Today (September 30, 2016): September 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:
- Ultraluxe Il Sereno Lago di Como opens in Italy
- Conrad brings overwater villa luxury to Bora Bora
- The Nam Hai, Vietnam, will become a Four Season resort
- Ailing Air Berlin get lifeline from its competitor Lufthansa
- Lufthansa acquires Brussels Airlines
- Donald Trump opens his luxury hotel in Washington DC
- Banyan Tree opens its first Mediterranean property
- Marriott and Starwood complete their merger
- Six Senses to open a luxury hotel in Cambodia
- British Airways and Qatar Airways announce joint business
- Austrian Airlines initiates flight service to Los Angeles
- Four Seasons opens its downtown New York property
1. Ultraluxe Il Sereno Lago di Como opens in Italy
Sereno Hotels opened it’s much anticipated property Il Sereno Lago di Como, the first new hotel on Lake Como in decades. Designed by famed Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, the all-suites hotel features 30 oversized suites, all with their own furnished terraces and lake views. Il Sereno is the third property to join the Sereno Hotels portfolio after Le Sereno Hotel & Villas in St. Barthélemy and Villa Pliniana, also located on Lake Como. Decorated Milan restaurateur and Michelin star chef, Andrea Berton, is at the helm of the hotel’s signature restaurant, Ristorante Berton Al Lago, featuring an exquisite menu inspired by the region. Rounding out the all-star team, acclaimed botanist Patrick Blanc contributed his signature vertical botanical gardens throughout the property, including a spectacular “green sculpture” work of art.
2. Conrad brings overwater villa luxury to Bora Bora
The 115-key resort, formerly known as Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, will undergo a multimillion-dollar refurbishment and re-open as Conrad Bora Bora Nui in March 2017. Conrad Bora Bora Nui is located on Motu To’opua, an islet off the coast of Bora Bora, about 20 minutes by boat from Bora Bora Airport. Offering panoramic ocean views, access to sea sports, coral reef dive sites and hiking trails, the beachfront Conrad Bora Bora Nui will feature 29 tropical garden and beach villas and 86 overwater bungalows, including the destination’s only double-story Presidential Suites. “Guests of Conrad Bora Bora Nui can look forward to our inspired experiences, which will marry Tahitian culture and charm with Conrad’s intuitive, discrete, and seamless service,” said John Vanderslice, global head, Conrad Hotels & Resorts.
3. The Nam Hai, Vietnam, will become a Four Season resort
The renowned luxury resort The Nam Hai Hoi An in Vietnam will be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as of December 20, 2016. The hotel, currently managed by GHM hotels, is located in the country’s premier resort destination along the pristine coastline of Hoi An and in close proximity to the neighbouring town of Hoi An, a UNESCO-protected trading port from the 15th century and one of Vietnam’s modern culinary meccas. An intimate resort, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai will offer 40 private residence villas and 60 newly-renovated resort villas, all featuring outdoor showers, terraces, and expansive indoor and outdoor living spaces. At the heart of the Resort lies a series of three pools, flanked by palm trees and offering unobstructed views of Hoi An’s white sand beach and breaking shore. The extensive amenities at the Resort will include three world-class dining venues – offering both beach and pool-side dining, as well as an all-new Vietnamese cooking school. I will review the property in May 2016.
4. Ailing Air Berlin get lifeline from its competitor Lufthansa
In a bid to stem its losses, Airberlin unveiled a far-reaching restructuring of its business, which will see the company concentrate its core operations as a dedicated, focused network carrier serving higher-yielding markets, from its two key hubs in Berlin and Dusseldorf, with a core fleet of 75 aircraft. To employ excess aircraft and crew capacity, Airberlin intends to provide up to 40 Airbus A320 family aircraft to the Lufthansa Group with up to 38 aircraft to be wet-leased under a six year wet-lease agreement. From summer 2017, Airberlin’s core operations will be served by a fleet of 75 aircraft, consisting of 17 A330 wide body aircraft for long-haul flights, 40 A320 family aircraft and 18 Q400 aircraft for short-/medium-haul flights including to major business centres throughout Europe. Leisure flying will be combined into an independently operating business unit. Fewer staff will be required, with up to 1,200 positions becoming redundant. The company will enter discussions with works councils’ representatives with an aim to confirm voluntary and compulsory redundancies by February 2017.
5. Lufthansa acquires Brussels Airlines
The Supervisory Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG has approved the exercising of a call option to acquire the remaining 55% of shares of SN Airholding, the parent company of Brussels Airlines. This approval paves the way for a 100% acquisition of Brussels Airlines by Lufthansa with the objective to conclude the transaction by beginning of 2017. The objective of the ongoing discussions between Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines is to keep the specifics of Brussels Airlines and to ensure the growth of its activities by keeping employment in Belgium. These specifics are its business model, based on both point-to-point and connecting traffic, and its African and intercontinental network, which contribute to the hub development of Brussels. The brand of the company remains Brussels Airlines.
