Private jet travel gains wider appeal with journeys becoming increasingly bespoke, offbeat and adventurous Writer Angela Goh

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
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It’s a chic way to fly. From epic roundthe-world journeys to select destinations, private jet trips are hitting new highs in luxury travel.

Long famed for their comfort, convenience and efficiency, private jets are no longer all about getting speedily from A to B. New routes take travellers in plush style, out of their comfort zones, to offbeat destinations that offer intimate cultural glimpses and adventurous escapes.


Anantara takes island jet-setting to a hedonistic level with five magical nights at two of the Indian Ocean’s most aweinspiring islands. First, immerse yourself in the transcendental rhythms of culturally enticing Sri Lanka, before being ‘castaway’ in the Maldives.

Both experiences fly out of Bangkok on a sleek Gulfstream V (up to 12 guests) or Cessna Citation X (up to eight) jet. Plush with showers, leather seats and imbued with Anantara-style service on board, the journey is a vacation in itself. Arrive in style at Mattala International Airport in Sri Lanka’s spectacular south coast followed by a scenic 45-minute helicopter ride or a 90-minute road trip to the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort. (There is also the option to land in Colombo).

Nestled in the beach town of Tangalle, guests will be enthralled by the resort’s raw beauty over two nights. From raging surf and ravishing cliff-side dining to a ‘floating’ breakfast by the villa pool, disconnecting from urban cares has never been this easy. Begin with a therapeutic Marma Abhyanga massage before a nature walk, followed by sea-to-table dining where guests select ingredients from the onsite organic vegetable farm, and choose the catch of the day from fisherman Ranji who paddles up to the resort daily in his wooden outrigger canoe. Then zip over to Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, where the over and underwater experience is peerless. For three nights, guests soak in the Baa Atoll environs, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Its underwater restaurant serves up mesmerising marine scenery as well as gastronomy. When night falls, look skywards in a private stargazing session from the onsite observatory.

Anantara also connects an offbeat, brag-worthy location with luxurious ease. The laidback beach town of Quy Nhon on Vietnam’s central coast is a gem, with wild seascapes and a lush mountainous interior dappled with desolate sand dunes and towering historical relics. The most exclusive accommodation here is Anantara Quy Nhon Villas, which fronts a rare-to-find private beach. Three nights are spent in a stylish pool villa before a mellow bay. Watch fishermen in traditional round boats prepare lobster traps, festooning the sea with lights at night. Their haul lands at the resort’s restaurant. Quy Nhon can be combined with Unesco-listed Hoi An for six nights divided equally between basking in old-world charm or on a secluded beach. www.anantara.com

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Since launching in 2015, the Four Seasons Private Jet Vacations have been among the most coveted around-the-world-travelling adventures. The luxury is in the details on board the Boeing 757 customised for 52 passengers (versus the standard 233), from handcrafted leather flatbed seats to handmade carpet woven on traditional looms in Amsterdam.

Backed by an elite team, including a concierge, executive chef, director of guest experience, physician and in-flight crew, expect nothing less than the top-notch standards associated with this brand. 2020’s global journeys are replete with bespoke experiences. Learn how to draw, pose and swing a samurai sword in Kyoto. Go behind the scenes at the ballet in St. Petersburg. There’s a private tour of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum waiting in Marrakech, while in Prague, Prince William Lobkowicz will personally welcome you into his family’s 16th-century ancestral home for a gala dinner.

Come 2021, guests will be feted on a sleek, new Airbus A321LR, boasting the widest and tallest cabin in its class. The new aircraft will fit only 48 guests, leaving room enough for mingling in a lounge section with a mixologist-staffed bar. An expanded galley will take dining to greater heights as well. Seats designed by Optimares with leather from Italian producer Poltrona Frau are duly paired with personal ottomans, while upgraded bathrooms are lavished with marble countertops and leather accents. www.fourseasons.com/privatejet/

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Jetting from the savannah to the sea, Time + Tide has a fully tailored trip covering Zambia and Madagascar, delivering the ultimate in land safari and beach experiences. Guests can choose from any of its camps in Zambia and its exclusive private island resort, Miavana, in Madagascar.

The camps in Zambia are located in South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Liuwa Plain, offering diverse activities, including walking and river-based safaris. The wildlife concentration along the Luangwa River and its lagoons are among the most intense in Africa. Liuwa Plain is home to the second biggest wildebeest migration on the continent, a flourishing cheetah population, including the famed Lady Liuwa lion pride.

