Today (May 31, 2019): May 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:
- Fiji Airways is getting two Airbus A350 aircraft
- Wilderness Safaris opens Rwanda’s first luxury safari camp
- Four Seasons opens it highly anticipated Montreal hotel
- Four Seasons opens a second Boston property
- Brussels Airlines reveals the world’s most complex aircraft livery
- The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to Bangkok
- Qatar Airways launches new Economy Class cuisine concept
- The Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere in Austria is now open
- Accor brings its iconic Raffles brand to India with two new hotels
- Emirates launches the shortest A380 flight in the world
1. Fiji Airways is getting two Airbus A350 aircraft
Fiji Airways , Fiji’s National Airline, has revealed that it will acquire two new Airbus A350 XWB aircraft as part of its widebody aircraft expansion plans. The new additions to the airline’s widebody fleet will be used to primarily service popular routes between the US and Australia, with exact schedules to be confirmed closer to launch. Combining the latest aerodynamics, new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB generation engines and use of lightweight materials, the A350 XWB brings a 25% advantage in fuel burn, operating costs and carbon dioxide emissions compared to previous generation similar-sized aircraft, meaning a significant reduction to the airline’s carbon footprint and fuel cost. Fiji Airways’ A350s will feature 33 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond, fully lie-flat Business Class beds, with each offering direct aisle access, while Economy Class will feature 301 Recaro CL3710 seats, which are ranked among the most comfortable long-haul economy class seats on the market. The two new A350 XWB aircraft will complement Fiji Airways’ existing widebody fleet of six Airbus A330s, with delivery set for November and December this year. There are 257 Airbus A350s in the skies around the world today, flown by 24 operators.
2. Wilderness Safaris opens Rwanda’s first luxury safari camp
Wilderness Safaris – Africa’s most luxurious safari company – has officially opened its new camp, Magashi, overlooking scenic Lake Rwanyakazinga in the north-east of Rwanda’s wildlife-rich Akagera National Park. Magashi offers safari journeys that are strongly rooted in a shared core purpose: to help conserve Rwanda’s last protected savannah ecosystem and threatened species like the East African subspecies of black rhino and rare shoebill stork. Comprising a traditional East African “safari under canvas” feel, Magashi’s six airy tented suites and main guest areas have been designed to take full advantage of the beautiful wilderness surrounds and tranquil, uninterrupted views over Lake Rwanyakazinga. Paying homage to Rwandan culture through locally-inspired interior design and architecture, Magashi truly celebrates the country’s inspiring renaissance – a huge part of which has seen the reinvention of traditional textiles and ceremonies in a modern context. Situated in north-eastern Akagera, Magashi offers exceptional game-viewing, including thrilling leopard and lion sightings and a range of plains game, from buffalo and hippo to zebra, eland, giraffe and topi. This is Wilderness Safari’s second Rwanda property; the other hotel is amazing Bisate Lodge (which I reviewed here).
3. Spider Man stars in United Airlines’ latest safety video
United Airlines launched its latest inflight safety demonstration video featuring Spider-Man in an entertaining mini-drama film. In addition to United employees providing instruction on what to do in the event of an emergency, the video features MileagePlus members who bid miles for the unique opportunity to appear in the video and special appearances by cast members from this summer’s highly anticipated film.”For decades, Spider-Man has consistently shown the importance of using power to do good and to keep the public safe. We also believe that our greatest responsibility is to keep our customers and crew safe on board our aircraft,” said United’s Vice President of Marketing, Mark Krolick. “We are excited to have Spider-Man and his friends, along with our employees, bring new attention to the inflight safety video and creatively engage customers on such an important announcement.” In addition to the safety video, United’s broader promotional partnership with Sony Pictures, will include one-of-a-kind Spider-Man-themed Polaris Business Class amenity kits.
