Top 10: my favorite Hyatt hotels in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 16, 2018): My 10 favorite Hyatt hotels in the world.

Hyatt is one of the world’s best hospitality brands. The company was founded by Jay Pritzker in 1957 when he purchased the Hyatt House motel adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport. Over the following decades, Jay Pritzker and his brother, Donald Pritzker, grew the company into the industry-leading management and hotel ownership company as it is known today. Hyatt manages more than 500 hotels and resorts across 12 distinctive brands, each designed to deliver experiences attuned to the lifestyles, attitudes, values, and aspirations of the guests for whom it is designed: Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Hotels, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara & Ziva, Hyatt Residence club, Hyatt Centric, and the Unbound Collection by Hyatt.

Park Hyatt and Andaz are considered the group’s luxury brands and rank among my favorite hotel brands in the world. Located in major gateway cities and prime leisure travel destinations worldwide, Hyatt’s top hotels are a symbol of luxury, offering impeccable service, world-class spas and state-of-the-art guest rooms, all perfectly tailored to those who expect nothing but the best. Each one is designed to reflect the unique character of its locale – the chic of Paris, the exotic allure of Hawaii or the all-American style of Chicago. Park Hyatt hotels are especially known for their acclaimed art programs, sleek and minimalist interior design, and exceptional dining venues under the direction of celebrated chefs. Andaz properties are upscale lifestyle boutique-style hotels catering to a younger public.

Being fortunate to have stayed at many Hyatt hotels around the world, I hereby share with you my favorite 10 hotels of the group. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Hyatt hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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*** Read here my overview of Hyatt’s loyalty program World of Hyatt ***


10. PALACIO DUHAU – PARK HYATT BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

The legendary five-star hotel Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is breathtaking inside and out, and the finest hotel in Buenos Aires. The hotel perfectly blends the 1930’s charm of the French Palacio Duhau with contemporary design, décor, and modern day comfort and amenities. Much of the hotel overlooks beautiful gardens that are like a secret green oasis in the centre of bustling Buenos Aires. The artistic nature of this city is reflected throughout the hotel and its guestrooms with works of art adorning many of the walls and the hotel even boasts its own art gallery for you to while away the hours. Offering standard and deluxe rooms or suites, outstanding restaurants, the atmospheric Oak Bar, the luxury Ahín Wellness & Spa as well as an art gallery, pool, Tango classes and fitness studio, there is very little you are left wanting for.

  • Hotel website: Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
  • Other accolades: Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best urban resorts and the best hotels in South America.
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when you book this hotel via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, wine and cheese tasting at Palacio Duhau Vinoteca, early check-in and late check-out.
  • Review: read my review of Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires here.


9. PARK HYATT MALLORCA, SPAIN

Situated on the east coast of Mallorca, the Park Hyatt Mallorca overlooks the majestic Canyamel valley, offering views of the Balearic Sea and the town of Canyamel. Its design reflects the style of a traditional Mallorquin hilltop village with references of local art and cultural heritage. The first (and so far only) Park Hyatt resort in Europe, the hotel perfectly personifies an intimate haven within a vibrant, charming and culturally rich island. The hotel has 142 spacious and luxuriously appointed guest rooms, and 16 uniquely designed suites, brilliantly combing a blend of sophistication and upscale residential comfort with timeless regional accents. The hotel also offers a sophisticated dining experience centered around a village square, presenting a range of authentic cuisines catering to all tastes.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Mallorca
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt Mallorca also features in my lists of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2016, the 10 best luxury hotels in Spain, and the 10 best hotels in the Balearic Islands.
  • Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD food & beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out).
  • Review: read my review of the Park Hyatt Mallorca here.


8. PARK HYATT SHANGHAI, CHINA

Occupying floors 79 to 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Center, otherwise known as ‘The Vertical Complex City’, makes the Park Hyatt hotel one of the highest hotels in the world. Soaring above this metropolis, guests can take in sweeping views of the city skyline and Huangpu River from any of the 174 luxury rooms & suites, or enjoy a choice of some of the most known Shanghai restaurants such as 100 Century Avenue Restaurant featuring Western, Japanese and Chinese cuisines, and Dining Room, popular for its European specialties. The hotel is also home to a renowned spa, which features a beautiful indoor pool. Park Hyatt Shanghai is the city’s only international ’boutique hotel’, a one-of-a-kind property where the number of rooms has been limited specifically to ensure a level of service and attention to detail that is unequalled in the market

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Shanghai
  • Other top 10 accolades: The Park Hyatt Shanghai features in my top 10 lists of the world’s highest hotels, the best hotels in Shanghai, and the best luxury hotels in China.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read my review of the Park Hyatt Shanghai here.


7. ANDAZ TOKYO TORANOMON HILLS, TOKYO, JAPAN

Reflecting Tokyo’s contemporary urban culture, guests can expect a dazzling experience at this hotel. Located in a 52-story skyscraper, Andaz Tokyo offers 164 rooms, of which eight are specialty suites, and are all located on floors 47-50. Abundant natural materials are largely used for the décor, reflecting the traditional Japanese nature-oriented architectural style. The bathroom is a key feature of the room design, equipped with deep soaking tubs inspired by Japanese bath culture. From the tower’s apex on the topfloor, Andaz brings unprecedented rooftop flair to this city’s dining and entertainment scene, with breathtaking views from the rooftop bar and the city’s highest stand-alone wedding chapel. In true Andaz fashion, all non-alcoholic mini-bar drinks and locally inspired snacks are complimentary. I consider the Andaz Tokyo to be a better hotel than its more famous sibbling in town, the Park Hyatt Tokyo (which I reviewed here).

  • Hotel website: Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
  • Other accolades: Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills also features in my lists of the best new luxury hotels of 2014, the 10 best hotels in Tokyo, and the 10 best luxury hotels in Japan.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read my review of the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills here.


6. PARK HYATT NEW YORK, USA

Park Hyatt’s flagship hotel in New York is located in the heart of midtown across from Carnegie Hall and a short stroll from Central Park. The hotel, designed by world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc as well as interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg, features 210 generously sized guest rooms including 92 suites. The state-of-the-art guest rooms are among the largest in the city, starting from 475 square feet (44 square meters). The room design is modern in its architectural bones, but with a slight nod to the past. The mix of furniture and furnishings suggests an eclectic and residential mood which transcends strict modernity. The Park Hyatt New York features a nice spa facility and indoor swimming pool in a three-story aerie at the top of the hotel, located on the 20th floor.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt New York
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt New York also features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in New York and the world’s most stunning indoor hotel pools
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD hotel credit; for bookings in Park Executive Suites and above, guests additionally receive round trip airport transfers).
  • Review: read my review of the Park Hyatt New York here.


5. PARK HYATT MALDIVES HADAHAA

Situated on a private island 55 km (35 mi) north of the Equator in one of the world’s deepest atolls, Park Hyatt Hadahaa has a strikingly modern and sleek decor. Featuring only 50 villas, the minimalist style interiors of the accommodations are designed with the utmost comfort and luxury in mind, whether nestled within the island’s tropical foliage (36 villas in total), only steps from the ocean, or elevated above the water (14 villas in total). All villas feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and every comfort you would expect, with some beach villas having the added luxury of a plunge pool (overwater villas don’t come with a private pool though). The resort is framed by one of the archipelago’s most unspoilt house reefs, providing easy access for exploration of the underwater marvels of the Indian Ocean.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa also features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in the Maldives, the world’s most remote luxury hotels, the best hotels in the Maldives for couples, and the best luxury hotels for amazing award redemptions.
  • Tip: get free VIP perks when booking Park Hyatt Hadahaa via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: read my review of Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa here.


4. PARK HYATT VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Overlooking Am Hof square (the largest and oldest square in the inner city of Vienna), the Park Hyatt Vienna enjoys a terrific location within the First District of the city, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ultraluxurious property occupies a 100-year-old listed building that formerly served as the headquarters of a bank.  The hotel’s 143 spacious guestrooms, including 35 suites, rank amongst the largest in the city, brilliantly combining contemporary style with local Viennese accents. With a world-class fine-dining venue and a gorgeous swimming pool located in the former bank’s vault, the Park Hyatt Vienna remains the Austrian capital’s best luxury hotel since its official opening in 2014.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Vienna
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt Vienna features in my list of the best new luxury hotels of 2014 and the 10 most amazing city hotels in Europe.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily full breakfast, $100 USD food credit, complimentary one-way private airport transfers to/from Vienna International Airport, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • Review: read my review of the Park Hyatt Vienna here.


3. PARK HYATT BANGKOK, THAILAND

Embracing its enviable location in one of the world’s most popular tourist destination, Park Hyatt Bangkok offers a refined and uniquely Thai experience, reflecting the country’s rich culture and legendary gracious hospitality. The hotel is housed within Central Embassy, a 37-floor complex that has become one of Bangkok’s most iconic modern landmark since its opening, both because of its futuristic architecture and its ultra-luxury lifestyle mall, which can be directly accessed from the hotel. A devoted team of hosts dedicates themselves to providing Park Hyatt’s world-class discreet and sincere service. Park Hyatt Bangkok houses 222 luxurious rooms, including 32 suites, featuring unobstructed views of the capital. The exceptional drinking and dining venues all provide a level of service and hospitality that will wow even the most discerning travelers.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Bangkok
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt Bangkok also features in my lists of the 10 best hotels in Bangkok and the best new hotels of 2017.
  • Review: coming soon


2. ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA RESORT, HAWAII, USA

Perched along crescent-shaped shores, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort radiates luxury. From the moment you step into the airy lobby, you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Each one of the hotel’s 290 guest rooms and suites, and seven residential villas, blends the non-traditional Andaz style with the feel of a luxury resort community. Accommodations are enhanced at every turn, with modern touches like private lanais for admiring magnificent Hawaii sunsets, baths with ocean and garden view showers, and luxurious body products that invigorate both body and mind. The resort has two award-winning restaurants: you can share authentic island cuisine served family style at Ka’ana Kitchen, or embark on a distinct culinary adventure blending Western and Japanese traditions at Morimoto Maui, led by the acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. Dip your toes in the sand, explore Hawaii’s vast wonders, or lounge poolside with your favorite drink at my favorite hotel in Hawaii.

  • Hotel website: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
  • Other accolades: Andaz Maui at Wailea also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Hawaii and the world’s most eco-friendly luxury hotels.
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: read my review of Andaz Maui at Wailea here.


1. PARK HYATT SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

The Opera House is Sydney’s iconic symbol and no where can it be more appreciated then from the Park Hyatt Sydney. Seated majestically on one of the world’s most beautiful harbors, the hotel perfectly personifies contemporary luxury with its coveted location between the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Many return guests and celebrities prefer this hotel over others even though its location is not as central as some of its competitors. Reminiscent of an exclusive harborside residence, the hotel offers intimate surrounds with architecture, art and design that reflect the Australian landscape. Highlights include 155 spacious guestrooms and suites with contemporary interiors and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to private balconies; 24-hour butler service; and a day spa with stunning rooftop pool and sundeck. All meals are offered in the multilevel Harbor Kitchen, where window-walls open for optimal views of the Opera House and harbor activity.

