Today (August 26, 2016): August 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:
- Delta Airlines introduces world’s first all-suite Business Class
- New Chedi Hotel to open in Montenegro
- &Beyond (re)opens luxury game lodge near Victoria Falls
- World’s most luxurious cruise ship sets sail
- SriLankaan Airlines stops flying to Paris and Frankfurt
- Pakistan International Airlines launches Premier service
- Oberoi Group to open three properties this year-end
- Dubai welcomes the world’s first hotel with its own rainforest
- Qantas plots first ever non-stop flight from UK to Australia
- Brussels Airlines connects Belgium to India again
1. Delta Airlines introduces world’s first all-suite Business Class
Delta Air Lines is redefining international Business Class travel with the introduction of the Delta One suite, the first Business Class cabin to feature a sliding door at each suite. Designed with an emphasis on exceptional customer comfort and privacy, the Delta One suite offers each customer a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas, an advanced in-flight entertainment system and premium trim and finishes to create an unparalleled Business Class experience with a comfortable, residential feel. Delta One service will include the features Delta customers have grown to expect, such as chef-curated meals, wine pairings by Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, Westin in-flight bedding, noise-canceling headsets, TUMI amenity kits featuring Kiehl’s Since 1851 premium skincare, and in-flight loungewear on select flights. The Delta One suite will debut on Delta’s first Airbus A350, due to enter service in fall 2017, with each aircraft featuring 32 suites. Following the A350 debut, the Delta One suite will progressively roll out on Delta’s Boeing 777 fleet.
2. New Chedi Hotel to open in Montenegro
GHM (General Hotel Management Ltd.) announced that it will bring the exclusive The Chedi brand to one of Europe’s most coveted escapes, Luštica Bay on the coast of Montenegro. The Chedi Luštica Bay will be the largest 5-star hotel in the Boka Bay, offering 110 guestrooms, two restaurants and a bar, conference rooms and a business centre, along with an outdoor pool, spa and fitness centre which will feature an indoor heated pool, gymnasium and ancillary facilities. The hotel’s central location within Luštica Bay main marina promenade will afford stunning views over the marina and the Adriatic Sea. Not only is the iconic Chedi brand the first of seven hotels to be constructed in Luštica Bay, it will be the first to be constructed over an expansive area of 7 million square metres to form a new town worth 1.1 billion euros.
3. &Beyond (re)opens luxury game lodge near Victoria Falls
The brand new &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge opened near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, following an extensive multi-million dollar rebuild. Situated in a 50 000 hectare (123 500 acre) private wildlife concession on the Zambezi River, the lodge provides the most luxurious accommodation and most unique wildlife experiences in the area. &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge consists of two camps of nine suites each, including a family suite at each camp. Highlighting the area’s cultural heritage, Matetsi is decorated with traditional abstract carvings of wood and stone and features a strong copper theme in homage to the mineral riches of the region. The lodge boasts a generous Safari Shop and state-of-the-art gym, as well as a massage sala and conference facility. A 20-meter-long (66-foot-long) rim flow swimming pool stretches along the river’s bank.
4. World’s most luxurious cruise ship sets sail
With a one-of-a-kind, opulent 3,875-square-foot suite, extravagantly designed lounges and showplaces, and lavish gourmet restaurants, Regent Seven Seas – widely recognized position as the most inclusive luxury cruise line – is setting a new standard for luxury vacations with the launch of Seven Seas Explorer. At 56.000 gross-registered tons and carrying just 750-guests, the all-suite, all-balcony ship boasts the highest space ratio in the cruise industry, and is the most luxurious ship ever built, with every inch of the vessel evoking elegance and grace. A glistening pool ringed by teak decking with plush oversized lounge chairs and chic circular sunbeds forms the centerpiece of its outdoor oasis. The ship’s maiden voyage was a 14-night sailing from Monte Carlo to Venice, and the ship remains in Europe for its inaugural season, sailing 11 voyages that crisscross the Mediterranean and visit sought-after destinations such as Barcelona, Ibiza, St. Tropez, Istanbul, Alexandria (Egypt) and Jerusalem.
5. SriLankaan Airlines stops flying to Paris and Frankfurt
SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka and member of Oneworld, will be suspending its operations to Paris and Frankfurt, from winter 2016. The Government of Sri Lanka has made it clear that it will no longer fund continuing losses. Addition of capacity to the Colombo market particularly by Middle Eastern carriers, accompanied by a drop in airfares in European markets has seen the contribution of the European network drop in comparison to the other routes. This has been further exacerbated by the depreciation of the Euro against the Dollar. Airline sources further stated that there were no short-term signs of recovery in yields. SriLankan operates daily flights to both Doha and Abu Dhabi and has a strong code share relationship with Etihad and Qatar through which it will continue to provide onward connectivity to the European destinations it has been serving via Paris and Frankfurt. London will remain the airline’s only gateway to Europe, where the SriLankan Airlines has deployed its state-of-the-art A330-300 fleet for daily non-stop operations, providing a greater comfort and an enhanced flying experience to its passengers.
