The Address adds to luxury list

Joining the likes of Grand Hyatt, Jumeirah and Mandarin Oriental, The Address Hotels & Resorts is the new addition to the list of luxury hotel brands.

Emaar Hospitality, a subsidiary of Emaar Properties PJSC, a global property developer based in Dubai, launched the five-star premium hotel brand in 2008.

With the introduction of its first property, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai in October, this new hotel brand is now awaiting the opening of The Address, Dubai Mall and The Address, Dubai Marina early next year, as well as The Address, Uptown Cairo in 2011.  

Located 15 minutes from Dubai International Airport, The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai has 196 rooms and suites, meeting and conference facilities, a fitness centre and a spa with nine treatment rooms.

The hotel also features eight restaurants and bars including the Neos lounge on the 63rd floor. Touted to be the highest lounge in Dubai with a great city view, it is open from 1800 to 0200 daily and serves delicacies like foie gras terrine and Wagyu beef croquette.

Marc Dardenne, chief executive officer, Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “As the profile of today’s discerning travellers is changing, there are new definitive preferences and requirements which must be addressed by hotels. Our brand offers a new definition of global luxury life and is carefully positioned to meet the demands of leisure and business travellers.”

Following the opening of these hotels in the Middle East, The Address Hotels & Resorts plans to unveil more properties in North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Europe and America in the next 10 years.

Peter Rajendran

SIA announces A330 stops

Travellers heading to Australia and Japan will be the first to fly on Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) new Airbus A330-300. The service will be introduced progressively from March 30, 2009.

The inaugural service will be from Singapore to Brisbane (flight SQ255) to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the commencement of SIA flights between the two cities. The initial flight SQ236 from Brisbane will also operate on March 30.

SIA takes delivery of its first of 19 A330-300 aircraft in mid-January.

Perth will be the second Australian city to welcome the A330 in April. Services between Singapore and Perth will be progressively converted from the existing Boeing B777 operations to the A330 and the change will complete in May. And by June, the daily flight between Adelaide and Singapore will be converted to the A330.

In June, the new service will debut on Japanese routes. The A330 will start operating daily to Nagoya from June next year and to Osaka by March 2010. Both routes are currently served by the B777.

The twin-engine, wide-bodied A330-300 aircraft will offer a two-class configuration with 285 seats. The Business Class cabin will have 30 seats in a 2-2-2 layout (as opposed to the existing B777’s 2-3-2 arrangement on these routes), while 255 Economy seats are in a 2-4-2 layout. All seats will feature the new KrisWorld inflight entertainment system.

For more information, visit

Julian Tan

Will 2009 be the year green issues are forgotten?

As the credit crunch bites and the travel industry looks to cut costs, Business Traveller asks if environmental initiatives may be quietly dropped.

2008 was billed as the year of travelling green, with airlines offering carbon offsetting and hotels plying guests with Fairtrade and free bikes, but as the year drew on it was the credit crisis that was grabbing headlines, along with the soaring cost of oil and airlines going bust. As 2008 draws to a close, many in the industry are taking stock after heavy losses.

Cost will be the driving factor that will make or break the green revolution, experts agreed at a round-table discussion on corporate social responsibility (CSR), organised by Carlson Wagonlit. While some initiatives may mean spending plenty of money with little return, others will bring in the cash in the long term. In 2009, going green will be all about money.

“CSR needs to reinvent itself,” said Alexandra Hammond, responsible business manager, UK, for the Rezidor Hotel Group. “We need to look at how CSR can address the bottom line – how it pays for itself and then some. For example, the lighting in Park Inn hotels is being changed to use less power and be more environmentally friendly, so there is that initial outlay, but in the long term we will save money. The economic viability is crucial.”

Savvy business travellers being more demanding will also drive the agenda. Hammond said people are asking for more from their hotel stays, which is fuelling change. “The CSR questions are getting more intense and guests are asking for fair trade food and drink. They are looking for it and have come to expect it,” she said.

