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Travel news: this month (March 2017) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (March 30, 2017): March 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:

  1. Mandarin Oriental hotel brand returning to Hawaii
  2. Emirates unveils a new Real Madrid A380 decal
  3. Four Seasons opens a new hotel in Florida, USA
  4. Qatar Airways unveils new Business Class product
  5. W Marbella to debut on Spain’s sizzling south coast
  6. Etihad Airways deploys its A380 on Paris route
  7. Fiji gets a new ultraluxe resort, Kokomo Island
  8. Brussels Airlines unveils ‘Amare’ aircraft
  9. Rosewood Hoi An, Vietnam, to open in 2019
  10. Rosewood Baha Mar is back on track


1. Mandarin Oriental hotel brand returning to Hawaii

Mandarin Oriental has announced its intention to open a new luxury hotel and branded residences in Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The project, which has a target opening date in early 2020, would be the first Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hawaii since 2006, when The Kahala Hotel & Resort was rebranded as an independent property. Mandarin Oriental, Honolulu will be the anchor of Mana`olana Place, a 36-story mixed-use tower with gardens and public plazas, currently being developed by Los Angeles-based Salem Partners. Located in the heart of the Ala Moana district, the hotel will be a short walk to Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Beach. It will also be adjacent to the Hawaii Convention Center and the Ala Moana Center. The hotel’s 125 contemporary guestrooms and suites will be designed to reflect the Hawaiian culture, together with features inspired by Mandarin Oriental’s oriental heritage. The Group will also manage 107 Residences at Mandarin Oriental, located on the Mana’olana tower’s upper floors, which will provide some of the most luxurious private homes on the island. Mandarin Oriental, Honolulu will feature a rooftop restaurant and bar with landscaped outdoor terraces, providing views of Diamond Head, Ala Moana Beach and Downtown Honolulu. There will also be a lobby lounge, an all-day dining restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a holistic spa, and extensive banqueting and meeting spaces with views over the surrounding terraces and gardens.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, HONOLULU


2. Emirates unveils a new Real Madrid A380 decal

Emirates debuted a new Real Madrid decal on its iconic A380. Making its first touchdown at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport, the Emirates A380 has been emblazoned with the image of Real Madrid footballing giants. The plane’s eye-catching customized decal features some of the club’s world-class players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Marcelo. Visible from both sides of the plane, the bespoke decal covers an area of more than 500m2 and shows the five players of the first team in action. Besides Madrid, the Real Madrid A380 is expected to fly to a majority of Emirates A380 destinations worldwide, giving Real Madrid fans around the world a chance to snap a picture of the aircraft as it makes its way around the globe. This includes the US where the team will be travelling this summer. Emirates is the Official Main Sponsor of Real Madrid since 2013 with Fly Emirates branding prominently displayed on the players’ kits. Real Madrid has one of the largest fan base globally and Emirates is able to connect with fans worldwide through their shared passion for football and travel.


3. Four Seasons opens a new hotel in Florida, USA

From the moment it first opened its doors on New Year’s Eve 1930, The Surf Club in Miami has hosted history. It is an institution whose reputation looms large in the imagination of so many more people than can ever have visited it, let alone been members. When tire tycoon Harvey Firestone first had the idea of a new type of social club, on board his yacht the Marybelle, he could never have imagined how enduring the appeal would be of what he would soon create. On this same 9-acre (3.6 hectare) stretch of oceanfront in Surfside, Florida, located in the northern beaches of Miami, Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club today comprises 77 guest rooms, a selection of hotel residences, Le Sirenuse Restaurant and Champagne Bar, three pools, a pristine beach, and Spa and Wellness Center. Pritzker-prize winning architect Richard Meier has designed three buildings that frame and flank the original clubhouse. “The Surf Club’s success has always been determined by quality, passion and relaxed precision and that remains our priority today; being intuitive, exceeding our guests’ every expectation and creating memories that will last a lifetime,” says General Manager Reed Kandalaft.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AT THE SURF CLUB, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA, USA


