Today (December 30, 2016): December 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:
- Emirates launches world’s first moisturising pyjamas
- Emirates lands in Doha with world’s shortest A380 flight
- Six Senses Hotels & Spas announces a Big Apple property
- Qantas set to fly non-stop from the UK to Australia
- Four Seasons’ first private island escape opens in the Maldives
- United adds the Boeing B777-300ER to its fleet
- Banyan Tree and AccorHotels announce a strategic partnership
- South African Airways’ first A330-300 arrives
- Hyatt’s lifestyle brand Andaz opens it first Mexican property
- Turkish Airlines launches its 50th African route
1. Emirates launches world’s first moisturising pyjamas
For a comfortable night’s sleep on board the aircraft, Emirates has introduced the world’s first moisturising lounge wear designed for an airline. It will be available in the First Class cabin on overnight long haul flights. In partnership with Matrix, the suits use Hydra Active Microcapsule Technology designed to keep skin hydrated during the flight. The patented technology uses billions of capsules applied to the fabric which gently releases naturally-moisturising Sea Kelp during movement. Sea Kelp, a brown sea algae or seaweed normally found in the Antarctic Ocean, is known to be rich in nutrients that hydrate skin while retaining moisture, especially useful in an aircraft environment. The Microcapsule Technology of the lounge wear locks in the moisturiser for up to 10 washes so customers can re-use them. The suits include matching slippers and eye mask and come in a stylish felt pouch. For added comfort, Emirates offers a plush, faux sheep-skin blanket in First Class. The soft and luxurious comforter is on board and also sold at the Emirates Official Store. Business Class customers can also look forward to newly-introduced soft duvets in charcoal grey on their next flight.
2. Emirates lands in Doha with world’s shortest A380 flight
Emirates launched the world’s shortest scheduled A380 service, flying a distance of 379 kilometres (235 miles) with a total travel time of 1 hour and 20 minutes from Dubai to Doha, and 1 hour 10 minutes on the return journey. Outbound flight EK 841 departs Dubai at 0745hrs, arriving in Doha at 0805hrs. The return flight, EK 842, departs Doha at 0950hrs, arriving in Dubai at 1200hrs. The timing of the A380 service means customers from Doha flying to popular destinations like New York, London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Manchester, Dusseldorf, Milan, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam, can now enjoy a seamless A380 experience and also have a wider choice of “all A380” flight itineraries for their journeys. Emirates has steadily grown its presence in Doha and now operates with nine daily flights, making it the most served destination in the airline’s network. Demand between Dubai and Doha is strong, and in the last five years Emirates has carried over 3.7 million passengers between the two cities. The Emirates A380 serving Doha operates in a three-class configuration, with 429 seats in Economy Class on the main deck, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 14 First Class private suites on the upper deck. Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the A380s, operates the A380 to over 45 global destinations. You can watch here a Youtube clip of my Emirates First Class trip:
3. Six Senses Hotels & Spas announces a Big Apple property
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas – one of my favorite luxury hotel brands – announced the development of Six Senses New York, a luxury hotel located between Manhattan’s popular High Line and the natural wonder of the Hudson River. “The extraordinary setting combined with an exciting new development project made this opportunity an idyllic ‘urban home’ for the first U.S. hotel project for Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas and its flagship urban property”, said Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs. “This project is a fascinating and exciting contrast to the typical Six Senses locations where we operate resorts in settings with azure waters, UNESCO heritage listings and lush rainforests. Six Senses New York will have the same touch-points and DNA, with some creative adaptation of course, but with no compromises on our commitment to community, wellness, sustainability and design”. Hotel accommodations will begin at a generous 400 square feet (37 square meters) to enable Six Senses New York to deliver the high level of personal service and lifestyle quality for which the brand is synonymous. The hotel will offer a layered approach to wellness with treatments that are an intuitive mix of science and human awareness, where a high-tech and high-touch approach defines service that is crafted around the individual. Six Senses New York is slated to open in 2019.
