Today (September 25, 2020): September 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:
- Four Seasons will manage an iconic Sicily hotel
- Four Seasons announces a new resort in Mexico
- Qantas flight to nowhere sells out in 10 minutes
- One&Only Desaru Coast opens in Malaysia
- Oman Air resumes its flights to Europe
- Hāna-Maui Resort joins Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand
- Air New Zealand grounds Boeing 777 fleet until September 2021
- New bus trip will take you from Delhi to London in 70 days
- British Airways will offer First Class seat with sliding door
- Starlux Airlines’ A350 aircraft will feature a First Class cabin
1. Four Seasons will manage an iconic Sicily hotel
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s leading luxury hospitality company, announced that the celebrated San Domenico Palace in Taormina is under an extensive renovation program and will be unveiled as San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel. San Domenico Palace is ideally placed on the hilltop town of Taormina on the eastern shores of Sicily, overlooking the Bay of Taormina and the Ionian Sea. The Hotel features multiple terraces with clear views of the surrounding waters, as well as Mount Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following extensive renovations, the hotel will reopen with 111 guest rooms and suites, a new beach club and restaurant, along with the two-Michelin star restaurant, Principe Cerami, as well as enhancements to the current facilities and public areas. The hotel will also include a state-of-the-art spa with seven treatment rooms, an indoor pool, and a Turkish bath.
2. Four Seasons announces a new resort in Mexico
Debuting in 2021 as Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, México, the project will be located on a private peninsula along the Pacific Ocean in the state of Jalisco, between the towns of La Manzanilla and Barra de Navidad. The area, known as “Costa Alegre” or “Joy Coast” is acclaimed for its picturesque beaches, lush landscape and unique topography. Most of its 155 rooms will boast panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, enveloped by the surrounding jungle and lush golf course. The contemporary architectural and interior design by the firms of LEGORRETA and Taller Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo will blend with the natural surroundings and showcase local materials and textures. The resort will offer four dining and beverage venues, including an ocean view bar and restaurant, beach bar and grill and golf club restaurant. The grounds will also feature three pools and a full-service spa set amid a tropical forest.
3. Qantas flight to nowhere sells out in 10 minutes
Pre-pandemic, many of us viewed flying simply as a method of getting from one destination to another as quickly as possible. But amid global restrictions, travelers have been daydreaming not only about far-flung destinations, but the flying experience itself. That’s where “flights to nowhere” come in – air travel that takes place purely for the purpose of the journey, not the destination. Proving how popular these now are, a sightseeing flight to nowhere offered by Qantas sold out within 10 minutes, according to CNN. “It’s probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history,” the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said in a statement. The seven-hour scenic flight will be flown by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and perform a giant loop taking in Queensland and the Gold Coast, New South Wales and the country’s remote outback heartlands. From above, keen fliers should be able to spot famous Aussie attractions including Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef. The jet will do a low flyover over certain landmarks, including Uluru.
4. One&Only Desaru Coast opens in Malaysia
Unspoilt wild flora, lush rainforests and a secluded coastline of pristine golden sands await at One&Only Desaru Coast, the first One&Only resort in Asia. Nestled on the south-eastern shoreline of Malaysia and designed by the award-winning Kerry Hill Architects, One&Only Desaru Coast celebrates the destination’s architectural heritage with a modern interpretation of the traditional Malaysian ‘kampung’ (‘village’). Spread across 128 acres, the resort has an intimate collection of just 42 junior suites, two expansive two-bedroom grand suites and an exclusive four-bedroom villa one. All boast private plunge pools, abundant indoor and outdoor living spaces, decadent bathrooms and thoughtful Malaysian-inspired design features. Guests have access to world-class restaurants, a secluded spa, spectacular infinity pool, and a buzzing beach club.
5. Oman Air resumes its flights to Europe
Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, will return to scheduled service on 1 October with service to 17 cities in 12 countries including 2 flights per week connecting Muscat and London, Frankfurt and Istanbul. Oman Air will maintain its comprehensive safety program throughout all elements of the travel journey to ensure that guests fly confidently. Masks are required when guests are on board the aircraft and in Oman’s airports. Distancing is maintained while guests board and exit the aircraft, which are carefully cleaned after each flight and at the end of every day. Cabin crew all wear a full set of personal protective equipment, meal service has been modified to further ensure safety and a number of other steps have been taken to ensure that the airline’s guests and crew are safe at all times.
