Today: September 2022 luxury travel news
Every month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:
- Four Seasons launches luxury yacht experiences
- Virgin Atlantic joins the SkyTeam airline alliance
- Virgin Atlantic updates its gender identity policy
- Marriott brings its EDITION Hotels brand to Italy’s Lake Como
- Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern in Switzerland opens its doors
- Hilton will debut its Waldorf Astoria brand in Morocco
- American Airlines unveils new Business Class seat
- Six Senses London unveils its first images
- EVA Air will launch Milan and Munich flights
- EVA Air offers Business Class meals to Economy Class passengers
1. Four Seasons launches luxury yacht experiences
A steadfast, enterprising spirit is launching Four Seasons – one of the world’s best luxury hotel brands – into a new and exciting business extension – Four Seasons Yachts. With its inaugural journey anticipated for late 2025, the first Four Seasons vessel will be 207 m (679 ft) long and 27 m (88.6 ft) wide with 14 decks. At a cost to build of $4.2 million USD per suite, no expense is being spared in terms of the remarkable custom design. The vessel’s 95 spacious accommodations will feature an extensive network of joining suite combinations creating adaptable, villa-like residences. The vessel’s restaurants, lounges and bar concepts will celebrate the excellence and creativity that has been the hallmark of Four Seasons history of culinary innovation and attention to guest preferences. The Four Seasons Yacht will also offer guests a full-service spa, salon, and wellness programming – from fitness to health, and nutrition. The classic canoe-shaped aft will be home to a pool deck, allowing for moments of leisure and relaxation. This area will also transform into an outdoor movie theatre or space for an array of private events.
2. Virgin Atlantic joins the SkyTeam airline alliance
SkyTeam and Virgin Atlantic have announced that the carrier will join the global airline alliance in early 2023 (SkyTeam’s first and only UK member airline). Virgin Atlantic passengers will benefit from a consistent, seamless customer experience, across 1,000+ global destinations. They’ll also have more opportunities to earn and redeem points across member airlines and access to a network of 750+ airport lounges, spanning six continents. Virgin Atlantic’s entry into the alliance builds upon the success of its transatlantic joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM, each already long established SkyTeam members. The four partners are co-located at London Heathrow’s Terminal Three, alongside existing SkyTeam members Aeromexico and China Eastern, providing customers with smooth airside transits and the most convenient connections times possible. SkyTeams other members are Aeroflot (suspended), Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, China Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and Xiamen Air.
3. Virgin Atlantic updates its gender identity policy
Virgin Atlantic has launched its updated gender identity policy, giving its crew, pilots, and ground team the option to choose which of the iconic uniforms, designed by Vivienne Westwood, best represents them – no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression. Reflecting the diversity of the workforce and in a move that cements its position as the most inclusive airline in the skies, Virgin Atlantic will offer its people a fluid approach to its red and burgundy uniforms, meaning LGBTQ+ colleagues will be able to choose either the red or the burgundy uniform, depending on which best reflects themselves. The announcement is part of an on-going drive to champion the individuality of its people and customers and is complemented by the roll out of optional pronoun badges for all its people and those travelling with the airline. This move enables everyone to clearly communicate and be addressed by their pronouns.
Virgin Atlantic has also updated its ticketing systems to allow for those who hold passports with gender neutral gender markers to select ‘U’ or ‘X’ gender codes on their booking as well as the gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’. Currently citizens from a small number of countries including the USA, India and Pakistan, are able to hold these passports and travelers must travel on the codes that match their passport. In lieu of passports with gender neutral gender markers being available for all, Virgin Atlantic is implementing a longer-term plan to amend communication preferences to ensure customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns across all touchpoints. Mandatory inclusivity training will also be rolled out for its people at all levels across Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Atlantic Holidays as well as a series of inclusivity learning initiatives for tourism partners and hotels within destinations such as the Caribbean to ensure all our customers feel welcome despite barriers to LGBTQ+ equality.
4. Marriott brings its EDITION Hotels brand to Italy’s Lake Como
The Marriott Hotel Group announced it has signed an agreement with Bain Capital Credit and Omnam Group to bring its EDITION Hotels brand to Lake Como. Owned and developed by Bain Capital and Omnam Group through a fund managed by Kryalos SGR, The Lake Como EDITION is slated to open in 2025 with 145 luxurious guest rooms, including two penthouse suites, a lively lobby bar, a floating pool, and multiple restaurants and bars overlooking Lake Como with breath-taking views of the Bellagio mountains. The property is a 19th century building located on the western shore of the prestigious Lake Como, a short drive from Central Milan. It will be converted into a luxury lifestyle destination that brings new life to Lake Como while honoring the intimate history of the building and its rich heritage. EDITION Hotels currently operates 15 properties in locations around the globe including New York, West Hollywood, London, Reykjavik, Madrid, Tokyo, and Shanghai.
5. Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern in Switzerland opens its doors
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has celebrated the opening of Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern, the city’s iconic Belle Epoque landmark that has undergone an extensive and elaborate renovation. The latter was overseen by local architects Iwan Bühler Architekten and London-based interior designers Jestico + Whiles, who have preserved the building’s rich history and heritage while delivering a contemporary design inspired by the beauty of the surrounding Swiss landscapes. Dramatically positioned overlooking the shores of Lake Lucerne, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the charming old town and with spectacular views over the Swiss Alps. Set to usher in an era of contemporary elegance and legendary service, the hotel is poised to become Lucerne’s most exclusive venue. The property features 136 elegant and spacious guestrooms including 48 of the city`s largest suites, four restaurants and bars under the patronage of Michelin star experienced Executive Chef Gilad Peled, a serene and rejuvenating spa, and elegantly appointed event spaces.
