Today (March 29, 2019): March 2019 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:
- British Airways unveils its new (excellent) Business Class seat
- The world’s most exclusive hotel, North Island Seychelles, joins … Marriott
- Brussels Airlines introduces a new Business Class product
- The Four Seasons brand is coming to Nashville
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) takes delivery of its first A380 aircraft
- Rosewood opens its new flaghsip hotel in Hong Kong
- WOW Air ceases operations
- Six Senses Bhutan opens in the land of the thunder dragon
- New York’s iconic Chrysler Building could become a hotel
- Air France reveals new First Class amenity kit
1. British Airways unveils its new (excellent) Business Class seat
British Airways has unveiled its highly-anticipated new business class seat – ‘Club Suite’ – and confirmed it will arrive on the first of its A350 aircraft in July. The airline’s sophisticated and newly-branded ‘Club Suite’ offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy, and luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Boasting 40 per cent more storage, every aspect of British Airways’ Club Suite has been designed for today’s customer, including a vanity unit and mirror, WiFi, enviable 18.5-inch inflight entertainment screens, high definition gate-to-gate programming, and PC / USB power. The airline, which is marking its centenary this year, will roll out the new suites in a carefully managed programme designed to minimise disruption to customers. During phase one, the first A350 aircraft will start some short-haul flying between London and Madrid to familiarise cabin crew with the aircraft layout. In phase two, from October 2019, the aircraft will begin long-haul flying. During this period another three A350 aircraft will join the British Airways fleet and two Boeing 777 aircraft will also be retrofitted with the new cabin. At the start of 2020 phase three will begin which will see British Airways rolling out its Club Suite on further long-haul aircraft across the network.
2. The world’s most exclusive hotel – North Island Seychelles – joins Marriott
This is not something that I am excited about, but North Island Seychelles – IMHO the world’s most exclusive private island resort – will join the prortfolio of The Luxury Collection, a brand managed by the Marriott Hotel Group. North Island boasts pristine white sand beaches that surround a tropical interior of coconut palms and indigenous takamaka trees, cradled between three granite outcrops overlooking the azure ocean. Featuring panoramic oceanfront views and a supreme sense of exclusivity, the 11 villas provide guests with plenty of room to fully unwind and enjoy the intimate, island style experience in a luxurious setting. Bruce Simpson, MD of North Island, said: “We are delighted to join the exclusive collection of properties under The Luxury Collection. North Island is the perfect fit for a brand that stands for such exclusive luxury, while recognising the importance of sustainable development, and we look forward to building on the position of the island as one of the world’s most aspirational private-island destinations”. Unfortunately, I don’t consider North Island to be a great fit for The Luxury Collection, since it offer a scale of luxury and exclusivity far above all other hotels in the The Luxury Collection, and seeing it become a Marriott property kind of affects its legendary status. I have previsouly stayed at North Island Seychelles and you can read my review here or watch my clip below.
3. Brussels Airlines introduces a new Business Class product
The new Business Class cabin onboard Brussels Airlines A330 aircraft brings a ’boutique hotel atmosphere’ with a classy Belgian design. Throughout the whole cabin design, Art Nouveau patterns reflect the premium Belgian hospitality and bring a sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere on board, consistent with what the airline offers its Business Class guests on the ground in their flagship lounge ‘The Loft’ at Brussels Airport. The carpet pattern is inspired by the vault design of historical Antwerp central station while famous Belgian designers like Dries Van Noten were an inspiration for the design of the seat fabric. Thanks to its small size of only 30 seats and its unique staggered configuration, the new Business Class offers great privacy in every seat. Guests can choose between a single and a double seat depending on whether they are travelling alone or with a companion. Completely adaptable to every guest’s need the new Business seat can be converted to a lounge sofa or a 2m long full flat bed with adjustable softness. This combined with the new lighting ambiance tailored to all flight phases, ensures a rejuvenating sleep for jet lag-free flying across time zones. Furthermore, the 15.6” HD screen can be tilted to adapt to all seating positions and includes high-quality noise-cancelling headphones.
