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Today: February 2023 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. In this issue:
- Four Seasons announces plans for a hotel in Taiwan’s capital city Taipei
- The Langham Venice will open in 2023
- Singapore Airlines now offers free unlimited WiFi in Business Class
- Virgin Atlantic names its latest Airbus A330neo after Queen Elizabeth II
- Andaz Mexico City Condesa debuts in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood
- Qatar Airways and Airbus settle their Airbus A350 dispute
- Curio Collection will open a luxury hotel on the island of Rhodes, Greece
- Qantas unveils Business and First Class cabins for its A350 aircraft
- Cathay Pacific collaborates with Michelin starred restaurant on a new inflight menu
- Virgin Hotels New York City opens its doors
1. Four Seasons will open a hotel in Taiwan’s capital city Taipei
Four Seasons Hotel Taipei will be located in the Xinyi District, directly opposite to Taipei 101, one of the most iconic skyscrapers in Asia and one of the tallest towers in the world. Taipei 101 is one of the top tourist attractions in the city and is home to high-end shopping, art galleries, and offices as well as the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation and other major banks and organizations. The new hotel will feature approximately 260 light-filled rooms with both city and mountain views. Dining venues at the Hotel will include a high-end Chinese restaurant, destination bar, specialty restaurant, all-day restaurant, pool bar and lobby lounge. Surrounded by expansive glass panelling on both sides of the tower, the highest floors will offer wraparound views of the city and mountain ranges on the horizon. The 180 m (591 ft) tall hotel will also feature an executive club lounge, fitness centre with an outdoor pool and spa. In addition, the property will offer extensive meeting and event spaces. Construction of the new hotel is already underway, and is anticipated to be complete in a few years’ time.
2. The Langham Venice will open in 2023
With its direct frontage on the Venetian Lagoon, the 138-key Langham Venice Hotel will be located on the island of Murano, long revered for its centuries-old tradition of glass making. The hotel will be housed in the former Casino Mocenigo which can trace its legacy to the early 1600s. The historic building is an important illustration of Venetian architecture enriched by impressive frescoes with classical themes dedicated to music, poetry and love. The design for the guest rooms and public spaces will be inspired by the hotel’s rich history, resplendent frescoes, and breathtaking water views from its desirable lagoon frontage. When the hotel opens, guests may look forward to two restaurants serving a selection of cuisines and a cooking school where guests can learn the art of fine Italian cuisine. Alfresco bars, one of which will be located on the rooftop, will set the scene for social celebrations, large and small. Also featured at the hotel will be the group’s signature Chuan Spa providing wellness therapies and treatments based on the ancient healing philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM,) a fully-equipped fitness center, an elegant ballroom, and multifunction rooms.
3. Singapore Airlines now offers free unlimited WiFi in Business Class
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has rolled out complimentary unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi for all Business Class passengers. In addition, members of KrisFlyer (SIA’s loyalty program) enjoy free three-hour Wi-Fi plans when traveling in Premium Economy Class and free two-hour Wi-Fi plans when traveling in Economy Class. Passengers who are not KrisFlyer members may take advantage of SIA’s simplified Wi-Fi price plans. These range from US$3.99 (approximately S$5.25) for one hour, US$8.99 (approximately S$11.80) for three hours, and US$15.99 (approximately S$21.00) for the entire flight. These enhancements further elevate the in-flight customer experience on board SIA flights, with the Airline’s Suites and First Class customers also enjoying complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi. As a result, SIA becomes one of the first airlines to offer complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi across its passenger network for its Suites, First Class, and Business Class customers, as well as PPS Club members. Previously, Business Class guests enjoyed 100MB worth of complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi. KrisFlyer members traveling in Premium Economy Class and Economy Class were offered a two-hour complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi plan that was optimized for text-only messaging services.
