Today: October 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:
1. Aman creates wellness retreats with Maria Sharapova
Since retiring from professional tennis, celebrated tennis super star and five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova has applied her discipline and focus to the world of wellness. A global traveler with a passion for holistic health, Sharapova now brings her unique perspective to Aman’s world-leading restorative spaces in her role as Global Wellness Ambassador. Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, has launched a multi-year partnership with Sharapova to create exclusive wellness retreats across different Aman properties, each tailored to complement the Aman destination. The first full, multi-day retreat will be held at Amanpuri, Thailand in February 2024, and will be hosted by Sharapova herself. The three-night “Performance and Recovery Retreat” will provide an exclusive journey filled with specialised training, interactive sessions with experts, group dining under the stars, fireside discussions and Q&As with the tennis great. Meanwhile, guests of Aman New York (pictured below) are invited to experience a half day strength and recovery program, designed by Sharapova herself.
2. Hilton brings its LXR luxury hotel brand to Italy
Hilton has announced plans to open Italy’s first LXR Hotels & Resorts property. With a stunning lakeside location, Grand Hotel Gardone Lake Garda, LXR Hotels & Resorts is set to open in 2026 following a multimillion dollar renovation, elevating the current hotel’s interiors while preserving the grand façade. Upon the completion of an ambitious renovation, a majority of the hotel’s high-ceilinged guest rooms will offer resplendent lake views which can be enjoyed from private balconies. Alongside 160 guest rooms, the hotel will offer two signature restaurants, two bars and a world-class spa featuring indoor and outdoor pools and comprehensive fitness facilities. Additionally, the hotel will feature a huge amount of of meeting space, including a majestic ballroom with an expansive terrace overlooking the lake. Verona Airport and Milan Bergamo airport are both situated within an hour´s drive from the hotel.
3. United Airlines unveils new Business Class amenities
United Airlines announced the largest upgrade to its Polaris Business Class experience in seven years, debuting new in-airport and onboard amenities from Therabody and Saks Fifth Avenue that are designed to give passengers “the best sleep in the sky.” The new Therabody offerings include an onboard amenity kit that features an eye serum, face spray, hand cream and cleansing towelette exclusive to United passengers, as well as access to the award-winning Therabody devices like the Lounger, Theragun and RecoveryAir JetBoots in United Polaris lounges. And the new Saks Fifth Avenue bedding includes select items that are made with recycled plastic, aligned with United’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact, and feature a new limited-edition day blanket from fashion designer Claude Kameni, who was named as one of the most influential Black designers to watch in 2023. United is adding these new amenities as demand for international travel surges and the carrier continues to expand its role as the largest airline across both the Atlantic and Pacific.
4. Emirates uses sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on selected flights
Emirates and Neste have expanded their partnership by solidifying their collaboration for the supply of over 3 million gallons of blended Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2024 and 2025. The sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which will be blended with conventional jet fuel, will be supplied over the course of 2024 and 2025 for Emirates’ flights departing from Amsterdam Schiphol and Singapore Changi airports. Emirates’ expanded partnership with Neste represents the largest volume of SAF to be uplifted of any airline based in the Middle East and Africa to date. The blended SAF will be comprised of over one million gallons of neat SAF. This represents a blended ratio of over 30% neat SAF combined with conventional Jet A-1 fuel. Before the end of this year, the airline will also uplift SAF for the first time from its Dubai hub. SAF reduces carbon emissions of air travel by up to 80%* over the fuel’s life cycle when compared to using conventional jet fuel.
5. Marriott opens W Hotel on Sydney’s Darling Harbour
Designed by acclaimed Australian architectural firm, Hassell, W Sydney rises above the roadways to hug Darling Harbour. Its interiors are created by London-based Bowler James Brindley, who conceived W Sydney through the authenticity of the city’s history, spirit, and lore; from the marine-inspired rooms and suites to the distinctive restaurant and bars. At the heart of the hotel’s design story is ‘the larrikin,’ a quintessentially Australian character whose strong spirit informs and inspires the hotel’s luxe yet unconventional interiors. W Sydney’s 588 guestrooms, including 162 suites, draw inspiration from the hotel’s harbourside location and nearby beaches, exuding marine-chic in their nautical white and navy-blue palette and undulating walls that echo the sails of yachts in the marina below. Electrifying the city’s culinary and nightlife scenes, W Sydney brings four new dining and bar venues across three exciting levels. Switching the mood, Away Spa (with five treatment rooms) is an oasis of concrete calm designed to leave guests feeling rested and recharged in a deeply restorative space.
