Aer Lingus launches US sale

Aer Lingus will next week launch a sale on direct flights to the US, offering “€100 off every seat, every flight, everyday”.

The promotion is valid for flights booked between April 2 and April 7, for travel between August 1 and December 16, on direct routes to US cities.

The carrier currently flies from Dublin to New York, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and from Shannon to New York and Boston.

The press release also states that Aer Lingus “will soon roll out high-speed wifi on all transatlantic flights so you can stay up-to-date with news, flight information and much more throughout your journey”.

For more information visit aerlingus.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing strengthens air filtration system

The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing has just announced that the property has installed an air purification system that filters out dust in three high-tech methods.

The outdoor air first goes through a filtration device before entering the hotel; remaining dust is then further reduced using the electrostatic adsorption principle. Finally, an air processor in the system adjusts the humidity so that the air is less dry – a problem in Beijing as dryness prompts more dust to become airborne.

The hotel has not explained why it is taking these steps to ensure the quality of the property’s indoor air, but one cannot help but think the Chinese capital’s worsening and widely reported air pollution problem has prompted the move (see story).

In one of our recent polls, more than 60 per cent of the respondents said the air quality issue has made them less willing to travel to China (see poll).

Reggie Ho

Holiday Inn and Suites Makati debuts in Manila

Business travellers on extended stays in Manila may want to consider Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, opening on April 1.

The mid-range member of IHG opens today in the Makati Central Business District, featuring a total of 348 guestrooms, including executive suites which, at 63 sqm, come with a spacious living room and kitchenette, as well as a bunk bed area for youngsters who come along. The largest unit, Makati Suite, measures 93 sqm and is also equipped with a kitchenette.

Deluxe room

Amenities associated with the Holiday Inn experience such as adjustable power showers, a choice of pillow types, duck-down duvets and 40-inch LED TVs are likewise available. Internet access is free throughout the hotel. F&B options include Flavours restaurant for an international selection of dishes and a child-friendly menu, Citron Lobby Bar and the roofdeck Oz Bar. A swimming pool and gym round up the leisure facilities.

Directly linked to Glorietta Mall and within walking distance to other lifestyle zones such as the Greenbelt Complex, this Holiday Inn is the third hotel to have opened in recent months in the popular Ayala Center. The Fairmont Makati and Raffles Hotel started up operations on December 3, 2012 (see previous news).

Until June 30, an opening rate of Php5,100 (US$124) per night is on offer.

The Philippines is another up and coming economic powerhouse in Asia. For a story on Manila’s latest developments, see story.

For more details, visit www.holidayinn.com

Margie T Logarta

First look: Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou

Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has opened its first city property in the Southern Chinese commercial hub of Guangzhou.

Located in the well-established Tianhe business district, next to the prominent Swire office building, the hotel is directly connected to the 358,000 sqm mixed-use TaiKoo Hui development, which includes a luxury shopping mall, office space and a cultural centre. The property is also connected to Shipaiqiao Station of Guangzhou Metro, served by Line 3, and is a five-minute car ride from Guangzhou East Railway Station from which Hong Kong can be reached in two hours by train. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, meanwhile, is 45 minutes’ drive away.

The hotel contains 233 rooms, 30 suites and 24 serviced apartments designed by Tony Chi & Associates. Rooms start at 60 sqm – the largest standard room in the city – and feature a unique design inspired by the traditional Chinese courtyard. The entrance of every room has a sizeable hallway space  – the “courtyard” – connected to the rest of the “room” through sliding doors. The standard room, for example, has two bathrooms on either side of the entrance hall – one wet bathroom containing the sizeable stand-alone round bathtub and rain shower, and a dry bathroom with two sinks and the toilet. The bedroom can be found straight ahead behind a pair of oriental-style sliding doors. There is also a separate walk-in closet to hang your clothes and place your luggage to the side of the entrance.

The hotel’s intriguingly designed signature spa can be found next to the heated 25-metre outdoor pool on the 3rd floor. In terms of recreational facilities, there is also a well-equipped 24-hour gym with separate yoga room.

For dining, the main event is the signature Cantonese restaurant Jiang. The contemporary-style Ebony, meanwhile, serves international cuisine and there is also a classic tea lounge on the reception floor, a cake shop and The Loft – a suave bar with many private seating areas, some of which allow smoking, and serving a wide range of whiskeys and cigars.

