It’s daybreak on the Amazon River in Peru. Early morning light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows of your suite aboard the Aria, a deluxe river cruise ship accommodating an exclusive 32 guests, and over the gentle rippling of its wake a Ringed Kingfisher calls in the distance. By tomorrow, a private jet will have taken you nearly 3,000 thousand miles away to relax over sunset cocktails at the legendary Posada de Mike Rapu on Easter Island in Polynesia.
It’s just another stop on upscale travel company Abercrombie & Kent
’s 26 day Islands, Savannas & the Amazon excursion, culminating with a lavish evening at the Hotel Metropole in Monaco. Priced upwards of $80K, it’s not for everyone, but if you have the means to do so, these intimately-sized adventures are the most luxurious way to make a dent on that seemingly endless bucket list. "Travel by private jet allows guests to experience far more than they could on a conventional itinerary – and with greater ease and access," explains Abercrombie & Kent President Phil Otterson, "Our guests understand the value of this, which led to our 2014 Private Jet Africa and Around the World departures selling out in just weeks and generating long waiting lists." For the jet setter who doesn’t want to get bogged down by delays, transfers, long security lines and the like, private jet tours are a fast growing trend. Why? The short answer: because it’s hassle-free luxury and first class all the way.
The Four Seasons
, for instance, is far from solely hotel operators anymore. In fact, the company now curates a number of full-service globetrotting expeditions where passengers can be transported by private jet to the iconic hotel brand’s various locations around the world. As Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Four Seasons, recently shared, “In 2012, when we first introduced our Around the World by Private Jet experiences the response was overwhelmingly positive. The popularity and success of these early trips demonstrated the considerable opportunity and growth potential in the future of private jet travel, and encouraged us to look for new ways to evolve the experience.”
That ultimately led to the recently unveiled Four Seasons Boeing 757, elegantly retrofitted for private travel with only 52 seats. The moment you step aboard it’s apparent that everything has been carefully orchestrated to provide a high-touch experience (they even equip each passenger with a near indestructible suitcase from luxury luggage brand RIMOWA), but that’s not what makes these trips worth shelling out the big bucks (ranging from $70–120K per person based on double occupancy). Rather, the unique offerings and VIP perks are what distinguish each voyage from your average vacation. How else would one get to enjoy a private dinner at the Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon one night and an evening at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan with backstage passes the next? On the Four Seasons Backstage with the Arts journey, travelers are treated to just that on a sixteen day cultural feast through six European cities.
Now, if you’re really looking to get off the beaten path, without compromising comfort of course, National Geographic
is also in the luxury travel game and has put a few excursions together, as only Nat Geo could. The recently announced Human Journey: Tracing Legendary Peoples and Sacred Places with Dr. Spencer Wells promises the ultimate balance between luxury travel (they’ve got a customized Boeing 757 of their own) and exotic exploration. With stops at numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Mtskheta, Georgia, the cave temples of Dambulla in Sri Lanka and the churches at Lalibela, Ethiopia, it offers a level of grand adventure rarely possible traveling on your own, while maintaining a personal touch that’s far from being prodded along on a group vacation full of fanny packs and tourist manuals. In the neighborhood of $70k, these once-in-a-lifetime experiences allow you to truly delve into a foreign culture with a renowned team of experts to share their knowledge and insights on each destination.
As they increase in popularity, there seems to be a private-jet tour tailored for every type of traveler: the history buff, the socialite, the adventurer, the beach bum and so on, with thrilling new itineraries created each year to meet the expectations of today’s jet setter. The continued growth signals one thing for sure: they’re well worth it.