Today (December 26, 2014): December 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:
- The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg opens
- One&Only Reethi Rah Maldives adds private pools to its overwater villas
- The Langham, Sydney reopens after a AUD$30 million refurbishment
- Intercontinental Hotels is set to rebrand the Four Seasons Dublin
- Intercontinental Hotels acquires Kimpton Hotels
- Emirates launches 3 new A380 Rroutes
- Taj, Marriott, Starwood, and Hyatt hotels announce free WiFi for all
- Amanresorts opens its Tokyo property
- Austrian Airlines announces flight service to Mauritius
- Qatar Airways takes delivery of the first Airbus A350
1. THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL THE WESTCLIFF JOHANNESBURG OPENS
The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg opened on December 1st, and it is the first property in the brand’s portfolio in Southern Africa. Formerly known as The Westcliff, the iconic hillside hotel closed its doors to the public in June 2013 for a complete USD 52 million reinvention. With 117 newly decorated contemporary African-inspired guest rooms and suites, the design resembles a hillside village woven with courtyards, fountains and gardens. Guests and visitors also enjoy five exciting new dining outlets, a nine treatment room destination spa, deli, and lap pool. Two new transparent panoramic elevators take guests on a striking visual journey to the upper part of the property, where the two main restaurants, View and Flames, are perched high up on the Westcliff hillside offering spectacular views of the city below.
2. ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH MALDIVES ADDS PRIVATE POOLS TO ITS OVERWATER VILLAS
One&Only Reethi Rah Maldives is one of our favorite hotels in the world. Truthfully, we don’t know if it would be possible to make the resort any more luxurious, being the all-villa tropical-island getaway (and celeb-magnet) that it is. The resort is trying nonetheless, introducing a new accommodation category that removes the understandably fundamental dilemma between wanting your own private pool, which confines you to staying on land, and wanting to see the Indian Ocean right underneath you, which means no pool. The solution? Overwater pool villas of course. Each villa is 850 square feet, with the infinity pool at 325 sq ft. All this does come at a price, with rates we can see early next year starting at $3,300 a night. That means after a long weekend, you’ll be leaving $15,000 behind on accommodation alone. Take us with you if you go?
3. THE LANGHAM SYDNEY REOPENS AFTER AUD$30 MILLION REFURBISHMENT
The Langham, Sydney has re-opened its doors this months after a AUD$30 million grand transformation. Langham Hospitality Group purchased The Langham, Sydney (previously The Observatory Hotel) in 2012 from Orient Express (now Belmond) and rebranded in the same year with great success. The executive team allocated two years to carefully appraise the Sydney space before confirming redevelopment plans in 2014. The internationally designed spaces are now paired with eclectic interior furnishings and every corner of this magnificent hotel has been given a grand treatment. Each light switch, fitting, fixture, chandelier, every piece of marble has been replaced with a more superior product. Hand curated art by Sotheby’s, Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood, an immersive fine dining concept at Sydney’s newest offering, Kent Street Kitchen, an exclusive new day spa, five brand-new, lavish event spaces for the glitterati of the city to enjoy, plus Sydney’s largest lead-in guestrooms with Langham’s signature terraces and balconies, is just a taste of the modern luxury that awaits you.
4. INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS IS SET TO REBRAND THE FOUR SEASONS DUBLIN
Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts will reflag the Four Seasons Hotel Dublin next month. Four Seasons Hotels announced its decision to cease management of the property in October of this year, and recent reports had both Hyatt Hotels and Intercontinental Hotels in the running to take over the management. Located in the Irish capital’s upmarket Ballsbridge neighbourhood, the hotel has 197 rooms and suites, two restaurants, two bars, a gym, a spa and an indoor pool. It also features 1,400 sqm of meeting space. Since opening its doors in 2001, the hotel has become a preferred destination for discerning travellers and was recently voted by TripAdvisor users as one of the 2014 Travelers Choice Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Ireland. Until the transition on January 1st 2015, it is business as usual as employees will continue to provide the same legendary service guests have come to expect from Four Seasons; after that date, service levels are expected to drop.
5. INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS ACQUIRES KIMPTON HOTELS
The Intercontinental Hotel Group has agreed to acquire Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (“Kimpton”) for $430 million in cash. Kimpton is the world’s largest independent boutique hotel operator and a sophisticated food and beverage operator, that manages 62 hotels and 71 hotel-based destination restaurants and bars in the most attractive cities and resorts in the US with a further 16 hotels in the pipeline. Highly complementary with IHG’s Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels brands, acquisition of Kimpton makes IHG the clear market leader in the boutique segment, the fastest growing segment in the industry, with over 200 open and pipeline hotels across 19 countries. IHG is set to accelerate the growth of the Kimpton brand within the US and to launch it globally. The transaction will be earnings enhancing in its first full year and achieve returns above IHG’s cost of capital by year three.
