Today (November 25, 2016): November 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:
- New Jumeirah resort opens in Dubai next week
- Lufthansa receives its first A350 next month
- W Hotels to open property in the Algarve (Portugal)
- Inflight WiFi a step closer for Qantas for Qantas customers
- Emirates moves to an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet
- The St Regis Vommuli Resort in the Maldives is now open
- The Datai Langkawi is to undergo a major renovation
- Delta Air Lines introduces premium economy class
- Richard Branson reveals prototype for supersonic passenger aircraft
- The Ritz-Carlton announces first hotel in New Zealand
1. New Jumeirah resort set to open in Dubai
Jumeirah Al Naseem opens its doors next week, on 1 December 2016, bringing a contemporary architectural twist to its sister properties within Madinat Jumeirah and marking the completion of Jumeirah Group’s transformation of 2 km (1,2 mil) of Dubai’s coastline into a major tourist destination. The interior decor of the 430 rooms is inspired by sea breeze, sand dunes, Dubai’s pearl diving heritage and Bedouin traditions. The balconies and extended terraces offer spectacular views of the sea, the resort’s landscaped gardens and swimming pools, and Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The hotel is located so close to the water that the sounds of the sea reach guest rooms, open terraces and the 7 outdoor restaurants. The hotel is the first to feature a 150 metre outdoor lagoon for rehabilitating critically endangered sea turtles.
2. Lufthansa will receive its first A350 next month
On 19 December 2016, Lufthansa will receive its first A350-900, which is the most modern long haul aircraft worldwide. The first regular commercial flight will be from Munich to Delhi on 10 February 2017. “Our passengers will be able to enjoy a higher level of comfort on their flights to Delhi as we have now made further improvements to key components of the A350-900’s cabin interior. This includes, among other things, a newly designed self-service area in Business Class, new seats with ergonomically designed cushions in Economy Class, larger screens in all classes and improved broadband internet services”, says Thomas Winkelmann, CEO of the Munich Hub. From February 2017 onwards, Lufthansa will station the first ten Airbus A350 aircrafts in Munich. The first flight destinations are Delhi and Boston. The aircraft will have space for 293 passengers: 48 in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy and 224 in Economy Class section.
3. W Hotels to open property in the Algarve (Portugal)
W Hotels, now part of Marriott, announced it will open W Algarve in 2018 on Portugal’s stunning sun-kissed Algarve coast. The vibrant oceanfront oasis will overlook the breathtaking coastline and the beckoning waters of the Atlantic Ocean. W Algarve is set to ignite the local scene with its electrifying style, innovative design, and full calendar of exclusive W Happenings, showcasing what’s new / next in fashion, music and design. The hotel will offer 134 stylish guest rooms and suites, including two Extreme WOW Suites, the W brand’s reinterpretation of the Presidential Suite. Guests and locals will enjoy relaxing at one of W Algarve’s three beautiful beaches or sipping a cocktail at the glamorous WET deck pool, which will offer stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean. Guests will also be able to indulge in 10,000 square foot spa or unwind with outdoor yoga or tennis.
4. Inflight WiFi a step closer for Qantas for Qantas customers
Qantas customers are a step closer to experiencing world-leading inflight Wi-Fi, following the successful hardware installation on one of Qantas’ trial aircraft last month. Qantas engineers installed the hardware which includes a satellite antenna mounted on top of the aircraft. It took 10 engineers approximately 900 man hours to complete – or the equivalent of 12 working days – to install and test the new hardware. The Wi-Fi service will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board Wi-Fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sports. In addition, the Wi-Fi will be of huge benefit to the pilots, who will be able to access more detailed live weather data, which will help reduce turbulence, as well as making better use of tailwinds to reduce flying time. Qantas is rolling out Wi-Fi across its domestic Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A330 fleet. The hardware fitout to the entire domestic fleet of B737 and A330 aircraft is planned to start in mid-2017, and is expected to be completed in 2018.
