Today (October 25, 2019): October 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:
- St Regis Hotels debuts on Venice’s Grand Canal
- St Regis will bring its iconic brand to Oman
- Qantas B787 Dreamliner completes longest ever commercial flight
- Qantas upgrades the interiors of its A380 aircraft
- Four Seasons opens its highly anticipated resort in Los Cabos, Mexico
- Air New Zealand cancels its London route
- Etihad Airways sets up a low cost carrier
- Air France welcomes its first Airbus A350
- Mandarin Oriental will open a hotel on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
- Qatar’s Hamad International Airport unveils expansion plan
1. St. Regis Hotels debuts on Venice’s Grand Canal
The St Regis Venice is located steps away from Piazza San Marco and boasts the largest waterfrontage in Venice. The opening follows a two-year, full-scale renovation of the former Grand Hotel Britannia, which opened in 1895 – the same year as the inaugural Venice Biennale. The hotel offers 169 guestrooms and suites, many of which boast private terraces or Juliet balconies for sweeping views of Venice’s iconic landmarks. Situated across the Grand Canal from Punta della Dogana, the hotel marries its celebrated heritage with the St. Regis brand’s modern design and bespoke service throughout a unique collection of five Venetian palaces, with the oldest dating back to the 17th century. The St. Regis Venice marks the brand’s third location in Italy, joining The St. Regis Florence and The St. Regis Rome.
2. St Regis will bring its iconic brand to Oman
Expected to open in 2022, the 271-room St. Regis Al Mouj Muscat Resort is planned to rise on a prime beachfront plot within Oman’s lifestyle and leisure destination, Al Mouj Muscat. The property is expected to encompass the hallmarks of the St. Regis brand such as its signature St. Regis butler service. The amenities that are planned include an outdoor pool, spa, health facilities and leisure club, and five specialty restaurants including the iconic St. Regis bar, inspired by the original King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York. The beachfront location is expected to allow guests to access Al Mouj Golf – an 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Greg Norman. The project also includes 170 branded residences, which are expected to include a mix of apartments, penthouses and townhouses.
3. Qantas B787 Dreamliner completes longest ever commercial flight
The first non-stop commercial flight from New York to Sydney has landed on October 20th after 19 hours 16 minutes in the air. A total of 49 passengers and crew were on the Qantas flight, which was used to run a series of experiments to assess health and well-being onboard. Data from these experiments will be used help shape the crew rostering and customer service of Qantas’ ultra-long haul flights in future. Tests ranged from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness, through to exercise classes for passengers. Cabin lighting and in-flight meals were also adjusted in ways that are expected to help reduce jetlag. Two more research flights are planned: London to Sydney in November and another New York to Sydney in December.
4. Qantas upgrades the interiors of its A380 aircraft
All 12 of the Australian national carrier Qantas‘ A380 aircraft will be refurbished as part of a multimillion-dollar upgrade, delivering higher levels of comfort and a higher number of premium seats. The upgraded A380s will feature several improvements for passengers:
- Australian designer David Caon has transformed the aircraft’s upper deck lounge, which has been significantly expanded. It now features seating for 10 people on deep green leather couches and wood paneled walls. Qantas chef Neil Perry and his Rockpool team have created a menu of snacks and light meals to be enjoyed by First and Business Class customers in the redesigned upper deck lounge.
- The Caon-designed Premium Economy seat, which made its debut on the Qantas Dreamliner fleet, also features as part of the upgrade. Smarter use of space on the A380 has allowed Qantas to increase the number of Premium Economy seats from 35 to 60. In total, there is a 27 per cent boost to premium seats, improving the economics of the aircraft and allowing Qantas to respond to growing demand on long-haul flights.
- Qantas will also install it Dreamliners’ Business Suite, dubbed “mini First” by the airline’s frequent flyers, on its A380s, providing direct aisle access for every passenger.
- Improvements in the First cabin including, a refresh of the First Suite with new contoured cushioning and higher resolution entertainment screen, a redesigned Martin Grant sleeper suit in dark charcoal with a Henley neckline and burgundy trim, and a new First Class amenity kit
A factsheet on Qantas’ A380 upgrade can be downloaded here.
