Korean Air gets ninth A380

Korean Air has taken delivery of its ninth Airbus A380. The superjumbo will undergo mandatory testing in Korea before being deployed on its debut flight to Atlanta on July 6.

The carrier currently operates the A380 on routes from Incheon to Los Angeles and New York (both 14 times weekly), and Paris (seven times a week). Starting later this month, the A380 wil also fly to Atlanta three flights a week.

The newest member of the fleet is configured with a three-class layout, and features 12 seats in first class, 94 in business and 301 in economy.

Korean Air’s A380 also offers a ‘Duty Free Showcase’ at the back of the lower deck, which has a variety of duty-free products with a dedicated cabin crew member on hand to assist and advise passengers with their shopping needs.

In addition, ‘Celestial Bar’ is a dedicated area in the A380 where passengers can sample one of six Korean Air cocktails during their flight.

For more information, visit koreanair.com

Clement Huang

Second JW Marriott hotel opens in Beijing

Marriott International has opened its second JW Marriott hotel in Beijing.

The JW Marriott Hotel Beijing Central is located in Xuanwumen in the centre of the Chinese capital.

JW Marriott Hotel Beijing Central

It has 412 guestrooms, including 60 suites, of which 12 are Sky Garden Suites with balconies, three restaurants, a lounge, a 24-hour fitness centre, an indoor rooftop swimming pool, a sauna and a steam room.

The property also features 2,500 sqm of conference space, including an entire floor dedicated to events, with an 800 sqm grand ballroom, a 600 sqm foyer and a 300 sqm venue with nine meeting rooms.

Simon Cooper, president and managing director of Asia Pacific for Marriott International, said: “We are delighted to introduce the seventh JW Marriot hotel in China.

“The JW Marriott Hotel Beijing Central is the second JW Marriott property in Beijing, and represents a further evolution of the rich service philosophy and extensive facilities that our premium JW Marriott brand is renowned for globally.”


Graham Smith

BA trials ‘happiness blanket’ to improve cabin service

British Airways is trialling a high-tech blanket that monitors brainwaves and changes colour to show when passengers are at their most relaxed in the sky.

The airline hopes the “happiness blanket” will enable it to provide an improved in-flight service on long-haul journeys.

The garment, which is woven with fibre optics, works by using neurosensors to measure a person’s brainwaves. It then changes colour, from red to blue, to show when they are at their most relaxed and meditative.

BA happiness blanket

The idea is for cabin crew to then alter their routine — from changing the timing of meals, what food is served and the types of films shown — to best suit passengers.

Last week, volunteers onboard a BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York were among the first to try out the happiness blanket.

Frank van der Post, BA’s managing director of brands and customer experience, said: “This is the first time this technology has been used by any airline to help shape how service is delivered on board an aircraft.

“Using technology like the British Airways ‘happiness blanket’ is another way for us to investigate how our customers’ relaxation and sleep is affected by everything onboard, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat, to what in-flight entertainment they watch and their position in the seat.

“Having been the first airline to introduce the fully-flat bed in business class, we take our customers’ sleep and relaxation very seriously. Now we want to ensure they get the best possible good flight’s sleep as well.”

BA happiness blanket

The following, taken from a BA press release, explains in detail how the technology works:

“The blankets are woven with fibre optics that change colour based on the output of the sensors. When the user is tense the blanket turns red and the when the user is relaxed, the blanket turns blue, allowing us to monitor the traveller’s sleep and relaxation patterns during a flight.

“A special headband, called a Myndplay headset, is used to measure a person’s meditative state, with a number from 1 to 100. This is then relayed via Bluetooth to LED lights woven into the blanket, which range from:

  • 1 – low and turns the blanket red
  • 100 – high and turns it blue

“The Myndplay headset is an all-in-one neurofeedback recording, reporting and analysis device. Each one uses two sensors to detect brainwave activity as well as a user’s level of concentration (focus) and relaxation (meditation).”

BA happiness blanket

Based on its first trial flight, BA found that the main fluctuations took place when passengers used the in-flight entertainment and during inflight dining.

Scientists also found that the sleep blankets were coloured blue, so showed customers spent most of their time at the top end of the range, and that the sleep blankets were even darker blue when customers were resting or asleep.

Earlier this month, BA announced that the old first class cabin still in operation on its ageing Boeing 747-400 jumbos will be sold as Club World (see news, June 19). 


Graham Smith

Unplanned baggage tests delay Thai and Turkish T2 move

Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines will not move into Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 on Wednesday as scheduled due to “unplanned testing” of baggage systems.

Both Star Alliance airlines will now begin operating out of the terminal later in the summer, the airport said. Eva Air and Avianca, however, will still be moving into T2 this week.

