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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Catching Up, Travelogue: 'Round the World 60 Days

I have been travelling further than usual. In the last six months I went around the world three times, and around Asia a few more. The around the world itineraries were:

  1. Asia / Dubai, UAE / Barcelona, Spain / Jalisco, Mexico / Asia
  2. Asia / Paris, France / Oslo, Norway / London, UK / Vancouver, CA / Asia
  3. Asia / Moscow, Russia / Montreal, Canada / New York, USA / Asia

I also did several tours of north Asia and southeast Asia. I visited Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. More on those trips later.

Some people have asked me for some opinions on travel. Basically, I'm a fan of teleportation. Airplanes suck. Private jets are much better than commercial flight (in large part due to the lack of airport queuing), but the logistics of managing them is a pain, and I am entrepreneurial enough that the price premium bothers me. A lot.

Outsourcing private aircraft logistics, or using fractional shares sounds good in principle, but my several active lawsuits in those areas show that not everything always goes smoothly.

First-class travel is actually improving in many ways, but I have to say that service in the first class cabin doesn't seem as good now as it used to. Perhaps I am jaded. But recently I have tried most all the top-rated airlines' first class long-haul cabins: Singapore, Cathay Pacific, British Air, Air France, Emirates without a big impression left on me.

Um, cancel that. There were two things that were impressive.

Emirates first class had suites. I mean a private room. You can close these nifty sliding doors and have complete privacy. And the plane is pretty quiet. Almost as quiet as a GIV, although not as quiet as the Global Express (with standard outfitting).

The only problem: they are individual rooms. So what am I supposed to do with all that privacy? Nothing fun?

Actually, the middle seats have a two person configuration, but they are separated by a thick half-height partition that holds all the electronics and other odds and ends, so no hanky panky there either.

I wish somebody would have a couples configuration...

The second great experience? The Air France - Four Seasons Georges V collaboration in Paris. Somehow they arranged it so that I was met right outside the airplane door by the an agent from the Four Seasons -- I don't mean at the gate, I mean literally two feet outside the door of the plane in the jetway! And she was quite a welcome to Paris: a tall, very pretty, blonde who escorted me through customs with extreme dispatch (as it turns out, too much dispatch, but more on that later.) Then she handed me off to a very sexy raven-haired chauffer in a black Mercedes S500 who looked like she stepped out of the Matrix, skin tight slacks and all. Well, that was pretty cool... although they all wore way too much perfume.

I like the EU unified currency and relaxed passport rules, but there was a hitch. In France, my entry into the EU, they failed to stamp my passport. Nobody noticed this on my subsequent travel on the continent, all being within the EU, but upon my EU exit in London there were, well, let's say there were issues that caused significant delays.

Other than that I have little to add to the many blogs and other more informed commentaries on travel. I've been too busy to enjoy much in the way of yachts and such, although I'll describe a few vacation days I spent in a later posting. But if I had to say one word of wisdom about travelling, it would be this:

I continue to believe that the very best asset a hotel can have is a great concierge. It's better than a great butler, restaurant, decor, tech gadgets, or even location. A great concierge can make life simple, grand, relaxing, exciting, whatever you should want. A good one can arrange a discount for your room, make your travel arrangements, purchase and transport local items you may need, arrange your favorite foods... pretty much everything a personal assistant could or would do. I tip them heavily, because more than any other person, they can make your trip.

Treat your concierge well.


Anonymous Madoka said...

Have you tried Thai Airways? I'm don't think they have 180 degree lie down flat beds, but the service is wonderful.

Singapore Airlines has well programmed robots imho.

6/03/2005 2:27 PM  
Blogger Sigmund said...

Another person mentioned the couples bed introduced by Virgin Airlines. Not enclosed and private, but a step in the right direction...


6/03/2005 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Madoka said...

Interesting concept; which could only be from Virgin since they are probably the only ones who can get away with it.

The closeness of sleeping together on the plane could outweigh any wild hanky panky.

How many people actually board a plane feeling fresh and frisky? Most times, we just want to crash out and sleep.

6/04/2005 12:30 PM  

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