Today: March 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:
- Four Seasons announces a Mallorca property
- New airline Norse Atlantic Airways reveals low-cost long-haul plans
- Mandarin Oriental expands its China footprint with a new hotel in Hangzhou
- Etihad Airways’ A380 aircraft will probably be retired
- W Hotels debutes in Japan
- Air France unveils its new in-flight safety video
- Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas opens in California
- Oetker Collection announces a hotel in Capri Island, Italy
- Kerzner International creates a fitness-focused hotel brand
- The Chedi hotel brand is coming to Qatar
1. Four Seasons announces a Mallorca property
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, a global leader in luxury hospitality, has announced plans to manage the former Hotel Formentor in Mallorca, Spain. Originally opened in 1929, the existing hotel will undergo extensive renovations before it will be unveiled as a Four Seasons experience in 2023. The renovations will be overseen by architects Estudio Lamela and SCT Estudio de Arquitectura, with interior designs by Gilles & Boissier. All of the 110 rooms and suites will offer balconies with sea and forest views, allowing guests to soak in their beautiful surroundings. The property is located on a 1,200 hectare (3,000 acre) plot of the Formentor Peninsula, offering access to a pristine beach, as well as a functioning vineyard a short five minute drive away. The resort will also include an indoor restaurant, beachfront restaurant and café, and a poolside bar and grill. Additional onsite activities will include tennis courts and beautiful spa facilities.
2. New airline Norse Atlantic Airways reveals low-cost long-haul plans
Several well-known investors, with entrepreneur Bjørn Tore Larsen at the helm, have launched plans for Norse Atlantic Airways. The new low-cost airline will initially offer flights on board (ex-Norwegian) Boeing 787 Dreamliners between Europe and the USA starting in December. “As the world reopens, the public needs an innovative, low-cost intercontinental airline with modern, more environmentally friendly- and fuel-efficient aircraft. We have industry knowledge and have secured modern Dreamliners at very good terms. Norse Atlantic Airways will offer people the opportunity to travel between continents at affordable fares,” said Bjørn Tore Larsen. Norse Atlantic Airways will initially fly between the U.S. and Europe, serving destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, and Oslo. The company plans to expand the route network to include destinations in Asia as more Dreamliners enter the fleet. However, growth will be based exclusively on demand and profitability.
3. Mandarin Oriental expands its China footprint with a new hotel in Hangzhou
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage a new luxury hotel in Hangzhou, China, scheduled to open in 2025. Mandarin Oriental, Hangzhou will be part of the Westlake 66 mixed-use commercial and luxury retail complex. The development will be a leading attraction in the city, located close to the West Lake, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China’s primary leisure destinations, with easy access to the city’s principal business hubs, Binjiang and Qianjiang. The hotel will comprise 194 guestrooms and suites as well as four restaurants and bars. Significant meeting and event space will ensure it is well positioned for business and social gatherings. Extensive spa and wellness facilities will provide a comprehensive range of wellness, beauty and massage treatments, featuring Mandarin Oriental’s signature spa therapies. A well-equipped fitness center and indoor swimming pool will also be featured.
4. Etihad Airways’ A380 aircraft will probably be retired
Etihad Airways expects the list of travel corridors between countries to grow this summer as the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerates, herd immunity strengthens and rapid testing technology improves, its chief executive Tony Douglas told The National. “We’re expecting 2021 to be a very difficult year, we’re expecting 2022 to be a transition year and we’re expecting 2023 sees us slowly getting back to pre-pandemic passenger numbers,” he said. Douglas mentioned that Etihad’s fleet of new A350 aircraft would not be deployed until 2023, with the carrier focusing on its B787s for long-haul operations. Of its 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos, Douglas said: “We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again.” That’s sad news, since Etihad’s A380s were the epitome of luxury in the sky, with an amazing First Class cabin. My Etihad A380 YouTube (which you can watch below) is probably the last video recorded on the aircraft.
5. W Hotels debutes in Japan
W Osaka asserts its presence in the city’s busy urban streetscape with a black monolith façade designed by Osaka-born, world-renowned architect Tadao Ando. The hotel’s intriguing design concept is expressed as a minimalist exterior concealing colorfully exuberant interiors, a nod to the Edo period when excessive displays of wealth were prohibited, and merchants were said to have dressed modestly in public. Bright spaces, clean lines and bold color schemes are inspired by Osaka’s blazing streetscapes and reflected in the hotel’s 337 guestrooms and suites. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame stunning views of the skyline, while spacious bathrooms with rain showers and luxe amenities invite guests to retreat and recharge. W Osaka’s two bars and four restaurants tempt guests with unique, unexpected offerings and an unforgettably gourmet experience. The fourth floor of W Osaka features a gym, yoga room, and indoor pool space with an LED ceiling to illuminate and amplify the fun.
