Today (August 2, 2019): July 2019 luxury travel news.
Once a month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel and aviation. In this issue:
- Six Senses announces a Loire Valley resort
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) introduces a stunning new Business Class seat
- The Standard hotel brand debuts in London
- Air France orders 60 Airbus A220s
- Park Hyatt opens a Shenzhen property
- American Airlines makes massive loss because of B737 Max grounding
- The legendary Raffles Singapore property reopens
- Aircalin takes delivery of its first Airbus A330neo
- InterContinental will phase out mini plastic toiletries in all hotels
- British Airways pilots may go on strike this August
1. Six Senses announces a Loire Valley resort
Just south of Paris is the breathtaking Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage region renowned for historic chateaux, medieval towns, fine wines, and great food. At the heart of the region sits the village of Saint-Laurent-Nouan, which will be home to Six Senses Loire Valley. The resort will sit within the Les Bordes Estate, a 1,400-acre (560-hectare) forested site, home to one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world. The development will incorporate equestrian and tennis centers, an organic farm, an art gallery, a petting farm, a natural swimming lake with beach, water sports, biking and walking trails and an abundance of additional activities for children and adults alike. Guests arriving at Six Senses Loire Valley will be welcomed at a beautifully preserved château, which will also hosts an elegant restaurant and bar, event facilities including function lawns plus a garden with earth sculpture and water feature designed to enhance personal meditation and reconnection. Many of the activities will also be centered around the 13th and 15th century priory buildings adjacent to a stunning lake complex. Encompassing 88 generously-sized guest suites and villas, accommodations will be clustered as enclaves in the woodland landscape and built alongside streams and waterways.
2. ANA introduces a new stunning Business Class seat
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, has collaborated with famed architect Kengo Kuma and leading British designers Acumen to roll out a total of twelve completely redesigned Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The first redesigned aircraft will serve the Tokyo/Haneda-London route (NH211/NH212). At the heart of ANA’s new product investment is a brand new seat design for Business Class called “THE Room”. Inspired by modern, multifunctional Japanese living spaces, THE Room offers for the first time flexible doors for personal privacy that can also be adjusted to share the space with fellow travel companions – from dining together with the family to conducting meetings with colleagues. With its bold forward and rearward seat layout, THE Room offers one of the largest Business Class seating environments in the world – with a wide sofa which is double the width to previous Business Class seating. With a design focus on minimization and de-cluttering, the Business Class seat offers a ‘place for everything’ including discreet areas for all personal belongings, with deep blue accent hues precisely placed inside each compartment.
3. The Standard hotel brand debuts in London
The Standard Hotels opened its first property outside of the USA in London. Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annex, a 1974 Brutalist structure that overlooks King’s Cross, The Standard London Hotel marks the first in the company’s global growth pipeline, which includes the Maldives, Milan, Paris, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Mexico City, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ko Samui, Phuket and Chicago, to name a few. Located in the geographic center of London, directly across from St Pancras station, The Standard London, was meticulously designed in partnership with the company’s longtime collaborator Shawn Hausman, with interior architecture by Archer Humphryes. The hotel has 266 rooms in 42 unique styles ranging from cozy rooms to terraced suites with outdoor bathtubs overlooking St Pancras station. The library lounge, with a carefully curated selection of books pays homage to the building’s original use, with a Sounds studio hosting weekly live music and talks. Executive Chef Adam Rawson’s street facing bar, Double Standard, offers lunch, happy-hour and casual drinking and dining, while his garden restaurant, Isla, features a seasonally-driven, coastal inspired menu. On the 10th-floor, Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ restaurant offers live fire cooking and 360-degree views of London.
4. Air France orders 60 Airbus A220s
Air France has signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ for 60 A220s aircraft to modernise its fleet. “The acquisition of these brand new A220s aligns perfectly with Air France’s overall fleet modernization and harmonisation strategy,” said Benjamin Smith, CEO of the Air France-KLM Group. “This aircraft demonstrates optimum operational and economic efficiency and enables us to further improve our environment footprint thanks to the A220’s low fuel consumption and reduced emissions. It is also perfectly adapted to our domestic and European network and will enable Air France to operate more efficiently on its short and medium-haul routes.” The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market; it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and wide-body passenger comfort in a single-aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation turbofan engines to offer at least 20% lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. The A220 offers the performance of larger single-aisle aircraft.
5. Park Hyatt opens a Shenzhen property
Sitting atop a 48-story skyscraper in the heart of Shenshen’s central business district, the brand new hotel is designed to provide a luxurious oasis amidst the pulsating energy of this fast-growing city. Designed by the New York-based architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the building resembles a dynamic glass and steel butterfly with its wings spread against the Shenzhen city skyline. The elegant and refined interiors of Park Hyatt Shenzhen are designed by Yabu Pushelberg to feel like a home away from home. The hotel design celebrates the Park Hyatt brand’s heritage and offers a botanical oasis in the sky blending nature and culture. Located on floors 36 to 44, the hotel’s 195 spacious guestrooms and suites, are designed to create an Asian-inspired sanctuary where guests will feel as if they are ‘floating on a cloud’. Over the coming months, the hotel will launch a unique collection of bars and restaurants to showcase the brand’s outstanding cuisine accompanied by unrivaled views of the Shenzhen skyline. Opening late August, the spa will be a tranquil, elegant space with floor-to-ceiling brass detailing that emphasizes the high ceilings of the space.
