Well-defined entertainment at Changi

The range of diversions at Singapore Changi Airport’s Terminal 2 increased with the launch of the Hi-D Lounge, a new high-definition facility. Located in the Departure Transit Mall, it houses high-definition screens of all sizes showcasing quality programmes and interactive entertainment.

Centrepiece is Panasonic’s massive 103-inch HD plasma display screen, said to be the largest available on the market, reproducing clear and brilliant images with amazing details. Besides enjoying Discovery and National Geographic channels, passengers get to watch “live” sporting events on the Nippura acrylic projection screen. Other features of the space include the “Virtual Book”, a touch-screen plasma which allows viewers to “turn the page” by touching the corners of the pages to learn about the history and significance of popular sports and key international events such as Wimbledon, the Olympics and PGA Golf. There is also an interactive floor projection system, a digital gaming zone and a travellers’ bar within this 270-metre leisure area.

Tropical character at Crowne Plaza Changi

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport – opening early next year – aims to appeal to a broader market than just transit passengers, despite its location next to the soon-to-launch Terminal 3.

“We’ll be a place to get together for lunches and brunches, chill out as well as hold meetings,” said general manager Mark Winterton.

Conceptualised with details reflecting Singapore’s tropical, Asian character, yet also its high-tech and efficient reputation, the 320-room property aims to blend a resort and corporate feel as seamlessly as possible. Visitors will be drawn into a refreshing oasis, beginning with a trellised façade that introduces open walkways lined with lush greenery, trend-setting sky gardens and beautiful water features. At night, the hotel takes on an entirely different persona with strategically placed lighting.

Guestrooms start from 36sqm and include 27 suites with queen-sized beds; some offer private patios and poolside sundecks. Besides broadband internet access, a helpful Bedside Shopping Menu will be available, offering guests business and personal items they may have forgotten to bring along.

Conference spaces will be just as attractive to occupy, boasting pre-function areas with reflecting water skylights and creative oval-shaped meeting rooms. Wi-Fi services run throughout the hotel, facilitating quick connectivity, aided as well by numerous corners ideal for sudden brainstorming. To ensure productive events, Crowne Plaza’s Meeting Success services answer the needs of the finickiest event planner. It includes a dedicated point of contact, two-hour response on enquiries and daily meeting debriefing sessions.

Dining and entertaining are catered to with outlets such as an all-day café, Imperial Treasure – a well-known Chinese restaurant – the Sports Bar and Lobby Lounge, equipped with an internet station just in case the urge to check emails proves irresistible.

Margie T Logarta

Better boarding at Charles de Gaulle

The opening of S3, the new boarding satellite at terminal 2E of Charles de Gaulle (CDG) provides travellers another reason to consider the European gateway vital to their travel arrangements.

“This is the first phase in the airline and its SkyTeam alliance partners’ plan to build the hub of the future,” said Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman and CEO of Air France KLM at the facility’s launch last month.

The new boarding complex will “guarantee optimum service” for passengers with its wide range of new facilities. Among the features are a new l’Espace Affaires lounge covering 2,600sqm with a seating capacity of 700 passengers, 18 new security checkpoints for premium travellers and a large new mall featuring a wide range of retail outlets and services.

The S3 will be linked to terminal 2E by the automated train service LISA. The 45-second journey will help ease the transfer process to other terminals and satellites, with trains running every two minutes.

Also, from January 2008, the pedestrian travelator will link the new satellite with terminal 2F.

Several other innovations are scheduled to be introduced. These include enhanced gate-readers at the boarding gates to speed up the boarding process and new self-service kiosks that will allow passengers to perform a range of tasks like changing their flights, printing out boarding passes and accessing updated information regarding their flight.

Designed to handle up to 8.5 million passengers annually, S3 is dedicated to Air France and its SkyTeam alliance members. It also aims to help boost the number of gate-parked flights from the current 52 percent to 70 percent, thereby increasing convenience for travellers.

Other improvements in the pipeline include the building of remote aircraft parking stands on the vicinity of the new boarding satellites, inauguration of the regional terminal, opening of a second boarding satellite for terminal 2E and the implementation of a new baggage sorting system able to handle 15,600 pieces of baggage per hour.

Kenneth Yap

From grape to great skin with Davi applications

They say a glass of red wine a day keeps the (heart) doctor away. No one could believe in that more than Carlo Mondavi, grandson of legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley, California.  

Having grown up and worked in his family’s vineyards, Mondavi has parlayed his knowledge of the benefits of the grape into a line of natural skincare that’s all about rejuvenation. Together with his creative and business partner, Josh LeVine, the professional snowboarder (as is LeVine) has introduced into The Peninsula hotel rooms a new collection of bath amenities under their Davi label.

