Today (December 27, 2019): December 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:
- Six Senses will open a hotel in London
- SAS reveals the Business Class product of its A350 fleet
- Abu Dhabi’s iconic Emirates Palace will become a Mandarin Oriental Hotel
- TAP Air Portugal completes its fleet renewal
- Jumeirah adds Capri Palace to its expanding international hotel portfolio
- Finnair opens its new flagship lounge at Helsinki Airport
- The famed Aman brand is opening a hotel in … Miami’s South Beach
- Aman announces a 4th ultraluxe retreat in Japan
- Taiwan will get a luxury boutique airline, Starlux Airlines
- Boeing pays Southwest $125 million USD over B737 Max grounding
1. Six Senses will open a hotel in London
With its proximity to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, Bayswater in West London is recognized for its streets lined with grand terraces of white stucco houses and garden squares. Among them is an iconic building and former department store – Whiteleys – soon to become home to Six Senses London. The hotel will mark the brand’s entry into the UK and will open with 110 guest rooms and suites, starting from 355 square feet (33 square meters) and celebrating the building’s origins, while making space for modern living. There will also be 14 branded residences, with owners able to tap into all the privileges that come with a Six Senses home, including bespoke interior design, concierge service, dining, housekeeping and wellness programming. Six Senses London is slated to open in 2023.
2. SAS reveals the Business Class product of its A350 fleet
The first of eight Airbus A350s has officially entered SAS’ fleet. The aircraft will be based at the SAS hub at Copenhagen Airport and will operate on seven routes during the first year, including Chicago, Beijing, New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong and San Francisco. The Business Class cabin will have 40 seats featuring a 18,5” HD entertainment screen, PC-power and high-power USB, separate control for backrest recline, a new bi-fold tray table including a personal device holder, and a durable threshold that also can give a light foot massage. SAS has also developed a new welcoming area at the entrance door where travelers are greeted in a stylish area, featuring inlaid lights and other unique design features. During the flight, this area will serve as a refreshment bar for SAS Business Class travelers.
3. Abu Dhabi’s iconic Emirates Palace will become a Mandarin Oriental Hotel
On January 1st 2020, Mandarin Oriental will take over management of the property from Kempinski. It will be Mandarin Oriental’s second hotel in the United Arab Emirates following the opening of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai in early 2019. The hotel will be rebranded as a Mandarin Oriental property, following a phased renovation over two years, during which time the hotel will remain open. The work will encompass upgrades to guestrooms and recreational amenities, as well as new food and beverage facilities. The Emirates Palace hotel sits on a 1,3 km (0,8 mi) private beachfront, featuring 394 guestrooms & suites, and 12 restaurants & bars. Leisure facilities include a marina, two swimming pools, a spa and two fitness centers.
4. TAP Air Portugal completes its fleet renewal
As the commercial operation of the Airbus A330 registration CS-TOG came to an end, TAP Air Portugal now has a completely renovated fleet that is one of the newest in the world. The removal of the this aircraft means that TAP’s aircraft have an average age of 3.9 years compared to an average of 15 a year ago. Following the removal of Airbus A330 CS-TOG, all longhaul flights now use new aircraft or ones with a modern cabin interior – including the new Business Class seats – that offer passengers the highest levels of comfort. TAP’s long-haul fleet is now composed of 17 Airbus A330neo, 4 Airbus A321 LR and 7 Airbus A330ceo with completely retrofitted and standardized cabin interiors. TAP’s fleet modernization process will enter aviation history as being one of the fastest fleet transformations ever in the world.
5. Jumeirah adds Capri Palace to its expanding international hotel portfolio
Jumeirah has been appointed to manage the renowned Capri Palace Hotel in Italy. The hotel, founded by Tonino Cacace, stands high up on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Naples and fully embodies the Italian Dolce Vita. The property’s airy interiors are filled with artwork with tributes to the works of Mirò, Magritte, Warhol, Keith Haring, and Pomodoro, amongst others. White, blue and neutral tones create an unmistakably Mediterranean atmosphere in the 68 guest rooms, while the ceramic tiles and bespoke furniture evoke the sense of an Italian family home, ensuring guests are well rooted in their surroundings. In line with Jumeirah’s commitment to offering exceptional culinary experiences, Capri Palace, Jumeirah is home to two Michelin star restaurants.
