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Business Traveller Middle East - January February 2018

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MIDDLE EAST
J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 8 $5.00
TOKYO TIPS
How to navigate
Japan’s capital
DAWN BREAKS
Why Verbier is
perfect this month
INDIAN AVIATION
PLUS
Primary and secondary
cities raise connectivity
Tried and Tested • Stockholm
• Seychelles
retreats...
F A S H I O N A B L E
UAE opens stunning resorts
UAE DHS10 OMAN RO1
BAHRAIN BD1 SAUDI ARABIA
SR10 KUWAIT KD1 JORDAN JD2
CONTENTS
JANUARY 2018
REGULARS
08
UPFR ONT
Airline and hotel news worldwide
18
FA SHIONABLE RE T RE AT S
New stylish UAE resorts are
suitable for bleisure or clocking
off from work entirely, reports
Dominic Ellis
OPINION: TA XING
IS SUE S
25
Will the onset of VAT this
month make Gulf hospitality
less competitive?
F E AT U R E S
26
VISION OF T HE FU TURE
An investigation of Hangzhou,
China’s technological epicentre,
reveals Bond-like gadgets and sci-fi
aspirations
32
T HE R EP OR T
60 T R I E D & T E S T E D
FLIGHTS
flydubai B737 MAX-8 business class
62 S M A R T T R A V E L L E R
H E AT H R O W
London Heathrow to the city
64 T R I E D & T E S T E D
LOUNGES
American Express’ Centurion
Lounge HKIA; Emirates’ London
Heathrow lounge
TRIED & TESTED
R E S TAU R A N T S
65
London cocktail bars
66 T R I E D & T E S T E D
HOTELS
London hotels
38
D E S T I N AT I O N S
UAE opens stunning resorts
42
26
NAVIG AT ING TOKYO
INDIA FLYING
18
5
Top tips for getting around the
super-connected Japanese capital
Akanksha Maker recaps on major
events in Indian aviation during the
last two years
ON TH E C OVER
44
32
42 F OUR HOUR S IN…
STO CKHOLM
Island-hop around the Swedish
capital, taking in Baroque palaces
and a well-preserved shipwreck
44
SLOPE OFF
Why Verbier is perfect to visit
in January
48
HE ALT H HACK S
Asia’s city spas are your secret
weapon when it comes to
wellbeing, reports Catharine Nicol
54
54
48
VIR GIN L ANDS
The Seychelles, in the heart of the
Indian Ocean, remains determined
to protect its natural attractions
JANUARY 2018
WELCOME
A
new look for the new year! Complementing our
magazine partners in the UK and Asia-Pacific,
we’re proud to introduce our relaunched
magazine. Inside you’ll find the latest news and
reviews as you did before, with our team of writers
continuing to report on destinations, and business and
lifestyle stories.
But you will notice some key differences. Sections
now take on stronger identities, and feature sharper,
more contemporary designs which we trust you will
find eye-catching and stimulating.
Business travel has changed beyond all recognition
in the last 10 years. It’s fair to say, previously, it was
something to be endured with variable hotel, airline
and F&B standards and little focus on the consumer.
Clearly, business travellers have changed too, and the
twenty somethings now boarding planes have different
outlooks to my generation and the one before.
Talking to Global Brand Leader Brian Povinelli at
the Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai launch
recently, it’s clear major brands are now determined to
make corporate travel more fun and enjoyable, and
cognoscent of the changing needs of travellers.
Hospitality ‘lifestyle’ is no longer the preserve of luxury
resort guests and the boundaries between business and
leisure are more fluid than they’ve ever been.
The relaunched Business Traveller series reflects
these changes. Now when you pick up any of our
magazines, you won’t just be reading about the business
of travel, but will find leisure articles designed to inspire
you, and F&B reviews showcasing the best restaurants
and latest trends.
We are starting out on a new exciting journey. It will
take time for the magazine to evolve and we welcome
your feedback (facebook.com/BusinessTravellerME)
but we know we are on the right journey, as technology
and hospitality continues to change rapidly.
Dominic Ellis, Editor
THIS ISSUE’S PICKS
6
Business Traveller Middle East is jointly published
by Motivate Publishing and Panacea Publishing
M OT I VAT E P UBLI SH I N G
Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer
Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice
Editorial Director Gina Johnson
Group Editor-Business Guido Duken
Editor Dominic Ellis
Senior Art Director Tarak Parekh
Editorial Co-ordinator Londresa Flores
Contributors April Hutchinson, Craig Bright, Tom
Otley, Tamsin Cocks, Marisa Cannon, Michelle
Harbi, Mark Caswell, Bhavya Aggarwal
General Manager – Production S Sunil Kumar
Production Manager Murali Krishnan
Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran
Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne
Publisher Jaya Balakrishnan
Senior Sales Manager Dane Hills
PAN ACE A P UBLI SH I N G
Managing Director Julian Gregory
Associate Publisher Middle East Rania Apthorpe
Global Editor-in-Chief Tom Otley
FASHIONABLE
RETREATS
Don’t miss these striking
new resorts taking UAE
lifestyle to the next level.
(Page 18)
NAVIGATING TOKYO
The cliché about getting
lost in translation is one
thing. Simply getting lost is
another. (Page 32)
DAWN BREAKS
Verbier’s legendary skiing is
part natural brilliance and
part hard work – and
January is the perfect time
to visit . (Page 44)
HEAD OFFICE: Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE.
Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Fax: +971 4 428 2270, E-mail: btme@motivate.ae
DUBAI MEDIA CITY: Office 508, 5th Floor, Building 8, Dubai, UAE.
Tel: +971 4 390 3550, Fax: +971 4 390 4845
ABU DHABI: PO Box 43072, UAE. Tel: +971 2 677 2005, Fax: +971 2 677 0124,
E-mail: motivate-adh@motivate.ae
LONDON: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK.
E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae
Panacea Publishing International Ltd
41-43 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PD
Tel +44 (0)20 7821 2700 businesstraveller.com
Panacea Asia Pte Ltd
Spaces City Hall, 410 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188726
Tel: +65 6407 7300, Fax: +65 6407 7251
SUBSCRIPTIONS: email subscriptions@motivate.ae; tel +971 4 427 3542
© 2018 PANACEA PUBLISHING LTD AND MOTIVATE PUBLISHING
JANUARY 2018
PLAN YOUR
TROPICAL
ESCAPE
Imagine a secluded beach. Fine, white sand and a turquoise sea. Warm breezes
drifting through palms. Thai food for lunch. An aromatherapy massage in the
afternoon. Italian or seafood barbeque for dinner. Escape to a tropical paradise this
winter. With over 37 resorts in Thailand, Sri Lanka Vietnam, Oman and The Maldives,
Centara can help you find your perfect destination.
THAILAND
·
MALDIVES
·
OMAN
·
QATAR
·
SRI LANKA
· VIETNAM
Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives
DISCOVER MORE AT
centarahotelsresorts.com
MEMBERS GET MORE
CentaraThe1Card members
receive 10% off any online rate,
plus many more privileges.
dxbreservation@chr.co.th
+971 (0)4 433 5950
UPFRONT
Business
taste in
Etihad
economy
ETIHAD AIRWAYS’
ECONOMY PASSENGERS
can now pay for several F&B
items and amenities. They
include cold-brewed coffee
from Coffee Planet ($4/AED15
a glass) on Paris, London and
Australian sectors; PiperHeidsieck Cuvee Brut NV
8
BULGARI OPENS LANDMARK
RESORT IN CENTRAL DUBAI
BULGARI RESORT DUBAI WILL BECOME “THE THIRD LANDMARK IN DUBAI”
after Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, according to Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin.
It may be a bold claim for a city filled with eye-catching hotels and attractions but the contemporary
101-room resort – adjoined by 20 villas, 173 residences and 15 mansions – is filled with bespoke
designs, Italian residential furnishings and vintage celebrity photos. The four-floor resort, framed
around a marina & yacht club, has been developed by Meraas and designed by Antonio Citterio
Patricia Viel.
Superior, Deluxe Beach rooms and Premium Ocean rooms cover 55sqm and four Bulgari
suites spanning 120sqm are located at the end of each wing for maximum seaviews. For additional
opulence and privacy, the two-bedroom villas comes with spacious lounges and terrace pools.
Turn to page 18 to read more on new UAE resorts
champagne ($8/AED 30 per
glass) on all long-haul flights
(except US); and Christian
Lacroix branded sleepwear
($35/AED130) and amenity
kits ($22, AED80) on all ultralong-haul flights (except US).
From January, a snack box
containing sweet and health
snacks will also be introduced.
Crowne Plaza welcomes OCEC delegates
MICE DELEGATES VISITING OMAN Convention
and Exhibition Centre Muscat (OEC) can now check
in to the on-site Crowne Plaza. The 296-room hotel
marks the brand’s second hotel in the Oman capital.
When guests aren’t conducting business within
the 22,000sqm exhibitions area – the hotel also
contains a terrace-side ballroom – they can unwind
in the two pools and fitness zone. F&B includes
Mosaic (all-day dining), Charm Thai, Le Petit Belge
and drinks can be ordered in the lobby and at the
poolside. A 320-room JW Marriott hotel is also
being developed.
JANUARY 2018
Wellness Hours at Saray Spa.
Renew for the journey ahead with 50% off massages.
Surrender your senses with treatments designed to rejuvenate your body, mind and soul every
Sunday to Thursday. Book any massage between 9am to 2pm and receive 50% off.
Afterwards, treat yourself to a lunch at Lobby Lounge, grab a fresh sandwich from La Farine Café & Bakery
or enjoy pool-views with bites at Aqua. Lunch is not included within the offer.
The price is based on the spa treatment selected.
Saray Spa received an award for Best Male Spa at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2017 and
Best Hydrotherapy Treatment at the Middle East Pool & Spa Awards 2016.
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai | Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay
T +971 4 414 6754 | mhrs.dxbjw.spa@marriott.com | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai |
@JWDubaiMarquis |
jwmarriottmarquisdubai
*Terms & Conditions: Offer is valid until 31st March 2018 and subject to availability. Indulge in additional facilities such as Swedish Dry Sauna, Steam Sauna,
Circulation Shower, Jacuzzi and a relaxation lounge. Not valid on public holidays. The 50% off is applicable on spa only, and the offer is excluding lunch.
