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Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a FABULOUS holiday in Thailand, including a stay at my favorite hotel in the world, Soneva Kiri. You can read my trip reports here:

Today (July 18, 2018): Review of Park Hyatt Bangkok (Thailand).

Embracing its enviable location in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Park Hyatt Bangkok offers a refined and uniquely Thai experience, reflecting the country’s rich culture and legendary gracious hospitality. A devoted team of hosts dedicates themselves to providing Park Hyatt’s world-class discreet and sincere service. Iconic architecture, sophisticated interiors, spacious guestrooms, and exceptional drinking and dining venues all provide a level of service and hospitality that will wow even the most discerning travelers.

Park Hyatt Bangkok features in my lists of the 10 best hotels in Bangkok, the best new hotels of 2017, and my favorite Hyatt hotels in the world.

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

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

Park Hyatt Bangkok (Thailand): impressions & review - YouTube

Click to view slideshow.

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

PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The Park Hyatt Bangkok hotel is centrally located in the heart of the Thai capital’s central business district. Set on the site of the former British Embassy, the hotel calls Phleon Chit its home, a neighbourhood known for its premium residences, embassies and high-end retail, including Central Chidlom, one of the best performing department stores in Thailand for over 30 years. The hotel has direct access to a station of the BTS (Bangkok Transit System) sky train and also offers easy access to local expressways and both of Bangkok’s airports.
  • The hotel is housed within a new, modern mixed-use building, Central Embassy. This 37-floor complex has become one of Bangkok’s most iconic modern landmark since its opening, both because of its futuristic architecture (more on that below) and its ultra-luxury lifestyle mall (which can be accessed directly from the hotel). The mall – the most exclusive one in the Thai capital – boasts an impressive collection of high-end designer stores, fine-dining restaurants, and swanky cinema screens, projecting Bangkok’s status even further as one of the world’s leading shopping destinations.
  • As mentioned above, the Central Embassy features a breathtakingly spectacular architecture. The Park Hyatt hotel and adjacent luxury shopping mall are bound together by a continual looped form merging plinth and tower. The twisted coil forms a three-dimensional figure of eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, that seems to reach for the sky like a giant, uncoiling snake. Drawing on motifs and patterns found in traditional Thai architecture, the eye-catching façade is clad in extruded aluminium tiles, creating a shimmering moiré-like pattern.
  • The hotel’s interiors are as impressive as its exterior, and create the feel of a sophisticated private residence and sanctuary reflecting Thailand’s rich culture. The interior design was eloquently executed by New York-based Yabu Pushelberg, who also designed the brand’s flagship Park Hyatt New York hotel (which I reviewed here). This is the award-winning design duo’s first hotel in Bangkok, and they have created a calm, stylish and softly colored environment unfolding through a series of unique and intimate spaces that are characterized by a clean and understated look.
  • If there is one thing abundantly clear when stepping inside the property, it’s that the hotel’s impressive art is not for decoration. The private art collection of Central Group CEO Tos Chirathivat​ rivals Asia’s best contemporary galleries, with carefully selected works by Thai and international artists strategically placed throughout the public areas. Two of the hotel’s most dramatic installations were created by renowned Japanese artist Hirotoshi Sawada: ‘Pagoda Mirage’ incorporates hundreds of small, conical copper swirls, suspended en masse to evoke the reflection of a pagoda on water, while ‘Naga’ – a series of batons suspended from the ceiling – resembles a mythical water dragon traveling between the pool and internal waterfall.
  • The hotel has two very elegant and ultra-chic lobbies. Guests are welcomed on the ground-floor lobby by a cascading copper installation, also created by Hirotoshi Sawada, from where they are escorted by the staff to the hotel’s main lobby on the 10th floor. The main lobby area features a circular reception and concierge area, which gives way to a foyer where a beautiful white statue overlooks the city’s lovely skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The statue is a modern interpretation of the iconic seated Bhudda image by artist Nonthivathn Chandhanaphalin, Thailand’s best-known modern sculptor. The lobby also features a minimalist lounge, small library and a bar with outdoor terrace.
  • Park Hyatt Bangkok features 222 rooms, including 49 suites. During my visit, I stayed in a 17th floor Park King room, which featured one king bed, a chaise longue, a desk and chair, a flatscreen TV, and floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing views of the park and city skyline. Decorated in a soft neutral palette of creams and taupe, the room felt surprisingly homely with white oak timber floors, sycamore veneer panelling, and a few sharp black accents. The ensuite bathroom featured a stand-alone soaking bathtub, a separate rain shower, an enclosed toilet, two sinks with an illuminated make-up mirror, and bathroom amenities by New York brand Le Labo.
  • Check-in is done inside the room, so there’s never a waiting in line upon arrival at the hotel. However, I am not sure whether this perk is offered to every guest, as it may be part of the airport limousine transfer package, which I had booked in advance via the hotel.
  • On the 9th floor, the hotel’s magnificent and largest outdoor deck features a 40 m (130 ft) saltwater pool with an infinity edge lap-swimming section of 25 m (82 ft). The pool enjoys unobstructed views of the gardens of the former British Embassy and the surrounding skyscrapers. One row of sun-loungers decked out in chic white cushions lines the pool, while landscaped and terraced gardens with several more sun-loungers and a few cabanas flank the pool’s western end.
  • Set on the 11th floor of the hotel, the wonderful Panpuri Organic Spa offers distinctive treatments in 8 treatment rooms, including 2 double suites, tastefully adorned in subtle sophistication. The spa features state-of-the-art facilities including a relaxation lounge, female and male lockers, crystal-steam rooms, laconium dry-heat rooms and whirlpools as well as “experience showers“ which combine relaxing acoustics and rejuvenating aromas.
  • New York-based AvroKO designed the three uppermost floors of the hotel’s, which houses a sublime entertainment complex – called the Penthouse Bar + Grill – consisting of six bars, dining venues and lounges. The main restaurant features an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs sweat it out over the barbecue while preparing steaks flame-grilled to perfection. The other venues include the Chef’s Table, a whisky bar, a lively cocktail lounge, a mezzanine and an incredibly cozy rooftop terrace with breathtaking views across the city.
  • A majestic stairway – which seems to be a very popular background for Instagram perfect picture – leads from the lobby to the 9th floor Embassy Room, the Park Hyatt Bangkok’s international restaurant that offers a ‘home-styled’ dining experience where you can enjoy a variety of dishes generously prepared along with interactive offerings from The Pantry. The Embassy Room is also the scene of a superb breakfast service, offered daily from 6 am to 11 am. A lovely displayed buffet of fresh fruits, a juice station, cheeses and cold cuts, freshly-baked breads and pastries is complemented with à la carte options such as eggs Benedict and buttermilk pancakes with chocolate, cream and berries.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The new Park Hyatt Bangkok is a fabulous addition to the Thai’s capital luxury hotel scene. The property features stunning contemporary architecture matched by luxurious room interiors, expertly curated art, world-class food and wine, and refined service. I couldn’t fault my stay at the Park Hyatt Bangkok, but you need to know the following:

