Instant Extravagance: Express Holidays For The Cash-Rich, Time-Poor

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, September 11, 2013

It’s a modern lament: there just aren’t enough hours in the day. While a week-long holiday lasts as long for one person as the next, it’s possible to maximise your time off - if you’re willing to up your budget.

Typically the preserve of gap-year students or those on cruises, a round-the-world trip is now available from luxury-travel specialist Captain’s Choice - it takes just 21 days . Travelling by private jet, a group will forgo perilous bus journeys and full-moon parties for a night of revelry in Rio; an amble through Cambodia’s fabled Angkor Wat; big-five spotting in the Serengeti, and more. The fully-inclusive package, departing from London in March 2015, costs £34,850.

Consider yourself an epicurean? VeryFirstTo’s gourmet getaway invites you to eat at every three-Michelin-star restaurant in the world over a six-month period. That may seem like a long time but there are over 100 different restaurants across the world to visit. Diners can catch their breath - and fit in some much-needed exercise - during an extended stay in Tokyo, where there are 15 such restaurants. The price: £182,000 per couple.

For a more geographically focused trip, explorations of Namibia are expedited by Rainbow Tours ’ ‘Luxury Wing Safari’. Travelling to the country’s main attractions by car is a prohibitively time-consuming exercise due to the vast distances between them so the safari transports its charges by air, either in a shared light aircraft or by private plane. Covering an itinerary that would take up to three weeks to complete over land rather than air, the seven-night package takes in visits to Sossusvlei, Damaraland and Etosha National Park and costs from £9,125 per person when flying privately. The price includes five-star accommodation and business-class flights from Britain to Windhoek.

Those with an aversion to long-distance flying might prefer a quick jaunt through Europe on the Danube Express . Able to accommodate up to 50 passengers, the train is available for private charter, with a two-night, three-day circumnavigation of Hungary’s wine-producing regions costing €49,000 (£42,000). The price covers sightseeing stops, vineyard tours, meals and drinks. For something even closer to home, an exceptionally extravagant ‘Best of British’ break will provide a couple with exclusive use of London’s 45 Park Lane hotel; private use of the London Eye; after-hours access to the Tower of London for a viewing of the Crown Jewels and a lavish banquet; the opportunity to watch a private polo match at Coworth Park; a cookery class with Raymond Blanc; a golf lesson in Gleneagles with Colin Montgomerie, and more. Launched by private-jet lifestyle magazine Elite Traveler, the package costs £1million per couple.

For something more intrepid, adventurers who want to experience Everest can do so efficiently with Scott Dunn . The tour operator runs a tour that allows travellers to climb to Everest Base Camp in relative luxury, but rather than have those who made it that far just turn around and walk down a route that took five days to ascend, a private-use helicopter will be waiting to fly them back to Kathmandu within a few hours. As rewarding as the climb up is, flying by helicopter through the Himalayas is an experience that should prove just as memorable. The package costs £7,302 per person, based on two people sharing and including Jet Airways international flights and transfers.

For others who want to explore a vast and rugged region but who can’t stretch to more than a day’s getaway, an exceptional escape is available through Antarctica Flights . Departing from Australia on a Boeing 747, groups leave civilisation for a 12-hour flight over the immense wilderness. Expert lecturers and Antarctic explorers will accompany passengers on the Qantas 747 flight to explain the terrain that lies beneath them, while video screenings will depict life on the ground; the first icebergs and ice floes become visible just three hours into the flight. To quickly escape the daily grind, there’s no better destination than the end of the world. The best seats cost AUS$7,499 (£4,440).