Even in our increasingly “been there, done that” society, travellers who have the time and money to travel the world remain a rarity. Consider it the ultimate travel trophy: checking off the likes of the Taj Mahal, the great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, and climbing up Machu Picchu, for example, all in one voyage.
Putting together one’s own world pass, however, is a pretty overwhelming undertaking. In fact, finding the right air connections and places to stay can alone confound even the seasoned experts. Luckily, a number of companies have recognised world travel as a growing niche trend.
These companies have given their itineraries a once-in-a-lifetime focus, whether it be to check off the most epic monuments, to bed down in some of the most luxurious pads, to eat at the most esteemed restaurants, or to witness pristine wildlife and marine environments.
When the Four Seasons debuted its Around the World by Private Jet tour last year, not only did it give guests the opportunity to travel around the globe in A-list style, it was also a brilliant marketing tool, building brand loyalty at even more of its properties – some of which would not otherwise have made the list. A recent itinerary included the Four Seasons flagships in Seattle, Tokyo, Hangzhou, the Maldives, St Petersburg, Marrakesh and New York. Checking in at one of the world’s most luxurious brands, while exploring sites such as the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, West Lake in Hangzhou, and the Medina of Marrakesh, clearly appealed to the audience – the autumn 2013 tour was sold out.
“We are in financial state of life where we don’t have a private jet, but we are used to flying business [class],” says Gene Winter, a law firm partner who went on the trip last year. “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to get away from the grind of commercial travel. But more than that, it was an amazing opportunity to see the world. We had almost state-level dinners everywhere we went that were culturally sensitive and authentic, and there were amazing staff and concierge who gave talks on where we were going. It was really nice to have things like bags and check-ins dealt with before we got there. It was seamless and it is actually good value – as crazy as that sounds – for what they did for us.” The flexibility of a private jet saves time. The trip takes 23 days, with a price tag of about US$90,000 for two people sharing a room.
Debuting in January, a new around-the-world itinerary from Crystal Cruises takes the jet set option to the high seas. The 280-metre Crystal Serenity ship just got a revamp with berths worthy of being second homes (the Crystal Penthouse suite, for example, comes with an ocean view jacuzzi, private gym and terrace) and will call into 30 ports across the globe, including Oahu, Mauritius, Cape Town and Lisbon.
Taking 89 days to circumvent the world, the seabound voyage includes five-star amenities, such as eco-chic design elements including an openair “living wall”. Prices start from US$39,980.
If monuments are more your thing, a new aroundthe- world tour of Unesco World Heritage sites is one of the more interesting offerings. The United Nation’s list of protected destinations, for the uninitiated, includes 981 spots that have been deemed irreplaceable, either for their architecture, lack of development, or just for being unique. Think Beijing’s Forbidden City, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, or Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.
The two-year, £990,000 (HK$11.6 million) itinerary is certainly not for bargain-seekers or those short of time – it’s more like something for the bucket list.
“For a while, worldwide travel became a thing of the past and was overtaken by students and backpackers,” says Yvadney Davis, head of communications at VeryFirstTo.com, which came up with the creative Unesco concept. “But wealthier travel enthusiasts want to enjoy that life-changing experience too, without the grit.”
VeryFirstTo is debuting an inter-country itinerary that gives foodies the chance to eat at every three-starred Michelin restaurant in the world over the course of six months. Travel companies offer plenty of trips around eating at just one of the world’s best spots, but VeryFirstTo’s foodie expedition, which includes Napa Valley’s The French Laundry, Basque Country’s Arzak, Monaco’s Alain Ducasse and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, will appeal to even the most jaded gourmets.
Since getting reservations at any of these spots can be a nightmare, the outfitter’s promise to set up all 109 bookings in 12 countries around the world provides an incentive. The £162,000 trip includes business class air tickets, and stays at hotels like New York’s Trump Tower, Claridge’s in London, and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.
Marcel Knobil, founder of VeryFirstTo.com, says of his trip: “I have little doubt that This is the most saliva-inducing and taste bud-satisfying journey in the history of travel.”
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Going global is already passé you say? Space travel is the new cocktail party one-upmanship. In addition to Richard Branson’s new hours-long Virgin Galactic voyage (which costs US$250,000), a new Spanish company, zero2infinity, is offering a new trip that allows a day of space exploration – and a Michelin-starred meal – for £95,000. The six-seater pod (four passengers and two pilots) is set to launch in 2015. Talk about a whole new global perspective.