We were all spoilt from day one and all made to feel that Captain's Choice were continually focused on our well being and on our enjoyment.
Col Bradford - Ancient & Holy Lands, 2016
We depart Sydney at 9am. On our first private jet flight, get acquainted with the onboard service and savour the delicacies prepared by our private chef. After dinner, we land in Beijing, where you are whisked off to the Peninsula Hotel, our residence for the next three nights.
In the heart of the city, near Tiananmen Square, the Peninsula Hotel offers the most spacious guestrooms in Beijing. The rest of the hotel is a serene oasis modelled after China’s imperial palaces and tranquil gardens.
Our first full day in Beijing begins with a city tour that shows off its personality and many contradictions, including the landmarks of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After lunch, you get to pick from a range of Your World experiences.
Tonight, our gala welcome dinner takes place on Juyong Pass, one of three major mountain passes along the Great Wall of China. For a truly opulent experience, this section of the Wall will be closed off for our private use. It will be a night of spectacular entertainment that delves into the local culture and dishes from across the provinces, prepared by the Peninsula Hotel’s top chefs.
Today is set aside for exploration on your terms. Roam the city on your schedule or pick from these Your World experiences.
Those amongst us who are not away in Xi’an meet for lunch on the terrace of Capital M restaurant. Enjoy sweeping views of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City while sampling the best modern European cuisine in Beijing. After lunch, choose from these Your World experiences.
This evening, you may dine at the acclaimed Huang Ting restaurant in the Peninsula, or choose from a short, very select, list of restaurants in the city. Our favourites include Duck de Chine, the gold standard for Peking duck in its city of origin, and Jin Ding Xuan, a thrillingly lively yum cha restaurant popular with locals.
The evening continues with a traditional acrobat show at Chaoyang Theatre, or enjoy a unique performance at the Peking Opera, including back stage access.
We arrive in Ulaanbaatar in the mid-afternoon, where we take a tour of the capital’s highlights, stopping at Sukhbaatar Square. The city spreads out in all directions, while a monument to Genghis Khan, Ögedei Khan and Kublai Khan dominates the square.
We then travel on to our remote, luxury hotel. Only 65 kilometres from the capital but in the middle of the vast, nearly uninhabited wilderness of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, the Terelj Hotel will spoil you with rooms fitted out in Mongolian cashmere and the plushest of beds. For a truly local, overnight nomadic experience, you may choose to stay in your very own ger.
Sumptuous dinners, both tonight and tomorrow, take place at the Terelj Hotel.
The next day, you will witness mini Naadam Games held for your benefit. For lunch, a traditional khorkhog barbecue, made with hot stones, awaits. This type of meal is most often eaten in the countryside, and it is a rare occasion to find it in restaurants. Spend the afternoon as you please or pick one of these Your World experiences.
This evening, dinner is accompanied by a Mongolian throat singing troupe. In this unique style, singers produce up to four different pitches simultaneously, from a low drone to a bird’s whistling.
Samarkand welcomes us early in the afternoon and introduces itself through a tour of its major historical sites. Among many, we visit Gur-e-Amir, Tamerlane’s tomb, which served as inspiration for the Taj Mahal. We also stop at Bibi-Khanym mosque and Ulugh Beg’s Observatory. Everywhere you look, the walls are a riot of majolica tiles and azure mosaics.
After the tour, we head to the Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior, where elegant interiors featuring traditional Uzbek textiles are a treat for the eyes.
This evening, your specially-arranged dinner and showcase of culture takes place in Registan Square, the ancient centre of Samarkand. Under the starry sky, indulge all five senses with a private bazaar, folk dance performance, fire jugglers and an Uzbek fashion show. Savour the local cuisine, sip your wine and wander through the square as the performances happen around you.
We have lunch on our late morning flight in, and arrive mid-afternoon in Venice. To herald the start of our visit to this most classic of Italian destinations, a vintage speedboat meets us on the mainland and whisks us off to our hotel.
While mere minutes away from the Piazza San Marco by boat, the San Clemente Palace Kempinski sits on its own peaceful island in the Venetian lagoon. For the energetic, we suggest a ten minute boat ride to Piazza San Marco for the passeggiata. Those who decide to stay on San Clemente can simply enjoy the views with a cocktail in hand.
