A hotel with a helipad – whether on the ground or on the rooftop – appeals not only to the time-strapped tycoon but to a creative events planner as well. Here are some properties with this unique facility.
Burj Al Arab
Shaped like a flying saucer and located 211m above the ground, the iconic hotel’s helipad once served as a tennis court for a “match” between sports legends Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. After this public relations gimmick to promote the Dubai Men’s Open in 2005, only very select events have been held there since. (In fact, some people continue to think the place is a regular tennis court.)
The Burj Al Arab helicopter airport transfer service is the most popular service, making use of an Augusta 109 Executive helicopter, operated by a local company. The nine-minute, one-way journey for residents costs AED10,000 (US$2,722); AED11,500 (US$3,130) for two passengers; AED13,000 (US$3,538) for three; and AED14,500 (US$3,947) for four, including perks such as assistance from hotel representatives and use of the VIP lounge. ?Other types of scenic aerial tours can be arranged.
The Peninsula Hong Kong
Located in a prime location, The Peninsula in Hongkong is a byword for luxury and elegance and has long been a favourite of the premium business traveller.
The hotel’s rooftop helipad can be used both for airport transfers and general sightseeing. It offers a special “Fly and Dine” package for two people starting at HK$5,370 (US$691). You can take a business partner or a loved one on a 15-minute sightseeing flight of one of the world’s most awesome cityscapes and the surrounding islands.
Landing back at hotel, you can choose any of the hotel’s fine-dining restaurants for lunch or dinner.
The Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is one of the few five-star hotels in Nepal, a country that was hit badly by civil conflict but has now entered a period of peaceful development.
The hotel’s helipad can be used to explore the breathtaking views of the Himalayas. One favoured option is to book the helicopter for an early morning flight to the lower reaches of Mount Everest for a breakfast that will be unforgettable.
The Hyatt Regency team will provide the catering too and recommend you take some bottles of champagne to celebrate your “peak of achievement”.
Carcossa Seri Negara
Visitors to any Formula 1 event know that the roads leading to the circuit often see more drama than the race itself.
The colonial hotel of Carcosa Seri Negara in Kuala Lumpur found an ingenious solution. The manicured lawns at the Seri Negara mansion can be turned into a helipad and has been used to ferry groups of spectators to the race. The flight is around 20 minutes and could save hours being stuck in Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic jams.
The hotel has been able to offer the commuter service to individuals as well as small groups.
The Peninsula Manila
Located in the heart of Makati City, the Philippine’s premier financial hub, “The Pen Manila” charges in-house guests P2,000 (US$43.88) and for non in-house guests, P2,500 (US$54.85) for landing rights on the rooftop helipad.
The hotel is in the process of developing a Peninsula Academy aerial tour of Corregidor and Taal, two popular tourist attractions. Despite some requests to use the helipad to stage events, the hotel has not yet acquiesced to the idea.
Crown Entertainment Complex
Located on the north bank of the Yarra River, the Batman Park helipad is a couple of minutes walk across the bridge from the Crown Entertainment complex, which houses the Crown Towers, Crown Promenade and the soon-to-open Crown Metropol hotels as well as the Crown Convention Centre.
The location is also ideal for those attending events at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Aside from airport transfers, Melbourne Helicopters offer a range of trips such as a city overview, flights to the Mornington Peninsula and into the wine country of the Yarra Valley.
Last October, the Hilton Shanghai was finally able to use its rooftop helipad for the first time since opening 21 years ago, albeit not for its original purpose but at least for a high-profile event.
After some persistent lobbying with the city officials, the hotel was able to host the “Meet the Master” evening cocktails in the 43rd floor venue, which brought together the world’s top tennis players and sponsors in a convivial setting of drinks and photo opportunities. And now, with the World Expo Shanghai 2010 just weeks away to opening, the signature space will certainly be put to good use.
The helipad measures around 300sqm and can accommodate between 50 and 100 guests for both cocktails and sit-down dinners. Weddings and product launches can also be arranged there. Charges per person start from CNY350 (US$50).
Kenny Coyle and Margie T Logarta