4. Qantas set to fly non-stop from the UK to Australia
Qantas is set to add to its list of aviation firsts, with Australia’s national carrier confirming it will operate non-stop flights from Perth to London using the 787-9 Dreamliner. The 14,498 kilometre (9008 miles) service will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe when it begins in March 2018. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the history-making route would be a watershed for travel, tourism and trade. “When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth non-stop. When we designed the interior of our 787s, we wanted to make sure passengers would be comfortable on the extended missions the aircraft was capable of. That’s why we have features in our Economy seats that other airlines reserve for Premium Economy. Our Business Suite has been nicknamed ‘mini First class’ by many of our frequent flyers. And we’re redesigning our on-board service to help reduce jetlag,” he added. The enhanced Qantas cabin design is in addition to the comfort factors that Boeing built in to the Dreamliner – improved air quality, lower cabin noise and technology to reduce turbulence. When the service launches, is expected to be the third-longest passenger flight in the world.
5. Four Seasons first private island escape opens in the Maldives
Four Seasons opened its first exclusive-use hideaway in the stunning Maldives, the Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll. Capturing the imagination, this secluded haven transcends the private island experience: “entirely yours” from the moment of booking, seven bedrooms, a Beach House, dive school and a private spa extend the oceanic spoils of the Maldives’ only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to up to 22 guests at a time. Voavah days revolve around the double-storey Beach House and adjacent white sands, crystal waters and abundant reef – all exemplary even by Maldives standards. A 62 foot (18.9 metre) private yacht – Voavah Summer – invites Voavah guests to explorate the dazzling and undisturbed UNESCO protected reserve which the resort calls it home: diving with whale sharks, snorkelling with manta rays, swimming with neighbourhood turtles, fishing for dinner, visiting local islands, surfing unknown breaks and cruising into breathtaking Baa Atoll sunsets. The resort is privacy-protected with single entry, CCTV, night vision cameras, and 24-hour on-site security patrols.
6. United adds the Boeing B777-300ER to its fleet
United Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER, with the airline’s newest aircraft type featuring the all-new United Polaris business class seats. Each United Polaris suite-like pod will feature direct access to the aisle, a 180-degree flat-bed with infinite seat recline options and one-touch lumbar support, ample storage, multiple surfaces that enable passengers to dine while working, universal A/C power as well as 2-USB ports, a 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen, electronic privacy dividers for seats in the center of the cabin, and mood lighting and an illuminated. Additionally, a new marble-topped bar unit offers customers in business class a place to grab a mid-flight drink or snack. The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will feature 60 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct-aisle access from all seats. United will offer one round trip six days each week between Newark Liberty International Airport and San Francisco International Airport between Feb. 16 and May 4. The airline expects to begin 777-300ER intercontinental service between San Francisco and Hong Kong on March 25, with the aircraft replacing a Boeing 747-400 currently being used on the route. United expects to place into service all 14 aircraft in its 777-300ER order in 2017.
