From St. Barts and Necker to St. Moritz, we have a look where the glitterati will charter their private jets for the holidays
Everything is booked, the bags are packed, and you’re minutes away from setting off on your Christmas holiday. Just a few hours of driving on crowded roads while the kids scream in the back and incessantly complain about having to go all the way to Corby… to see your nan.
This might sound like Christmas for many of us, but it is light-years away from where the rich and famous will be spending their next few weeks.
Sunning themselves in the Caribbean, shooping down pristine white slopes, or shopping like the world really is ending on Friday (thank you for that never-ending discussion, Mayan calendar).
So where are the world’s glitterati descending upon, and how will they be getting there?
Well, Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich is a huge fan of St. Barts this time of year, as are Simon Cowell, Ivana Trump and Gary Lineker.
Sir Richard Branson and clan won’t be too far away either, chilling out on their private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.
When Branson isn’t around, his island is rented out for £32,000 a night – but this Christmas will feel pretty low-key compared to 2011. Last December, 100 celebs, some royals and friends and family flew down to see Holly Branson tie the knot with shipbroker husband Fred Andrews.
(Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice famously sacked off the Queen’s festivities at Sandringham Estate to attend, although this year they will be back in Norfolk with the rest of the royal family.)
What about the rest of the jet set? “The winter season brings with it a variety of exciting holiday destinations, and there are a number of places that I expect to be especially popular this winter,” says Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of London Executive Aviation, a London-based company that leases planes to the glitterati.
“Skiing is always at the top of the list and St. Moritz, with the famous Cresta Run and the Polo World Cup on Snow, […] is always a very fashionable choice. Then you’ve got Val d’Isère, as well as Courchevel in the French Alps – a favourite with the Russians.”
After some beach action, Abramovich is likely to head there for Russian New Year on 14 January. He might bump into billionaire Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov, owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, probably best known for a little 2007 scandal that shall go unmentioned here.
While both have their own aircraft to take them there, those with just multi-millions (rather than multi-billions) of moolah will have to hire their transport. And there is really only one way to fly – private.
There’s no check-in or airport security and if you fly into St. Moritz’s private airfield, you’ll only be a four-minute drive to be slopes. Pretty handy, although other Alps resorts aren’t much further.
“A lot of people will choose to hire the private jet first thing in the morning to maximise their time and they will have the flexibility to take off at 5 or 6am on a Friday morning,” says Margetson-Rushmor. “That way they can be on the slopes by 11 o’clock and fit in a full three days of skiing.”
This kind of arrangement is particularly popular with the cosmopolitan banking crowd, and actors and actresses filming at Pinewood studios in Buckinghamshire, he explains.
A one-way, eight-person propeller plane to the various Alpine destinations will set you back £5,000. Doing it for the weekend will be closer to £6,200 but can go up to as much as £21,280 for a 13-person jet plane. This includes putting up your pilots in a hotel nearby for the duration of your trip, but it does mean that if the weather turns and skiing becomes more a chore than a pleasure, you can pack it all in, call your crew and get yourself in the air that day.
Margetson-Rushmore insists this price and arrangement work for “ordinary people” too, but you can be the judge of that.
The non-workaholic, truly fabulously wealthy high-networth-ers, though, usually prefer to take that little bit longer. That’s where the Caribbean and Dubai come in. Margetson-Rushmore says both are becoming increasingly popular with clients over the Christmas holidays.
The price tag attached makes the Euro weekenders look like they’re taking a bus to the wrong part of town, not going to rub shoulders with the world’s elite. Chartering a 12-person jet for a two-week Caribbean holiday costs £117,000, while Dubai is only marginally less at £107,000.
Not that this doesn’t bring its advantages. You will be given a free in-air spa package, so you can have your mani-pedi and a massage as you fly. Your lowlier European jet-setting peers will have to pay for theirs.
And the rest of us will have to be lulled into comfort by the gentle motorway vibrations and tender child kicks into the back of our car seat as we head off on our merry way to our nan’s.
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