6. Latest KLM Delft house celebrates oldest station building in the Netherlands
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines celebrated its 104th anniversary on 7 October in traditional fashion, presenting the latest addition to its collection of Delftware replicas of buildings with a unique history. This new miniature depicts the oldest station building in the Netherlands, which is in Valkenburg aan de Geul in the province of Limburg. The station is still in use as a stop on the Heuvelland Line between Maastricht and Heerlen. Now almost 170 years old, the building is a national heritage site owned by NS Dutch Railways and the railway management company ProRail. Since the 1950s, KLM has presented Delftware miniature houses filled with Bols Jenever to its World Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights. These replicas of classic Dutch houses with a special history are prized collector’s items. Since 1994, the house numbers have kept pace with KLM’s age, with a new miniature being added to the collection every year to mark KLM’s anniversary on 7 October.
7. SAS Scandinavian Airlines switches from Star Alliance to SkyTeam
SAS Scandinavian Airlines has reached a major milestone in its ongoing chapter 11 process in the U.S. and has selected – amongst others – Air France-KLM as the winning bidder consortium in its exit financing solicitation process. The agreed transaction structure includes a total investment in the reorganized SAS corresponding to USD 1,175 million, including USD 475 million in new unlisted equity and USD 700 million in secured convertible debt. As part of the transaction, SAS is intended to eventually join the SkyTeam Alliance (“SkyTeam”), of which Air France-KLM is a founding member, and exit the Star Alliance, subject to any relevant approvals and emergence from the chapter 11 process. SAS will continue to operate and serve its customers as usual throughout the implementation of the transaction. In parallel to the transaction, and further to its joining of SkyTeam, SAS will seek to establish a commercial cooperation with Air France-KLM and its airlines. No exact timeline of events was announced since all the moves above are still subject to regulatory approval.
8. Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia unveils a new brand identity and livery
The rebrand marks the beginning of a new era for Saudia, introducing innovative concepts in terms of customer services with a strong focus on digital aspects. Guests can anticipate an authentic Saudi experience during their journey with the airline, showcasing the very best of Saudi Arabia and its rich culture. This includes a distinctive fragrance and sonic identity, locally inspired cuisine, all crafted by skilled Saudi craftsmen. The rebrand also encompasses new uniforms for cabin crew and ground staff. The new brand color identity, comprised of green, blue, and sand, represent Saudia’s aim to expand its fleet and destinations, connecting the world to Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the Kingdom’s authenticity and deep-rooted values. Saudia’s new brand identity is helping advance Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030,which aims to turn Saudi Arabia into a leader in the global industry and bringing around 330 million visitors to the Kingdom by 2030.
9. Rosewood Munich sets a new standard for luxury In Bavaria, Germany
Spanning two iconic buildings, the new Rosewood Munich is housed within the former Bavarian State Bank headquarters and the adjacent Palais Neuhaus-Preysing, originally an aristocratic residence. Steps away from Marienplatz, the central square in the city’s center, Rosewood Munich effortlessly encapsulates the essence of Bavarian culture. Guided by Rosewood’s A Sense of Place philosophy, in which every element of the experience is inspired by its surroundings, the hotel represents a unique fusion of a timeless landmark that honors the illustrious history of Munich’s’ old town. Featuring 73 spacious guestrooms and 59 suites, including five exclusive houses -the property’s signature suites – the interiors seamlessly integrate modern design. Culinary offerings encompass an enticing lobby lounge, full-service brasserie, the Wintergarten, the exterior Palaishof and a lively bar. For those seeking the ultimate wellness experience, the hotel will be home to Germany’s first Asaya Spa, featuring six treatment rooms, along with an indoor pool and a well-equipped fitness area.
10. Raffles London at the OWO is now open
Set in a building of epic proportions, The OWO is home to the first Raffles hotel in London, The OWO Residences by Raffles, and a collection of independent restaurants and bars drawn from dynamic culinary hubs across the globe. The OWO heralds a new chapter for Whitehall, an area synonymous with politics, as an exciting place to drink and dine, celebrate, be entertained, rest and recharge, stay and live. The highly anticipated Raffles London at The OWO is the first property in the UK for Raffles Hotels & Resorts. From the dazzling beauty of the Grand Staircase, elegantly wrapped around a breath-taking chandelier, to the mosaic-tiled floors and oak-panelled walls, Raffles London pays homage to the building’s history whilst providing a sense of timeless luxury. The five star property features 120 spacious guest rooms and suites, signature dining experiences by chef Mauro Colagreco, impressive entertainment spaces including a grand ballroom, and an extensive spa in partnership with Guerlain and Pillar Wellbeing. country.