Today (October 30, 2020): October 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 opens its highly anticipated Madrid property
- Cathay Pacific shuts down Cathay Dragon
- Rosewood will open an ultra-luxurious hotel in Amsterdam
- Etihad Airways operates its first commercial flight to Israel
- Hyatt will open an Andaz hotel in Lisbon
- Jet Airways might make a surprise comeback
- The St. Regis brand is coming to The Dominican Republic
- ANA will launch a new low-cost airline in Japan
- Mandarin Oriental and The Oberoi Group announce a strategic alliance
- British Airways’ iconic Boeing 747s get a new destiny
1. Four Seasons opens its highly anticipated Madrid property
After eight years of anticipation, Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Madrid is now open. Located in the very heart of the capital between Puerta del Sol and Barrio de las Letras the hotel is within easy walking distance to most of the city’s key attractions. A historical landmark redefining elegance, sophistication and urban luxury, the Four Seasons property is home to 200 accommodations, including 39 suites. The hotel will soon unveil the city’s biggest spa; meanwhile, guests can ascend to the 14-m (46 ft) indoor pool with its glass walls and oversized skylight bathing the space in sunshine. An adjacent sun terrace on the eighth floor offers views across the city’s rooftops as one sips on refreshments from the pool bar. Throughout the hotel’s public spaces and rooms, guests can spot more than 3,700 meticulous restored historic artefacts juxtaposed with contemporary Spanish artworks and comfortable furnishings.
2. Cathay Pacific shuts down Cathay Dragon
The Cathay Pacific Group announced a corporate restructuring in response to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation market. The restructuring will enable the company to secure its future, so it can protect as many jobs as possible, whilst meeting its responsibilities to the Hong Kong aviation hub. Cathay decided to reduce approximately 8,500 positions across the entire group, which accounts for around 24% of its established headcount. Sadly, Cathay Dragon, the group’s wholly owned regional subsidiary, will cease operations with immediate effect. It is intended that regulatory approval will be sought for a majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes to be operated by Cathay Pacific and HK Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Over its 35 years, Cathay Dragon has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence, thanks to its outstanding service and distinct hospitality. I flew with Cathay Dragon at the start of the pandemic; you can read my trip report here.
3. Rosewood will open an Amsterdam hotel
Slated to open in 2023 as the ultra-luxury hospitality group’s first property in the Netherlands, The Rosewood Amsterdam will be housed in the former Palace of Justice, a building of great architectural, historical and social significance that overlooks the Prinsengracht (the Prince’s Canal), one of the city’s most beautiful waterways, in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Amsterdam Canal District. The hotel will be ideally situated near many of Amsterdam’s finest attractions including the museum district, the high-end shopping district on P.C. Hoofstraat and the hip De Pijp neighborhood. Rosewood Amsterdam will offer 134 guestrooms and suites, with many boasting spectacular views across the two adjoining canals, quiet internal courtyards and iconic townhouse rooftops. Amenities will include three restaurants, one of which will be an Indian restaurant, and bars; Sense, A Rosewood Spa offering ayurvedic treatments; a state-of-the-art wellness and fitness center; and an indoor swimming pool.
4. Etihad Airways operates its first commercial flight to Israel
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has become the first Gulf carrier to operate a commercial passenger flight to and from Israel, to bring Israel’s top travel and tourism leaders to the UAE. The historic three-and-a-half-hour flight, flown in partnership with the Maman Group, departed Tel Aviv on 19 October and was operated by an Etihad Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. As a travel trade mission, the flight brought a group of tourism industry leaders, key corporate decision makers, travel agents, and cargo agents, along with media to experience Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE, at the invitation of Etihad Airways and representatives of Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry. This is the latest development in a growing cooperation between the two nations following the establishment of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel. It also follows Israeli national airline El Al’s first symbolic commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi on 31 August.
5. Hyatt will open an Andaz hotel in Lisbon
Expected to open in 2024, Andaz Lisbon will offer guests an exciting new luxury lifestyle hotel in the Portuguese capital – named one of the world’s best destinations in 2019. Located in the center of Lisbon’s bustling Baixa district and situated along the main pedestrian road, Rua Augusta, the hotel will be comprised of five separate buildings, including the former offices of one of the major banks in Portugal, Banco Português de Investimento (BPI). This central building of the hotel will offer 169 guestrooms, with the surrounding four satellite buildings of the hotel offering guests various private suites to choose from. This unique layout will allow guests to fully embrace the locale and experience authentic regional elements of Lisbon that stimulate the senses. Andaz Lisbon will incorporate the rich culture and heritage of Lisbon through locally inspired architecture and design, led by the architects Andreas Mörschel and Pedro Reis as well as Bastir Interior Design.