6. Air France unveils its new in-flight safety video
Incorporating all the latest regulatory changes in force, the new video symbolizes the essence of the Air France brand. An invitation to travel for everyone all over the world, where the airline declares its love of France and its lifestyle. Two flight attendants explain the safety instructions to passengers from all walks of life, traveling together from one iconic landmark to another, places that highlight the best of France, to the tune of lively melodies, inspired by musicals. In an instant, passengers are transported from the steps of the Opéra Garnier to the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, from the sunny French Riviera to the legendary Hotel Martinez. The stroll continues through the vineyards of Provence, past museums, a fashion show, a typical French café terrace and along the banks of the Seine and its famous booksellers. The video was produced by French director and scriptwriter Romain Quirot. The music was written by Ludovic Bource, a French composer who has won a César and an Oscar.
7. Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas opens in Califiornia
The $110 million USD new Alila Marea Beach Resort is located on the coastal bluffs of Encinitas, delivering authentic and bespoke experiences in a world-class beachfront setting. The 130-room property is complete with an oceanfront pool, culinary experiences by award-winning Executive Chef Claudette Zepeda, expansive indoor-outdoor meeting and event spaces, serenity-invoking Spa Alila, and thoughtful, locally inspired and restorative programming. With the hotel’s namesake, “Marea,” meaning “tide” in Italian and Spanish, the resort features a distinctly Southern California feel, in harmony with the area’s natural landscape throughout, as well as from the vibrant surf and beach culture that surrounds the property. Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas marks a significant milestone for the Alila brand as its first new-build resort in the Americas and the third Alila property in the U.S. and California. The luxury hotel joins the new Alila Napa Valley and Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort in Big Sur, California.
8. Oetker Collection announces a hotel in Capri Island, Italy
Capri’s first hotel, built in 1822, is to be transformed by Oetker Collection and owners, Reuben Brothers, into an elegant and exclusive property. Hotel La Palma is located mere steps from the famous Piazzetta and above the famous nightclub Taverna Anema e Core, which is also owned by Reuben Brothers. The renovation will see the room count decrease from 80 to 32 rooms and 18 suites, all of which will feature a private balcony or terrace. The hotel will also include a private beach club in Marina Piccola on Capri’s southern coast, a newly built pool deck, a spa with three treatment rooms and a fitness center, and three fashion boutiques. Following an extensive renovation, the property will reopen in April 2022 and continue to pay homage to the ‘dolce vita’ lifestyle. The rooms and lobby interiors will be designed by Rome-based firm Delogu Architects, while New York-based Tihany Design will oversee the design of the pool, spa, restaurant and beach club.
9. Kerzner International creates a fitness-focused hotel brand
Kerzner International, the owner of the famous Atlantis Resort & Residences and ultra-luxury One&Only Resorts worldwide, has launched a new hospitality experience, Siro. Conceived with fitness and wellbeing at the core, Siro will be an immersive lifestyle destination, blending the boundaries between hospitality, fitness, and wellness through a fresh perspective and energizing experiences. The brand aims to inspire fitness and wellness growth among individuals and groups, with activities such as cycling, sailing, boxing and skiing used to discover the destination of its properties. Each hotel will have a cutting-edge fitness club with a spacious gym, space for yoga and meditation, a swimming pool and use of local sports venues. The first Siro hotel will launch in Porto Montenegro in 2023, Siro Boka Place, which will offer guests a number of demanding sailing circuits, as well as a variety of cycling routes of varying length and altitude for all fitness levels.
10. The Chedi hotel brand is coming to Qatar
GHM Hotels has announced plans to open a new luxury resort, composed of 59 rooms and suites as well as 32 chalets and villas in Qatar’s capital city Doha. The Chedi Katara Hotel & Resort, Doha, Qatar shall occupy a beachfront setting within the landmark 100-hectare (247 acre) Katara Cultural Village district that includes theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries, mosques, restaurants, shops, a park and an open amphitheater. With a design that pays homage to the glories of Indian Mughal Architecture and a touch of Ottoman influence, the new Chedi’s principal hotel building will house a lobby lounge with 180° views of the sea, an expansive spa and fitness facility, dining venues, and rooms and suites with terraces and views over the Arabian Gulf and Doha skyline. On the beachfront promenade, a long swimming pool will accent the principal resort building while a second infinity pool will offer a relaxing environment for families.