The world’s best Luxury travel companies’ trips of a lifetime
by Nubia DuVall
It’s not often that you get to go on vacation for more than a week, but certain opportunities warrant an extended holiday—world tours, for example. Globetrotting to a dozen destinations across multiple continents on a private jet or ocean liner is now a dream come true for travelers who want to see bucket list destinations…while letting someone else do all the planning. These luxury tour operators offer over-the-top amenities in flight and at sea, along with five-star hotels, customized itineraries, and VIP status at airports. You won’t even have to keep track of your passport!
Launched in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent and his parents, Valerie and Colonel John Kent, Abercrombie & Kent offers a variety of adventures and tours in private jets and to far-flung regions, with expeditions led by local experts. Its around-the world journeys offer small groups of 50 insider access to cultural events, private dining at iconic landmarks, and stays at fine hotels. The jet is outfitted with full-reclining seats that transform into 6.5-foot-long beds, which also offer massages and adjustable lumbar support at the touch of a button. Hotel stays throughout the tours feature properties chosen by A&K’s experts for their reflection of each destination’s style and spirit.
One of its newest private jet itineraries is Cultures in Transformation, from February 8 to March 5, 2018, and in partnership with the New York Times. The 26-day, nine-country trip takes travelers beneath the surface of some of the world’s most compelling destinations, illuminated through the expertise of the newspaper’s journalists. Discover destinations from Cuba and Colombia to Iceland and Iran, accompanied by writers’ firsthand perspectives on the people and places that shape the regions.
Highlights from the tour include people-to-people exchanges in Havana, such as meeting local artists and musicians and talking to local Hemingway experts while visiting Finca Vigia, the writer’s former residence. Travelers can also feast on a private dinner in the Casa de la Moneda (the Colombian mint) during a three-day stay in Bogota, then visit Isfahan, Iran, the 17th-century capital of the Safavids (one of the world’s oldest civilizations). They’ll then see stunning bridges and stroll the Armenian Quarter with its important Cathedral of Vank and visit the grand Maidane-Naghsh-e-Jahan Square. The voyage ends in Reykjavik, Iceland, where the tour heads to Thingvellir, where the Vikings established the first parliament in A.D. 630. Rates start at $135,000 per person/double occupancy.
For a shorter trip that nevertheless offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book the A&K Antarctica journey, from December 12 to December 28, on which guests venture deep into a region that will soon drastically change (global warming is creating a giant crack in the fourth largest ice shelf on the continent, for example). This 10-night cruise is on the ship Le Lyrial, and will explore Antarctica itself for five days. The expedition team includes an ornithologist, a marine biologist, and a geologist, all thoroughly familiar with the southern continent’s glories. Travelers will also discover some of the world’s rarest wildlife and terrain on excursions led by the region’s best guides. Rates start at $16,995 if booked by May 31.
This Paris-based luxury tour operator offers experiences that are the perfect marriage of joie de vivre and journey. Its expertise is in curating tours that fit the needs of a discerning clientele—from yacht trips and cruises to family-themed getaways and safaris. Some of the most sought-after expeditions are World Tours by private jet. These specially designed adventures traverse the globe, continent hopping in record time while offering travelers the most hours possible per destination.
During World Tours, guests have direct access to aircraft, without the typical boarding formalities and wait times of international airports—which reduces travel time and jet lag. The state-of-the-art Boeing 767 private jet features five-star service in the sky, with an onboard French chef, a doctor, full-service bar, and 180-degree flat beds in Premier Class and 145-degree beds in Club Safrans class. The all-inclusive experience includes stays in world-class hotels, fine dining (all meals and drinks), customizable tours by expert multilingual guides, and glamorous soirées at each destination.
Travelers can cross off nine destinations from their bucket list during the upcoming 22-Day World Tour, taking flight November 19 through December 10. The itinerary includes some of the most iconic and beautiful destinations across the Americas, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, creating an experience rich in culture, history, and natural landscapes. Tours are divided into intimate groups no larger than 30 (and even as small as 16), with the option of customizing itineraries at each destination.