5. Four Seasons opens its highly anticipated resort in Los Cabos, Mexico
Just 45 minutes from Los Cabos International Airport and a world away from the Cabo crowds, the sleek and contemporary Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas features 141 guest rooms including 23 suites, five dining options including world-renowned estiatorio Milos, multiple retail experiences, a sports complex, four expansive pools, a spa & wellness center, a teen center & Kids for All Seasons program, multiple unique indoor/outdoor celebration spaces, and a collection of private villas and residences for sale. The Four Seasons is the first resort to open within the thousand-acre (400 hectare) exclusive resort community of Costa Palmas, which offers guests and residents a Robert Trent Jones II designed 18-hole golf course and 18-acres (7 hectares) of organic farm and orchards.
6. Air New Zealand cancels its London route
Air New Zealand has announced that its Los Angeles to London route will end in October 2020. The news come as a surprise since the London flight was offered for more than 40 years and since it is the carrier’s only link to Europe. Some years ago, Air New Zealand other flight route to London via Hong Kong was also canceled, but the then CEO said that the service via Los Angeles would be retained, even though it was thought to be unprofitable, because it linked New Zealand to Europe. Instead of the London flight, Air New Zealand will operate a non-stop service between Auckland and New York (Newark). Although schedules are not yet available, it is expected that Air New Zealand will link with United Airlines at Newark to provide onward connections to the UK and mainland Europe.
7. Etihad Airways sets up a low cost carrier
According to Reuters, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia are jointly setting up a low cost carrier in Abu Dhabi to tap into growing demand for budget travel from the United Arab Emirates’ capital. It is the first investment by Etihad in another airline since its ‘equity alliance’ strategy, which once saw it hold stakes in as many as eight other carriers, unraveled. The new airline will be called Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, although further details such as when the airline would start flying or ownership structure will only be given in the near future. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be the UAE’s fifth airline. Others include Emirates, one of the world’s largest airlines, and Dubai discount carrier Flydubai. Air Arabia, the UAE’s only listed airline, has its main hub at UAE’s Sharjah airport.
8. Air France welcomes its first Airbus A350
Air France took delivery of its first Airbus A350. This new more environmentally-friendly latest-generation aircraft is equipped with 324 seats, with 34 in the Business Class cabin (pictured below), 24 in Premium Economy Class and 266 in Economy Class. By 2025, the company will welcome a total of 28 Airbus A350s into its fleet. To mark the occasion, Air France is returning to its tradition of naming its aircraft. After consulting its staff, the company has decided to celebrate emblematic French cities. This first Airbus A350 is therefore being named “Toulouse”, the capital of aviation par excellence, and the birthplace of this new aircraft. The Air France Airbus A350 will gradually start operating to 6 destinations: Toronto, Abidjan, Seoul, Cairo, Bamako, and Bangkok.
9. Mandarin Oriental will open a hotel on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Mandarin Oriental has announced that it will manage and re-brand an existing hotel on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. The property is currently undergoing an extensive renovation and will re-open as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern at the end of 2020. The iconic Hotel Palace Luzern first opened in 1906 and is located in the heart of the city, on the shores of Lake Lucerne. The multi-million-dollar renovation will include the restyling of all guestrooms and suites, the redesign of the public areas, as well as the landscaping of the gardens. Once reopened, the Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern will comprise 146 rooms and suites offering views of the lake and mountains. There will be a restaurant and a bar together with a variety of social and meeting facilities and a spa and fitness room.
10. Qatar’s Hamad International Airport unveils expansion plan
Hamad International Airport – the hub of Qatar Airways – has revealed plans for its expansion, which will feature a spectacular 10,000 sqm indoor tropical garden in a central concourse as well as a 268 sqm water feature. The flora for the indoor tropical garden will be brought in from sustainable forests from around the world. Designers have developed a column-free, grid shell roof with performance glass to control and filter the light required for the trees to acclimatize to the internal conditions of the terminal and grow throughout the life of the airport. Other significant features will include a new transfer area which will help shorten passengers’ connection times, nine additional wide-body aircraft stands, and a new Qatar Airways lounge complex (which will feature spas, gymnasiums, and restaurants).