Today (January 29, 2021): January 2021 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:
- The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to the Swiss Alps
- Silkair begins integration into Singapore Airlines
- Rosewood announces a five star hotel in Rome
- Norwegian ends all long haul flying
- Fire engulfs famous Andaman Resort in Langkawi
- Waldorf Astoria Maldives opens a private island ($80,000 USD per night)
- Boeing targets aircraft running on 100% sustainable fuels by 2030
- New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for most of 2021
- Aman launches partnership with Luggage Free
- Emirates introduces Premium Economy Class on its A380 fleet
1. The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to the Swiss Alps
Marriott will bring its Ritz-Carlton brand to Zermatt, debuting the first Ritz-Carlton ski resort in Europe. Expected to open in 2026, the 69-guest room property will bring the brand’s legendary service and elegant design to the world-famous Swiss resort destination. The Ritz-Carlton, Zermatt will be designed by award-winning Paris-based firm AW² led by partner architects Reda Amalou and Stéphanie Ledoux, with the architectural and interior design expected to offer a refined take on the classic mountain chalet. The property will offer unobstructed views of Matterhorn from both guestrooms and dining establishments. Design plans are slated to feature two restaurants and two bars, an outdoor terrace for alfresco dining, and a private dining room for intimate gatherings. An array of recreational activities such as ‘ski-in ski-out’ access to the slopes, a tranquil spa with a gym and both indoor and outdoor swimming pools are part of the vision for guests to enjoy. The resort is also expected to offer meeting and event facilities.
2. Silkair begins integration into Singapore Airlines
For over 30 years, SilkAir has been the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, flying to over 40 destinations in Asia Pacific, and favored for its friendly service. This month, Silkair has officially started its integration into Singapore Airlines, following a merger into its parent company’s brand announced back in 2018. SilkAir’s 9 Boeing 737-800 aircraft will progressively join the Singapore Airlines fleet with a freshly painted livery, newly upholstered seats, and served by cabin crew who will now be dressed in the iconic sarong kebaya. The B737-800 aircraft are configured with 12 Business Class recliner seats and 150 Economy Class seats. Silkair’s remaining A319 and A320 aircraft are set to be retired. Passengers will also receive Singapore Airlines’ food and beverage service onboard, including its signature ‘Book the Cook’ offering in business class.
3. Rosewood announces a five star hotel in Rome
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will open a hotel in the heart of the Italian capital in 2023. Located in the former headquarters of Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro overlooking the iconic Via Veneto, the new hotel will offer premier access to many of the city’s storied attractions, elegant shops and distinct dining destinations. Extending an entire block, Rosewood Rome will encompass three historic buildings, each of which were originally built in the early 1900s. Upon completion, Rosewood Rome will offer 157 accommodations, including 44 suites. Home to three dining outlets, including a contemporary Italian bistro, a lobby bar and café and a rooftop bar with a terrace with sweeping views of the city, the hotel will serve as a luxurious escape for locals and visitors alike. Additional amenities include a subterrain experience within the bank’s original vault featuring a modern Roman Bathhouse and Sense, A Rosewood Spa, located on the rooftop which will feature four dedicated treatment rooms and a wellness terrace with a reflecting pool and dynamic fitness center.
4. Norwegian ends all long haul flying
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the entire aviation industry. Travel restrictions and changing government advice continue to negatively influence demand for long haul travel, and Norwegian’s entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since March 2020. Future demand remains highly uncertain. Under these circumstances a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will not continue. Instead, the airline will focus on its core Nordics business, operating a European short haul network with narrow body aircraft. The current plan is to serve European markets with around 50 narrow body aircraft in operation in 2021 and to increase that number to around 70 narrow body aircraft in 2022. Norwegian has recently reinitiated a dialogue with the Norwegian government about possible state participation based on the new business plan.
5. Fire engulfs Andaman Resort in Langkawi
The famous Andaman Resort on the Malaysian island of Langkawi has been destroyed after catching on fire twice. The fire first started on the evening of January 12th, when one of the hotel buildings caught on fire. While it managed to be put out, a second fire started the next day due to strong winds and the building structure which is made up of mostly wood. The firefighters were facing some difficulties in putting out the flames as the water supply was low and there was limited access into the building. The property, a member of Marriott’s Luxury Collection Resort, is located in an ancient rainforest cradled between the Mat Chincang Mountains and the beaches of the Andaman Sea. The resort was built in the 1990s, and is one of two pioneering five-star hotels on the island, after its sister property, The Datai. Both resorts were designed and built without cutting down trees, with timber obtained from elephant-felled trees.
