Take a private jet to luxury safari from SRQ
For two decades, Malaka and Ryan Hilton, owners of Admiral Travel International in Sarasota, have been carving out a niche in the luxury travel market by offering escorted tours to Egypt and South Africa.
Their latest offering is a first: a chartered Boeing 777-200LR Crystal Skye jet that will depart Sarasota Bradenton International Airport for Johannesburg in 2019 for a week-long private safari at a Singita South Africa game reserve.
Seating is limited to 88 fully reclining flatbed seats. Among the amenities not found on regular jetliners are a dedicated stand-up bar and social lounge, a team of Skye attendants, an executive chef and a mixologist.
Price for the eight-day journey: $37,950 per person, based on double occupancy.
The 777 is a lot larger than most of the aircraft that fly in and out of SRQ.
“It’s a wide-body jet that would normally have about 300 seats,” said Rick Piccolo, airport president and CEO. “It’s such a different animal than our other aircraft. It’s a very interesting concept.”
A more typical jetliner seen at SRQ is the Boeing 737, a medium-range aircraft that typically seats 85 to 215 passengers.
It’s a wide body jet that would normally have about 300 seats. It’s such a different animal than our other aircraft.
Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport
The Hiltons estimate that 30 to 40 percent of the luxury travelers who sign up for the conservation safari next year — the only shooting at wildlife will be with cameras — will come from the Bradenton-Sarasota area.
One of the best things about flying private is avoiding lines and check-in at a commercial counter. All the amenities aboard the Crystal Skye will make the long flight more than tolerable, even pleasurable.
More than a year before departure, available seating is about 20 percent committed for the May 10, 2019, trip, the Hiltons say.
“As more and more people hear about it, we will be getting more phone calls,” Malaka Hilton said.
In the past, the Hiltons have used commercial aircraft to fly their clients to distant destinations.
“There are only about three flights a day from the United States direct to southern Africa,” Ryan Hilton said.
Conservation safaris don’t take trophies
Ryan Hilton was born and raised in Zimbabwe and was a working safari guide when he met his wife, Malaka, a native of Sarasota.
He still spends 60 to 100 days a year in Africa, and says the biggest hurdle is always the travel to get there.
Conservation safaris, which put the emphasis on seeing and appreciating the wildlife, rather than taking trophies, is the wave of the future, Ryan Hilton said.
African locals where conservation safaris are popular become vested in protecting wildlife, providing jobs — not only as game wardens, but in the hospitality industry.
“Singita is known as ‘The Place of Miracles,’ for good reason,” Ryan Hilton said. “We will explore some of the most-productive and uncrowded big-game safari areas on the continent with a week of game drives sure to create memorable wildlife sightings in gorgeous natural settings. Singita’s focus on hospitality at the luxury lodges is also supreme.”
Interested travelers are encouraged to contact the ATI team for full details. The complete itinerary and inclusions are detailed online at www.admiraltravel.com.
Singita is known as ‘The Place of Miracles,’ for good reason. We will explore some of the most-productive and uncrowded big-game safari areas on the continent with a week of game drives sure to create memorable wildlife sightings in gorgeous natural settings.
Ryan Hilton, Admiral Travel International
To arrange for a meeting with the Hiltons or to learn more about Admiral Travel International, 1284 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, or Authentescapes experiences, call 941-951-1801 or visit www.admiraltravel.com.
Retail travel agencies, travel planners and tour operators also are welcome to reserve space on this departure.
“We are pleased to work with the professionals at Admiral Travel to offer a truly exceptional journey aboard Crystal Skye,” said Thatcher Brown, president of Crystal AirCruises and Dream Cruises in a press release. “Their dedication to providing travelers with genuine personal service is in line with Crystal’s philosophy, and I am certain their clients will be impressed with the aircraft’s unique features, remarkable comfort and elegant luxury amenities.”
A business class ticket on Etihad Airways from Johannesburg through Abu Dhabi to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is included as the return flight in the offering.