LUXURY IN THE SKIES
What’s it like to spend three weeks flying around the world on a private jet? Laura Begley Bloom checks out the Four Seasons Private Jet Experience and makes some amazing discoveries.
In a few minutes, look out the left side of the plane,” the pilot advises over the intercom. “We’re going to be flying over Mount Kilimanjaro.” I put down my glass of champagne and grab my camera. The jet takes a turn and starts circling the snow-dusted summit. I can almost peer into the crater.
It’s probably the closest I will ever come to climbing this epic mountain – and it’s just one example of the many singular experiences I have while spending three weeks on the Four Seasons Private Jet.
Launched in 2015, this experience has been creating quite a buzz in the travel world, thanks to its around-the-world itineraries with all stays at Four Seasons properties and over-the-top trappings: a Boeing 757 outfitted with just 52 white Italian leather flatbed seats, Bulgari amenities, and a fully loaded iPad that you get to keep at the end of the journey.
The 19-day Cultural Escapes trip that I’m taking starts and ends in London, with stops in Moscow, Dubai, the Seychelles, the Serengeti and Florence. Four of my fellow passengers are on their second Four Seasons Private Jet trip in less than a year. The reason? For the access you get to money-can’tbuy experiences. Like having a prima ballerina perform at a private gala dinner in Moscow. Or driving Formula One race cars in Dubai. Or floating over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon and watching zebras and giraffe from above. First stop: London The pinch-myself service begins as soon as I arrive at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane and discover that the free ‘house car’ is a chauffeured Rolls-Royce. I ask the driver to take me to Bond Street, where I splurge on a Burberry coat and a few other wardrobe flourishes. (I admit – seeing a woman swanning through the lobby in headto-toe white cashmere makes me worry that I haven’t packed the right clothes.)
Imagine my surprise (and relief!) at the champagne welcome toast that night, when I discover that the cashmere-clad lady isn’t part of the jet trip. Instead, the other passengers are unpretentious, interesting and engaged – and they’re excited to spend the next three weeks exploring the world together.
Ready for take-off The sleek private jet terminal at London’s Stansted airport couldn’t be more different from a typical departure scene. For one thing, there’s no line. The Journey Staff has done the advance work with customs, bag check and more. A red carpet leads to the sexy black Boeing 757, where the crew is waiting to whisk me to my seat.
I’ve seen photos of the jet, but it’s even more impressive in person. Each of the seats is topped with a thick orange cashmere throw. Every passenger is given a stylish grey duffel filled with treats that are yours to keep, even the Bose noise-cancelling headphones.