6. Donald Trump opens his luxury hotel in Washington DC
Restored beyond its original grandeur, Washington’s Old Post Office has been transformed into the newest addition to the rapidly growing, Trump Hotels. The Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. features 263 richly furnished guest rooms and suites, among the largest luxury rooms in Washington, D.C., with lofty ceilings, soaring windows, beautifully restored historic millwork, and glittering crystal sconces and chandeliers. The three extraordinary Presidential Suites at 2500, 3500 and 6300 square are among the largest in the USA. The 6300 square foot suite facing Pennsylvania Avenue is the largest in the city. Donald Trump, the GOP presidential nominee and owner of Trump Hotels & Resorts, has opened the hotel himself. The hotel is on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a short walk from the White House.
7. Banyan Tree opens its first Mediterranean property
Banyan Tree Hotels & Resort has opened a glorious beach retreat in Tamouda Bay, along the northwestern coast of Morocco. The Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay pays tribute to the region’s Andalusian-Moorish legacy and Moroccan heritage that evokes a sense of place throughout its landscapes, courtyards, verdant gardens, fountains and reflecting pools. Basking on golden sands with brilliant blue waters lapping at its feet, this exclusive all-pool villa resort conveys romance with exotic Moroccan charm and inspires relaxation via its understated Mediterranean vibe. The resort is 15 km (9 miles) away from the city of Tetouan and a 45-minute drive from bustling Tangier. Positioned between the rugged Rif Mountains and the glistening Mediterranean Sea, Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco resort offers spectacular waterfront views and sublime resort living.
8. Marriott and Starwood complete their merger, creating the world’s largest hotel company
Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. have completed their merger last week, hereby creating the world’s largest hotel company. The transaction combines Starwood’s leading lifestyle brands and international footprint with Marriott’s strong presence in the luxury and select-service tiers, as well as the convention and resort segment, creating a more comprehensive portfolio. The merged company offers broader choice for guests, greater opportunities for associates and unlocks additional value for Marriott and Starwood shareholders. Combined, the companies operate or franchise more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide. The impact of the merger on the hotel group’s loyalty programs remains unclear.
9. Six Senses to open a luxury hotel in Cambodia
The portfolio of inspiring destinations that create the settings for Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is to expand to an exciting island location in Cambodia, a country steeped in history and reemerging onto the world stage of exotic destinations. Located on the island of Krabey, the resort will be comprised of 40 pool villas set around the naturally landscaped 30-acre island, with its highest point being 137 feet (42 meters) above sea level. Guests will arrive at the mainland reception before the short water transfer to the island. Sihanoukville Airport is less than a 10 minute drive from the mainland jetty, Phnom Penh International Airport is a three-and-a-half-hour drive and Siem Reap International Airport is a scenic eight and a half hours. Similar to other Six Senses Resorts, the property will feature exceptional restaurants and spa facilities.
10. British Airways and Qatar Airways announce joint business
Qatar Airways and British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), announced a joint business agreement that will come into effect on 30 October 2016. The joint business will benefit customers by offering a wider choice of flights, an enhanced network, greater choice of fares and superior benefits for members of their frequent flyer programmes. Crucially, the partnership between Qatar Airways and British Airways will allow the carriers to provide passengers with better links and an even more seamless travel experience between the UK, Asia, Middle East and Africa. The joint business will see the two airlines code-sharing on all non-stop flights between the UK and Doha, to offer customers a combined route network that will serve more than 70 destinations. Between the airlines’ hubs of London and Doha the new partnership will offer seven daily non-stop services in both directions.
11. Austrian Airlines initiates flight service to Los Angeles
Austrian Airlines will add a new long-haul destination in North America to its flight schedule in the summer of 2017. Starting on April 10, 2017, a Boeing 777 will take off for Vienna bound for Los Angeles, the largest city in California, up to six times each week. “After Chicago, Newark and Miami, L.A. is now the fourth new flight destination and the so far biggest leap into the USA. We will fly to the West Coast with our existing fleet and are already very excited about this new venture”, says Austrian Airlines Chief Commercial Officer Andreas Otto. In an initial step, the Vienna-Los Angeles route will be served seasonally in the summer 2017 flight schedule. The duration of the journey from Vienna to Los Angeles at a distance of more than 9,877 kilometers (6137 miles) is about 12 hours 30 minutes. Austrian Airlines features an outstanding Business Class product.
12. Four Seasons opens its downtown New York property
Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is the ideal home base for exploring the new Lower Manhattan. Located in Tribeca just steps from Wall Street, the World Trade Center and the stunning new Oculus, it’s also close to designer shopping in Soho, nightlife in the Meatpacking District and the relaxed tranquillity of the city’s waterfront. Upon entry into the two-story lobby at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, layers of architectural elements respond to the ever-evolving urban landscape just outside. Brushed bronze accents and fabrics in muted jewel tones invite casual socialising, while a dramatic suspended staircase hints at the gracious gathering spaces above. Manhattan’s chic style is evident in 189 rooms and suites designed by Soho and Toronto-based design studio Yabu Pushelberg.