UPFRONT
Renaissance flagship
opens in Business Bay
New MENA hotels
W AMMAN & ST. REGIS AMMAN
The 280-room W is scheduled to
open this month, St. Regis in March
10
The sharply designed Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai
which combines business and lifestyle elements represents the brand’s flagship,
according to Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader for Renaissance Hotels, Le
Méridien, Westin and Autograph Collection.
Renaissance Hotels is up to 160 hotels with 30 more due to open in the next
four years, primarily in the US and Asia Pacific. But he believes the new Dubai
property will serve as a “big impetus” for future Middle East growth.
“We will always ensure we’re providing services and amenities to business
travellers but the customer is changing,” he said. “Before they wanted a specific
cookie-cutter experience, but now the younger generation don’t want to see
business trips as boring and dull – they want it to be experiential. If you’re only
travelling for business it doesn’t mean you can’t have a higher culinary experience or
an attractive environment. It’s about giving travellers a more enriching experience.”
He said Renaissance seeks to bring the local neighbourhood to life, through
distinctive designs, deploying ‘navigators’ and hosting evening rituals. The
Business Bay hotel opened in style with an exclusive concert by Gwen Stefani.
Six Senses Spa Dubai, on level five, is due to open in February (pictured).
FOUR SEASONS TUNIS
Tunis resort opens, 107th hotel in the
network. Introductory offer knocks 20 per
cent off all room categories until March.
ST. REGIS CAIRO
Brand’s first hotel in mainland
Africa scheduled to open Q1
SHOW STOPPER
VISITORS TO DUBAI OPERA can
now enjoy Japanese fine dining
at Kohantei, located opposite
the box office. The concept
evolves around the ancient
Japanese ‘Kaiseki’ menu and will
continually evolve depending on
ingredients that are in-season.
Diners can choose between a la
carte or five multi-course menus
featuring premium Japanese beef
and seafood.
JANUARY 2018
JUMEIRAH
Royal Saray Bahrain, Saadiyat Island Abu
Dhabi and Muscat Bay all projected to
open in 2018 (along with Nanjing and Bali)
www.moorfields.ae/dubai
Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai is the first overseas branch of Moorfields London, the oldest
eye hospital in the world. We are one of the few medical facilities in the UAE licensed by the
General Civil Aviation Authority to apply the rigorous eye screening tests for pilots and air
traffic controllers required to ensure your comfort and safety. We have a dedicated team of
consultants who are highly qualified in assessing Aviation professionals and authorised to
certify them as fit-to-fly from a vision perspective.
Our experienced Consultant Ophthalmologists deliver the same exceptional standard of
screening, diagnosis and treatment to all of our patients. We provide the full spectrum of eye
care services from simple eye tests to complex eye surgery including LASIK, glaucoma,
cataracts, lazy eye, squints, corneal, ocluoplastics and retinal eye diseases associated with
diabetes, as well as uveitis treatment, ocular oncology consultations and genetic eye disease
testing and counselling.
Your eyesight is very precious, if you or any of your family have any concerns, please contact
us today as early detection and treatment can prevent more lasting and serious consequences.
For more information visit www.moorfields.ae/dubai, or call +971 4 429 7888 today
to book your appointment.
LASIK CATARACT COSMETIC PAEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGY
RETINA CORNEA GLAUCOMA STRABISMUS
MOH BM76019
Pilots trust us with their eyesight, shouldn’t you?
UPFRONT
Emirates to fly to
Stansted from June
TRAVEL UPDATES
ME DUBAI
Designed by the late
architect Dame Zaha
Hadid, the architecturally
striking hotel (with just
93 rooms and suites, and
98 apartments) is targeting
an end-of-year launch.
RADISSON BLU
HOTEL BEIRUT
VERDUN
The 127-room property
marks the brand’s
second Beirut hotel
VR TAKES OFF
IN SKY TE AM’S DUBAI
LOUNGE
Emirates will become the first Gulf carrier to serve London
Stansted this summer when it starts daily services from Dubai on June 8, marking
services to its third London gateway and seventh UK airport. The route will be
served by the airline’s new three-class B777-300ERs with six seats in first class, 42
in business and 306 in economy. EK33 will depart Dubai at 0930 and arrive in
Stansted 1410 while EK34 will leave Stansted at 2110 and arrive in Dubai 0705
the next day. More than 25 of the world’s largest corporations have established
operations in the wider Cambridge and Peterborough area, with Airbus, Astra
Zeneca and GSK amongst the multinationals in the vicinity.
WYNDHAM GRAND MANAMA OPENS
Entertainment options in
Skyteam’s Dubai lounge
have been enhanced
with new VR headset
trials showing films,
documentaries and
360-degree content.
Mauro Oretti, SkyTeam’s
Vice President, Sales and
Marketing, said its partnership
with SkyLights gives passengers
a chance to relax and immerse
themselves “in a private IMAX-style
movie theater from the comfort of their
airport lounge seat.”
BED DOWN ON
SQ A380S
Singapore Airlines has
taken delivery of the first
of five new A380 aircraft,
featuring six suites and 78
business class seats on the
upper deck.
AVANI MUSCAT
BAHRAIN’S NEW 50-STOREY LANDMARK, United Tower, is now drawing
business travellers following the opening of Wyndham Grand Manama which occupies
19 floors. MICE is a key sector, reflected in the 1,840sqm of meeting space and rooftop
ballroom on the 50th floor. The opening further raises the profile of Bahrain Bay, which
is home to a Four Seasons hotel.