  • Due to the unusual architecture and curving shape of the building, the hotel has many different room configurations as the skyscraper tapers on the higher floors. This results in some variations in room layouts floor by floor, so the room you end up in may look slightly different from the photos of the same room category on the Park Hyatt Bangkok website.
  • Unfortunately, you don’t really get a good sense of the spectacular exterior and design in the immediate surroundings of the buildings. To get a nice view of the property, you need to walk a few blocks. Don’t forget to do this if you are an architect junkie!
  •  The wonderful Panpuri Organic Spa is located inside the hotel but it operates independently from the Hyatt brand. Consequently, you won’t get World of Hyatt reward points for spa experiences, nor are they eligible for World of Hyatt points.
MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Park Hyatt Bangkok (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: make use of Hyatt’s best rate guarantee. If you find a better rate, the Hyatt Hotel Group will match it and give you $50 USD toward your next stay.
  • Save money: elite members of Hyatt’s loyalty program, World of Hyatt, are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – complimentary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out  (when available), and free breakfast. Click here to read my review of the World of Hyatt program (with pros & cons).
  • Room tip: book or ask for a room on a higher floor to get a better view as lower floored rooms on one side are looking on the skyscraper accross the street.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT

The weather in Bangkok is dominated by a tropical monsoon climate which means there are three main seasons: a cool, dry season between November and February (which is the best period to visit the city); a hot, dry season from March to June, and a rainy season from July to October. As Bangkok holds claim to being the hottest city in the world, expect daytime temperatures to be in excess of 30 degrees centigrade throughout the year (with the possible exception of late December and early January). The two periods April to May and September to October are characterised by high, almost untolerable humidity. The southwest monsoons arrive between May and October bringing unsettled, cloudy conditions and, for many, this is a welcome respite.