  • Hotel website: Park Hyatt Sydney
  • Other accolades: Park Hyatt Sydney also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most spectacular hotel rooftops, the best luxury hotels in Australia, the world’s best city hotels, and the most spectacular rooftop pools in the world, and hotels loved by celebrities.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD spa credit, early check-in and late check-out).
  • Review: read my review of the Park Hyatt Sydney here.


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Travel tip: save money with great hotel loyalty programs you’ve never heard of

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (July 13, 2018): save lots of money with under the radar loyalty programs of luxury hotels.

Booking a stay directly via the hotel website can be cost saving, especially when that hotel is part of a hotel loyalty program. The latter allows you to collect points and spend them on free nights. In addition, top tier members of certain hotel loyalty programs will also receive additional benefits, such a complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, and flexible check-in or check-out times.

However, for hotels on the luxury level (5 stars and beyond), if you want more for less, you should always book your stay via one of the world’s top travel agents, otherwise you’re leaving money on the table. Not only will they match the benefits you would get as a top tier member of a hotel loyalty program (even when you’re not), but additionally they get you access to dining and spa credits, guaranteed upgrades at the time of booking, complimentary airport transfers and so on. Some of these programs also protect you from getting walked when the hotel is oversold, and give you waitlist priority to get in. So, these travel agents will get you benefits beyond what you would get as a top tier elite member at a hotel, even though you’ve never stayed with the hotel chain before. Lance and Ania from Classic Travel ( a Virtuoso travel agency) belong to to this select club of top selling luxury travel agents; I use them for my own travels and I highly recommend them.

While the exact perks vary from hotel to hotel, in a one-week stay, they can easily be worth $1,000 USD or more. These benefits and amenities cannot be accessed by booking directly with the hotel, but only via top travel agents. That’s because many of the world’s most exclusive hotel groups – even those that don’t offer loyalty programs – have established invitation-only programs for top producing travel agents, in order to foster a relationship with these agent and to increase sales. To give you an idea, this is what you can save when you book a luxury hotel via a top luxury travel agent:

  • Breakfast for two at a luxury hotels can easily run $100 USD per day. It’s free when booked via a top luxury travel agent.
  • High speed WiFi charges can range from $15 to $35 USD per day. WiFi is not charged when booked via a top luxury travel agent
  • Late check-out is often 50 percent of your room rate, so easily in the hundreds of dollars, and if you are arriving early, before check-in time, many times you need to pay for the night before if you want to be assured your room will be ready for you. Top luxury travel agents can arrange flexible check-in and check-out times for you.
  • Dining at an exclusive hotel’s restaurant can easily set you back around $200 USD for two, and spa treatments are often in the same price range (if not higher), but top luxury travel agent can arrange a dining or spa credit for you to save on your meals and wellness treatments.

These benefits are a bit similar to the perks offered by Virtuoso or Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, although these invitation-only programs for top producing travel agents cover much more properties than those offered by Virtuoso or Amex Fine Hotels a Resorts. Let’s have a look a the most beneficial programs of the world’s best hotel brands (including companies like Rosewood, Four Seasons, Belmond, Ritz-Carlton, and Shangri-La to name a few).

ROSEWOOD PHUKET


1. Belmond Bellini Club

Belmond – formerly known as Orient-Express – has dozens of iconic hotels, trains and river cruises in its portfolio, including properties such as Belmond Cipriani in Venice, Belmond Caruso on the Amalfi coast, Belmond Maroma in Riviera Maya, Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town, Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio De Janeiro, Belmond Cap Juluca in Aguilla, and more.

When you book a Belmond hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Belmond Bellini Club, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two daily
  • Complimentary room upgrades on arrival, based on availability
  • $500 USD gift voucher for any $5,000 USD booking or experience
  • Fully flexible hotel or resort credit up to $200 USD per stay
  • Free internet access
  • Personalized in-room welcome amenity
  • VIP recognition by property management and staff
  • Waitlist priority for high demand properties or experiences

2. Dorchester Diamond Program

Established in 2006, The Dorchester Collection has a portfolio of nine of the world’s finest luxury hotels in Europe and the US, including its namesake hotel in London next to Hyde Park, the Plaza Athenee and Le Meurice hotels in Paris, the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bel-Air properties in Los Angeles, plus top properties in Rome, Geneva, and Milan.

When you book a Dorchester Collection hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Dorchester Diamond Program, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary welcome gift
  • Complimentary breakfast for 2, daily. Choose to dine in your room or at restaurant.
  • Room or Suite upgrade guaranteed at time of booking, based on availability.
  • Daily unlimited internet access for unlimited number of devices
  • Credit of 100 units of local currency that can be applied to your final bill, for guest rooms and junior suites
  • A no walk policy at all hotels
  • VIP Status. Hotel management is made aware of your stay and will personally escort you to your room on arrival.
  • 24/7 Diamond Club Ambassador Team ready to assist you anytime throughout your stay.

3. Four Seasons Preferred  

Four Seasons is one of the world’s premier ultra-luxe hospitality brands and the company is rapidly expanding its already impressive global portfolio which consists of 100 properties in more than 40 countries (with many more developments in the pipeline).

When you book a Four Seasons hotel through a travel agent that is member of the invitation-only Four Seasons Preferred Program, you will get the several benefits. These benefits depend from property to property, but most Four Seasons Preferred Partners hotel generally have the following benefits:

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom,
  • A resort credit: a spa credit of $100 USD once during stay (not applicable to products); a golf credit of $100 USD once during stay (not applicable to pro shop purchases); or lunch for two once during stay (up to $85 USD, excluding gratuity and alcohol).
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas).
  • Complimentary high-speed Internet access for all suite bookings.

4. Jumeirah Passport to Luxury Program

Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are regarded as among the most luxurious and innovative in the world and have won numerous international travel and tourism awards. The Burj al Arab in Dubai might be its most famous hotel but its wings stretch to other destinations in the Middle East as well as Frankfurt, London, Istanbul, the Maldives and China.

When you book a Jumeirah hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Jumeirah Passport to Luxury Program, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary daily buffet breakfast for two
  • Complimentary room category upgrade at arrival, based on availability
  • $100 USD food and beverage or spa credit, per room per stay
  • Early check-in and 4:00 PM late check-out, based on availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

5. Mandarin Oriental Fan Club

Over the past 50 years, Mandarin Oriental has grown from a well-respected Asian hotel company into a global brand, and has a rich and proud history which began with the opening of the brand’s flagship property, The Mandarin, in 1963 in Hong Kong.  Today, the group operates more than 30 hotels worldwide, with each property featuring a distinctive oriental design (reflecting its heritage) and a unique sense of place.

When you book a Mandarin Oriental hotel through a travel agent that is member of the exclusive Mandarin Oriental Fan club, you will get the following benefits:

  • $100 USD food & beverage or spa credit, per room per stay
  • Complimentary daily breakfast for two
  • One category room upgrade, based on availability
  • Unlimited in-room wireless Internet access
  • 4 PM late check-out, subject to availability
  • Priority waitlist clearance
  • Personalized welcome amenity

6. Langham Hotel Couture Program 

Hong Kong based Langham Hotels and Resorts is a portfolio of luxury hotels located in prime destinations across the globe. Each Langham hotel reflects today’s interpretation of sincere service, innovation, captivation of the senses and exceptional design, all of which dates back from 1865 when The Langham, London opened as one of Europe’s first “Grand Hotels”.

When you book a Langham hotel through a travel agent that is member of the Langham Hotel Couture Program, you will get the following benefits:

  • Confirmed one-category upgrade at time of booking subject to availability
  • Six complimentary hours for customized check in/out time subject to availability
  • VIP Status
  • Personalized welcome note from General Manager/Managing Director
  • Indulgent welcome amenity
  • Langham Couture benefits can be combined with Virtuoso benefits at the Langham Place Fifth Avenue in NYC, Langham Chicago, and The Langham Sydney, which are Virtuoso member hotels, if the Virtuoso rate is booked.

7. Oetker Pearl Partner

Oetker Collection has several 5-star elite hotels in its portfolio that embodies the finest of traditional European hospitality. These elite luxury hotels are strung together like ‘pearls on a chain’, explaining the name ‘Oetker Pearl Partner’. Oetker’s hotels include Fregate Island in the Indian Ocean, Le Bristol in Paris, The Lanesborough in London, and Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, to name a few.

When you book an Oetker Collection hotel through a travel agent that is member of Oetker Pearl Partner, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two daily, including buffets
  • One category room upgrade at time of booking, if higher room categories are available
  • Equivalent of one €85 spa or food & beverage credit of 85€ for each stay of 1 night, and equivalent of €170 for 2 nights or more
  • Allocation of best room in the category
  • Personalized welcome amenity
  • Daily unlimited wifi for unlimited number of devices
  • Priority access to courtesy car, when applicable

8. Peninsula’s Pen Club Loyalty Program

Established in 1928, the prestigious Peninsula Hotels group now operates luxury properties in 10 major cities across the globe. The Peninsula Hotels group sets their sights high and their standards higher, aiming always to delight their customers, and in many cases they are now serving the third generation of their loyal guests.

When you book a Peninsula hotel through a travel agent that is member of Peninsula’s Pen Club Loyalty Program, you will get the following benefits:

  • Daily breakfast for two people per bedroom.
  • Food and beverage credit of USD100 per stay.
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (this usually excludes suites).
  • “Peninsula Time”: Flexible check-in and check-out times in all hotels.
  • Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms.
  • Complimentary 30-minute extension on any 50-minute body or face treatment (excluding manicure and/or pedicure).
  • Upgraded welcome in-room amenities.

9. Ritz-Carlton Stars

Ritz-Carlton is an American hotel company, founded in 1983, that is part of Marriott International. The company manages more than 90 luxury hotels and resorts across 30 countries and territories in the world, including famous properties such as Hotel Arts in Barcelona and the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. Ritz-Carlton has been recognized with numerous awards for being the gold standard of hospitality.

When you book a Ritz-Carlton hotel through a travel agent that is member of Ritz-Carlton Stars, you will get the following benefits:

  • VIP Status. The top hotel executive is made aware of your stay.
  • Complimentary breakfast for 2, daily.
  • Preferred status for room or suite upgrade at time of check-in.
  • First priority for your room type, location, bedding and connecting rooms.
  • Top priority waitlist in sold out situations.
  • No walk policy in sold out situations.
  • Warm welcome from hotel management.
  • Pre-registration and express check- in upon request.
  • 4:00 pm late checkout – priority request.

10. Rosewood Elite

Rosewood manages a distinctive collection of highly individual, luxurious, residential-style hotels across the globe, including world-famous properties such as The Carlyle in New York and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. Each property delivers a one-of-a-kind ambience and style, in which location, culture, history and geography are part of the fabric of the hotel, reflecting the company’s “Sense of Place” philosophy.

When you book a Rosewood hotel through a travel agent that is member of Rosewood Elite, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two guests daily.
  • Personalized welcome amenity.
  • VIP Recognition and personalized welcome by hotel staff and managing director.
  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability.
  • Top-of-waitlist priority in high demand periods.
  • Elite Price Assurance: If a special offer is developed after a reservation is confirmed for one of our clients, we can have the reservation adjusted accordingly up until 24 hours prior to a client’s arrival.
  • Amenity/credit which differs by property
  • Designated Elite “hero” at each hotel with 3-hour response time

11. Shangri-La Luxury Circle

The Shangri-La story began in 1971 with a deluxe hotel in Singapore. Today, the Hong Kong based luxury group has increased its global presence with more than 100 hotels throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, with a room inventory of over 40,000. Inspired by the legendary land featured in James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, the name Shangri-La encapsulates the serenity and service for which our hotels and resorts are renowned worldwide.