160-room hotel to open
in Seeb district in 2020,
followed 90 serviced
apartments in 2022
25HOTELS
Accor brand’s first hotel outside
Europe due to open in Dubai World
Trade Centre in 2020
JANUARY 2018
1 31 3
HOTEL & SERVICED APARTMENTS
View from Penthouse*
Premier Room*
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018!
LUXURY OF A HOTEL WITH THE COMFORTS OF HOME
Situated alongside Media City and Internet City with a much coveted address, Fraser Suites Dubai rises
above Sheikh Zayed Road occupying the top 23 levels of Sidra Tower, overlooking the Arabian Sea and
Mall of Emirates. 132 Hotel Rooms - 136 Serviced Apartments - Gym - Wellness - Multiple
Restaurants - Tennis Court - Squash Court.
With award-winning service and extensive gold-standard facilities; conference rooms that can cater up to
200 delegates; relaxed dining venues - Fraser Suites Dubai has it all.
Book directly with us and receive a 10% discount on Best Available Rate.
Reservations: +971 (0)4 4401400, Email: reservations.dubai@frasershospitality.com
dubai.frasershospitality.com - *Pictures are for illustrative purposes only.
UPFRONT
March end for new MCT airport,
experience Oman in one website
TOPGOLF SWINGS BY DUBAI
Dubai Golf will be unveiling a new digital-
Trials are underway at the new Muscat International Airport ahead of a
planned end-of-March soft operations launch. Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has
launched experienceoman.om, which is designed to serve as a single portal
for all tourism-related information.
This time next year we’ll all be visiting...
GUANGZHOU
friendly concept next year for those who don’t have time or
inclination to play 18 holes.
Topgolf will combine “play, food and music” in a threelevel venue spanning 60,000 square feet. Microchipped
balls keep your score and the distance and accuracy of shots
will appear on a TV screen, while year-round programming
includes events for kids and families, social leagues, groups,
golf tournaments and instruction. Dallas-based Topgolf
continues to shoot into new markets, having expanded in
Australia, Canada and Mexico.
What’s on this month…
E VITA
The popular musical comes to Dubai Opera between
January 22-February 3 – remember to bring your
tissues. dubaiopera.com
TORUK – THE FIRST FLIGHT
EVEN BY CHINESE GROWTH STANDARDS, GUANGZHOU – currently
expanding at 4.66 per cent a year – is an exceptional city, and if you haven’t
visited it yet on business there is a good chance you will soon. The capital
of Guangdong province boasts a population of over 13 million, making it
China’s third largest city, and remains a bustling centre for automotive, hitech, petrochemicals, machinery, transport equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Tourism is beginning to flourish too with Nansha Integrated Cruise Terminal
aiming to open next year.
More seats between Dubai and Nigeria
The world-famous acrobatic spectacular Cirque du Soleil
touches down in the UAE this month, with a new show
inspired by Avatar. Head to Dubai World Trade Centre
between January 4-17. tixbox.com
DOUBLE HIT OF GOLF
The UAE is firmly in the golfing spotlight this month with
the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship being held at the
Abu Dhabi Golf Club between January 18-21, which will
be followed by the 29th edition of the Omega Dubai
Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club (January 25-28).
abudhabichampionship.com, omegadubaidesertclassic.com
Capacity on the Dubai-Abuja-Lagos sectors is stacking up
with Nigerian carrier Med-View Airline recently launching three-times
weekly services on two-class B767-300s (30 business, 191 economy) and
B777-200s (24 business, 302 economy). Business class passengers receive a
75kg allowance and can check in up to three pieces.
Med-View will compete with Emirates, which flies double-daily Lagos
services and resumed Abuja flights in November.
The Nigerian carrier said flights to Jeddah were also recently
reintroduced. Singapore, Lisbon, Houston and Washington DC are also
on the carrier’s wish-list as it aims to grow its international network.
JANUARY 2018
1 51 5
UPFRONT
SUPERSONIC SOUNDBITES
20
SCALINI AT FOUR
SEASONS DUBAI
JAL’s purchase options for the
supersonic aircraft
45-55
Number of business class
seats on board
Suite stays
2025
Projected take-off date
RIXOS PREMIUM DUBAI’s guests staying in
one-bedroom suites receive up to four pieces
free laundry (six pieces for two-bedrooms),
airport transfers on minimum three-night stays
and 4pm late check-out. The two-bedroom suites
offer 360-degree views. If time is of the essence,
JANNAH MARINA BAY SUITES’ Winter Day Pass
offer allows you to use the pool, gym and Jacuzzi
for AED99.
$10M
Japan Airlines’ investment in
Boom Supersonic
London Italian fine-dining
restaurant, Scalini, is coming to
Dubai and its Gulf off-shoot opens
at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at
Jumeirah Beach this month. Chef
Monserrato Marini is overseeing
the carefully curated menu in which
guests will experience “the true
essence of rustic Italy”.
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
16
MONTBL ANC BONHEUR
NUIT
Montblanc is no stranger to intricate nibs
but the Bonheur Nuit raises the writing bar
with its Au750 handcrafted gold nib and
delicate falling-star motif.
Available in fountain, roller ball and
ballpoint in boutiques worldwide.