The property also has notable meeting and function facilities which feature dramatically high ceilings, accessible through huge oriental-style wooden doors. Two large pantries are available for break-out meetings and drinks receptions or preparation of refreshments. There are seven rooms and a 750 sqm ballroom, as well as a business centre included among the facilities.

“The majority of our guests will come from the business and MICE segment, however, as our hotel is located within the luxurious TaiKoo Hui shopping complex, we can expect a good proportion of our guests coming to enjoy not only the facilities of our hotel, but also indulge in shopping,” said Clemens Hoerth, general manager at Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou.

“Whether it is the advanced in–room technology, the excellent meeting facilities, or the private Oriental Club, it is important that the business traveller does receive a hassle-free experience and an efficient and delightful service” he continued.

The Mandarin Oriental portfolio also includes a resort in Sanya, Hainan Island – China’s own Hawaii. Other upcoming openings for the group in this rapidly growing market include Shanghai (see here) and Beijing (see here).

Visit www.mandarinoriental.com/guangzhou

Alex Andersson

Business Traveller April issue now live

Subscribers to the print version of Business Traveller can access the edition online before everyone else.

All of our special reports and destination features are uploaded to businesstraveller.com each month, and the April 2013 edition has now gone live.

Subscribe to Business Traveller today, and as an added bonus you’ll receive up to 2,500 Avios, as well as a 20 per cent off subscription rates. For more information click here.

This month’s packed issue includes:

  • A round-up of 100 new business hotels around the world
  • A look at saving money with advance rail fares
  • Four hours in Tel Aviv
  • A look at how premium economy is now truly a global product
  • Our frequent traveller attempts to give up a habit of a lifetime
  • A report on travel insurance for business trips
  • What’s on around the world in April
  • Eating out in Edinburgh
  • A round-up of smartphones bridging the gap between phone and tablet
  • Meeting options in Istanbul
  • The latest products available tax-free at the airport
  • A look at the potential dangers of batteries in carry on luggage
  • A round-up of iconic hotel cocktails
  • Destination reports on Kuala Lumpur, Tianjin, San Francisco and Buzios
  • A look back through the archives at US carrier People Express

Plus we review Japan Airlines’ new premium economy and business class products on the London-Tokyo route, and check in to the Palace Hotel in the Japanese capital.

If you are already a subscriber to Business Traveller, simply log in here (using the email address attached to your subscription), then click on the archive button on the navigation bar for full access.

If you are unsure of your log in details, or have any problems accessing the archive as a print subscriber, click here to send us an email.

Le Meridien to renovate 13 Middle East and Africa properties

Starwood Hotels and Resorts will spend over $200 million renovating 13 Le Meridien hotels in Africa and the Middle East over the next three years.

Brian Povinelli, global brand leader for Le Meridien and Westin hotels says, “Since acquiring Le Meridien in 2005, Starwood and its hotel ownership groups have made a tremendous effort to enhance and create a consistent portfolio around the world.”

The 13 Le Meridien hotels and resorts completing or currently undergoing renovations include:

  • Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort (Fujairah, United Arab Emirates)
  • Le Meridien Al Khobar (Saudi Arabia)
  • Le Meridien Dubai
  • Le Meridien Heliopolis (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Le Meridien Ile Maurice (Pointe Aux Piments, Mauritius)
  • Le Meridien Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)
  • Le Meridien Makkah (Saudi Arabia)
  • Le Meridien Mandji (Port Gentil, Gabon)
  • Le Meridien Mina Seyahi (Dubai)
  • Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel and Spa (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Le Meridien Re-Ndama (Libreville, Gabon)
  • Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi
  • Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa (Dubai)

These renovations will focus on the Le Meridien Hub approach to public spaces, which attempt to give the lobby a more sociable, cafe culture feel. This includes a 24-hour soundtrack and the installation of artwork, and can be seen already at the brand’s Barcelona, Brussels, Oran and Istanbul properties.

Le Meridien Istanbul

Starwood will open a further ten Le Meridien hotels over the next year (see online news January 27), including Le Meridien Cairo Airport, in September 2013. Located at Terminal 3, this will become the only hotel with direct terminal access at Cairo International.

The 350-room hotel will have a 24-hour restaurant, coffee bar, lobby bar, lounge, fitness centre, and swimming pool. There will also be around 750 square metres of meeting space, including a business centre, ballroom, and six meeting rooms.

For more information visit starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien.

Report by Scott Carey