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

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

Today (November 30, 2018): November 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. Soneva to launch private seaplane transfers in the Maldives
  2. Rosewood to open a hotel in Venice
  3. Airbus delivers first A330neo to launch operator TAP Air Portugal
  4. InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland opens inside former quarry
  5. British Airways retires its Boeing 767 aircraft
  6. The ultraluxe St Regis hotel brand is coming to Morocco
  7. St Regis Hotels & Resorts debuts in Toronto
  8. Air France to cut half of its Airbus A380 fleet
  9. Six Senses Maxwell opens in Singapore
  10. United to fly its B787-10 planes to 6 European destinations


1. Soneva will launch private seaplane transfers

Soneva, my favorite hotel brand in the world and the owner of the ultraluxe Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani resorts in the Maldives, announced that they will soon unveil a new 10-seater seaplane for guest transfers.  The luxury seaplane is currently journeying from Canada across Greenland to Iceland, flying above Europe and the Middle East, and will descend in the Maldives on Sunday.  The DHC-6 Twin Otter, which normally seats 19, has been modified by IKHANA to only seat 10 people. The new plane will provide Soneva guests roundtrip transportation from Velana International Airport (VIA) to Soneva Fushi in Baa Atoll and Soneva Jani in Noonu Atoll of the Maldives. The cost of a roundtrip transfer is set as USD 1100. The plane’s exterior is painted purple and features Soneva’s branding, while the interior boasts chrome and purple leather seatings. According to a senior official from Soneva, the company is scheduled to commence operations during mid-December. Furthermore, the official stated that the seaplane will be maintained and operated by Maldives leading seaplane operator, Trans Maldives Airways (TMA).

Contact me to get a complimentary upgrade, resort credit and experience at any Soneva resort.


2. Rosewood will open a hotel in Venice

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has announced the Rosewood Venice, which is set to open in 2020 as the ultra-luxury brand’s second property in Italy and eighth in Europe. Located in the heart of the bustling Cannaregio neighborhood, Rosewood Venice will be housed within the magnificent fifteenth century Palazzo Dona’ Giovannelli and located near many of the city’s most legendary landmarks, including the Piazza San Marco. Designed to preserve the building’s stunning original detailing and rich heritage while simultaneously incorporating refined and modern amenities, Rosewood Venice will feature approximately 50 guestrooms and suites inspired by the palace’s rich history and featuring stunning water views due to its dual canal frontage. The hotel’s dramatic main entrance on the Rio di Noale will be an incredible gothic feature featuring an octagonal staircase created by the celebrated architect Gian Battista Meduna. The hotel’s main floor, or piano nobile, will be richly adorned with breathtaking frescos, stuccos, and coffered ceilings as well as magnificent fireplaces and tapestries. Rosewood Venice will feature two signature dining venues, including a charming piano bar.  Additionally, the hotel will include a spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and extensive meetings and events space.


3. Airbus delivers first A330-900 to launch operator TAP Air Portugal

TAP Air Portugal has taken delivery of the world’s first new-generation widebody A330neo and, as the launch airline, will be the first to benefit from the aircraft’s operating economics, increased range, and Airbus’ new Airspace cabin offering passengers the best in class comfort. The Portuguese carrier will take delivery of a further 20 A330-900s in the coming years. TAP Air Portugal’s first A330-900 features 298 seats in a comfortable three-class lay-out with 34 full-flat business class, 96 economy plus and 168 economy class seats. The Airspace by Airbus cabin offers more personal space, larger overhead storage bins, advanced cabin lighting and the latest-generation in-flight entertainment system and connectivity. The aircraft will be deployed on routes from Portugal to the Americas and Africa. The A330neo is a true new-generation aircraft building on the A330’s success and leveraging on A350 XWB technology. It incorporates the highly-efficient new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and a new higher span 3D optimised wing with new Sharklets fully optimised for the best aerodynamic performance. Together these advances bring a significant reduction in fuel consumption of 25 percent compared with older-generation competitor aircraft of a similar size. Moreover, new composite nacelles, a fully faired titanium pylon and zero-splice air inlet technology provide the A330-900 with state-of-the-art aerodynamics and acoustics.


4. InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel opens inside former quarry

The InterContinental Hotel Group, one of the world’s leading hotel companies, has opened its InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland property, the 200th hotel for the brand worldwide. The Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland is a luxury hotel masterfully built into the side wall of a formerly abandoned quarry in Southwestern Shanghai. Located beside Tianma Pit at Sheshan Mountain Range, this legendary new hotel is mostly subterranean (88 m or 288 ft underground), with two floors above ground and 16 below ground, including 2 floors underwater. Individually designed to best reflect both modern elegance and the unique features of quarry landscape, all 336 rooms and suites provide ample, luxury living spaces with spectacular views of waterfalls and the surrounding cliffs. The stunning underwater loft offers two awe-inspiring levels: the landing deck at water level houses the outdoor terrace and bedroom, whilst the underwater living room are encased within a turquoise aquarium where guests will be surrounded by schools of fish swim by. Furthermore, all hotel rooms on the bottom floor are provided with around-the-clock butler service to ensure a truly hassle-free stay experience and keep guests feeling truly pampered. Located right above water level in the hotel’s rock quarry architecture, the Club InterContinental lounge offers a range of exclusive services and benefits for its guests.


5. British Airways retires its Boeing 767 aircraft

British Airways bid farewell to one of the most iconic aircraft in its fleet, the Boeing 767. The airline’s final two 767s are being retired to St Athan in Wales after the last commercial flight – Larnaca in Cyprus to Heathrow – took place last week. Since British Airways operated its first 767 in February 1990 on a short hop to Paris, the fleet of aircraft have completed over 425,000 commercial flights. Frankfurt was the route where enthusiasts could spot the 767 most frequently, with the aircraft completing nearly 15,000 flights to and from the airport, but the aircraft has also been used to serve routes from Abu Dhabi, to Calgary and New York. While it was initially used for long-haul, in recent years it was reconfigured for use on short-haul, including to Athens and Larnaca as well as on some domestic routes. The retirement comes as British Airways looks to the future of its fleet. Just days ago, the airline took delivery of its 30th Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the newest aircraft in its fleet. Not only is the Dreamliner around 40 per cent quieter than other aircraft it also uses 20 per cent less fuel than similarly sized aircraft. This means a reduction in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. But it’s not just the 787 being added to British Airways’ fleet. Later in the year the airline will take delivery of another pioneering aircraft – its first Airbus A350, part of the airline’s £4.5bn investment for customers over the next five years.


6. The ultraluxe St Regis hotel brand is coming to Morocco 

Located in the stylish epicenter of Tamuda Bay on Morocco’s northwestern coast, the St Regis Tamuda Bay is slated to open in mid 2020. The property will be part of La Bahia Blanca, a landmark lifestyle resort development being built by Eagle Hills, an Abu Dhabi-based private real estate investment and development company. The resort will exude Moroccan charm and pay tribute to the Andalusian cultural legacy through elevated design, exceptional service and unique food and beverage offerings. Poised to become the city’s best address, the St. Regis Tamuda Bay will offer easy access to one of the world’s most magnificent beaches. The hotel will include 100 luxuriously-appointed guestrooms and suites with unobstructed sea views and will feature hallmarks of the renowned brand, including the signature St. Regis Butler Service. The resort’s sophisticated culinary offerings will include a specialty restaurant, an all-day dining restaurant featuring a wide range of gourmet selections, and an iconic St. Regis Bar inspired by the King Cole Bar at the brand’s flagship in New York, where the world-renowned Bloody Mary cocktail was born in 1934. Leisure facilities will include a spa, pool, and state-of-the-art fitness center. The St. Regis Tamuda Bay will also offer unrivalled event and meeting spaces, an ideal setting for small and large-scale events.


