Hyatt opens second Istanbul property

Hyatt has
unveiled its second hotel in Istanbul, the Park Hyatt Istanbul – Macka Palas.

The 90-room hotel
is located in the Ni?anta?? residential and shopping district, around
one mile inland from the Bosphorus, and joins Hyatt’s existing Regency property
in the nearby Taksim district.

The hotel is housed in a restored art deco
building dating back to 1922, designed by Italian architect Giulio Mongeri and
inspired by Milanese palazzos. Rooms feature reclaimed American walnut
flooring, “oversized wet rooms clad in local fossalised limestone”, separate
vanity and dressing area, flatscreen TVs, DVD players, iPod docking stations,
digital telephones, internet access, work areas, minibars and laptop safes.

There is also an outdoor swimming pool, and a spa
with spearate male and female section, including saunas, treatment rooms and
relaxation areas, as well as a fitness centre.

Park Hyatt recently opened two new properties
in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing, and has properties in Hyderabad,
Jeddah and Ningbo (northeastern China) all due to open in 2009.

For more information visit hyatt.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines to offer Premium Economy Class

Passengers will be able to enjoy that extra comfort on China Airlines (CAL) and its subsidiary, Mandarin Airlines, when the Premium Economy Class service is introduced on selected Asian routes.

The service starts from December 1 on flights between Kaohsiung and Manila, Kaohsiung and Seoul as well as Taipei and Yangon. Surcharge for a Premium Economy Class upgrade is NT$1,000 (US$30) one way. Customers in the Premium Economy Class, which will be available on Embraer E190 jets, can expect priority luggage service, inflight seat selection in the first or second row, a choice of reading materials, and selected wines and gourmet main-course meals.

Recently, CAL repitched the Business Class seats in some of its Boeing B747-400 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The A330 Business Class was refitted to 30 seats with a 63-inch seat pitch and 166-degree recline angle, and these refitted planes operate primarily between Taipei and Abu Dhabi, Vienna, Sydney, Brisbane, Delhi, Tokyo and Hawaii. In the B747 aircraft which operates between Taipei and Los Angeles, the Business Class was refitted to 49 seats with a seat pitch extending to 60 inches and a 140-degree recline angle.

www.china-airlines.com

www.mandarin-airlines.com

Julian Tan

Golden Tulip announces Almaty property

Golden Tulip is
to introduce its upscale Royal Tulip brand to Almaty in Kazakhstan next year.

The hotel group
launched the five-star Royal Tulip brand in 2006 (joining the four-star Golden Tulip
Hotels and Resorts offering, and the three-star Tulip Inn category). It currently
has seven Royal Tulip properties in cities including Amsterdam, Shanghai, Dubai
and Oman, with the collection being referred to by the group as “upper upscale
hotels, offering the most elegant and high standard facilities with a deluxe
level of comfort and personal service”.

The Royal Tulip
Almaty is due to open in September 2009 in the north of the city, and will
feature 166 rooms, conference and banqueting facilities, a “speciality
restaurant”, all day-dining eatery and bar, Nuances Spa, and a fitness centre.

This is the first
Golden Tulip-branded hotel in the region, and the group says it plans to
develop 8-10 properties with the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) in
the next five years.

For more
information visit goldentulip.com.

Report by Mark
Caswell

China Hotel upgrades for competitive edge

China Hotel A Marriott Hotel in Guangzhou has finalised the second stage of its US$65m renovation as competition for corporate business in the southern Chinese economic powerhouse becomes more intense.

The second of three planned phases has seen the hotel drop its inventory from 890 rooms to 850, with additional space from lost rooms and from corridors being added to the renovated guestrooms and suites.

The hotel, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, faces new rivals in the shape of recent entrants to the Guangzhou hotel sector such as the Grand  Hyatt and Crown Plaza.

General manager Meng Lo said that among room improvements were a new air-conditioning system with improved filtering to remove before the air is recycled, a separate rain shower and bathtub, high definition LCD TVs and great workspace for business travellers. A trademark Marriott “jack-pack” allows guests to link their laptops, MP3 players and cameras to the screen for either leisure purposes or business presentations.

The renovation has also created new food and beverage outlets. These include Prime, a beef and seafood restaurant, the Sapphire cocktail lounge and new private dining spaces.

The renovation has also entirely revamped the health club and executive lounge areas.

Lo said that, while everyone in the hotel industry was uncertain about the economic climate Guangzhou remained a vibrant city and that the hotel’s prime location as the closest international five-star hotel to the Baiyun airport and the only one directly connected to the city metro system, were key advantages.

The schedule for the third phase is currently being reworked but the plans are to renovate the lobby area, Chinese dining outlets and to add substantial new meeting and function space.

www.marriott.com/canmc

New luxury airline to fly from Kuwait

Though its first aircraft is yet to fly, Wataniya Airways, a new Kuwait-based luxury airline, has signed a contract with OnAir to provide inflight connectivity on its fleet of Airbus A320s.

The service enables passengers to make voice calls and text messages on their mobile phones or BlackBerry-type devices, as well as connect to the internet on their laptops using GSM data cards. Costs will be based on rates similar to overseas roaming charges and added to the customer’s phone bill.

“Passengers travelling with Wataniya Airways can expect to be able to stay in touch as they fly both for business and personal reasons,” said George Cooper, CEO of the soon-to-be launched carrier. He claimed they would be the first in the Middle East to use swift broadband.

The airline, whose parent company is Kuwait National Airways, will begin a twice-daily service to Dubai next February.