Priced between AED1,775-AED2,665
JANUARY 2018
NEW YE AR , NEW
PHONE
Model: iPhone X
Colours: Space grey, silver
Storage: 256GB, 64 GB
Prices: AED4,729, AED4,099
Available at Jumbo Electronics
BE ARD TRIMS ON
THE GO
If you’re a beard-owning business
traveller and haven’t got time to go
to the barbers, Panasonic’s ER-GD60
may be one for you. The three-in-one
device can be used for ‘designing,
trimming and lining’ and works
vertically and horizontally.
UPFRONT
COMPETITION
WIN A TWO-NIGHT STAY
AT LE BRISTOL BEIRUT
THIS MONTH’S
fabulous prize
comes courtesy of
Le Bristol Beirut,
which is a member
of Preferred Hotels
& Resorts.
Le Bristol Beirut
is an elegant awardwinning hotel
located in the heart
of Beirut, renowned
as the ‘Paris of
the Middle East’.
The hotel offers
157 themed guestrooms – from modern
contemporary and 1960s retro chic to rich
Ottoman Empire-inspired designs that
evoke the aura of Arabian nights – as well as
restaurants such as Les Gourmandises Verdun,
and nine meeting rooms. When you need
to venture outside, travellers can enjoy close
proximity to both Verdun Street, one of the
city’s most popular shopping destinations,
and Hamra Street, the hub of the Beirut’s club scene and vibrant nightlife.
Click on our facebook page ( facebook.com/BusinessTravellerME) to find the competition
question. Entries are valid until January 31 and the prize can be redeemed anytime
in 2018.
ROUTE NEWS
ASCENT:
ETIHAD AIRWAYS
will raise Amman to double
daily flights from March 25. The
new service will be operated by
two-class A320s. The airline will
introduce its B787 Dreamliner on
Casablanca services from May 1
(replacing A330).
FLYDUBAI
will fly two new seasonal
destinations this summer –
Dubrovnik and Kutaisi.
Alongside flydubai, AIR ARABIA
will also fly to Moscow SVO
Airport soon, with four-times
weekly services starting from
Sharjah on February 1, which
will upgrade to daily from March
1 (together with Domodedovo
flights, Russian capital will be
served double daily).
AIR ARABIA
will also launch a three-times
weekly seasonal route to
Bodrum from June 13.
DESCENT:
Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort (lobby pictured) recently opened Lava Beach
Club which brings a taste of ‘Marbella, Miami and Ibiza’ to the UAE east coast.
The 180-room hotel has three meeting rooms and five F&B venues.
Turn to page 18 to read more on UAE resorts
ETIHAD is dropping Tehran
flights from January 24 and
reducing schedules from five
to two services weekly until
January 23. Passengers can
rebook until the 23rd and receive
full refunds for bookings from
the 24th onwards.
JANUARY 2018
1 71 7
D E S T I N AT I O N S
Fashionable
retreats
UAE executives have several stylish new resorts
to check out this winter which are ideal for bleisure
or clocking off from work entirely
WORDS DOMINIC ELLIS
18
JANUARY 2018
UAE RESORTS
1 91 9
The Bulgari Resort &
Residences Dubai
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
20
ABOVE AND
RIGHT:
The Bulgari Suite
Bedroom; The
Bulgari Spa pool;
The Retreat Palm
Dubai Lobby
JANUARY 2018
don’t know where to look on entering the first
Bulgari resort in the Middle East. In the space where
most hotels would have car parks is a luxurious
marina and as I’m sweeping round in a buggy for the
launch press conference, I could be walking into a
five-star hotel rather than a yacht club.
Even by UAE standards, this is some property,
where luxury starts at the entry level Superior rooms
(AED3,500 a night) and keeps rising. I thought the four
flagship Bulgari suites on the end of each corridor, each
spanning 120sqm, couldn’t be eclipsed (AED9,000 a
night) but that’s before I stepped into the 20 villas with
their vast lounges, abundant light and terrace pools – one
of which covers a mind-boggling 540sqm and can host up
to 100 people. You’re looking at AED22,000 a night for
a stay in the villas although if you want a luxury-budget
UAE RESORTS
2 12 1
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
1
22
2
option (if such a thing exists) you can rent out the cabanas
for AED2,000 a day.
Walking through the grounds, enjoying the pleasant
temperatures and lush landscaping, I could have been in
any high-class Indian Ocean resort. Bulgari CEO JeanChristophe Babin gushed that it will be the “third landmark”
in Dubai after Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab and whether
you agree or not, it’s certainly distinctive with classy Italian
residential furnishings and vintage celebrity photos.
F&B looks every bit as sharp as the fixtures with an
attractive Lobby Lounge, waterside Il Café, La Spiaggia
(beach) and Il Ristorante by Nik Romito which features
a striking steel and bronze oval bar. A seafood Italian
restaurant is located in the yacht club, which also contains
a 360sqm ballroom, and Il Cioccolato boutique serves
up branded chocolates. Naturally Bulgari jewellery and
watches are on display in another boutique.
The attention to detail is pervasive. The Workshop
Gym offers one-on-one training programmes, and you’ll
find mosaic-lined pools and even branded coat-hangers
in the cupboards. The spa contains eight treatment rooms
and 25-metre indoor pool, complementing outdoor ones.