HOW TO GET THERE

The hotel is easily accessible for international visitors, only 300 m (1000 ft) from the expressway and 22 km (14 mi) and 27 km (17 mi) drives from Don Mueang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport, respectively. Allow a 35–55-minute journey in a hotel limousine, which can be booked in advance or at the airport.

  • Suvarnabhumi International Airport is located 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of downtown Bangkok and is a major hub in Asia. Check the Wikipedia page of Suvarnabhumi International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
  • Don Mueang Airport is Bangkok’s regional commuter flight hub and the de facto low-cost airline hub. Check the Wikipedia page of Don Mueang Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to this airport.
PARK HYATT BANGKOK: EXTERIOR PARK HYATT BANGKOK: EXTERIOR PARK HYATT BANGKOK: EXTERIOR PARK HYATT BANGKOK: EXTERIOR
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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!

Click to view slideshow.

*** 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.

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.

Ultraluxe PARK HYATT MALLORCA (Spain): impressions & reviews - YouTube

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

Park Hyatt Shanghai: inside the world's 2nd highest hotel (+ review) - YouTube

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).

Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills (Japan): WOW! Impressions & review - YouTube

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 websitePark 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.

Park Hyatt New York (USA): impressions & review - YouTube

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.

PARK HYATT MALDIVES HADAHAA: a review (free stay!) - YouTube

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 websitePark 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.

Park Hyatt Vienna, the most luxurious hotel in the Austrian capital: trip report - YouTube

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.

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Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, 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 belong to to this select club of top selling luxury travel agents; I partner with them and use them for my own travels, so 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).

//theluxurytravelexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ROSEWOOD-PHUKET.jpeg”> ROSEWOOD PHUKET

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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 bookingif 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.

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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 all 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)

Emirates A380 Business Class: Düsseldorf - Dubai, a mileage run - YouTube

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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 itinerary). 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
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The Luxury Travel Expert by The Luxury Travel Expert - 1w ago

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).

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Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries or news.

Today (July 6, 2018): Travel contests & sweepstakes: win luxury holidays!

Every first Friday of the month, you can win exclusive prizes & free holidays in my pick of the best luxury travel contests & sweepstakes on the internet. These contests are weekly updated on my travel blog here, so check back regularly.

In this issue: win Business Class tickets with Turkish Airlines and Aeroflot, in addition to trips to Ecuador, London, Florence, Costa Rica, South Africa, Ibiza, Florida, Denmark, Hawaii, Namibia, the Maldives and Morocco.

