Travel news: this month (January 2019) in luxury travel

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

Today (January 25, 2019): January 2019 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. Kempinski opens an ultraluxe hotel in Bali
  2. The Boeing 727 makes its last commercial flight
  3. Marriott announces a new name for its loyalty program
  4. Air France partners with the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef
  5. Auberge Resort Collection now manages Grace Hotels
  6. Aer Lingues unveils a newly refreshed brand
  7. One of the Maldives’ top hotels is destroyed by a fire
  8. Eva Air introduces new inflight amenities
  9. Dubai’s iconic Jumeirah Al Qasr resort completes refurbishment
  10. The United Polaris Lounge opens at Los Angeles airport


1. Kempinski opens an ultraluxe hotel in Bali

Kempinski Hotels is ushering in a new era of first class hospitality with the opening of The Apurva Kempinski Bali, a luxurious haven that captures the essence of Indonesian culture, art and identity. The resort is located in the upmarket Nusa Dua area of Bali, with 475 well-appointed guestrooms, striking suites and discreet villas in a quiet beachfront setting. The Apurva Kempinski Bali cascades down a hillside like one of Bali’s iconic rice paddies, emerging from the cliff tops and gradually making its way down to the Indian Ocean. Six restaurants, bars and lounges allow guests to soak in the sensational natural setting, with sweeping views and indoor/outdoor dining venues that celebrate regional flavors. An immersive ocean-facing spa and fitness centre offers treatments inspired by traditional Balinese healing practices, to promote balance and wellbeing. Other facilities include a 60 m (200 ft) swimming pool and a separate kids’ pool, and an innovative family club.


2. The Boeing 727 makes its last commercial flight

According to CNN, air travelers are no longer able to enjoy the Boeing 727’s distinctive design after the jet made its last commercial passenger flight. Flying a domestic Iranian route, a 38-year-old Boeing 727 owned by Iran Aseman Airlines entered the history books in mid-January after a journey documented by journalist Babak Taghvaee on Twitter. With a raked T-shaped tail and three engines, the 727 drew plenty of attention when it launched in 1962. The design also served a practical purpose, with the mid-size plane aimed at smaller cities where airports had smaller runways that couldn’t handle the larger 707 jet. Boeing had initially planned to build 250 of the aircraft. However, after a slow start, orders for the 727 went through the roof and 1,832 planes were eventually built and sold. From the mid-1980s, when production ended, the B727 was seen as increasingly noisy and inefficient compared with some of its newer rivals, and many major airlines began phasing the type out from the 1990s. One 727 still in service is operated by a UK-based outfit called Oil Spill Response, which disperses oil slicks by dispensing petroleum-eating detergent while flying as low as 45 m (150 ft) above the water.


3. Marriott announces a new name for its loyalty program

Marriott unveiled Marriott Bonvoy, the new loyalty brand replacing the current loyalty brands – Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) – and reflecting the benefits, single loyalty portfolio and experiences announced last year. Marriott Bonvoy launches on February 13 when the logo and branding begins rolling out across all consumer touch-points, including on property, marketing and sales channels, digital, mobile and co-brand credit cards bolstered by a multi-million-dollar global media campaign starting in late February. With Marriott Bonvoy, members will have access to Marriott’s portfolio of diverse brands including the largest collection of lifestyle and luxury properties. Whether it is sun-soaked overwater bungalows at The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort (cf my Youtube clip below), beachfront properties hugging pristine sands like at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali, or former palatial residences like The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel (Venice), Marriott Bonvoy will provide members an unparalleled offering of experiences together with the opportunity to earn desirable member benefits.


4. Air France partners with the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef

From January to March 2019, the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef, Anne-Sophie Pic, is signing new gourmet creations in Air France’s Business class cabins. Anne-Sophie Pic’s Business class menu is renewed every fortnight and available on board long-haul flights on departure from Paris as well as to certain destinations in the medium-haul network. Anne-Sophie Pic is a chef whose expertise has been awarded 7 stars in the Michelin guide for her restaurants in Valencia, Paris, London, Lausanne and shortly Singapore, making her the world’s most Michelin-starred female chef. In her constant search to blend flavours with complexity and aromatic strength, Anne-Sophie Pic’s cuisine is centred around 3 values – respect, flavour and simplicity. At the head of 9 restaurants including “La Dame de Pic” in Paris, Anne-Sophie Pic was voted best female chef in the world as the winner of the Veuve Cliquot 2011 prize. These will be Anne-Sophie Pic’s gourmet dishes on Air France’s Business menu in 2019:

