Today (May 25, 2018): May 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:
- Mandarin Oriental announces a new hotel in Muscat, Oman
- Mandarin Oriental will open a new hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas will become a Waldorf Astoria hotel
- Air New Zealand is revamping its Business Class cabin
- WOW Air announces it first route to Asia
- Viceroy debuts its newest property in Los Cabos, Mexico
- Four Seasons will open a new resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Delta will debut its new cabin crew uniforms next week
- SilkAir will be merged into Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines will start flying to Hawaii
1. Mandarin Oriental announces a new project in Muscat, Oman
The ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage a new resort and branded residences in Muscat, the capital of Oman, which is expected to open in 2021. Mandarin Oriental, Muscat will feature 150 guestrooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, a spa, and an outdoor swimming pool. A variety of banqueting and meeting spaces will accommodate social and business events. The group will also manage 155 Residences at Mandarin Oriental, which will feature some of the most select private apartments in the capital ranging from 75 to 260 square metres. The property will be located on the beach and the low-rise architectural design will take full advantage of the views over the Arabian sea. The hotel will be a 20- minute drive from the airport and will be based in a prestigious and central district with a mix of retail and leisure facilities, including the nearby Royal Opera House, the Grand Mosque and Muttrah, the city’s traditional souk.
2. Mandarin Oriental will open a new hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
There’s some more exciting news from the Mandarin Oriental brand. The group announced that it will manage a new hotel in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, scheduled to open in 2020. The property, which will be called Mandarin Oriental, Saigon, will form part of Union Square Saigon, a commercial building in the heart of the city, that is currently under renovation. The hotel will be situated on the upper floors of this mixed-use complex, which will also house a variety of international luxury retail outlets. Mandarin Oriental, Saigon will comprise 227 guestrooms and suites, six restaurants and bars, a range of meeting and banqueting spaces, a fitness centre, a spa, and an outdoor swimming pool. Mandarin Oriental, Saigon will be adjacent to the Saigon Opera House and the People’s Committee Building and within walking distance of most of the key landmarks in the city. Its position is ideal for guests wishing to enjoy the city’s vibrant dining and shopping areas.
3. The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas will become a Waldorf Astoria hotel
There’s also some unfortunate news for the Mandarin Oriental group, as the company received notice of termination of its management agreement for the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. The group will cease managing the hotel with effect from 30 August 2018, after which it will become a Waldorf Astoria hotel. The termination is consequent to the sale of the hotel by CityCenter Holdings, LLC, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Infinity World Development Corp. Mandarin Oriental launched the property in 2009 and established it as a best hotel in the city. The hotel is one of only 13 properties around the world to have received the Triple Forbes Five Star Award – three five stars for the hotel, the spa and signature restaurant which it has received for seven consecutive years. The hotel towers 47 stories high above the legendary city. With views of the city and the desert, the hotel offers the perfect mix of style, serenity and luxury in a non-gaming and smoke-free environment. Its 392 rooms and suites are fantastically comfortable with a sleek décor incorporating subtle Asian-inspired touches.
4. Air New Zealand is revamping its Business Class cabin
The NZ Herald reports that Air New Zealand has launched a top-secret project to revamp its Business Class cabin. The airline has taken space in a secure building near its downtown Auckland headquarters to develop new seats for its business premier class, timed for fitting into its next generation of long-haul planes early next decade, and for retrofitting into the aircraft that remain in its fleet. While the airline is not releasing details of the project, the test site has been dubbed ”Hangar 22′ and for the past month a handful of its customers, including some of its most frequent long-haul flyers have started trialling early-stage product development. The new Business Class seats are likely to lead to new versions of premium economy and economy seats in other parts of the plane. During testing for new seats participants typically sleep on lie-flat seats for hours, sometimes overnight to provide feedback to airlines and designers. They sample new food, entertainment and service. It is understood work at Hangar 22 is so sensitive that the airline’s top executives are not allowed to enter the site without an innovation team escort.
5. WOW Air announces it first route to Asia
WOW air – the Iceland based low-cost carrier – announced it will launch a new route from the U.S. to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in Delhi, India via Iceland. The route will provide millions of Americans in nine major cities across the country affordable access to the bustling Indian metropolis. The route will launch December 5, 2018, giving business and leisure travelers affordable and easy access to the heart of India. One-way fares will start at $199 USD and WOW premium seats will be available for $699 USD. “I am thrilled to broaden WOW air’s offerings and bring low fare international flight service to India,” said Skúli Mogensen, founder and CEO of WOW air. “We are passionate about continuing our mission of enabling everybody to fly by making international travel accessible and affordable for all, and look forward to expanding our global service to provide travellers with the opportunity to see many parts of the globe, whether for business or pleasure.” WOW air will use brand new Airbus A330neo aircrafts on the Delhi route, which are outfitted with the new WOW premium seats offering at least 37 inches of legroom.