WIN A LUXURY CRUISE ON THE AMAZON IN ECUADOR

  • AMAZING CONTEST! Win a five-night stay at either Soneva Fushi, Maldives, or Soneva Kiri, Thailand. These über-exclusive properties rank among the very best (and my favorite) resorts in the world. Domestic transfers and full board are included. Alcohol, in-villa dining, mini-bar, and paid experiences are not included. The competition is run via Soneva’s Instagram account.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 31 January 2019
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win two Business Class tickets with Turkish Airlines. The winners of this special giveaway will be treated to one of the world’s finest flying experiences, enjoying first hand the exclusive and outstanding service offered when travelling with the national flag carrier of Turkey. The prize is two business class return tickets (for one winner), from London Gatwick or London Heathrow to any destination which Turkish Airlines flies to.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 31 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win Business Class tickets with Aeroflot to Los Angeles and Miami. The prize to LA is offered by Manchester United and includes a Business Class flight with Aeroflot, hotel accommodation, tickets for United’s clash with AC Milan on 25 July at the StubHub Center, and a meet and greet with a club legend. There’s also second prize, which includes a trip to see United take on Real Madrid in Miami, with Business Class flights, match tickets, hotel accommodation and a meet and greet with a United legend all included.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date:y6 Jult 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a luxury cruise on the Amazon in Ecuador. The grande prize is a five day/four night excursion aboard the new Manatee Amazon Explorer. This prize includes all meals during the trip, multiple daytime expeditions into the jungle, led by expert bilingual guides, and exclusive access to the VIP lounge before and after the cruise.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 31 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a two-night luxury stay at Florence, Italy. The grand prize is a two-night stay at Hotel Brunelleschi, including buffet breakfast each morning and a welcome aperitivo at the Tower Bar. The lucky winner will also enjoy the full VIP treatment upon arrival at the hotel.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 31 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a safari holiday to South Africa. The winner and a guest will bed down in the Hambleden Suite at Little Garonga, a safari camp in the Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve, just west of Kruger National Park. The suite is set in its own villa, with a chic seating area, stand-alone copper bath and outdoor shower, plus a secluded deck and private pool. The winner and a guest can also choose to stay in The Sleep Out, a bedroom set high up in the treetops of the Garonga wilderness. All food and drink at Little Garonga is included in the prize.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 7 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a luxury break in London. The winner and a guest will stay at The Lanesborough, one of London’s most elegant grande-dame hotels and member of Oetker’s Collection. The prize includes daily breakfast and unlimited access to the club and spa facilities during their stay, plus a one 60-minute treatment each.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 21 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a five night stay in Ibiza. The prizewinner and a guest will spend five nights at Aguas de Ibiza, part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. Breakfast is included – choose from pastries, cheese, meats, fruits and smoothies each morning in the hotel’s Oligo restaurant – and so is one supper at Vi Cool, the rooftop restaurant overseen by award-winning chef Sergi Arola. One spa treatment at the hotel’s Revival Spa is also included for the prizewinner during their stay.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 5 September 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a luxury break on England’s Jurassic Coast. The grande prize is a two-night stay at Alexandra Hotel & Restaurant in Dorset, England, and includes breakfast each morning and dinner one night during your stay. The lucky winner will also enjoy Champagne on arrival at the property.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 31 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a 7 night family holiday in Costa Rica. One lucky family (two adults and two children) will receive seven nights’ accommodation, Economy Class return flights from London to Costa Rica, and domestic transfers.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 15 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a dream family holiday to Florida. This exciting prize will allow one lucky family to plan their dream Florida adventure up to the value of $9,000 USD. Whether it’s zooming across the Everglades on an airboat in search of alligators, building sandcastles on one of Florida’s award-winning beaches or riding rollercoasters at a theme park – or all the above, your Florida adventure awaits.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 10 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a family trip to Legoland in Denmark. The grand prize includes airline tickets from London Heathrow to Billund, 2 nights in a lego-themed room at Hotel Legoland with breakfast, resort pass and LEGO House tickets for the family (max. 2 adults and 2 children).