David Tibbles, global product director for online booking and environment at travel management company Carlson Wagonlit, agreed. “Customers want to know about the green measures they can take. They are asking more questions, with many still needing answers,” he said.

In response, the travel industry is introducing green measures to reduce the impact of business travel, but travellers will need to ask themselves whether the trip is really necessary.

“It really depends on the nature of the trip,” said Caroline Allen, regional director for northern and east central Europe and Russia at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. “For example, training is necessary and has to be done in person, so you have to travel. It’s also important to be more forward-thinking when you travel, such as organising more meetings for the one trip.”

People should not lose sight of the importance of CSR, believes Frauke Spottka, a co-ordinator for VCD, the Transport Club of Germany. She suggested that face-to-face meetings requiring travel should be replaced by web conferences. “What is important is avoiding business travel, only making trips that are vital for the business,” she said. “The economic crisis will go away, but the environmental crisis will not.”

Using carbon offsetting to reduce the impact of travel was also a point of debate. While Spottka said carbon offsetting should be a “last resort”, Allen said it was “a first step”. Jonathan Shopley, executive director of the CarbonNeutral Company, suggested “offset and reduce strategies” were the way to go. “You can offset by investing in growing economies that have plenty of opportunities to reduce carbon,” he said.

The CSR mantra isn’t simply about being green, it’s about the welfare and well-being of staff, guests and the local community. But it’s not about charity, Shopley pointed out. “I think CSR has become fuzzy,” he said. “There are a range of things we can control directly and those we cannot. CSR and philanthropy are different things.”

Overall the future for CSR looks bright despite the downturn, especially as many green initiatives can bring economic benefits. Even so, there should be no complacency, said Hammond from Rezidor: “I think we are all aware that if we decide not to do anything we are going nowhere. With the economic crisis it may slip a little as companies get their house in order, but we can’t regress. Progress may be slower than we would have hoped for.”

Report by Sara Turner

United’s new fully flat business on majority of B767 fleet

United Airline’s new fully flat business class seat is now on the majority of its B767 fleet, with completion by May 2009. Plus new routes for 2009.

United Airlines’ managing director of Sales, Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, Marcel Fuchs has confirmed that the roll out of United’s fully flat business class bed is continuing, with 13 of its 21 aircraft now fitted.

“We’ve been getting very good reviews of the business class seat,” says Mr Fuchs. “The seat itself, the inflight entertainment which is the new Audio and Video on Demand, the games, the movies, the inseat power and of course the ability to sleep in a fully flat bed, all adds to the offering.”

The new business class seating is also being introduced on the United B747 fleet, with 12 of the 24 aircraft being refurbished by the end of 2008 with a completion date of October 2009, and the B777 fleet starting its reconfiguration in September 2009.

“At present the new seats are on eight of the 12 markets we are flying into,” says Fuchs. “All three of our London Chicago flights have the new seats, and it is on a number of Paris services and the London to Washington daytime flight [on the B767].  We’ve been very conservative about promoting the seat to avoid disappointment if it isn’t on a particular flight, but on London to Chicago we can be fairly sure to have it 90% of the time, aircraft changes notwithstanding.”

Mr Fuchs pointed out that as well as the new seats the cabin has been refreshed and is much quieter and more discreet, and the food and beverage offering had been changed.

In other news, Mr Fuchs:

•    Confirmed that the B777 fleet will also have a new economy seat to allow for the new Inflight Entertainment system to be installed.

•    Pointed to the Dubai-Washington flight inaugurated on October 27th with the B777 as evidence of United’s international expansion. The midnight departure from Dubai allowing for early morning arrival in Washington using the B777 ready for connections to domestic services. It is the carrier’s second middle east destination after Kuwait.

•    Looked forward to Spring 2009 and the return of London to Denver with 11 services each week out of London Heathrow, with a fourth daily Washington service in place for the summer schedule.

•    The commencement of the Moscow to Washington Dulles service from March 27 2009 using a newly configured B767.

