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Today: May 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:
- The St Regis Chicago, USA, is now open
- Rosewood announces a luxury hotel in Seoul, South Korea
- Air New Zealand will debut its Skynest sleep pods in September 2024
- InterContinental will open a château hotel near Paris, France
- Qatar Airways resumes its longest flight (Doha to Auckland)
- All Emirates passengers can now avail of free Wi-Fi connectivity onboard
- Saudi Arabia Airlines launches a new Business Class seat
- South African Airways will resume longhaul flights
- Six Senses announces its first resort in Greece
1. Hawaiian Airlines unveils its new Business Class
Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaiʻi’s hometown carrier since 1929, has unveiled the interior of its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Guests onboard Hawaiian’s 787 – entering service beginning early next year on select routes – will be immersed in cabin design elements that evoke Hawaiʻi’s rich natural world through bold textures, island-inspired sunrise and sunset lighting and sinuous ocean and wind patterns. Hawaiian’s 300-seat 787 features its newest premium product, Leihōkū (garland of stars): 34 suites that envelop guests in a tranquil, elegant space with fully lie-flat seating, an 18-inch in-flight entertainment screen, personal outlets, wireless charging and direct aisle access. Set in a 1-2-1 configuration with doors, the suites can offer privacy or a shared experience, with combined double seats allowing couples to fall asleep while gazing at a starlit ceiling. Each design element of Hawaiian’s 787 thoughtfully celebrates Polynesian navigators who sailed the Pacific by observing the stars, sun, winds, waves and wildlife. The airline worked with design consultant Teague to realize Hawaiian’s vision of honoring Pacific navigation in a modern aircraft.
2. The St Regis Chicago is now open
Located in the idyllic Lakeshore East neighborhood, The St. Regis Chicago offers easy access to the Chicago River and is a short walk from the city’s leading luxury retailers, dining destinations, and notable cultural landmarks such as Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the famed Magnificent Mile. Making its own mark on the city’s cultural landscape, The St. Regis Chicago is housed in a 101-story tower, the tallest building in the world designed by a female architect. The skyscraper features a unique and distinctive design composed of an interconnected series of stacked, frustum-shapes that move rhythmically in and out of plane and extend to various heights. Throughout the hotel’s public areas, metallic materials and colors, such as copper and rust, are interwoven with geometric, angular lines, offering a nod to The Great Chicago Fire and the city’s geographic interconnectivity of waterways, buildings, and green spaces. The property features 159 luxurious guestrooms and 33 exquisite suites across 11 floors, as well as several high-end dining outlets, spa, gym, meetings rooms and a palatial, heated indoor pool.
3. Rosewood announces a luxury hotel in Seoul, South Korea
Situated beside Yongsan Park in the heart of the city, Rosewood Seoul will exist within The Parkside Seoul, a development occupying the former site of the United Nations Command. The mixed-use neighborhood will also include high-end retail and residences connected by expansive outdoor spaces, creating a new environment for activity and human interaction. Inspired by Seoul’s famed architecture, known for its futuristic lines and eye-catching facades, the new hotel will blend seamlessly into the sleek and contemporary skyline of the city. Designed by renowned interior design firm Space Copenhagen, Rosewood Seoul will feature approximately 250 rooms and suites, amongst the largest in the city. An urban resort in its own right, the property will boast a selection of amenities, including seven restaurants and bars and comprehensive wellness facilities. Curated to welcome both guests and locals, these offerings will also transform the hospitality landscape for residents. Rosewood Seoul – set to open in 2027 – will also be home to an Asaya, Rosewood’s comprehensive wellness concept focused on the intersections between physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
4. Air New Zealand will debut its Skynest sleep pods in September 2024
Air New Zealand‘s innovative Economy Skynest will be launching on ultra-long haul flights in September 2024, starting with the popular Auckland – New York and Auckland – Chicago routes. The announcement was made at TRENZ – New Zealand’s largest international tourism business event – where a real-life Skynest experience was available for the first time. The Skynest will be a six-pod configured sleep zone that offers sessions for Economy Class passengers to lie down when travelling long haul. Each pod will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a separate reading light, personal device USB outlet, ventilation outlet, and lighting designed for rest. Each passenger will be limited to one session, with families travelling on the same ticket able to book a session for each passenger, pending availability. The Skynest will be located between Premium Economy and Economy, and the bedding will be changed between each session (a 30-minute transition time will be allowed for this). The lights will gently come on at the end of each session, and crew will politely wake any passengers who sleep through this. The price will be around $400 to $600 USD for a 4-hour period.
5. InterContinental will open a château hotel near Paris, France
IHG Hotels & Resorts has announced the signing of InterContinental Chantilly – Château Mont Royal – the latest château property within its growing luxury & lifestyle portfolio in France. The historic 107-key château will join the likes of InterContinental Paris Le Grand and InterContinental Lyon – Hotel Dieu – alongside three other InterContinental properties in Paris, Bordeaux and Marselle – as a flagship hotel for the brand in the country when it welcomes guests – following renovation – in 2024. Built in the early 20th century and showcasing Louis XVI style architecture, InterContinental Chantilly – Château Mont Royal will feature two restaurants, a bar and a summer terrace where guests may enjoy long, light nights and scenic views, as well as 11 meeting rooms, a gym, sauna, jacuzzi and treatment rooms alongside an indoor swimming pool and tennis court. Situated just 30 min from the French capital and 20 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport, the hotel’s location makes it the ideal destination for leisure guests or corporate groups seeking to combine city sightseeing with the many historic and picturesque sights of Chantilly and its surroundings.