Meanwhile, Miavana offers rare luxury on the world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar, thriving with astounding biodiversity. All guests are helicoptered to the resort from the port of Diego Suarez.

From Johannesburg or Nairobi, guests fly by private jet into Zambia’s Mfuwe International Airport before heading off to Diego Suarez in Madagascar. timeandtideafrica.com
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Pairing South Africa’s cosmopolitan Cape Town with Antarctica, including an overnight camp in the geographic South Pole, this trip is designed for extremes in location, climate and activities. Besides wildlife viewing (the 6,000-strong Emperor Penguin colony awaits) and trekking, guests get to indulge in kite-skiing, ice-climbing, abseiling an iceberg and exploring ice tunnels. In Cape Town, Ellerman House offer four elegant nights overlooking the serene Bantry Bay.

Reaching Antarctica is a swift, tireless journey if you leave Cape Town onboard a Gulfstream private jet, which caters for a maximum of just 12 passengers. The fivehour flight cruises over spectacular plateau of ice, mountains and icebergs before landing on Wolf Fang Runway. To protect Antarctica’s fragile environment, all emissions from flights in the itinerary are offset by fully accredited carbon-neutral schemes.

The best time for this 11-night trip in the southern hemisphere is during summer, when 24 hours of sunlight offer endless opportunities for breathtaking activities.

Six nights are spent at White Desert Whichaway Camp, which offers rustic but luxurious accommodation in fibreglass dome tents. These state-of-the-art sleeping pods, at just over six metres in diameter, are designed for two, and feature a wash area and toilet. There is a separate communal shower pod, kitchen and lounge area. www.scottdunn.com

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This epicurean exploration features five nights through Spain starting from San Sebastian taking in Seville and ending in Mallorca.

San Sebastian is renowned for its delicious Basque cuisine and its impressive collection of Michelin-starred restaurants. Two nights will be spent at the iconic Hotel Maria Cristina, where you will also learn how to cook regional specialities. A private tour of the city includes tasting some of San Sebastian’s best pintxos, the Basque version of tapas.

In the Andalucian capital of Seville, famed for flamenco dance and exquisite Gothic architecture, you spend one night at Hotel Alfonso XIII. Your private guide will lead you off the tourist trail to Seville’s hottest bars, where contemporary tapas will be paired with local and organic wines. You will learn how jamon iberico, considered one of the world’s best hams, is produced and how to pair it with sherry.

Next is Mallorca, where you stay for two nights at The St Regis Mardavall Resort. You will be served at one of the island’s top farm-to-table restaurants before you setting off for the Tramuntana Mountains pilgrimage route. www.scottdunn.com

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Renowned experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal will accompany travellers on this epic journey to global centres of creativity and innovation. Experience the convergence of ancient traditions and modern advances, traversing secluded temples and cuttingedge research facilities. From Seoul to Helsinki, Seattle to Samarkand and beyond, this journey is for those who crave an immersive experience with profound insights from local thought leaders in the science and technology fields.

At each destination, experts on the ground from both organisations will share their expertise on topical issues. Discuss the impacts of the Silk Road revival with archaeologist and National Geographic editor, Kristin Romey. The Wall Street Journal deputy chief news editor, Gráinne McCarthy, shares insights into Tallinn, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe and a future hub for cyber technology.

The Boeing 757 private jet is configured for the comfort of 75 passengers, instead of the standard 233 seats, in a 2x2 layout. At one to seven, it also boasts one of the highest crew-to-traveller ratios in the industry. www.nationalgeographic.com 

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For large groups such as weddings, extended family holidays or corporate teams, Crystal Skye operates the world’s largest private charter plane, a luxuriously refurbished Boeing 777-200LR. It accommodates just 88 passengers, rather than over 300, the standard on a commercial flight. Its capacious cabin affords a separate social space with a stand-up bar and lounge.

Topping that are exceptionally comfortable flatbed seats with staggered placement to allow window views from every direction. Each seat is equipped with a 26” HD TV and a full library of media and live broadcasts, as well as personal USB and power outlets and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Every part of the Crystal Skye charter can be customised, from itinerary length, locales and ground experiences to on-board dining. You will also be accompanied by a team of butlers and an executive chef. www.crystalcruises.com
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OPPOSITE PAGE: Eat your way through Spain with Scott Dunn. THIS PAGE: Scott Dunn’s Anatarica Fly Cruise means guests can get to the penguins without sailing; enjoy a cocktail at Crystal Skye’s stand-up bar