4. The Four Seasons brand is coming to Nashville
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s leading luxury hospitality companies, announced that it is coming to downtown Nashville (Tennessee, USA). Standing 542 feet tall (165 metrers), it will be one of the state’s greenest and tallest residential buildings and redefine the skyline in Nashville. Long recognised for its popular music and entertainment offerings, Nashville is also home to one of the most vibrant culinary and arts scenes in the United States. The new hotel and private residences will be located along the Cumberland River, within a block of fresh and exciting culinary and nightlife experiences on Broadway, West Riverfront Park, Nissan Stadium, and the award-winning Ascend Amphitheater. This prime location will make the project the ideal spot for visitors and residents to experience the best of Nashville. The luxury hotel will feature 236 keys, a world-class spa and an array of fitness amenities. In addition, the building will offer for sale luxury residences to be managed by Four Seasons. Construction on the building is expected to begin next month.
5. All Nippon Airways (ANA) takes delivery of first A380 aircraft
Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) today took delivery of its initial A380, which will serve the popular Japan to Hawaii routing – and is appropriately painted in a special livery depicting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, also known as the Honu. ANA becomes the world’s 15th operator – and Japan’s first – of this widebody passenger aircraft. It has ordered a total of three A380s. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, the jetliner features ANA’s very latest in-flight entertainment systems, as well as full connectivity in all classes. It will enable the airline to almost double the capacity between Japan and the U.S. island state of Hawaii, generating value for the airline. “This marks a new milestone in our relationship with ANA – our longest-standing customer in Japan,” said Tom Enders, Airbus Chief Executive Officer. “We are confident the A380 will be a huge success in service with All Nippon Airways, and we remain committed to supporting the airline’s A380 operation – as we will for all operators of this magnificent aircraft.” Each of ANA’s A380s will feature the special livery depicting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. The no. 1 aircraft is blue, the second will be green and the third orange. This elaborate paint scheme covers a surface of 3,600 square metres and took the Airbus team 21 days to paint, using 16 different shades of color.
6. Rosewood opens its new flaghsip hotel in Hong Kong
The Rosewood Hong Kong‘s skyscraper exterior pays contemporary homage to the city’s verticality, with 43 floors dedicated to the hotel and its residences. Standing on the site of the former Holt’s Wharf dating back to 1910, and later the iconic New World Centre – which gained prominence during Hong Kong’s manufacturing heyday of the 1970s and 80s – a revolutionary approach to spatial design creates a waterfront oasis. Showcasing expansive water and verdant Kowloon Peak views, eclectic luxury is central to the property’s generously appointed 322 accommodations and 18 signature suite, including the 1,000-square-metre (10,764-square-feet) Harbour House and The Garden House, which enjoy wraparound Victoria Harbour views from their private sky terraces on the 57th floor; complete with planted landscaped gardens, sun decks with private lap pools and a dedicated, state-of-the-art private gym. Rosewood Hong Konghas 8 dining concepts, each possessing a distinctive character and unique flavour, with the majority of venues featuring al fresco terraces and views overlooking the water. Rosewood Hong Kong also host the first urban outpost of Asaya, Rosewood’s signature integrative wellness offering.
7. WOW Air ceases operations
This week, Icelandic budget carrier WOW Air ceased operations and canceled all its flights, leaving passengers stranded on both sides of the Atlantic and in Iceland. The budget airline had been in rescue talks with several companies for a takeover – including Icelandair and Frontier Airlines’ owners Indigo Partners – but these ultimately failed, leaving WOW Air with no choice but to stop flying. The airline announced the closure in a statement posted to its website on Thursday. It advised passengers to book new flights on other airlines, with carriers including IcelandAir, EasyJet and Norwegian Air offering reduced fares to stranded travelers because of the difficult circumstances. WOW Air also said that passengers who bought tickets from a European travel agent as part of a packaged tour were protected. Others with travel insurance may also be entitled to claim compensation. Founded in 2011, WOW Air was known for ultra-cheap trans-Atlantic fares on routes via Iceland thanks to no-frills service. Unfortunately, it’s the latest in a string of airlines to suffer problems as the aviation industry is buffeted by fierce competition and shifting business models. Primera Air ceased operations in October 2018. In February, German airline Germania filed for bankruptcy and British airline Flybmi stopped flying.