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: 1 October 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a Hawaii glamping adventure. The grand prize includes round-trip air travel for two to Honolulu, a $1500 USD accommodations voucher from Glamping Hub, two tickets with Atlantis Adventures to be used toward a submarine adventure, zip-lining and Premier Movie Sites Tour activity vouchers for two at Kualoa Ranch, brunch for two at Koko Head Cafe, a one-year subscription to Lonely Planet magazine, and copies of Lonely Planet’s Discover Hawaii; Honolulu, Waikiki and O‘ahu; and Experience the USA guide books.
    • Eligibility: open to USA residents
    • End date: 12 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a luxury holiday to Hong Kong. The grand prize includes return economy flights with Cathay Pacific from the UK to Hong Kong for two persons, three-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, three-night stay at Kerry Hotel Hong Kong, daily breakfast, return airport transfers in Hong Kong International Airport, and a city tour.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 29 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win an adventurous holiday in Costa Rica. The grand prize includes 7 nights accommodation in Costa Rica across various adventure focused cities on a B&B basis, return flights from London to San Jose for two, all internal transfers, sun & insect protective shirt and trousers.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 31 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win an adventurous trip to Namibia. The grand prize includes two return flights to from London to Namibia, an 11-night itinerary including accommodation throughout, a Nikon D3400 camera, and a Nikon photography school voucher to learn how to capture those moments.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 31 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win an all-inclusive Maldives holiday. The grand prize includes a seven-night stay for two people at 4.5* Diamonds Athuruga or 4.5* Diamonds Thudufushi (your choice), all meals in the buffet restaurant, drinks and a restocked mini bar each day.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 3 September 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a(nother) luxury holiday in the Maldives. The grand prize is a seven-night, full-board holiday in a private villa at Furaveri Island Resort & Spa. Plus, you also get a free dinner at the resort’s Asian Fusion restaurant. Return flights and transfers to the resort are also included.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 28 August 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a 10-night holiday to the USA. The prize is a trip to the USA for two people consisting of ten nights’ accommodation: three nights at The Colonnade, Boston (bed and breakfast), three nights at the Bryant Park Hotel, New York (bed and breakfast), two nights at the Hotel Palomar, Philadelphia (bed and breakfast) and two nights at the Fairmont, Washington, D.C. (bed and breakfast). The prize includes transfers, return economy air travel from London to Boston; and airport and departure taxes. The prize also includes a sunset harbour cruise in Boston, an after-hours tour of MoMA museum in New York, a food tour of Gramercy, Flatiron and Union Square in New York, tickets to the One World Observatory in New York, and an insider’s tour of the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 23 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a trip for two to Morocco, worth £2,000. The grand prize includes two economy flights from London to Casablanca and from Marrakesh to London, seven nights’ accommodation in hotels and a tented desert camp, seven breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner, guided tour by G Adventures Chief Experience Officer, all activities, and transport all between destinations.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents
    • End date: 15 July 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win a South Africa family holiday for 4 for a duration of 10 days (9 nights), plus overnight flights. The itinerary will be finalised between the winners and Trailfinders, and will be dependent on the time of year the holiday is taken, but will include at least Cape Town, The Winelands, The Garden Route and a safari.
    • Eligibility: open to UK residents only
    • End date: 30 September 2018
    • Enter the competition: click here
  • Win one return ticket with Brussels Airlines to an European destination of your choice. The ticket includes all taxes, and will be valid for one year from the date the winner is contacted informing him/her of the win.
    • Eligibility: open to all
    • End date: no closure date (monthly contest)
    • Enter the competition: click here