4. Four Seasons opens it highly anticipated Montreal hotel
The highly anticipated Four Seasons Hotel Montreal which is also home to MARCUS, the first Canadian outpost of renowned celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, is now open. Built around the “Social Square” that brings together both locals and visitors to the heart of the Golden Square Mile in one multi-faceted space, Four Seasons is much more than a hotel, encompassing a lively dining and drinking experience, a spa and wellness sanctuary, the city’s newest venue for top level business meetings and glittering social galas, and within the same building, an exclusive community of private residences, all just steps away from the city’s best shops, galleries, restaurants and museums. The hotel’s 169 guest rooms and suites are designed in a modern, residential style with comfortable seating areas for work or relaxation, at-one’s-fingertips technology, and generous washrooms with freestanding tubs and Byredo toiletries from Sweden. Interiors are enhanced by a carefully curated collection of works by local and international artists, including Pascale Girardin’s floral-inspired installation cascading down the building’s open-air atrium and showcasing nature in the heart of the architecture, providing a unique perspective for guests and residents alike.
5. Four Seasons opens a second Boston property
Four Seasons has opened its second hotel in Boston, the Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, located in the city’s Back Bay district in a soaring glass skyscraper – now the city’s third tallest building and its highest residences at 724 ft (220 m). Surrounding the elliptical “guitar pick” shaped building are streetscapes by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh. The hotel’s 215 hotel rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows, with every detail anticipating the needs and wants of modern travellers, from soundproofing between floors and rooms and precision-glazed windows to at-one’s-fingertips in-room technologies. Features include the latest outpost of Japanese restaurant brand Zuma, as well as the second floor One + One restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The ground floor Trifecta Lobby Bar will open later in the year. Spanning the entire 7th floor of the property, the hotel’s spa facility has five treatment rooms – including a couple’s suite – and a 64 ft (20 m) lap pool that arcs along the building’s curved windows.
6. Brussels Airlines reveals a special aircraft livery
After honoring Tintin in 2015, followed by Magritte, the Red Devils, Tomorrowland and the Smurfs, Brussels Airlines presented its 6th Belgian Icon, a unique aircraft inspired by Flemish painter Bruegel the Elder. The result is a grand piece of art and the most complex plane livery in the world due to the enormous level of detail. 2019 being the year of Bruegel, Brussels Airlines has chosen to pay tribute to the Flemish Master with a new Belgian Icon. Two contemporary Belgian artists, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, were commissioned to imagine a design for the aircraft that looked at the work of the old master from the perspective of their own artistic practice. The result is a 37 m (121 ft) long Airbus A320 baptized Bruegel. The two sides of the fuselage feature an entirely different design, which took 19 days to paint by hand, as it is the most complex aircraft livery ever made, due to the very high level of detail. Bruegel’s first flight was to Venice, to accompany the artists to the inauguration of the Belgian Pavilion of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The aircraft will then continue to fly across Brussels Airlines’ European and Middle-Eastern network for the next 5 years.
7. The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to Bangkok
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group – managed by Marriott – announced the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in Thailand’s capital. Located on the prestigious Wireless Road with unprecedented views of the adjacent Lumphini Park, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Bangkok will occupy a prime location within One Bangkok, a new global landmark destination expected to open in 2022, which will bring together vibrant lifestyle, new-to-market retail, fine dining, top of the line commercial offices and residences plus state-of-the-art facilities as well as year-round arts and cultural events. The hotel will be moments away from offices and embassies in the Sukhumvit and Sathorn areas and offers direct access to the city’s transportation and expressway networks. Through generously landscaped green and open spaces, One Bangkok’s fully integrated district will also offer guests of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Bangkok a unique oasis in the middle of the city’s bustle. The property will feature 259 elegantly appointed guestrooms, including 32 suites and one exceptional Ritz-Carlton Suite, occupying levels 1 to 25 of the 50-storey building. As the Ritz-Carlton, Bangkok is designed to be a truly urban resort, contemporary style and locally influenced design will be complemented by four distinct restaurants and bars, and a luxurious spa.
