Travel news: this month (April 2016) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (April 29, 2016): April 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 announces plans for luxury resort in Croatia
  • Four Seasons to open luxury property in Los Cabos
  • Alaska Airlines acquires Virgin America
  • Rosewood Hotel debuts in Washington D.C.
  • Malaysia Airlines activates a stored B747 plane
  • The St Regis Kuala Lumpur is opening next week
  • Emirates now offers 10 daily flights between London and Dubai
  • TAP announces Airbus airspace cabin on new A330-neos
  • Chinese tourism group takes over Carlson Hotels
  • Air Canada to launch non-stop flights from Vancouver to Delhi

1. Four Seasons announces plans for luxury resort in Croatia

Arqaam Capital (“Arqaam”), the specialist emerging markets investment bank, has entered into a partnership with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands, to manage and operate Arqaam’s luxury mixed use resort currently being developed on the island of Hvar in Croatia and expected to open in 2019. Located on a prime waterfront site at Brizenica Bay along the Dalmatian coast, Arqaam’s luxury development will feature a 120-room Four Seasons hotel and a luxury residential community including 60 Four Seasons private residences ranging in size from one and two bedroom residences to three to five bedroom villas. The resort will have its own private bay; multiple swimming pools and private infinity pools; a state-of-the-art spa and fitness centre; a selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and retail boutiques; and conference and banqueting facilities.


2 Four Seasons will open a luxury resort in Los Cabos

With planning in place for a 2018 opening, Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos will be part of the exclusive Mexican Costa Palmas resort community, set along a two-mile (3.2 kilometre) stretch of immaculate white-sand beach and the warm, swimmable waters of the Sea of Cortez. The 145-key Resort will feature a low-density layout spread across multiple buildings, and a collection of whole-ownership oceanfront, marina-side and golf-side private residences, as well as an intimate collection of custom single-family beachfront private residence villas. Alongside multiple pools, extensive indoor and outdoor event and wedding facilities, and five unique dining outlets, the resort will also feature a Robert Trent Jones II signature 18-hole golf course and a full-service spa. The extensive grounds of the resort will be connected to an adjacent yachting marina that will feature up to two hundred slips to accommodate yachts up to 250 feet (76 metres) and its own ocean-side marina village, complete with artisanal boutiques, additional dining options and locally-curated music and art.


3. Alaska Airlines acquires Virgin America

Alaska Airlines‘ and Virgin America‘s boards of directors have unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement, under which Alaska Air Group will acquire Virgin America for $57.00 per share in cash. With an expanded West Coast presence, a larger customer base, and an enhanced platform for growth, Alaska Airlines will be positioned to provide more choices for customers, increase competition and deliver attractive returns to investors. The combination expands Alaska Airlines’ existing footprint in California, bolsters its platform for growth and strengthens the company as a competitor to the four largest U.S. airlines. Combining Alaska Airlines’ well-established core markets in the Pacific Northwest and the state of Alaska with Virgin America’s strong foundation in California will make Alaska Airlines the go-to airline for the more than 175,000 daily fliers in and out of Golden State airports, including San Francisco and Los Angeles.


4. Rosewood debuts in Washington

The prestigious Georgetown hotel is no longer a Capella Hotel since Rosewood took over management last April 21, 2016. The hotel has been renamed and is now known as Rosewood Washington, D.C. The property is situated alongside the C&O Canal in the heart of Georgetown, one of D.C.’s most historic, renowned and picturesque neighborhoods. Rosewood Washington, D.C. offers 49 guestrooms and suites featuring contemporary art and comfortable furnishings as well as the state-of-the-art technology and amenities required by today’s travelers. The hotel currently has a number of dining options including seasonal dining at the Grill Room which overlooks the C&O canal. The adjoining Rye Bar has a cozy atmosphere and serves one of the city’s finest selections of rare rye whiskeys and craft cocktails. A private rooftop lounge features an indoor/outdoor pool and panoramic views over America’s capital city including the iconic Washington Monument.


5. Malaysia Airlines activates a stored B747

Malaysia Airlines announced the re-commissioning of a B747-400 aircraft inspired by the airline’s original livery. The retro livery, on the super jumbo of its time, reflects the airline’s long and illustrious history as the national carrier. The original livery features a retro logo, the Kelantan ‘wau bulan’ or moon kite in a red circle represents a controlled flight giving an impression of movement. The ‘wau bulan’, which is Exclusively Malaysian, is also an expression of the many mythologies associated with the country. The newly liveried aircraft, bringing the spirit of Malaysia Airlines’s proud history to local communities, is flying selected domestic destinations from April and is used as an operational spare aircraft to be assigned on an ad hoc basis to destinations, as and when required. According to Business Traveller, the retro B747-400 is also scheduled for operation to London and return on selected dates in June.


