Just a Hop, Skip and a Jet — Hondajet Private Aircraft

SLIDESHOW: A gastronomic journey aboard the newly launched Hondajet private aircraft.

Japan’s Honda has pushed the envelope in the development of its first private aircraft — and it also allows you to whizz down to France in record time.

Leaving a poetically rainy and miserable London, I boarded one of the only 42 Hondajets in flight around the world, and whizzed down to Marseille in record time. Japan’s Honda has pushed the envelope in the development of its first private aircraft; from the engines placed on the wings, allowing more interior space, less noise and greater fuel efficiency; to the interior seats on a swivel and slide giving you the most space possible; the attention to detail is apparent throughout the entire design.

Honda calls it “a modern-day time machine” and it’s easy to see why. Skip the hours spent in the airport queuing for security. Waiting for your flight to be called. Waiting to board. Waiting to deplane. Waiting to collect luggage. Waiting for customs on the other end.

This was done in a matter of moments from the privacy of your jet. On the ground in Marseille and in the taxi within five minutes, I was impressed at the sheer amount of time saved.

And what better way to use that time than driving into Provençe and heading to the tranquil Château La Coste? It just so happened that one of the fellow guests had a connection with La Coste and we were invited for lunch. Created by Irish property developer Patrick McKillen (owner of London’s Claridge’s, The Berkeley and The Connaught), the 600-acre property is a beautiful patchwork of organic vineyards, the Tadao Ando Art Centre, four restaurants, including one headed by three-Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passédat, and the upcoming Mallmann Restaurant, helmed by Argentine chef Francis Mallmann.

It was the latter where we found ourselves with a glass of La Bulle cuvée, tucking into a delicious five-course meal when Mallmann himself sat down to join us. Mallmann has created a name for himself using a specialised dome structure over an open fire to gently smoke the food, creating a unique and delicate flavouring of all foods — from the vegetables to the meat, and even the breads. An idea borne out of the need to cook on a beach without the proper facilities, he explains.

With the Provençal sun shining, a glass of the Grand Vin Rouge in hand and listening to Mallmann describe his love of food and aversion to prescribing to the rules of how food and restaurants should be, London felt a million miles away. In among the vineyards and lush grounds of the château you will find blue-chip sculptural artworks by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Frank Gehry and Tracey Emin, you get to dreaming. With 28 villas, each with personal plunge pools, opening here soon as part of the Villa La Coste development, it would be the perfect escape to hide away for a few days.

But for me, the dream had to end. Laden down with bottles of wine from the vineyard, we were whisked back to the airport and ready to board our flight home. If you’re looking for your own time machine, the Hondajet will only set you back about US$5 million. For the president and CEO of the company, Michimasa Fujino, it’s the realisation of decades of engineering and dreaming that the Hondajet has finally been launched. And for those who purchase, they always throw a party in the hangar when he personally hands you the keys.

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