The Tour’s first stop will be in Las Vegas, where couples can choose to visit the Grand Canyon or participate in a vow renewal ceremony before seeing a Cirque du Soleil performance at night. On following days, travelers explore the natural beauty and beaches of Honolulu and Fiji before taking in the Wine Route of the Yarra Valley in Melbourne, Australia. Thanksgiving will be spent in Sri Lanka, where they will be transported to the city of Kandy by helicopter to visit the region’s iconic tea estates. In Tanzania, they’ll take part in a wildlife safari in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area—and Premier Class will fly to the Serengeti to observe the seasonal migration. Final destinations include the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and Jerusalem. In the former, a visit will be arranged to see UNESCO World Heritage sites Melka Kunture and Tiya, where the origins of humanity have been traced. In Jerusalem, Premier Class travelers stay at the King David Hotel—the most famous and arguably the most luxurious of all the city’s accommodations, superbly located in the exclusive Yemin Moshe neighborhood and at the meeting point of the Old City and dynamic New Jerusalem. Three available tour classes are: Espace Safrans (22,500 euros, or $24,000); Club Safrans (30,900 euros, or $32,000), and Premier Class (48,900 euros, or $51,000).
Plan ahead for the 134-night New York to New York cruise across Europe, Africa, and Asia on board the Queen Mary 2, renovated in June of last year. The flagship of the Cunard fleet offers the utmost in luxury, from duplex penthouse suites to expansive private balconies and gourmet cuisine. Departing January 3 and traveling until May 17, 2018, its guests will first head to the Southampton, UK and southern Africa, then over the Indian Ocean, followed by a month’s stay in Australia and New Zealand, on to Asia, and around the Arabian Peninsula before heading home. The most sought-after rooms are the duplexes and suites in the Queens Grill, which start at $83,000 per person. The Grand Duplexes are more than 2,000 square feet and feature separate living and sleeping areas, a furnished private balcony, two master bathrooms, one bedroom, and a dining area.
From Southampton, excursion options include a visit to Royal Windsor Castle, prehistoric Stonehenge, and the World Heritage City of Bath. In Tenerife, visit the over 12,000-foot summit of Mount Teide by cable car, or visit the home of a Canarian local to savor authentic tapas. Next, the cruise visits Africa, stopping at Namibia and South Africa before venturing off the coast to Mauritius and French island of Réunion. In April, the ship docks in Singapore, where travelers can visit its zoo and experience a special breakfast with Orangutans, then explore the Night Safari, the world’s first park devoted to nocturnal animals. Between April and May, the five-month cruise sails across Southeast Asia through Malaysia to India and curves along the Middle East, stopping in Dubai, Egypt, and Cyprus. Rates starts at $22,398 per person.
When one of the world’s most exclusive hotel groups (Four Seasons) teams up with tour operator TCS World Travel, guests get access to immersive luxury globetrotting by private jet. The custom-designed Boeing 757 features Italian leather seats, 180-degree flatbeds for up to 80, in-seat power outlets and USB ports, and meals prepared by an executive chef. While flying, expert speakers cover a wide range of topics, such as history, art, science, and gastronomy to offer insight into the destination before arrival. Featuring lavish locales and world heritage sites, the tours are paired with stays at Four Seasons hotels and tailored itineraries.
The Culinary Discoveries package, from May 27 to June 14, has been developed in partnership with the renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma. Its guests will, among other adventures, track the evolution of food, culture, and creativity across Asia and Europe. The tour offers an inside look into the people, places, and products that are changing the culinary landscape of the world.
The 19-day trip covers nine countries and starts in Seoul, with a private farm-to-table dinner at chef Jong Kuk Lee’s home, then visits the Jin-Kwan temple at the foot of Mt. Bukhan to learn the spiritual Buddhist preparation of temple food used for centuries to enrich the practice of meditation. On day three, guests arrive in Tokyo and forage outside of the city with famous chef Namae Shinobu, followed by a private dinner at his Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Effervescence. For an athletic activity, learn the basic movements of sword fighting from Tetsuro Shimaguchi, who choreographed the sword fighting sequences in Kill Bill. In Hong Kong, guests will experience the world of molecular gastronomy during an “X-treme Chinese Dinner” at Chef Alvin Leung Jr.’s restaurant, Bo Innovation.
As the tour courses across Asia towards its final destination in Europe, travelers will visit Chiang Mai in Thailand, where they will embark on an elephant trek and enjoy the nightlife and local fare with one of Asia’s best female chefs, Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava (of the legendary Bo.Lan restaurant in Bangkok), as a guide. In Mumbai, Chef Garima Arora will guide visitors through the vibrant Crawford Market, then on a night street food crawl to savor kebabs, mutton biryani, and other iconic dishes. Upon arrival in Europe, the tour ventures to Florence, Lisbon, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Paris. $135,000 per person/double occupancy.