Today: November 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:
- Vietnam Airlines will launch direct flights to the USA
- Air France unveils its new menus by Michelin starred chefs
- Marriott will open two luxury resorts on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea
- Brussels Airlines unveils a new brand identity
1. New Zealand will reopen to vaccinated travelers in April
According to the BBC, New Zealand is set to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from April 30, after almost two years of strict border restrictions. Travelers will still need to take a pre-departure test, a Covid test upon arrival in the country, and undergo self-isolation for seven days. The reopening of the country will occur in phases.
- In the first phase of the re-opening, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents who are currently in Australia will be allowed to return from 16 January onwards.
- New Zealanders who are in all other countries will be allowed to enter from 13 February.
- Foreign travelers will be the last group to be granted entry into the country, from 30 April.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to shut its borders early in the pandemic, as part of a highly-praised tough approach to Covid that managed to keep deaths to a minimum. Besides the travel curbs, it quashed earlier outbreaks with rapid, strict lockdowns. However, the country has struggled to beat back the highly-infectious Delta strain of the virus, forcing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to switch from a total Covid elimination strategy to pushing for higher vaccination rates and treating the virus as endemic. The country had established a travel bubble with Australia earlier this year, but had to suspend it months later following outbreaks in both countries.
2. Four Seasons Napa Valley, California, is now open
Located in the charming town of Calistoga, with just 85 rooms and suites, Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley is both intimate and at one with the surrounding countryside, boasting plenty of open air spaces surrounded by panoramic mountain and vineyard views. Highlighted by the Elusa Winery at its heart, the resort encompasses a destination restaurant and bar, locally inspired indoor-outdoor spa experiences, two pools plus lots of room to enjoy the fresh air, and a collection of creative event spaces for meetings, weddings and other social events. For the first time, a fully immersive wine country experience is offered within the context of a Four Seasons resort. Guests are invited to explore the winemaking process from harvest and sorting to blending and ageing, with hands-on demonstrations, opportunities to meet the winemakers, and of course wine tastings.
3. Singapore Airlines unveils its new B737 Max cabins
Singapore Airlines (SIA) launched its highly-anticipated new cabin products, which will be rolled out on its Boeing 737 fleet in the coming weeks. This elevates the guest experience on board the airline’s narrowbody aircraft fleet to a level similar to its widebody aircraft, offering a consistent and premium travel journey across the entire SIA network. All of SIA’s 737 aircraft will have 154 seats in two classes, 10 in Business Class and 144 in Economy Class. The lie-flat Business Class seats have been designed by London-based Factorydesign, and manufactured for Singapore Airlines by Thompson Aero Seating. The Economy Class cabin will feature the latest generation sleek and slim-line seats, which have been built by Collins Aerospace. SIA’s 737 aircraft will progressively enter into service on short- to medium-haul flights across the airline’s network in the coming weeks. This includes services to points in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, and Thailand, subject to regulatory approvals.
4. Six Senses will debut in Japan with a Kyoto property
Set to open in 2024, Six Senses Kyoto will be located in front of the Myoho-in temple and Tokyokuni-Jinja shrine and within walking distance of Kyoto’s colorful Gion district. Visionary thinking BLINK Design Group has been brought on board to bring the Six Senses brand values to life through elegant designs while maximizing space, privacy, and views. The interiors will contrast simple lines with earthy organic tones, setting a welcoming mood and celebrating authentic Japanese traditions. There will be 81 guest rooms organized around a central courtyard, which will connect guests to nature through its biophilic design as a garden of seasonal landscapes. The property will feature two restaurants: an all-day dining restaurant and a specialty sushi restaurant. From the Ryokan-style welcome to tea ceremonies and signature treatments, the spa will focus on healing rituals to induce calm and well-being.
5. Six Senses Lisbon will open in the 17th-century palace building
Following Istanbul, and with upcoming properties in Rome, New York, London, and Bangkok, Six Senses is now celebrating its entry into the heart of a new city: the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. This also adds a second prime destination to its Portuguese portfolio after Six Senses Douro Valley in the heart of the country’s wine region (which I reviewed here). Six Senses Lisbon will be housed in two heritage buildings: the converted 17th-century Palácio Lavra and the remarkable Palácio de Pedrosas. Set to open in 2025, Six Senses Lisbon will offer 114 guest rooms within the two buildings. The hotel will be blessed with unique outdoor spaces including a rooftop terrace with views over the city and a private central garden. Dining venues will include a main street restaurant, a specialty organic restaurant in the pretty courtyard, a lively lounge bar, a relaxed greenhouse bar, and an all-day coffee bar. A spacious spa will blend signature therapies and wellness programs for guests and locals alike.