  • January 2019:
    • Pollock with creamy black rice, butternut and coconut curry sauce
    • Creamy lentils served with beetroot and onion pickles
  • February 2019
    • Poultry with Tonka bean, voasti polenta and chicken sauce
    • Beef cheek in a coffee marinade, with celery, chestnut and carrots
  • March 2019
    • Guinea fowl and cream of green peas in a black tea sauce
    • Pollock with creamy black rice, butternut and coconut curry sauce


5. Auberge Resort Collection now manages Grace Hotels

Auberge Resorts has entered into a strategic partnership with the Libra Group, owners of Grace Hotels. Auberge will welcome five award-winning Grace properties in Europe and the northeastern United States into the Auberge Resorts Collection portfolio. Expansion from additional properties currently under development will further enhance the portfolio over the next two years. The existing Grace properties and those in the pipeline will be branded under the Auberge Resorts Collection name and managed by the Auberge team. The expanded Auberge portfolio will provide luxury travelers with exceptional resorts that capture the local character and environment of some of the world’s most sought-after destinations. Among them, the iconic Grace Santorini, overlooking the Aegean and perennially voted among the best hotels in Europe (cf my Youtube clip below); the historic Mayflower Inn & Spa, a luxurious retreat in the Connecticut countryside; and in 2020, an exquisite lakeside hotel in the heart of the world’s most glamorous ski destination – St. Moritz. With the addition of the Grace properties, Auberge Resorts Collection aims to establishe itself as one of the top international portfolios of ultraluxury hotels in the world.


6. Aer Lingues unveils its newly refreshed brand

Aer Lingus unveiled a new logo and livery, reflecting the Irish airline’s ambition to become a leading value carrier on transatlantic routes. Aer Lingues’ CEO Sean Doyle said: “I’m delighted to present our brand refresh, which comes 20 years after Aer Lingus last invested in new brand livery, and reflects our position as a modern airline. We have evolved from an Irish airline that flies internationally to an international airline that is proud to be Irish. In addition to the new brand identity and livery, we will also unveil a new uniform later this year and will welcome new A321LRs aircraft to our growing fleet.” The core essence of the brand hasn’t changed, apart from a simple refresh and a modern adaptation of the Shamrock, the Irish emblem has been at the heart of the Aer Lingus brand for more than 80 years,. You’ll see four shamrocks on the new livery: the first is within the new logo, the second sits on the tail fin, a third welcomes guests at the door, and a final surprise awaits on the wingtip. The refreshed brand with updated logo and new aircraft livery is supposed to reflect the airline’s position as a modern and contemporary Irish brand that competes on the international stage.


7. One of the Maldives’ top hotels is destroyed by a fire

At 11 pm on 2nd January a fire broke out at Gili Lankanfushi, one of the most exclusive resorts in the Maldives. The alarm was raised immediately and staff were able to safely evacuate all guests from their villas where they were taken care of by Gili hosts with blankets, food and water before being evacuated from the island to alternative accommodation on neighbouring islands. Seven over-water villas plus one restaurant were destroyed in the fire, however thankfully no-one was injured.  The cause of the fire is still unknown but Gili Lankanfushi is working closely with the Maldives National Defence Force and a full investigation is now underway. Maldives’ Minister of Tourism, Mr Ali Waheed, visited Gili Lankanfushi the night the fire broke out and has been supporting the team to ensure all guests were being taken care of with alternative accommodation, flights home and any necessary travel documents. The full extent of damage is still being assessed however the resort will be closed for the foreseeable future.  In the meantime, the team are in close touch with their future guests and travel partners to assist with rearranging or refunding their holidays whilst the damage is repaired to re-open Gili Lankanfushi later this year.


8. Eva Air introduces new inflight amenities

EVA Air has collaborated with renowned fashion designer Jason Wu, luxury brands, including Rimowa and Ferragamo, acclaimed chefs and more to create new 2019 amenities and service items for Royal Laurel and Premium Laurel Classes passengers:

