Grand Tours By Private Jet
Round-the-world tours take on a whole new meaning with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ exclusive private jet itineraries
It used to be that going on the Grand Tour of Europe was the highlight of anyone’s life—an indelible life-changing experience to be remembered and recounted for years afterwards to rapt and envious dinner companions back home.
Leave it to the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to completely change that paradigm. In 2015, it launched the first round-the-world and European tours for groups and private charters on a private jet—the latter a customised, fully branded and liveried 52-seater Boeing 757 that’s kitted out in handcrafted leather flatbed seats and global in-flight Wi-Fi, with free-flow Dom Pérignon and staffed by a journey manager, assistant, Four Seasons concierge and, bien sur, a Four Seasons chef.
The inaugural itineraries were decadently themed flights of fancy centred around a succession of Four Seasons properties. There was, for instance, a 24-day around-the-world trip that included snorkelling in Bora Bora in the French Polynesia, a helicopter joy-ride in Hawaii, a quiet stroll through the gardens of the Taj Mahal in India, and dinner in London. Another 16-day private tour took guests to some of the world’s most celebrated art centres including a performance in La Scala in Milan, an after-hours jaunt through Lisbon’s Berardo Collection Museum, and a gala at St Petersburg’s 18th century Pavlovsk Palace.
Clearly, these were not quotidian tours. The barriers to entry are unusual in their restricted nature, not to mention their prices. As Elizabeth Pizzinato, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts points out, “Private jet itineraries open doors to some of the world’s most exclusive experiences and extraordinary destinations.”
In fact, these tours have been so successful, especially amongst the recession-proof one percent, that the Four Seasons is launching an even more ambitious menu this year.
Kicking off the 2017 season in May was Culinary Discoveries, an admittedly taciturn description that belies the full ambitions of the 19-day, nine-city tour that offers food, history and culture, all delivered on a remarkable level of discreet privilege and first-class hotels, to boot. For starters, the Four Seasons stole a march on its competitors by partnering with one René Redzepi. With great taste, as it were, the much-laureled chef tapped into his Rolodex of contacts around the world to curate some extraordinary moments including private tours of foraging farms and visits to “unlisted” food markets. What’s more, a number of the chefs that Redzepi roped into the endeavour cooked in their own home kitchens for guests, considerably raising the stakes in holiday bragging rights.
There was, for example, a private dinner at the Seoul home of Lee Jong Kuk, the South Korean chef celebrated for his farm-to-table ethos, and the chance to learn more about Buddhist temple cuisine—haute vegetarian, really. This was followed, a day later in Japan, by a day of foraging in the company of the two Michelin-starred chef Shinobu Namae and dinner at his restaurant L’Effervescence in Tokyo.
If the thought of fine dining filled guests with ennui, there was an option to attend a Tokyo Giants baseball game or spar with the choreographer of the sword-fights in Kill Bill. From the Japanese capital, it’s wheels-up for a dizzying procession of gastronomic discoveries through Mumbai and its spice markets, Florence and Chianti vineyards, and Lisbon with a stopover in Copenhagen for another session of foraging and a private reunion with Redzepi and his team at Noma before the grand finale at Le Cinq at the Four Seasons George V.
Beyond the obvious bragging rights of collecting a haul of Michelin stars and wefies with big-named chefs, the tour has a more serious intention in encouraging, through hosted talks with local chefs and producers, a conversation about the past, present and future of food, and what the Four Seasons describes as “its intersection with creativity, innovation and community”.
For Redzepi, especially, the tour reflects his own literal and figurative journeys around the world, not the least of which has included Noma’s wildly successful forays into Japan and Australia. “We have always enjoyed the opportunity to travel and explore, and to learn about the ingredients and cultures that have helped shape what people eat and how they cook,” he says. “From our team’s travels across Scandinavia to relocating our restaurant to Tokyo and Sydney, our international journeys have helped expand our minds and our tastes.”
“This itinerary,” Pizzinato adds, “is the perfect example of why the Four Seasons Private Jet was launched, and furthers our innovative approach in planning exceptional travel journeys that create unforgettable memories.”
The marketing hyperbole aside, there is no gainsaying the quality of these tours, as even the most cursory glance at the itinerary of the Four Seasons’ September tour will attest. Kicking off in Seattle in early September, International Intrigue spans eight countries and nine cities in 24 days and takes in a lifetime’s worth of ludicrously privileged moments: a Shaolin performance on the Great Wall of China, a turtle safari in the Maldives, hilltop meditation in the Serengeti, private tour of the Hermitage and Fabergé museums, and a walk through Yves Saint-Laurent’s old quarters in the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.
By Daven Wu