6. American Airlines makes massive loss because of B737 Max grounding
On March 13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all USA-registered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, following two fatal crashes involving the jets. The American Airlines fleet currently includes 24 MAX aircraft with an additional 76 aircraft on order, of which seven were scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2019. The company estimates that the cancellations in the second quarter negatively impacted pre-tax income by approximately $175 million USD. The company has removed all MAX flying from its flight schedule through November second. With the flight cancellations extending an additional two months, the company now expects the MAX cancellations will negatively impact its full year 2019 pre-tax earnings by an astonishing $400 million USD. Commenting on the results, American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker said: “Our team members did a tremendous job to deliver solid results despite a challenging start to our summer. Their extraordinary efforts led to an increase in earnings and record revenue performance, and we thank our team for their expertise and care for our customers. These strong results in the face of near-term adversity, coupled with our ongoing initiatives, give us great confidence in the future of American Airlines.”
7. The legendary Raffles Singapore property reopens
A flagship property within Accor, one of the world’s leading hospitality groups, the Raffles Singapore has reopened following the iconic hotel’s careful and sensitive three-phased restoration, which began in February 2017. The revitalized Raffles Singapore offers luxurious all-suite accommodations, across nine distinct suite categories, with the total suite count increasing from 103 suites to 115 suites. The Raffles Arcade has been newly outfitted with a charming Raffles Boutique and various bespoke retail brands. Guests and locals will also delight in exploring the worldly restaurants and bars at Raffles Singapore, including restaurant collaborations with Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, of the three-Michelin star Maison Pic in Valence, France; venerable French Master Chef Alain Ducasse; and Chef Jereme Leung, known for his innovative Chinese cooking. At the refreshed Long Bar, travelers will continue to enjoy the hotel’s most famous cocktail, the original Singapore Sling, along with the timeless tradition of tossing peanut shells on the floor. First opened in 1887, and declared a National Monument a century later by the Singapore Government in 1987, Raffles Singapore has through the years, gained both local and international recognition as an oasis for the well-travelled.
8. Aircalin takes delivery of its first Airbus A330neo
New Caledonia’s Aircalin has taken delivery of its first of two A330-900 at a delivery ceremony in Toulouse, France, with the second aircraft joining the fleet later in 2019, replacing its existing two A330s. Aircalin will also replace its existing two A320s by two A320neos. Aircalin’s A330neos are configured in a comfortable three-class layout with 291 seats or 25 more seats than its existing smaller A330-200s. These include 26 Business Class, 244 Economy Class and for the first time, Premium Economy Class with 21 seats. The A330neos will boost capacity and non-stop connectivity between the French Pacific Island territory and markets in Japan, Australia and the Pacific Islands nations. These routes provide essential links to tourism as well as business traffic, which are essential to the New Caledonia economy. The A330neo is the true new-generation aircraft building on the most popular wide-body A330’s features and leveraging on A350 XWB technology. Powered by the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, the A330neo provides an unprecedented level of efficiency – with 25% lower fuel burn per seat than previous generation competitors.
9. InterContinental will phase out mini plastic toiletries in all hotels
IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has announced that its entire hotel estate of almost 843,000 guest rooms will switch to bulk-size bathroom amenities, with the transition to be completed during 2021. Building on its efforts to reduce plastic waste as part of a broader sustainability agenda, this pledge makes IHG the first global hotel company to commit all brands to removing bathroom miniatures in favor of bulk-size amenities. Keith Barr, CEO of IHG, commented: “It’s more important than ever that companies challenge themselves to operate responsibly. Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact.” IHG currently has an average of 200 million bathroom miniatures in use across its entire hotel estate every year. As the new brand standard is adopted between now and 2021, the company expects to see a significant reduction in plastic waste. This commitment builds on IHG’s pledge to remove plastic straws from its hotels by the end of 2019, and a number of broader waste reduction initiatives already in place. IHG’s top brand, Six Senses, already offers bathroom products in refillable ceramic dispensers across its entire luxury estate.
10. British Airways pilots may go on strike this summer
According to Business Traveller, British Airways pilots may strike this summer after a UK court denied an attempt to block the industrial action by the airline’s owner IAG. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) voted overwhelmingly for strike action last week. IAG (International Airlines Group), which also owns Aer Lingus and Iberia, sought an injunction to prevent the strike in the UK’s High Court, but it was overturned. IAG appealed the decision, but it was later upheld in the Court of Appeal. BALPA said on Twitter that it “wants to resolve this matter through negotiation so we are not announcing strike dates.” The group said it would meet with British Airways for the rest of this week to try to resolve the dispute. If held, the strike would likely fall during the busy August period, though BALPA said it would provide at least 14 days’ notice of any action. The dispute is over pay, with BALPA and unions Unite and GMB submitting a joint pay claim in November. Pilots have rejected a pay increase worth 11.5 per cent over three years. The unions say the pay rise is not adequate given IAG’s healthy profits, according to the BBC. The group reported full year profits of €3.2 billion in 2018, with British Airways alone making an operating profit of €1.952 billion.