Today (December 25, 2015): December luxury travel news.
Merry Christmas to all of you!
Every last Friday of the month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:
- The Oetker collection expands to the Americas
- JAL suspends Paris-Narita flights after terrorist attacks hurt demand
- St Regis Hotels & Resorts makes grand debut in Macau
- TAM Airlines becomes first A350 XWB operator from the Americas
- Accor buys the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel luxury hotel brands
- Etihad Airways announces deployment of Boeing 787s on 5 further routes
- IHG opens its fifth InterContinental hotel in France
- American Airlines launches Premium Economy
- Shangri-La Doha, Qatar, is now open
- KLM welcomes its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners
1. Oetker collection expands to Americas
The Oetker Collection is to expand its portfolio with two new hotels set to launch in Sao Paulo, Brazil and New York, USA. The first is Palácio Tangará in Sao Paulo, which will open its doors in the spring of 2017. Built in the surroundings of the highly regarded Burle Marx Park, whose gardens were designed by Roberto Burle Marx, the hotel will offer 141 spacious guestrooms – including 55 suites – all with beautiful views overlooking the park. Further north in the Americas, in Manhattan, Oetker Collection will open a ‘New York Masterpiece’ in the spring of 2018. Surrounded by the city’s best boutiques and most admired museums the development is located in the former Sony Tower in Midtown Manhattan, originally built as the headquarter of AT&T back in 1984. The iconic, 43 storeys postmodern skyscraper will feature 170 rooms including 60 suites set across eight floors. There will be a cozy yet stylish bar with a beautiful lounge area, a gourmet restaurant, a spa, a fitness centre and a 25 meter pool.
2. JAL suspends Paris-Narita flights after terrorist attacks hurt demand
According to The Japan Times, Japan Airlines will suspend flights between Paris and Narita International Airport next month after business slumped in the wake of the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in the French capital. JAL currently operates one round trip a day between Paris and Narita. Many group tours using the JAL route were canceled after the terror attacks, and the seat occupancy rate fell to about 40 percent from some 80 percent as a result. The carrier believes that demand will not recover any time soon. “The airline will suspend flights between Paris and Narita from Jan. 12 through Feb. 29 except for several days,” a spokesman said. “We will decide whether to resume the Paris-Narita flights in March after observing the situation next year,” he said. JAL will concentrate on flights between Paris and Tokyo’s Haneda airport, which have a higher occupancy than the Narita flights at about 60 percent on average, the spokesman said. The carrier runs one round-trip flight a day between Haneda and Paris.
3. St Regis Hotels & Resorts makes grand debut in Macau
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has announced the much-awaited debut of The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central in Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 450 years of history and cultural exchange between China and Europe. Owned by Venetian Orient Limited, an affiliate of Sands China Ltd, the 400-room hotel is set to elevate Macau’s luxury hospitality landscape with its uncompromising experiences, signature butler service, exceptional culinary venues and grand design – all underpinned by the St. Regis brand’s legacy. The opening of The St. Regis Macao marks the brand’s seventh hotel in Greater China, and will be followed by the unveiling of five new St. Regis hotels in 2016 in the world’s most coveted destinations, including Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia, the Maldives, Changsha in China and Cairo, Egypt.
4. TAM Airlines becomes first A350 XWB operator from the Americas
LATAM Airlines Group, made up of LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines, has taken delivery of its first A350 XWB in Toulouse, France. In doing so, TAM will become the first airline in the Americas to operate the all-new airliner and the fourth worldwide. TAM’s aircraft is configured in a premium two-class layout, with 348 seats, consisting of 30 Premium Business Class and 318 Economy. LATAM has ordered a total of 27 A350 XWB aircraft for the Group. The carrier will start operating the A350 XWB commercially in January 2016 between Sao Paulo and Manaus, Brazil, as part of continued training and crew familiarization. This will be followed by operations from Sao Paulo to Miami in March and then to Madrid in April. oday, LATAM is the biggest Airbus customer in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the top 10 Airbus customers worldwide.
