AMA Waterways, the leader in European luxury river cruises, has bought their unique style of relaxing river journeys to Southeast Asia with the inauguration of a Mekong River cruise. Traveling between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Siem Reap – and taking seven days to do it – this journey is for those who want to take the time to see more of Vietnam and Cambodia than the ordinary coach tourist.
Your home for this journey is the MS La Marguerite, a 92-passenger custom built luxury river boat. The smallest stateroom is 226 square feet, while the Indochina Suites weigh in at 452 square feet. More than 80% of the cabins have balconies. There’s also a "Wellness Area" with a fitness room, spa, beauty salon and whirlpool.
As with all AMA Waterways cruises, the Mekong River trip is all-inclusive of meals, most drinks, sightseeing and special events. You can find more information about the cruise at AMA Waterways.
Hong Kong based aviation services company Metrojet has launched the Asia Jet Card, a new service for high net worth individuals and companies to hire private aircraft to meet their unique transportation requirements. Asia Jet Card members are "entitled to superior availability and unparalleled access of ‘occupied’ flight time. Asia Jet Card members have unique access to Metrojet’s world class fleet of Gulfstream private jets. Metrojet, part of the Kadoorie Group led by Sir Michael Kadoorie, is Hong Kong’s only fully licensed business jet operator specializing in aircraft flight operations, management and comprehensive aircraft maintenance."
Card members, or whomever they designate, can simply call or email their dedicated member service representative to request a trip, specify their departure time, and any other special requirements they may have. Asia Jet promises that card members are guaranteed booking priority on the Asia Jet fleet, enjoy simple to understand pricing and the best availability in the region to hundreds of airports throughout Asia. The Asia Jet card offers prepaid access to the Asia Jet fleet of Gulfstream private jets. All flight services are operated by Metrojet, "the gold standard and the most experienced operator in Hong Kong."
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I just ran across this agency, which sounds like one you should look into if you’re looking for "something completely different" for your Asian holiday. Kipling & Clark is a Chicago-based agency specializing in private luxury tours to Southeast Asia, as well as China, Japan and India. While they have several sample itineraries to get you started, each tour organized by Kipling & Clark is bespoke for their clients.
A recent article in the Examiner highlighted an increasing interest in family tours, as well the desire for what they call "altruistic travel" – trips that provide meaningful experiences by giving travelers the chance to interact with ‘real’ local people and effect real change. This is a trend I’ve noted as well, long before the current economic situation. This is one company worth keeping an eye on.
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Just back from Singapore, and have a number of updates backlogged, so let’s get right to it:
I just found out about another luxury yacht charter outfit based in Phuket. Omni Marine offers a range of boats for charter, from the sleek Ferretti 680 motor yacht to the Queen of the Andaman, a luxury sailing yacht already featured in my Phuket pages. Charters can be for anything from an afternoon deep sea fishing to week long diving and snorkeling trips through the Andaman islands.
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One of Southeast Asia’s largest travel management companies, Asian Trails, has announced a new VIP ‘Concierge’ package of services. According to their announcement, the new services are "specifically designed for guests who would like to treat themselves to a once in a lifetime experience of traveling by private jet. By choosing to travel by private jet, guests can pre-book a departure time that is convenient to them from an airport of their choice, avoiding those inconvenient early or late starts! Our VIP personalized passenger handling service will also ensure that all check in formalities are handled smoothly and efficiently by-passing those lengthy check in, immigration and customs queues!"
The packages use six-seater Cessna Citation Mustang C-510 planes, operated by Bangkok-based VIP Jets and taking up to four passengers. Planes for larger groups can be arranged. There are several pre-packaged trips suggested on Asian Trails’ web site, or you can set your own itinerary. The cost for the planes is US$2,500 per hour, plus an overnight fee of $500 for the crew, if the trip involves an overnight stay.
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