When you book a Shangri-La hotel through a travel agent that is member of Shangri-La Luxury Circle, you will get the following benefits:

  • Complimentary daily breakfast for 2
  • Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
  • Guaranteed upgrade at the time of booking, subject to availability
  • VIP welcome amenities
  • $100 USD or equivalent to 10% of the average daily room rate, whichever is higher (one credit per stay)
  • Enrollment into the Golden Circle Rewards program
  • Dedicated concierge personnel to handle all requests
  • A priority waitlist clearance in sold out hotels and a strict no walk policy

12. Starwood Luxury Privileges

Starwood, which was acquired by Marriott last year, includes several luxury brands such as St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W Hotels. While only few of these brand’s most luxurious properties participate in the Virtuoso and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts programs, all others are part of Starwood Luxury Priviliges program, which is designed to reward and foster Starwood loyalty among travelers.

When you book a best available rate (BAR) at a St Regis, Luxury Collection or W Hotel through a travel agent that is member of Starwood Luxury Priviliges, you will get the following benefits:

  •  Upgrade on arrival if available
  • Early check in if available
  • Daily breakfast for 2 daily (depends on hotel whether contintnetal or full)
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Late checkout if available
  • Value-added amenity specific to hotel (mostly a $100 USD spa, food or resort credit)

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The post Travel tip: save money with great hotel loyalty programs you’ve never heard of appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Trip report: Emirates A380 Business Class Düsseldorf-Dubai-Düsseldorf

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Today (July 11, 2018): Review of Emirates A380 Business Class Düsseldorf-Dubai-Düsseldorf.

I recently flew Business Class from Düsseldorf to Dubai and back as a part of mileage run. The success of Emirates’ Business Class product is very much based on the comfort and space of its Airbus A380 fleet, and that’s why the mega plane is rolled out on most of the carrier’s major international routes. In a nutshell: comfortable seats, mammoth amenity kits, a huge entertainment selection, excellent food, a wonderful crew and a well-appointed bar on the upper deck makes flying Emirates’ A380 Business Class a phenomenal event. Flying the Airbus A380 is a totally different (and superior) experience as compared to Emirates’ Boeing 777, since the airline does not display the same Business Class product on both aircraft types

Emirates features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the best Business Class amenity kits, the best First Class airline lounges, the best First Class amenity kits, the world’s longest non-stop flights, and airlines that serve the most delicious food.

Have you ever flown Emirates’ Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.

  • Trip: Düsseldorf (DUS) to Dubai (DXB) to Düsseldorf (DUS)
  • Airline: Emirates
  • Aircraft type: Airbus A380
  • Aircraft registration number: A6-EUF (DUS-DXB) & A6-EOY (DXB-DUS)
  • Flight Number: EK58 (DUS-DXB) & EK 57 (DUS-DXB)
  • Date: February 1st (DUS-DXB) & February 2nd (DXB-DUS)
  • Miles: 2 x 311 miles
  • Flight time: 6 hours (DUS-DXB) and 7 hours (DXB-DUS)
  • Seat: window seat 25K (DUS-DXB) and aisle seat 25F (DXB-DUS)
  • Class: Business

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Facts & figures about Emirates’ A380 fleet
  3. Business Class cabin
  4. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  5. Amenities
  6. Meals
  7. Entertainment
  8. Onboard internet
  9. Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
  10. My verdict (score)

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1. COST OF MY TICKET

I booked this roundtrip journey from Düsseldorf to Dubai with the sole purpose to earn plenty of miles and top elite status with Emirates frequent flyer program Skywards. I made use of a pricing error and an unusually low Business Class fare (750 euros per person). These type of mileage runs are common practice among points & miles addicts. However, it was a pretty crazy and exhausting adventure as I only spent 3 hours on the ground and arrived back in Düsseldorf 16 hours after I left. And although I am now an Emirates Gold Member, I won’t do another mileage run in the near future as sitting in an aluminum tube for hours with no destination is not only a waste of time but also undermines ones health.


2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT EMIRATES’ A380 FLEET

Emirates is by far the largest Airbus A380 operator on the planet. With a current 103-strong A380 fleet and an order backlog for 59 additional aircraft combined, Emirates’ commitment to the A380 program is worth over US$ 60 billion. All Emirates A380s are being fitted at the Airbus factory in Hamburg including significant cabin interior work and final livery, and are being delivered from Hamburg. The Emirates A380 program creates and supports manufacturing jobs across the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain. Airbus estimates that Emirates’ A380 orders alone support 41,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Europe, including some 14,500 in Germany alone. Emirates currently operates the A380 to 48 global destinations.  

EMIRATES A380
EMIRATES A380
EMIRATES A380
EMIRATES A380

3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

Emirates operates two versions of its A380 aircraft:

  • Emirates’ most common A380 version offers 489 seats in a three-class cabin configuration with 14 private suites in First Class, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 399 spacious seats in Economy Class. For a seating plan of the Emirates 3-class A380, click here.
  • Emirates also operates some two-class configured A380s, which feature 58 flatbed seats in Business Class and 557 (!!!) seats in Economy Class, taking the total to an impressive 615 passenger seats. Currently, the two-class configured A380 flies to four destinations including Bangkok, Copenhagen, Manchester and Kuala Lumpur. For a seating plan of the Emirates 2-class A380, click here.

The flights to/from Düsseldorf are operated by three-class configured A380s (although the airline seasonally swaps the A380 to the B777 on this route). All of Emirates’ Business Class seats are located in two cabins on the upper deck of the Airbus A380, behind the First Class cabin. The first cabin contains the bulk of the seats (58 in total, spread over 14 rows), while the cabin located at the rear of the plane (just in front the lounge bar and the restrooms) feels more intimate as it only comprises 18 seats in 4 rows. The Business Class seats are arranged in a staggered 1–2–1 layout, providing each passenger direct aisle access and a significant amount of privacy (although the downside of 4 seats per row is that the seats feel a little narrow).

The Emirates Business Class cabin features a unique and opulent design, with abundant use of burled walnut veneer, gold trim and pearlised plastic, that frames the seats, windows and entertainment screens. I have to admit that the cabin design is not my cup of tea, as I prefer a more minimalist and refined design, one that evokes tranquility and peace of mind instead of overstimulating all your senses. On a positive note, the mood lighting during the flight is very enjoyable: the colors of the ceiling change with the local time, and the starry sky panels add a touch of magic during the night.

EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

All Business Class seats onboard the Emirates A380 are 18,5 inch (47 cm) wide. This is only a tad wider than the Emirates A380 Economy Class seats, which have a width of 17,5 inch (45 cm), so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most passengers – including myself – find the Emirates A380 Business Class seat to be too narrow, especially in the lie flat position. The pitch and bed length varies from seat to seat: aisle seats (B, D, G, J) are slightly shorter when fully flat, extending to 70 inches (178 cm) as compared to 79 inches (200 cm) for window and central seats (A, E, F, K). Seat pitch varies from 48 to 39 inches (122 to 99 cm), with the center and window seats again offering more space as compared to aisle seats.

Each seat comes with a touchscreen tablet (for the seat position & lighting controls, as well as the controls for the inflight entertainment) and a console on the side. The latter holds a personal minibar, stocked with soft drinks and juices (albeit not cooled), in addition to a universal power supply, a USB port, a reading light and another handset for the inflight entertainment on the side. The fold-out tray table is hidden in the arm rest below the console. In front of each seat is a large 17-inch entertainment touchscreen with a generously sized ottoman below.

What are the best Business Class seats on Emirates’ A380? Click here for a seat map.

  • Solo travelers should choose one of the window seats A or K, since these are more private than the aisle seats (B, D, G, J) as they are sheltered from the aisle by the seat’s mini-bar cabinet and the enclosed footrest of the person behind. The window seats also benefit from the storage cabinets under the windows.
  • The center seats E and F also feature their consoles on the aisle side, and when you don’t deploy the privacy screens, these seats can be transformed into an intimate mini-suite accommodating two passengers.
  • Seats A and K on row 23 are the best Business Class seats on the A380 since they offer more legroom (a larger ottoman and longer flat bed) as compared to other window seats.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Emirates’ A380? Click here for a seat map.

  • The window seats B and J as well as the center seats D and G have their console on the opposite side of the aisle, and can feel quite exposed.
  • If you are traveling as a couple, you should avoid the center seats D and G since these seats feature two consoles in between them, making it almost impossible to communicate with your partner in flight.
  • If you are traveling solo, you should avoid the center seats E and F, otherwise you may end up next to a stranger in a minisuite, which may feel awkward, although you can always rise a divider for complete privacy.
  • IMHO, seats 7A & 7K are the worst seats: despite the fact that they have extra legroom (similar to seats 23A & 23K), they are totally exposed to the aisle and do not offer privacy at all (they lack a shelter).
  • Always keep in mind that – as mentioned above – the aisle seats B, D, G, and J are slightly shorter when fully flat and provide less space as compared to window and center seats.
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
EMIRATES A380 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

5. AMENITIES

Business Class passengers are offered the following amenities on an Emirates flight:

  • An amenity kit is only provided during night flights (not day flights). IMHO, the Emirates Business Class amenity kit is the best in the skies, with a different kit for men and women. The men’s amenity kit is presented as a lovely toiletry bag, and contains the usual necessities – albeit in luxe edition – such as toothbrush and toothpaste through to handkerchiefs and deodorant. The mens amenity kit also provided Gilette shaving foam and a razor, as well as moisturizers and aftershaves by Bvlgari. The women’s amenity kit is different, presented as a stylish Faux suede beige, Bulgari labeled washbag, containing more feminine product ranges.
  • Flight socks, eyeshade and earplugs (separately packed)
  • A light blanket
  • A nice pillow
  • A duvet, which is provided by the crew to enhance the sleeping comfort (I wished all airlines did this since it really makes a difference)
  • Noise cancelling headphones (you cannot keep these as the crew collects them before landing). Although the Emirates labeled headphones are not from Bose, they are of great quality.

Unfortunately, pajamas are not offered by Emirates in Business Class.

AMENITY KIT
AMENITY KIT

6. MEALS

On both flight legs, only one meal was served shortly after takeoff.

I choose the following selection from the dinner menu on the DUS-DXB flight:

  • Starter: smoked salmon on waldorf salad with saffron mayonnaise
  • Main course: poached salmon trout with creamed spinach, steamed root vegetables, and potatoes with herbs
  • Cheese board with:
    • Ossau-Iraty PDO, a Franco-Basque cheese made from sheep milk
    • Pave d’Affinois: young, French double cream cheese
    • Fourme d’Ambert PDO: creamy and piquant Auvergne blue

And on the DXB-DUS return flight, I choose the following selection from the brunch menu:

  • Starter: creamy tomato soup
  • Main course: vegetable Biryani
  • Dessert: chocolate tart with strawberries

All meals were ok (I never expect fine dining in the skies anyways), except for the vegetable Biryani which was too dry and tasteless.

