VistaJet provides a premium, post-pandemic flying experience
By: Stephenie Gee
February 8, 2023
Flying doesn’t get any better than with VistaJet. As the first and only global business aviation company celebrates becoming the world’s largest operator of the Bombardier Global 7500, Stephenie Gee hops aboard the ultra-long-range aircraft for a taste of the VistaJet experience
As someone who, before the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020, spent each and every holiday travelling to exotic locales from lush volcanic islands to the heights of the Swiss Alps and sun-baked coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean, Hong Kong’s extreme travel restrictions have been for me, without question, one of the bigger challenges of the pandemic. But while the recent easing of measures is a very welcome relief and perhaps the start of a gradual return to normalcy we’ve all clamoured for, the thought of interminable security lines and traversing congested terminals as a result of post-pandemic travel fever has me feeling energetically drained.
So, when I was called up for my first press trip – a 24-hour visit to Singapore – via a Bombardier Global 7500 operated by private aviation giant VistaJet, which was founded by Swiss tycoon Thomas Flohr in 2004, I was part excited, mostly anxious.
As it turns out, having the luxury to live like the 1% means you leave your luggage at the door of the Hong Kong Business Aviation Center on arrival and it appears at your destination lodging. Passport formalities are sorted out on your behalf while you relax over refreshments in the lounge. A 30-second walk takes you through security and onto the tarmac, where the state-of-the-art aircraft adorned in VistaJet’s signature silver and red livery is parked and its flight crew stand smiling to welcome you onboard.
The whole journey sees all measures taken to reduce your cognitive load and accomplishes in five hours – with the actual flight time being around 3 hours 30 minutes – which might take 10 if you flew commercial. Not to mention far fewer touchpoints than we typically have to deal with (around 20, according to VistaJet’s chief commercial officer Ian Moore, in comparison to 700).
Besides the sheer logistics of flying private that in itself is enough reason to forsake commercial travel altogether, the VistaJet experience is truly second to none. Upon boarding, I’m immediately greeted by a glass of Ruinart, an indulgent selection of Lindt chocolates and, to my surprise (or rather, delight), the absence of the distinctive aircraft smell of avgas and stale recycled air, which as director of marketing and communications Amy Yang explains is thanks to Pur Air, a sophisticated air purification and circulation system that can refresh the cabin air in as little as 90 seconds – the fastest in the industry.
Together with the four-zone cabin – which consists of the crew rest area and galley kitted out with brand-name appliances; a club suite equipped with four industry-defining Nuage loungers that feature a unique tilt for a deep recline and with deployable side tables; a conference suite with cushy leather seating for six arranged in a 2+1 configuration and a dining table that can be unfolded to span the width of the cabin.
In addition, there is an entertainment suite where passengers can kick back in a three-piece divan to watch a movie on the flat-screen TV; and an en suite bedroom with a double bed and work area – fashioned in muted neutrals with flecks of colour brought by luxe throws and cushions and illuminated by 28 ultra-large windows, the curated ambience is warm and inviting. And far superior to even first-class air travel in every way. Still, for me, nothing compares to the culinary extravaganza prepared by chef Gary Hung of The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s one-Michelin-star Tosca di Angelo.
Designed while taking into account the effect of elevation, dry atmospheric conditions, air turbulence, and increased noise and movement on the senses, the three-course menu served on crisp white linens is part of VistaJet’s latest high-altitude (the jet is capable of flying up to 51,000 feet – higher than Mount Everest) private dining in Asia campaign – which sees partnerships with some of the most sought-after restaurants. including the award-winning Origin Grill at Shangri-La Singapore and Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Paired with fine vintages, my meal begins with salmon choux puff, crabmeat with green apple, and tomato ratatouille with capers and black olive for an aperitivo – a clear indication of the gastronomic thrill that is to come. And sure enough, the citrusy appetiser of wild Hokkaido hamachi, fennel, orange and Kaluga caviar, and piping hot main of lasagnetta with mushroom ragoût and taleggio fondue that follows is a gloriously honed fusion of flavours.
But truly stealing the show is dessert. Airy, modest and delicately layered, the crowd-favourite traditional tiramisu with Amedei chocolate is confirmed to be “probably the best tiramisu ever” by my native Italian colleague Federico. It’s a clear stamp of approval and goes to show the quality VistaJet strives for in itself and the partners it brings in.
Freshly brewed tea in fine china cups is traded for wine in crystal glasses as we enjoy the final 30 minutes of our journey to Seletar Airport. Tables configured for dining are retracted, marking the start of our descent into the rain clouds over Singapore. Retaining the highest of standards even to the last, the landing is as smooth as it can get. We’re greeted by a chauffeured car at the aircraft steps and taken swiftly to a private terminal where all inspections take place efficiently and seamlessly before we’re whisked to our hotel. Who says money can’t buy happiness? #