Mondavi – whose appreciation of wine and good food came from many remarkable years of learning around his grandfather’s table – got the idea for using the byproducts of grapes as an ingredient for grooming when he recalls that “my skin became so smooth after handling the extracts”. Mondavi says: “We brought our plan to my grandfather, and he was blown away.”

A period of testing and development with a prominent laboratory in Lyon, France produced the proprietary Meritage complex, a combination of grapevine-based antioxidants, blended with green tea, soy and other powerful anti-aging agents, which Davi co-founders Mondavi and LeVine felt would be a unique best seller.

In fact, “meritage” – meaning to combine various varietals to create a great wine – is the basis of every Davi item.

As a seasoned business traveller, Mondavi knows how the stress of life on the road can wreak havoc on one’s skin. He is firmly convinced that nature is the best healer and is not shy about announcing that he uses his products all the time – his own ruddy, glowing skin is testimony to the benefits of regular Davi applications. The Peninsula’s new Davi in-room line was developed in collaboration with Gilchrist & Soames and includes shampoo, conditioner, soap, shower gel and body lotion. These are also available at all Peninsula Boutiques in the hotels.   

Margie T Logarta

citizenM makes it so right for the mobile

A new hotel brand that aims to provide “affordable luxury for the people” is set to launch at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in early 2008. Named citizenM, short for “Mobile Citizens” (aka frequent travellers), it hopes to provide an alternative experience for those who value personal choice, contemporary design, friendly technology and a proximity to the city centre.

The new 230-room product was conceptualised by globally renowned architect Concrete, and European design giants Vitra and Philips to offer convenient and functional rooms that feature a super king-size bed fitted with luxurious linen and pillows, wall-to-wall windows for natural light, a flat LCD television and Philips ambient lighting technology. Customers will also be able to indulge in amenities from the same people who created similar lines for Comme des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf.

Inspired by the setting on luxury yachts and private jets, each room is 14sqm and includes free internet access and movies-on-demand. Personal settings like preferred lighting, music, mood and temperature can also be customised when making a web-booking at the self-service check-in kiosk, or on the touch-screen mood pad in the room. For added convenience, a personal key card also stores the user’s profile for future stays.

Culinary offerings at the hotel include a 24-hour choice of signature sandwiches, salads, sushi, warm dishes and limited-edition beverages and coffee. A night’s stay starts at US$96, with bookings starting from October 31. The second citizenM hotel is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2008 near the Amsterdam city centre. More will open in major cities such as London, Berlin, Milan and Brussels.

On the waterfront at One°15 Marina

Should you receive an invite for lunch or dinner at One°15 Marina Club in Singapore’s fast-developing Sentosa Cove, don’t turn it down. Go.

Part of an emerging upscale luxury neighbourhood, this members-only facility boasts a wide range of amenities, ranging from an infinity swimming pool and stylish guestrooms and suites to atmospheric restaurants, including a wine cellar for private entertaining.

Bar Nebula offers fine wines and liqueur and cigars as well as distinctive signature cocktails. The club’s flagship restaurant Imperial Treasure at One°15 is known for haute Cantonese cuisine, while Latitude Bistro and Latitude Terrace are for more casual encounters – no neckties needed here!

If you’re lucky, your host may have thought of even booking for a change of scene, a docked houseboat, which offers catering and four cabin rooms for overnighters. Chartered boat trips to nearby islands and regional destinations can also be arranged.

The Nova Room, above Bar Nebula, is a sleek events venue with a panoramic view. It can take up to 14 people boardroom-style or 50 for cocktails. The Constellation Ballroom can handle 350 people and be further subdivided into three with a capacity of up to 40 people in each section.

Samui’s arrival booster

The newly opened Samui Airport accommodates up to 16,000 passengers a day. An official launch will take place in January 2008.

The US$15.8 million project, consisting of new domestic terminals and two international terminals, is four times bigger than the old airport. It features a passenger area of 73,000sqm. Check in for all flights is now concentrated in a main single space, while a “meeting point” is designated for all arrivals.

Interesting features include a “walking street” adjacent to the passengers’ terminal lined with boutique style shops and a coral aquarium in the men’s toilet. Early next year, a 60-room hotel will begin operations.

Inaugurated in 1989, the Samui Airport went public after 17 years of private ownership by Bangkok Airways. It is the island’s only aviation gateway, serving direct flights from Bangkok, Phuket, U-Tapao, Chiangmai, Singapore and Hongkong. In the near future, more arrivals are expected with increasing regional connections by Bangkok Airways.

