Today (September 27, 2019): September 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 and aviation. In this issue:
- Soneva Fushi launches overwater villas in the Maldives
Virgin Atlantic unveils a stunning Star Wars Boeing 747 Livery
- Aman announces an ultraluxe hotel in Bangkok (Thailand)
- The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to Montenegro
- Banyan Tree will open a luxury resort in Krabi (Thailand)
- Lufthansa is celebrating the world’s largest Oktoberfest
- The Standard Hotels debuts in the Maldives
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) unveils its new aircraft livery
- Design revealed for the first luxury hotel in space
- A luxury pop-up hotel is opening in the North Pole
1. Soneva Fushi launches overwater villas in the Maldives
My favorite hotel brand in the world, Soneva, has announced the launch of overwater villas at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. Perched above the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, the eight new one- and two-bedroom water retreats are scheduled to open to guests by April 2020, marking the start of a remarkable new chapter for this iconic Maldivian resort. The overwater villas will come with their own private pool, as well as a curving slide that plunges directly into the Indian Ocean. With a choice of either sunrise or sunset views, the villas will feature a large al fresco deck, which includes plush sun loungers, a sunken seating area and catamaran nets over the ocean. At the push of a button, the villa’s ceiling will retract automatically, enabling guests to wake with the morning sun, or to sleep under a sky that is blanketed with stars. Designed to exist in complete harmony with the Baa Atoll’s idyllic island setting, the new water retreats will adhere to Soneva’s pioneering sustainability ethos, as well as its renowned ‘no news, no shoes’ philosophy of barefoot luxury.
Read my review of Soneva Fushi here.
2. Virgin Atlantic unveils a stunning Star Wars Boeing 747 Livery
If there’s one spaceship that stands out among all others, it’s the Millennium Falcon. Virgin Atlantic is now paying homage to it with their Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed livery on one of their Boeing 747 aircraft. While unfortunately Han Solo and Chewie won’t be in the flight deck, the plane will transport holidaymakers from London Gatwick to Orlando, where they can experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World Resort. The plane, which will be known as “The Falcon”, howcases the iconic Millennium Falcon and is part of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays’ celebrations of the new area at Walt Disney World Resort, which opened in August. The Boeing 747 has been wrapped in a 44 m (144 ft) long decal that took three weeks to print. The film used to wrap the plane could cover four tennis courts, including Centre Court at Wimbledon. Dave Napper, senior engineer at Virgin Atlantic said: “It was a very exciting brief to be able to redesign our aircraft livery to represent something as iconic as the Millennium Falcon and it’s not something that you get to do every day.”
Anyone who spots The Falcon aircraft before October 9th could be in with a chance of winning two seats on the February flight. All you have to do is snap a photo of #TheFalcon and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFalcon and tagging Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays.
3. Aman announces an ultraluxe hotel in Bangkok
The ultraluxe Aman hotel brand has signed a long-term partnership with Nai Lert to manage a hotel and branded residences under a long-term leasehold ownership. This will be Aman’s first resort and residences in Bangkok, and its second in Thailand after Amanpuri in Phuket (which I reviewed here). Construction is scheduled to commence in the coming months and the project is expected to welcome its first hotel guests and residents in 2022. “Thailand holds a special place in our hearts ever since the conception of Amanpuri, and our brand, in Phuket more than 30 years ago,” Aman chairman and CEO Vladislav Doronin said. “Aman Nai Lert Bangkok will be situated in its namesake iconic central city parkland and will further cement our vision to bring the Aman ethos to global cities. Nestled in the century-old tropical gardens of Nai Lert Park, Aman Nai Lert Bangkok will offer a unique connection to the rich heritage and history of Bangkok enhanced by the gracious traditions of Thailand.”
4. The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to Montenegro
The Ritz-Carlton hotel brand (owned by Marriott) is scheduled to bring its unrivalled elegance and legendary service to the magnificent country of Montenegro in 2023. Slated to rise in a prime position on the Western tip of the chic Luštica Peninsula, the hotel and residences are expected to boast panoramic views over the glittering Adriatic Sea. Design plans for the hotel’s 120 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites envision relaxing sanctuaries for guests, with simple local design planned to merge discreetly with contemporary technology, all with the aim of enhancing the natural beauty of the location. The project’s plans call for low-rise buildings that would blend into the terrain while maximizing sea and sunset views for guests, residents and visitors alike. The powerful backdrop of the Adriatic is expected to highlight planned recreational amenities, including the property’s main restaurant, two specialty restaurants, a beach bar, indoor and outdoor pools, a salt-water Lido pool, a world-class spa and fitness room, and well-equipped Ritz Kids and Teen clubs.