6. Rosewood completes renovations of its iconic The Carlyle hotel in New York
Situated at the corner of Madison Avenue and 76th Street, The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel has been a classic landmark of Manhattan’s sophisticated Upper East Side since 1930. Located just one block from Central Park, The Carlyle is a 190-room hotel highlighted by the original Art Deco design from the renowned Dorothy Draper. Following a multi-year thoughtful transformation of the property by New York based design firm Tonychi Studio, the property has recently debuted new guest rooms and suites in addition to a new signature restaurant, Dowling’s at The Carlyle, and the arrival of a new spa by Valmont. Embracing a passion for the arts, pianos grace many of the suites, and most tower rooms have views of Central Park. The Carlyle is also home to the renowned Café Carlyle and the beloved Bemelmans Bar and offers visitors a whimsical experience into an undefinable era of glamour.
7. Vietnam Airlines will launch direct flights to the USA
In a post on Facebook, Vietnam’s flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced that it had officially received the permit to operate direct commercial flights between Vietnam and the US, becoming the first and only carrier to operate a direct flight route between the US and Vietnam. From December this year, Vietnam Airlines will be operating two direct round-trip flights per week between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam’s South and San Francisco on the USA’s West Coast. The flights will be operated by the carrier’s most modern wide-body aircrafts – the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 – providing passengers with utmost comfort and ease. In becoming the first Vietnamese carrier to serve the US it has also beaten Bamboo Airways to the punch. The start-up leisure airline confirmed plans to launch flights between Ho Chi Minh City and San Francisco back in September, but has yet to give a launch date for the service.
8. Air France unveils its new menus by Michelin starred chefs
From November 2021 to February 2022, Air France is teaming up with talented French Michelin-starred chefs Régis Marcon and Mathieu Viannay to sign its La Première and Business long-haul menus. With vegetarian dishes, meat, poultry and fish, the chefs have created refined dishes for the airline’s customers to enjoy over the coming months on departure from Paris. With these exceptional new dishes, Air France continues to promote French fine dining throughout the world.
In the airline’s exclusive La Première cabin (First Class), three Michelin-starred chef Régis Marcon has come up with six new tasty dishes. Accompanied by the expertise of the Servair Culinary Studio, of which he is president, Régis Marcon revisits the seasonal products that are close to his heart:
- Vegetable lasagna, with tangy chive cream;
- Braised veal shank, sage sauce, potato gratin with porcini mushrooms;
- Beef tenderloin in red wine, sautéed potato and morel cake;
- Pike and shrimp cake with lobster sauce, sautéed girolle mushrooms with tarragon, spinach;
- Mixed scallops and scampi with truffles, reduced jus and julienne vegetables;
- Confit pigeon, apricot sauce, lemon bulgur, mushrooms and butternut.
In the Business Class cabin, Air France has, for the first time, entrusted its menu to two Michelin-starred chef Mathieu Viannay, with 8 original dishes combining delicate flavours and local produce to be enjoyed on board:
- Penne pasta, arugula and spinach gratin, ricotta cream with lovage;
- Risotto verde, vegetable Bolognese;
- Beef tenderloin, macaire potato patties, roasted beet and smoked meat juices;
- Poultry fillet with morel mushrooms, spelt and butternut squash risotto;
- Poached cod fillet with baby vegetables and taggiasca olives;
- Pike perch fillet, armorican sauce, yellow carrots and herb semolina;
- Braised veal shank with sweet spices, split pea puree, mange tout and hazelnuts;
- Roasted guinea fowl in coffee, celery confit and stewed autumn vegetables.
9. Marriott will open two luxury resorts on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea
Marriott has announced that it will develop two luxury hotels as part of the highly-anticipated Red Sea Project in Saudi Arabia. The St. Regis Red Sea Resort and The Red Sea EDITION are expected to further enhance Marriott International’s footprint across the Kingdom where it currently has a portfolio of over 30 properties with more than 9,000 rooms across ten brands. Situated on a private island, the St Regis Red Sea Resort is expected to feature 90 villas, two signature restaurants, an outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa, in addition to a children’s club. Expected to open in 2023, the exclusive resort will offer the brand’s visionary spirit, avant-garde style and bespoke service. Located on the Red Sea Project’s main island, Shaura, The Red Sea EDITION is slated to open in 2023 with 240 guestrooms, including one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. The hotel plans to offer two signature restaurants, a destination bar, beach bar, fitness center, a swimming pool, and spa.
10. Brussels Airlines unveils a new brand identity
The new brand identity includes a new version of the Brussels Airlines signature red and blue colors, now a deeper red and a darker shade of blue. The dotted “b”, which today adorns the tails of its fleet, makes way for 9 dots of different sizes in the form of a square, to represent the diversity of its customers, its destinations and its employees. No dot is alike. The updated logo also makes use of a new, more modern type font. The two words of the brand name are now stacked, with the word “brussels” gaining more importance with its larger size to emphasize the airline’s Belgian identity. The new aircraft livery, shows a zoom on the dotted logo on the tails, a fresh white body and a continuation of dots in different shades of blue and grey. Next to the new visual identity, the new brand identity also translates into a new tagline: “You’re in good company”.