Watching other people’s camera-ready lifestyles play out online can be exhausting. It’s enough to induce a major inferiority complex in the best of us.
So, when I had the opportunity to go on the trip of a lifetime with my family aboard the Four Seasons Private Jet, naturally, my first thought was: What should I wear? Would I need to pack my red-soled stilettos to fit in, though I knew I’d be hiking through rainforests and swimming with sharks?
Instead, I chose sensible sneakers, and prepared to explore – following the real influencers of the world, introduced to us by Four Seasons: home-grown artists, musicians, chefs, local guides, even animals who would change the way I thought about a destination or about myself.
The Jet’s incredible design made me think of the ultra-rare Jaguar XJ13.
My first stop was Miami, home of the Wynwood Walls art project, South Beach and the best Cubano sandwiches outside of Cuba. My companions and I spent our first night sipping mojitos at Four Seasons Hotel Miami and swaying to the sounds of Joe Donato’s jazz band at Ball & Chain, a historic venue that once hosted icons like Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker.
At this stop on our Four Seasons–curated tour, Donato welcomed us personally into his corner of the world, where the club sits in the heart of Little Havana, across the street from Domino Park and near the world-famous Tower Theatre – three of Miami’s “grand traditions,” as he put it.
You won’t find this 70-something-year-old saxophonist on social media, but if you stroll through this neighbourhood on any given Friday night, you may just hear a few notes from his woodwind.
Experiencing jazz in Miami was unlike hearing it in any other city I’ve visited that’s known for the genre. Each destination has its own musical dialect; here, the sounds are often salsa- or rhumba-inflected. As a music lover, listening to Donato and his fellow artists in the open-air club on this warm Miami night inspired me – you can bet I’ll be dropping into more live music clubs throughout the world. You never know what sounds might help shape your visit and contextualize the cultural background of the place you’re visiting.
Four Seasons Hotel Miami
After Miami, we stepped aboard the Private Jet – its incredible design made me think of the ultra-rare Jaguar XJ13 crossed with the sleek, future-forward sophistication of a Tesla – and headed to Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, where monkeys, geckos and tropical birds eyed my rum-based digestif, and whales frolicked by the shore.
On a catamaran sail through the Gulf of Papagayo, I chatted with Isabel Algaze Gonzalez, the Private Jet’s Harvard-educated doctor. When she was a child in Puerto Rico, she told me, her father would read her magazine stories about far-off expeditions.
Shaped by those stories, today she discovers new parts of the world through her research in hyperbaric and avalanche medicine, as part of relief efforts, and on expeditions including work at Everest base camps.
She hopes that her work might influence young girls from similar backgrounds to see that this type of career and way of exploring the world isn’t farfetched.
I was humbled by her story and all she has accomplished, and moved that she shared it with me. Meeting her reminded me why I chose a career in journalism, in part to highlight women around the world who are transcending traditional boundaries and pushing their limits in work and life – and it reminded me, whenever I can, to be such a woman myself.
Four Seasons Private Residences Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Back on the Private Jet, Executive Chef Kerry Sear and his crew were busy serving up canapes inspired by and created from Colombian ingredients.
Later in our journey, when we arrived in Colombia and entered Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá, my husband and I immediately took a seat at Castanyoles, where mixologist Carlos Igor Woyno Rodriguez concocted drinks for us from local fruits and regional spirits, including Brazilian Cachaça and rums from across the southern continent. Talking about his love of uniquely Latin American flavours led to him sharing stories of his youth in South America and his move to Canada. Now, back in Colombia, he is passionate about encouraging tourism – I now want to see (and taste) every place he described to us – and about being part of his country’s next era.
With those palate-enriching memories still lingering, we were back on the Private Jet, where onboard Executive Chef Kerry Sear and his crew were busy serving up canapes inspired by and created from Colombian ingredients.
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota
After landing, we boarded the private cruise ship Silversea Silver Galápagos to sail through the natural wonders of the Galápagos Islands. We watched vibrant flamingos feeding their young in salty lagoons, blue-footed boobies – the iconic marine birds found only on these islands – relaxing on white-sand beaches, and dolphins circling us as if to say hello.
For a landlocked, prairie-raised girl like myself, the opportunity to swim with sea lions and sharks was a particularly emotional experience. Ernesto Vaca Norero, one of our resident naturalist guides, understood completely; he has been transfixed by the region and is now studying law in an effort to ensure the Galápagos remains protected. He and his fellow guides entirely changed my concept of the ocean and rid me of my fear of open water and the life beneath its surface. On our first trip out into the blue, Ernesto and the team swam with me, basically “hand-holding” me through the water as we navigated among trigger fish, sharks and sea lions. The sea lions reminded me so much of Labrador retrievers, playfully teasing me with their underwater agility, beckoning me to venture more fully into their beautiful ecosystem.
Moved to tears by the experience, I thanked our guides. “It never gets old for us,” they said. And now, I expect it never will for me.
Some travel influencers online might define “perfection” on a purely surface level – but at its heart, the honour and pleasure of travel with this type of rare access lie in the deep and transformative connections you make, with people, with art, with music, with food, even with whole ecosystems. Because when you’re sitting in a bar in Bogotá drinking up conversation with locals, or watching in awe as sea lions whirl beside you in the ocean, all that matters is soaking up those moments and allowing them to change your life for the better.
Coming in 2021: even more opportunities to connect with the world on our new custom-outfitted Airbus 321 Neo. On our new Four Seasons Private Jet, sit back in one of only 48 custom-designed and handcrafted seats, and get to know fellow guests as well as our chefs, mixologists and other experts in a standing social area.
YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS HERE
How do you want to explore the world?