6. Finnair opens its new flagship lounge at Helsinki Airport
The aesthetic of Finnair‘s new Business Class lounge complex centres on Nordicness, simplicity, clean lines, natural materials and texture to provide a warm experience. The new lounge is broken up in a variety of smaller “pockets” aligned to different customer needs and activities. The deeper you go into the lounge, the quieter and more private it becomes. The furniture selection includes both modern and classic design pieces from esteemed Nordic brands. For example, the entrance area features Eero Aarnio’s ball chairs. The lounge is operated in partnership with Finnish food provider Fazer, who prepares food in a new open kitchen concept which is coupled with a dedicated dining area. The rotating menu consists of a choice of three main courses with meat, fish and vegetarian options, six salads and a wide selection of desserts.
7. The famed Aman brand is opening a hotel in … Miami’s South Beach
Aman, one of the most exclusive luxury hotel brands in the world, is opening a hotel in South Beach in 2023. According to the Miami Herald, the two-building Aman Miami project will include an Aman hotel and Aman-branded residences, and will be built on the former site of the Versailles Hotel at 3425 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. The size of the buildings, the number of rooms and the architects who will design the project have not yet been determined. Aman currently has two US locations – Amangani in Wyoming and Amangiri in Utah – and is expected to open a New York hotel in late 2020. Aman typically manages hotels in serene, off-the-beaten-path destinations, but is now turning its focus toward properties in bustling cities (and I am not sure whether I like this new trend).
8. Aman announces a 4th ultraluxe retreat in Japan
Hokkaido is Japan’s untamed northern wilderness, as famous for its summer flower fields as for its legendary ski resorts. It is here that Aman will open its 4th Japanese property, on the slopes of Mount Moiwa, in 2023. On nature’s doorstep, Aman Niseko will provide unrivaled access to seasonal outdoor pursuits, from skiing and snowboarding in winter, to hiking, mountain biking and river rafting the rest of the year. Befitting the onsen capital of the world, both indoor and outdoor onsen – Japanese hot spring bathing pools – will be a feature of the Aman Spa as well the 31 exclusive Aman branded Residences. The hotel’s architecture will be deliberately contemporary, with subtle references to traditional design motifs of Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu.
9. Taiwan will get a new trendy airline, Starlux Airlines
Dubbed Taiwan’s first luxury boutique airline, Starlux Airlines has been creating a stir even before its first aircraft is taking off next month. Eleven minutes after opening ticket sales online on December 16, the Taipei-based carrier sold out all seats on its first three flights (Taipei-Macau, Taipei-Penang and Taipei-Danang). Not only did the carrier already share its inflight safety movie on social media (which is going viral on YouTube), it has also unveiled other details as well
- The fleet will initially comprise A321neos and later be expanded with A350-1000 aircraft. The fleet will grow to 27 aircraft by the end of 2024 and 50 by the end of 2030. The interior of the A321neo, designed by BMW’s Designworks studio, is fitted with sleek seats, leather headrests and inflight entertainment systems across all classes.
- The airline has partnered with Longtail, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Taipei that features contemporary cuisine to provide in-flight meals for Business Class passengers. The menu will include sourdough rye bread with Vietnamese style “banh mi” paté, fish floss and house pickles. Hong Kong style barbecued pork and mixian (a type of rice noodle) with Taiwanese black pork with lemongrass and nuoc mam (fish sauce) will also be offered on select routes.
- The Business Class amenity kit will include a set of toiletries from Thai brand Thann including hand lotion, eau de toilette and a facial mist, noise-cancelling headphones, eye masks, as well as blankets designed by Designworks of BMW Group.
- Starlux Airlines has also developed an exclusive fragrance called “Home in the Air” in partnership with local perfume manufacturer P.Seven. The airline says the “Home in the Air” fragrance “ will evoke the tranquility of home and the expanse of the galaxy”, with notes of various woods and leather as well as the aromas of iris and violets.
10. Boeing pays Southwest $125 million USD over B737 Max grounding
Boeing and Southwest Airlines have reached a confidential agreement for a portion of projected financial damages related to the grounding of the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX. Southwest estimates this incremental profitsharing accrual to be approximately $125 million USD, and officials said the money would be added to the company’s employee profit-sharing fund. “Our people have done an incredible job managing through the Max groundings, while providing the highest levels of customer service and one of the best operational performances in our history,” said Gary C. Kelly, CEO of Southwest. Federal regulators ordered all 737 Max planes grounded on March 13, 2019, after the jets were involved in two fatal crashes resulting from software problems in the planes’ operating system.