Today (October 31, 2014): October luxury travel news.
Every last Friday of the month, you can read a news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:
- Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth Isle De France opens
- This Caribbean resort wants you to take your honeymoon suite home with you
- Marriott fined $600,000 for blocking guest WiFi
- Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts opens it Moscow property
- Retrofitted American Airlines Boeing 777-200 now flying
- Waldorf Astoria New York sold to Chinese company for $1.95 billion
- Starwood Hotels opens a “peculiar” hotel in Dalian, China
- Virgin Atlantic’s 30th Birthday brings the Boeing 787-9 to Boston
1. CHEVAL BLANC SAINT-BARTH ISLE DE FRANCE OPENS
LVMH’s Cheval Blanc collection rebranded, completely renovated en reopened the former Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, an enduring island favorite that was acquired by LVMH in July 2013. One of the landmarks of the French West Indies, Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth Isle de France has 40 rooms, suites and villas, and is situated on one of the loveliest beaches of St Barthélemy: Flamands Beach. The property includes the only Guerlain spa in the Caribbean, a new White Bar poolside lounge and special “alchemists” who create tailor-made experiences for guests. The property’s new color palette combines Cheval Blanc’s signature taupe with a daring blush pink – created just for Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France – that strikingly enhances the Maison’s trademark blue. This new color scheme pays tribute to the Caribbean turquoise waters and colorful local façades. Cheval Blanc Saint-Barth is the third Maison in the portfolio, joining Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives, which opened in November 2013 to great acclaim, and Cheval Blanc Courchevel, the 36-room ski-in ski-out Maison in Courchevel 1850.
2. THIS CARIBBEAN RESORT WANTS YOU TO TAKE YOUR HONEYMOON SUITE HOME WITH YOU
Luxury hotels in the Caribbean have been luring honeymooners for decades, offering, if not guaranteeing, picturesque settings, killer views and of course, the essence of romance. As competition for your honeymoon dollar heats up with the island sun, destinations are getting creative, and sometimes extreme, in coming up with special offers that appeal to the most romantically inclined. The Ladera Resort, a 37-suite cliffside resort overlooking the Piton Mountains in St. Lucia, is clearly thinking outside the box with a new program inviting all you pending newlyweds to customize your own honeymoon suite furniture and then ship it home on departure. The resort features an onsite team of local artisans who will hand carve – to your specifications – the bed and other furniture for your suite, under the guidance of Ladera’s “Honeymoon Furniture Concierge.” Four-poster bed frames, which will cost you $5,000 plus shipping, can be monogrammed or chiseled with other designs.
3. MARRIOTT FINED $600,000 FOR BLOCKING GUEST WIFI
Marriott employees blocked mobile “hotspots” at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, while at the same time charging consumers, small businesses and exhibitors as much as $1,000 per device to access Marriott’s Wi-Fi network, the FCC said in a statement today. “Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said in the statement. Under a consent decree with the FCC, Marriott must stop using Wi-Fi blocking technology and file compliance and usage reports every three months for three years, the FCC said. Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott, the world’s second-largest publicly traded hotel chain, also will pay a civil penalty of $600,000. Marriott says it did nothing wrong and it’s the FCC’s policies that need changing. “Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” Jeff Flaherty, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
4. FOUR SEASONS HOTELS OPENS ITS MOSCOW PROPERTY
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has opened a property in Moscow, its second in Russia and one of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2014. Formerly the Hotel Moskva, the 180-room Four Seasons Moscow is located on Manezhnaya Square next to Red Square. Each room is naturally lit via floor-to-ceiling windows and contains an iPhone docking station, a media hub with internation socket options, high-speed internet access, a Nespresso machine, a high-definition television and an iPad for “easy access” to arrange in-room dining and spa appointments. Marble bathrooms include separate showers, with complimentary custom amenities by Roberto Cavalli. There are two suites — the 520 sqm Pozharsky Royal Suite on the seventh floor and the 468 sqm Minin Presidential Suite. The hotel also features a 24-hour business centre, five restaurant and bar venues and, from early in 2015, the 3,000 sqm Amnis Spa at Four Seasons, which includes an indoor swimming pool, 14 treatment rooms, and a 24-hour fitness centre with Life Fitness equipment.