*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***

The post Travel contests & sweepstakes: win luxury holidays! appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

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Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Today (July 4, 2018): Review of Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver (Canada).

First opened in 1927, the legendary Hotel Georgia became quickly known as the city’s most fashionable retreat and one of the best hotels in Vancouver. The hotel underwent an extensive renovation and was unveiled as Rosewood Hotel Georgia in 2011. Imbued with a sense of grandeur and elegance, the hotel now features 156 rooms and suites that flawlessly combine legacy with luxury. For generations, guests have indulged in Hotel Georgia’s charming ambience, remarkable service and landmark location.

Rosewood Hotel Georgia features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most stunning indoor hotel pools, the best hotels in British Columbia, the best hotels in Vancouver, and the best hotels in Canada.

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

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver (Canada): a review - YouTube

Click to view slideshow.

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

PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Conveniently positioned at the corner of Georgia and Howe Street, Rosewood Hotel Georgia offers an central location in downtown Vancouver that suits both business and leisure travelers. With a plethora of easily accessible urban and outdoor activities, guests of the property are within walking distance of Stanley Park, the seawall and Vancouver’s premier restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, museums and theaters. The hotel is around the corner from a Skytrain stop and Vancouver International Airport is located 8.5 miles (14 km) away, around 30 minutes by car.
  • The hotel is housed in a 12 story historic building that counts as a registered cultural heritage site in Canada. Following its grand debut in the roaring ‘20s, Hotel Georgia came to be known as a Vancouver legend for bringing unheard-of luxuries to the young city and Canada’s West Coast. When it debuted in 1927, the hotel was the very definition of innovation, from its all-electric kitchen to its extra-long beds for guests of tall stature and the introduction of late-night room service. Unfortunately, in the late 1970s, the property lost a lot of its glamor – despite its stellar reputation – until it remained a shabby shadow of its former self, under the management of Crown Plaza Hotels.
  • In 2007, the property was acquired by the world-famous Rosewood hotel group and underwent a 5 year long, multibillion dollar renovation under the supervision of Toronto-based design firm Munge Leung. It reopened in 2011 as Rosewood Hotel Georgia, retaking its place among the best hotels in the city, offering an unmatched combination of legacy and luxury. The public areas retain an old world feel and transport guests back in time to the Roaring Twenties. This is especially true in the dark Art Deco lobby, which features wood paneling, high ceilings, Italian marble floors, deep moldings, a sweeping staircase, a gorgeous fireplace, and an impressive clock, all original remnants of 1927 when the hotel first opened.
  • Although the public spaces feel dark, opulent and majestic, an impressive modern art collection lends them a colorful and youthful feel. Working with Vancouver-based art consultants Farmboy Fine Arts, the hotel’s collection of modern art is a celebration of the Canadian art scene and a complement to the unique mix of elegant décor seen throughout the property. The collection includes sculptures and paintings by well-known names such as Jack Shadbolt, Douglas Coupland, Karin Bubas, and Takao Tanabe. A real eye-popper is “Internity” by Patrick Hughes, an 3D acrylic on wood painting located across from the reception desk, which shifts perspective as you move in front of it.
  • When you stay at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, you will follow in the footsteps of the rich and famous. Over the decades, the legendary Hotel Georgia played host to a long list of Hollywood and royalty, from John and Ethel Barrymore, Marlene Dietrich (and her 40 suitcases) and Errol Flynn to Sir Laurence Olivier, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Katharine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. But the red carpet was literally rolled out for two of the hotel’s earliest guests – British royalty, indeed. His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales and his brother George, the Duke of Kent stayed in 1927 while in Vancouver for the Seaforth Highlander’s Ball, a gala event celebrated at the hotel. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have also stayed at the property.
  • The hotel’s 156 rooms and suites feature a contemporary decor with palettes of light blues, ivory and chocolate completed with sleek furnishings and spa-inspired bathrooms for ultimate luxury. During my visit, I stayed in a deluxe room, which featured a king sized bed draped in Pratesi linens, a separate seating area centered around a marble-topped coffee table, and a five-fixture bathroom, with a fully tiled walk-in rain forest shower, a large luxurious soaker tub, dual sink vanities and a separate toilet area. The hotel’s premier accommodation are the Lord Stanley Suite and the Rosewood Suite, which both feature a private rooftop terrace with stunning city skyline views, plunge pool and private garden.
  • Guests can enjoy an invigorating splash or take a warm dip at the hotel’s heated indoor saltwater lap pool, located on the fourth floor of the hotel. Bathed in natural sunlight from the adjacent outdoor rooftop (more on that below), this elegant and high-ceilinged space is complemented by art deco inspirations. The pool’s floor features geometric panels – mirroring panels in the ceiling above which gradually change colors from pink and yellow to blue and green, making a swim an altogether more sensory experience than usual.
  • Although it lacks the usual hot tubs, steam rooms and sauna space, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia features a small spa, which represents a luxury retreat and an escape from Vancouver’s busy streets. This intimate and elegant hotel spa offers a full range of therapies, treatments, massages and facials from a highly trained staff and has 5 treatment rooms as well as a manicure/pedicure room. Next to the spa is a well-appointed fitness center, which features state-of-the-art equipment, including cardiovascular machines, weight machines, free weights and a Kinesis machine. A separate mirrored area is dedicated to yoga and stretching.
  • Besides hosting the spa and indoor swimming pool, the hotel’s fourth floor also features an outdoor courtyard with a lounge area and sophisticated cocktail bar. Set amid a waterfall feature and greenery, this rooftop space delivers a laid back vibe more reminiscent of Miami or Los Angeles than Vancouver. The lounge is called ‘Reflections: The Garden Terrace’ and it offers a variety of light tapas-inspired dishes. Heaters and lush, warm blankets are available on cool evenings.
  • The hotel is home to one of Canada’s most celebrated fine dining venues, the multiple-award-winning Hawksworth Restaurant and Bar. Using a range of culinary techniques drawn from the diverse heritage of British Columbia, Chef David Hawksworth and his skilled team transform the freshest ingredients into renowned dishes. Combined with the restaurant’s warm and exemplary service, the Hawksworth dining experience is one to savor. Breakfast is also served à la carte at Hawksworth Restaurant, although you can also have a grab&go breakfast (or lunch) at the more casual Bel Cafe next door, which offers a selection of freshly baked pastries, gourmet sandwiches, nourishing soups, salads, beautiful tarts, cakes and exquisite macaroons.
  • Downstairs in the basement, the jazz bar ‘Prohibition offers up live music from Thursday to Saturday. The live musical entertainment and sleek interiors create an intimate, sophisticated ambiance reminiscent of the era when the hotel first opened. Innovative cocktail creations challenge convention while vintage cocktails honor the history of the craft of bartending. The menu has been meticulously curated including an impressive champagne selection, diverse offering of wines, spirits and craft beers alongside some of the rarest finds that the world has to offer.
  • Service is impeccable, as you would expect from Rosewood, one of the most exclusive hotels brands in the world. The Rosewood story began in 1979 when a historic mansion in Dallas, Texas, was transformed into an acclaimed, world-class restaurant and hotel – The Mansion on Turtle Creek – whose success was the blueprint for all subsequent Rosewood hotels and resorts. Today, 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.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Rosewood Hotel Georgia is one of the finest hotels in Vancouver. It’s hard to beat its central location, stellar service, refined decor, and world-class facilities. Yet, it’s not perfect, and here’s why:

