugged performance makes it the perfect aircraft for Antarctica’s hostile terrain.

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