DUSSELDORF TO DUBAI: DINNER
DUSSELDORF TO DUBAI: DINNER
DUSSELDORF TO DUBAI: DINNER
DUBAI TO DUSSELDORF: BREAKFAST
DUBAI TO DUSSELDORF: BREAKFAST
DUBAI TO DUSSELDORF: BREAKFAST

7. ENTERTAINMENT

One of the strongest elements about the Emirates experience is the inflight entertainment program, which is called ICE (information, communications, entertainment). You can choose from up to 1,800 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on demand and in multiple languages. You can also relax to music from around the world or play our range of fun games. The cameras installed in the tail, nose and belly of the megaplane also offer some fun moments, especially at take-off and landing.

The inflight entertainment is displayed on a 17-inch touch-screen that is supported by two hand-held controls: one tablet located next to the Business Class seat (which also control the seat position and lighting) ; and another smaller, standard wired handset. The touch-screen combined with the 2 controllers means that there is plenty of options to control your inflight entertainment depending on how the seat is reclined.

INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

8. ONBOARD INTERNET

Emirates offers 10MB of free WiFi to each passenger during one of its flight (regardless of the class you are seated in). An additional 600MB can be purchased for $1 USD. If you exceeded that limit, you can purchase another 600MB for $1 USD. The quality of the WiFi connection during the flight was variable.


9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

#CREW: IMHO, Emirates’ international cabin crew is among the best in the industry and they delivered again on both of these flights. The flight attendants were all very friendly (addressing me by name, the cabin head presenting himself individually before take-off, and also thanking me in person for choosing Emirates before landing). All requests were dealt with promptly and cordially.

# BAR: At the rear of the upper cabin, you find the A380 onboard lounge – a bar exclusive to First Class and Business Class customers and a hub of activity throughout the flight. Here, you can choose from premium spirits, exclusive wines, champagne, cocktails and beers alongside hot and cold beverages served by a dedicated bartender. It’s a good platform to stretch your legs while interacting with other passengers and the international crew.

#LAVATORY: in the Emirates A380, the 4 lavatories for Business Class passengers are located at the rear of the plane, behind the onboard lounge. Two of them come with a window.

#CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: one of the great things about flying Business (or First) class with Emirates is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight. It is so nice to arrive at a foreign airport and to be whisked away to your hotel in a minimum of time.


10. MY VERDICT
  • Seat upright position: 7/10
  • Seat flat bed position: 7/10
  • Food:  8/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 10/10
  • Amenity kit: 10/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Cabin atmosphere (upper deck): 9.5/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8.5/10

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Top 10 best luxury hotels in Bangkok

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 9, 2018): Top 10 best hotels in Bangkok.

Thailand’s capital Bangkok is is one the world’s most exciting cities. The metropole, home to 8 million people or 12.6 percent of the country’s population, is a true tourist paradise, proved by the growing number of travelers coming each year. Last year, the city hosted 20 million international tourists, making it the most popular tourist destination of 2017. The city offers a great variety of attractions, ranging from historic temples and royal palaces with elaborate architecture and art, to museums, parks, luxury shopping malls and street markets. Bangkok’s (in)famous nightlife is another highlight that has attracted many of tourists from all over the world. Bangkok is also home to some of the world’s greatest luxury hotels, which are a playground of jet setters and fashionistas. I hereby share with you the 10 best hotels in the city.

There’s more info below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite hotel in Bangkok in the comments section, or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Thailand with my online Thailand travel guide ***


10. W BANGKOK

In a city sparkling with gold, flashing with neon and tangled with greenery, it’s challenging to capture the attention of travelers and locals, but W Bangkok has been doing so since it opened in 2012. Keeping up with the latest trends seems to be in the DNA of the W brand, and its Bangkok outpost is no different with playful interior designs, passion for fashion and a vibrant party scene bubbling away every evening. All 403 rooms and suites feature generous helpings of colour, funky installations and some of the latest gadgets to round-off the experience. W Bangkok also has a luxury spa, 24 hour fitness room and a stunning outside swimming pool, whilst their signature restaurant, The Kitchen Table, lays on an incredible buffet breakfast and an all-day dining menu. You can also drink in style downstairs at Woo Bar, a popular spot for Bangkok’s fashionistas, cocktail lovers as well as all the trendy hotel guests.


9. COMO METROPOLITAN BANGKOK

A contemporary Bangkok stylish design hotel, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok is an urban escape located in the central business district of Sathorn, between the river and Sukhumvit District. The property is 10-minutes away from Silom’s buzzing nightlife scene and easily reachable by BTS Station or MRT train networks. The hotel combines passionate service with award-winning Thai restaurant, nahm, glow restaurant for COMO Shambhala Cuisine, and Met Bar. Created by Singapore interiors architect Kathryn Kng, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok has 169 generously sized rooms and suites. All of them are clean, crisp open spaces filled with natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. Details include carefully sourced Asian antiques, furniture by contemporary designers and artists, mosaic and limestone bathrooms, Thai silk curtains and – in select suites – private terraces.


8. SO SOFITEL BANGKOK

In the heart of Thailand’s vibrant capital, SO Sofitel Bangkok is a luxurious urban hotel where design meets pleasure. A mélange of Thai culture and French elegance, this masterpiece embodies the five elements: Water, Earth, Wood, Metal and Fire. A collaboration of Thailand’s top five designers and world renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix, SO Sofitel Bangkok is elegant and refined, yet casual and approachable.  A seductive statement of art and design, this 30-story hotel offers enchanting views of Lumpini Park and the city skyline. Each guest room features Water, Wood, Earth or Metal elements, floor-to-ceiling windows, a lavish bathtub and a serene rain shower. After exploring the city, you can retreat to the hotel’s sparkling infinity pool to take in panoramic cityscape views.


7. ANANTARA SIAM BANGKOK HOTEL

Traditional Thai architecture, hand-painted silk ceilings, intricate artwork, an impressively scaled lobby and glorious gardens, the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel – a Four Seasons Hotel in an earlier life – offers exquisite accommodations and gracious hospitality strategically located in the corporate, diplomatic and shopping heart of Bangkok’s bustling core. Featuring 340 luxurious, oversized rooms, including 33 suites and eight unique garden cabanas, the property offers exquisite accommodations. The hotel offers seven international choices for dining, ranging from Thai and Italian cuisine to a Japanese eatery and a Manhattan-style grill restaurant  The crowning masterpiece of the hotel is the lobby, which features grand columns with high ceilings adorned by exquisite hand-painted silk panels.

  • Hotel website: Anantara Siam Bangkok
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities at when booking Anantara Siam Bangkok via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, welcome tea upon arrival delivered to the room, fresh fruit platter upon arrival, and one Thai set lunch or dinner for two persons at Spice Market).


6. BANYAN TREE BANGKOK

Banyan Tree Bangkok is a vertical resort, towering 61 floors above the city providing some of the best views of Bangkok. The 327 rooms are the largest in Bangkok. In fact, all rooms, many recently refurbished, are mini-suites featuring a generous separate living area. Most come with amazing views and many have access to the club lounge. The sixteen two bedroom suites are perfect for families. Leisure facilities include an outdoor pool on the 21st floor, gym and fitness centre with Muay Thai and other fitness classes and Bangkok’s largest spa facility with 16 treatment rooms. Foodies won’t be disappointed at the Banyan Tree Hotel, since the hotel features 9 world-class restaurants and bars. The hotel is probably best known for its spectacular 61st floor rooftop, which features the fine dining restaurant Vertigo and the stylish and sophisticated Moon Bar


5. THE PENINSULA BANGKOK

Located on the bank of the scenic Chao Phraya River, The Peninsula Bangkok is one of Bangkok’s most famous hotels. The epitome of luxury Thai style and comfort, guest rooms (even minimum rate rooms offer a sitting area) and suites at hotel all command magnificent river views. Intelligently designed, marrying traditional style elements with all the conveniences of state-of-the-art technology and the legendary Peninsula 24-hour service, guests are guaranteed a stay to remember. The hotel’s shuttle boat service brings the hotel close to all major shopping areas and tourist attractions. There is a three-tiered outdoor swimming pool with Thai Salas, two outdoor floodlit tennis courts and fitness center. There are five outstanding dining venues however it is the restaurant Thiptara on the river that stands out.

  • Hotel website: The Peninsula Bangkok
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities at The Peninsula Bangkok when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, afternoon tea for 2 on one day during your stay, and a Thai Baht 800 spa gift certificate per person per stay for any treatment).


4. ST REGIS BANGKOK

Situated along Bangkoks renowned Rajadamri Road, in the heart of the citys dynamic commercial and business corridor, the St. Regis Bangkok wraps guests in a world of timeless elegance. From the iconic lobby, sweeping views through the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a panoramic of the city’s sparkling skyline, verdant parks, and rolling golf courses. Understated elegance also permeates the 174 guest rooms and 49 suites, which all feature a St. Regis bed with designer fittings meeting the sophisticated Thai-influenced décor. Smooth wooden floors, lush carpeting, and opulent upholstery complete the glamorous scene. Facilities include a rooftop pool, and Elemis spa, and several bars and dining venues. At all hours, signature St. Regis butlers are on hand to attend to guests every request, guaranteeing a memorable stay, whether for business or leisure.

  • Hotel websiteSt Regis Bangkok
  • tip: get free VIP amenities at the St Regis Bangkok when booking via Virtuoso  (e.g. daily breakfast, room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary dinner at Jojo for up to two people per room).
  • Review: read my review of the St Regis Bangkok here.


3. MANDARIN ORIENTAL BANGKOK

Voted repeatedly as one of the best hotels in the world by reputed magazines including Institutional Investor and Conde Nast Traveler, The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is ideally situated on the banks of the Chao-Phraya River and in close proximity to Silom’s shopping and business districts. Since opening its doors in 1876, The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok has captured the hearts and minds of royalty and heads of state, industrialists, authors and artists, as well as famed travelers from far away places. Facilities include the world-class Oriental Spa, which is located across the river with a hotel boat shuttling guests to and from the Spa. The Oriental also boasts 10 different dining options all located within this city-resort. The hotel has won many accolades in its 135 years and is renowned for its superb service and facilities.

  • Hotel websiteMandarin Oriental Bangkok
  • Other accolades: Mandarin Oriental Bangkok also features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in Thailand.
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking Mandarin Oriental Bangkok via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily buffet breakfast, early check in, late check out, and one Thai Buffet Lunch for up to two persons at Sala Rim Naam).
  • Review: read my review of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok here.


2. PARK HYATT BANGKOK

Embracing its enviable location in one of the world’s most popular tourist destination, Park Hyatt Bangkok offers a refined and uniquely Thai experience, reflecting the country’s rich culture and legendary gracious hospitality. The hotel is housed within Central Embassy, a 37-floor complex that has become one of Bangkok’s most iconic modern landmark since its opening, both because of its futuristic architecture and its ultra-luxury lifestyle mall, which can be directly accessed from the hotel. A devoted team of hosts dedicates themselves to providing Park Hyatt’s world-class discreet and sincere service. Park Hyatt Bangkok houses 222 luxurious rooms, including 32 suites, featuring unobstructed views of the capital. The exceptional drinking and dining venues all provide a level of service and hospitality that will wow even the most discerning travelers.