Currently, OnAir works with AirAsia, Shenzhen Airlines and Kingfisher among others.

www.wataniyaairways.com

He Ruiming

Macau’s exclusive VIP airport service

Macau may be experiencing a slowdown, but the exclusive VIP facility at the Macau International Airport is doing brisk business with the steady stream of tycoons, board-level executives and global celebrities jetting into the territory.

“Business is quite good. “Guests like to fly in and out, and we facilitate this fluid movement. They are usually business people looking to park their aircraft here and then travel into the city or to Hongkong for corporate meetings,” said Christine Wong, assistant operations manager at the Macau Business Aviation Center (MBAC).

Most of the corporate and executive jets that land at MBAC mostly light aircraft like the Legacy and the Gulfstream 4. A few Boeing 767 planes have also landed on its tarmac.

The VIP facility is handling more than triple the number of private flights over the last three years – from 650 flights involving 1,100 passengers in 2005 to 900 flights involving 4,000 passengers as of October of this year.

“They want total privacy and don’t want to be noticed,” Wong noted, adding that MBAC staff are trained to offer an efficient service that tries to anticipate passengers’ needs. And the MBAC staff are strictly forbidden to ask for autographs from celebrity passengers.

She recalled singer Celine Dion and her husband Rene being pleasantly surprised by the absence of autograph seekers “One employee told them (nicely): ‘we are working’.”

As part of MBAC service, a luxury vehicle is waiting on the MBAC tarmac to transfer passengers to the MBAC terminal, which has its own customs and immigration facilites.

The airport is open 24 hours a day and has a staff of 16 working on shifts. A police detachment also provides round-the-clock security.

For more details, visit www.mbac.com.mo

Peter Rajendran

 

Airlines mount rescue flights to Bangkok

Several airlines have launched rescue flights to Bangkok to pick up stranded crewmembers and passengers. All the rescue flights are using U-Tapao Airport, about two hours’ drive from the Thai capital.

Using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, Cathay Pacific has a scheduled round-trip flight tomorrow morning (November 28). The plane will take off from Hongkong at 0800 and will make the return trip at 1200. The airline made its first rescue flight today.

Priority boarding will be given to passengers with valid Cathay Pacific tickets from Hongkong to Bangkok, for whom there will be no charge.  Those holding valid return tickets from other airlines will be charged HK$1,100, while those with no ticket at all will need to pay the full fare for the journey.

Passengers wanting to take the CX rescue flight from Hongkong can contact the special reservations hotline at +852 2747 6347. The hotlines for passengers who wish to take the flight from U-Tapao are as follows: +662 2630 623, +662 2630 644 and +662 2630 664

Meanwhile, AirAsia also launched a rescue flight to Bangkok this afternoon via Kuala Lumpur. Flight AK886D left Malaysian capital for U-Tapao Airport at 1625 local time. The return flight on AAK887D took off from U-Tapao Airport at 1800.

As of press time, AirAsia cannot confirm if a second trip needs to be made to pick up remaining passengers.

According to June Chow, part of AirAsia’s corporate commuications team: ” We still don’t know the numbers of passengers left and if it warrants a second trip. It won’t be feasible to send a whole aircraft over to pick up four or five passengers.”

Jetstar Asia, on the other hand, has resumed its scheduled services between Singapore and Bangkok tonight. The airline will be landing and departing from U-Tapao Airport until further notice.

A spokesperson for Jetstar Asia said: “So far, we have confirmed 173 passengers on the tonight’s flight back to Singapore.”

Jetstar staff have been contacting passengers to let them know that only those who have confirmed reservations will get on the flights and passengers wanting to book should contact the 24 hours call centre at:  800 6161 977 and 1800 611 2957.

Peter Rajendran

Luxury living, Anantara style

Despite political unrest, Thailand remains as a destination for those with a yen for luxury lifestyle.

Upscale boutique resort operator Anantara continues its expansion plans with the October launch of a Phuket property, and next month in Krabi, the Anantara Si Kao which was previously Amari Trang Beach Resort. Anantara Phuket features 83 villas with private pools set either within Bill Bensley-designed gardens with paths meandering down to the sea or by a lagoon, while the 138-room Anantara Si Kao on Changlang Beach will have open bathrooms and private terraces or balconies.

Both properties are located in beach resort destinations that traditionally attract hordes of holidaymakers and honeymooners alike. City dwellers, however, will be able to experience the renowned Thai hospitality when Anantara opens in the future in Bangkok, according to Narelle McDougall, brand director of sales, Anantara Resort & Spa.

www.anantara.com

Julian Tan

Terrorists attack Mumbai hotels

Terrorists in the Indian business centre of Mumbai have killed around 80 people in attacks across the city and taken an unknown number of foreign hostages at three luxury hotels.

Eyewitness accounts say that the attackers rounded up guests with British and American passports at the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel and the Oberoi.

Flames and plumes of smoke were visible at the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel, one of the city’s favourite hotels for foreign business travellers, opposite the city’s iconic Gate of India.

Gunfire was reported at the Oberoi, which is located in Nariman Point, the main financial district of Mumbai, with the Bombay Stock Exchange nearby.

Reports say that another group of attackers entered the Trident Hotel, also in Nariman Point, looking for foreigners.

www.tajhotels.com

www.oberoimumbai.com

www.tridenthotels.com

Kenny Coyle

Bangkok airport closure

Thai airport security personnel have announced that Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport will be closed until 18:00 hrs tomorrow (November 28) and Suvarnabhumi International Airport until 18:00 hrs on Saturday, November 29. This comes after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a state of emergency after protesters took control of both the old Don Muang airport early today and Suvarnabhumi airport on Tuesday.

www.airportsuvarnabhumi.com

Peter Rajendran