Ready. Get Jet. Go!
If your dream has been to take holidays at every Aman property across the world, the luxury travel brand’s latest roll-out may interest you. Aman has launched a unique 22-day private jet expedition from 15 April to 6 May 2018 that will take 16 guests to nine countries in an Airbus ACJ 319 to discover their cultures, flavours and beauty.
The cross-continental expedition includes accommodation at the Aman Tokyo, Amanyangyun in China, Amanoi in Vietnam, Amanpuri in Thailand, the Amankora lodges at Paro and Thimphu in Bhutan, the Amanbagh perched on Rajasthan’s Aravalli Hills in India, Amanzoe in Greece, the stunning Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro and finally the Aman Venice in Italy.
If you’re having even remote thoughts that this might be hectic or exhausting, rest assured that Aman’s travel designers have thought of everything to maximise comfort and pleasure. The Airbus, originally designed for 126 passengers, has been refitted for just 16, offering living rooms with sumptuous leather seats that fold completely flat, as well as private bedrooms, and bathrooms with showers.
The ultimate journey will take participants through cherry blossom showers in Tokyo, swimming with reef fish in the Andaman’s crystal clear waters, trekking the Himalayas and drifting down the Grand Canal in Venice. Even if there are just 16 guests, no one will be subjected to being herded in a group. Every couple or solo traveller will have their own private car, driver and guide for all transfers and excursions, ensuring as much privacy as required. Evenings will be spent in decadent opulence with elegant cocktail and dinner parties, providing lovely opportunities for guests to socialise if they so choose.
Aman isn’t the only luxury travel operator curating ultimate private jet experiences. In July this year, Four Seasons announced three private jet itineraries. The “World of Adventures” sojourn (19 October to 11 November 2018) will welcome guests aboard the Four Seasons jet in Seattle and journey through Kyoto, Bali, Seychelles, Rwanda, Marrakech, Bogotá, the Galápagos Islands and Orlando.
“Timeless Encounters” (1 to 24 March 2018) will take guests to Hawaii, Bora Bora, Sydney, Bali, Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai, Taj Mahal, Dubai, Prague and London. While “International Intrigue” (14 September to 7 October 2018) traverses Seattle, Kyoto, Hoi An, The Maldives, Serengeti, Marrakech, Budapest, St Petersburg and London.
A prime value of travel lies in discovering the storied pasts of the places we visit, for we are all connected in our humanity, past, present and future. We don’t need to go far. Repositories of history abound in Asia. Some of them only opened up a decade ago, while others still experience conflict.
It wasn’t long ago that the junta loosened its grip on the country, allowing commerce to flourish. But the troubles of the Rohingya are anything but over. Their persecution is evoking global outrage and halting travel plans to Myanmar, which is a pity because it has so much to offer, not least among these The Strand Yangon. Founded in 1901 by the Sarkies brothers, it is one of the most architecturally beautiful landmarks in the capital city following its recent restoration. We hope the country manages to do the right thing in its present crisis. Failing to do so is certainly going to alienate travellers.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
The heritage jewel of a country recovering from a turbulent past, Siem Reap is thriving with independent hospitality outfits sprouting across the city. Its newest boutique hotel, Jaya House Riverpark, is a trendy and well-situated haven that’s little more than a hop, skip and jump from Angkor Wat. It may be small but it has taken numerous tall initiatives to benefit the local community, promote Khmer art and music, and build an environment-conscious culture across all its operations.
Once a Portuguese colony and trading post, Macau has since evolved into a resort city and earned fame as the Vegas of the East. It’s an interesting smorgasbord of cultures, flavours and architecture across the eras, from cheesy old casino hotels to classy modern ones like the Macau Roosevelt. This new five-star urban retreat designed by Los Angeles-based architect Gulla Jónsdóttir features sophisticated details that create a glamorous experience for its guests.
Kalutara, Sri Lanka
You cannot visit Sri Lanka and not see the architectural genius of Geoffrey Bawa. And the Anantara Kalutara is the last project he embarked on before his passing. Completed by his protege, the resort features a tapestry of his signature Tropical Modernism – sunlit, breezy structures at one with their surrounds. Bawa’s vision inspires the resort’s library, modelled on his personal study, where furnishings either designed or owned by him are put together to create a particularly Bawa-style interior.