6. Waldorf Astoria Maldives opens a private island ($80,000 USD per night)
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi unveiled the exclusive “Ithaafushi – The Private Island”, the largest Maldivian private island in the heart of the Indian Ocean. Anchored in the timely yet timeless ethos of the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brand, part of Hilton’s Luxury Brands, Ithaafushi – The Private Island is the ultimate escape offering unparalleled levels of privacy and personalized service that create unforgettable experiences for guests seeking only the most prestigious and coveted accommodations. The sprawling estate accommodates 24 guests across two elegantly designed villas and one sweeping four-bedroom residence, perfect for bonding with loved ones or celebrating life’s significant milestones with close friends. In terms of dining, the private island has its own dedicated culinary team that can create a bespoke menu served in a variety of settings. Alternatively, the main Waldorf Astoria resort is a short boat ride away for guests who want to check out its 10 specialty dining venues.
7. Boeing targets aircraft running on 100% sustainable fuels by 2030
Boeing is setting an ambitious target to advance the long-term sustainability of commercial aviation, committing that its commercial airplanes are capable and certified to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuels by 2030. Boeing has previously conducted successful test flights replacing petroleum jet fuel with 100% sustainable fuels to address the urgent challenge of climate change. Today, sustainable aviation fuels are mixed directly with conventional jet fuel up to a 50/50 blend – the maximum allowed under current fuel specifications. In order to meet aviation’s commitment for reducing carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2050, airplanes need the capability to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuels well before 2050. Sustainable aviation fuels can be made from a wide variety of feedstocks, including non-edible plants, agricultural and forestry waste, non-recyclable household waste, industrial plant off-gassing and other sources.
8. New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for most of 2021
According to The Guardian, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said the world need to return to some semblance of normality before she opens the country’s borders to foreign nationals. The prime minister shut the border in mid-March and said she would not open it again until New Zealanders were “vaccinated and protected” – a process that will not start for the general population until the middle of this year. Ardern also cast doubt on the prospects for a travel bubble with Australia in the near future, and said she was “disappointed” with the Australian government’s decision to suspend quarantine-free access for New Zealanders for three days in the light of the case of community transition in Northland. New analysis has found that New Zealand has handled the coronavirus pandemic more effectively than any other country in the world.
9. Aman launches partnership with Luggage Free
As part of an ongoing effort to instill safety and confidence when traveling, Aman, one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands, has announced a partnership with Luggage Free, the world’s premier, white-glove luggage shipping service. Luggage Free’s global luggage shipping will streamline the journey to any Aman property thereby minimizing time spent at the airport. From the secluded palm-fringed villas in Bali to the mountainous wilderness of Jackson Hole in the USA, the journey to any Aman property is now as serene as the destination. Luggage Free services 180 countries allowing guests to ship luggage of any shape and size to all 34 locations in the Aman portfolio. With a team fluent in international shipping policies, Luggage Free will complete all customs paperwork on the guest’s behalf when traveling abroad. The service also extends to the transportation of valuable items, including golf clubs, skis, snowboards and bicycles, with care taken to prevent loss or damage when handling.
10. Emirates introduces Premium Economy Class on its A380 fleet
The airline received its newest A380 aircraft with Premium Economy from Airbus’ Hamburg facility, and its remaining order of 5 A380s will also be delivered with Premium Economy cabins over 2021 and 2022. Emirates’ Premium Economy seats will also be installed on some of its Boeing 777X aircraft which are only due to join the fleet in 2023. Emirates is considering plans to retrofit its existing A380 fleet. With a generous pitch of up to 40-inches, Emirates’ Premium Economy seat is 19.5 inches wide, and reclines 8 inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out. Covered in cream-colored anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to Business Class, each seat is designed to provide optimal comfort and support with 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests. Each seat has a 13.3” screen, one of the largest in its class, to enjoy the unmatched array of music, movies, TV, news and other content on Emirates’ award-winning ice.