Today (June 26, 2020): June 2020 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:
- Silversea welcomes Silver Origin to its fleet
- Lufthansa’s A380s won’t return for at least two years
- Rosewood will manage a property in St Barth
- Etihad Airways launches a COVID-19 risk assessment tool
- Langham Hotels will open a third Australian property
- Australian borders likely to stay closed until next year
- The InterContinental brand returns to Italy
- Travel to Cambodia requires extremely costly COVID-19 testing
- Chenot Palace Weggis, Wellness Retreat opens in Switzerland
- Aman announces phased reopening of its resorts globally
1. Silversea welcomes Silver Origin to its fleet
Silversea Cruises, the leading ultra-luxury cruise line, has taken delivery of its first-ever destination-specific ship, Silver Origin, from Dutch shipyard De Hoop. An intimate ceremony, held on Wednesday June 3, 2020, marked the first in-person cruise ship delivery since the pandemic prompted a global lockdown. Integrating the latest state-of-the-art technology and designed with a focus on the pillars of sustainability, destination on board, expedition experience, authentic local culture, and comfort and service, the all-suite, all-balcony, 100-guest Silver Origin will welcome travelers year-round in the unique Galapagos Archipelago. The ship will provide guests with the ultimate destination experience, inspired by Silversea’s accrued expertise and founded on a deep respect for the fragility of the natural environment, while maintaining the cruise line’s trademark quality of service. Innovative, enriching, elegant, each of Silver Origin‘s spaces has been designed specifically with the Galapagos in mind by Hirsch Bedner Associates Miami. Silversea’s executives visited each to experience first-hand how they will create unique synergies between the destination and the ship.
2. Lufthansa’s A380s won’t return for at least two years
According to Bloomberg, Lufthansa‘s fleet of Airbus A380 jets will be mothballed for at least two years and may never return to service as demand for long-haul travel remains subdued in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. With Lufthansa already retiring about half of its 14 superjumbos, remaining jets will be relegated to its secondary hub in Munich. Flights could resume there in 2022 if there’s enough demand on “thick” routes such as New York and Chicago, said Klaus Froese, who runs the carrier’s main Frankfurt base. “In Frankfurt, the chance that we will again operate any A380 is close to zero. That’s all but decided,” he said. “In Munich we will have to see. Planning is very difficult in these times.” The Covid-19 pandemic is hastening the demise of the A380 as a front-line aircraft, with Air France phasing out the jet and Dubai-based Emirates, the largest operator, said to be mulling plans that could see 65 retired. Lufthansa grounded the double-decker in March with the rest of its passenger fleet as the virus spread, and has said seven planes will be permanently withdrawn.
3. Rosewood set to manage a property in St Barth
Rosewood has been appointed to manage St. Barth’s renowned retreat, Le Guanahani, which is set to reopen in spring 2021 following an extensive restoration. Closed since 2017 due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the property will reopen as Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth with a property-wide rebuild and refurbishment that preserves the unique spirit of the resort and perfectly embodies Rosewood’s “A Sense of Place” philosophy, wherein the local sensibilities of the destination inspire the resort’s many offerings. With stunning architecture by David M. Schwarz Architects and unique interior design by Luis Pons Design Lab, the new Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth will evoke the rich and authentic French Caribbean heritage of the island with its signature colorful style featuring vibrant design hues of turquoise inspired by the Caribbean water, yellow reflecting the tropical sun and lavender as a nod to the South of France. Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth will mark the growing ultra-luxury brand’s third property in the Caribbean and first in the French West Indies.
4. Etihad Airways launches a COVID-19 risk assessment tool
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is partnering with Austrian-based healthcare technology company Medicus AI to launch a COVID-19 risk-assessment tool that will empower guests to make informed decisions about travelling. The risk-assessment tool will guide Etihad’s guests in evaluating the probability of having contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus by responding to a set of 22 questions. The self-administered assessment, which takes less than five minutes to complete, is based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines that are updated daily. With this risk-assessment tool, guests will understand their individual probability of having contracted the virus alongside advisories and recommendations, allowing them to make informed decisions about travelling. The tool is now available to guests on Etihad.com and soon on the Etihad Airways mobile application on the Apple iOS, Android and Huawei platforms, and will be accessible in English, with additional language editions such as Arabic, French, German and Portuguese being added in phases.
