Today (January 27, 2017): January 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:
- Finnair adds some exciting new destinations to its network
- W Hotels makes its entrance into Hungary with W Budapest
- Emirates to launch daily service to Newark via Athens
- Ritz-Carlton opens its first golf resort in China
- Cathay Pacific to launch new seasonal service to Barcelona
- Trump’s Vancouver hotel opened on his inauguration day
- Qatar Airways prepares to land in Las Vegas
- Anantara announces development of new resort in Zanzibar
- The famous Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort becomes a Ritz-Carlton property
- American Airlines introduces new basic Economy fare
1. Finnair adds some exciting new destinations to its netwerk
In line with its growth strategy, Finnair has announced that it is expanding for the winter 2017 season with new scheduled flights to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Havana in Cuba, Goa in India and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Finnair will be adding extra frequencies to many of its popular winter holiday and business destinations in Asia. “With the expected arrival of four new Airbus A350 aircraft in 2017, we are pressing ahead with our growth strategy,” says Juha Järvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair. “These newest additions will offer even more travel options and flexibility for our customers travelling between Asia and Europe through our efficient Helsinki airport hub which guarantees a short and smooth connection.”
- Between November 19 and March 18, Finnair will fly a new scheduled weekly flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The flight will be operated on Sundays with Finnair’s new A350 aircraft. Puerto Vallarta is a popular tourism region on Mexico’s Pacific Ocean coast.
- Between November 30 and March 22, Finnair will fly a new scheduled weekly flight to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. The flight will be operated on Thursdays with an A330 aircraft.
- Between December 1 and March 23, Finnair will fly two weekly scheduled flights to Havana, Cuba. The flights will be operated on Mondays and Fridays with an A350 aircraft.
- Between November 29 and March 21, Finnair will fly two weekly fights to the coastal city of Goa in India. The flights will be operated from Helsinki on Wednesdays and Sundays with an A330 aircraft.
I have previously published trip reports in Business Class onboard Finnair’s A330 and A350 planes, which you can read here. I also made a Youtube clip of my Finnair A350 experience (including an interview with Finnair’s CEO).
2. W Hotels makes its entrance into Hungary with W Budapest
Located in the heart of the city at Andrassy Avenue, also known as Budapest’s Champs-Elysees, the hotel will be housed in the impressive Drechsler Palace which will be fully renovated to bring the brand’s cutting-edge, contemporary design to life. W Budapest will feature 162 stylish guest rooms and suites, including one Extreme WOW, the brand’s lux-take on the Presidential Suite. The hotel will offer a restaurant and a destination bar, both sure to be embraced by locals as a place to mix and mingle, as well as the signature W Living Room, the brand’s evolution of the traditional hotel lobby, where guests can go to see and be seen. Three meeting and event spaces, including a Great Room for larger celebrations, will be available, along with an Away Spa, FIT fitness center, and WET pool. Guests can also expect the W brand’s signature Whatever/Whenever service philosophy, providing guests whatever they want, whenever they want it. The hotel is slated to open in 2020.
3. Emirates to launch daily service to Newark via Athens
Emirates announced it will launch a new daily service from Dubai to Newark Liberty International Airport, via the Greek capital city of Athens, starting on 12 March 2017. The new route complements Emirates’ existing four daily flights between Dubai and New York’s JFK airport, by offering global travellers with another convenient access point to the popular New York Metropolitan area. Emirates’ new Dubai-Athens-Newark flight will also provide a year-round non-stop daily service between the United States and Greece – a service that does not exist today and has not existed since 2012. The airline will operate a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER powered by General Electric GE90 engines on the route, offering 8 seats in First, 42 seats in Business and 304 seats in Economy class, as well as 19 tonnes of belly-hold cargo capacity. I have previously published a trip report of Emirates’s Business Class product onboard its B777-300ER planes, including a Youtube clip:
4. Ritz-Carlton opens its first golf resort in China
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has teed off 2017 with the opening of its first golf resort in China, the Ritz-Carlton Haikou, ideally located in the golfer’s paradise of Hainan Island, often called the Hawaii of China. The 175-room, 16-suite hotel enjoys year-round tropical sunshine for perfect days on the legendary 350-acre Blackstone Course that weaves its way around the world-renowned Mission Hills Golf Club. Built on top of a bedrock of ancient lava from extinct volcanos, the dramatic landscape features rocky outcrops with striking variations of jungle vegetation, expansive lakes and wetlands which can be viewed from every room. The hotel pays homage to the heritage of golf throughout. The architects have playfully created a design reminiscent of an elegant golf clubhouse. Guestrooms feature fabrics and patterns inspired by vintage golf elements, ensuring no two spaces are alike. Wall panels and light fixtures incorporate stitching that evokes handmade golf shoes, while antique leathers make references to a vintage golf bag. And tartan flooring remind guests of Scotland, the birthplace of golf.
