Last year, the Four Seasons hotel and resort chain did a hospitality industry first: They made an inclusive, sometimes round-the-world, travel experience called the Four Seasons Private Jet Experience. By inclusive I mean that everything you saw after arriving at the airport was either arranged or directly handled by them.
The biggest of the trips is the 24-day Around the World adventure. And because this is the Four Seasons, everything is going to be high-end. That includes transportation to your destination(s) on one very VIP Boeing 757. During a stopover in Seattle, I was invited to take a tour and I was impressed.
Enter a former Transavia (and later Air Finland) 757-200 currently registered as G-TCSX and managed by an English firm called TAG Aviation.
During its previous life, this 757 spent its time with a high-density, all-economy configuration. The overhead bins were of the older style and quite dinged up.
Millions of dollars later, with the help of Italian furniture makers, upholsters, and a firm called Jacob Bucchi Aviation, the aircraft has never looked better.
The Four Seasons 757 has become a sky-interior reminiscent wonder-plane with special mood lighting, giant overhead bins, and gorgeous carpet (yes, even the carpet is noticeably high-end). This plane looks, and smells, like it rolled out of the Renton factory yesterday.
Of course, the seat doesn’t merely offer a “relax” setting.
Unlike some airlines, the Four Seasons’ bedding extends all the way to the footrest. It is also among the softest and most luxurious feeling I have had the ability to inspect.
Between the (above) storage chest and the giant overhead bins, passengers should also have no worries of crowded bins. Even then, if there was an odd instance of gate checking luggage, it is not like they would have to pick it up at baggage claim.
The amenity kits are well appointed, and produced by the luxury Italian brand Bvlgari. Clearly the Four Seasons is bringing every possible luxury from their hotels to the plane.
I think what really sets the Four Seasons’ jet apart from most airlines’ business and first class product is the catering. Not only did the corporation poach former Four Seasons Seattle executive Chef Kerry Sear, they also don’t use the “big boys” when it comes to airline catering. Instead, they use high-end boutique private jet caterers. Should those not be available, every destination the jet visits has a Four Seasons and that is used for catering support.
Chef Sear not only designs the menu as much as he can, but he and another chef travel aboard and prepare the meals. Now, I admit that the flying chef is not novel. My favorite airline has one. The thing is, imagine a flying chef not hampered by the dreary catering of LAX! There’s even things like duck confit on the menu. When was the last time you saw that on a commercial airline? (Never for me)
Of course, where would any Four Seasons product be without their partner Dom Perignon?
The rest of the alcohol on board consists of decisions made between the Executive Chef and the Four Seasons Sommelier. In all, the printed beverage list is usually around three pages long.
If you have to ask how much this three-week experience costs, you probably don’t want to know. I’ll give you a hint – you could fly the Etihad Residence, one-way, almost five times for the cost of one of the around-the-world trips (that’s $132,000 for the trip).
This aircraft is a revolution in luxury travel experiences, and other companies have noticed.
I’ve been hearing rumblings of a US-based luxury cruise line getting a 787 to do something to “one-up” the Four Seasons’ experience. If that happens, you better believe I am going to want to check it out.