Today (November 27, 2020): November 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:
- Marriott announces the St Regis Chicago
- Delta launches first quarantine-free, COVID-free travel to Europe
- Mandarin Oriental announces luxury property in Zürich, Switzerland
- Mandarin Oriental announces luxury hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Korean Air will acquire Asiana
- Oetker Collection announces a hotel in Geneva, Switzerland
- Six Senses unveils its first resort in South America
- GHM will open an ultraluxe resort in Thailand
- Qantas will require Covid vaccinations for international flights
- Qatar Airways unveils first World Cup 2022 livery
1. Marriott announces the St Regis Chicago
Located downtown, The St. Regis Chicago will span a total of three towers within the sought-after Lakeshore East community. The vibrant area includes a mix of residential and corporate properties, all centrally anchored by a public park. The project is anticipated to include 191 hotel rooms – including 33 spacious suites – and 393 branded residences within the 101-story building. Previously under construction as the luxury Wanda Vista Hotel and Vista Tower, the property is being rebranded as the St. Regis Chicago and the Residences at the St. Regis Chicago. Expected to welcome its first residents in December 2020 and hotel guests by July 2021, the project will serve as a key property in the neighborhood given its unique architecture and ultra-luxury experience.
2. Delta launches first quarantine-free, COVID-free travel to Europe
Delta Air Lines, the Aeroporti di Roma and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have joined in a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program. Starting December 19, Delta’s dedicated trial will test customers and crew on newly relaunched flights from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. The tests will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all U.S. citizens permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health and education, as well as all European Union and Italian citizens. To fly on Delta’s COVID-tested flights between Atlanta and Rome, passengers will need to test negative for COVID-19 through:
- A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
- A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
- A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
- A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States
3. Mandarin Oriental announces luxury property in Zürich, Switzerland
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage and re-brand the historic Savoy Baur en Ville Hotel in Zurich, from 2024. The hotel, which first opened in 1838, is a landmark property on Paradeplatz, the main square in the city centre. It is located in the heart of the old town, within the main business centre, close to the city’s leisure attractions and a short walk from the shores of Lake Zurich. In 2022, the hotel will close and undergo a comprehensive two-year renovation, after which it will reopen as Mandarin Oriental Savoy, Zurich. The hotel will have 80 guestrooms and suites and three dining outlets, comprising an all-day dining venue, a speciality restaurant and a lobby lounge. French interior designer, Tristan Auer, Paris has been appointed to oversee the full design.
4. Mandarin Oriental announces luxury hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
There’s some more news from Mandarin Oriental, as the group has announced that it will manage and ultimately brand the Al Faisaliah Hotel, Riyadh. The hotel is currently undergoing an extensive renovation which will be completed at the end of 2021, after which it will be rebranded Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah, Riyadh. The property is in the heart of the Central Business District of Riyadh, providing easy access to corporate offices, government buildings, shops, restaurants and cafés. It forms an integral part of the mixed-use Al Faisaliah Centre, designed by Foster & Partners. The hotel comprises 321 guestrooms and suites, with new interiors designed by Adam Tihany Design, New York. Also featured are a variety of refreshed restaurants, lounges and bars, including the popular top floor venue which commands outstanding views of the city. An indoor swimming pool, male and female spa areas, and a fitness center will complete the leisure facilities.
5. Korean Air will acquire Asiana
According to Korea Times, Korean Air, South Korea’s biggest carrier, will buy its smaller local rival Asiana Airlines in a deal valued at 1.8 trillion won (US$1.62 billion) that would create the world’s 10th-biggest airline by fleets. Korean Air, currently the world’s 18th largest, will acquire a 30.77 percent stake in Asiana from the debt-laden carrier’s creditors led by the Korea Development Bank. In its broader acquisition plan, Korean Air will gradually integrate three low-cost carriers – Korean Air’s Jin Air Co. and Asiana’s Air Busan Co. and Air Seoul Inc. – after completing the acquisition of Asiana. Korean Air said the acquisition will strengthen Incheon International Airport as a global transportation hub and could pave the way for more joint ventures. Delta Air Lines, which in recent years formed a partnership with Korean Air, also said the acquisition was welcome news.
