Hilton London Docklands Riverside to rebrand as a Doubletree

Hilton Worldwide is rebranding Hilton London Docklands Riverside as a Doubletree hotel.

The property will become Doubletree by Hilton London Docklands this spring and will be the brand’s 11th hotel in the capital.

It is in close proximity to Canary Wharf, Olympic Park, Westfield Stratford City, Excel exhibition centre, O2 arena and London City Airport. 

Renovations planned include refurbishing the hotel’s 378 guestrooms, reception area, ferry entrance, 16 meeting rooms, Terrace Restaurant, Terrace Lounge Bar and kitchen.

The hotel will remain open during the redevelopment, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton Worldwide’s senior vice president of development, Europe & Africa, said: “The property’s recent sale and lease agreement’s conclusion has created a unique opportunity to redevelop and transition the hotel under our upscale Doubletee by Hilton brand.”

Doubletree by Hilton London Docklands will continue to operate under a Hilton Worldwide management agreement with owner HIG Capital.

Last month, Hilton announced that it will open its first Doubletree property in Egypt in 2017 (see news, February 20).

doubletree.com

Graham Smith

Lufthansa first class fitted across Munich fleet

Lufthansa has completed fitting its new first class cabin onto all its long-haul aircraft based at Munich airport.

The German carrier said that this winter a total of 24 A340-600 and A330-300 aircraft will fly to 22 international destinations from Munich.

The airline will now retrofit its new first and business classes onto the remainder of its long-haul fleet (not based in Munich).

Lufthansa\\\\\\\\'s new first class cabin

Lufthansa’s new first class cabin

And, by the end of this year, all Lufthansa long-haul aircraft will feature its new premium economy cabin.

The new first class cabin contains eight fully-flat seats that are 2.07 metres long and 80cm wide. The new business seat measures 1.98 metres in length.

Lufthansa board member Thomas Kluhr said: “Lufthansa has thus taken another major step towards its goal of becoming the first five-star airline in the western hemisphere.”

Earlier this week, Lufthansa announced it had started flying a B747-8, featuring its new premium economy class, between Frankfurt and New York Newark (see news, February 23).

lufthansa.com

Graham Smith

Cathay serves Illy to premium passengers

Cathay Pacific has teamed up with Illy to offer premium coffee to its first class and business passengers.

The airline has already started serving the Italian coffee on its flights. From next month, it will also have Illy espresso, café latte and cappuccino on-board.

The carrier said it has worked with Illy to develop “unique coffee filter ‘pillows’ specifically for inflight use”.

Cathay Pacific Illy coffee

A statement added: “The Cathay Pacific catering team has worked closely with Illy to choose the most appropriate level of roasting for the company’s quality coffee beans.”

Dominic Perret, the airline’s general manager of inflight services, said: “We believe that serving a superb cup of quality Illy coffee will help to enrich the overall travel experience for our premium customers.”

Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines started serving Starbucks coffee on every flight (see news, February 9) and last year, Ryanair partnered with Lavazza (see news, October 4).

cathaypacific.com

Graham Smith

Anantara expands in Dubai

Minor Hotel Group will open a new Anantara property in Dubai in early 2018, it has been announced.

The 290-room Anantara Dubai Creek Hotel will be located in Culture Village, which is currently being developed in the east of the city and faces Dubai Creek.

The property will have a range of restaurants, bars and retail outlets, a rooftop pool and a spa. It also boasts waterfront views from its ballroom and conference facilities.

Anantara Dubai Creek Hotel

MHG is developing the hotel in conjunction with partner Dubai Properties.

The Anantara brand is experiencing a rapid expansion of both leisure and business hotels. The former Four Seasons Bangkok will be reflagged as the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel on March 1 (see news, January 7). Located on Rajdamri, the 354-room property will become the 33rd Anantara.

MHG CEO Dillip Rajakarier told Business Traveller: “Anantara as a brand is moving more into cities and so, although there are many resorts open and more opening, it is a brand that will be both for business travellers and yet also for leisure.”

Anantara is one of ten brands owned and managed by MHG, which now has a portfolio of over 126 hotels and resorts in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Europe, South America, Africa and around the Indian Ocean. Other brands include Avani, Per Aquum, Oaks Hotels & Resorts and Tivoli.

MHG has already this year announced the strategic acquisition of six Tivoli hotels in Portugal and Brazil, as well as the rights to the Tivoli Hotels & Resorts brand for Brazil. The investment includes hotels in both Lisbon and Sao Paolo.

Tivoli is a member of Global Hotel Alliance, which three of MHG’s existing brands – Anantara, Avani and Per Aquum – also belong to.

anantara.com

Tom Otley

HHonors launches double points/miles promo

Hilton HHonors members can earn either double points or double miles when staying at participating properties.

The promotion covers stays completed between March 1 and May 31 and is valid at any participating Hilton Worldwide hotel. Click here for a list of hotels that are not taking part.

Members must first register at hhonors.com/double prior to check-out of their first eligible stay. If registering for double miles, members must select points and miles as their “double dip earning style”.