The resort marks the fifth Bulgari property globally, with
Shanghai due to open next Spring.
THE RETREAT PALM DUBAI,
MGALLERY BY SOFITEL
The weather outside is uncharacteristically cloudy but
the colours in the first MGallery in the region – and
first wellness-focused resort in the Middle East – are
warming me up.
The Retreat Palm Dubai, MGallery by Sofitel, to give
its full title, is clearly something different. No aspect has
escaped the wellness microscope, from juices by the hour
to sunny, leisure-themed lifts, and that’s before you get
to the real health business and talk to the lifestyle
3
JANUARY 2018
UAE RESORTS
consultants on hand to address your
personalised needs.
I thought it was directly by the
Sofitel Palm but, this being Dubai,
there are other developments
sandwiched in between, one of which
looks near completion. The synergies
should extend along the crescent,
given Accor and Rixos have now
entered into a strategic partnership.
Every MGallery has ‘personality’
touches, and in this case, the
novelties included an attractive
contemporary art display and
curved Feng Shui designs.
The wellness center is a labyrinth
containing consultation and treatment
rooms, steam, sauna, jacuzzi and
cryotherapy chambers.
It’s not tucked away, like so many
hotels, but just off the lobby level,
symptomatic of its pivotal positioning.
Read more on the resort in the tourism
and wellness section of the enclosed
DXH supplement
4
INTERCONTINENTAL FUJAIRAH
1. Meeting rooms,
The Retreat Palm
RESORT
Dubai
An enduring hospitality anomaly, that
2. InterContinental
InterContinental hasn’t had a regional resort, has
Fujairah Resort
3. Aerial view, W
been put to bed, with InterContinental Fujairah
The Palm Dubai
Resort recently opening its doors in Dibba. The five4. InterContinental
Fujairah Resort
star resort, comprising 190 rooms (44 Club rooms
down to lights up); LIV (offering everything to
and 38 suites), features a series of low-rise, Arabesque
“Liv a Little” including a “Bucket List” of once in a
village-style buildings and combines Arab influences
lifetime items) and W Lounge (curated cocktails
with contemporary designs.
pre/post dinner).
Amenities include a gym, O Spa by
The hottest ticket in town will be the
L’Occitane, four meeting rooms, a boardroom
DND Suites – W’s version of the ultimate
Walking through the
and ballroom and two F&B options – Nama
cabana. Flaunt your style to your heart’s
grounds, enjoying the
(international) and Drift (casual beach bar
content with a private event within the three
and grill). Worldly Classics cocktails can also
exclusive DND Suites, elevated hideaways
pleasant temperatures and
be sipped on the Horizon outdoor terrace.
adjacent to the
lush landscaping, I could
Alongside the family pool is a Kids’ and
WET Deck.
have been in any highTeen’s Club.
The first AWAY Spa in the Middle East
will contain 11 treatment rooms, steam
class Indian Ocean resort.
W DUBAI – THE PALM
room, sauna and hammam.
W Dubai – The Palm, slated to open in June,
will house 350 sea-facing guest rooms and suites
ANANTARA SHARJAH RESORT
on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeriah. Designed
Minor Hotel Group has announced the
through the W lens, the Escape juxtaposes the man$140m, 233-room Anantara Sharjah Resort
made geometric skyscrapers with the organic waves
will open mid-2020, featuring a selection
of the desert.
of deluxe rooms and luxury suites at a prime
On site will be six restaurants and bars, including
beachfront location. Among the F&B options
WET Deck; Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura
will be a specialty dining restaurant located on a
(his first venue outside Italy); Akira Back (Korean
pier. Other facilities include a male and female spa
culinary master); SoBe (rooftop bar with a South
and wellness centre, a kids’ club, a pool and a ballroom
Beach vibe and 360 panoramic views from sun
able to accommodate up to 540 guests. BT
JANUARY 2018
23
23
13th edition
BEST OF THE BEST
abudhabichampionship.com
18-21 JANUARY 2018
@ADGOLFCHAMPS
Dustin
johnson
Paul
Casey
Tommy
Fleetwood
Matt
Kuchar
Henrik
Stenson
Rory
MciLroy
Justin
Rose
OPINION
Taxing
issues
Will VAT tariffs coming into effect this month
make Gulf hospitality less competitive?
DOMINIC ELLIS
EDITOR
T
he UAE and KSA will
introduce 5 per cent VAT
tariffs from January but other
GCC states, such as Bahrain
and Oman, are unlikely to
come on stream until mid-2018.
Consumers need to be on their toes as
it’s a mixed picture – several key sectors
are exempt while others are chargeable.
Transport is one which has escaped charges
in the UAE with international and domestic
flights exempt along with goods supplied by
air, land and sea.
In the hospitality sphere, however, all
rooms and F&B are taxed at 5 per cent
and the levy will be added on top of bills
alongside service charges. Municipality and
tourism dirham charges, while not vat-able
as they are considered non-income to
hotels, also have to be paid for; it may not
feel an especially happy new year for many
inbound travellers.
F&B in particular is causing angst for
operators who have yet to finalise systems
and clarify payments – possibly because
100 items which were originally expected
to be zero-rated were later added to the
tax bracket. Many hotel operators
declined to comment, reflecting the
mood of uncertainty.