6. Viceroy debuts its newest property in Los Cabos, Mexico
The Los Angeles-based Viceroy Hotel Group proudly opened its 15th property worldwide, the Viceroy Los Cabos. The latest addition to The Viceroy Icon Collection – an elite group of the modern luxury brand’s most breathtaking properties – Viceroy Los Cabos is located in the heart of San José del Cabo on the picturesque coast of Baja California. Originally concepted by Mexico-based architect, Miguel Angel Aragonés, and formally known as Mar Adentro, the 194-room masterpiece has re-emerged as a Viceroy property after undergoing renovations and enhancements. With a dreamscape design embracing the natural beauty of water throughout every facet of the resort, the new Viceroy Los Cabos is a canvas for discovery with cinematic views and alluring experiences around every turn. Completely reconceptualized and brand new to the resort are a beachfront pool and bar, a refreshed and vibrant lobby and arrival experience, five dining venues, and a state-of-the-art fitness center curated by Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak.
7. Four Seasons will open a new resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Positioned along the Atlantic Ocean and the beaches of Fort Lauderdale, the first Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale will include 90 private residences and 130 hotel rooms. The 22-storey oceanfront property will combine luxury and legendary Four Seasons service for visitors and residents alike. The hotel rooms will reside on the fourth through the 11th floors and the private residences begin on floor five. The property will boast an oceanfront terrace on the third floor with dual pool experiences and luxury cabanas, a world-class Four Seasons spa, fitness centre and a ‘Kids for All Seasons’ program for children. A signature all-day restaurant with interior and alfresco seating will also resides on the oceanfront terrace with a pool bar, lounge and an ocean-view outdoor café. Of the residential portion, the developer has achieved more than USD 100 million in sales to date, a record in Fort Lauderdale that has elevated fully serviced residential offerings in the city. The private residences have been sold to an international mix of buyers from across the Americas and Europe.
8. Delta will debut its new cabin crew uniforms next week
Delta Air Lines is gearing up to launch its new staff uniforms this month, in partnership with New York-based designer Zac Posen. For the past three years, Delta’s dedicated uniform steering committee has worked to ensure the quality and comfort of the new collection meets the highest standards for the airline’s 60,000 uniformed employees. Uniforms will be different depending on whether staff work “over wing” (in the air) or “under wing” (on the ground) but Posen’s signature “Passport Plum” suits will be worn by female cabin crew, while men will be in “Graphite Grey” with purple ties and pocket squares. Delta’s customer service agents, Red Coats, will wear “Cruising Crimson”. The colors were specifically chosen for Delta Air Lines and complement the carrier’s branding. They also set Delta apart from other US airlines that tend to go for patriotic red, white, blue and gray. The new designs will be officially unveiled in a fashion show on May 29.
9. SilkAir will be merged into Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) regional wing, SilkAir, is to undergo a significant investment program to upgrade its cabin products as part of a multi-year initiative that will ultimately see it merged into SIA. The program will comprise investment of more than $100 million USD to upgrade the wholly owned subsidiary’s cabins with new lie-flat seats in Business Class, and the installation of seat-back in-flight entertainment systems in both Business Class and Economy Class. This will ensure closer product and service consistency across the SIA Group’s full-service network. Aircraft cabin upgrades are expected to start in 2020 due to lead times required by seat suppliers, including to complete certification processes. The merger will take place only after a sufficient number of aircraft have been fitted with the new cabin products. SilkAir operates a fleet of 11 Airbus A320-family aircraft and 22 Boeing 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft. It is currently transitioning to an all-737 fleet, and serves 49 destinations in 16 countries.
10. Southwest Airlines will start flying to Hawaii
Southwest announced plans to serve four airports in the Hawaiian Islands: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu (HNL), Kahului Airport on Maui (OGG), Lihue Airport on Kauai (LIH), and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on the leeward side of The Island of Hawaii. Oakland Metropolitan Airport (OAK), San Diego International Airport (SAN), Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), and Sacramento International Airport (SMF) would gain Hawaii service in the carrier’s flight schedules following FAA authorization for Hawaii service. In the latest of a two-year series of community meetings across the Islands to gain insight ahead of potential service, Southwest President Tom Nealon shared the carrier’s intention to eventually offer some interisland flights as operations ramp up initially across four airports in Hawaii. “The way we plan to serve Hawaii requires us to share these initial details now so that our facilities in the airports will be ready for all that we intend to offer,” Nealon told at a meeting in Waikiki. “We’re on-track with our plans to sell tickets this year and are respectfully engaged in the process to receive FAA authorization to operate between the mainland and the Islands.”