5. Cathay Pacific to launch new seasonal service to Barcelona
Cathay Pacific announced that it will introduce a new four-times weekly seasonal service between Hong Kong and Barcelona from 2 July 2017 (subject to government approval), offering travellers an exciting getaway destination and directly linking two of the world’s most dynamic cities for the very first time. The seasonal operation, scheduled to operate throughout the peak travel months until 27 October, complements the airline’s existing four-times weekly service to Madrid, meaning Cathay Pacific will soon provide more non-stop flights to Spain from Asia than any other airline. To be operated by Cathay Pacific’s state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the new service gives both business and leisure passengers the fastest, most direct option to Spain’s second most populous city, while also providing passengers from the Iberian Peninsula easier access to key destinations in Asia and Southwest Pacific through the airline’s hub in Hong Kong. In addition to the latest seats and an enhanced inflight entertainment system, the aircraft is Wi-Fi equipped, meaning passengers can stay connected throughout their journey.
6. Trump’s Vancouver hotel opened on his inauguration day
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, on of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2017, opened to the public on the day that Trump Organization founder Donald Trump was sworn in as U.S. president. Regally situated on Georgia Street amid downtown Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver boasts 63 stories of skyline-transforming grandeur. The twisting tower stands at 188 m (616 feet), the city’s second-tallest building. In addition to 147 guest rooms, the luxury hotel also includes a Champagne lounge, signature restaurant, Trump Spa, and banquet and conference center. It is also home to Vancouver’s first pool bar nightclub. Above the hotel are 218 stylish residences, offering residents spectacular views of the North Shore and beyond. The grand-opening launch party will take place in February and will include a visit from one of the Trump family members.
7. Qatar Airways prepares to land in Las Vegas
In response to passenger demand, Qatar Airways has proudly announced it will commence four times weekly, non-stop service to Las Vegas, Nevada, starting 8 January 2018. The new route will be the airline’s 11th to the United States, connecting McCarran International Airport to Hamad International Airport in Doha, making Qatar Airways the first Gulf carrier to provide regular scheduled service to Las Vegas. “Growing our western United States network is important to the airline as we are seeing exponential growth in passenger demand from the East via our state of the art hub in Doha,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker. It will be Qatar Airways’ second route from the American west, after the airline launched their popular Los Angeles to Doha route, in January 2016. The new route will operate with a Boeing 777-200LR with the following flight schedules on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday:
- Doha (DOH) to Las Vegas (LAS) QR737 departs: 08:05 arrives: 13:00
- Las Vegas (LAS) to Doha (DOH) QR738 departs: 14:55 arrives: 17:20+1
I previously published a trip report onboard Qatar Airways Boeing 777 which you can read here.
8. Anantara announces development of new resort in Zanzibar
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, a leading operator and developer of luxury hotels, resorts and spas, has announced the development of Anantara Zanzibar Resort, expected to open in 2020 as part of the Zanzibar Amber Resort mixed-use lifestyle community. Occupying in excess of 1,000 hectares of prime Indian Ocean coastline in the north-east of Zanzibar, Zanzibar Amber Resort is an integrated project which is currently under development blending contemporary lifestyle aspirations with premium hospitality and world-class facilities. The master planning and infrastructure works for Anantara Zanzibar Resort have already commenced. The luxury waterfront resort is to feature 100 guest rooms, alongside 50 one- and two-bedroom pool villas. Leisure facilities will include a luxury spa and wellness centre, a gym, a kid’s club and a teen’s club, in addition to three restaurants and bars. There are also plans to introduce marine life and coral to restore and re-create a reef ecosystem.
9. The famous Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort becomes a Ritz-Carlton property
The management of the famous Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach and Banyan Tree Al Wadi resorts, both owned by the Al Hamra Real Estate Development and RAK National Hotels, has been taken over by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group. The Al Wadi desert property will continue to operate as the Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz-Carlton partner hotel, May 2017 whilst undergoing a complete transformation and from June 2017, the property will be rebranded as The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert. The revamped hotel will comprise of 101 private pool villas, four dining and entertainment venues, plus a Ritz-Carlton Rainforest and Spa. The Al Hamra Village beach property will close down for an extensive refurbishment in mid December 2016 until May 2017. From June 2017, the property will re-open its doors as The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah Al Hamra Beach, comprising of 32 private pool villas perched on Al Hamra village’s beach.
10. American Airlines introduces new basic Economy fare
American Airlines (announced it will begin selling Basic Economy fares in addition to its Main Cabin fares currently offered. These no-frills tickets provide a simple and affordable way to experience American’s network, and provide passengers the option to pay for the services they want. Here’s a look at what Basic Economy customers can expect:
- In-flight experience: The same in-flight experience that all Main Cabin customers receive today, including free entertainment options, soft drinks, and snacks, and the same seats.
- Seat assignments: Made automatically and only when customers check in. Paid seat assignments can be purchased 48 hours before the flight.
- Upgrades: Not permitted, regardless of elite status level.
- Bags: One personal carry-on item that fits under the seat (such as a purse or small backpack) is allowed. No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board.
- Boarding: Basic Economy customers will comprise the last boarding group and will be seated in the Main Cabin. Elite customers and eligible AAdvantage credit cardmembers will continue to receive Priority or preferred boarding even when purchasing this fare.
- Tickets: Non-refundable, non-changeable. Use it or lose it. No same-day flight change or same-day standby.
- AAdvantage: Full AAdvantage miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars may be earned when purchasing these fares; however, only one-half Elite Qualifying Mile will be earned per mile flown, and one-half Elite Qualifying Segment per segment flown.