WRITTEN BY
Editor, Travelogues

PUBLISHED ON
June 6, 2017

LOCATION
Asia

we could never have done this level of planning

No crowded check-in lanes, no baggage fiascoes, no hour-long drives – there are a lot of reasons to travel by private jet, but it’s the unique experiences, the once-in-a-lifetime journeys, that draw discerning travelers yearning for luxury and seclusion.

Nicholas and Meredith Tan – who visited Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, and Japan on the The Pan-Asia Aman Private Jet Expedition – say this freedom of movement is exactly what attracted them.

“It was the mix of locations,” Meredith says. “Logistics and visas were all sorted out for us; if we had traveled independently, we could never have done this level of planning.”

“The idea is to go to multiple ‘difficult-to-get-to-commercially’ countries in one trip,” says Catherine Heald, Remote Lands’ co-founder and CEO. “Commercially, for example, to go from China to Bhutan, you would have to travel through India or Bangkok. Instead we go private jet, direct.”

Meredith and Nicholas flew commercial to Bangkok, but by noon Nicholas and Meredith would be in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh, before being transferred to their ultra-luxury Amanoi suites. The convenience and decadence, if it weren’t obvious, may be said to have begun.

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ABOVE: The ultra-lux Amanoi in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh is a massive complex surrounded by natural wonders.

We were on the beach with lanterns and menus and felt like the entire staff were serving just us

“It was big,” Nicholas says of the Amanoi in Vietnam. “You have to cover some ground – we had a private golf cart allocated to us.”

“That was when we first arrived,” adds Meredith. “We were still scoping things out, but it really set the tone for the rest of the trip. We were on the beach with lanterns and menus and felt like the entire staff were serving just us. Unforgettable.”

After a few days of traveling, getting to know this out-of-the-way Vietnam location, the two, along with their group, were on a plane to Laos to discover the Buddhist and French colonial charms of this fascinating country through Luang Prabang . There they could explore the Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham Temple or the Kuang Si Waterfall, making their holiday their own.

That signature logistical seamlessness at Remote Lands comes down to personal expertise. “I lived in Asia in the 1980’s and 90’s and go back frequently,” Catherine says. To ensure quality and priority of service, Catherine accompanies every one of these trips, serving as herald and fixer, a premier level of service available to the elite clients at Remote Lands.

“She had the best advice, answered all our requests, and she’s been to all the locations,” Nicholas says. “We felt that Catherine was traveling with us, one of our friends, one of us.”

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ABOVE: When traveling by private jet, the spiritual essence of places like Luang Prabang are just a runway away.

Our trips are hybrids of group and private. Small size is vital. Couples or singles are welcome, as are small groups of friends, but we only take up to 18 people in total.

“Our trips are hybrids of group and private. Small size is vital. Couples or singles are welcome, as are small groups of friends, but we only take up to 18 people in total,” Catherine says, adding that this form of travel is the best of both worlds; each couple or solo traveler has ultimate privacy and flexibility during their individual explorations of the destinations.

The trip Meredith and Nicholas joined had just 16 people: two jets, four couples in each. “We were attracted by the chance to visit countries we never visited, with activities planned for us,” Nicholas says. “Everything was accessible, well thought out, and at a great pace. We liked that we could add on activities if we wanted.”

After their explorations, the group get back together for a chance to mix things up after the sun goes down. Among the highlights, Nicholas mentions an evening at Banteay Samre in Siem Reap that stuck in his mind. “A special dinner was planned for us that night. There was a lighting performance and we felt a real connection. We enjoyed gourmet Khmer cuisine on the grounds of the well-preserved temple and were treated to a variety of performances, including traditional Cambodian dances.”

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Top: A traditional Baci ceremony. Bottom: Members of the private jet group dance in a traditional ceremony.

Each one varies, like Aman Tokyo being in a city, and Amantaka being an old hospital. The Philippines resort – Amanpulo – is on its own island; it’s not a really cultural experience, but a much needed relaxation.

For Meredith, one of the most memorable experiences was a planned performance evening at Amantaka in Luang Prabang at which Prince Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith told stories about the history of Laos and anecdotes about his ancestors. “He also oversaw a traditional Baci ceremony which we were able to participate in, followed by […] a few traditional dances and then dinner.”

Part of the experience Remote Lands hopes to foster is one of camaraderie, Catherine says. “We want to create life-long friends, and for people from all over the world to have a nice time together.”

“We were interested to meet people from different places, and we ended up keeping in touch with some of them,” Meredith says.

The trip itineraries are based around pristine, unique Aman hotels and resorts, which feature secluded locations and luxury. “Aman is a good fit for this sort of trip because it is renowned for its remote locations and, more to the point, Aman is a good fit for Remote Lands. Amans are very exclusive boutique hotels and resorts, and we are a boutique private tour operator. Both companies cater to very high-end clients and provide a highly personalized service,” Catherine says.

Still, though, the experience varies. Amanpulo is on its own island. It’s secluded, where the bright white sand shines in the morning sun, featuring a fishing village accessible only by kayak and complete with a floating restaurant. But the Tokyo stay is obviously quite different.

“Each one varies, like Aman Tokyo being in a city, and Amantaka being an old hospital. The Philippines resort – Amanpulo – is on its own island; it’s not a really cultural experience, but a much needed relaxation.” In the Philippines Meredith emphasized the fishing village accessible only by kayak and the floating restaurant. “We would have done Tokyo as a separate trip but got to combine it with off-the-beaten-path countries.”

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Above: The Aman jet tour provides a holistic travel experience, from urban Tokyo to Filipino private islands

When the final wheels touch the ground and the trip is over, travelers have nations worth of unique experiences upon which to dwell, having traveled unhindered through borders on a trip tailored for exclusivity and excellence. This being their first trip, the Tans are hooked. “We plan to save, because this is the only way to travel,” Meredith says.

Remote Lands features other private jet holidays, including one that goes the arguably more adventurous trip over China, Bhutan, India, and Sri Lanka. The freedom of private jet travel is a luxury few get to experience – discovering Asia in absolute luxury.