8. Six Senses Bhutan opens in the land of the thunder dragon
Located in the colorful Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, Six Senses Bhutan celebrates its highly-anticipated arrival with the opening of its first three lodges in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro. The lodges combine the brand’s commitment to wellness, sustainability and out-of-the-ordinary experiences with the country’s rich culture, warm hospitality and omni-present spirituality. Spread over the west and central valleys of this remote Himalayan kingdom, Six Senses Bhutan offers guests a unique adventure with uplifting experiences at every turn. From sunrise meditations and holistic spa treatments to private astrology readings and butter lamp lighting ceremonies to incredible hikes and treks through pristine forests, the aim is to leave enriched and reconnected. Each location has been thoughtfully designed to fully immerse travelers into the local culture. The lodges, which vary in style, showcase the diversity and special character of each valley. Offering sweeping views, the spacious interiors are framed by subtle references to Bhutanese architecture, seen in the simple lines of the natural timber furniture and the presence of locally-inspired touches, such as bukharis (traditional wood-burning stoves) and vegetable-dyed, antique-washed Himalayan rugs.
9. New York’s iconic Chrysler Building could become a hotel
According to Bloomberg, New York City’s landmark Chrysler Building, which is being bought for about a fifth of what it last sold for, could ultimately be transformed from an aging office tower into a hotel. Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding LLC and Austrian real estate firm Signa Holding GmbH last week agreed to purchase the 77-story skyscraper near Grand Central Terminal for $151 million USD, significantly below the $800 million USD the Abu Dhabi Investment Council paid in 2008 for a 90 percent stake, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Rosen said in an email Tuesday that he would consider converting the tower into a hotel. The Chrysler Building, completed in 1930 in Art Deco style, would probably require millions of dollars in improvements, no matter what the new owners do with it. Keeping it as an office building would be a risky proposition at a time when New York tenants have been favoring new, amenity-packed skyscrapers at Hudson Yards on the far west side and the World Trade Center downtown. “It’s a magnificent building with uninterrupted views from the high floors but changing use is not without issues,” Lawrence Wolfe, co-head of the lodging capital markets group at Newmark Knight Frank. The large floor plates favored by office tenants can pose design challenges when converting to other uses, while the landmarked lobby could make it difficult to create a dedicated entrance for hotel guests.
10. Air France reveals new First Class amenity kit
Air France has introduced a brand new comfort kit exclusively available on board its La Première cabin. Available in a choice of two colours (“Iced Mocha” and “French grey”), this kit with an imitation leather finish and magnetic fastening sums up in three words the unique experience that Air France wishes to offer its La Première customers – exclusivity, refinement and personalization. Inside this “designer” kit, customers will find a range of facial and body care treatments from the prestigious cosmetics company Carita for their enhanced well-being on board:
- A moisturizing and regenerating cream, ‘Baume de nuit’ (10ml);
- An eye care product, ‘Combleur Fondamental’ (7ml) ;
- A cream for the eyes and lips, ‘Soin sublimateur 3 Ors’ (7ml);
- An original youthful hand serum, ‘Progressif Lift fermeté’ (10ml);
The kit also contains extra items for additional comfort, such as an exclusive offer for a hair care treatment with styling*, a comb, a night mask, earplugs, earphone covers and a pen with Air France’s emblem, the winged seahorse. Renewed every six months, the Air France La Première kit is designed as a true gift for customers to take home with them after the trip.