4. Virgin Atlantic names its latest Airbus A330neo after Queen Elizabeth II
Virgin Atlantic has named its newest aircraft Queen of the Skies in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The airline’s brand new Airbus A330neo has the registration G-VEII, and is the second of Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft to be named Queen of the Skies. Back in 2004, her late majesty unveiled an Airbus A340-600 with the same name at a ceremony in Toulouse. Corneel Koster, chief customer and operations officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: “Just like Queen Elizabeth during her historic 70-year reign, Virgin Atlantic is proud to fly the flag for the United Kingdom around the world. We’re delighted to soon be welcoming ‘Queen of the Skies’ to our fleet and hope that it serves as a fitting tribute to an unforgettable, much-loved monarch.” Virgin Atlantic has a long history of naming its aircraft after inspirational women, including Diana in tribute to Princess Diana. Virgin Atlantic’s current fleet includes Lade Emmeline (G-VLIB) which pays tribute to the founder of the Suffragette movement and women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst. Fearless Lady (G-VEVE) celebrates the life of Eve Branson, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s late mother. Eve led an incredible life, enlisting in the WRENS during World War II, taking gliding lessons disguised as a boy, and working as a pioneering hostess on the treacherous British South American Airways routes.
5. Andaz Mexico City Condesa debuts in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood
Andaz Mexico City Condesa is the first urban Andaz property in Mexico and the second Andaz-branded hotel in the country following Andaz Mayakoba Riviera Maya. Located in the charming neighborhood of Condesa, an urban community radiating rich history and culture, the new hotel is ideally situated amongst many of the city’s most noteworthy art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants offering guests the very best of its locale. The interiors of the hotel are reflective of the global influence and progressive style found throughout Mexico City, and pair a modern edge with Art Deco design. The hotel offers 213 residentially inspired guestrooms, including 20 suites, all of which feature views of either the tree-lined avenues of the Condesa neighborhood, an elaborate internal courtyard or, from higher up, sweeping views of Mexico City. In keeping with the area’s reputation as the city’s culinary hotspot, the hotel’s dining venues complement the area’s thriving gastronomic scene. Cabuya Rooftop restaurant brings a Tulum-inspired beach-club ambiance to the hotel’s 17th floor terrace, which also features a rooftop pool. On the hotel’s second floor, guests and locals will find respite at Pasana Spa & Wellness, a sanctuary of relaxation honoring Mexican ancestral traditions of salt as a source of protection, using local products from Mexico.
6. Qatar Airways and Airbus settle their Airbus A350 dispute
According to Forbes, Qatar Airways and Airbus have reached a mutually agreeable settlement in relation to their legal dispute over A350 surface degradation and the grounding of A350 aircraft. The details of the settlement are confidential and the parties will now proceed to discontinue their legal claims. The settlement agreement is not an admission of liability for either party. This agreement will enable Qatar Airways and Airbus to move forward and work together as partners. Qatar had been the largest operator of the A350 in the world prior to the dispute breaking out, with 53 of the jets delivered out of an order for 76 of them made in June 2007. The airline said that in late 2020 it discovered the airframe of one of its A350s was showing premature and accelerated degradation on the surface. It later discovered similar problems on other aircraft. By August 2021, the Gulf airline said it had been forced to ground 13 of the aircraft following an explicit instruction from its regulator, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority. Other planes were grounded in the following months. In December that year it issued legal proceedings against Airbus in the High Court in London. The “amicable settlement” now ends this bitter dispute and a repair project is underway to get these aircraft back in the air.