6. Jet Airways might make a surprise comeback
According to Business Traveller, Jet Airways might fly again soon, as a consortium of investors consisting of Kalrock Capital and entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan won a bid to take over the airline, making them the new owners of the airline. Kalrock Capital is a London-based financial advisory and asset management firm, which focuses on real estate, venture capital, and special situations. Jalan is an Indian, UAE-based entrepreneur with sizeable investments in many industries including tourism and real estate. However, neither of the new investors seem to have a background in aviation. Kalrock Capital and Jalan plan to invest $136 million USD into Jet Airways over the next five years, to aid the airline’s revival with new management and the acquisition of assets. The crisis-hit Indian airline went into bankruptcy in June 2019 after it failed to repay its mounting debt of $1.2 billion, thereby leaving more than 20,000 employees unemployed and grounding its 97 aircraft.
7. The St. Regis brand is coming to The Dominican Republic
On October 14th, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts celebrated the groundbreaking of The St. Regis Cap Cana Resort & Residences, expected to be the first St. Regis hotel in the Dominican Republic. Slated to open in 2023, the resort is expected to feature 200 luxurious guest rooms and suites with spectacular ocean views and 67 residences, in addition to the iconic St. Regis Butler Service, bespoke amenities and a world-class golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Set within a community committed to the continued preservation of the environment, The St. Regis Cap Cana Resort & Residences is expected to adhere to the highest standards of sustainable and conservation-oriented development. This includes the project’s architectural design, which finds its inspiration within the Punta Espada golf course, where the hotel and residences are integrated into the environment as if they were a natural component of the course.
8. ANA will launch a new low-cost airline in Japan
According to Routes Online, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) plans to create a new low-cost widebody unit targeting demand for medium-distance flights to destinations in Southeast Asia and Oceania. The yet-to-be-named carrier will be positioned between the ANA mainline unit and the group’s existing narrowbody LCC Peach. ANA intends to use the current Air Japan charter entity as the foundation, flying an all-Boeing 787 fleet with more than 300 seats in a two-class configuration. The brand will be “capable of responding to sudden changes in demand.” ANA said the planned launch of the new airline, which is expected during 2022, was in response to a shift in air travel brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement follows rival Japan Airlines’ launch of ZIPAIR Tokyo, a widebody LCC focused on long-haul routes. ANA also confirmed that it will be retiring many more aircraft this year than it had previously planned. The carrier intends to retire 35 aircraft, including 22 Boeing 777s.
9. Mandarin Oriental and The Oberoi Group announce a strategic alliance
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and The Oberoi Group have announced a long-term strategic alliance that will see the two groups jointly collaborating across a range of initiatives. This unique partnership creates a platform for the two organisations to work more closely together while retaining each brand’s unique heritage and identity. This global alliance between two historic, multi-award-winning hotel groups has been designed to appeal to the loyal guests of both brands. By working together across all facets of the guest experience, the two groups will curate new and exclusive experiences, available at Oberoi and Mandarin Oriental hotels. Members of Fans of M.O. and Oberoi One, the brands’ respective recognition programs, will have privileged access to over 50 luxury hotels in sought after destinations, where they will receive superior recognition, exclusive experiences and offers, as well as invitations to bespoke events.
10. British Airways’ iconic Boeing 747s get a new destiny
In July British Airways announced that all 31 of its remaining 747s had sadly flown their last commercial services as a result of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector. Some of these aircraft now get a new destiny:
- The Boeing 747, registration G-CIVB, will be permanently retired at Cotswold Airport, near Kemble in Gloucestershire. The aircraft is painted in the unique Negus livery which adorned British Airways planes in the 1970s and 1980s. The airport will maintain the aircraft and plans to convert an area of its interior to be used as a unique business, conferencing and private hire venue, as well as a cinema for locals and an educational facility for school trips. It is planned that the aircraft will be open to the public from Spring 2021.
- The Boeing 747, registration G-CIVW, has flown from Cardiff airport to its new home in Dunsfold Aerodrome, an airfield in Surrey frequently used for filming purposes, including the recording of BBC’s Top Gear. The retired aircraft will retain its Chatham Dockyard livery, and will be used to mock up interior and exterior shots for TV and film. It will also be used as a training facility.