1. THE SIAM HOTEL

The Siam hotel – opened in 2013 – is in a category of its own and unique to the Thai capital. With only 39 suites and 3 acres of property along the river, guests are able to experience a resort atmosphere and a level of exclusivity that is not available at Bangkok’s larger luxury properties. The suites at the Siam are amongst the largest in city, all outfitted with plush furnishings, super-sized king beds and lofty ceilings. Each room has been individually designed with original turn of the century oriental artwork and antiques. Guests can also choose for an intimately private pool villa and bask in either Thai, Chinese or Colonial surrounds. Every villa is awash with lush internal gardens and features a private swimming pool and open-air roof terrace, perfect for private sunbathing, evening cocktails or tête-à-tête dining.


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Travel news: this month (June 2018) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (June 29, 2018): June 2018 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. Six Senses Fiji is now open
  2. Air Tahiti Nui reveals its B787 cabin & livery
  3. Mandarin Oriental will open a resort in Grand Cayman
  4. Boeing is developing a new hypersonic jet concept
  5. Fairmont opens a brand new resort in the Maldives
  6. W Hotels returns to Sydney in 2020
  7. W Hotels will open a retreat in Ibiza
  8. Fiji Airways becomes the first Oneworld connect partner
  9. Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi opens its doors
  10. Emirates will operate the world’s shortest A380 route


1. Six Senses Fiji is now open

Known for its idyllic crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, thick tropical forests and excellent climate, Six Senses Fiji is located in a magnificent secluded bay on Fiji’s Malolo Island. The private golden sand beach frontage stretches over 2,100 feet (650 meters) in length. Six Senses Fiji offers 26 spacious pool bures (villa) all with private plunge pools and the bures range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet (110 to 150 square meters) including interior and exterior space. For families and groups, two- to five-bed­room residences come with pool, kitchen, dining room and generous living spaces, of­fering panoramas and easy access to the re­sort’s facilities. Dining options highlight local ingredients, while a Six Senses Spa offers a layered ap­proach to wellness. The resort also hosts Fiji’s largest off-grid solar power system, reflecting the envi­ronmental emphasis of Six Senses Resorts worldwide. Activities include a wide range of experi­ences such as snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. Sustainability is reflected throughout the resort which will be 100 per cent solar pow­ered by the largest micro grid in Fiji using Tesla batteries.


2. Air Tahiti Nui reveals its B787 cabin & livery

French Polynesian airline, Air Tahiti Nui, has revealed the new livery and cabin product that will be introduced with the arrival of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. According to the airline, the new “Tahitian Dreamliner” will start operations in November 2018 on its first services between Tahiti and Auckland, New Zealand, and thrice-weekly to Los Angeles. The Tahitian Dreamliner will carry two red lines on its sides representing the flag of French Polynesia. A collection of tattoos will grace the rear portion of the fleet and tells a visual story about Tahiti and its people. All international airplanes are assigned a 2 letter registration code designating its country of origin, and 3 more letters unique to each plane. The carrier used those 3 letters for meaningful Tahitian words: MUA, (forward), NUI (big), VAA (canoe), TOA (warrior). Woven together the fleet names have a hidden meaning: The warrior (TOA) going forward (MUA) in the great (NUI) canoe (VAA). The new Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet will accommodate up to 294 passengers onboard on three different classes, consisting of Poerava Business, Moana Premium, and Moana Economy. Poerava Business will offer a total of 30 seats configured in five rows on a six-abreast (2-2-2) arrangement. The business class cabin has been enhanced with the introduction of a 180-degree full-flat seat with wider storage areas, designed by Rockwell Collins.


3. Mandarin Oriental will open a resort on Grand Cayman

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage a luxury resort and residences on Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, currently scheduled to open in 2021. Mandarin Oriental, Grand Cayman will be an exclusive 100-room beachfront resort with 89 branded Residences at Mandarin Oriental. Located 15 minutes from the airport, the resort will be situated on 67 acres at St. James Point, on the southern shore of the island. The site benefits from an elevated position overlooking its own secluded white-sand beach and offers guests and residents a truly private luxury retreat. The spacious, contemporary rooms and suites will all face the sea offering exceptional sunrise and sunset views. There will be five restaurants and bars providing a variety of experiences and views over the ocean. The development will also have its own farm which will provide a ‘farm to table’ dining experience. The resort will feature a range of wellness options including a spacious Spa at Mandarin Oriental, a comprehensive fitness centre, several outdoor swimming pools and tennis courts. Landscaped walking and cycling trails will traverse the 67-acre site and a Beach Club will offer a variety of leisure and water sports activities.


4. Boeing is developing a new hypersonic jet concept

According to CNN, Boeing wants to make a passenger plane that can shuttle customers around the globe at five times the speed of sound. Boeing says the jet could get you anywhere in the world in just one to three hours. With top speeds exceeding 6000 km (3800 mi) per hour, the trek from New York to London, for example, could take 120 minutes. Currently the trip takes around seven hours. Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, says the concept is still in the early stages of development. Key technical challenges will need to be solved before the company will even produce a prototype, Boeing spokesperson Brianna Jackson said Wednesday. It’s possible the concept could become a reality in 20 to 30 years, Jackson said in an email. “Developments takes years to complete, and even more so with a technology that requires additional testing and refinement as we work to understand how it might fit into the market place,” she said. If Boeing’s latest concept is realized it will easily rank among the fastest piloted vehicles ever flown. It would be more than twice as quick as the legendary Concorde, which could make transatlantic flights in under four hours and retired over a decade ago.


5. Fairmont opens a brand-new resort in the Maldives

Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi is a 120 luxury all-villa resort that offers exactly as its name translates – Secret Water Island. The island covers approximately 160,000 sqm (16 hectares) of land and features one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives, while the resort includes a 200 m (656 ft) long swimming pool which traverses the length of the island, a reinvigorating destination spa and an intricate open air bamboo bar created by Balinese artisans who did not use any man-made materials in the structure. The architecture and design are typical of this exotic paradise, with the tastefully designed private water villas taking full advantage of the stunning location. Thatched roofs sit atop whitewashed walls, and the villas are erected on posts that let them hover over the crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean, with private jetties offering panoramic views out over the sea. The villas are designed with personal deck areas that are furnished with sun loungers that surround individual plunge pools so guests have the utmost privacy on their vacation. The outdoor areas of the villas are orientated towards the sea, so residents are completely isolated from the other villas.


6. W Hotels returns to Sydney in 2020

The new-build W Sydney hotel will be part of ‘The Ribbon’, an electrifying development designed by the award-winning architect HASSEL that will transform Sydney’s skyline on Darling Harbour. W Sydney will feature 593 stylish guestrooms, suites and serviced apartments. Guests can spend lazy days or wild nights at the Wet Deck, the brand’s iconic pool deck with shimmering, Insta-worthy views of Darling Harbour. A restaurant serving up local flavors as well as two bars, including the brand’s signature see-and-be-seen Living Room, will round out the hotel’s buzzing cocktail and cuisine scene. W Sydney will also be home to the W brand’s signature AWAY Spa , as well as a state-of-the-art fitness, and plenty of event  space (including a grand ballroom) which will set the stage for creative meetings and sparkling social ocassions. The opening of W Sydney will mark the third W in Australia alongside W Brisbane (just opened) and W Melbourne (opening 2020). Together with recent openings like W Amman, W Panama and W Shanghai, the Aussie openings will bring W Hotels close to its goal of 75 hotels by the end of 2020.


7. W Hotels will open a retreat in Ibiza

There is some more exciting news from W Hotels, since the group announced plans to debut a new hotel in Ibiza in summer 2019. W Ibiza will be located in Santa Eulalia del Río, a buzzing beachside neighborhood centrally located to Ibiza’s famous beaches, nightclubs and rural-chic inland attractions. W Ibiza will embrace the destination’s eclectic roots through bold and innovative design, capturing the free spirit of Ibiza whilst elevating the experience to a new level. Three distinct concepts designed for dining, drinking and relaxing will be complemented by a lively rooftop sunset bar and adults only WET Deck (the brand’s signature take on the poolside scene). A second WET Deck will have direct access to the beachfront promenade and the white sands of Santa Eulalia beach, which guests will be able to enjoy from W Ibiza’s very own ‘Chiringuito’, the brands elevated take on the quintessential beach bars of Ibiza. The 162 guestrooms and suites will bring a new level of eclectic luxury to the Isle, with beloved W comforts to ensure guests are fully recharged for the night ahead.


8. Fiji Airways becomes the first Oneworld connect partner

Oneworld launched a new platform for linking up to the world’s premier airline alliance – enabling customers to enjoy more services and benefits across an even more extensive global network. The first airline to join in the new capacity as a oneworld connect partner will be Fiji Airways. The intital oneworld sponsors of Fiji Airways will be all four of oneworld’s original founding members – Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas. Oneworld Governing Board Chairman Pekka Vauramo, CEO of Finnair, said “In the 20 years since oneworld’s conception in 1998, global airline alliances have expanded their breadth to the extent that they now account for 60 per cent of total industry revenues and capacity globally, and 70 per cent of revenues between the world’s top 125 business city airports. In the future, oneworld will target as full members large airlines that have a significant presence in the alliance’s prime target market, providing connections between the world’s leading business centres. Meantime, oneworld connect enables us to bring together more airlines to complement the alliance’s global leaders, so customers can earn rewards and feel recognised while travelling even further.”

Oneworld connect partners will provide select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any oneworld member airline travelling on their flights, with a more extensive range of benefits offered with their oneworld sponsors:

  • Customers with Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby status in any oneworld member airline’s frequent flyer programme will be able to use priority check-in desks, where available. Also, customers with Emerald or Sapphire status will be offered priority boarding.
  • Through check-in of passengers and their baggage for journeys including connections between a connect carrier and any of its oneworld sponsors.
  • The ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer rewards, and earn frequent flyer status points, for eligible flights.
  • Access to select lounges at key airports for First or Business Class passengers or those with eligible top-tier frequent flyer status.


9. Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi opens its doors

Hyatt Hotels announced the opening of Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residence Emirates Pearl, the first Grand Hyatt hotel to open in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city, Abu Dhabi. The luxury property combines iconic brand elements and awe-inspiring design and architecture with a central location in the capital that offers easy access to world-class shopping, dining and cultural events. Meticulously designed with bold and vibrant features, the property houses 332 guestrooms, 36 lavish suites, including the Presidential and Palatial Royal Suites, and 60 full-service one and two-bedroom residences, ranging from 968  to 1500 square feet, each thoughtfully conceptualized with key locally inspired details. For those residing in Suite or Club floor, additional exclusivity can be discovered on the 26th floor, as the Grand Club Lounge will provide a luxurious living space with sweeping views of the city’s skyline and the glittering Arabian Gulf. The hotel is home to a variety of signature bars and restaurants, each offering a distinctive culinary journey with the promise of delivering truly memorable dining experiences for hotel guests and locals alike. The hotel also offers a stunning 164 foot outdoor infinity pool and the well-being facilities extend over an entire floor with spacious outdoor terraces, providing a fully immersive well-being experience.