6. EMIRATES LAUNCHES 3 NEW A380 ROUTES
The world’s largest commercial aircraft will start making daily flights to three new destinations this week, all operated by Emirates and flying from Dubai International Airport (DXB): Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The expanded routes now offer daily A380 service to each destination in both directions. The airline reports over four million people combined have flown to the destinations since their initial launch of service. With the expansion, Emirates brings the number of added A380 destinations to 12 in the past year. In the past 12 months, the middle east carrier also added superjumbo service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Frankfurt Airport (FRA) and Mumbai International Airport (BOM). Emirates now boasts a fleet of 55 A380 superjumbo aircraft, with 11 of the aircraft joining the fleet in 2014. The airline claims their fleet represents exactly one-third of all operating A380s, with over 32 million flyers served to date on the aircraft. Click here to read our trip report of Business Class inside an Emirates A380 (Dubai to Sydney).
7. TAJ, MARRIOTT, STARWOOD AND HYATT HOTELS ANNOUNCE FREE WIFI FOR ALL
In 2015, Taj, Marriott, Starwood, and Hyatt hotel will all introduce complimentary WiFi in all of their worldwide properties (a long overdue measure). Wireless access will begin upon check-in and guests can use the standard internet cost-free. The hotel groups says the standard internet has enough bandwidth for browsing the web, checking email and using social media. Guests interested in more (say to stream videos or download large files) can upgrade to the premium usage level for an extra fee. Premium level are still complimentary to elite members of the respective hotel groups. While Taj and Hyatt have no restrictions on free internet use, Starwood and Marriott will only offer it for bookings made directly on their official website (and not through a third party).
8. AMANRESORTS OPENS IT TOKYO PROPERTY
Amanresorts, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, launched its first city property and the 27th in its portfolio: Aman Tokyo. Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower, Aman Tokyo is an urban sanctuary high above the atmospheric whirl of tradition and modernity that epitomises Tokyo. Aman Tokyo draws its design inspiration from traditional Japanese residential structures: classic Japanese materials such as timber, Washi paper and stone are blended to great effect with modern technology and luxurious fabrics. There is also a continuous reference to nature, from the Otemachi Forest (a forested area of 3,600 square metres in the city) and the hotel’s inner garden, to the fabrics and art incorporated into the design. The hotel has 84 rooms and suites, all with unique layouts, magnificent city views and every contemporary convenience. Each room and suite has a large furo – a deep soaking tub intrinsic to the Japanese ritual of bathing.
9. AUSTRIAN AIRLINES LAUNCHES FLIGHT SERVICE TO MAURITIUS
Austrian Airlines is commencing flight service to Mauritius in the winter of 2015-16. The airline will fly nonstop from Vienna to Mauritius every Thursday and back to Vienna on Fridays. Passengers have the opportunity to sit back, relax in the new cabin of the Boeing 767, watch a film of their choice on their own touch screen monitor and enjoy delicious food on board. After a flight time of 10 hours and 40 minutes, the aircraft will land at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport on Mauritius, an island famous for its luxury resorts. In recent years, destinations in the Indian Ocean have seen market growth for Austrian passengers. Austrian Airlines flights to the Maldives are also extremely popular, showing the high potential in the Austrian long-haul tourism segment. Austrian Airlines expects local passengers to comprise two-thirds of those flying to Mauritius, whereas transfer passengers from other European destinations flying there via the Vienna hub will make up the other third. Tickets for the flights can be booked at www.austrian.com or at a travel agency. Tickets are available starting from EUR 899 in Economy Class and starting from EUR 2,999 in Business Class.
10. QATAR AIRWAYS TAKES DELIVERY OF FIRST AIRBUS A350
This week, Qatar Airways took delivery of the first Airbus A350. The aircraft is the latest the industry has to offer in noise reduction, emissions and maintenance and it also caused a strategic shift in Airbus. The call for both cabin comfort and better economics from airlines like Qatar caused a rethink at Airbus and the first of 778 orders to date was delivered after almost a decade of design and production. It represents another milestone in the battle for the wide-body market with Boeing and is the company’s 15 billion dollar answer to the 787 – the Dreamliner. Next month the two jets will start competing in the skies. Analysts believe with the arrival of the carbon-plastic A350 the two companies are now well matched. Boeing’s first 787 was delivered three years ago albeit after four years of delays. It has sold more than 1,000 of the jets with more than 200 already in the hands of airline companies.
Enjoy the weekend and stay tuned for Monday when we reveal a new top 10 travel list.