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The grand tour revival

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1 January 2008 by Pete Mathers

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Grand Tour was the apogee of wellheeled travel, combining cultural learning with decadent adventure. TCS Expeditions has refined the idea for the 21st century, carrying travellers by private jet to the world’s most exotic locations.

Three hundred years ago blueblooded Englishmen would graduate from the likes of Oxford and depart on a Grand Tour, spending months, sometimes years in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilisation. “Foreign travel completes the education of the Englishman,” remarked historian Edward Gibbon. Exposure to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance was a serious business in the 18th century, one that would often involve the company of a knowledgeable guide or tutor. With his help, a young man might learn to dance and fence in Paris, study art in Florence, Italian in Bologna, history in Rome, music in Naples and German in Vienna.

Today the world is a wider place, and it has all the more to teach us. TCS Expeditions has brought the Grand Tour to the 21st century, offering today’s discerning travellers a collection of meticulously orchestrated itineraries, stringing the world’s most exotic destinations together by means of a customised jet.

And like the tutors that accompanied the Grand Tour nobility, expert lecturers enrich every step, opening your eyes to culture, art and natural wonders. They’ll share insights and experiences both prior to landing and while on the ground, and are almost always In the 17th and 18th centuries the Grand Tour was the apogee of wellheeled travel, combining cultural learning with decadent adventure. TCS Expeditions has refined the idea for the 21st century, carrying travellers by private jet to the world’s most exotic locations. available to answer questions over dinner. Pre-trip reading lists, comprehensive notes on each destination and a library of audio and visual material are also readily available, all part of an exceptional educational programme.

Of course stops on these itineraries stretch further than the cultural cities of Europe. Each expedition is a life list of dream destinations, all in a single journey. Take the classic 25-day Around the World itinerary. Each port of call evokes awe and mystery: Machu Picchu, Marrakech, the vast Serengeti, Dubai, Samoa, the Great Barrier Reef, Angkor Wat, Easter Island, Papua New Guinea, the Taj Mahal. Visiting just one of these can make a journey of a lifetime. Imagine what it’s like to see them all on one tour.

“The world is a kaleidoscope,” writes Scott Leviton, Director of Guest Services for tcs Expeditions. “Turn, and ancient structures rise before you, whispering echoes a thousand years old. Turn again, and share the extravagant colours of a remote village market … the reverent stillness of a sacred temple … the power of a thundering waterfall … the hypnotic rhythm of native dancers.”

Since 1995, tcs Expeditions has flown over 100 of these journeys. Travel is via a Boeing 757 jetliner, originally built to seat 233 passengers but customised by TCS Expeditions to accommodate just 74 people in spacious two-by-two seats. Group sizes on the ground are even smaller, normally no more than 15 people.

Everything you can imagine is included in the ticket. A private car will meet each flight, charming local gifts will grace your pillow at a string of 5-star properties – from the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra to the Grand Hyatt in Dubai – and exclusive access and special events will punctuate your entire experience. Such privileges include private dinners, visits with dignitaries and behind the scenes access at museums and monuments. On a previous tour through Africa, travellers had the rare privilege of a private audience with the king of Ghana’s Ashanti Kingdom – such are the unique opportunities of these incredible expeditions.

Meals are all outstanding. You can enjoy local beers with every lunch and fine wines with every dinner. Cocktail parties are held in beautiful settings, local currency is provided for shopping, even gratuities are already taken care of.

What’s more, should you have visited some of the places on an itinerary already, TCS Expeditions will happily tailor alternative tour options to suit you, normally at no extra cost. So if you’ve already been to Angkor Wat, why not arrange an excursion to Banteay Srei – the citadel of women – or to the Rolos group of temples, built 400 years before Angkor.

There is simply no better way to visit so many places on a single two- or three week journey. These are the grandest of Grand Tours, unforgettable experiences perfectly in sync with today’s most experienced travellers.

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Call a Wexas consultant on 020 7581 8761 or email your enquiry to [email protected].

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