Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is in the process of converting another private jet, with room for 48 passengers, to its fleet in 2021, to replace the current one, which premiered in 2015 for extravagant group excursions.
The plane to be replaced is the reconfigured Boeing 757-200ER, below:
Like the previous model, the new plane allows travellers to book bespoke adventures around the world, with Four Seasons arranging the trip itinerary and lodging at each stop.
“Our guests are fascinated with the idea of really being in our hands for three weeks,” says Christian Clerc, president of worldwide hotel operations. “We felt we had to continue to enhance the experience.”
Booking for 2021 will open in the middle of this year and vary based on itinerary, which will be announced later this year; pricing on the current jet starts at $147,000 per person.
In the meantime, here’s what’s new.
An narrowbody Airbus A321LR aircraft, part of the new Airbus NEO family, will be tailored by Four Seasons. The previous model, a reconfigured Boeing 757-200ER leased by luxury tour operator TCS World Travel from TAG Aviation, fits 52 passengers in lie-flat seats.
The company chose the Airbus model because it allowed for greater customisation and can go on longer flights, enabling more direct routes, Mr Clerc says of the new plane, below:
From the renderings provided by Four Seasons, interiors seem more sedate, with earth-toned carpeting and matching pillows replacing the spritely blue-and-orange color scheme of the previous jet. One of the new model’s key features is a lounge area, including a full bar staffed with a mixologist. The idea is to allow guests to mingle in the space and learn from staff about the next destination through hands-on seminars.
“We wanted it to be functional but also very elegant, so you don’t have a lot of clutter there,” Mr Clerc says of the new plane's layout.
The seating area has been similarly rethought to emphasise socialising.
Seats, with leather from Italian producer Poltrona Frau, are paired with personal ottomans to allow travellers to speak more comfortably face to face, not just side by side, and are custom-made by Optimares, below:
Bonus: When the beds are extended flat, the ottomans also extend the bed length.
And the bathrooms are larger and more elegant, MrClerc says, “the closest you’ll have to a residential bathroom.”
The In-Flight Experiences
Mitigating in-flight boredom is a top concern of Four Seasons. In the lounge area, a series of artisans will showcase their craft in interactive workshops. For instance, guests can meet and learn from Four Seasons chefs, mixologists, wellness experts, and arts and culture specialists.
Each seat will also be equipped with an individual iPad for video streaming.
The Culinary Updates
On the new jet, Four Seasons chefs have an expanded galley area to create journey-inspired menus and whip up spur-of-the-moment surprises, the company says.
There will also be more than one executive chef on board to mix up the culinary styles; currently there’s a single chef for the entire journey. Mr Clerc says this will allow for even more customisation around individual tastes.
Of course, Four Seasons is not the only company offering bespoke luxury jet experiences. UK-based Diamond Jets, for instance, has a fleet ranging from turbo propeller aircraft and very light jets, to larger business jets or, like Four Seasons, an airliner.
In Diamond Jet's case, it offers a number of airliner hire options from a Dornier 328 jet with 32 seats up to a Boeing 767-200 VIP aircraft for 60-120 people, with which the firm says it can "arrange everything required for your business or leisure trip from start to finish, tailor made to your high specifications".
If, however, you are wealthy enough to find the idea of hiring a luxury jet liner that has been used by others unappealing, you could always buy your own and have it made out to whatever specifications take your fancy.
Several companies do just that - such as Citadel Completions:
Citadel has multiple facilities at Chennault International Airport, in Louisiana, US, with over 260,000 square feet of hangar and industrial manufacturing and repair space.
Last month the company received its European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 145 Maintenance Organization Approval. Previously aircraft modification and maintenance work on Boeing and Airbus aircraft had only been carried out under US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Bermuda Civil Aviation repair station certificates. The new Easa certificate authorises Citadel to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul services on aircraft registered in any of Easa’s 32 member countries, which includes all members of the European Union and European Free Trade Association.
The firm says it can support multiple wide and narrow-body aircraft and simultaneous projects encompassing a wide spectrum of capabilities, including engineering, fabrication and installation.
Last year, the MEBAA business jet airshow in Dubai featured an Airbus A340-500 adapted by Citadel, which came with a price tag of more than $100 million for the interiors alone.
The results, to mere mortals at least, were breathtaking: