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

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (May 27, 2016): May 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:

  • The Maldives’ ultimate resort is now accepting reservations
  • Virgin Australia revolutionizes travel across the Pacific
  • Four Seasons Kyoto (Japan) is set for October opening
  • LATAM reveals new aircraft livery and brand ethos
  • Six Senses announces Fiji property
  • British Airways announces its longest longhaul flight
  • Four Seasons opens its Abu Dhabi hotel
  • New Alitalia uniform collection captures the spirit of Italy
  • Six Senses Zil Payson (Seychelles) to open in September
  • Brussels Airlines opens The Suite, its largest lounge

1. The Maldives’ ultimate resort, Soneva Jani, is now accepting reservations

Last week, Soneva, the world-leading luxury resort operator and my favorite luxury hotel brand, revealed details of its newest and revolutionary resort, Soneva Jani (read more here). The brand’s newest luxury resort offering will comprise 24 stunning water villas and one island villa, with additional island villas planned at a later stage. It promises to outscore all the other hotels in my list of the Maldives’ most insanely beautiful resorts. Inspired by a word that means wisdom in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru, which is part of an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll. The highlight of the resort is its location within a 5.6 kilometer lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted 360° views of the Indian Ocean. The main island is fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed with lush tropical greenery. Soneva Jani is now accepting reservation from October onwards (contact me for the best rates & opening offers).


2. Virgin Australia revolutionizes travel across the Pacific

Virgin Australia unveiled its new International Business Class cabin, with the first of its refitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft now flying across the Pacific. The airline’s flagship Business Class product ‘The Business’, new Business Class Bar and Lounge, and refreshed Premium cabin will transform the customer experience on long haul flights from Australia to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. ‘The Business’ on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will feature 37 individual and private suites (that convert into the length of a queen size bed at 80 inches) in a reverse herringbone cabin layout, maximizing privacy and enabling 100 per cent direct aisle access. Passengers will enjoy the largest in-flight entertainment screen flying between Australia and North America. Virgin Atlantic is now also the first airline to have a lounge onboard a B777 aircraft. The bar will be open after the first meal service and offer a selection of nibbles and bites, beer, wine and spirits as well as a hot beverage selection with petit fours.

3. Four Seasons Kyoto (Japan) now accepting reservations

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto – a contemporary, luxury oasis in Japan’s capital of culture – is ready to welcome arrivals from October 15, 2016. With a famed, 800-year-old ikeniwa (pond garden) at its heart, hotel guests will experience authentic Japanese traditions in chic 21st Century style. They’ll relax in one of the 123 spacious accommodations with beautiful views across temple rooftops and elegant gardens, including 13 glamorous suites for the ultimate in luxury and personalised service. Set at the foot of Higashiyama Mountain in Kyoto’s district of temples, the hotel is a sanctuary of space minutes from the city’s cultural treasures and the bustle of downtown. With Tokyo just 140 minutes away by Shinkansen, guests can also extend their visit with a stay at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, allowing the famous Four Seasons brand to take care of them from start to finish.


4. LATAM launches its brand with new aircraft, uniform and airport designs

In one of the most important steps in the consolidation of LAN Airlines, TAM Airlines and their affiliates under the new global LATAM brand, LATAM Airlines Group today revealed its new aircraft design at simultaneous launch events in countries where the group operates. In addition to the new image of LATAM aircraft, the company presented a number of other visible changes, including new uniforms, airport signage and counter design as well as a consolidated website. More than 50 aircraft are anticipated to be rebranded before the end of 2016 and the fleet-wide process is expected to be finalized in 2018. Repainting takes on average six to 12 days per plane and will be scheduled in accordance with routine maintenance to maximize efficiency.


5. Six Senses Fiji to open in late 2017

Six Senses, another one of my favorite luxury hotel brands, announced the latest project in its expanding portfolio. Known for its idyllic crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, thick tropical forests and excellent climate, Six Senses Fiji will be located in a magnificent secluded bay on Fiji’s Malolo Island. The private golden sand beach frontage stretches over 2,100 feet (650 meters) in length. Six Senses Fiji will offer 26 spacious pool bures (villa) all with private plunge pools and the bures range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet (110 to 150 square meters) including interior and exterior space. There will also be 60 luxury residences (3-, 4- and 5-bedroom configuration), varying in size and averaging from approximately 6,500 square feet (600 square meters) of interior and exterior space up to 10,500 square feet (1,000 square meters). All residences will come with private pools and will situated on the west side of the island where they enjoy the idyllic Fijian sunsets.