When selecting either double points or double miles, members should note that their choice cannot be changed. Bonus Points earned on base points do not count towards tier qualification, and double miles are available only with participating airlines, a list of which can be found here.

hhonors.com

Graham Smith

Business travellers ‘not getting best hotel deals’

Using consumer websites to search for the cheapest hotel rates is “misleading” for business travellers, according to HRS.

The hotel booking specialist has released a white paper, called Lowering the BAR, which includes advice on how travel buyers can secure the most appropriate deals with hotels, using both dynamic or “spot” prices, as well as traditional negotiated rates.

Jon West, HRS UK managing director, said the research “reiterated” how the crucial factor for buyers was not to find the cheapest room rate, but to identify the best hotel with the “lowest acceptable” price which also met the key criteria of corporate travel policy.

He said: “Corporates require the best of both worlds – a choice of hotels to meet travellers’ needs at the lowest price, bearing in mind booking conditions.

“The lowest rate may not be the most cost-effective rate as negotiated rates often include airport or local transportation, breakfast, internet, parking and other amenities.”

West added that, according to the white paper, business travellers should not be allowed to “waste their own or the company’s time looking around for the cheapest hotel” because it reduced their productivity.

He said: “Increased transparency of public rates through the OTAs and price comparison websites has driven corporate misunderstanding of rate types.”

HRS said that employee productivity will increase when buyers find the “right channel” for hotel bookings.

The white paper said: “Even if the company maverick can find a lower rate five times in every 100 bookings, that saving will be decimated by the productivity lost as a result, and the rate secured will probably not be cancellable, thereby risking further charges.”

HRS added that these charges “can soon add up” when around one in six corporate bookings are either cancelled or changed.

The company’s advice for finding the best rates includes ensuring hotel content is bookable and drives compliance to policy, and having content that is available through a “low-cost” channel.

hrscorporate.com

Rob Gill

Bmi Regional cancels Manchester-Aberdeen services

Bmi Regional is cancelling its Manchester-Aberdeen services on March 28.

The carrier currently operates an Embraer ERJ145 16-times weekly on the route.

The cancelled flights are BM1366, BM1369, BM1374, BM1377, BM1378 and BM1381, reports airlineroute.net.

Last week, it emerged that Bmi Regional will operate three new seasonal routes from Bristol this summer — to Paris, Dusseldorf and Nantes (see news, February 19).

The airline is also cancelling its Birmingham to Gothenburg service on March 29 (see news, January 19).

bmiregional.com

Graham Smith

JAL expands inflight wifi service

Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced it will introduce JAL Sky wifi on its B767-300ERs and B787-8s starting from March 3.

The service will be available on Europen, North American and long-haul Asian routes.

There are two plans for passengers in all classes:

Plan

Hour(s)

Charges

Discounted charges (*)

One hour plan

1

US$10.15

US$9.15

Flight plan

24

US$18.80

US$16.80

(*)The discount offer is only available when paying by JAL card, JAL USA card or JAL SPDB credit card.

JAL Sky wifi was first launched on B777-300ERs. It can be used on smartphones, notebook computers and other wireless LAN devices. Upon connection through wifi, passengers can browse the web, check emails, or update social media.

As it is provided by satellite, wifi may be interrupted or unavailable due to poor weather conditions or location. For example, the service is not available over China due to its network permissions. There is also no signal above the border of Alaska and Canada and wifi service on thr Tokyo (Haneda) – London/Paris routes has been unavailable since January 28 as the satellite is out of service.

For more information, visit jal.com

Valerian Ho

Qatar Airways adjusts flight codes to improve safety

Customers travelling with Qatar Airways between Doha and Asia should be aware that the carrier will be adjusting several of its operational flight numbers. The changes will take effect from March 29.

According to airlineroute.net, several high profile routes will be affected including services to Bangkok, Beijing, Delhi, Manila, Shanghai Pudong and Tokyo Haneda. A complete list of planned flight number changes can be viewed below:

Doha – Bangalore QR570/571 > QR572/573
Doha – Bangkok QR830/831 > QR822/823
Doha – Bangkok – Hanoi QR828/829 > QR834/835
Doha – Beijing QR898 from DOH > QR892 from DOH
Doha – Chengdu QR864/865 > QR872/873
Doha – Colombo QR658/659 > QR664/665; QR660/661 > QR656/657; QR662/663 > QR668/669
Doha – Delhi QR564/565 > QR574/575; QR562/563 > QR564/565
Doha – Dhaka QR632/633 > QR636/637
Doha – Hangzhou QR868/869 > QR890/891
Doha – Ho Chi Minh – Phnom Penh QR964/965 > QR970/971
Doha – Islamabad QR614/615 > QR630/631
Doha – Karachi QR602/603 > QR610/611
Doha – Lahore QR622/623 > QR628/629
Doha – Manila QR926/927 > QR932/933
Doha – Shanghai Pudong QR888/889 > QR870/871
Doha – Tokyo Haneda QR810/811 > QR812/813

According to a spokesperson for the airline, the reason behind the changes is “for safety reasons so we don’t have similar flight numbers flying on the same route at the same time. It avoids any potential safety issues when the pilots are talking to ATC”.

For more information, visit qatarairways.com

Clement Huang