6. Oetker Collection announces a hotel in Geneva, Switzerland
Oetker Collection announced that spring 2021 will see the addition of The Woodward, a new hotel in the heart of Geneva, to its portfolio. The hotel sits directly on the shores of Lake Geneva, offering panoramic views of Mont Blanc. Originally built in 1901 by French architect François Durel, the hotel is currently being renovated under supervision of world-renowned architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. Beyond The Woodward’s historic façade, guests will find contemporary interiors, providing a stylish city sanctuary. Each of the 26-suites will have its own distinct character with signature flourishes including marble fireplaces and bookcases. The jewels in the crown are the Presidential Suite, designed in elegant ivory tones and offering panoramic lake views from every room with a private dining room and loggia, and the Royal Suite, reached by private lift and designed to resemble a chic Parisian apartment.
7. Six Senses will open its first property in South America
The new Six Senses resort – called Six Senses Botanique – lies in the desirable Mantiqueira area, 2.5 hours from São Paulo and 3.5 hours from Rio de Janeiro, 3,940 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level and at the confluence of three river valleys in the heart of the Mantiqueira Mountains. Formerly known as Botanique Hotel & Spa, the hotel was born out of Fernanda Ralston Semler’s vision to set a new benchmark in luxury hospitality that was completely home-grown, recognizing local traditions and culture, as well as its natural setting. When the property adopts the Six Senses brand in early 2021, it will offer seven suites in the main hotel and 13 private villas dotted in the hills around it. A further 14 villas are planned and will be constructed off-site in a modular manner using local materials. They will be sited to minimize their impact on the surrounding flora and fauna.
8. GHM will open an ultraluxe resort in Thailand
GHM has signed a management agreement to operate a 200-key resort on Koh Chang, the third largest island in Thailand. The Chedi Aquarius Koh Chang will feature an all-day-dining restaurant, a cliff-edge restaurant, rooftop bar, spa, and infinity pool with pool bar. Scheduled to open in 2023, the new Chedi would complement the brand’s acclaimed hotels in Muscat (Oman), Sharjah (U.A.E.), Andermatt (Switzerland) and Luštica Bay (Montengro), as well as hotels under development for the Maldives, U.A.E., India and Taiwan, all set to open in the coming year. Though Koh Chang lacks the name recognition of either Phuket or Koh Samui, Thailand’s largest and second largest island, its relative obscurity is partly a function of its natural splendor: a national park covers 83 percent of the island. GHM, by design, is a resort group that has focused on emerging, rather, than mature destinations.
9. Qantas will require Covid vaccinations for international flights
Australian carrier Qantas will require future international travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before flying. The airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said in an interview with CNN affiliate Nine News that the move would be a “necessity” when coronavirus vaccines are readily available. Joyce said the airline was looking at changing its terms and conditions to ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft. “Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market. But certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity,” the Qantas chief said. While Qantas is the first airline to indicate that Covid-19 vaccinations would be a must before travel, others could soon follow suit. “I think it will be a common theme, talking to my colleagues in other airlines across the world,” Joyce said.
10. Qatar Airways unveils first World Cup 2022 livery
Qatar Airways unveiled a specially-branded Boeing 777 aircraft painted in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 livery, to mark two years to go until the tournament kicks off in 2022. The aircraft was hand-painted to commemorate the airline’s partnership with FIFA. More aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet will feature the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 livery and will visit several destinations in the network. The Boeing 777-300ER will enter service on 21 November operating flights QR095 and QR096 between Doha and Zurich. The inaugural route of the bespoke aircraft further reiterates the airline’s commitment to the FIFA partnership by flying to the home of FIFA in Switzerland. FIFA Director of Marketing, Jean-François Pathy, said: “Our official partner Qatar Airways launching this striking, iconic aircraft featuring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 livery is an important milestone. We are looking forward to welcoming fans from around the globe to experience this unique FIFA World Cup and discover Qatar in two years’ time.”