7. Banyan Tree and AccorHotels announce a strategic partnership
Banyan Tree and Accorhotels have entered into a strategic partnership that will see the brands collaborate on the development and management of Banyan Tree-branded properties around the world. Banyan Tree will also have access to AccorHotels’ global reservations and sales network, as well as its loyalty programme Le Club AccorHotels. The agreement comes following numerous recent mergers and acquisitions of major hotel groups, most notably the Marriott and Starwood merger in September. Ho Kwon Ping, CEO of Banyan Tree, said: “With the current consolidation of mega hotel companies, smaller but also global players – many family-controlled – are also seeking strategic alliances with the global giants. Our strategic alliance with AccorHotels allows us to remain an independent company, enabling us to continue securing hotel management agreements on our own and yet accelerating Banyan Tree’s speed and scope of expansion but with AccorHotels helping us to grow our brands around the world”. “Banyan Tree Holdings has created key leading positions across Asia with luxury resorts, one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry,” said Sebastien Bazin, CEO and chairman of Accorhotels. “We will bring scale to the network through our ability to develop and manage hotels under the Banyan Tree brands globally, hence strengthening our leadership in the luxury hotel space”. Banyan Tree is one of my favorite luxury hotel brands as they have several ultra luxe properties, such as the Banyan Tree Phuket:
8. South African Airways’ first A330-300 arrives
South African Airways took delivery of the first of its five new A330-300 aircraft, which will enable the airline to expand its current route network and improve its efficiencies. “A new aircraft arrival in our fleet is a special occasion and does not happen often. We are therefore very excited about the potential for growth the new arrivals will offer. Customers will be pleased with the latest-generation on-board amenities and other cabin features on the A330-300s. They certainly offer customers an improved travel experience,” says SAA Acting CEO Musa Zwane. “Beyond product refresh which our customers will surely enjoy, this is an important milestone for us in the context of the implementation of our Long-Term Turnaround Strategy (LTTS) we unveiled three years ago. The new aircraft will bring much-needed efficiencies and this is expected to impact positively on the company’s bottom line,” explained Zwane. In SAA’s configuration, the aircraft has capacity for 249 passengers, with 46 in premium Business Class and 203 in Economy Class. Seating in the revamped Business Class cabins is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, offering increased privacy and providing all Business Class passengers with direct access to the aisle. The A330-300s offer more Business Class seats than the largest aircraft in SAA’s current fleet.
9. Hyatt’s lifestyle brand Andaz opens it first Mexican property
Hyatt Hotels opened the first Mexico property for its Andaz lifestyle brand, the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya. Joining internationally acclaimed eco-destination Mayakoba, the premium oceanfront property – which features in my list of the most exciting hotel openings of 2016 – helps bring an exciting new experience to the locale, immersing guests in a hidden paradise with six miles of freshwater canals surrounded by exotic mangroves, lagoons, flora and fauna as well as tropical birds. The setting transports guests into a lush natural environment where locally inspired experiences, cuisine and personalized service are brought to life. Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya marks the first Mexico property for the lifestyle brand. At Andaz Mayakoba, 214 alluring, open layout guestrooms and suites overlook crystal clear lagoons, mangrove and resort gardens, the golf course or spectacular views of the Caribbean coastline. The accommodations are naturally inspired with stylish amenities and a refined collection of artisan décor. Each offers a spacious balcony or terrace; 41 luxury suites also feature private plunge pools. Local artworks adorn the walls, and decorative tiles outfit the floors. Each room has a balcony or terrace with tropical views of the resort gardens and mangroves, the crystal clear lagoon, or the Caribbean Sea. The resort features three outdoor pools, including a lap pool, and four on-site restaurants offering eclectic flavors.
10. Turkish Airlines launches its 50th African route
Turkish Airlines launched a 3-weekly, direct flights between Istanbul and Zanzibar within. Following the addition of Zanzibar, Turkish Airlines will now be flying to 293 destinations worldwide; 50 of which are in Africa. These include the east African city hubs of Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Nairobi, Mogadishu, Djibouti, Asmara, Addis Ababa, Kigali, Entebbe and Zanzibar. Turkish Airlines now flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, has the fourth largest route network, after American Airlines, United and Delta. Mr. Ahmet Olmuştur, Chief Marketing Officer at Turkish Airlines, said “Turkish Airlines is proud to transport people around the globe to experience new cultures, share ideas and create memories that will stay with them for a lifetime. We are delighted to open the new route to Zanzibar, a truly remarkable destination. We continually seek out opportunities to expand our network and look forward to welcoming our passengers on their way to Zanzibar in the near future”. The flight, operated by a Boeing 737, takes around 6 hours and 30 minutes, one of teh longests flight in the world operated by a B737.