Today: December 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:
- COMO Hotels add world-famous Laucala Island Fiji to its portfolio
- First luxury resort opens on the ‘World Islands’ in Dubai
- Ethiopian Airlines will resume Boeing B737 Max flights in 2022
- Rosewood will unveil a stunning new property in the Saudi Arabian capital
- The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to the Bahamas
- Qantas resumes its A380 flights
- W Hotels debuts in Italy with the opening of W Rome
- Hilton will debut its Waldorf Astoria brand in Osaka, Japan
- Air France unveils a new Sisley beauty center in the La Première lounge
- Shangri-La opens Beijing hotel within former power plant
1. COMO Hotels add world-famous Laucala Island Fiji to its portfolio
The COMO Hotel Group announced they took over management of Laucala Island, one of the most exclusive private island escapes in the world. COMO Laucala Island in Fiji offers unspoiled wilderness surrounded by turquoise-blue sea and white sandy beaches. At the heart of the island are tropical rainforests, volcanic mountains, blue lagoons, mangroves and coconut groves, fostering a unique habitat that is waiting to be explored. With its private airstrip accessed by a 45-minute private air charter from the country’s Nadi International Airport, this exclusive sanctuary provides unparalleled levels of luxury living in 25 standalone residences located on the northern shore of the island. The resort is now also home to a COMO Shambhala Retreat, a wellness center which embodies COMO’s philosophy for holistic, healthy living. To minimize its impact on the environment, the island’s five dining options receive fresh produce from the resort’s 240-acre farm. Menus also include COMO Shambhala options, which are high in flavor & nutrition, and low in fats & refined sugars.
2. First luxury resort opens on the ‘World Islands’ in Dubai
The five-star Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort is the first luxury resort to open on the World Islands – a remarkable offshore archipelago of 300 man-made isles, just 4 km (2.5 mi) from the coast of Dubai. Located in the South American continent of the World Islands development, the island is completely dedicated to the resort, which guests can access by boat in just 15 minutes from the jetty at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. The property features 70 keys comprised of suites, beach and pool villas. Villas have a private pool, an outdoor dining area and direct access to the beach, making the perfect retreat for families and couples. In-room spa treatments, a gym and a kid’s club are also part of the new resort’s amenities. Dining options include a Mediterranean al fresco restaurant and Arabic-Indian specialty dining, perfect for romantic dinners and offering barbecues on the beach. A stylish bar lounge offers magnificent panoramic views of the Dubai skyline, including the famous landmarks Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab, even more special at sunset.
3. Ethiopian Airlines will resume Boeing B737 Max flights in 2022
Ethiopian Airlines in the final stage to return the B737 MAX into service with the first flight expected on 01 February 2022, almost three years after the crash of flight 302, which killed 157 people. Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam said “Safety is our top most priority at Ethiopian Airlines and it guides every decision we make and all actions we take. It is in line with this guiding principle that we are now returning the B737 MAX to service not only after the recertification by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), EASA of Europe, Transport Canada, CAAC, ECAA and other regulatory bodies but also after the return to service by more than 34 airlines around the world. In line with our initially stated commitment to become among the last airlines to return the B737 MAX, we have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous recertification process and we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet.” The airplane model has accumulated more than 275,000 commercial flights since the resumption of B737 MAX operation a year ago.
4. Rosewood will unveil a stunning new property in the Saudi Arabian capital
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts announced the Rosewood Riyadh, a new-build luxury hotel set to open in the Saudi Arabian capital in 2025. Situated adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, Rosewood Riyadh will be located within Diriyah Gate, a progressive mixed-use development project poised to become the country’s leading cultural and lifestyle destination. The hotel will boast 250 ultra-luxury accommodations, including 202 guestrooms and suites and 48 Wadi Suites ranging from one to three bedrooms. The property will further feature four restaurants and bars; Asaya, Rosewood’s integrative well-being concept; and Rosewood Explorers, the brand’s culturally inspired children’s club. Additional recreation will span a state-of-the-art fitness center and expansive meetings and events spaces including a ballroom. Visitors will enjoy exceptional access to many of the city’s key landmarks, lifestyle activities, and corporate destinations via Rosewood Riyadh’s prime positioning within the development.
5. The Ritz-Carlton brand is coming to the Bahamas
Marriott announced it has signed an agreement with Cotton Bay Holdings to introduce a Ritz-Carlton Reserve on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. A highly personalized leisure experience that blends intuitive service with local design and stunning natural landscapes, the resort joins an exclusive collection of only five Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties around the world. Located on the southern end of the island, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Eleuthera is expected to feature an open-air resort including 90 intimate rooms forming part of the community once known as the iconic Cotton Bay Club. A range of select luxury amenities and exceptional services are slated to include an 18-hole golf course, a lavish spa and swimming pools, and restaurants all surrounded by pristine beaches, azure waters and tropical flora and fauna. Plans also call for the inclusion of 60 Ritz-Carlton Reserve-branded residences, which are expected to include a mix of two to five-bedroom villas, designed in the same unique architectural style of the resort.
