New Heights: Unforgettable Airborne Experiences
There’s a reason everyone covets a bird’s-eye view on holiday: It’s the very best way to take in a landscape. Around the world, Four Seasons hotels and resorts offer airborne experiences you won’t believe, from aerial tours of the Great Wall of China to hot-air balloon rides above the Serengeti.
See ancient history from on high in China
The Great Wall is worthy of its name. Take in the majesty of the iconic Chinese landmark while gliding 100 metres above the Mutianyu section – including secret stretches that aren’t open to the public – during the helicopter aerial tour arranged by Four Seasons Hotel Beijing. Guests can even opt to remove the aircraft’s door for a broader view of the UNESCO World Heritage site, built of hewn granite slabs in the seventh century.
“As a Beijinger, I am proud to provide guests with a unique view of this extraordinary historical site,” says Peter Tang, the Hotel’s Chief Concierge. “Mutianyu is one of the best places to see the beauty of the Great Wall. The views are clear and unobstructed, and the wall stretches through valleys and across hilltops.” Insider tip: Ask the Hotel staff to prepare a seasonal picnic to enjoy atop the Great Wall itself. Executive Chef Jackson Wu’s dishes, such as Deep-Fried Scallop Stuffed With Shrimp Mousse and Fresh Pear, are as memorable as the scenery.
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Ski an alpine safari in France, Italy and Switzerland
If skiing like James Bond sounds appealing, try taking a helicopter to a drop zone in the Alps where you can slalom your way down. Four Seasons Hotel Megève, open since December 2017 in the playground of the iconic Rothschild family, offers Helicopter Ski Safaris to nearby Chamonix, Courchevel and Val d’Isère.
“You can ski on the most famous peaks in the Alps, whether in France, Italy or even Switzerland,” says Chef Concierge Margaux Pfeiffer. “Heli-skiing is a thrill of a lifetime. Our guests are always surprised when we tell them that we can land on glaciers up to 3000 metres high and they can start their ski descent from there.”
This being Four Seasons, don’t expect an ordinary après-ski experience – not when a mosaic-lined indoor/outdoor pool and a 14,000-bottle wine cellar beckon back at the Hotel. “Our chefs welcome you back with hot chocolate and warm crêpes in the lobby,” Pfeiffer says. “To me, this is the best time of the day.”
At the foot of the Mont d’Arbois slopes, you may also discover Alpine charm at Les Chalets du Mont d’arbors, Megève, A Four Seasons Hotel, opening December 13, 2019.
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Jet over the Edge of the World in Riyadh
Just beyond Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre is a land formation so astonishing the locals call it “the Edge of the World.” And with the Hotel’s Journey to the Edge of the World experience, you can take in the most magnificent sights of the desert from a microlight two-passenger plane – just you and the pilot. “You’ll be escorted to the microlight after lunch when the sun starts descending and the horizon reflects beautiful colours behind the magnificent Edge of the World,” says Concierge Agent Reema Bin Shulayyil. “The beauty of the steep edges contrasting with the tip of the mountain is mesmerizing.” Bonus: You’ll break for a traditional Saudi luncheon, presented in a private Bedouin tent overlooking the Edge.
Before taking wing, guests explore the At-Turaif District in the city of ad-Dir’iyah, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a former seat of Saudi royalty. “The history and mystical tales that exist between the historic city of ad-Dir’iyah and the breathtaking Edge of the World never fail to intrigue our guests,” Bin Shulayyil says. “At ad-Dir’iyah you’ll experience rich Saudi culture, while the amazing geological formations of the Edge of the World fascinate visitors with their beauty.” Upon returning to the Hotel, head directly to the Royal Moroccan Hammam for a honey and royal jelly mask or a Turkish salt scrub.
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Soar above the Serengeti in Tanzania
Most bucket lists include a safari – few things are more transformative than spotting the Big Five beasts in their native habitat. But once you’ve caught sight of fauna up close, spy them as an African Crowned Eagle would at Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, where the Hot-Air Balloon Safari offered in partnership with local operator Serengeti Balloon Safaris takes you some 609 metres off the ground. “To see the Serengeti Plains from above is truly special – it really shows the scale and expanse of the beautiful landscape, especially in the early morning light,” says Ahmed Attas, Discovery Centre Manager.
“Depending on the time of year, you may be lucky enough to fly over the Great Migration, when there are herds of wildebeest as far as the eye can see, or it could be that you glide through the air just metres above hippos in the river. You could also see big cats out hunting before the mid-day heat begins to build.”
Attas reports that some guests have glimpsed lions or flown just a few metres above an adult male leopard sitting in the top branches of a tree. One thing is certain: If you take off at dawn or dusk, you’ll be able to capture the panorama in exquisite light. “Sunrises and sunsets in the Serengeti are beyond compare,” he says. “I think what makes the balloon safari at sunrise even more magical is that you’re able to see the wilderness coming to life for a new day.”