Today (December 28, 2018): December 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:
- Emirates unveils new Real Madrid A380 decal
- Hyatt announces plans for Andaz hotel in Dubai
- Ryanair takes delivery of its last Boeing 737-800
- LVMH acquires the Belmond Hotel Group
- Royal Air Maroc will join Oneworld
- Royal Air Maroc introduces new B787 Business Class
- Rosewood will open a Tapei property in 2024
- W Hotels opens a Costa Rica resort
- Malaysia Airlines launches Business Suite
- Marriott opens a Luxury Collection hotel in Paris
1. Emirates unveils new Real Madrid A380 decal
Emirates, the world’s largest international airline and a main sponsor of Spanish football club Real Madrid, unveiled a new spectacular decal featuring action images of some of the club’s top players on one of its A380 aircraft. The new decal was created to mark the occasion of Real Madrid’s charter flight on an Emirates A380 from Madrid to Abu Dhabi, where the team in their capacity as current European champions competed with football club champions from other continents. The bespoke decal features first team players Marcelo, Luka Modrić, Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, and covers over 200 square metres on each side of the double decker aircraft. Decals featuring Real Madrid players first appeared on an Emirates A380 in 2015, and has since become an eye-catching representation of the airline’s association with the club. The decal will remain on the aircraft for six months and fans can catch the aircraft as it traverses the globe with scheduled services planned to Washington, Nice, Mauritius, London Gatwick and Sao Paulo. A time lapse video of the decal being placed onto the A380 can be viewed here:
2. Hyatt announces plans for Andaz Dubai La Mer
Hyatt announced the development of an Andaz-branded hotel at La Mer – a vibrant lifestyle district in the coastal area of Jumeirah. Expected to open in 2020, the property will become the first Andaz-branded hotel in Dubai and the second Andaz hotel in the United Arab Emirates, joining Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi (expected to open soon). Delivering thoughtful, unscripted service for curious-minded guests in search of inspiring local experiences, Andaz Dubai La Mer will offer distinct experiences that immerse guests in the sights, sounds and tastes of Dubai. The hotel will also offer easy access to globally recognized landmarks such as the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Frame. Andaz Dubai La Mer will feature 156 residential-style guestrooms highlighting key elements of the city through décor and design. To add to the area’s thriving culinary scene, the hotel will offer two restaurants and a rooftop bar and pool area with stunning panoramic views. Meeting facilities, available to guests and locals, will encompass two residential-style studio rooms.
3. Ryanair takes delivery of its last Boeing 737-800
According to Airlinewatch, Ryanair has taken delivery of its final B737-800 aircraft, nearly 20 years after the first entered its fleet in March 1999. At that time, the less-known Irish airline was flying with second-hand 737-200s. Since then, Ryanair has made tremendous expansion by acquiring a fleet of more than 530 brand-new Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The 737-800, with a capacity of 189 seats, turned out to be the ideal jetliner to put the company’s low-cost revenue model into practice. The 737-800 is still the only aircraft type in the Irish carrier’s fleet to date apart from a Boeing 737-700 that is configured with a Business Class for special VIP flights and pilot training. Some of the 530 737s that had been received, have already been sold or returned. The current fleet consists of 460 Boeing 737-800. From now on, the largest budget operator of Europe will only receive Boeing’s revamped new generation B737 MAX planes. Ryanair placed the first order for the 737 MAX in 2014. In total, the company has 135 737 MAX on order, which are designed for Ryanair at the request of the airline. The B737 Max 200 is a high density version of the existing B737 Max 8, which launched in 2017 with Lion Air subsidiary Malindo Air.
4. LVMH acquires the Belmond Hotel Group
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has announced that it will acquire the famous Belmond Hotel Group, subject to the approval of Belmond’s shareholders and clearance by the relevant competition authorities. Established over 40 years ago, Belmond owns and operates a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations, with iconic properties like Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Maroma Resort & Spa in Mexico, Hotel das Cataratas in the Iguassu National Park in Brazil, and Cap Juluca in Anguilla. Legendary trains, such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, complete a portfolio that offers extraordinary experiences with curated activities and an understated personal service to a globally-diverse, highly refined customer. Through this acquisition, LVMH will significantly increase its presence in the ultimate luxury hotel world. Synonymous with history, heritage and timeless experiences, Belmond has a seasoned management team and is an ideal complement to LVMH’s Cheval Blanc maisons (which includes the famous Cheval Blanc Randheli property in the Maldives; pictured below) and the Bulgari resorts, renowned for their exceptional service, architecture and unique gastronomy.
5. Royal Air Maroc will join Oneworld
Royal Air Maroc is expected to join the Oneworld airline alliance in mid-2020. From then, the one million plus members of Royal Air Maroc’s Safar Flyer loyalty programme will able to earn and redeem rewards on all Oneworld member airlines, and with its top tier members able to use the alliance’s more than 650 airport lounges worldwide. While Southern Africa’s Comair, which flies as a franchisee of British Airways, has been a Oneworld affiliate member since the alliance lauched in February 1999, Royal Air Maroc will be Oneworld’s first full member from Africa and first new full member airline signed since 2012. Royal Air Maroc is today the largest unaligned carrier in Africa – with a transformational strategy well underway to develop it quickly into a truly global airline and the continent’s leader in terms of both size and quality. It carried 7.3 million passengers last year on a fleet of 55 aircraft, with a network that currently connects its Casablanca base with 94 destinations in 49 countries across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North and South America, including oneworld hubs Doha, London Heathrow, Madrid, Moscow Domodedovo, New York JFK and Sao Paulo. Under its ambitious five-year plan, it plans to expand its fleet significantly, carrying 13 million passengers a year across a global network serving 121 destinations in 68 countries.