6. Qatar Airways resumes its longest flight (Doha to Auckland)
Qatar Airways is re-introducing a direct Doha to Auckland flight, which commences on 1 September 2023 and will operate seven times a week/departing daily at 01:50 local time. The flight will be one of the world’s longest at 15hrs 55 minutes on the outbound and 17hrs 15 minutes on the inbound. Qatar Airways will be operating an Airbus A350-1000 on the route with 46 Business Class and 281 Economy Class seats. A key feature of the service is the Qsuite, which is available to Business Class passengers. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “The direct Doha to Auckland service augments a number of new routes announced in recent weeks and enables passengers in key European markets including the UK and Ireland to save time with this direct connection. Business Class passengers on board our Auckland flights can also enjoy the enhanced privacy of Qsuite, which has been awarded the Best Business Class Seat in the World.”Until the resumption of direct flights to Auckland, Qatar Airways will continue to operate its Auckland service via Adelaide with Boeing 777 aircraft.
7. All Emirates passengers can now avail of free Wi-Fi connectivity onboard
A recent enhancement to Emirates’ inflight connectivity means that all Emirates passengers in every class of travel can enjoy free app messaging once they sign up to Emirates Skywards. Additionally, First Class passengers will have unlimited free internet if they are Skywards members, enabling them to shop or work online while inflight, as will Silver, Gold and Platinum Skywards members traveling in Business Class. Platinum Skywards members have complimentary internet access in all classes.Emirates also announced that it will offer new high-speed, inflight broadband powered by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, onboard 50 new Airbus A350 aircraft – scheduled to enter service in 2024. The new agreement will significantly improve the passenger experience with enhanced connectivity and greater global coverage, even on flights over the Arctic. The Airbus A350s will be the first Emirates aircraft to take advantage of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network, which powers the world’s first and only globally available broadband network, ensuring passengers can enjoy uninterrupted global connectivity, no matter their destination, including the North Pole.
8. Saudi Arabian Airlines launches a new Business Class seat
Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) has unveiled its latest state-of-the-art business seat, which will be fitted on the airline’s new Airbus A321 XLR aircraft. The VantageSOLO suite provides significantly more privacy than previous business class seats, with a privacy shield around the back and an additional door at the aisle. The spacious seats can be reclined fully into bed mode, whilst the suite also features an 18” screen for enhanced viewing, and increased storage space. SAUDIA CEO, Captain Ibrahim Koshy, said: “At SAUDIA we are deeply committed to finding new and innovative ways to further enhance our renowned guest experience. We firmly believe that the VantageSOLO suite represents the epitome of comfort, privacy and luxury. Our new business class offering is the embodiment of SAUDIA’s dedication to constantly evolving its products and services to deliver a superior customer journey underpinned by the very latest technological developments.” The new Airbus A321 XLR aircraft will cover destinations across Europe, the Indian subcontinent and Africa including Milan, Barcelona, Brussels, Rome, the Maldives, and Dakar.
9. South African Airways will resume longhaul flights
South African Airways announced that it has been given the green light for a significant expansion of its fleet. This paves the way for South Africa’s national carrier to relaunch international routes and increase seat capacity for its regional and domestic destinations. Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola, says the airline’s plan to lease six new aircraft has been approved by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Enterprises. “The aircraft will be delivered before the end of this calendar year, and the planes include a wide-body aircraft as well as five narrow-body aircraft – all of them Airbus equipment,” Lamola said. “We are excited, as SAA, to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of our first international route since coming out of business rescue and since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We will announce the new route in the coming few weeks, and we will open commercial marketing and sales for it.” Lamola says the terms and conditions attached to the deals for the new aircraft are along the same competitive, transparent, and cost-effective lines that have characterised the ‘new’ SAA since it emerged from Business Rescue in September 2021.
10. Six Senses announces its first resort in Greece
Six Senses‘ first Greek resort will be located on a southerly white-sand cove on Megalonisos, one of the 10 Petalioi islands and islets with some of the finest undiscovered beaches in the “Greek Maldives”. Six Senses Megalonisos will be a short boat ride from the port of Rafina, just across the mainland from Athens, or Marmari on Evia’s West coast. Whereas the island of Evia or Euboea was said to have been separated from mainland Greece by a strike from Poseidon’s trident, the childhood home of Goddess Hera, and the battleground for the Titans versus the Giants, the tranquil and secluded Megalonisos has been left by history and mythology to snooze in the sun. There will be 75 guest villas and 20 branded residences for sale, all unobtrusively blending into the contours of the bay. The three restaurants will include all-day dining, a beach bar and grill, and a specialty sunset bar. There will also be a pastry café, perfect for a coffee after a morning dip or sun salutation, along with a boutique. A Six Senses Spa will offer multiple treatment rooms, including four double sensory suites, a Watsu for a range of hydro therapies, and a Hammam for a warm herbal steam and body scrub.
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