10. Emirates will operate the world’s shortest A380 route

Emirates will be operating a one-off A380 service to Muscat International Airport on 1 July 2018. This special flight of the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft is part of the airline’s celebration of its 25th year of service to Oman this year, and also re-affirms the newly opened airport infrastructure to handle A380 operations. The new passenger terminal at Oman International Airport recently opened its doors in March 2018. The Emirates A380 service will operate as EK 862 and EK 863, departing Dubai at 0825hrs and arriving in Muscat at 0935hrs. The flight will depart Muscat at 1205hrs arriving in Dubai at 1310hrs on the same day. In 1993, Emirates inaugurated its first service to Muscat and since then, has carried more than 4.3 million passengers to and from Oman. The airline started operating with a Boeing 777-200 aircraft with a four weekly services. Today, the airline flies to Muscat with three daily services utilising Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, connecting passengers to over 150 global destinations. The Emirates A380 flying to Muscat will be set in a three-class configuration, with 429 seats in Economy Class on the lower deck, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 14 First Class Private Suites on the upper deck. Emirates is the largest operator of A380 aircraft. The airline currently has 103 A380s in service and 59 pending delivery flying to almost 50 destinations.


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The post Travel news: this month (June 2018) in luxury travel appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

An exclusive Soneva Maldives offer for the readers of my blog

As you all know, I am a big fan of the Soneva hotel group, my favorite hotel brand in the world, which manages ultraluxe properties in the Maldives and Thailand. The ethos and values it is run by are what sets Soneva on different footing as compared to other high-end hotel brands. In addition, there’s also a lot of love and romance in the story of Soneva, which was founded in 1995 by Sonu Shivdasani, an Indian-British hotelier, and his wife Eva Malmstrom, a Swedish fashion model.

And I have some great news to share with you. Soneva has created a special package exclusively for the readers of my blog who are interested in dining from the world’s top culinary masters against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. The offer (below) at Soneva Fushi is valid only in August 2018 and the inclusions are phenomenal.

This August eight Michelin stars will light up Soneva Fushi’s kitchens. Japan’s youngest three-starred chef, Kenji Gyoten, is one of them, returning to offer guests the chance to skip the six-month long waiting list at his restaurant, Sushi Gyoten, in Fukuoka. Also don’t miss France’s three-starred Chef Christian Le Squer who defines himself as a creator of flavours and composer of tastes. Another Chef is Kiko Moya from Spain, who brings his Michelin stars to the Maldives and offers gourmet explorers dishes full of delicacy, skill and traditional flavours.

Readers of my blog can book the following exclusive package:

  • Complimentary upgrade to one bedroom beachfront villa with pool
  • Full Board (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Sea Plane transfers to and from Malé International Airport
  • Choice of one of the following Michelin-starred Dinners
    • Dinner with 3* Michelin-starred Chef Christian Le Squer (August 11 – 25 only)
    • Omakase Lunch or Dinner with 3* Michelin-starred Chef Kenji Gyoten (August 19 – 29 only)
    • Dinner with 2* Michelin-starred Chef Kiko Moya (August 25 – September 1 only)
  • One signature Soneva Fushi experience
  • Complimentary Watersports

Prices start at $8,990 USD for 4 days 3 nights for two adults, valid between 1 – 31 August 2018 at Soneva Fushi only.

To book this package, drop me an email at info@theluxurytravelexpert.com, after which I will introduce you to the Soneva team. Or alternately, you can directly contact soneva via email at reservations@soneva.com or phone (+91 124 4511000) and mention booking code AMBAUG2018.

Read here my review of Soneva Fushi, or watch my Youtube clip below.


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The post An exclusive Soneva Maldives offer for the readers of my blog appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Trip report: Austrian Airlines B777 Business Class Colombo to Vienna

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last March, I enjoyed a sublime holiday in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (June 26, 2018): Review of Austrian Airlines’ B777 Business Class from Colombo to Vienna.

On March 28th 2018, I flew Business Class in an Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER from Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Sri Lanka to Vienna International Airport (VIE) in Austria. Austria’s flag carrier – a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group – only operates a once weekly flight to/from Sri Lanka in the winter months. Although its flatbed seats are not the best in the industry, Austrian Airlines is my favorite European airline for flying Business Class. The service and amenities are terrific, and IMHO, Austrian’s food is the best in the skies (similar to what you usually get served in First Class). Within the Lufthansa group – which comprises Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings, and Brussels Airlines – Austrian offers the best Business Class product.

Austrian Airlines features in my top 10 lists of best airlines for longhaul Business Class and airlines that serve the most delicious food.

Have you ever flown Austrian Airlines’ Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.

  • Trip: Colombo (CMB) to Vienna (VIE)
  • Airline: Austrian Airlines
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200ER
  • Aircraft registration number: OE-LPC (name: Dream of Freedom)
  • Flight Number: OS48
  • Date: March 28, 2018
  • On time departure: yes (10 am)
  • On time arrival: yes (4.30 pm)
  • Miles: 4630
  • Flight time: 10 hours
  • Seat: 5K
  • Class: Business

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Araliya lounge at Bandaranaike International Airport
  3. Facts & figures about Austrian Airlines’ B777 fleet
  4. Business Class cabin
  5. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  6. Amenities
  7. Meals
  8. Entertainment
  9. Onboard internet
  10. Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
  11. My verdict (score)

Click to view slideshow.

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1. COST OF MY TICKET

The cost of my one-way ticket from Colombo to Vienna was 300 euros + 52,500 Miles& More miles. Miles and More is the frequent flyer program of Lufthansa.


2. ARALIYA LOUNGE AT BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Austrian Airlines does not have its own lounge at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, nor does its mother company Lufthansa or any other Star Alliance partner. Instead Austrian Airlines’ Business Class passengers have access to the uninspiring Araliya lounge, which is a contract lounge and also caters to passengers of other airlines (e.g. KLM, Qatar Airways). The lounge is basically a large room, with plenty of comfortable (but old-fashioned) loungers arranged around coffee tables. One side of the lounge features a mediocre buffet (serving hot and cold dishes, including a few Sri Lankan curries) with some dining tables on the side. There are also a few working stations with computers available. The lounge is in need of a refurbishment since the carpet and furnishings have a dated look. The best part of the lounge are the floor-to-ceiling windows which offer a great view of the apron and runway.

BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
BANDARANAIKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
ARALIYA LOUNGE: ENTRANCE
ARALIYA LOUNGE: ENTRANCE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE
ARALIYA LOUNGE

3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT AUSTRIAN AIRLINES’ B777 FLEET

Austrian Airlines currently operates a fleet of 83 aircraft, including:

  • 5 Boeing 777-200ER
  • 6 Boeing 767-300ER

The Boeing 777-200ER has a height of 18.8 m (62 ft), a length of 63.7 m (209 ft) and a wingspan of 60.9 m (200 ft), making it the largest aircraft in the Austrian Airlines fleet. It offers room for 306 passengers. The “Triple Seven”, as the aircraft is called in the airline sector, has a range of up to 11,500 km (7145 mi) after loading. It is deployed by Austrian Airlines on flights to Bangkok, Chicago, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and is also used in the summer months on flights to Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beijing as well as to Mauritius, Colombo, New York (JFK and EWR) in the winter season, and also to Cape Town starting on October 27, 2018.

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777 (AFTER LANDING)
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BOEING 777 (AFTER LANDING)

4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

Business Class on Austrian Airlines’ Boeing 777s is spread over two cabins: a large Business Class cabin with 32 seats (in seven rows) is located behind the cockpit, while a smaller and more intimate Business Class cabin with only 16 seats (in three rows) is located in front of the Economy Class cabin. Both Business Class cabins are divided by the main boarding door, a galley and two lavatories.

The Business Class seats are placed in a staggered configuration, a so-called Sogerma Solstys layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front. The same layout can be found on Brussels Airlines’ A330, Finnair’s A330/A340Swiss’ A340/A330, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767. The staggered Business Class cabin configuration on Austrian Airways comprises 10 single seats, while the remaining 38 seats come in pairs. The seats enjoy a high degree of privacy (albeit not complete), as none of the rows quite line up, so nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle. Most seats also have direct aisle access, except for the paired window seats, where the passenger seated along the window will have to climb over his/her neighbour’s legs to reach the aisle.

Austrian Airlines’ Business Class cabin design looks beautiful, airy and quite trendy with a red-blue-white color scheme contrasting with the dark grey seat covers. It definitely looks much fresher and feels more luxurious as compared to the design aboard its Lufthansa Group sister company Swiss, which uses the same layout (read here my trip report onboard a Swiss B777). If you have a choice, fly Austrian, not Swiss: although Swiss still has the reputation of being Europe’s best airline, IMHO, it is outclassed (in almost every aspect) by its little Austrian sibling.

Click here for the seat map of Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER.

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

I had chosen seat 5K for the 10 hour flight from Colombo to Vienna.

All Business Class seats feature the same dimensions: 152 cm (60 inches) in pitch, a width of 50 cm (19,5 inch), and a 180 degree recline. All seats have at least one large work surface on the side (where you can set up your laptop), with all single seats and some paired seats featuring this work space on both sides (a so-called ‘throne seat’). One side of the seat features a power port with international adapters, a personal reading lamp (at eye level), and a standard wired handset located below a flap in the arm rest. The latter controls the volume of the IFE (inflight entertainment) system, attendant call, overhead light, and monitor standby. The other arm rest holds the seat controls to adjust the seat position (from take-off position to fully flat) and firmness of the cushion (which includes a massage function), as well as the fold-out meal tray (which is hard to get out). In front of the seat, there’s a large, high quality entertainment screen (more on that below) and a foot compartment.

The seat is comfortable when you are sitting upright, but it’s a somewhat different story in its lie-flat position. Although it’s a 180 degree recline, the seat and your lower legs descend into a space carved out for it in the seat(s) in front, below the entertainment screen. This foot compartment is quite narrow, making it hard to switch position during your sleep while not waking up, as your legs will constantly hit the walls (although the seats that do not have the ‘throne’ feature have a little more space for the feet, hence making for a more comfortable sleep). In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it feel like you are resting on the ground or in a coffin (because of the seat walls), and making it very uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom. On a positive note, Austrian Airways provides excellent blankets and very good pillows, which all greatly improve the sleeping comfort (and somewhat compensate for the not so good lie-flat seats).

What are the best Business Class seats on Austrian Airlines’ B777s? Click here for a seat map.

  • The seats in the second cabin (row 8 to 10) are preferable since this cabin feels more intimate.
  • The single best seats for solo travelers are the single seats (all of them are ‘throne seats’ on the B777).
  • Travel companions should go for the paired, middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There are also paired window seats in rows 2, 4, 6 and 10, but here the passenger in the window seat will have to jump over his/her neighbour’s feet to get access to aisle.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Austrian Airlines’ B777S? Click here for a seat map.

  • I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 7 and 8 since the proximity to the galley may be bothersome.
  • I also suggest to avoid the seats in row 10, which are directly in front of the Economy Class bassinet seats (so you may end up being close to young children).
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT: FLATBED

6. AMENITIES

Austrian Airlines provides excellent amenities to its Business Class passengers:

  • An amenity kit, which comes under the form of a redesigned version of Austrian Airlines’ established ‘Schuhsackerl’ (shoe bag). Its content features travel essentials such as socks, sleeping mask, shoehorn, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, and cosmetic Edition Edelweiss items (moisturizer and lip balm) by Sin.
  • A comfortable, thick pillow.
  • A stylish and comfortable, high-quality blanket.
  • Noise cancelling headphones (you cannot keep these as the crew collects them before landing).
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS AMENITY KIT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BLANKET & PILLOW
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BLANKET & PILLOW
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS PILLOW
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS PILLOW
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BLANKET
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS BLANKET
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS HEADPHONES
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS HEADPHONES

7. MEALS

IMHO, Austrian Airlines has its meal service down to an art. First, the food comes from DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London and New York. Second, the crew rolls a selection of starters, entrees and desserts through the cabin, so for each course, you can always choose what you want. Then, to make certain the delectable dishes are complimented by the perfect drinks, Austrian Airlines has hired an on-board sommelier to develop wine pairings for its Business Class passengers. And finally, when you need a caffeine kick (and who doesn’t on those long international flights?), you get to choose from 11 different types of Austrian Meinl coffee. So, my expectations were very high, and Austrian did not disappoint.