5. Langham Hotels will open a third Australian property
Opening end 2021, The Langham, Gold Coast will feature 169 well-appointed rooms and suites; the group will also manage the Jewel Residences by The Langham which consists of 170 serviced apartments designed and built to the award-winning brand’s exacting specifications. With their prime location on the beachfront in Surfers Paradise, the hotel and serviced apartments are in the central and tallest of the three landmark towers of the Jewel development. The grand structure and shimmering exterior of the Jewel are reminiscent of three colossal quartz crystals, visible for miles from the Nerang River to the Gold Coast hinterland. The crystalline forms of the towers are inspired by the gemstone shards discovered in the region which dates back thousands of years. The property will feature restaurants, a casual “grab and go” café, a lobby lounge, a pool bar and a podium sky terrace with bar overlooking the ocean. On the wellness front, Chuan Spa will offer treatments inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophies in a tranquil, meditative setting.
6. Australian borders likely to stay closed until next year
Travelers hoping for a holiday Down Under have had their hopes dashed, with Australia’s Tourism Minister saying the nation’s border is likely to stay closed until next year, according to a report from ABC News. Simon Birmingham said the decision to shut the border was one of the main reasons for Australia’s success in suppressing COVID-19 and it would not be lifted for general travel any time soon. As a consequence, Qantas has suspended most of its international flights, other than some flights to New Zealand, up until late October. The Australian Government is working though on a couple of exceptions to Australia’s border closure, including allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand. Talks between the two nations are underway and an expert panel has submitted a report to both governments on how it might work. There is still no timeframe on when it might happen though, with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister warning the plans are being held up by state border closures in Australia. Some international students will be let back into the country to study from next month as part of “pre-approved” pilot programs.
7. Travel to Cambodia requires extremely costly COVID-19 testing
According to AEC News Today, the Kingdom of Cambodia has revealed its new entry condition for international travelers in the age of COVID-19. This is how it will look like:
- Upon arrival all passengers will be taken by bus ($5) to a waiting area where a swab for a RT-PCR test will be taken ($100).
- Travelers are required to stay at the waiting area overnight while the tests are performed ($30), plus pay an additional $30 for three meals. At $10 per meal they should be quite sumptuous.
- If all of the test results are negative everyone is free to leave, however they are required to self quarantine at home for the next 14 days, with an additional swab test ($100) to be taken on the 13th day. However, if one person from the flight tests positive all passengers will be quarantined for 14-days in a government designated facility at an all inclusive cost of $84 per day. An additional required swab test will cost $100.
- For those who test positive it is off to the hospital where treatment will cost $225 per day, plus up to an additional $400 for up to four more swab tests. The costs do not include ICU or CCU treatment if needed.
- The cost of cremation is set at $1,500, though it is not known if this includes the cost of an urn.
- To help ensure the Cambodian government doesn’t get left footing the bill a $3,000 security deposit will be collected at the airport in either cash or by credit card payment, and refunded once the all clear is given 14 days later. Facilities to enable inbound passengers to obtain cash or make electronic payments are in the process of being installed.
- The requirements are on top of existing ones that require foreigners intending to travel to Cambodia to possess a health certificate issued less than 72-hours prior to departure stating the traveler is free of SARS-CoV-2, the virus at the heart of COVID-19, in addition to no less than $50,000 in health insurance cover.
These fees are in addition to any visa fee, though no visa on arrival service is currently available and Cambodian embassies globally are currently not issuing tourist visas, though ordinary (commonly called business) visas are being issued to those who have the necessary paperwork. The new Cambodian user pays regulations are believed to be the most comprehensive and expensive of their kind globally, and I am afraid it will turn down a lot of potential visitors.