6. Pakistan International Airlines launches Premier service
The financial troubles of SriLankan Airlines mean good news for those flying Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Sri Lanka’s cash-strapped national carrier decided to wet-lease some of its Airbus A330 aircraft to PIA in order to reduce a $1 billion loss. Wet-lease is when one airline leases an aircraft with cockpit and cabin crew to another airline in return for a barter/payment. These aircraft are in brand new condition and will be used on flights from Islamabad and Lahore to London Heathrow to offer passengers a premier experience by the name of PIA Premier, allowing PIA to start regaining its market share. PIA Premier includes fully-flat seats in Business Class, in-flight entertainment with 250 channels displayed on LCD screens across all cabin classes, and complimentary limousine service for PIA Premier Business Class customers upon their arrival at Heathrow airport, for transfers within a 25km (15 miles) radius of the airport. Below is a SriLankan Airlines clip of the product offered onboard:
7. Oberoi Group to open three properties this year end
According to Business Traveller, Indian luxury hospitality group Oberoi Hotels and Resorts will wrap up the year with the launch of three luxury properties. The Oberoi Sukhvilas Resort & Spa will open in Chandigarh towards the end of the third quarter of 2016. It is a 45 minutes drive from Chandigarh Airport and is surrounded by 8,000 acres of protected natural forest. The other two properties will open in the last quarter of this year — The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah in Ajman, UAE, and The Oberoi, Marrakech in Morocco. The Oberoi Beach Resort is an eco-property within 247 acres of protected forest and mangroves, and abuts the beach. The Marrakech property is a spa resort that lies amongst twenty-five acres of citrus orchards and olive groves. Currently, the Oberoi Group has 12 properties in India, three in Egypt, two in Indonesia, and one in Dubai, Mauritius and Saudi Arabia each.
8. Dubai welcomes the world’s first hotel with its own rainforest
Dubai is known for its outrageous construction projects, with visitors enjoying its artificial islands, underwater villas, ski slopes and record-breaking skyscrapers. Now, the city takes it one step further by bringing a rainforest hotel to the desert. Entwining advanced design, digital technology and the natural world, The Rosemont Hotel and Residences Dubai by ZAS Architects Dubai is the anticipated debut project for new global hospitality brand Rosemont, which will open in 2017 and be operated by Curio Collection, by Hilton. Inspired by reflection, light and texture, Rosemont’s evocative design will transport guests into nature’s most exotic destinations – from a lush tropical rainforest to an alluring digital underwater world or cosmic experience. The 448-key, 53-storey hotel tower is conceptualized as a flowing river – the façade’s dynamic lighting enhances its bold architecture.
9. Qantas plots first ever non-stop flight from UK to Australia
According to The Telegraph, Qantas will reveal its first Dreamliner routes by the end of the year, with a direct service between London and Perth a distinct possibility. The Australian flag carrier will receive its first Boeing 787 – also known as the Dreamliner – in 2017, but will announce new routes for the plane later this year. Were the London-Perth service given the go-ahead, it would rival the current longest flight in the world, the Emirates Dubai to Auckland service, which clocks in at 8,819 miles and takes 17 hours and 15 minutes. Qantas also announced that it would be deferring delivery of the remaining eight orders it has for the Airbus A380, dealing another blow for the superjumbo. The world’s largest passenger plane is a firm favourite amongst travellers, but airline demand for the jet has failed to meet expectations.
10. Brussels Airlines connects Belgium to India again
Since Jet Airways moved its operation from Brussels to Amsterdam last March, Belgium (my home country) and India are no longer connected. But things are about to change as Brussels Airlines will set sail for Mumbai next spring. The Indian metropolis will be connected to Brussels 5 times a week. It will the first time that the Belgian airline lands on the Asian continent and it reinforces even more its hub in Brussels. Thanks to a collaboration with Star Alliance partner Air India, Brussels Airlines passengers can connect seamlessly on domestic flights to other Indian cities and regions. The Mumbai-Brussels flight schedule will allow connections to many European, African and American destinations in the Brussels Airlines network. To operate the Mumbai route, Brussels Airlines expands its fleet with a tenth Airbus A330, with a Business Class and an Economy Class and the recently introduced Economy Privilege.