5. Accor Buys Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel Brands for $2.9 Billion
The French-based hotel chain AccorHotels announced that it will acquire FRHI Holdings Ltd, the parent company of three of the most prestigious global luxury hotel brands: Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel. FRHI has more than 45,000 employees under its brands, and owns 155 hotels and resorts (of which 40 are under development), and more than 56,000 rooms (of which approximately 13,000 are under development). Its portfolio includes legendary properties such as Raffles Singapore, The Savoy in London, Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel, The Plaza Hotel in New York, 3 Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris, Fairmont San Francisco, Fairmont Banff Springs (Canada), Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, and Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore. The acquisition of these three global brands will broaden AccorHotels’s geographic footprint in the luxury segment.
6. Etihad Airways announces deployment of Boeing 787s on five further routes
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, unveiled plans to fly its Boeing 787s to five more destinations during 2016. With a phased delivery of five new 787s over a seven-month period, beginning May 2016, the 299-seat 787 Dreamliners will be deployed as replacements for existing aircraft on daily scheduled services to Dusseldorf, Perth, Shanghai, Istanbul and Johannesburg from the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub. Etihad Airways currently operates five 787s, serving Brisbane, Washington, Singapore and Zurich from Abu Dhabi. With a further 66 Boeing 787s due to be delivered over the next few years, the Dreamliners will become Etihad Airways’ flagship long-haul aircraft. Etihad Airways’ newest 787-9 variant will include highly-acclaimed interiors featuring 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats, offering superior levels of comfort, entertainment and in-flight connectivity. On-board décor and lighting have been inspired by contemporary modern Arabian design.
7. IHG opens its fifth InterContinental hotel in France
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, unveiled its latest opening, the InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel in France. The hotel’s historic building was stylishly refurbished by French Architect and Designer, Jacques Garcia, with rich colourful design typical of his opulent style, while preserving the property’s 18th century splendour. The hotel commands pride of place on Bordeaux’s main square, Place de la Comédie, among high-end boutiques and world-class restaurants. The hotel features 130 rooms including 44 suites, and also offers a range of fitness and wellness facilities including an indoor pool and hammam, 10 treatment rooms and a Jacuzzi on the 360° rooftop beach, which beautifully recreates the atmosphere of a summer’s day in the Bay of Arcachon. The Gordon Ramsay Group headed by the internationally renowned, multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay, brings international flair to the fine dining restaurant, Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay.
8. American Airlines launches Premium Economy
American Airlines will offer customers more choice by introducing Premium Economy on its international widebody fleet. Premium Economy will offer a new class of service directly behind Business Class, providing an enhanced product offering compared to the Main Cabin. This product will offer a new type of leather seat with benefits that include more legroom, wider seats, priority check-in and boarding, and enhanced meal service. American’s first plane with Premium Economy seating will be its Boeing 787-9, which is expected to enter service in late 2016. American will also add Premium Economy to all Boeing 777-300ERs, 777-200ERs, 787-8s and Airbus A330s over the next three years. The Boeing 767-300s will not be retrofitted with Premium Economy as those aircraft are scheduled for retirement in the coming years.
9. Shangri-La Doha is now open
The Shangri-La Hotel Group has brought its legendary Asian hospitality to Qatar. Its new Doha outpost is centrally located in the commercial district of West Bay, with easy access to the business and diplomatic areas and a direct link to the city’s largest shopping complex, City Center Doha. It is also adjacent to the upcoming Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. The 50-storey hotel blends Asian graciousness with Arabian warmth, offering guests luxuriously appointed accommodation, a variety of exciting dining experiences, state-of-the-art meeting facilities and a host of leisure options. The 272 guestrooms and suites are furnished in warm tones, with floor-toceiling windows that highlight views of the city and the gulf beyond. The rooms feature Wi-Fi-enabled smart TVs, complimentary WiFi access, and the signature Shangri-La beds, as well as spacious bathrooms with deep-soaking bathtubs and walk-in showers.
10. KLM welcomes its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners
The “Sunflower” (Zonnebloem) and the “Carnation” (Anjer) are the two first Dreamliners that KLM has taken into operation. By the end of 2016, the KLM fleet is expected to include 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. All of the Dreamliners will be named individually after flowers: a typical Dutch export product that therefore resonates with KLM perfectly. The Dreamliner planes will be deployed on the Amsterdam – Abu Dhabi/Bahrain route and Amsterdam – Dubai route. Later in the 2015/2016 winter schedule, the Dreamliner will also fly to Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. The Dreamliners flown by KLM feature a revamped cabin, which including KLM’s updated lie-flat business class seats. KLM’s Dreamliners are also equipped for Wi-Fi that works on overseas flights.