8. The InterContinental brand returns to Italy
A multi-million-euro investment is behind IHG’s plans to open InterContinental Rome in 2022, marking a welcome sign of confidence in the Italian tourism industry at this challenging time. The luxury hotel will be set on the iconic Via Veneto, in the Ludovisi area of the city, close to the Villa Borghese. The existing property – which includes 160 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, spa and public areas – will be restored to create a sense of discreet, modern luxury for visitors and locals alike. Designed in the early 1900s by architect Carlo Busiri Vici in the neo-renaissance style, the palazzo building was originally home to ambassadors staying in Rome, opening as a hotel in 1993. Guests will benefit from its proximity to the city’s wealth of art and history, thanks to a prime position close to the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. The hotel can be easily reached from Rome’s Ciampino or Fiumicino international airports and is less than 10 minutes from the city’s main rail station.
9. Chenot Palace Weggis, Wellness Retreat opens in Switzerland
The renowned Chenot Group, leaders in the health and wellness sector, unveiled their most advanced wellness retreat yet, Chenot Palace Weggis, designed by Swiss Architect Davide Macullo. After almost two years of remodelling, the prestigious former Park Hotel Weggis has been given a new mission: creating harmony and unity between body and mind. The turn-of-the-century palace boasts beautiful Alpine vistas, private access to the lake and extensive parks and gardens as well as 97 rooms and suites, a restaurant and a tea lounge. The Medical Spa is located in a futuristic annexe built entirely of wood. Extending over 5000 square metres, this health and wellness oasis offers state-of-the-art diagnostics and a complete range of check-ups to evaluate the guests’ individual health status. Signature programs, exquisite treatments and the most advanced medical technology round out the spa portfolio. Considered to be one of the founders of the health wellness movement, Henri Chenot developed a system of preventative medical care in 1974. Especially well known in Italy and France, his Chenot Method, which focusses on restoring the body’s physiology, is the therapeutic foundation at the Chenot Palace Weggis. The range of treatments is complemented by the Chenot diet program.
10. Aman announces phased reopening of resorts globally
Many readers of my blog are Aman junkies (like me). Aman is one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands. Meticulously designed to frame their natural settings, Aman hotels are renowned for breathtaking locations, locally inspired architecture, and ultimate privacy. Aman has now partnered with Diversey, a global leader in providing smart, sustainable solutions for cleaning and hygiene, to implement all the appropriate best practices across its portfolio to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all guests. These measures include thorough and rigorous cleaning and sanitization, the proper use of personal protective equipment and staff training in all aspects of health, safety and hygiene. The group also announced the planned reopening dates of its hotels & resorts (which may be subject to change):
Europe & Africa
- Aman Venice (Italy) – 18 June
- Amanzoe (Greece) – 18 June
- Amanruya (Turkey) – Opened 6 June
- Aman Sveti Stefan (Montenegro) – 1 July
- Amanjena (Morocco) – July (date TBC)
- Aman Le Melezin – 11 Dec
USA & Caribbean
- Amangiri (USA) – Opened 21 May
- Camp Sarika (USA) – 1 July
- Amangani (USA) – Opened 1 June
- Amanera (Dominican Republic) – 1 July
- Amanyara (Turks & Caicos) – 24 July
- Amanpuri (Thailand) – Villas remained open throughout. Hotel reopens – 1 July
- Aman Tokyo (Japan) – 1 July
- Amanemu (Japan) – Opened 1 June
- Aman Kyoto (Japan) – Remained open throughout
- Amanoi (Vietnam) – Remained open throughout
- Amansara (Cambodia) – Remained open throughout
- Amantaka (Laos) – 1 July
- Amanpulo (Philippines) – 26 June
- Amangalla (Sri Lanka) – 1 August
- Amanwella (Sri Lanka) – 1 August
- Amanbagh (India) – 1 September
- Aman-i-Khas (India) – 1 October
- Amankora (Bhutan) – TBC
- Amanjiwo (Indonesia) – 19 June
- Amandari (Indonesia) – 1 July
- Amankila (Indonesia) – 1 July
- Aman Villas at Nusa Dua (Indonesia) – 1 July
- Amanwana (Indonesia) – 1 August
- Amanyangyun (China) – Open
- Amanfayun (China) – Open
- Aman Summer Palace (China) – Open
- Amandayan (China) – Open