Rock Star Villas
If you’d rather leave history well alone while on holiday, and prefer to simplify things down to rest and relaxation, a villa retreat is just what the doctor ordered. After all, the essence of vacationing is to leave all your cares behind and get in touch with your senses. The key is to have fun and feel good.
Mandala House, Bali
Team AUGUSTMAN is no stranger to rock star villa retreats. We take them on occasion, not so much to recover from burnout, but to be in touch with what it means to have fun and to bond as a creative force.
Bali has no shortage of gorgeous villas but we’re liking the new Mandala House in Canggu. Situated smack in the middle of verdant rice terraces, the fully serviced villa offers five king-sized ensuite designer bedrooms, a spacious open kitchen, a cinema in the basement with theatre-grade surround sound, a well-appointed gym and, wait for it, a glass-bottomed pool, along with a copper swim-up bar.
Aside from these main areas, it also has elegant pockets of respite, like a terrace for enjoying sunset cocktails and the cosy Teal Room that holds a library of reads, stash of games and Netflix. Villas don’t get much sexier than this one, which is probably why it’s on many a traveller’s hot list and has had a number of photo shoot requests.
Samujana, Koh Samui
Perched on a hill on the northeastern tip of Koh Samui, Samujana gives you a compendium of fully serviced four- to eight-bedroom pool villas that are perfect for multi-generational family holidays, luxury executive retreats and special celebrations.
The estate has a lavish lawn with a three-tiered landscaped area that cascades right down to the seafront that makes it an ideal venue for a wedding of up to 400 guests. Anything can be arranged for your enjoyment, whether it’s bringing the spa to you, or getting the island’s top chefs to cook dinner. We’ve heard that a whole circus was brought in once to celebrate the birthday of a little girl.
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
While massive, sprawling villas are a great way for families and groups to take holidays, there are others that are designed to provide private and romantic respite. Nestled in the heart of Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve, the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort offers a deeply intimate setting for couples to leave the world behind and reconnect with each other.
Apart from the beautiful interiors designed by Bill Bensley, the culinary creations of Pierre Gagnaire at La Maison 1888, the unguent pampering by HARNN Heritage Spa and the location’s inspiring panoramas, the staff of the resort are ever-ready to be called upon to create a truly luxurious experience for you.
Got to Do This
Sometimes a man just needs to tick off his bucket list of daredevil stunts, cool skills to learn, deeply personal challenges, or simply to say “been there, done that, got the T-shirt”. Whatever those may be, we suggest doing them in style. And skip the selfies.
Not the mouthless one but real feral felines. The andBeyond Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa organises safaris where guests can get up close and personal with the lions in its care. Guests also get to visit Zulu villages and experience African hospitality at its best.
There will be no shooting of lions, except with a camera of course. The reserve has a Paparazzi Programme that gives shutterbugs the perfect opportunity to capture the African landscape and wildlife.
Over at COMO Uma Paro in Bhutan, you can have a go at spotting a snow leopard instead. The Jhomolhari Mountain Festival in mid-October is a celebration of the intuitive relationship between the mountain people and the snow leopards, and takes place along an 80-kilometre mountain route. Participants get to trek through some of Bhutan’s most stunning landscapes.
There are zero waves around our national waters so surfing is not a skill we naturally acquire over weekends by the beach. But why take no for an answer?
If you’re headed to the Maldives, book a stay on Niyama Private Island. The resort lets you learn to ride the waves from expert coaches at Vodi surf point, where the waves are relatively mellow. Once you’ve got the hang of it you can get out to Kasabu surf point and brave the bigger waves.
The best part about the surf life is living it up after sundown with rum cocktails, reggae music and yummy grub before retiring to Niyama’s luxurious suites and studios.
Take The Plunge
Laucala Island in Fiji is easily anyone’s idea of a perfect holiday destination. Apart from stellar hospitality, it offers a wide scope of activities that leaves no chance for boredom to set in. Take your pick from horseriding, organic farming, golf and fly fishing. But if you’d rather swim with the fishes than hook them, take to the Pacific Ocean. Fiji’s warm tropical waters are teeming with marine life – lionfish, moray eels, angelfish – making for unparalleled diving and snorkelling trips. We got wind that Laucala offers the chance to experience the DeepFlight Super Falcon personal submarine. Now, diving down in that would be the ultimate awesome.