  • Although the decor is impressive, you need to know that the hotel is a historic property and the design will throw you back to the golden era of travel, with abundant use of wooden panels, grey marble, and gold moldings in the rather dark public areas. If you prefer a contemporary, airy design (and there are plenty of hotels offering that in Vancouver), you’ll be disappointed here.
  • Rosewood Hotel Georgia features a great indoor pool with adjacent spa. Given Vancouver’s rainy climate, you may think that is a good thing (and it is). However, I personally prefer the outdoor heated swimming pool decks with jacuzzis of more modern hotels in the city, such as the Shangri-La and the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
  • All parking at the hotel is by valet; no self parking is available, and unfortunately, valet parking is very expensive. Overnight valet parking is $55 CND including all taxes. Day use parking is $28 CND including all taxes.
  • The majority of the rooms do not enjoy a great view, despite the Rosewood website stating the rooms offer  “stunning cityscape view”. To give you an idea, my room featured small windows looking out over the skyscrapers across the street.
  • In most rooms, you can hear a bit of noise from the traffic outside or the courtyard lounge below, but that’s to be expected from an urban hotel.
  • Although delicious, the à la carte breakfast is rather pricey. Of course, you can always have a cheaper breakfast at the Deli Cafe, or book via Virtuoso, which includes daily continental breakfast for up to two in-room guests.
MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool (indoor): 8/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Rosewood Hotel Georgia (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Rosewood Hotel Georgia when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upagrade, daily breakfast for 2, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD hotel credit).
  • Room tip: book or request a room on a higher floor since these rooms suffer less from street noise and come with slightly better views.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT

Vancouver is notorious for its abundance of rainfall in autumn, winter and spring, so try to visit between June and September for the most reliable and driest weather.

HOW TO GET THERE

Vancouver International Airport is located 12 km (7.5 mi) from Downtown Vancouver and is served by many full-service and low cost carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites). Check the Wikipedia page of Vancouver International Airport for an updated list of airlines that have direct flights to Canada’s most beautiful city.

ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA: EXTERIOR ROSEWOOD HOTEL GEORGIA: EXTERIOR
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Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 2, 2018): Top 10 best luxury hotels in Vancouver.

Nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is a place of aboriginal lore and global citizenry, of natural beauty and international commerce – a place unlike any other and one of my favorite cities on earth. Vancouver’s spectacular mountains, wildlife-filled waters (that orcas call their home) and lush rain forests (where bears roam freely) overwhelm the beauty of the city itself, where ultramodern glass skyscrapers reflect the fabulous views that surround them. Add to this the relaxed mentality of its super-friendly inhabitants and you are in for an awesome trip … as long as it is not raining. I hereby share with you a breakdown of the 10 most exclusive hotels in North America’s most beautiful city.

There is more information below the slideshow. What’s your favorite hotel in Vancouver? Take my poll or leave a comment below.

Click to view slideshow.

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

10. THE DOUGLAS, AN AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION HOTEL

Located near Parq Vancouver, the Douglas Hotel embraces landscapes and geometric abstractions of nature. The 30,000 square foot park creates one of a kind communal experience for guests and locals. The Douglas, an Autograph Collection Hotel, masterfully reconnects people and place, while seamlessly introducing nature into an elegant, urban environment. Urban, natural elements trim the hallways, leading to 188 rooms and 18 distinctive suites that are attentively appointed, with careful consideration to the needs of the modern traveler. The hotel also offers a furnished lobby bar, a curated collection of social space. Next to the Douglas hotel, Parq Vancouver offers state of the art gaming with 75 table games of blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, and baccarat.