Tonight, we dine in the hotel. You are free to choose from three restaurants offering sublime Venetian and regional Italian cuisine.
Our full day in Venice begins with a guided stroll around Piazza San Marco, its surrounds, and the Rialto Market. After that, wander the alleyways on your own, or choose from one of these Your World experiences.
This evening, we will make a private and exclusive visit to St Mark’s Basilica, a highly unusual privilege. It is typically one of Venice’s most crowded sights. Because we have it all to ourselves, you can take your time admiring the intricate Byzantine architecture and detailed mosaics.
Take a short walk to join your fellow guests for an extravagant evening in another landmark venue reserved solely for us - the Doge’s Palace welcomes you with a masquerade ball and dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef. As we delight in the fine cuisine, a string quartet plays an evocative selection of music. As is custom in this city, you will be provided with an ample choice of masks so you can truly feel a part of the spectacle. This event recreates the pomp and majesty of Venice at its height, and is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience to savour.
It is late morning when the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express pulls away from the Venice Santa Lucia station and begins its journey across the Italian Dolomites and Swiss Alps.
Relax and admire the passing scenery with a glass of champagne in hand. Later that evening, dress for dinner, then enjoy a leisurely four-course gourmet meal created by Executive Chef, Christian Bodiguel. While your dinner delights, you’ll also be enchanted by the restaurant cars’ beautiful details and marquetry designs. Afterward, head to the glamorous Bar Car ‘3674’ for a nightcap and the soothing sounds of the resident pianist.
The train travels through the night. Early this morning, your cabin steward serves you breakfast at a time of your choosing.
We arrive in Paris as the morning light bathes it in a golden glow. From Gare de l’Est, we drive to the airport where we rejoin our private jet for the onward journey to Reykjavik.
Our flight to Reykjavík is timed for a lavish lunch aboard our private jet. Once on the ground, we travel directly to the iconic Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa. Sink into its warm, skin-soothing waters containing silica and minerals, which are also responsible for the unique colour of the lagoon.
We check in at the Art Deco-styled Hotel Borg, perfectly placed in Reykjavík’s central Austurvöllur Square. Its soothing interiors and Hästens beds invite you to lie down for the nap you are probably longing for.
That evening, we dine at the Borg Restaurant within our hotel. The kitchen is led by Chef Völundur Völundarson, who has appeared on BBC Lifestyle and on his own shows, aired in over 50 countries.
This morning, a roam around Reykjavík and its harbour brings to life Iceland’s history from founding to modern day. At the National Museum of Iceland, we even see the ship that brought Viking settlers to Iceland.
After our city tour, choose from Your World experiences that show off Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes or allow you to immerse yourself in its culture and crafts.
The perfect end to the day presents itself with dinner at one of Reykjavík’s top restaurants. Choose from one of these two restaurants. Grillid offers sweeping views, while the menu reads as an inventory of Iceland’s best in-season produce. Apotek is headed by Chef Carlos Gimenez, who combines his love of Icelandic ingredients with technique learned during his time at El Bulli.
Prepare for more of Iceland’s strange and beautiful landscapes. The morning commences with a walk in Thingvellir National Park to the very spot where the Althingi parliament first convened, a thousand years ago. A stone’s throw away, the Almannagja is a dramatic canyon that marks where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart from each other. Stroll through, with one foot on each continent.
We adjourn for a private lunch in a greenhouse at the Fridheimar Farm. The family-owned establishment grows tomatoes year-round, and love sharing their sustainable farming methods.
At the Geysir geothermal springs, a chef meets us with rye bread baked in the hot ground. Our last stop today is to view the thundering Gulfoss waterfall.
The exciting day culminates with a celebratory feast around a bonfire. Between courses, an Icelandic seer will hold rune readings for those fascinated with the ancient heathen gods. After dinner, we gather around the fire and listen to a traditional storyteller share Viking tales.
It is late afternoon when our flight lands in Québec City, the capital of French Canada. A short drive later, we are at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, your residence for the next two nights.
Built in the late 19th century, the landmark Château Frontenac pairs a luxurious setting with impeccable service. It is the most recognisable building in the Québec City skyline, and from its perch over the Saint Lawrence River, provides the most dazzling views of the town below and across the water.
