If you’ve been on a flight with one of the main airline carriers over the past few years, you’ve noticed some serious enhancements around the plane. From first-class cabins morphing into mini apartments to in-flight menus blowing up into multi-course meals, airlines are angling to deliver the high life in more ways than ever.
Hotels, of course, are no strangers to the friendly skies — brands have teamed up with airlines for lavish tours and celebrity-chef-inspired menus long before now. But it seems as if high-end properties are determined to get their white-glove-covered hands into even more aspects of the airline industry.
Just from peeking around airports lately, we’ve noticed hotels cooking up specific menus for plane routes and even a brand lifting off with its own private jet. It is a remarkable time for jetsetters who demand the same care and comfort at 30,000 feet that they get on the ground. And as our Forbes Travel Guide editors have discovered, the sky is the limit for the future of these kinds of partnerships.
For hotel dining in the clouds: The Langham, Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific is an airline with a reputation around the world for its customer care and detail-oriented service. The Langham, Hong Kong, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star jewel, has an equally refined standing.
Of course, this dedication to decadence isn’t relegated to rooms and spas; the hotel’s five restaurants, overseen by executive chef Pedro Samper, also take pride in every morsel that they serve. So, when it came time for the airline to conceive an in-flight menu for its new Hong Kong–Madrid route, it was a no-brainer call to The Langham for an assist.
“We are delighted to collaborate with The Langham, Hong Kong to offer our passengers an array of exciting Spanish delicacies,” says Aaron Claxton, head of catering for Cathay Pacific, a pioneering company that was one of the first to ensure culinary freshness by using onboard rice cookers and skillets. “In fact, this is the first time we are serving local Spanish dishes onboard, which I believe will provide our passengers a great opportunity to savor the real tastes of Spain on their voyage to the exciting city of Madrid.”
Chef Samper, a native of San Sebastian, joined The Langham, Hong Kong in July 2015, after dazzling in kitchens across Spain and Japan for more than 20 years. It’s that flavorful history that makes this new airline challenge so appetizing.
Business class diners traveling on the new route from now through August 31 can expect Basque-style cod fish with clams in a salsa verde sauce; Iberico pork cheek in Tempranillo wine with black truffle potatoes; and other slow-cooked traditional Spanish dishes that taste as divinely in an airplane cabin as they would at a coastal café.
For a globe-trotting hotel experience: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
In 2014, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts became the industry’s first hospitality brand to offer a private jet experience. Since that introduction, the company has taken well-heeled travelers on journeys everywhere from Milan to the Maldives, all the while showering them with as many amenities — global wi-fi, chef-driven meals, the brand’s renowned concierge service — as the brand could possibly fit onto its pristine 757.
Later this year, things will only look up when the Extraordinary Adventure and Cultural Escape journeys take off. The former is an eight-city, 25-day jaunt (September 17 to October 11) that starts in the heart of Texas but ends in Lisbon, Portugal.
Cultural Escape (November 4 to 22) is another passport-filling trek, this time taking off and ending in London with stops in Moscow, Dubai and a few other bucket-list destinations in between. Rest assured, when you aren’t reclining on the plane during the trip, you’ll be laying your head on a bed at Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane or one of the other properties on the schedule.
When the new year comes around, the continent hopping will pick right back up. Global Getaway (March 16 to April 8, 2017) will take you to the South of France (Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel) and South Florida (Miami’s not-yet-open Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club).
International Intrigue (September 3 to 26, 2017) promises another whirlwind voyage that stretches from hot-air balloon rides in the Serengeti (Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti) to history lessons in Boston (Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Boston).
For a luxury-seeking adventure: Baccarat Hotel and Residences
The foremost name in exquisite crystal will bring you on a luxurious adventure that spans three continents all via private plane. The 12-day Baccarat Heritage Experience teaches you about the more than 250-year-old brand while also giving you free time to do your own exploring.
It begins at Baccarat Hotel and Residences in New York City, the company’s first foray into hospitality. Settle into the hotel’s most opulent accommodations, the gleaming Baccarat Suite, which offers a bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, living room, dining area and butler’s pantry with a separate staff entrance. Enjoy VIP white-glove service at the Madison Baccarat Boutique with champagne.
You’ll also get pampered at the world’s first Spa de La Mer with the bespoke La Mer Baccarat Facial, followed by a wine-pairing dinner at the Midtown Manhattan hotel’s modern French restaurant, Chevalier.
Next, Baccarat will fly you to France. In Paris, get chauffeured to Maison Baccarat, originally a gathering place for artists and intellectuals like Jean Cocteau, Dalí and Luchino Visconti. Tour the Maison and Musée Baccarat, which showcases works created for world fairs, heads of state and celebrities.
Then you’re off to Lorraine, France, where Baccarat began in 1764. During a factory tour, watch the craftsmen at work and then peruse the archives, which preserve more than 16,000 original drawings.
Afterward, jet to Istanbul to visit crystal-filled palaces and Moscow, where you will learn about the deep relationship Baccarat has had with the Russian royal family since 1867 (the company created the first electric candelabra for Nicolas II).
The final leg is in Asia. After a trip to Tokyo’s Baccarat boutique, try the only-in-Japan B Bar experience, where you can sip cocktails, wine or champagne in any Baccarat glass you desire. Finally, head to Seoul for the newest Maison, which opened in December 2015 and boasts the largest collection of Baccarat chandeliers in Asia.