Lunch was served after takeoff, and I choose the following items from the menu:

  • Antipasta from the trolley:
    • chicken curry salad
    • traditional air-dried beef ham / mountain cheese
    • grilled vegetables
    • smoked eggplant salad
    • salmon tartare / pine nuts with rosemary
    • traditional black pudding pastries /herb dip
  • Viennese style potato soup with rey bread croutons
  • Main course: grilled prawns, homemade pappardelle, light tomato sauce, and fresh parmesan
  • Dessert: cheese and exotic fruits from the trolley, double nougat tart, raspberry sorbet, and sweet curd soufflé crepes

A second, lighter meal was served 2 hours prior to landing:

  • Starter: mediterranean feta salas
  • Main course: Viennese style red pepper chicken, homemade spaetzle, Austrian chocolate cake, oven fresh bread selection, and freshly brewed coffee or tea
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES ONBOARD CHEF
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES ONBOARD CHEF
HOT TOWEL
HOT TOWEL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS COFFEE MENU

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: APERITIF

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: APERITIF
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: APERITIF
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: STARTER
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: SOUP
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: SOUP
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: MAIN COURSE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: MAIN COURSE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: MAIN COURSE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: MAIN COURSE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT & CHEESE
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS LUNCH: DESSERT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL

8. ENTERTAINMENT

Each seat features a private 15 inches (38 cm) entertainment touchscreen. The entertainment program offers a decent selection with a total of 50 movies and 60 TV programs (these are updated on a monthly basis).

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES BUSINESS CLASS INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

9. ONBOARD INTERNET

Unfortunately, onboard WiFi is currently not offered by Austrian Airlines.


10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

# CREW: Austrian Airlines’ crew members – with their bright red outfits – are amongst the best and most friendly in the world, and it was not different on this flight.

# SNACK BAR: between the two meal services, a walk-up snack bar is set up in the galley between the two Business Class cabins.

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: SNACK BAR
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS: SNACK BAR

# LAVATORY: There are 3 lavatories for Business Class passengers: one behind the cockpit and two in the galley between the two Business Class cabins. The Business Class lavatory design is very simple. The lavatories were kept clean during the flight.

AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY
AUSTRIAN AIRLINES B777 BUSINESS CLASS LAVATORY

# VIEWS: during the flight, there were some great vistas of the Indian Ocean and the mountainous scenery above Oman.

SCENERY AFTER TAKEOFF
SCENERY AFTER TAKEOFF
VIEW OVER THE COAST OF OMAN
VIEW OVER THE COAST OF OMAN
VIEW OVER THE COAST OF OMAN
VIEW OVER THE COAST OF OMAN
LANDING AT VIENNA
LANDING AT VIENNA

11. MY VERDICT
  • Araliya lounge (Colombo): 2/10
  • Cabin design: 8/10
  • Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 5/10
  • Seat privacy: 7/10
  • Food (quality):  10/10
  • Food (quantity): 10/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 8/10
  • WiFi: not available
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8/10

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Top 10 best airline liveries in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (June 25, 2018): Top 10 world’s best airline liveries.

As airlines have evolved over the past few decades, so have the liveries –  or the exterior designs and graphics comprising paint colors and logos – on their aircraft. As airplanes fly across the globe, their often striking liveries not only represent the airlines that operate them but in many instances also serve as traveling ambassadors and symbols for their respective homelands. And liveries, when done right, can be something of beauty. I hereby present my pick of the best aircraft liveries flying the skies.

There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite airline livery in the comment section or take my poll below.

Click to view slideshow.

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10. AZERBIJAN AIRLINES

Azerbijan Airlines, also known as AZAL, is the flag carrier of the country of Azebijan, and operates a mixed fleet, comprising among others B787 Dreamliners and Airbus A340s. AZAL’s A340-500s are the last new aircraft of the type since Airbus stopped assembling the A340s in 2011 due to a lack of new orders. AZAL’s planes feature an unmistakably flamboyant, bold and modern livery. The fuselage of the planes as well as the engine nacelles are painted in dark maritime blue in a waving pattern, with a lighter blue line below as well as multiple lighter blue stripes on the tail. Unfortunately, the planes look better from the outside than inside, since the airline’s onboard product is nothing to write home about.


9. ASIANA

The South Korean-based airline Asiana features a simple yet elegant tail design using traditional Korean colors on a gray background, depicting the petals of a blossoming flower. The use of grey-taupe and brighter red yellow and blues gives each plane a modern, sleek and luxurious look. The long white fuselage is only interrupted by the simple red arrow and the company’s name, countering what would otherwise feel like an unbalanced and over simplified design. Asiana is also the only airlines that gives its livery a name as it is called “Energy of Saekdong”, the Saekdong being a traditional clothing with colorful stripes.


8. QANTAS

Australia’s flag carrier features a streamlined, pawless kangaroo on the tail of its aircraft, with a silver band extending from the tail to the rear of the fuselage. Qantas also bring Aboriginal culture and stories to the world through their Flying Art series. Since 1994, the carrier has commissioned and displayed striking Indigenous liveries on Boeing 747s and 737s. The airline recently launched the fifth aircraft in their Flying Art series, Qantas Dreamliner Emily Kame Kngwarreye, whose stunning livery is inspired by 1991 artwork ‘Yam Dreaming’, painted by the late artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.


7. BRUSSELS AIRLINES

Brussels Airlines – the national carrier of Belgium – features a 14-dot logo on its tail and sides (after an extra dot was added soon after the launch of the livery in response to complaints from superstitious customers). The airline deserves a spot in this list because of its 5 Belgian Icon planes, bringing the world to Belgium and the best of Belgium to the world. Tintin, Magritte, the Smurfs, the Belgian Red Devils and Tomorrowland each fly proudly on an Airbus A320 as Belgian Icons. My favorite is the Magritte plane, which is covered with the famous clouds and birds taken from paintings of René Magritte, a Belgian surrealist artist who had the rare gift to look at things in a very unique way.


6. ETIHAD AIRWAYS 

Created by leading brand consultants Landor Associates, Etihad Airways’ striking and unique livery presents the Abu Dhabi based carrier as the airline of a progressive and innovative cultural hub, firmly rooted in its rich history. The design pattern named ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ uses a colour palette which reflects the varying hues of the landscape of the United Arab Emirates, from the darker sands of Liwa to the lighter colours seen in the Northern Emirates. The UAE national emblem is given prominence along the fuselage next to the Etihad name and the national flag is respectfully featured forward near the cockpit.


5. HAWAIIAN AIRLINES

For more than 88 years, Hawaiian Airlines has remained synonymous with Hawaiian culture, traditions and pride. This is reflected in the carrier’s stunning livery, which is a bold, contemporary rendition of the archipelago’s rich cultural tradition. Pualani (Flower of the Sky), the beloved icon of Hawaiian’s brand for more than four decades, gazes forward on the tail of the aircraft, watching the passengers and crew along their journey. Beneath her, a silver maile lei with woven pakalana flowers wraps around the fuselage in a larger-than-life expression of the aloha spirit.


4. ICELANDAIR

Icelandair has come up with a unique way of celebrating the magnificence of its home country. Dressed in the beautiful colors of an Icelandic winter landscape, the carrier’s aircraft Hekla Aurora flies the northern lights across the Atlantic every day of the year. Not only is the Boeing 757 wrapped in this exquisite livery, but Hekla Aurora’s interior is illuminated with beautiful one-of-a-kind mood lighting recreating the fabulous display of the aurora borealis. Iceland is one of the best places on earth to see these Northern Lights, and it was a spectacular stroke of genius to display them on a plane.


3. FIJI AIRWAYS

Partnering with renowned Fijian Masi Artist, Makereta Matemosi, Fiji Airways created a uniquely Fijian identity that truly celebrates a proud nation and its people. Makereta Matemosi crafted three traditional Masi motifs for the airline, an ancient art form that embodies the traditions and spirit of Fiji. Featured prominently on the tail of the aircraft, the distinctive Teteva symbol represents the friendliness of Fijians’ and their deep caring nature. The Rova motif, on the aircraft engine, symbolizes the warm greeting Fijians extend to visitors, while the Makare motif, which appears around the border of the Teteva on the tail, evokes the allure of clear water flowing on a white sandy beach.


2. AIR NEW ZEALAND

Air New Zealand’s simplistic and beautiful, black and white livery prominently features the iconic official New Zealand Fern Mark, the use of which is managed by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The fern logo on the aft fuselage works in harmony with the airline’s long-established ‘Koru’ logo. The design involved extensive consumer testing including focus groups both in New Zealand and offshore. While most of the fleet sports this white version of the livery the airline continues to have a small number of signature aircraft in an all black version.


1. AIR TAHITI NUI

My favorite aircraft livery is one that has yet to lift off the ground. Air Tahiti Nui has revealed an inconic and unique new look for its Dreamliner fleet, which it will require later this year. The new Tahitian Dreamliner design still features the airline’s iconic blue tones that Tahiti is synonymous with, as well as the airline’s trademark tiare flower. Now they’re accompanied by a new tattoo pattern that represents the story of Tahiti and its people. Air Tahiti Nui has also paid tribute to its Polynesian heritage in a less obvious way. When all four of the Dreamliner fleet arrive, their registration letters will tell a story: “The warrior (TOA) going forward (MUA) in the great (NUI) canoe (VAA).”


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Top 10 most amazing treehouse hotels in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (June 11, 2018): Top 10 best treehouse hotels in the world.

Most of us have had that everlasting longing for a treehouse ever since we were children. There is something about hiding up in the trees surrounded by the blissful sounds of nature that has called to all of us at least once or twice. Make all of your treehouse dreams come true in my selection of 10 stunning treehouse hotels across the globe.

There’s more info below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite treehouse hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

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10. TREEHOTEL, SWEDEN

Why not create a hotel that gives people a chance to experience nature amongst the tree-tops, while also providing a uniquely designed housing experience? These questions led Scandinavia’s leading architects to create Treehotel in the pine forest of Swedish Lapland, where seven rooms are suspended 4-6 meters (13-20 ft) above ground with spectacular views of the Lule River valley, miles of forest and a powerful river. The Mirrorcube is the hotel’s most exciting accommodation, camouflaged by mirrored walls that reflect the Northern Lights and the surrounding boreal fores. Guests here indulge in meals made with the freshest local produce and enjoy excursions such as fat-biking through the taiga, dog sledding, and family ice-fishing trips. Treehotel was inspired by the film ”The Tree Lover” by Jonas Selberg Augustsen.

  • Hotel website: Treehotel
  • Other accolades: Treehotel also features in my top 10 list of the quirkiest hotels in the world.