6. Hāna-Maui Resort joins Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand
The famous Travaasa Hana-Maui Resort will be rebranded under Hyatt’s Destination Hotels brand. Offering a diverse collection of independent hotels, resorts and residences across North America, Destination Hotels properties are individual at heart yet connected by a commitment to embody the true spirit of each location. Located in the legendary town of Hāna on the eastern tip of Maui, Hāna-Maui Resort is set above Hāna Bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hāna, known for its raw beauty and wild rainforests, exudes authentic Hawaii through its quaint ranches and pastures, local artisans, rich culture and history and close-knit community. The famed “road to Hāna” winds through nearly 600 curves and over 54 one-lane bridges leading to spectacular road-side waterfalls and plunge pools. Hāna-Maui Resort features 75 guest rooms, suites, bungalows and family residences. Additional amenities include two dining options, an expansive wellness center, two pools, a yoga pavilion and a plethora of adventure-driven and cultural experiences.
7. Air New Zealand grounds Boeing 777 fleet until September 2021
Air New Zealand has grounded its Boeing 777 fleet until at least September 2021 due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Four of Air New Zealand’s 777-300 aircraft will be stored in Victorville in the Californian desert, while the remaining three will stay in Auckland where they are able to be returned to service if required. The airline’s 777-200 aircraft will be sent to long-term storage facilities in both Roswell, New Mexico and Victorville, California from later this month. The North American locations were chosen for their arid conditions and existing storage facilities which will ensure aircraft are kept in a condition that will enable them to be returned to service within six to eight weeks if required. The 777s are the largest aircraft in Air New Zealand’s fleet and have operated the majority of the airline’s long haul routes over the past 15 years. The airline’s international schedule will be operated by the more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, along with A320s and A320/21neos for trans-Tasman and Pacific Island routes.
8. New bus trip will take you from Delhi to London in 70 days
Before it all began, and India gained the attention of the Western tourist seeking a slice of ‘oriental mysticism’, there were two kinds of overland travelers on these routes – those who took organized bus tours like Indiaman, Albert, Silver Express etc. and then there was the Hippie Trail. Hordes of young men and women packed themselves in “magic buses” and travelled overland from Europe to Asia, in search of ‘enlightenment’. The most popular and the first amongst them was a 1957 trip organized by Oswald-Joseph Garrow-Fisher, in a bus named The Indiaman. The bus began its journey with 20 passengers on board, departing from London on April 15, 1957, and reaching Kolkata on June 5. Now, Adventures Overland is all set to launch its very own dream bus which will recreate that vibrant era gone by, but with utmost comfort and luxury. As part of the journey, guests will cross 18 countries in 70 days, exploring thousands of pagodas in Myanmar, meeting rare species of Giant Pandas in Chengdu, hiking the Great Wall of China, visiting the historic cities of Bukhara, Tashkent & Samarkand in Uzbekistan, and cruising on the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.
9. British Airways will offer First Class seat with sliding door
British Airways has confirmed that it will introduce a modified First Class seat with a privacy door on new B777-300 aircraft being delivered from next month. The move follows the launch of the carrier’s Club Suite business class product last year, which also features a sliding privacy door and which has been well received by customers. News of an internal letter to staff announcing the modified seat had been posted on several aviation forums, and the carrier has now provided Business Traveller with the following comment: “The new Club Suite has been so popular with our customers that we made the decision at the start of the year to adjust the First seat on the new 777-300 aircraft to include a door for additional privacy.” Below, you can watch my video of British Airways’ First Class product on the B787.
10. Starlux Airlines’ A350 aircraft will feature a First Class cabin
Taiwan based-StarLux Airlines said on Sunday that its new fleet of wide-body A350 aircraft will have first class cabins, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the aviation industry. The airline, which flew its first commercial flight on Jan. 23, has ordered 17 wide-body A350 aircraft (nine A350-900s and eight A350-1000s) from Airbus, the first of which is scheduled to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the airline’s spokesperson Nieh Kuo-wei. Since StarLux positions itself as a luxury airline, all of the aircraft will offer first class seats, with the exact seating arrangement to be determined by the end of the year, Nieh said. The fleet will first be used to fly routes to Northeast and Southeast Asia, and then to the United States in the second quarter of 2022, when the airline plans to begin services to the U.S. west coast, Nieh said. Taiwan’s two main international carriers, EVA Airways and CAL, began phasing out first class after they took delivery of Boeing B777-300ERs in 2005 and 2014, respectively, following a growing trend in the global industry.