6. Hilton will debut its Waldorf Astoria brand in Morocco
Hilton announced the signing of an agreement with Star Hill Tanger SA to open Waldorf Astoria Tanger, signaling the debut of the iconic luxury Waldorf Astoria brand in Morocco. Expected to open in 2025, the luxury resort will be located in a prime location close to the northwest coast of the country. The resort will be in close proximity to the Cape Spartel Reserve, making it a convenient base to explore the historic Caves of Hercules and the renowned lighthouse with breathtaking views of the blue Mediterranean and Atlantic waters. Waldorf Astoria Tanger will feature 115 contemporary-style guest rooms and suites, including 21 villas with private pools and a 1,250 square m Royal Villa. In addition, the resort’s luxury spa is anticipated to be the largest holistic wellness destination in the country. Guests will enjoy an array of culinary delights at the resort’s five distinctive restaurants, including the world-famous Peacock Alley, synonymous with the Waldorf Astoria brand. The luxury resort will also feature multi-functional meeting spaces and boardrooms, perfect for hosting business gatherings, celebrations, and world-class events.
7. American Airlines unveils new Business Class seats
American Airlines is giving its passengers a suite new ride. With new deliveries of its Airbus A321XLR and Boeing 787-9 aircraft, beginning in 2024, the airline will unveil new Flagship Suite premium seating and a reimagined aircraft interior for its long-haul fleet. Flagship Suite seats will offer customers a private premium experience with a privacy door, a chaise lounge seating option and more personal storage space. Customers will enjoy tailored luxury in their private retreat in the sky in American’s premium cabin. With the introduction of new interiors on its long-haul aircraft, premium seating on American’s long-haul fleet will grow more than 45 percent by 2026. American’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft will have 51 Flagship Suite seats and 32 Premium Economy seats, and the airline’s Airbus A321XLR aircraft will feature 20 Flagship Suite seats and 12 Premium Economy seats. American will also be retrofitting its aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER, to include Flagship Suite seats; these 20 aircraft will be refreshed with the new interiors starting in late 2024.
8. Six Senses London unveils its first images
Six Senses London will open in 2023 with 110 guest rooms and suites and 14 branded residences offering access to the hotel’s facilities and all the privileges that come with a Six Senses home, including bespoke interior design, concierge service, dining, housekeeping, and wellness programming. There will be a cozy lobby bar and lounge (for talking to friends or the plants), an all-day dining restaurant with an open kitchen, and a seating area in the courtyard. In a space reminiscent of an old-fashioned London underground station, Six Senses Spa will mirror the different energies of the city life, from the sensory stimulation and movement of the street to the stillness and calm of a quiet café or park. Highlights will include a 65 ft (20 m) indoor swimming pool, the Alchemy Bar, and a relaxation room with vaulted ceilings. On the second floor, residents and members will access a new kind of social and wellness club featuring a central bar and lounge, coworking spaces, a restaurant, and wellness and treatment rooms. It will offer pioneering programming to encourage growth, reflection and reconnection. You can view more images on the Six Senses London website.
9. EVA Air will launch Milan and Munich flights
EVA Air will launch nonstop flights with its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft between Taipei and two popular European destinations. It will initiate Milan service on October 25, 2022 and introduce Munich flights on November 3, 2022. The airline will start with two flights a week to Milan and four to Munich. Addition of the Milan and Munich service to current London, Amsterdam, Paris and Vienna gateways will give EVA the best-developed Taiwan – Europe network with the greatest frequency, offering travelers more flexibility on popular routes. EVA had planned to launch Milan service in February 2020 but the pandemic and associated lockdowns made that impossible. Now, it is moving ahead with service to Italy’s second-most populous city and financial capital. Milan and Munich mark EVA’s first route expansion in the European market in 25 years. EVA currently flies nonstop to Taipei from Paris and Vienna and operates direct flights from London and Amsterdam with one stop in Bangkok.
10. EVA Air offers Business Class meals to Economy Class passengers
There is some more exciting news from EVA Air as the carrier is offering creative new meal choices to Economy Class passengers on flights from Taipei to the United States, Canada, Australia and nonstop to Europe, from October 1 through December 31, 2022. Master Chef Huang Ching Biao created a multi-course meal selection featuring his signature steamed halibut with chopped chili paste paired with his seasoned shrimp and lime vinaigrette, chayote vines salad with pine nuts and water chestnut cake with osmanthus for dessert, all served in traditional Tan-banquet style. Evergreen Sky Catering Celebrity Chef Joe Huang worked magic to design a satisfying, meatless main course of artichoke with plant-based lasagna preceded by an appetizer of layered plant-based crepes filled with chopped truffles and accompanied by an apricot tart with oriental beauty tea jelly for dessert. Both special meals are presented on tableware from Singapore luxury brand Luzerne, elegantly plated and accompanied by appetizers, breads and desserts. Availability is limited to eight special meals in Premium Economy and 12 in Economy Class. Passengers can upgrade to one of these Royal Laurel or Business Class meals for a NTD800 fee (approximately US$25.75) before departure.