This evening, choose from a selection of Michelin-starred restaurants in the atmospheric old town. Some of our favourite places include Le Saint-Amour and L’Initiale, both renowned for exquisite French cuisine.
This morning, the cobblestones tempt the walker. A stroll through the Old City, including La Citadelle, reveals more of the Baroque style used in the city’s churches. Windows with planter boxes overflowing with flowers beg a photo.
We visit Montmorency Falls and the historic Île d’Orléans. This is traditional Québec, with rural farms and a way of life that has barely changed since the settlers arrived. Lunch takes place in the rustic Les Ancetres, on its great terrace, overlooking Montmorency Falls.
On our return to Québec City, you may choose from these Your World experiences to spend the afternoon.
The gala dinner this evening is at the historic Chapelle du Petite Séminaire de Québec, which will be reserved solely for our use. The historic building is considered one of Québec’s most beautiful religious sites. Its opulent interior features majestic arches and soaring ceilings. Most unconventionally, you will travel to dinner by horse-drawn carriage.
Our lunchtime flight arrives in Cartagena late in the afternoon. A short drive later, we are at our hotel, the Sofitel Cartagena Santa Clara, a former 17th century monastery with arched walkways surrounding a stone courtyard filled with palms.
This evening, we have a spectacular dinner at the Capilla del Convento Chapel in our hotel.
The day begins with a walking tour of the old walled city, also a World Heritage-listed site. We take in its coralstone buildings, brightly painted walls and the morning rituals of its inhabitants.
Lunch today is in the Casa Conde de Pestagua - a perfectly restored example of the airy mansions favoured by Spanish nobility in colonial days. The afternoon has been left open to chance - explore the city a little more or head back to the hotel and escape the tropical heat.
For dinner this evening, choose the restaurant that tempts you most. We have prepared a very select list of Cartagena’s best. Some of our favourites include Club de Pesca, the city’s favourite seafood restaurant for nearly 60 years. Delectably fresh seafood aside, its al fresco tables on top of Fort Sebastian del Pastelillo take in panoramic views of the water and the city. El Santissimo is another, headed by Chef Frederico Vega, who fuses Caribbean ingredients with French technique for flavours that really dance.
As befits the carefree air of the city, you decide how much or how little you want to do today. Choose from these Your World experiences.
With an abundance of excellent local restaurants, you are free to choose a dinner venue from our list of Cartagenean restaurants.
Our private jet flight arrives in the late afternoon, touching down at Kauai’s quintessential island airport. If you haven’t yet oriented yourself, the warm salty air that drifts across this garden island signals that this is going to be an exceptionally relaxing beach holiday.
A scenic drive later, we check in to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa on Kauai’s sunny south shore. This evening, you may choose to dine at one of the resort’s many acclaimed restaurants, including Tidepools, which offers a true Hawaiian experience, in both flavour and atmosphere. Or go beyond the resort to sample the dazzling fusion at Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849.
Today is set aside for exploration on your terms. Roam the island on your schedule or pick from these Your World experiences.
Tonight, four continents later, we celebrate with an extravagant farewell dinner on the Grand Hyatt’s lush grounds. As we feast, fire jugglers, dancers and a ukulele band perform. Share stories about your favourite moments of the journey and toast the once-in-a-lifetime experiences with your favourite drink in hand.
We board our last flight today. Take a moment to contemplate our tremendous journey. We cross the international dateline and land in Sydney the following day, where we say our goodbyes. We hope to see you again on your next Captain’s Choice journey.
Let’s face it, travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the new and fascinating places you are in. We’ve moved everything mundane behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map. Or luggage. Or small change for tips. Everything is included, accommodation, all dining and drinks, travel insurance, and sightseeing. When available, we even supply internet at your hotel. Our Valet Luggage service is also included - we pick up your luggage up and make sure that they arrive safely at your next hotel. We also provide home-to-airport-to-home transfers. And just in case, a doctor travels with us too.
Welcome to your homes away from home. Each one has a certain something that sets it apart from every other residence at its location. Whether for its history, cultural significance or natural setting, we’ve selected only the very best.
Business-class private jet journey from Sydney to Sydney.
Prices are in Australian currency.