6. Royal Air Maroc introduces new Business Class
Boeing delivered the first 787-9 Dreamliner for Royal Air Maroc, introducing a second member of the super-efficient Dreamliner family to the airline’s fleet. In 2015, the airline was the first in the Mediterranean to fly the 787-8, the initial Dreamliner that offered 20 percent less fuel and fewer emissions. With the airplane’s fuel efficiency and performance, Royal Air Maroc planned new, non-stop routes such as Casablanca to Washington and to Miami. With the larger, longer-range 787-9, Royal Air Maroc will be able to accommodate about 30 additional passengers (for a total of 302) and fly several hundred miles farther (up to 7,635 nautical miles or 14,140 km). The airline plans to deploy the 787-9 on routes such as Casablanca to Paris (Orly), to New York and to Sao Paulo. To celebrate its inaugural 787-9, Royal Air Maroc unveiled a special livery that honors contemporary Moroccan culture. The airline also debuted a new interior to enhance the flying experience. Passengers in Business Class will enjoy reverse herringbone seats with three seat options, including ‘full flat’ and ‘full privacy’. All travelers will enjoy the Dreamliner’s larger windows, lower cabin altitude, smooth-ride technology, and other amenities.
7. Rosewood will open a Tapei property in 2024
Located in Taiwan’s bustling capital, Rosewood Taipei will feature 191 spacious rooms and 27 exceptional suites, surrounded by Taipei’s iconic green hillsides and modern skyline. The hotel will offer five distinct restaurants and bars; other amenities will include Rosewood’s signature residential-style meeting and function facilities, ideal for corporate and social events. The property will also feature Sense, A Rosewood Spa, offering guests a sanctuary of relaxation with four treatment rooms, an indoor pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center which will draw inspiration from the nature and artistry of Taipei. Ideally located in Xinyi District, the most cosmopolitan district of Taipei, Rosewood Taipei will sit in an intersection of new and old neighbourhoods, with sites such as Taipei 101 and cultural heritage village, Si Si Nan Cun, all at the property’s doorstep. The property is located at a juxtaposition of modern and traditional landmarks, offering the perfect base to explore the thriving city.
8. W Hotels opens a Costa Rica resort
W Costa Rica is located within a 2,300-acre nature reserve just minutes from Tamarindo, an internationally-renowned surf spot that has earned a reputation among amateur and professional wave enthusiasts. Surfing not your style? Nearby Playa Flamingo offers horseback riding, ATV and catamaran rides as well as fishing, snorkeling and jungle exploration by foot. Designed by Mister Important Design and Ronald Zurcher Architects, W Costa Rica embraces its surroundings with interpretations of the natural beauty of nearby beaches and jungle. As guests approach the Living Room (the brand’s signature spin on the traditional hotel lobby), floor-to-ceiling stone and wooden panels line the walls of the artistically lit hallway, mimicking one of Costa Rica’s favorite instruments, the marimba. Each of the hotel’s 150 guest rooms honor the adventurous spirit of the island through locally-designed mini surf boards that extend from the walls of each MixBar (mini bar). Zona Azul Beach Club is the brand’s first on-site beach club located on one of the country’s rare white sand beaches, Playa Conchal. W Costa Rica is giving guests a playfully social thrill – a soon-to-come zip line right from the hilltop pool deck to the surf side beach club.
9. Malaysia Airlines launches Business Suite
Malaysia Airlines announced the rebrand of its First Class cabin to Business Suite offering passengers new levels of luxury with ample cabin space and privacy. The Business Suite – available on all of the airline’s A350-900s and A380-800s – is a product that offers an enhanced Business Class service at an attractive price point for passengers. The suite comes with a dedicated check-in counter, access to Malaysia Airlines premium First Class Lounge, 50kg baggage allowance as well as fine-dining experience onboard. Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Captain Izham Ismail said, “The new Business Suite was introduced in response to the growing demand of our guests. Our target is to enable the frequent flyer, looking for enhanced comfort, to now be able to enjoy a premium experience at competitive prices. We are confident that our new Business Suite will change the way people travel in business class.” The Business Suite cabin will be available on the London, Tokyo, Osaka route and on the Sydney and Seoul route during the winter season.
10. Marriott opens a Luxury Collection hotel in Paris
The Luxury Collection, part of Marriott, announced the grand opening of Hôtel de Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris. Owned by the Dokhan family, Hôtel de Berri offers eclectic, bold and refined designs devoted to the Parisian way of life. Situated on Rue de Berri, one of the most sought-after addresses in Paris that has been home to aristocrats, royals and prominent leaders in French society since the 19th century, Hôtel de Berri draws inspiration from the trailblazers of the French Decorative Arts period including painters, designers and stylists from Coco Chanel to Salvador Dalí, with interior designs reflecting the “Art de Vivre” ethos made famous in the heart of Paris. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the property was a private mansion for luminaries including Princess Mathilde and fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, Hôtel de Berri today aims to tell its storied history through the design of its rooms and public spaces. Meticulously styled by designer and artistic director Philippe Renaud, Hôtel de Berri features 75 guestrooms, including 35 suites, as well as Italian restaurant Le Schiap and cocktail bar Le Bizazz. The hotel’s preserved 3,000 square metre landscaped garden is a precious legacy of the building’s illustrious past.