Other carriers operating to Koh Samui include Berjaya Air from Kuala Lumpur and budget airline FireFly from Penang. Details at www.bangkokair.com

Japan Airlines introduces domestic luxe

From December, Japan Airlines (JAL) will be operating a trend-setting First Class service. First to benefit is the Haneda, Tokyo-Itami, Osaka route which is now available for reservations. The premium offering will be offered on seven flights daily and there are immediate plans to launch it on all JAL flights between the two destinations. In April 2008, the new class will be introduced on the Haneda-Fukuoka and Haneda-Sapporo services.

Upholstered in the finest leather, the seat reclines to a maxim angle of 132 degrees and has a generous seat pitch and width of 130cm and 53cm respectively. Seat configuration onboard the Boeing 777-200 is 2-2-2, with a centre partition made of wood finish has been added between each pair of seats for extra passenger privacy. Universal Design, which conceptualised the seats, has ensured a user-friendly product that all ages will have no problems with.  

First Class passengers will enjoy a choice of a main meal or light snack, using the freshest of ingredients, and which will change every 10 days. Some of the top restaurants and specialty shops in Japan are helping to create the cabin cuisine. Well-known names include epouvantail (French) and Nadaman (Japanese) of Osaka and L’Alliance (French), Waketoku-yama (Japanese) and Aromafresca (Italian) of Tokyo. From 0900 to 1700, customers can pick between a bento box light meal or desserts made by Maison de Petit four, Suzukake or Sun Fruits.

At Haneda Airport, JAL is setting up dedicated First Class check-in counters providing priority boarding and baggage claim. Patrons will also have access to the Diamond Premier Lounge at Haneda and Sakura Lounge at Itami and other airports where the service will soon be launched.

Those who have purchased a domestic fare ticket can upgrade from Economy Class to First Class by adding ¥8,000 (US$69.10) for each sector of their journey, subject to availability. Those travelling internationally First Class will be seated at no additional cost on applicable domestic routes.

Eye on new Singapore attraction

Singapore beefs up its portfolio of iconic attractions – the Esplanade, IM Pei’s Swissotel Stamford Hotel and Suntec City among others – with a very unique addition, the Singapore Flyer due to start operating either in mid February or early March 2008.

Consisting of a giant observation wheel (think the London Eye) attached to a sculpted building, it offers spectacular views of the city’s landmarks such as Changi Airport and Sentosa, as well as neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia. Each of the 28 capsules – measuring 7m by 4m by 4m, the size of standard single-deck bus – can accommodate 28 passengers bound for the 37-minute experience. It will operate 16 hours daily.

Apart from the regular flow of residents and leisure tourists, conference and incentive travel participants are a sizeable expected market. “It can be a side activity for them,” says David Beevers, Singapore Flyer’s general manager. They can even meet in the adjacent terminal building which will provide a venue on its second storey for up to 700 people. They also won’t need to queue up, and will be invited to wait in comfort in a VIP room enjoying beverages and snacks.

If desired, companies can do up the interiors of their booked capsules to reflect their brand or theme of their event. Catering of canapés and pastries and drinks is offered onboard to complement any type of networking or seminar session. A wide selection of fine wines and champagnes can be made available, as well as non-alcoholic alternatives.

For the first year, Beevers predicted that Singapore Flyer would attract about two and a half million visitors. This was a conservative estimate, he added. Initially, customers will be charged the introductory price of S$29.50 (US$19.60).

Log onto www.singaporeflyer.com for tickets sales, bookings and sponsorships.

Food for all tastes at the Venetian Macao

Dining and wining make up one of the numerous draws at the newly opened Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, the main anchor of Macau’s ambitious Cotai Strip. Over 30 restaurants cater to all types of cravings in fine dining or casual settings.

Café Deco Macao, probably the largest outlet in the 3,000-room complex, is designed to host 1,000 diners on its ground and mezzanine levels. Located in the South Wing, it provides a variety of eating experiences such as a sidewalk café, intimate booth seating, counter seating and show-kitchen style. Two semi-private dining rooms are on the ground floor, and the third and most exclusive is on the mezzanine. John Cunin, director of operations, said: “I’m confident that Café Deco Macau will become a destination restaurant to visit, not only for in-house guests but all visitors and locals as well, just as Café Deco in Hongkong has been since it opened.”

Morton’s of Chicago, another well-known name, hopes to repeat the success of its sister property in Hongkong. It is situated by the outdoor lagoon. Its hearty American specialties include USDA grain-fed, prime-aged beef, fresh seafood and a range of sinful desserts.

Tenants with unusual menus include Fogo Samba for Churrascaria cuisine, featuring succulent barbecue, Old Neptune for bamboo-pressed noodles and porridge, Worldwide Wings for only chicken wings paired with a gamut of tantalising sauces and 100 brands of beer. Most of the outlets open 24/7.