The postponement is due to problems with the Terminal 5 baggage system that has resulted in some luggage being processed manually, causing disruption. Heathrow has extended testing of its baggage handling systems to T2.

Thai Airways said in a statement: “As Heathrow airport will conduct unplanned testing of its baggage systems, Thai’s planned move from Terminal 3 to Zone A of Terminal 2 has been postponed from July 2 until later in the summer.

“Until the new move date, flights will depart as normal from Heathrow Terminal 3. Thai’s postponed move will allow Terminal 2’s baggage systems to be further trialled and tested to ensure that it works properly.”

A statement from Heathrow added: “We have been experiencing intermittent issues with the Terminal 5 baggage system which has caused some bags to be processed manually.

“While passengers can currently check-in bags as normal, you may wish to carry essential items in hand baggage where possible. Flights are still operating as normal. Our engineers are closely monitoring the system.

“Manual processing led to some bags not making flights in time. Passengers are receiving bags all the time but it will take several days to reunite all passengers with their bags.”

Last week, the Queen officially opened Terminal 2, some 59 years after she opened the original terminal (see news, June 23).

heathrowairport.com, thaiairways.com, turkishairlines.com

Graham Smith

Dorsett opens its first hotel outside Asia

Dorsett Hospitality International has opened its first hotel in Europe.

Located in west London, Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush is the company’s 19th property, and its first outside Asia. It currently has 18 other hotels in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Housed in a Grade II-listed building, Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush retains much of the former 1920s cinema’s historic façade.

Soft opening: Dorsett Shepherd’s Bush

The seven-storey hotel contains 317 Chinese-inspired guestrooms and 24 suites.

Executive lounge access is afforded to guests staying in the executive rooms or suites. The lounge is located on the ground floor and offers daily continental breakfast, wireless internet and business facilities. Complimentary refreshments are served throughout the day.

There are two restaurants — Pictures offers a brasserie-style menu with a selection of Asian-inspired dishes, while Shikumen is a fine-dining Chinese restaurant.

There is also a business centre, three meeting rooms, a spa with four treatment rooms, a steam room, a sauna and a 24-hour gym.


Clement Huang

Ascott signs four new serviced residence properties in China

The Ascott Limited has secured contracts to manage four new serviced apartment properties in China over the next few years.

Three properties will be newly built in Taiyuan, Shanghai, and Beijing. The fourth apartment block, in Dalian, is already operational.

These developments will bring Ascott’s Chinese portfolio to more than 11,600 apartment units in 64 properties across 21 cities.

Ascott Taiyuan (Opening in 2018) 

Ascott Taiyuan

The 170-unit Ascott Taiyuan is due to open in 2018. Located along Longcheng Street, Ascott Taiyuan is going to be part of the fast developing central business district (CBD) of Shanxi Province. It will also be located near the International Exhibition Centre and Shanxi Theatre, with both Taiyuan International Airport and the new high-speed railway train to Beijing just a 10-minute drive away.

Ascott Taiyuan will offer a range of apartments, from studios to three-bedroom offerings, which all come with a fully stocked kitchen, separate working and sleeping areas, as well as modern amenities. Facilities will include a business centre, children’s playground, gym, meeting rooms, swimming pool, sauna, spa and residents’ lounge.

Ascott Riverside Garden Beijing (2016)

Ascott Riverside Garden Beijing

Situated along the West Dawang Road in Chaoyang District, Beijing, the 195-unit Ascott Riverside Garden is due to open in 2016. Office buildings, shopping malls, and supermarkets such as Tesco, Metro and Walmart surround the prime location. The serviced residence will be a 10-minute drive from the CBD and a 20-minute drive from Beijing’s Economic Technological Development area.

Guestroom offerings will be the same as the Ascott’s Taiyuan property, with facilities including a business centre, gym, children’s playground, swimming pool, sauna, spa and residents’ lounge.

Somerset Sunland Shanghai (2016)

Somerset Sunland Shanghai

Somerset Sunland Shanghai is due to open in 2016 as part of a mixed-use development project that includes a shopping mall. The unit will be close to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (the first and only free trade zone in China) and Sunland Waigaoqiao development.

The property is a 30-minute drive from Pudong International Airport, and a 20-minute drive to Lujiazui Financial and Trade Zone – an area that houses the Shanghai Stock Exchange as well as numerous international financial institutions. 

Somerset Sunland Shanghai offers a range of offerings, from studios to three-bedroom apartments. Facilities include a business centre, Jacuzzi, gym, multifunction room, meeting rooms, relaxation room with massage chairs, pool room and residents’ lounge. 

Somerset Grand Central Dalian (Opened)

Somerset Grand Central Dalian

The fourth acquisition is the 195-unit in Dalian, which has been rebranded as Somerset Grand Central Dalian and is currently open for business. Located on Jinma Road in the CBD of the Dalian Development Area, the serviced residence is just in front of the well-known Korean Street. The Mykal and Ansheng shopping malls, Golden Pebble Beach, and Discovery Land theme park are also nearby.