  • EVA chose Jason Wu to create its 2019 sleepwear for passengers flying long-haul in Royal Laurel and Premium Laurel Classes. Recognized for designing Michelle Obama’s dresses for both of her husband’s U.S. presidential inaugurations, Wu conceived EVA’s new PJs for comfort and style. This is the first time Wu has worked with an airline.
  • EVA worked with luxury brands Rimowa and Ferragamo to create new kits for Royal Laurel and Premium Laurel passengers on long-haul flights. Those departing from Taiwan receive overnight kits in Rimowa’s popular new “Carmona Red.” Contents include a color-coordinated eye mask, cozy socks, a hairbrush, a microfiber cloth for cleaning glasses and screens on personal devices, earplugs, a toothbrush and toothpaste and skincare essentials from Clarins. Returning to Taipei on these flights, EVA is distributing kits by fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo. Inspired by ancient Taiwanese majolica tiles, the case is a harmonious blend of contemporary fashion and Taiwanese culture stocked with Salvatore Ferragamo lotion, hand cream and lip balm elegantly scented with the brand’s new Bianco di Carrara fragrance.
  • EVA is introducing a new boarding refreshment, a gourmet tidbit with the first coffee and tea service and an after-dinner beverage. As passengers settle into their seats, EVA offers a cold-pressed mango and mixed fruit juice made from a blend of Taiwan’s Irwin mangoes, pleasingly tart and aromatic passion fruit, tangy oranges and garden-fresh carrots. On long-haul flights, EVA presents Eclat de Valrhona, the French boutique chocolatier, with its first apres-dinner coffee and tea service in both Royal Laurel and Premium Laurel Classes. EVA is now also pouring Crème Caramel Tea from Singapore’s luxurious TWG, a drink that passengers can sip and enjoy as a dessert.
  • Tan-style cuisine Master Chef Huang Ching-biao created a special menu on flights from Taipei to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. The inflight dining experience begins with a pork shoulder slice wrapped with cucumber and Thai-style shrimp followed by golden chicken soup with seafood in a rich, golden broth. The main course is braised abalone in oyster sauce served with stir-fried rice with caramel olive while dessert is an elegant concoction of Tan’s mashed taro and sweet potato in water chestnut sauce.


9. Dubai’s iconic Jumeirah Al Qasr resort completes refurbishment

One of Dubai’s most iconic hotels, Jumeirah Al Qasr – known for its palatial grandeur in the heart of Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort of Dubai – has refurbished its full inventory of rooms and suites, maintaining its traditional Arabic style, but now with a contemporary flair. All 294 rooms (complete with terraces and balconies), have been refurbished to offer a rich and yet modern Arabic experience. Navy, orange and blue tone patterns captivate the eye resulting in an elevated design that pays homage to opulent and modern Arabic design, designed by Khuan Chew of KCA International Interior Design. As well as the variety of rooms (spread across nine room categories), the Royal Suite (three bedroom) and Presidential Suites (two bedroom) have also been fully renovated with changes being made to the dining area of the Royal Suite, as well as arabesque ceiling joists and mosaics added into the flooring. This further complements the new feature wall in the Presidential Suite, adding a contemporary flair to the traditional Middle Eastern design the hotel is famed for. With the completion of the refurbishment, the new rooms continue to complement the world-famous design elements of the 18 golden horses that lead to the hotel entrance and the captivating lobby presided by a 5 ton crystal chandelier, resulting in a truly regal experience, dazzling guests at every turn. Evoking majestic images of the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, Jumeirah Al Qasr is the epitome of grandiose luxury.


10. The United Polaris Lounge opens at Los Angeles airport

United customers traveling in United Polaris Business Class, the airline’s international premium cabin travel experience, are now be able to relax and dine before their travels in the new United Polaris lounge at Los Angeles International Airport. The Polaris lounge experience builds on the airline’s concept to be uniquely United while embracing the energy and distinct culture of Southern California and the exciting destinations United serves from here. This Polaris lounge features Southern California-style throughout, including works by local, Los Angeles-based artists, Rema Ghuloum, Chris Trueman and Ruth Pastine, and a food and beverage program inspired by the City of Angels. It is conveniently located in Terminal 7 between Gates 73 and 75A and faces west to capture the city’s vibrant sunset skies. Guests are invited to enjoy a full restaurant-quality experience in The Dining Room before their flights. With a menu that blends international comfort foods developed by Los Angeles native Chef Tritia Gestuvo, highlights include: almond-crusted fish and chips, chilaquiles, Korean bulgogi arancini, fresh crafted sandwiches on La Brea Bakery® bread, flavorful street tacos and house-made cinnamon churros. In a nod to the innovative cocktail culture of Los Angeles, the lounge features signature cocktails inspired by the City of Stars, including the Let’s Rumble, made from Cruso Spiced Rum, fresh lemon, prickly pear puree and house-made simple syrup and the On Sunset, a playful take on the tequila sunrise, made from Casa Noble Tequila, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal and agave nectar.


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