Quick getaways

Tear yourself away from the office and get in some quality down time for yourself and the family. Scroll down for some suggestions where to go for a quick chill out.

China

Amanfayun in Hangzhou is offering a special rate until December 31, 2010 for residents of China, Hongkong, Taiwan and Macau. Prices start at US$435 for a Village Room.

www.amanresorts.com

Hongkong

The Fleming Hotel offers a late summer package with rates of HK$980 (US$126) for a Superior room, HK$1,280 (US$165) for a Deluxe room and HK$1,580 (US$200) for an Executive room. Benefits include breakfast, a welcome fruit platter, evening cocktails, entry to California Fitness nearby, discounts at Cubix restaurant, free laundry and use of the business centre.

www.thefleming.com.hk

Regal Hotels International’s six Hongkong properties, Regal Airport Hotel, Regal Hongkong Hotel, Regal Kowloon Hotel, Regal Oriental Hotel, Regal Riverside Hotel and Regal iClub Hotel, are promoting a two-night stay until August 31 at rates from HK$2,125 (US$275) per night. Perks include complimentary 3D Toy Story 3 tickets, Toy Story welcome gift, free in-room internet broadband access, complimentary airport shuttle bus service and free enrolment for the Regal Rewards programme.

www.regalhotel.com

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong offers a leisure package with rates from HK$1,680 (US$216) per night at a Harbour View room. Guests will be given a HK$200 (US$25) daily food and beverage credit for use at Dynasty and Café Renaissance restaurants, the Lobby Lounge and in-room dining. The package is valid until August 31.

www.renaissanceharbourviewhk.com

General

Best Western is offering room rates starting from US$39 per night in properties in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Krabi. Member of its Best Western Rewards programme also get 10 points for every US$1 spent on bookings in its properties in China, Japan, India, Korea and Malaysia. This offer is valid until December 31.

www.bestwestern.com

With properties in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, Sofitel Luxury Hotels offers a special package for guests who are keen on nature and heritage. The Chic Picnic offer is valid until August 31, offering room rates starting from US$121. A minimum stay of three nights is required to apply for the rate.

www.sofitel-chicpicnic.com

Sarah Spaeth

Lufthansa extends Miles and More benefits on Bmi flights

From August 1 Miles and More members flying with Lufthansa subsidiary Bmi can earn HON Circle Miles and Executive Bonus benefits.

The accrual of HON Circle Miles (enabling members to reach HON Circle status, with exclusive benefits) is usually reserved for members flying on fully integrated Miles and More partner airlines, but this has now been extended to those travelling on Bmi flights.

In addition Frequent Traveller status members and above will now be able to earn the 25 per cent Executive Bonus on award, status and HON Circle miles when travelling on Bmi flights. Note that miles cannot be earned on flights operated by Bmibaby.

Lufthansa took control of Bmi in 2009, but the carrier continues to operate its own Diamond Club loyalty scheme. However there has been speculation that Lufthansa may look to merge Diamond Club into the Miles and More scheme, which now has a total of nine member airlines.

For more information visit flybmi.com, miles-and-more.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

JAL to join BA at Heathrow T5?

BA is currently in discussions with JAL and BAA regarding the possibility of the Japanese carrier moving its Heathrow operations to T5 next year.

The news was posted on the carrier’s intranet site yesterday (July 29), and is also being discussed on the businesstraveller.com forum. A BA spokesperson confirmed that “discussions are at a preliminary level” and that no decisions have been made, adding that “we’re looking at the feasibility of such a terminal move, and obviously it’s got to be approved by BAA”.

Struggling Oneworld member JAL had received offers of financial support from rival alliance Skyteam earlier this year, but following discussions with Oneworld and American Airlines, the Japanese carrier announced that it would seek a “joint business venture” with AA on transpacific routes, as well as looking to “fortify its relationships with other partners in the Oneworld alliance”. The BA spokesperson said the possibility of the terminal move was something the carrier had “made a pledge on about six months ago”.

The move would not take place before spring 2011, when Terminal 5’s second satellite building – T5C – is due to open.

JAL currently flies once daily between London and Tokyo, operating out of Heathrow T3, from where the majority of Oneworld carriers (including selected BA services) depart.

For more information visit ba.com, jal.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Budget joins Miles and More

Members of the Lufthansa-led Miles and More scheme can earn points on rentals with Budget Rent-a-Car from August 1, and to celebrate the car hire firm is offering double miles and the chance to win a year’s free rental.

Members will earn a minimum of 500 miles per rental, with double miles on offer for bookings made in August and September (for rentals picking up before December 31). 

In addition members can enter a prize draw to win a year’s free car rental with Budget (valid on car groups A and B) by visiting miles-and-more.com before September 30.