7. Curio Collection will open a luxury hotel on the island of Rhodes, Greece
Hilton has announced its plans for Lindian Village Beach Resort Rhodes, Curio Collection by Hilton. Situated in the south-eastern part of the island near the picturesque town of Lindos, its Acropolis and a number of historic sites dated from the Archaic period to the post-Byzantine times, the 196-room resort will offer stunning sea views and garden views with access to a private, sandy beach. Aside from its prime location, all guest rooms of Lindian Village Beach Resort Rhodes will be fitted with a private outdoor area and 85 rooms will also include a private pool or hot tub. To amplify the Curio Collection flair for authentic, curated hospitality, the resort will feature five restaurants serving a range of local and international cuisines, two bars & one gelateria, all with concept designed by Trastelis Group, owner of two Michelin star restaurants. In addition, the hotel will feature an extensive calendar of kids & family activities centered around culture, nature & wellness. Amenities will include two outdoor pools, a fitness centre, a spa, water sports, a tennis court and two meeting rooms that will be able to accommodate up to 150 people.
8. Qantas unveils Business and First Class cabins for its A350 aircraft
Qantas has unveiled prototypes of the First and Business cabins on the aircraft that will fly passengers non-stop from Australia to New York and London from late 2025. Designed with ultra-long haul travel in mind, the flagship cabins are the first to be developed from the ground up by a mix of aviation specialists, as well as Australian industrial design studio Caon Design, and a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre including sleep scientists. Key to the cabin design has been giving passengers more space, made possible by Qantas’ decision to configure its 12 Airbus A350s to seat 238 passengers compared to the 300-plus seat layout specified by other carriers. The spacious First suite has a range of features to make customers feel like they are in a mini boutique hotel room complete with an extra-wide fixed bed, separate recliner chair, personal wardrobe, dining table for two and a 32” ultra-high definition TV. Every Business suite will have direct aisle access for ease of moving around the cabin, and Qantas is incorporating sliding doors into the suite for privacy, if desired. The Qantas A350 will have six First suites in a 1-1-1 configuration and 52 Business Suites in a 1-2-1 configuration.
9. Cathay Pacific collaborates with Duddell’s on new inflight menu
Cathay Pacific is bringing new delights to its inflight “Hong Kong Flavors” concept with thoughtfully designed menus created together with Michelin-starred local restaurant Duddell’s to celebrate Hong Kong’s culinary heritage. The promotional menus bring a fresh and curated interpretation of much-loved local specialties, highlighting the two brands’ commitment to elevate the food culture of Hong Kong.
- First Class passengers can look forward to a selection of appetisers that will include chilled abalone with black vinegar, minced pork with mixed vegetables, and pomelo served with lettuce wraps and prawn crackers. New main course options include braised Iberico pork belly with radish, simmered in a glaze of soy sauce and spices, and the classic Chinese banquet dish of wok-fried lobster in white pepper sauce with spring onions and ginger. Cantonese desserts such as chrysanthemum and longan jelly will also be available.
- In Business Class, new appetiser dishes include drunken prawns with aged Huadiao wine, and shredded chicken and jellyfish salad with sesame dressing. Main course options will include steamed halibut with cordyceps flowers, and barramundi fillets with pickled mustard greens in a hot and sour rice noodle soup. Desserts such as ginger milk pudding will round out the experience.
10. Virgin Hotels New York City opens its doors
Virgin Hotels New York City has opened its doors to guests beginning February 2023, with an official grand opening in spring 2023. Located at 1227 Broadway, and taking up the entire block between 29th Street and 30th Street, the newest addition to the Virgin Hotels collection sits at the heart of the booming NoMad neighborhood and delivers a vibrant yet sophisticated hospitality experience in one of the world’s most exciting cities. This is the sixth Virgin Hotels in the United States and the seventh in the brand portfolio. With design and architecture spearheaded by MARKZEFF and Stantec, the hotel features 460 Chambers (guest rooms), Suites, and Penthouses; entertainment-anchored spaces including Everdene (where indoor/outdoor distinct dining and cocktail experiences paired with nightly music and entertainment programming); an outdoor Pool Club exclusive to hotel guests; and more than 19,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces – all with a picturesque backdrop of the city. Travelers seeking the most luxurious overnight experience can book a stay in Sir Richard’s Flat, an impressive duplex suite spanning the hotel’s 35th and 36th floors.
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