4. Qatar Airways unveils new Business Class product

Qatar Airways unveiled its new Business Class experience at a packed world exclusive ceremony at ITB Berlin that drew more than 200 international media, travel industry representatives and VIP guests. The so-called ‘QSuite’ features the industry’s first-ever double bed available in Business Class, with privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the centre four seats allow colleagues, friends or families travelling together to transform their space into a private suite, allowing them to work, dine and socialise together. These new features provide the ultimate customisable travel experience that enables passengers to create an environment that suits their own unique needs. Each seat is crafted with thoughtful and luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing, bringing an unprecedented level of luxury, privacy and style to Qatar Airways’ Business Class offering. To further complement the customisable on-board seating experience that passengers will now enjoy, Qatar Airways is also launching a new food and beverage concept, introducing a menu that offers a host of new dining choices. The new QSuite concept will be retrofitted on to the existing Qatar Airways fleet starting from June 2017, at an estimated rate of one aircraft a month. The first destination will be London Heathtrow.


5. W Marbella to debut on Spain’s sizzling south coast

W Hotels, now part of Marriott International, today announced the signing of W Marbella and The Residences at W Marbella.  Scheduled to open in 2021, W Marbella will be located on the pristine golden sands of Playa Real de Zaragoza, just a short drive from the energetic nightlife scene of downtown Marbella. “Located on one of the most glamourous beaches in Southern Spain, W Marbella will infuse the brand’s signature style and innovative programming into this coveted destination,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide.  “Joining our portfolio of other coveted W Escapes around the world, W Marbella will provide insider access to this fun-seeker’s paradise, inviting guests to soak it in, live it up and hit repeat.” W Marbella will offer 200 spacious guestrooms, including 26 suites and an Extreme Wow Suite – the brand’s extravagant take on the traditional Presidential Suite. The hotel will feature a vibrant bar and a signature restaurant; an AWAY spa complete with a beauty salon and juice bar; FIT state-of-the-art workout facility; and two WET pool decks. For those looking for an extraordinary venue for their next meeting, W Marbella will provide five ultra-modern meeting rooms along with a covered terrace, measuring more than 10,000 square feet, ideal for outdoor parties and events. A perfect complement to Marbella’s social scene, W Marbella will boast its very own Beach Club with spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea. The Beach Club at W Marbella will open in advance of the hotel in time for the Summer 2018 season.

MARBELLA, SPAIN


6. Etihad Airways deploys its A380 on Paris route

Etihad Airways is introducing its award-winning A380 on the Abu Dhabi – Paris route this summer as part of seasonal adjustments to the airline’s fleet deployment plan. Featuring the carrier’s revolutionary The Residence – the world’s first three-room suite on a commercial airliner – the aircraft will operate on one of its twice-daily services to the French capital between July 1 and October 28. Paris becomes the airline’s latest A380 long haul destination following London, Sydney, New York and Melbourne. With the aircraft upgrade from a 328-seat Boeing 777, Etihad Airways is able to offer an all-A380 daily service from Paris to both Melbourne and Sydney via the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub. The additional capacity will provide business and leisure travellers from the UAE the benefit of experiencing the double decker aircraft – with a living room, bedroom and shower in The Residence, and more premium seats in the First Apartments and Business Studios – to meet demand to another popular long haul destination during the peak summer months. Flight EY31 has a scheduled departure time from Abu Dhabi International Airport of 0215 hrs, arriving at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 0750 hrs, with the return flight EY32 leaving the French capital at 1040 hrs, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 1930 hrs. (all times listed are local). Etihad Airways’ A380 features a total capacity of 496 seats – up to two guests in The Residence, nine First Apartments, 70 Business Studios and 415 Economy Smart Seats. I have previously published my review of Etihad’s First Apartment here, as well as a Youtube clip:


7. Fiji gets a new ultraluxe resort, Kokomo Island

Kokomo Island officially opened as become newest private island resort, where pristine reefs set the scene for an unrivalled, all-inclusive experience. Located on the edge of the celestial Kadavu Island Group and approximately 45 minutes flight from Nadi International Airport, Kokomo is a true undiscovered paradise encircled by the famous Great Astrolabe Reef. A world away from the world, this is a place where spectacular white sand beaches will be yours for the taking, where privacy is paramount, and where service is superior. A personal passion project for Australian billionaire developer Lang Walker, who has lived and breathed property development for over 50 years, Kokomo Island embodies his life enthusiasms; living near the water’s edge, waterfront development and enjoying activities on the water. There are 21 one- to three-bedroom beachside villas to choose from, each with its own deck from which you can see the blue of your private infinity pool merge with the aquamarine of the Pacific Ocean. For elevated views, opt for one of the five hilltop residences with an in-house chef, personal butler and nanny, as well as sweeping views of the island’s white-sand beaches, verdant rainforest and picturesque gardens.

KOKOMA ISLAND, FIJI


8. Brussels Airlines unveils ‘Amare’ aircraft

Every summer since 2012, Brussels Airlines flies the world to De Schorre in Boom. With visitors from more than 200 countries gathering for Tomorrowland, this magical music festival is able to call itself the most international gathering in the world. Young people from Swaziland and Sweden to Fiji come together for an unforgettable weekend and friendship without borders. To symbolize this, Brussels Airlines and Tomorrowland created Amare, the fourth aircraft in the airline’s Belgian Icons series. Amare will be spreading its wings and preparing for an amazing five-year journey spanning the skies over Europe and beyond. It took nine months to finish the creation of AMARE.  After an intensive period of sketches, 3D drawings and model building, the design was ready for painting. Eight artists, including a father and son with many years of experience and the Brussels Airlines and Tomorrowland team, worked non-stop for two weeks to airbrush this impressive print onto the Airbus A320. Last summer Brussels Airlines flew more than 10,000 People of Tomorrow to Brussels on their 108 Tomorrowland flights.


9. Rosewood Hoi An, Vietnam, to open in 2019

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been appointed by Hoi An South Development Limited, to manage Rosewood Hoi An in Vietnam, scheduled to open 2019. Hoi An ancient town is one of Asia’s most atmospheric cultural melting pots with more than 800 historic Chinese mansions, graceful Colonial buildings, quaint shop houses, classic temples, and an iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, all picturesquely clustered by the Thu Bon River. Over the centuries, from its beginnings as a spice trade port, sailors, missionaries, explorers and immigrants have all left their mark on what is today designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each of the new beachfront Rosewood resort’s accommodations will be thoughtfully positioned on a terraced landscape to ensure absolute privacy and provide either an ocean sunrise or sunset lake view. There will be 70 guestrooms as well as 30 residences, five of which will incorporate the luxury of their own dedicated spa treatment rooms. Dining options will comprise a specialty restaurant, a poolside restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean and a bistro including Hoi An’s famous cuisine on the menu.

HOI AN, VIETNAM


10. Rosewood Baha Mar is back on track

Although Rosewood cancelled its new Bahamas property last year due to problems with the former developers of the Baha Mar Resort, the Rosewood Baha Mar Resort is back on track and will open next year. “Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has had a relationship with Baha Mar since 2011, and we are truly excited to re-engage as the operator of Baha Mar’s luxury resort through our partnership with CTFE, Baha Mar Resort’s new owner,” says Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group.  “We are fully committed to this project and look forward to raising our flag in The Bahamas as originally planned.” Featuring elegant British colonial architecture and interior styling, Rosewood Baha Mar will epitomize Bahamian refinement and sophistication. The resort will offer 185 ocean view rooms and suites, as well as five luxurious beachfront villas, which will be contemporary and residential in style.  Each accommodation will be elegantly appointed with refined Bahamian art and décor. Of note, all guestrooms will boast private balconies with outdoor living areas, while the luxurious four-bedroom villas will offer exceptional tranquility, exclusive services and a private pool.

ROSEWOOD BAHA MAR, BAHAMAS


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