5. RETROFITTED AMERICAN AIRLINES’ BOEING 777-200 NOW FLYING
Explore the globe while enjoying a whole new level of comfort in every cabin of American Airlines’ refreshed Boeing 777-200. American started flying the refurbished 777-200 this month between Dallas and Santiago three days per week, as follows: AA945 Dallas to Santiago departing 9:45PM arriving 9:05AM (+1 day) [Mon, Thu, Sat] & AA940 Santiago to Dallas departing 10:20PM arriving 6:15AM (+1 day) [Tue, Fri, Sun] The other days of the week the route will be operated by Boeing 767-300 featuring the old (and underwhelming) Business Class product. The redesign on the Boeing 777-200 offers significant updates throughout the entire plane, include a two-class cabin configuration with American’s new Business Suite seats, giving you industry-leading personal workspace and a private inflight experience. Throughout the plane, customers will also enjoy a modern interior, with unique lighting, a dramatic archway, and ceiling design that creates a feeling of spaciousness. And Business Class customers will have access to a walk-up bar stocked with a selection of snacks and refreshments.
6. WALDOR ASTORIA NEW YORK SOLD TO CHINESE COMPANY FOR $1.95 BILLION
Conrad N. Hilton acquired the iconic luxury hotel 65 years ago and on Monday Hilton Worldwide announced its sale to Anbang Insurance Group. Hilton will continue to operate the Waldorf for the next 100 years under a “strategic partnership” with the Beijing-based company. The Waldorf Astoria will undergo a “major renovation” to restore the hotel to its “historic grandeur” as one of New York’s best luxury hotels according to a joint statement from Hilton and Anbang. The Waldorf Astoria is the flagship of Hilton’s 27 luxury hotels around the world. It first opened in 1893 on the site of millionaire William Waldorf Astor’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Waldorf’s cousin and fellow millionaire John Jacob Astor IV reconstructed the hotel a few years later at a nearby location. The Waldorf is a cultural icon and has hosted foreign heads of state and celebrities for years.
7. STARWOOD HOTELS OPENS A “PECULIAR” HOTEL IN DALIAN, CHINA
The Luxury Collection, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, opened its The Castle Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dalian. Owned by the Dalian Yifang Group and managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, The Castle Hotel marks The Luxury Collection’s first hotel in Liaoning, China, offering the brand’s signature concierge service and indigenous cultural experiences in a majestic urban retreat. The hotel commands an imposing presence as a palatial Bavarian-style castle set amid lush foliage on Lotus Mountain in Dalian, Northeast China. Overlooking Xinghai Square as well as Xinghai Bay and the Yellow Sea, The Castle Hotel offers 292 luxurious guestrooms and suites as well as 67 residences, offering stunning ocean views with meticulous interior designs. Reimagined by HBA Interior Design, the hotel boasts an opulent, contemporary design where each detail – from the wall decorations and furniture to the ornaments and art collections – tells a story.Following the hotel’s extensive renovation, the exterior of the hotel remains true to the original European-inspired architecture with hand-selected stones gracing the façade of the castle.
8. VIRGIN ATLANTIC’S 30TH BIRTHDAY BRINGS THE BOEING 787-9 TO BOSTON
Virgin Atlantic became the 25th airline to fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as they inaugurate their new arrival with flights between London-Heathrow and Boston-Logan. This isn’t just any 787, either. Virgin Atlantic is the first European airline to welcome the longer, cooler 787-9 to their fleet, and they do so on their own 30th birthday as an airline, hence the aircraft’s name, “Birthday Girl” G-VNEW. Inside are 198 Economy, 35 Premium Economy, and 31 Upper Class seats, plus a new “Wander Wall” concept in Premium Economy. This is essentially a snack-and-chat station, since the bar is reserved for Upper Class only. Speaking of that bar—it’s been redesigned to fit within the 787-9, but you’ll still be able to pop on a barstool and order a Virgin Redhead somewhere 38,000′ above the Atlantic Ocean. The Dreamliner 787-9 is powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Trent turbofan engines and has a maximum range of 8,500 nautical miles. So far, the only other airlines to operate the larger Dreamliner are All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, and United Airlines.
Enjoy the weekend and stay tuned for Monday when we reveal a new top 10 travel list.