Today (November 26, 2015): November luxury travel news.
Every last Friday of the month, you can read our news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:
- Aman opens a new resort in the Dominican Republic
- Etihad Airways to commence A380 services to Melbourne
- Marriott acquires Starwood, creating the world’s largest hotel company
- American Airlines adds new service between Los Angeles and Auckland
- SLS Las Vegas is now a Starwood hotel
- WOW air announces Los Angeles and San Francisco routes
- Starwood partners with Design Hotels
- Lufthansa & Singapore Airlines announce a joint venture
- The Ritz-Carlton Announces two sanctuaries of luxury in Asia
- British Airways to offer onboard WiFi
1. Aman opens a new resort in the Dominican Republic
Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, officially opened Amanera, its newest ultraluxurious resort in the pristine natural beauty of the Dominican Republic. Nestled within more than 2,170 acres of pristine Caribbean jungle, Amanera overlooks the ocean from Playa Grande, whose golden sands make it one of the region’s most beautiful beaches. Presenting the first fully-integrated Aman Golf Course, the resort is located alongside the lauded fairways and greens of Playa Grande. Amanera has 25 free-standing Casitas, that all come with ocean views from an expansive terrace, as well as a private garden and biodiverse roof that seamlessly blends with its surroundings. Thirteen casitas have a private pool.
2. Etihad Airways to commence A380 services to Melbourne
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will commence daily A380 services between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne on 1 June 2016. The flagship superjumbo will operate flights EY460/461, one of the airline’s twice daily Abu Dhabi-Melbourne services. It will replace one of the three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft currently deployed on the route. It will also bring to Melbourne The Residence by Etihad, the airline’s luxurious private three-room suite in the sky, as well as ground breaking product and service innovations in all cabins. The A380 service from Melbourne will connect seamlessly in Abu Dhabi to the A380 to London, offering London-bound guests the convenience and class-leading comfort of an all-A380 service all the way.
3. Marriott acquires Starwood, creating the world’s largest hotel company
Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. approved a definitive merger agreement under which the companies will create the world’s largest hotel company. The transaction combines Starwood’s leading lifestyle brands and international footprint with Marriott’s strong presence in the luxury and select-service tiers, as well as the convention and resort segment, creating a more comprehensive portfolio. The merged company will offer broader choice for guests, greater opportunities for associates and should unlock additional value for Marriott and Starwood shareholders. Combined, the companies operate or franchise more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide. The combined company’s pro forma fee revenue for the 12 months ended September 30, 2015 totals over $2.7 billion.
4. American Airlines adds new service between Los Angeles and Auckland
American Airlines will add new nonstop service between its trans-Pacific gateway hub at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Auckland Airport (AKL) in June 2016, pending regulatory approvals. The route to Auckland provides American’s customers direct access to a new destination and further strengthens the airline’s joint business with Qantas Airways. American has added six new trans-Pacific routes over the last three years, nearly doubling its presence in the region. American plans to operate its new daily service between LAX and AKL with the newest addition to its fleet, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The Los Angeles to Auckland flight will depart 10:45PM arriving 6:35AM (+2 days), while the Auckland to Los Angeles flight will departing 1:20PM arriving 6:30AM.
5. SLS Las Vegas is now a Starwood hotel
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced its single largest addition of hotel rooms in North America since pre-recession with the signing of SLS Las Vegas on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and Sahara Boulevard. Owned by Las Vegas Resort Holdings, LLC, the three distinct hotel towers, encompassing more than 1,600 guestrooms and suites, will be branded by the end of this year under Starwood’s recently launched Tribute Portfolio, while the 289-room “LUX Tower” will be converted to a W Hotel upon completion of a renovation in 2016. The W Las Vegas conversion will include the addition of a W Living Room (the W brand’s take on the traditional hotel lobby), a dedicated entrance for W guests, nearly 14,500 square feet of new W-branded meeting and event space, signature Away Spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and an exclusive outdoor pool deck and bar. The other two hotel towers, comprising 1,324 rooms, will be operated as SLS Las Vegas, a Tribute Portfolio Resort.
6. WOW air announces Los Angeles and San Francisco routes
WOW air, the ultra-low-cost transatlantic airline from Iceland, is to begin flying to the US West Coast in summer 2016 with Los Angeles and San Francisco confirmed as their fifth and sixth destinations in North America. The routes will be serviced by three new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, the first wide-body planes in the WOW air fleet, which will each carry 340 passengers in a single-class configuration. The routes will connect with daily flights to Keflavik from London Gatwick (and other WOW air destinations in Europe), allowing Brits to travel with the airline to Los Angeles four times per week and San Francisco five times a week, all year round. WOW air’s A330-300 aircraft will host a single-class configuration with a capacity of 342 passengers. Seat pitch will vary from 30 inches as standard to 34 inches at an additional charge.
7. Starwood partners with Design Hotels
Established in 1993 as the first of its kind, Design Hotels represents and markets a hand-selected collection of hotels around the globe. Its large, vibrant, and engaged community of followers understands Design Hotelsportfolio offers them the unexpected and the original, as well as genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity and thought-provoking design and architecture, all in a wide variety of settings, including great capital cities, island retreats, mountain resorts, offbeat spots and far beyond. A selection of Design Hotels has joined forces with the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. For SPG Members this means the opportunity to experience additional amazing hotels in top destinations – while being recognized and rewarded with SPG benefits unique to Design Hotels.
8. Lufthansa & Singapore Airlines announce a joint venture
Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa have signed a wide-ranging partnership agreement that will see the two airline groups operating key routes between Singapore and Europe on a joint-venture basis, in addition to significantly expanding codeshare ties and deepening commercial co-operation. Flights between Singapore and both Frankfurt and Munich, as well as flights between Singapore and Zurich, are to be operated under revenue-sharing arrangements. The new Singapore Airlines operated flights between Singapore and Düsseldorf, which are to be launched in July 2016, will also be covered under such arrangements. In addition to SIA and Lufthansa, the agreement includes SIA subsidiary SilkAir, and Lufthansa subsidiaries Austrian Airlines and Swiss.
9. The Ritz-Carlton Announces two sanctuaries of luxury in Asia
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced the development of two new hotels in Asia Pacific, The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui on the naturally beautiful island resort of Thailand and a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Niseko Village set at the base of Mount Niseko-Annupuri, the Japanese ski haven. The Koh Samui property will be located at the north-east end of Koh Samui in the stunning Choeng Mon area and feature 187 luxurious guest rooms and pool villas. With only 50 guest rooms, the ski-in and ski-out resort in Niseko will be the first in Japan and is scheduled for completion in 2020. The resort will be located at the heart of the all-season Niseko Village, which is highly lauded as one of the world’s best ski resorts, taking its place alongside St Moritz, Switzerland and Aspen, Colorado.
10. British Airways to offer onboard WiFi
According to the Business Traveller, British Airways has confirmed that it plans to offer both short-haul and long-haul connectivity across its fleet. IAG, the carrier’s owner, said that it is evaluating WiFi retrofit for over 100 existing long-haul aircraft while short-haul will look at extending Inmarsat’s Air-to-Ground (AtG) offer to over 300 aircraft. In addition, it is setting targets for the installation with 90 per cent of long-haul aircraft to have wifi fitted by early 2019 and the first in-service short-haul AtG aircraft planned for 2017. The news comes as no surprise. Last month, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG and former CEO of BA, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We think the technology platforms are well established now and can facilitate our requirement which is for global coverage. So watch this space is what I would say.”