6. British Airways announces its longest longhaul flight to Santiago, Chile

British Airways is launching the only direct flight between London and Santiago in Chile from January 3, 2017. Santiago will become the airline’s lengthiest long-haul route, taking 14 hours 40 minutes, nearly an hour more than the current longest flight of 13 hours 50 minutes service to Buenos Aires. The four-a-week flight will be served by the airline’s newest aircraft, the four-cabin Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, complete with a new First cabin (you can read my trip report onboard the BA Dreamliner First Class here or watch the clip below). Santiago will be the latest destination in Latin America to join British Airways’ route network.  The airline recently launched new services to San Jose in Costa Rica and Lima in Peru.  In addition, it also operates flight to Rio and Sao Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

7. Four Seasons opens its Abu Dhabi hotel 

In a vibrant urban sanctuary right on the water, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island offers expansive views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf. Taking a place of prominence in Abu Dhabi’s ever changing skyline, the 34-story glass tower is a shimmering beacon for business travellers, families on holiday and Al Maryah Island’s own residents.  Entering through a promenade, guests are welcomed to Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi in a soaring, light-filled hall. Urban chic balances with understated luxury in the hotel’s 200 accommodations, including 38 suites. The new resort has six stylish Abu Dhabi restaurants and lounges, including the lobby lounge, the new “living room of Abu Dhabi”.


8. Spirit of Italy captured in new Alitalia uniform collection 

Alitalia unveiled a striking new staff uniform collection, designed and tailor-made by a team of nearly 500 people in Italy, with fabrics made in Tuscany, silk in Como, men’s uniforms tailored in Puglia, and leather accessories such as gloves in Naples, and shoes in the Marche region. Created by Italian haute couturier Ettore Bilotta at his atelier in Milan, the new ‘Alitalia Collection’ takes inspiration from the glamorous golden days of Italian fashion in the 1950s and 1960s. Cramer Ball, Alitalia’s CEO, said: “We are introducing a new look which captures the spirit of Alitalia and celebrates its illustrious 70 year history. Our aim was to create a stylish collection which would represent Italian excellence around the world. The new uniforms complement the renaissance of the Alitalia brand and the rejuvenation of its aircraft fleet and products for its customers.”


9. Senses Zil Payson (Seychelles) to open in September

Some more great news from the superb Six Senses group! Reservations are now being accepted at their newest property, Six Senses Zil Pasyon located on the island of Félicité, one of the most dramatically beautiful and unspoiled islands of the 115-island nation that is the Seychelles. With massive granite boulders fringing the shoreline and picture perfect beaches it is the island’s dramatic beauty that make it the perfect private island escape. True to Six Senses heritage of creating exceptional guest experiences in places of incredible beauty, the resort occupies just one-third of the island’s land total – the rest is left to the beauty of nature and wildlife. The resort includes 28 one-bedroom pool villas and two (2) two-bedroom pool villas ranging from 2,150 square feet (200 square meters) to 5,380 square feet (500 square meters) plus 17 private residences. Six Senses Zil Pasyon will offer six dining and bar venues on the island, sport and leisure facilities, three pristine sandy beaches and an outdoor main pool.


10. Brussels Airlines opens The Suite, new airport lounge in Brussels

Last week Brussels Airlines opened its largest lounge, ‘The Suite’, which welcomes all Brussels Airlines guests departing from the B Terminal (Brussels Airlines’ short / medium-haul non-Schengen destinations such as Moscow, Tel Aviv, United Kingdom, Morocco, and since recently also the flights to the US and Canada), as well as customers of various other airlines, including Star Alliance partners. The lounge can accommodate 260 visitors and is composed of different areas for different travel needs. A working area is available for travelers who want to continue their work at the airport. A quiet zone is reserved for passengers who want to relax in comfortable seats before their departure. The food area offers a wide selection of beverages, snacks and salads, and a reading area offers a vast array of newspapers and magazines. As in everything Brussels Airlines does, the Belgian spirit is reflected in ‘The Suite’, through Belgian beers, Belgian media, Belgian culinary specialties and impressions of the surrealist art of René Magritte.


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