8. Qatar Airways launches new Economy Class cuisine concept
Qatar Airways has revealed a new Economy Class onboard experience branded ‘Quisine’, designed to elevate customers’ dining experience when they travel with the airline. To begin their dining experience, passengers will now be presented with redesigned menu cards which will include a service timeline on all long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights, ensuring they can plan their journey without missing anything on offer. A pre-dinner drinks option will also now be available on flights of over five hours, with refreshments and cocktail snacks available prior to the main meal being served. Food portions have increased by 25 to 50%, with a greater focus on the use of local, fresh and healthy ingredients that are in season. Meals will also feature individually-wrapped artisanal warm infused bread and an individual bottle of water. A wider selection of mid-flight movie snacks includes an array of cheese and crackers, chocolate bar, potato crisps and popcorn, with innovative flavours such as Himalayan Salted Caramel and French Butter and Pink Salt provided by gourmet popcorn brand 4700BC. Quisine is currently available on flights to and from Brussels, Cardiff, Gothenburg, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
9. The Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere in Austria is now open
Located in the new Quartier Belvedere, the Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere is the fourth Andaz branded hotel in Europe, joining Andaz London Liverpool Street, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (which I reviewed here) and the recently opened Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor. The hotel’s location offers easy access to historical landmarks, including the Belvedere Palace and the Botanical Gardens. The hotel is comprised of two separate buildings connected by interwoven bridges, sharing a spacious lobby lounge on the ground floor. Integrating exquisite design, irresistible cuisine and spectacular art, Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere immerses guests in the history and allure of Vienna. The hotel offers 303 luxurious, urban guestrooms, including 44 suites, each featuring floor-to-ceiling windows to ensure stunning views of Quartier Belvedere in the city center or the nearby Belvedere Palace. One of the hotel’s highlights is the rooftop bar Aurora, which features an excellent Scandinavian-inspired cocktail menu with delicious bar snacks. Located on the 16th floor, the Nordic designed bar offers stunning views of Vienna which guests can enjoy while snuggling next to the open fire pit or listening to DJs late into the evening. The property also features a contemporary Austrian tavern (combining classic and modern cuisine) and an exclusive health and wellness area.
10. Accor brings its iconic Raffles brand to India with two new hotels
Accor – the largest hotel group outside the USA – announced two majestic hotels in India: Raffles Jaipur and Raffles Udaipur. With a stronger focus on luxury and premium brands (such as Acccor’s iconic Raffles brand), the move signals a new direction for Accor in India. Jaipur is part of the tourist circuit known as The Golden Triangle, which includes New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur; while Udaipur is a natural extension of this given its proximity to Jaipur. Both cities are renowned as epicentres for the highest levels of luxury, so it makes sense that the Raffles brand will make its presence in both. The Raffles Jaipur is being built at Kukas in the city of Jaipur as a set of secluded private residences and courtyards adjacent to the larger hotel complex that presently houses the Fairmont Jaipur. The development is planned as a discreet destination for guests to “be themselves”. The hotel is anticipated to commence operations in 2022 and is located close to key tourist destinations in Jaipur including the Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort and Jal Mahal palace. The 101-room Raffles Udaipur will be located on a 21-acre private island in the middle of Udai Sagar Lake, one of the five prominent lakes of Udaipur and is expected to open by mid-2020.
11. Emirates to launch shortest A380 flight in the world
As airlines are competing to operate the world’s longest flights, Emirates is heading the opposite direction. The Dubai based airline is gearing up for a big summer in Muscat with the deployment of double daily A380 flights from 1 July. The airline will operate the A380 on EK 862/863 and EK864/865 to and from Muscat International Airport (MCT). This will be the shortest scheduled A380 flight in the world, flying a distance of 340 kilometres each way. The new A380 services to Muscat demonstrate the airline’s agile approach to fleet deployment and its commitment to providing an enhanced onboard experience for its passengers. The launch of the A380 flights will come exactly one year after the first deployment of a scheduled one-off A380 service that marked 25 years of operations to Oman, and reaffirmed the airport’s infrastructure readiness to handle double-decker operations. Both A380s flying to Muscat will be operated in a three-class configuration, with 429 seats in Economy Class on the lower deck, as well as 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 14 First Class Private Suites on the upper deck.