9. POST RANCH INN, USA

Nestled on the cliffs of California’s Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn offers a perfect palette that balances its stunning natural setting with uniquely designed rooms, award-winning dining, and a signature spa experience. The luxury resort’s organic architecture embraces the dramatic beauty of the Big Sur coastline, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel’s surrounding redwoods. The lodge features 39 rooms, including several free-standing tree houses built on stilts 3 m (9 ft) off the forest ground to protect the delicate root balls below. Triangular in shape, each tree house features a king-sized bed, window seat, desk, fireplace, and skylight to watch the stars from your bed each evening. From Post Ranch Inn, you can explore all the spectacular scenery that Big Sur has to offer, or take a short drive to the picturesque towns of Monterey and Carmel.

  • Hotel website: Post Ranch Inn
  • Other accolades: The Post Ranch Inn also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most spectacular cliffside hotels, the world’s best restaurants with a view, and the best luxury hotels & resorts in the USA.
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP perks at the Post Ranch Inn when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check in, late check out, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Review: read my review of the Post Ranch Inn Hotel here.


8. KEEMALA, PHUKET, THAILAND

Curving shapes and a highly unusual architecture are the inventive dwellings of Keemala, an all pool villa wonderland nestled well away from the Phuket crowds and overlooking Kamala Village and the Andaman Sea. For fun seekers the resort is close enough to Kamala Beach and the liveliness of Patong Beach and all the dynamic action that Phuket has to offer, yet far enough removed to step back and take time to enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the rainforest and a plethora of holistic activities and cuisine to aid wellbeing. Shaded by an enchanted canopy of rainforest and connected together by a network of jungle walkways, the resort’s 38 villas are designed for guests wishing to experience a rustic, yet lavish, escape. Some villas are built in the canopy, featuring two floors complete with a private pool, upper level master bedroom, and a large lounge and dining area on the lower level.

  • Hotel website: Keemala
  • Other accolades: Keemala also features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Phuket and the most instagrammable hotels in the world.
KEEMALA, PHUKET, THAILAND

7. TSALA TREETOP LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA

Like the monumental ruins of an ancient central African civilisation, Tsala’s impressive stone-masonry entrance flanked by water features leads to a magnificent foyer supported by Blackwood columns. The elaborate afro-baroque décor’s earthy colours, rich textures and handcrafted fittings are inspired by the diverse cultures of Africa, with the sophistication of the Western World. The views are breathtaking, whether from the exotic dining room, intimate glassed-in lounge, or large open decks high above the forest floor. Tsala features 16 lavish treetop suites, styled with sophistication and modern touches for pure luxury. Constructed of stone, wood and glass, these beautiful tree-house suites comprise a plush bedroom, elegant sitting room with a fireplace and spacious bathroom fit for royalty. Extending into the forest is a private deck with infinity pool providing the ultimate privacy.

  • Hotel website: Tsala Treetop Lodge


6. CHEWTON GLEN, UNITED KINGDOM

Chewton Glen is a country house hotel situated less than two hours from central London, located on the border of Hampshire and Dorset. The picturesque landscape of the New Forest – William the Conqueror’s royal hunting ground – is on the hotel’s doorstep. Hidden away in a wooded valley you will find 14 of the hotels suites situated in luxury treehouses. The treehouses are unique in every sense. Built high among the trees of a secluded valley, each treehouse is an unforgettable setting for unwinding, for relaxing, for simply being. From their private balcony guests feel the ultimate seclusion, high above ground, far from everyday life. The interiors let nature in, with huge windows giving a panoramic view through the canopy to the valley beyond. For something a little more special stay in The Yews, a private and secluded treehouse that can sleep up to twelve.

  • Hotel website: Chewton Glen
  • Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).


5. HAPUKU LODGE + TREE HOUSES, NEW ZEALAND

Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses is a contemporary country hotel located on a deer breeding farm in the South Island of New Zealand, 12 km (7 mi) north of the renowned eco-marine town of Kaikoura. It sits snugly at the base of the Kaikoura Seaward Mountain Range, with the Kaikoura coast and famed Mangamaunu Bay to the east. The lodge provides luxurious accommodation on Kaikoura’s rugged coastline, a place for guests to relax in its intimate indoor/outdoor setting and a place from which they can explore the larger maritime landscape of Kaikoura. The lodge’s five tree houses are unique, nested in the canopy of a native Kanuka grove. The tree houses are designed to complement the natural environment, as your bedroom in the sky. Their large windows bring the tree canopies into the bedroom and provide impressive views of Kaikoura’s dramatic mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

  • Hotel website: Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses


4. &BEYOND LAKE MANYARA TREE LODGE, TANZANIA

Most people think that the famous tree-climbing lions at Lake Manyara have developed their climbing habit to get away from annoying insects. However, they might just be jealous of the magnificent treehouse suites at &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. Cradled in the boughs of an ancient mahogany forest, the lodge blends into the natural beauty of its breathtaking surroundings. Designed to exert minimal impact on the environment, &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge offers an exclusive interpretive safari in a remote, game-rich wilderness. Overlooking a forest boma, or outdoor dining area, lined with traditional dugout canoes, guest areas are characterized by soaring spaces that house local artworks and tactile fabrics. An interactive kitchen allows guests to observe the preparation of delicious dishes while enjoying spectacular forest views.

  • Hotel website: &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge
  • Other accolades: &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Tanzania.


3. WILDERNESS SAFARI’S BISATE LODGE, RWANDA

Comprising just six spacious forest villas designed as treehouses, Bisate offers a luxurious base from which to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region. Situated within the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate is surrounded by natural splendour, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. This spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture.

  • Hotel website: Bisate Lodge
  • Other accolades: Bisate Lodge features in my list of the best new hotels of 2017.


2. FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE, THAILAND

A natural paradise surrounded by majestic mountains, Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle puts you in an exquisite bamboo jungle close to some of Thailand’s oldest civilizations. Here, you can ride an elephant, take a nature stroll, and discover the customs of northern Thailand’s most colorful hilltribes. Four Seasons Tented Camp contains just 15 tents, tucked away into the trees and designed in a lavish safari style by Bill Bensley. Inside the tents, you can stretch out in 54 square meters (581 square feet) of living space appointed with leather-and-hardwood bush chairs, paddle fans and a hardwood desk, or soothe your muscles in a custom-made wooden hot tub on the outdoor deck. Guests spend days feeding, bathing and riding the elephants, enjoying fine dining, and relaxing in the intimate spa before retreating to their luxurious accommodations cocooned in the trees.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
  • Other accolades: Four Seasons Golden Triangle also features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Thailand, the world’s most expensive hotels, the world’s most remote luxury hotels, and the most luxurious glamping sites.
  • Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. daily breakfast and $100 USD spa credit).


1. IVORY LODGE, LION SANDS GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA

Ivory Lodge, which was recently completely renovated, offers its guests an African Bushveld experience in lavish comfort. Extraordinarily beautiful in its simplicity and texture, the lodge’s timeless design incorporates steel, wood, thatch, glass, water & sand enhancing the surrounding bush environment. A sophisticated contemporary theme defines the interiors, with bold furniture and edgy décor, ambient lighting, inferences of tribal design and highly textured finishes. Each of the 8 villas include a private rim flow pool, exquisitely appointed bedroom and lounge, and simply more of everything. The more adventurous may want to opt to stay at one of ultraluxurious treehouses operated by the same management of in the same wildlife reserve, guaranteeing a once in a lifetime experience and the ultimate African bush experience, safely above ground and semi-encased in glass.

  • Hotel website: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands
  • Other accolades: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in South Africa, the world’s most amazing outdoor hotel rooms, the world’s best honeymoon resorts, the most exclusive safari lodges in South Africa, and Africa’s most insanely beautiful safari lodges.
  • Review: read my review of Ivory Lodge’s sister property, River Lodge Lion Sands, here (including a tour of one of the treehouses).


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Travel tip: enjoy discounts & benefits with a Maldives & Sri Lanka combo package

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (June 8, 2018): Travel tip: enjoy discounts with a Maldives & Sri Lanka package

I am in the midst of publishing a series of trip reports about the Maldives and Sri Lanka, where I recently enjoyed a great holiday. Both countries can be easily combined in one itinerary since there are numerous direct flights – most of them operated by SriLankan Airlines – between Sri Lanka and the Maldives (with a flight time of around one hour).

Now may be a good time to experience the two jewels of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, since the country’s top hotel brands – Soneva Resorts and Resplendent Ceylon – have joined forces to offer a combo package.

Resplendent Ceylon’s collection of small, luxury resorts offer the discerning traveller a sublime tour of Sri Lanka, experiencing 3 of the country’s best known attractions: sea, tea, and safari. You can immerse yourself in the local tea culture 1,250 m (4100 ft) above sea level in the world’s first tea bungalow resort – Ceylon Tea Trails – bordering the World Heritage Central Highlands. Cape Weligama’s sumptuous beach resort takes pride of place on soaring cliffs, with breathtaking panoramas along its storied coast. And then there are Sri Lanka’s majestic leopards at the Wild Coast Tented Lodge – a luxury camp on the edge of the Yala National Park where the jungle meets the Indian Ocean (and which I reviewed here).

CAPE WELIGAMA, SRI LANKA

After touring Sri Lanka, you can head across the Indian Ocean to the crystal clear waters and phenomenal beaches of the Maldives, exploring its rich marine life or simply unwinding away from it all at one of the Soneva resorts. You can take your pick of the island paradise that is Soneva Fushi (which I reviewed here), the overwater havens at Soneva Jani (which I reviewed here), or head into the open sea aboard Soneva In Aqua (which I reviewed here). This August might be a great moment to be in the Maldives since Chef Kenji Gyoten makes his return to Soneva Fushi. His restaurant in Fukuoka, Sushi Gyoten, has a six-month long waiting list – but why wait when you can sample his culinary craftsmanship at Soneva Fushi? Chef Gyoten is one of only a handful of chefs with three Michelin stars and the youngest three star chef in Japan. He will be at Soneva Fushi between August 18 – 29, 2018 and the sushi counter of the resort’s newest overwater dining venue – Out of the Blue – will be the stage upon which he will be using the hontegaeshi (hand flip) technique of Edomae nigiri to prepare his bite-sized morsels.

SONEVA IN AQUA, MALDIVES

When you book your stay at a minimum of two resorts between Resplendent Ceylon Resorts and Soneva Resorts as part of the same trip, you will get several benefits: 

  • A 10% discount on all villa rates (except at Ceylon Tea Trails where the villa rates discount is 5%).
  • One complimentary Soneva experience during your stay at Soneva Fushi and/or Soneva Jani : a cooking class; a private dinner; a father & son picnic and mother & daughter spa; or a cheese and red wine tasting with gourmet canapés, chocolates, ice cream and mocktails for the children.
  • An upgrade at Soneva Fushi, based on availability at check in (Soneva ambassador benefit).

Terms & conditions apply to this offer:

  • The offer is valid from 11 December 2017 – 17 December 2018.
  • Blackout dates apply: 22 December 2017 – 10 January 2018; 1 – 28 February 2018; 24 March – 7 April 2018.
  • The offer is valid for any number of nights in any room / villa category.
  • The offer is applicable for new bookings only.
  • The offer is subject to resort’s availability.

If you are interested in this combo package, drop me an email at info@theluxurytravelexpert.com, after which I will introduce you to the reservation departments of Soneva and Resplendent Ceylon.

Stay tuned for Monday when I reveal a new top 10 travel list.


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