Commentators have highlighted
some other grey areas, notably over what
constitutes “recipient of services”, recovery
on fees, charges relating to loyalty schemes
and vouchers, and transactions covering
different jurisdictions, which have been
sources of litigation in other markets.
and the UAE authorities should look at our
As per the Federal Tax Authority (FTA)
industry and recognise we are part of the
in the UAE, businesses with an annual
overall mix.”
turnover of AED375,000 must complete
He added the introduction of VAT
online registration through the authority’s
will necessitate “a lot of time and care”
website and voluntary registration is also
over every single invoice and receipt. “I
being encouraged for small businesses (click think it will take at least six months for
on https://eservices.tax.gov.ae to sign up).
it to be understood and how it affects us
Retailers will have to display VAT separately become apparent.”
on their bills.
As costs come into focus with the
Simon Casson,
introduction of VAT, Dirk
President Hotel
van de Haar, Director at
Operations - Europe,
Creneau International, cited
I think it will take at
Middle East and Africa,
high rents as a more pressing
least six months for
said it is not expecting
issue. “I cannot explain to
it to be understood
any meaningful
a customer they are being
impact. “It has been
charged AED400 for a meal
and how it affects us
well communicated
due to high rent – they are
become apparent.
and is a mandatory
not going to accept that.
Government tax and
That is really where we need
so is easy to explain to
to start tackling the issues.”
guests as such.”
Designed to diversify the
But leading figures in the
region’s revenue sources, VAT
restaurant and café sector,
is likely to generate AED12
which has seen rapid
billion income in the UAE in
growth in the last decade,
its first year and may collect up to
have expressed concern.
AED20 billion in 2019.
Naim Maadad, CEO of
What is less clear is the impact it will
Gates Hospitality, which
have on Gulf states’ competitiveness and
has opened restaurants such as Reform
tourism perception. The VAT levy, while
Social & Grill, Folly, Publique and Ultra
small, comes on top of municipality
Brasserie, said: “The independent food
and tourism charges – and that’s before
and beverage industry really supports the
you take into account variable exchange
economy – but we are not isolated from the rates, which can make everything –
fluctuations in that economy as well. There
particularly already-high drinks prices –
are many factors that are making life tough,
additionally expensive. BT
JANUARY 2018
25
D E S T I N AT I O N S
26
JANUARY 2018
HANGZHOU
2 72 7
VISION OF
THE FUTURE
An investigation of Hangzhou, China’s technological
epicentre, reveals Bond-like gadgets and sci-fi aspirations
WORDS CRAIG BRIGHT
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
28
L
ABOVE AND
RIGHT:
Alibaba’s futuristic
corporate
campus covers
150,000 sqm
in Hangzhou’s
Yuhang district; a
Hikvision drone
and rifle-like
drone signal
jammer
JANUARY 2018
ining the walls of a large, white,
circular room are dozens of CCTV
cameras, their all-seeing lenses
trained on the crowd below. As
people walk about, portraits start to
appear on mounted TV monitors, along
with personal statistics such as height and
gender. I see my own face pop into view,
along with an estimation of my age, which,
to my dismay, is off by about ten years –
and not in the flattering direction.
HANGZHOU
Being displayed on another screen is a veritable army
of small orange robots zipping across a post office
warehouse. The fully automated bots are using HD
cameras and QR codes placed on the floor to move
about and sort packages into their correct locations.
“When they run out of electricity, they calculate the
route they have to take to get to the charging stations
and then charge themselves,” my guide explains.
In the middle of the room, sitting atop a white plinth,
is a large remote-controlled drone about a metre wide.
Next to it is a rifle with what can only be described as a
television aerial sticking out from the barrel. According
to my guide (who I’m tempted to call “Q” at this point),
the aerial gun blocks a drone’s remote radio signal – using
jamming equipment used in China’s space technology –
thus causing it to fall from the sky.
This is the headquarters of Hikvision, a multinational
technology company that has its head office in
Hangzhou, the capital of eastern China’s Zhejiang
province southwest of Shanghai. While its name may not
be as familiar as other tech behemoths like Alibaba or
Huawei, the 16-year-old Chinese company is a giant in
its own right, with a market capitalisation of more than
US$20 billion and a 19.5 per cent market share of the
global video surveillance industry. The company has more
than 20,000 employees worldwide, with its products
being utilised all over the world from the Brazil World
Cup Stadium to Milan’s Malpensa Airport.
Hikvision’s technological prowess is not an unusual story
in Hangzhou: Net Ease, an internet technology company
located in the city’s Binjiang district, was founded in
1997 and helped spearhead the development of internet
services in China. Zhejiang Dahua Technology – another
video surveillance company – is also headquartered in
Binjiang. Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Huawei
– headquartered in Shenzhen – has a large research centre
in Hangzhou. In fact, the proliferation of powerful tech
companies has given rise to the moniker “China’s Silicon
Valley”. That’s a title also used in association with Shenzhen
and a few other Chinese cities – yet none of
China’s home-grown tech companies is as
Alibaba is a beacon
internationally renowned as Alibaba.
for the spirit of
Famously founded in Jack Ma’s onebedroom
Hangzhou apartment in 1999,
entrepreneurialism
the company is now in a head-to-head
that has rippled
with Amazon to achieve a US$500 billion
valuation. Spreading out over 150,000 sqm in
throughout the city
the city’s Yuhang district, its greenery-laden
corporate campus boasts an iconic spider-web
exterior. Inside it’s a hive of innovation, home
to more than 9,000 employees and a beacon for
the spirit of entrepreneurialism that has rippled
throughout the city.
