Travel news: this month (April 2018) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (April 27, 2018): April 2018 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. Waldorf Astoria returns to the Maldives in 2019
  2. Gulf Air’s first Dreamliner takes to the skies
  3. First luxury hotel in space announced
  4. One&Only announces its newest brand evolution
  5. The Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship is now a hotel in Dubai
  6. Bvlgari announces an ultra-luxe Tokyo property
  7. Oman Air reveals its new First Class cabin
  8. KLM will install a new Business Class seat on its B787-10
  9. Brussels Airlines plans an overhaul of its long-haul interiors
  10. Airbus and Zodiac reveal lower deck sleeping berths
  11. Tampa, Florida, is getting an EDITION hotel


1. Waldorf Astoria returns to the Maldives in 2019

According to Maldives Insider, Hilton’s top luxury brand Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts is set to foray into the Maldives, with the opening of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi Resort in early 2019. The resort will span three islands in South Male Atoll that are accessible by a short 20-minute speedboat ride from the Maldives’ main Velana International Airport. The resort will have 138 beach and overwater villas, ranging from one to three bedroom villas and a four-bedroom presidential suite, carefully positioned to guarantee exclusivity and privacy for the guests while providing them with unsurpassed views of the ocean. Each villa will be equipped with a private outdoor pool, jacuzzi and lounge deck area. The simple thatched roofed villas may appear simple on the outside, but on the inside they will be decked with luxurious interior furnishing and will come with branded amenities. Some overwater villas will also have spectacular glass flooring for breathtaking views of the lagoon below. There will be a palatial spa as well as numerous food and beverage offerings that cater to a diverse culinary palette.


2. Gulf Air first Dreamliner takes to the skies 

Gulf Air received its first Boeing B787 Dreamliner  this week, which will serve Gulf Air’s double daily London Heathrow service, offering increased capacity and enhanced, superior on-board products and services, from 15th June 2018. A total of 5 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft will have entered Gulf Air’s fleet by end-2018 with an additional 2 aircraft arriving by end-2019 and 3 arriving by end-2020. Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner orders will ensure it maintains one of the youngest fleets in the region while building upon its award-winning reliability, on time performance and product and service standards. Gulf Air’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will offer 282 seats in a two-class configuration, with 26 Falcon Gold Class seats (apex suites) and 256 Economy Class seats. The industry-leading technology of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner boasts superior fuel efficiency, environmentally friendly operations and range flexibility that will facilitate Gulf Air’s planned network expansion and fleet optimisation at a lower operating cost. The photos released by Gul Air reveal a stunning cabin design.


3. First luxury hotel in space announced

The first fully modular space station to ever debut, Aurora Station is slated to launch in late 2021 and will operate as the first luxury hotel in space. The exclusive hotel will host six people at a time, including two crew members. Space travelers will enjoy a completely authentic, once-in-a-lifetime astronaut experience with extraordinary adventure during their 12-day journey, starting at $9.5M USD per person. During their stay on Aurora Station, travelers will enjoy the exhilaration of zero gravity and fly freely throughout Aurora Station, gaze at the northern and southern aurora through the many windows, soar over their hometowns, take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit (which they can take home with them as the ultimate souvenir), revel in a virtual reality experience on the holodeck, and stay in touch or live stream with their loved ones back home via high-speed wireless Internet access. The hotel will orbit earth every 90 minutes, meaning those aboard will see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. Prior to take-off, those set to travel on Aurora Station will enjoy a three-month astronaut certification process. Phase one of the certification program is done online, making space travel easier than ever. The next portion will be completed in-person at Orion Span’s state- of-the-art training facility in Houston, Texas. The final certification is completed during a traveler’s stay on Aurora Station.


4. One&Only announces its newest brand evolution 

Ultraluxury One&Only Resorts has announced a further evolution of the its brand and portfolio with the launch of One&Only Urban Resorts (in addition to nature and beach resorts). One&Only Urban Resorts will retain the glamour and style of the acclaimed One&Only beach resorts offering stunning, intuitive design, incredible culinary experiences, a strong health and fitness ethos and the renowned service that the brand is known for. The first One&Only Urban resort – the One&Only One Za’abeel – is due to open in 2020 and will be introduced in Dubai’s latest architectural icon, One Za’abeel, a completely original destination with revolutionary design. A symbol of ambition, innovation and the pioneering spirit of Dubai, One Za’abeel stands tall and proud in the Za’abeel district in the heart of the city, strategically positioned at the crossroads of the old and new business districts of Dubai. The two-tower, high-rise mixed-use development incorporates One&Only One Za’abeel, luxury residences, serviced apartments, and office spaces, in addition to The Gallery, an opulent retail podium, and a panoramic sky concourse, The Linx, which connects the two towers of One Za’abeel.


5. The Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship is now a hotel in Dubai

A monumental destination steeped in British heritage, the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship has a storied history spanning almost 50 years. The QE2, as she was known, became a symbol of modern elegance and engineering during her career as a transatlantic liner between Southampton, UK and New York. In her lifetime, the QE2 would complete 1,400 voyages, sail some 6 million nautical miles and entertain almost 2.5 million passengers. She would even serve as a troopship in the Falkland War of 1982. Today, she continues her legacy as a 13 deck hotel, dining, entertainment and events destination – docked permanently at Dubai’s Mina Rashid. The hotel lobby is home to a fascinating interactive museum portraying the amazing origins of the QE2. The ship accommodates her ‘passengers’ in 13 categories of rooms and suites, boasting views of either Dubai’s iconic skyline or the tranquil Arabian Gulf. All rooms have been thoughtfully restored to offer all the modern conveniences whilst remaining true to the historic vessel’s renowned heritage.