5. Emirates moves to an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet
Emirates recently retired A6-EAK from operational service. The aircraft was the last of the 29 Airbus A330 aircraft that had been operating as part of its fleet. A6-EAK joined Emirates in 2002 and had flown for over 60,000 hours travelling close to 45 million kilometres in 14.5 years. That distance is equivalent to almost 60 return journeys between the Earth and the Moon. Emirates has also phased out A6-ERN, the last serving Airbus A340 in the fleet which had joined the airline in 2004, originally manufactured in 1999. The retirement of older aircraft is balanced by the induction of younger, more modern aircraft into the fleet. This has resulted in Emirates operating one of the youngest fleets in the industry with an average age of 5.2 years. Emirates is currently the largest operator of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft with 85 Airbus A380s and 160 Boeing 777s in its fleet. Watch here my Youtube clip onboard an Emirates A380 (First Class):
6. The St. Regis Vommuli Resort in the Maldives is now open
The St. Regis Vommuli Resort brings the brand’s hallmark luxury services to the Maldives, one of the world’s most magnificent destinations. A 40-minute seaplane ride southwest from Malé airport, the resort is located on a private atoll spanning more than 20 acres, surrounded by unspoiled beaches and a secluded lagoon with sparkling turquoise waters. The design draws inspiration from nature itself, with aesthetics including manta ray shaped lagoon villas, a signature bar in the shape of a whale shark, a lobster-inspired spa and a spiral shell shaped library. Besides organic sea forms, some buildings are based on local cultural symbols; coastal villas along the southern shoreline, for example, are akin to Maldivian Dhoni boats. The resort features 77 luxuriously appointed private villas, all with a distinct contemporary design scheme inspired by the island’s natural materials and color palette. Guests have access to a tranquil spa, an infinity swimming pool, a dive center, and 4 restaurants.
7. Delta Air Lines introduces premium economy class
Delta Premium Select, the latest cabin experience from Delta Air Lines, will debut on select international flights in late 2017. Through additional space, elevated service and distinguished amenities provided by partnerships with brands focused on design and quality, Delta is bringing the ‘premium’ back to the premium economy experience. Delta Premium Select will feature more spacious seats with adjustable leg and head rests, Westin beds, a TUMI amenity kit featuring Malin+Goetz Travel Essentials, pre-departure beverage service followed by seasonal menu selections presented with Alessi serviceware, a 13.3-inch entertainment screen that is among the largest in its class, and Sky Priority service, which includes faster check-in, accelerated security, priority boarding and expedited baggage service. Delta Premium Select will be available beginning in fall 2017, when the airline’s A350s enter service.
8. The Datai Langkawi is to undergo a major renovation
The legendary The Datai Langkawi – a luxurious hideaway set amidst a 10-million year old rainforest backed by the pristine Datai Bay – will embark on an extensive renovation project from September 2017, signifying the most substantial beautification project since its inception over 23 years ago, when the hotel was created by the visionary Australian architect, Kerry Hill, and executed alongside renowned Interior Designer and Architect – Didier Lefort of DL2A. The project will include the complete redesign of the resort’s guestrooms, suites and villas, construction of a Nature Centre, additional spa pavilions, refreshed retail space and a fitness centre by the beach as well as an overall enhancement of the landscaping. In order to properly execute and expedite the extensive renovation, The Datai Langkawi will be closed for approximately 10 months. Upon reopening towards mid-2018, The Datai Langkawi will reaffirm its long-lasting reputation as one of Malaysia’s leading luxury resort. Watch here my impressions of The Datai Langkawi when I visited the resort two years ago (one of my first Youtube hotel clips):
9. Richard Branson reveals prototype for supersonic passenger aircraft
According to CNN, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group teamed with a Denver startup called Boom to unveil the prototype for a supersonic passenger plane. The XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator, nicknamed Baby Boom, is a smaller but technically representative model for what Branson and Boom hope is the future of supersonic flying. They say it can cruise at Mach 2.2 – Mach 1 is the technical term for the speed of sound – and get from New York to London in three and a half hours, roughly half the time it takes now. Test flights are planned for late next year. The XB-1 is designed to be 10% faster than the Concorde, which offered supersonic commercial service until it was retired in 2003. Boom and Virgin said tickets for the New York-London round trip will be about $5,000. Boom said the aircraft will be able to carry up to 55 passengers. The companies have not announced a target date for the first commercial flight.
10. The Ritz-Carlton announces first hotel in New Zealand
Located in the downtown heart of the city amid the well-preserved city landmarks, adjacent to the distinctive Sky City, The Ritz-Carlton, Auckland will open in 2019 and offer uninterrupted 360 degree views of Auckland’s twin harbours with easy access to nearby vineyards on Waiheke Island beyond by helicopter, as well as allowing guests to hands-on experience the thrills of the America’s Cup on an original racing yacht. The hotel will take advantage of its exceptional location and New Zealand’s natural outdoors culture with lofty terraces adjacent to lounge as well as a street level café for a place to see and be seen. Two fine dining restaurants will complement the vibrant dining scene, allowing the creative Ritz-Carlton chefs to showcase the fresh produce for which the country is famed. Among the 300 rooms and suites, will be the renowned Presidential and Ritz-Carlton Suites, where guests can also enjoy the pure New Zealand air from the expansive terraces with cocktail in hand.