Today (January 29, 2016): January luxury travel news.
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:
- Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay in Hawaii reopens
- ANA to buy three Airbus A380 superjumbo jets
- Marriott opens its largest hotel in Europe
- Four Seasons drops it Canary Wharf property
- Singapore Airlines launches a new Capital Express route
- Paris’ Ritz hotel catches fire amidst renovations
- Aman opens its newest ultra luxe resort in Japan
- Iberia to launch flights to Tokyo and Shanghai
- Qatar Airways announces plans for world’s longest flight
- British Airways is looking for used A380s
1. The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay reopens
The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is scheduled to re-open this weekend after undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation, paving the way to offer only the highest standards of hospitality, highly personalised service and innovative enhancements. The resort now features new restaurants, redesigned rooms and suites, high-end retail stores, a luxury transfer fleet, and new pool experiences. It’s sister resort, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai The Lodge at Koele will reopen later this year. Billionaire Larry Ellison, who purchased 98 percent of the Hawaiian Island of Lanai several years ago for $300 million, has plans to develop helistop pads at the two luxury Four Seasons resorts that he owns on the Pineapple Island.
2. ANA to buy three Airbus A380 superjumbo jets
According to the Japan Times, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is planning to buy three A380 superjumbo jets from Airbus, becoming the first Japanese airline to introduce the aircraft. Based on the market price, the three A380 jets will cost ¥150 billion ($1.24 billion). The double-decker aircraft is the world’s largest passenger jet and can accommodate more than 500 passengers. ANA will take delivery of the planes from 2018 and will likely put the superjumbo jets to use in flights to and from Hawaii, which have seen brisk demand. By lowering transportation costs with the introduction of the new aircraft, the airline aims to challenge domestic rival Japan Airlines.
3. Marriott opens its largest hotel in Europe
Marriott Hotels, the signature brand of the Marriott hotel group, welcomed Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel & Conference Center to its portfolio. Conveniently located for Madrid-Barajas Airport, the hotel is the third Marriott Hotel in Spain and is the flagship brand’s largest hotel in Europe. Formerly known as Hotel Auditorium Madrid, the 869-room property has undergone an extensive renovation to present a contemporary and welcoming design to excite both business and leisure travelers. The renovation includes a new façade which transforms the hotel’s exterior from day to night. The hotel’s conference centre features an impressive auditorium that can accommodate up to 2,000 guests. Those looking to make the most of the hotel’s fitness facilities will find indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, solarium, tennis courts, and a fitness centre.
4. Four Seasons drops it Canary Wharf property
Four Seasons Hotels announced that it will conclude its management of Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf by April 30, 2016, allowing a transition to another, not yet known luxury management. Four Seasons has managed the hotel since it opened in 1999. During that time, Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf, with its riverfront location and expansive views of the River Thames, became a preferred destination for visitors to London’s bustling Canary Wharf neighbourhood and business district. The Four Seasons group will focus on its new London property at Ten Trinity Square, which is scheduled to open later this year and features in my list of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2016.
5. Singapore Airlines launches a new Capital Express route
Singapore Airlines is to introduce services to both Canberra and Wellington with the launch of a new ‘Capital Express’ route. The new flights from Singapore will connect the capitals of both Australia and New Zealand. Subject to regulatory approvals, flights will be operated four times per week from 20 September 2016 on a Singapore-Canberra-Wellington routing. Return flights will be on a Wellington-Canberra-Singapore routing. Flights will be operated with 266-seat retrofitted Boeing 777-200s fitted with 38 Business Class seats and 228 Economy Class seats. Singapore Airlines will be the first airline with flights between Canberra and Wellington. It will also be the first airline to operate regularly scheduled international services to and from Canberra.
6. Paris’ Ritz hotel catches fire amidst renovations
According to the New York Times, a fire engulfed the top floor of Paris’ Ritz hotel last week, burning out of control for hours in one of the city’s most storied plazas. The fire began early in the day at the posh hotel where Princess Diana spent her final hours before the car crash that took her life. The hotel has been closed for renovations for three years and was expected to re-open in March, restored to the grandeur that drew the likes of Frederic Chopin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. Paris police say there are no known victims. Fire trucks and police blocked of the Place Vendome at the height of the morning rush, and firefighters on cranes sprayed the blaze to try to bring it under control. Place Vendome is also home to numerous high-end jewelry stores and boutiques, as well as France’s Justice Ministry.
7. Aman opens its newest ultra luxe resort in Japan
Celebrating Japan’s ancient onsen (mineral hot spring) tradition in scenic Ise Shima National Park, Amanemu is perched on the verdant rolling shores of Ago Bay, known as the Bay of Pearls, on the west coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Each of its 24 Suites and four Villas have a private onsen, making the resort the first Aman to integrate mineral hot springs. The design throughout embraces a classical Japanese aesthetic, giving pride of place to natural materials and soothing hues while framing the exceptional natural surroundings. The resort is managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand.
8. Iberia to launch flights to Tokyo and Shanghai
Starting October 18th, the Spanish airline will operate three non-stop flights from Madrid to Tokyo-Narita Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, for a total of some 90,000 seats per year. Pending receipt of the necessary slots and permits, it will also begin flights to Shanghai in the winter season 2016/17. Currently, there isn’t any other non-stop route linking Spain to Tokyo and Shanghai. Iberia will connect the wto Asian cities using its latest aircraft, the twin-engine Airbus 330-200, carrying up to 288 passengers, 19 in Business Class, and 269 in Economy. The aircraft comes factory-equipped with Iberia’s newly designed long-haul cabins.
9. Qatar Airways announces plans for world’s longest flight
According to the Telegraph, Qatar Airways plans to launch the world’s longest direct flight: a 9,034-mile schlep from Doha (Qatar) to Auckland (New Zealand). Should the route get the green light, it would beat the current record holder – Qantas’s Dallas-Sydney service – by almost 500 miles. The journey time would be an estimated 18 hours and 34 minutes. Qatar Airways will use the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, which seats 217 passengers in economy class and 42 in premium, on its new ultra long-haul route. A day after the Qatar press release, Emirates announced that it also starts flying to Auckland, starting March 1st 2016. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO, told Bloomberg Business that it was also hoping to fly from Doha to Santiago in Chile: a 8,956-mile journey, as well as launch new routes to Marrakech, Lisbon and Phuket, but no start dates have yet been announced.
10. British Airways is looking for used A380s
According to Bloomberg, British Airways(BA) is evaluating whether to add a batch of five or six used Airbus Group SE A380 aircraft to the 12 it has on order after deciding that buying more superjumbos outright isn’t feasible. While BA has 10 A380s in service with the final two due in February and June, converting options for seven planes that the U.K. carrier has in hand would be “too expensive,” Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh said. British Airways, the world’s biggest operator of Boeing 747 jumbos, was slow to take the A380, with the first entering service only in late 2013, long after the model made its debut with rivals carriers Air France-KLM and Lufthansa. “Its unit costs, if you can fill the plane, are very attractive,” Walsh said, adding that BA operates two A380s a day to Los Angeles where it once used three 747s, maintaining capacity while freeing up a slot at London Heathrow.