6. Bvlgari announces an ultra-luxe Tokyo property

Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts will open its first hotel in Tokyo at the end of 2022. The hotel will occupy the top seven floors of an ultra-skyscraper planned for construction in the Yaesu 2-Chome North District Category-I Urban Redevelopment Project. The hotel will offer 98 guest rooms in a variety of configurations, mainly twin and double rooms, as well as luxury suites and an extraordinary Bvlgari Suite. Bvlgari Hotels iconic features such as Il Bar, Il Ristorante, the fireplace Lounge, all of them with outdoor terrace, will be available for the hotel guests together with Il Cioccolato store, a sublime wellness center with indoor pool, and a dramatic ballroom including a large outdoor space. As with all the Bvlgari Hotels and Resorts, the Bvlgari Hotel in Tokyo will be designed by the Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, who conveyed Bvlgari’s core values of contemporary design, magnificent craftsmanship and artistic detail to create efficient living spaces reflecting the essence of the Italian most sophisticated style.


7. Oman Air reveals its new First Class cabin

According to Airways Magazine, Oman Air has unveiled during the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market its all-new First Class Mini Suite, which is part of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner hard product. The suite will offer comfort and ultimate luxury with a lie-flat seat, an electronically controlled privacy divider, à la carte dining, as well as an in-suite minibar. The Mini Suite was unveiled by Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary, Oman Ministry of Tourism. Al Mahrouqi said during the event that “Oman Air works hard to maintain high levels of guest satisfaction and attention to detail in the First Class Mini Suite highlights this.” Also, Abdulaziz Al Raisi, Acting CEO of Oman Air, remarked that the airline’s commitment is to give customers a comfortable and a seamless experience when traveling with us. “The launch of the First Class Mini Suite on board our Dreamliner 787 -9 fleet, comes as a result of responding to the needs of our travelers and providing them with industry leading luxury,” Al Raisi said.


8. KLM will install a new Business Class seat on its B787-10

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has contracted the JAMCO Group of Japan to supply new World Business Class seats for eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, to be delivered from next year. KLM is the first customer to order JAMCO’s new “Venture” business-class seats. The next-generation seat is lighter than its predecessors, reducing fuel consumption. In addition, the fishbone configuration of the new Venture seats ensures more effective utilisation of the available space. Another new feature is the “do not disturb” button on the armrest, which passengers can turn on and off at will. The middle seats in Business Class have a movable partition, allowing passengers to opt for maximum privacy or for an optimum shared travel experience. KLM is the first European airline that will fly with the new Boeing 787-10. The first airplane will be delivered in June, 2019. The new Dreamliner is an extended version of the already operating Boeing 787-9.


9. Brussels Airlines plans an overhaul of its long-haul interiors

The international transport and hospitality design specialist JPA Design announced at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, that it is to create the new cabin interiors of the A330 long-haul fleet of Brussels Airlines. Partnering with JPA Design to re-imagine a new look and feel for its Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class on its wide-body aircraft, is a key opportunity for Brussels Airlines to reflect its customer-friendly approach. In a retrofit program and with a brief to capture the fun and vibrant personality of the airline’s brand, the all-new product range encompasses the entire cabin interiors, nose to tail, and will launch at the end of 2018.  JPA Design, who has offices in London, Singapore and Dubai, will design all elements on board the A330 cabins for the airlines long-haul flights; from seat customisation, to carpets, curtains, lighting, bulkheads and lavatories. The retrofit program will launch at the end of 2018. Brussels Airlines is seen as an ambassador for Belgium. Embracing their country’s spirit and design culture, the airline has included TinTin, Magritte, the Belgian Red Devils, Tomorrowland and the Smurfs each as Belgian icons on their Airbus A320 liveries.


10. Airbus and Zodiac reveal lower deck sleeping berths

Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace have partnered to develop and market lower-deck modules with passenger sleeping berths. The modules, which would fit inside the aircraft’s cargo compartments, offer new opportunities for additional services to passengers, improving their experience while enabling airlines to differentiate and add value for their commercial operations. The new passenger modules will be easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers during a typical turnaround if required. Moreover, the aircraft’s cargo floor and cargo loading system will not be affected at all, as the passenger module will sit directly on it. Airlines will be initially be able to choose from a catalogue of certified solutions by 2020 on A330 for retrofit and line-fit markets. Offerability of sleeper compartments on the A350 XWB airliner is also being studied. The innovation builds on both Airbus’ and Zodiac Aerospace’s experience in producing and integrating lower-deck crew-rest facilities.


11. Tampa, Florida, is getting an EDITION hotel

Tampa is getting its first five-star hotel with Ian Schrager’s EDITION, which represents Marriott International’s modern luxury brand. Designed by Morris Adjmi (also known for the Wythe in Williamsburg) in partnership with Florida local firm Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates, and with interiors by Roman and Williams, The EDITION Tampa will be a high-design, ultra-luxe hotel unlike anything currently in Western Florida. Slated to open in 2021, just in time for the city to host the Super Bowl, the 147-key hotel will be part of a 26-story tower, with a rooftop pool and bar, a high-end restaurant, and expansive spa and fitness center. Ian Schrager Company is also curating restaurants and retail for the ground floor. The EDITION Tampa will be the focal point of a highly sophisticated $3 billion, 42-acre real estate development called Water Street Tampa – a brand new neighborhood right on the waterfront that will also include a JW Marriott, which is breaking ground this week. Developed by Strategic Property Partners (SPP) – a partnership between Cascade Investment LLP and billionaire Jeff Vinik, who owns the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team – Water Street Tampa is one of the largest privately-funded developments in the USA.


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