7. St Regis Hotels & Resorts debuts in Toronto

Some more exciting news from the St Regis brand. Rising 65-stories above Canada’s international enclave for business and culture, the St Regis Toronto hotel is now open after a complete refurbishment of the former Trump Toronto Hotel. The property is a beacon on the Toronto skyline, offering visitors a remarkably central location between the entertainment and financial districts. Within close walking distance from preeminent shopping, live theatre, sports and entertainment venues, the hotel places guests just moments from the city’s most distinguished landmarks including the CN Tower, Union Station, and Toronto International Film Festival. Boasting 258 spacious guest rooms, including 124 luxury suites – the most suites of any luxury hotel in Canada – modern elegance and bespoke service come together at The St. Regis Toronto. Designed by DesignAgency and Chapi Chapo Design, the hotel reflects the layered and diverse cultural history of Toronto, the unique landscape of the Ontario province, and the rich social fabric of the people who make up the city.


8. Air France will cut half of its Airbus A380 fleet

Air France currently has ten Airbus A380s in its fleet. The original Air France order was for 12 A380 aircraft, but the airline asked that the final two aircraft of the order be fulfilled with A350s instead. Now, according to French publication Les Echos and Business Traveller, the present Air France fleet of 10 A380s will be cut to five. Two of the Air France planes will reportedly be returned when their lease runs out next year, while three more will be returned later, possibly in 2020. The news was confirmed by Canadian Benjamin Smith, Air France’s newly appointed CEO. The main reasons for the A380 fleet reduction are that Air France finds the A380 costly to operate compared with its B777-300ERs which carry almost as many passengers, and that refurbishing all A380s is too expensive. Air France will retrofit and update the aging cabins of its remaining A380s by 2020, an approximately $225 million Euro (45 million per plane) process. The refurbishment is urgently needed as Air France’s A380 cabins are dated compared toother A380 operators. Unlike A380 customers Singapore Air, Emirates, and Etihad, the Air France A380 cabins lack First Class suites and fully lie-flat bed in Business Class. Former Air France CEO Alexandre de Juniac originally announced a retrofit in 2014 that was supposed to have happened by 2017, but Air France endured a long pilots’ strike and lost 225 million euros in 2014 alone, so refitting A380 cabins was not a top priority.


9. Six Senses Maxwell opens in Singapore

Melding Singapore’s rich heritage and European tradition, Six Senses Maxwell is the second landmark urban property in the Six Senses collection of hotels, following the Six Senses Duxton opening in April. Both hotels occupy historical buildings in Chinatown’s Tanjong Pagar district and each radiates its own distinct personality and charm, while reflecting the neighborhood’s past as a trading center and current status as a vibrant downtown cultural enclave. Housed in a colonial-style 19th century heritage building, the 138-room Six Senses Maxwell features a historically significant Indentures Collection. These comprise vintage land transaction documents that offer a fascinating glimpse into the development of Singapore and the Straits Settlements in the 1800s and early 1900s. The rich sense of intertwined Asian and European history is tastefully imbued in Six Senses Maxwell’s warm and stylish interior, fashioned by the famed designer Jacques Garcia with alluring touches in burnished timber finishes and lightened up with elegant paintwork.


10. United will fly its B787-10 planes to 6 European destinations

United Airlines – who offers more seats between New York and Europe than any other carrier – announced it will operate its newest Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner on six trans-Atlantic routes from its New York/Newark hub. From March 30 the Dreamliner will operate on flight UA960 from Newark to Frankfurt (departing 7.50 pm), and on flight UA84 to Tel Aviv (departing 1655). Then from April 29 the aircraft will be rostered onto flight UA57 to Paris (departing 6.40 pm), and flight UA120 to Barcelona (departing 7.30 pm). Finally on May 22 the B787-10 will operate on flight UA999 to Brussels (departing 6.30 pm), and flight UA23 to Dublin (departing 7.25 pm). United was the first North American airline to take delivery of the 787-10, and is also the first airline in the world to have the entire family of Boeing’s 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10 Dreamliners in its fleet. United’s 787-10 features 44 United Polaris Business Class seats, 21 Premium Plus seats, 54 Economy Plus seats and 199 standard Economy seats. The Boeing 787-10 is 18 ft (5,5 m) longer than the 787-9 and can carry more passengers and more cargo. The -10 aircraft can fly up to 6,430 nautical miles, while using 20 percent less fuel than older generation airplanes. The airline expects to take delivery of 14 787-10 aircraft over the next two years.


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