9. FOUR SEASONS HOTEL VANCOUVER

Overlooking downtown Vancouver’s glistening skyline, the award-winning Four Seasons Vancouver hotel sits in the middle of two worlds: a diverse, forward-thinking coastal metropolis and the rugged wilderness of British Columbia. The natural beauty of the area has influenced the décor of all 372 guest rooms and luxury suites – with soothing palettes of tea green and amber, warm saffron and cream or woodsy greens and aqua. A lush garden and the surrounding Vancouver skyline greet you as you glide along the hotel’s heated pool from inside to outside. Guests can dig into the Pacific Northwest’s flavorful bounty at YEW seafood + bar, which offers a seasonally changing menu. Or enjoy a soothing massage in the luxurious privacy of the hotel’s newest treatment room.

8. OPUS VANCOUVER

Situated in the vibrant Yaletown area, Opus Vancouver is the only boutique hotel in the city to have received the coveted Forbes Four-Star rating from 2013 through 2018. The 96 guest rooms and suites feature spa bathrooms with heated floors, all in vibrant colors, with contemporary furniture, Frette bathrobes and Herman Miller ergonomic chairs. A perfect urban retreat for business or pleasure. The 7th floor rooms are slightly smaller, but also feature a step out terrace to enjoy the outdoor sights and sounds of Yaletown. Some other highlights include an on-site modern French brasserie restaurant, bar (which serves tapas and cocktails), round-the-clock room service, catering and meeting facilities (for a maximum of 50 people). Pets are welcome to stay at the hotel.

7. THE LODEN VANCOUVER

As a boutique hotel, the Loden prides itself in its personalized service. Located on a quiet, one-way residential street, guests are just minutes away from the buzzing city center, as well at the peace and quiet of the water along Vancouver’s famous seawall. Quintessentially west coast, the Loden’s 70 rooms and 7 suites draw their inspiration from the natural surroundings of coastal British Columbia, with natural stone and copper, an interior rich in detail, colour and texture, and health focused amenities and offerings. The second floor houses a well-equipped gym, spa suite, infrared sauna and green space with a reflecting pool and mini-waterfall. Tableau, located adjacent to the hotel lobby, is an award-winning neighbourhood bar bistro that is popular with both locals and guests.

6. TRUMP INTERNATIONAL HOTEL & TOWER VANCOUVER

Although I realize that this hotel is a controversial property given that it’s managed by the family of the Donald Trump – president of the United (or divided?) States of America – there’s no denying that it fits this list. Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver is one of the city’s premier luxury hotels and is located in the heart of the Golden Mile, close to couture shopping, restaurants, entertainment and the buzzing financial center. The hotel is housed in Vancouver’s second tallest skyscraper, that stands at 616 ft (188 m) and 69 stories. The famed Arthur Erickson-designed twisting tower maximizes the window features and views in every room, and because of this unique design, every room is distinctive with no two views exactly alike. The hotel also offers fine dining and a lavish day spa.

5. FAIRMONT WATERFRONT

Located on the city’s dynamic harborfront, Fairmont Waterfront is a world-class luxury hotel, proudly embracing a sustainable philosophy. The hotel offers upscale comfort, personalized service, state-of-the-art leisure facilities, and great West Coast views, with easy access to everything that makes Vancouver spectacular. Most of the rooms overlook the harbor, and provide spectacular views of enclosed port and the Coastal Mountains standing majestically beyond it, while the other rooms overlook Vancouver’s vibrant city skyline. The hotel is directly located besides Vancouver’s Convention & Exhibition Center. This, coupled with the hotel’s state of the art conference rooms and business amenities, make it an ideal place to stay during a business trip, or to plan a meeting of your own.

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

4. THE WEDGEWOOD HOTEL & SPA

The Wedgewood Hotel & Spa is one of the city’s top hotels featuring 83 beautifully appointed rooms & suites. Located in the heart of Vancouver’s thriving cosmopolitan downtown core, amidst the gardens and waterfalls of the fashionable Robson Square, the Wedgewood is Vancouver’s only member of Relais & Châteaux, a prestigious collection of the finest hotels and restaurants around the world. A vital..

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Friday newsletters always feature travel conteststipsseries, 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.

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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.

SONEVA FUSHI MALDIVES: phenomenal resort (review) - YouTube

*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***

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

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