Commenting on the new partnership, Olivier van Marcke, general manager, Budget Rent-a-Car EMEA said: 

“We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Miles and More, and look forward to offering not just award miles to members but outstanding value, and great quality car rental. Our extensive worldwide network – including over 800 major airports – will allow us to serve the needs of Miles and More’s growing membership across the globe.”

The Miles and More programme now counts nine member airlines – Adria, Air Dolomiti, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lux Air, Lufthansa and Swiss. Car hire partners include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

For more information and full terms and conditions of the scheme and prize draw, visit miles-and-more.com, budget.co.uk.

Ascott introduces the Citadines brand to Bali

The Ascott Limited brings its Citadines brand to Bali with the planned opening of Citadines Bali Kuta in 2012. The 174-unit property is located near the main road of Jalan Raya Kuta, close to major shopping and dining amenities.

Currently, there are no international name serviced apartments operating in the resort destination. Many are locally owned and branded.

Ascott’s first Citadines property in Indonesia, Citadines Jakarta Quartier will open by year end, with Citadines Jakarta Rasuna opening next year and Ascott Kuningan Jakarta in 2012. The group now has five properties operating in Indonesia. In Jakarta, these are Ascott Jakarta, Somerset Berlian, Somerset Grand Citra and Country Woods, and in Surabaya, it’s Surabaya Hotel and Serviced Residence.

For more details, visit www.the-ascott.com

Margie T Logarta

MAS bumps up services to Australia

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will offer two additional direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney and three more flights from Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane from October 31, 2010, a response to improving load factors.

Services from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney will increase to 14 times a week. The new flights will depart every Tuesday and Thursday at 0900 and arrive in Sydney at 1955.

The flights between Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane grow to eight times weekly, with the new flights departing every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 0940 and arriving in Brisbane at 1955.

Besides Sydney and Brisbane, MAS connects to Melbourne 14 times weekly, Perth 10 times weekly and Adelaide four times weekly.

For more, visit www.malaysiaairlines.com

Sarah Spaeth

New train ticketing system for China in the works

China’s railway ministry is working on an enhanced online ticket-booking service to incorporate the new high-speed trains that have recently started operating across the country (see news).

The latest high-speed train service launched was the Shanghai-Nanjing train in May (see news).
 
Government officials said that while the country has made much progress in its railway system, the selling of tickets was “very old fashioned”. They said they would announce shortly when the new booking system would go live.

Margie T Logarta

Virgin Atlantic unveils new livery

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the first changes to its livery and brand identity since 2005. The new branding will be applied to all 38 aircraft in its fleet, as well as signage, communications and advertising.

The Virgin Atlantic name will now be “emblazoned large across the whole of the aircraft in a fine custom drawn font”, and undercarriages will feature the carrier’s new logo in dark purple, “making the aircraft more easily identifiable when taking off and landing”. Passengers looking out the windows will also be in no doubt who they are flying with, as winglets will now carry the Virgin script on the inner side.

The flying lady sported on the front of the carrier’s aircraft will also receive a “subtle cosmetic makeover and enhanced detailing”, and will now carry a large Union Jack.

According to Michael Johnson, Creative Director, Johnson Banks, the design consultancy responsible for the new livery, the new logotype “has been replaced with a thinner and more elegant design that reinstates the pride in Virgin Atlantic’s full name, and supplies more flexibility across a myriad applications”.

The new design has already been applied to one of the carrier’s Boeing 747 aircraft, and will be rolled out across the existing fleet. Virgin says it is also “developing new designs for the entire fleet of A330s due to come into service next year”.

For more information visit virginatlantic.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Intercontinental to debut in Osaka

IHG has announced its first Intercontinental property in the Japanese city of Osaka, with the hotel due to open in 2013.

The property will be located within the Osaka Station North Yard Development Project, a seven-hectare area in the city centre earmarked for offices, accommodation and a 10,000sqm shopping mall.

The hotel will feature “approximately 200 rooms and 50 residential apartments”, as well as restaurants and banqueting facilities, and will join six existing Intercontinental properties in Tokyo and Okinawa.

IHG recently opened its second Intercontinental property in New York (see online news July 13), and is due to open a 254-room Intercontinental hotel in London’s Westminster in time for the 2012 Olympic Games (see online news October 27, 2009).

For more information visit ihg.com, and for our four hour guide to Osaka, click here.

Report by Mark Caswell

Shanghai Airlines to leave Star Alliance

Shanghai Airlines is to quite the alliance at the end of October according to a report by Reuters.

The carrier joined Star Alliance at the end of 2007, along with fellow Chinese carrier Air China (see online news December 13, 2007). But Shanghai Airlines is in the process of merging with China Eastern Airlines, which in turn signed an agreement to join rival alliance Skyteam earlier this year (see online news April 16).

The Reuters report quotes an unnamed source as saying that “”In order to maintain the consistency of the new China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines has decided to leave Star Alliance on Oct. 31, 2010”.

For more information visit shanghai-air.com, and to read the Reuters report in full, click here.