6. Qantas resumes its A380 service 3 months ahead of schedule
According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s flag carrier Qantas will fast-track the return of the first of its flagship A380 superjumbos to service next month in a move designed to ease pressure on pilots of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. With the highly contagious Omicron variant throwing up challenges for airlines around the world, Qantas will begin flying one of its A380s three times a week between Sydney and Los Angeles from January 11, replacing Boeing 787 services on the trans-Pacific route. In an internal memo obtained by the Herald, Qantas head of base operations Doug Alley said the early return of the A380s would help ease pressure on Boeing 787 crewing requirements and free capacity for the Dreamliners to operate other services. About 70 Qantas 787 pilots are based in Queensland and are required to undertake 14 days’ isolation after each international service, reducing their availability to operate; crew in most other states are not subjected to the same limitations.
7. W Hotels Debuts in Italy with the Opening of W Rome
Located on Via Liguria next to the Spanish Steps, W Rome Hotel, spanning two adjacent 19th century palazzos. Designed by Meyer Davis, the hotel juxtaposes the city’s traditional architecture and cultural heritage with a unique interpretation of Roman design in a way that is captivating, glamorous, and quintessentially W. Guests are welcomed into the hotel via the W Lounge which features a stunning skylight and patterned glass window allowing light to flood through the bright and airy open space. The 147 rooms and 15 suites provide a city apartment feel with many offering private balconies and terraces, a selection of which have views of the city and landmarks such as the Istituto Svizzero. With a playful use of authentic Italian flavors and indigenous ingredients from Sicily, the signature Giano Restaurant introduces guests to a fusion of Sicilian cuisine with Roman culture. The rooftop terrace is home to the a plunge pool and bar, a tranquil escape offering panoramic views of Rome paired with cocktails, crudo and pizza.
8. Hilton will debut its Waldorf Astoria brand in Osaka, Japan
Opening in 2025, Waldorf Astoria Osaka will span 12 stories of a 39-story high-rise in the south district of the Umekita Second Project. The hotel will feature a total of 252 guest rooms, including several high-end suites, and three distinctive restaurants including Peacock Alley, the iconic lounge and bar synonymous with the Waldorf Astoria brand offering guests a delightful destination to unwind at any time of the day. Guests will enjoy True Waldorf Service across the entire stay experience delivered by dedicated personal concierges to create unforgettable memories, with access to leisure facilities including an indoor pool, wellness center and fitness center. Couples looking to celebrate life can hold their wedding ceremonies in the hotel’s dedicated chapel, while business and leisure events can be held at the hotel’s extensive banquet and meeting facilities. The Waldorf Astoria hotel is the second property to be announced under the brand in Japan, joining the forthcoming Waldorf Astoria Tokyo Nihonbashi.
9. Air France unveils a new Sisley beauty center in the La Première lounge
At the heart of its La Première lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Air France now offers its First Class passengers a new beauty treatment center in partnership with Sisley, the pioneering French phyto-cosmetology company. Before a day or night flight or between two flights, the “La Première Sisley beauty institute” offers extensive expertise in a range of beauty treatments that can be adapted in line with the amount of time passengers have available. Available for both men and women, these treatments focusing on skin rehydration, skin tightening and easing away stress and tension are recommended for all skin types and ages. Each of the La Première guests receives a complimentary 30-minute beauty care ritual from four express botanical face treatments – The Nutrition Sleep Well Facial Care , The Plumping Glow Black Rose Facial Care, The Pure Skin Purifying Facial Care and The Special Men Facial Care. The lounge guests also have access to a range of complementary facial and body treatments lasting from one to one and a half hours. This range includes a treatment developed exclusively for Air France – La Première anti jet-lag treatment.
10. Shangri-La opens a Beijing hotel within a former power plant
Shangri-La Shougang Park, Beijing, is a new hotel where hospitality meets century-old industrial heritage, opened in time for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Located at the heart of Shougang Park, the new hotel embraces stunning views of Shijingshan Hill and Qunming Lake. Among its neighbours are the Snowboard Big Air Venue for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Chang’an Mills. Led by renowned Italian designer Piero Lissoni, Milan-based design firm Lissoni Casal Ribeiro S.p.A was responsible for the hotel’s design concept. Building on the original architectural foundation of the former Shougang Power Plant, the designers have paid homage to its industrial heritage by honouring the building’s historical value and complementing this with Shangri-La’s modern style and Asian sensibility. The hotel’s main entrance and lobby are filled with steel elements that recall its past and wooden patterns that create a sense of warmth. The 283 guest rooms and suites are decorated in an Asian style with soft tones and minimalist lines, and offer stunning views of Shijingshan Hill, Yongding River and Qunming Lake through floor-to-ceiling windows.