5. Banyan Tree will open a luxury resort in Krabi (Thailand)
Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s leading hotel brand, is currently building a locally-infused sanctuary in Krabi on the west coast of southern Thailand, offering a place to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul in a truly awe-inspiring location. Half an hour’s drive from Ao Nang heading north west up the coast is isolated Tubkaek Beach, upon which the Banyan Tree Krabi Resort will be set. Powdery white sand gives way to the shallow-shelving waters of the Andaman Sea. Offering just 72 intimate pool suites and villas, the resort will overlook the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea in addition to breathtaking views of the surrounding limestone peaks and tropical islands. The property is expected to welcome its first guests mid-2020. The resort will also be home to a Banyan Tree Spa with an ethereal rainforest theme, focusing on the use of natural ingredients like fruits and flowers with a combination of fusion east-meets-west techniques. Guests will completely unwind with the intuitive touch of Banyan Tree’s expert therapists trained by Banyan Tree Spa Academy.
6. Lufthansa is celebrating the world’s largest Oktoberfest
Just in time for the Oktoberfest in Munich, Lufthansa’s Trachten- crew is getting ready for takeoff. This year, the world’s largest crew in folk costume will take off in Lufthansa’s flagship Airbus A380 for the first time. A total of 21 Lufthansa flight attendants will be trading their uniforms for traditional Bavarian garb. The first Lufthansa ‘Trachten’ flight took off from Munich on 23 September and headed to Beijing while the next flight on 3 October will be from Munich to Los Angeles. In addition to this, crews on a selection of European routes will also be taking off in traditional costume. The traditional costumes worn by Lufthansa’s long-haul crew were designed aby Angermaier, a Munich-based specialist for traditional Bavarian clothing. The dirndls of the female flight attendants are dark blue with silver-gray aprons, while the men will be wearing short lederhosen with dark blue vests made of the same material as the dirndls. Munich’s Lufthansa lounges are also prepared for the Oktoberfest, serving over 4,000 kilograms of Leberkäs, 38,000 pretzels and 750 kilograms of Weißwurst sausages.
7. The Standard Hotels debuts in the Maldives
The Standard Hotels has announced the opening of The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives. The resort is a short sea plane ride away from Male, nestled between the Raa and Baa Atolls, on a naturally protected island. While the Maldives has traditionally been a couple’s destination, The Standard has approached the development with a fresh set of eyes. The resort offers an refreshing combination of relaxation, social life and vibrant cultural programming that welcomes groups of friends or singles looking to meet others or just reset and recharge in paradise. Each of the 115 villas features its own private lounge deck and plunge pool, and the six unique culinary offerings range from a beach front BBQ shack serving freshly caught seafood, to fine Maldivian cuisine showcasing ingredients sourced directly from the island’s farm. The Standard, Maldives is the company’s next destination within its extensive global pipeline, which includes Milan, Paris, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Mexico City, Koh Samui, Phuket, Hua Hin and Chicago, to name a few.
8. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) unveils its new aircraft livery
For the first time in 21 years, SAS has launched a brand new visual identity and revealed a new design for its aircraft exterior. The new livery is a modern take on classic Scandinavian design. “The new livery is a symbol of our future, a more sustainable and competitive future, but one that also embraces our heritage. Travelers from Scandinavia will recognize their home, while global travelers will encounter the renowned feeling of the Nordics,” says Rickard Gustafson, CEO at SAS. Customer analysis shows that travelers are proud to be part of the SAS community and that the unique blue color, which has become SAS’ signature, together with the logo, are among the strongest elements when travelers highlight their feelings towards the SAS brand. In this spirit, the new livery embraces this unique relationship by extending the blue color of the tail further down the fuselage and by adding a new big silver SAS logo to the front of the aircraft. SAS’ new Airbus A350 and A320neo will be the first to feature the new design. All SAS aircraft will feature the new livery by 2024.
9. Designs revealed for the first luxury hotel in space
Californian company The Gateway Foundation has released plans for the Von Braun Station, a cruise ship-style hotel floating among the stars. The aim is to get the hotel off the ground by 2025 and make it fully operational for travel by 2027. The Von Braun Station will be a rotating space station designed to produce varying levels of artificial gravity by increasing or decreasing the rate of rotation. Twenty-four pressurized pods will dot the outer ring of the space station. The station will accommodate both national space agencies conducting low gravity research and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel. The hotel will accommodate 100 guests and three times as many crew members. The facility will feature restaurants, gyms, sports arenas and concert venues as well as spaceplanes ready to whisk guests back to Earth in case of an emergency. The suites will feature a warm earthy decor with carpets and stylish monochrome touches that helps guests to connect and feel at home.
10. A luxury hotel is opening in the North Pole
This winter, travelers will have the opportunity to stay in the northernmost hotel in the world known as the North Pole Igloo Hotel. The hotel will comprise 10 heated domes in which guests can sleep under the stars in the frozen center of the Arctic Ocean. The hotel is movable, sustainable, but still a little extreme. Depending of weather conditions the heated glass igloos may be moved to safer places around the arctic glacier. According to CNN, the experience comes with a two-night stay in Slavbard before embarking on a two-hour helicopter ride to the North Pole ice camp. Guests are then transported to the glacier and to check into their igloo hotel. Visitors also have the option to spend a few nights in the company’s hotel Octola, an exclusive five-star lodge in Finnish Lapland, to receive North Pole “training” for an extra charge. A stay at the North Pole Igloo Hotel comes with two rather large catches. The first is that it will only be available for an extremely limited amount of time (during the month of April). The second being it will cost about $100,000 for a three-night trip.