Somerset Grand Central Dalian offers a mix of one-bedroom units up to five-bedroom penthouses. Each apartment provides a living room, dedicated dining area and a kitchen. South-facing apartments offer views of the sea through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Facilities include an indoor-heated swimming pool, sauna, gym, aerobics room, children’s playroom, outdoor playground and terrace with barbeque area.

For more information, visit ascott.com

Clement Huang

Truphone World launches in Hong Kong

Truphone, a mobile network operator without country borders, has launched the Truphone World plan in Hong Kong, allowing businesses to call, text, and use data in 66 global business destinations.

Truphone World provides customers with fast speeds and reliable connections throughout these target countries, and is available at low-cost, controlled rates – as opposed to the fees associated with roaming charges.

This has been made possible through a combination of patented technology and building partnerships with local operators throughout the world. In fact, Truphone customers can enjoy preferential rates in over 200 countries.

At the heart of the network is the Truphone Zone, where users from eight countries (including Hong Kong, Australia, UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain) can text, talk or download at local rates.

Truphone SIM cards can hold numbers from each of these eight countries, meaning parties can contact the SIM holder by dialling a local number regardless of whether they are actually in the country. For example, a UK party could reach a person in Hong Kong by calling the UK number linked to the Truphone SIM.

The SIM cards can work with a range of devices, including iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows, and users can also keep their existing mobile number.

At the moment, the Truphone World plan is exclusively a business-to-business mobile plan for companies based in Hong Kong, however the company is planning to introduce a prepaid offering for holiday travellers next year.

The Truphone World rates start from HK$350 (US$45), including 300 minutes of phone calls, 300 SMS, and 300 MB data. Thereafter charges from Hong Kong are HK$0.8 (US$0.1) per minute for voice, HK$1.2 (US$0.15) per MB for data, and HK$0.8 (US$0.1) per SMS; while usage in other countries starts from HK$1.45 (US$0.19) per minute, HK$1.2 (US$0.15) per MB for data, and HK$0.75 (US$0.1) per SMS.

For more information, visit www.truphone.com

Valerian Ho

Dorsett Shepherds Bush opens its doors

Dorsett Hospitality International recently celebrated the soft opening of its first hotel in Europe.

Located in West London, Dorsett Shepherds Bush is the company’s 19th hotel, and the first outside of Asia. Dorsett currently operates 18 other properties in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Housed in a Grade II listed building, which was formally a 1920’s cinema, the hotel retains much of the building’s historic façade while complementing this with modern interior décor.

Dorsett Shepherds Bush

The seven-storey hotel offers 317 Chinese inspired bedrooms and 24 suites.

Executive lounge access is afforded to guests staying in the executive rooms or suites. The lounge is located on the ground floor and offers daily continental breakfast, wireless internet and business facilities. Complimentary refreshments are served throughout the day.  

Dorsett Shepherds Bush offers two dining outlets. “Pictures” offers a brasserie style menu with a selection of Asian inspired dishes. The second restaurant is called “Shikumen”, a fine dining Chinese restaurant concept by the JRC Group. 

For recreational purposes the Pavilion spa features four treatment rooms, which provide body and facial treatments, as well as two nail stations. There is also a steam room, sauna and a 24-hour gym.

Finally, there is a business centre and three meeting rooms, each equipped with multimedia technology and internet connectivity.

The West London property is close to the Westfield Shopping Centre, with rail and tube stations nearby. It is also a 30-minute drive from Heathrow Airport.

For more information, visit dorsett.com

Clement Huang


Accor to open two London Adagio properties

Accor has announced it will open two extended stay Adagio aparthotels in London by 2018.

A 217-apartment property will open on Whitechapel Road in 2016 following the conversion of an office building called Black Lion House.

Two years later, in 2018, the new-build Adagio London Stratford will open on Celebration Avenue as part of the Olympic Park site in the east of the city. It will contain 137 apartments.

Martine Balouka-Vallette, CEO of Aparthotels Adagio, said: “Launching in London is central to the development of the Aparthotels Adagio brand in Europe and globally. London is the place to be for business and leisure.

“Opening in London is integral to our business and has been a priority since Adagio was launched in 2007. We now have the right opportunities to launch Adagio is the city with two exciting openings which will deliver for the burgoening extended stay market in London and Europe.

“Greater availability and increased consumer demand are driving the serviced apartment growth in the UK and Adagio will play a major part of this continued growth in years to come.”

Last month, Accor announced its intention to open an Adagio property in Edinburgh in 2017 (see news, May 26).


Graham Smith