A new company has devised the ultimate short break, offering all the glamour
of air travel with none of the frustrations. Gillian de Bono takes to the air
As the person responsible for commissioning more than 90 Smooth Guides for this
very magazine, this is not an easy thing to confess. You see, personally, I am not a fan of the short break.
My getting there/being there calculations don’t go down too well with my other half. He loves to get away for the weekend because a) he is an old-fashioned
romantic and b) he has extraordinary energy.
So when I received an email from a new travel company called Jeffersons offering to transport a how to spend it journalist to the centre of Paris by private
jet and chauffeur-driven limousine in one swift, seamless journey, this was
the invitation for me. There would be no flights at antisocial hours, no tickets
and no formal check-ins (passengers give their passport details in advance for
pre-clearance with immigration and customs). It seemed Jeffersons was offering
me all the glamour of air travel with none of the frustrations. What bliss.
The day started will with my chauffeur picking me up promptly at 9am. The drive
to Farnborough Airport, however, took 15 minutes longer than planned, which
meant we swept on to the tarmac at precisely the time we should have been taking off. And so it was that I began to grasp the real luxury of private-jet travel.
I wasn’t going to miss my take-off slot because private airports don’t have
queues of planes waiting to get airborne. I was merely ushered gently to my Citation II.
Travelling by private jet is a bit like flying on Concorde; the fittings are
luxurious but the interior is surprisingly compact.
… there was barely time to do justice to the Jeffersons wicker hamper of
gourmet nibbles (fois gras, lobster, baby asparagus) and generous side orders
of blinis, Beluga and Bollinger. For a decadently surreal moment I though I
was playing a cameo role in Ab Fab.
Fifty minutes later, after a smooth and surprisingly quiet flight, we touched
down at Le Bourget Airport where a chauffeur was waiting to whisk me to my chosen destination - the exquisite, Andrée Putman – designed Pershing Hall, just off the Champs Elysées. Door to door, the trip had taken three hours.
The last time I flew to Paris by scheduled flight, it took five. I had 17 waking
hours to explore Paris for a total journey time of six hours.
There are even greater time savings for those living in less accessible area.
For example, Jeffersons cut a 10-hour journey down to just two and a half hours
when they flew a party of four direct from Londonderry to St Moritz. Within
30 minutes the friends were on the slopes. The flexibility of the service also
means that, when problems do arise, quick solutions can be found. One couple
arrived at Luton airport to take a 9.30 flight to Lisbon only to find the airport
fogbound. Jeffersons was able to divert their private jet to Stansted, ferry
the couple there and have them airborne just one hour 25 minutes later – and
three hours before the fog lifted at Luton.
Prices start at £2,668 per person, based on a party of four staying two nights
in Paris’s first boutique hotel the Montalembert, in the heart of fashionable
St Germain. This includes return flights in a Citation CJ1, champagne and hamper
en route, limousine transfers, accommodation in junior suites and breakfast.
But beware: prices escalate if the aircraft isn’t full. For example, two passengers
taking the same trip would pay £4,580 each.
Jeffersons claims to have elevated the short break to an art form and it’s difficult
to disagree. Reluctant weekend traveller though I am, it has found a convert.
The price may be daunting, but certain one worth paying for a very special occasion.
Financial Times – How To Spend It