6. The St Regis Kuala Lumpur is opening next week

We stay in Malaysia for some more exciting news. Next week, Starwood is opening an ultra luxe property in Kuala Lumpur, The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur. The hotel will be one of the most desired addresses in the richly textured cosmopolitan capital city of the country, within minutes from the National Museum, Lake Gardens and the Bukit Bintang shopping paradise. The hotel will feature 200 luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites, all of them boasting magnificent vistas of the bustling metropolis. Three fine dining restaurants, a sumptuous spa and the ever-present, yet unobtrusive St. Regis Butler service will guarantee a six star hotel experience. The hotel’s classic contemporary interiors combines modern day glamour with old-word elegance, infused with luxurious design details such as breathtaking Austrian crystals, stunning chandeliers, hand-made Italian gold tiles, horse-hair leather panels, and saddle stitch and stirrup motifs.


7. Emirates will offer 10 daily flights between London and Dubai

Emirates unveiled plans to boost capacity to London with the addition of a tenth daily flight to the British capital starting 1st October 2016. The new service, Emirates’ fourth daily flight to London Gatwick, will complement its six daily services to Heathrow and take the airline’s total weekly services to the city to 70. The Dubai-London Gatwick service will be operated by a state-of-the-art Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in a three-class configuration, with 8 First Class suites, 42 Business Class seats, and 310 Economy Class seats. EK 023 will depart Dubai at 0950hrs, arriving in London at 1430hrs. The return flight, EK 024, will leave London at 1650hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0240hrs the next day. The new service follows the strong performance of Emirates’ Dubai routes from Gatwick, with increasing demand from both business and leisure passengers. You can read here my trip report onboard an Emirates B777-300ER (from Dubai to Brussels) or watch my Youtube clip below.

8. TAP announces airbus airspace cabin on new A330-neos

TAP Portugal has signed an agreement with Airbus to be the first operator of the new A330neo airliner and therefore also become the launching carrier to fly the Airspace by Airbus cabin brand in the A330neo. In 2015, the airline placed a large fleet renewal contract with Airbus which included an order for 14 A330-900neos. Passengers will soon be able to experience the Airspace by Airbus cabin for the first time when these aircraft enter service around the end of 2017. Highlights of TAP’s Airspace cabin will include a new welcome area, the latest mood LED-based lighting system with 16.7 million possible color variations, larger overhead bins, new contemporary lavatories and latest-generation IFE and connectivity. The Airspace cabin ambience ensures passengers’ wellbeing, while the signature details and iconic elements will be recognizable throughout the cabin.

9. Chinese tourism group takes over Carlson Hotels

The HNA Group, a Fortune Global 500 company with operations across aviation and tourism sectors, announced it will acquire Carlson Hotels, which owns the Quorvus Collection and Radisson Blu (the group’s upscale hotel brands), in addition to Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, and the Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM brands. The merger will have increased ability to accelerate growth through investments in areas such as digital, owned assets in major gateway cities, building of Radisson RED and other new brands. “Since my grandfather, Curt Carlson, founded our company in 1938, our family has run businesses that create opportunity for people and positive change in the world,” said Diana Nelson, Carlson Board chair. “Hospitality is in our hearts, which made this a difficult decision. We strongly believe that selling our hotel business to HNA Tourism Group, a company that fully recognizes its value and heritage, is the best way for us to position it for success and to be true to my grandfather’s legacy in the long term.”


10. Air Canada to launch non-stop flights from Vancouver to Delhi

Air Canada announced the introduction of the only non-stop flights from Vancouver to Delhi, India beginning October 20, 2016, complementing Air Canada’s TorontoDelhi non-stop service launched last fall. Flights will operate three-times-weekly October 20, 2016 to April 8, 2017 with Air Canada’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 30 International Business Class lie-flat pod suites, 21 Premium Economy and 247 Economy Class seats with upgraded in-flight entertainment at every seat throughout the aircraft. “Customer response to our TorontoDelhi service has been extremely positive, and with this new seasonal Vancouver route, we are strategically increasing our presence in the important Asia-Pacific market in time for Diwali festival celebrations.  Our non-stop Dreamliner flights from our Vancouver hub will also offer the shortest elapsed flying time from Calgary, Edmonton, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles to Delhi,” said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada.


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