•    The commencement of Geneva to Washington from April 20, United’s second market in Switzerland after Zurich, taking the total number of transatlantic services to 31 each week. “A significant upgrade from last year,” according to Fuchs.

United’s new seating will be reviewed in the February 2009 issue of Business Traveller magazine, and online at

To see a seatplan of the new configuration on the aircraft, click here.

To read a review of the United’s new first class product, click here.

To see details of the new products on United’s own website, click here.

Report by Tom Otley

Bahrain welcomes first Conrad Hotel

Hilton Hotels Corporation has partnered with estate developer, Diyar Al Bahrain, to open the first Conrad hotel in Bahrain in 2011.

Featuring 250 guestrooms and 50 apartments, the new hotel will feature meeting facilities, a business centre and fitness and health amenities. Dining options include three specialty restaurants, two bars, a coffee shop and a shisha cafe to give guests a taste of local culture.

Located at the newly-built Reef Island, a US$1.2 billion lavish and upscale residential and lifestyle development in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. The hotel will join 39 residential buildings, 65 villas, 49 chalets, a shopping mall and a yacht club in the state of the art island infrastructure.

An approximately 25-minute drive away from the airport, it is close to the new seaport and to the causeway linking Saudi Arabia. The hotel will be a drawing factor for business travellers due to its proximity to Manama’s central business district and the Bahrain Financial Harbour.

Ross Klein, global head, Hilton Family of Hotels, Luxury & Lifestyle Brands said, “This announcement emphasises our goal to really strengthen our luxury offering on a global scale. The Conrad Bahrain epitomises the Conrad lifestyle with its high-tech offerings, distinct modern design, best-in-class service and customised experiences. The hotel will build on the successes of the Conrad Cairo and will also complement our properties under development: Conrad Dubai and Conrad Abu Dhabi.”

Reflecting the Conrad Hotel & Resorts expansion in the Middle East, Conrad Dubai and Conrad Abu Dhabi look set to open in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Hilton Hotels also has plans to develop an additional 16 properties across the Middle East and Africa in destinations like: the UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Ghana and Nigeria to name a few. In Saudi Arabia, 13 Hilton Garden Inn properties are also in the pipeline.

Peter Rajendran

Premier Inn unveils designs for floating hotel

Budget hotel chain Premier Inn plans to build “Britain’s first floating budget hotel”.

The new “floatel”, due to be built next year, will be connected to the existing Hartlepool Marina Premier Inn and will have 54 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, TVs and internet access.

With a lack of viable building land, the floating hotel option is an answer to growing demand in the Hartlepool Marina area.

Premier Inn’s property director, Mark Anderson, said: “We’re always looking for new ways to ensure we have great hotels, wherever they’re needed.”

To avoid inflicting sea sickness on the guests, the hotel is designed to float vertically with the tide, while the horizontal movement will be restricted by piles driven into the marina.


Report by Sara Turner

Car rental firm eyes Asian expansion

Music Express, an executive limousine company established in 1972 in California by a recording producer, has set up a presence in Shanghai, Beijing and Hongkong.

According to a company spokesperson, Music Express provides airport pick ups and concierge services as well as transfers for groups meetings and events.

In the US, the fleet consists of the latest luxury vehicles such as the Lincoln Sedan, Mercedes-Sedan, Rolls-Royce Phantom, SUV/Navigator and SUV/Excursion among others. In other markets, the models may differ but are always top-of-the-line, assured company executives.

Minimum use is from two hours and rates do not include parking, tolls, cellular phone charges, fuel surcharge or other incidental charges. Corporate or group discounts depend on annual committed volume.

Music Express sees its clientele as not only inbound visitors to Asia, but also travellers to the US and Europe.

For more details, visit

Margie T Logarta

Go with Prince Albert II to Antartica

Experience the ultimate White Christmas next year and cruise Antartica in style on Silversea’s new expedition voyager Prince Albert II.

Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina next December, the 11-day journey consists of travel through the Drake Passage and Antartic Peninsula, exploring spectacular scenery and wildlife with renowned naturalists, lecturers and an expedition team who will share their insights into the pristine environment and its creature residents.

Designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, Prince Albert II features a strengthened hull with the highest Lloyd’s register ice-class (1A) for passenger ships.

Cruise fares usually start from US$7,335 per person, double occupancy.

Each suite boasts ocean views and are spacious, with even some equipped with verandahs or French balconies. The marble bathrooms features full bathtubs and the gourmet restaurants present menus by Relais and Chateaux with complementary wines, champagnes and spirits served throughout the journey.

The staff to guest ratio is 1:1.

For more detail, visit

Margie T Logarta

Airline update: Jetstar and Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines will launch its Hanoi-Can Tho services on January 4, 2009. For the time being, the airline will fly the route once daily, though there are intentions to increase the service’s weekly frequency to up to 14.

To promote its new service, the carrier has announced a 50 percent discount for flights departing from January 4 to 15.

Meanwhile, Jetstar announced that it would soon reintroduce a benefit that will allow JetSaver and JetSaver Light tickets to be transferable to another name if the airline is given at least a 24-hour notice before the flight, and administrative fees and fare differences are paid for.

This comes as Australia’s Supreme Court of Victoria overturned a decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The VCAT had previously held that the change fee that the airline had previously charged was in violation of fair trade. 

As a result, Jetstar withdrew the service in July last year.

Jetstar Chief Executive Officer Bruce Buchanan said in response to the latest ruling, “We have always believed in providing levels of flexibility for our customers within our everyday low-fare offers, and this [benefit] will once again be offered for our most popular airfare products.” ?

“It is important to note that the fare difference at the time a customer wishes to make a change may be significant, particularly for customers who purchase Jetstar’s deeply discounted fares.

“However, customers who no longer wish to travel on their booking have another option rather than just forfeit the fare they paid.”

The change fee will be applicable to all of Jetstar’s international operations, including Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Pacific.

He Ruiming

Regus opens new centre in Tokyo

Business travellers in Tokyo will find more serviced office spaces in the Japanese capital as Regus recently opened its 17th facility in the Shinbashi Tokyu Building.

“Our newest centre offers the best convenience to businesses in terms of accessibility and cost efficiency.  Especially during the current economic situation, Regus enables businesses to establish offices in prime locations with less capital. This allows them to better manage their finances, and focus on their core business activities,” said Jessy Takashi Kure, general manager for North Asia, the Regus Group.

Regus Shinbashi centre occupies 1,242 square metres with offices to accommodate up to 210 people, with boardrooms, and conference rooms. Other services include a furnished reception area with bilingual receptionists to greet clients, answer calls in the business’s name and provide administrative support; equipped Cafe area that allows clients and visitors to remain productive for a quick break or between meetings. All Regus clients have the option to be equipped with high-speed Internet access and digital telephone service managed by a highly trained IT support team.

Corporations that are housed in the new centre will benefit from the location in Shinbashi, located near Shiodome, one of the newly emerging business districts in Tokyo following the redevelopment project started in 2002.

In addition, Regus Shinbashi Centre will offer a high level of accessibility to its tenants with its two-minute walking distance to Shinbashi Station, serving several major train and subway lines (JR: Yamanote Line, Keihin-Tohoku Line and Tokaido Line / Tokyo Metro: Ginza Line / Toei Subway: Asakusa Line).  The center will also allow globe-trotting business to “work mobile,” with its convenient connection to Narita airport via Tokyo Station (three minutes by JR rail from Shimbashi Station) and Haneda Airport via Hamamatsucho Station ( two minutes by JR rail from Shimbashi Station).

“We aim to be the optimal solution for business leaders, providing them with alternatives to conventional office space and a ‘new work style,” said Kure.

Regus is one of the world’s largest providers of business centres and serviced offices. The company now has 1,000 centres in 400 cities across 70 countries, with 110 in Asia Pacific. The Regus Group also recently launched its Regus businessworld Membership Program, which provides members with free access to its centres and business lounges around the world.

For more information, visit

Gigi Onag