Alibaba’s presence in Hangzhou extends
far beyond its headquarters. Each October, the
company hosts The Computing Conference, which
attracts tens of thousands of attendees from across the
globe. At this year’s event, Ma announced a US$15
billion investment in the company’s new Alibaba DAMO
Academy, an initiative aimed at tackling research in
areas such as data intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT),
JANUARY 2018
29
29
D E S T I N AT I O N S
30
financial technology (fintech), quantum computing and
human-machine interaction. As part of the effort, the
company will open seven research labs across the globe: as
well as Hangzhou, they’ll be located in Beijing, Singapore,
Moscow, Tel Aviv, and San Mateo and Bellevue in the US.
Earlier this year, the company also unveiled a more
“offline” development. Despite making its name as an
e-retailer, July saw the launch of Alibaba’s “Tao Café”, an
unmanned shop concept that sees tills and cash replaced
by smartphone payments. By scanning a QR code on the
Taobao app at the entrance of the store, patrons are tracked
with cameras for facial recognition. Customers can then
automatically make a purchase through their smartphones
without needing to head to a register, and be able to leave
the store with their items in hand.
LEVERAGING MOMENTUM
Keen to capitalise on the presence and start-up spirit of
these tech giants, the city’s government has begun to actively
promote Hangzhou as a key technological hub. According
JANUARY 2018
HANGZHOU
to the Hangzhou Tourism
Commission (HTC), “Hangzhou
has introduced a series of policies to
attract high-tech enterprises to settle
in Hangzhou. Among these, the
‘Hangzhou Silicon Valley incubator’
has contributed 21 outstanding
high-tech enterprises that have
settled here.”
This incubator project comes
in two forms: a US$50 million
cross-border venture-capital
guidance fund aimed at exploring
the establishment of overseas
equity investment enterprises; and
the implementation of overseas
venture-capital enterprises and
seeking out angel investors to invest
in the pilot work of Hangzhoubased, non-listed enterprises.
But the city’s promotion of its tech-hub credentials isn’t
limited to direct funding of such initiatives. “Hangzhou
has spawned a large number of well-known internet
companies, but the superior entrepreneurial environment
has also encouraged a proliferation of financial
enterprises, cultural and creative enterprises,” said an
HTC spokesperson.
In particular, the events industry is seen as a major
player in the city’s ongoing economic development.
“The MICE industry is seen as an important
breakthrough in the transformation and development of
Hangzhou’s tourism industry, the promotion of urban
internationalisation, and the creation of a high-end
international conference destination,” stated the HTC.
“Development of MICE will promote the regional
economy and will also serve as a potential attraction for
high-tech enterprises.”
The city certainly aims high in its hosting of major
international events: in September 2016, Hangzhou
hosted the G20 summit, attended by world leaders
from China, the US, Russia, Germany, France, the
UK, Japan, South Korea and India, among others. This
was the summit that saw the ratification of the Paris
Agreement by then-US President Barack Obama and
Chinese President Xi Jinping (the same agreement from
which current US President Donald Trump controversially
announced the US would withdraw). As well as being the
first G20 Summit to be held in China, it was also one of
the few in the conference’s history held in a secondary city.
Visitors to Hangzhou can view the very halls where key
meetings were held – the Hangzhou International Expo
Center has kept key rooms from the G20 Summit set up as
exhibits. The Expo Center is also home to one of Alibaba’s
aforementioned unmanned convenience stores, located
outside the main entrance. Further down the line in 2022,
Hangzhou is also set to play host to the Asian Games.
With major developments in business, MICE and
CLOCKWISE FROM
OPPOSITE TOP:
One of Alibaba’s
unmanned, appoperated Tao Cafés;
inside an Expo
Center hall used for
the G20 Summit;
the Hangzhou
International
Expo Center
3 13 1
tourism, it comes as no surprise that air
connectivity to the city has also been
increasing. Xiamen Airlines started flying
between Hangzhou and Melbourne last
month, while Beijing-based Capital Airlines’
one-stop service to Lisbon via Beijing took
off in July – the Beijing-Lisbon leg being the
first non-stop connection between China
and Portugal. American carrier United
Airlines also launched a San FranciscoHangzhou service, though this was stopped
in October after being deemed “no longer
economically viable”.
The Hangzhou Tourism Commission states
that more than 200 domestic and international
routes now connect the city with the rest of the world,
adding that “the opening of these intercontinental
routes has allowed Hangzhou to take a big step towards
becoming an international city”.
Then again, if the rate of technological advancement
continues, it might not be too long before visitors can
be airlifted by drone, or simply beamed to their desired
location via an app…
The city has aimed
high in its hosting of
major international
events, such as
2016’s G20 Summit
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
NAVIGATING
32
he cliché about getting lost in translation
is one thing. Simply getting lost is another.
Tokyo has always been notoriously difficult to
get around, from the confusing address system
(not based on street addresses) to a mindboggling network of train lines. Wifi hotspots,
accessible data and English-language apps have
also typically been few and far between. Short
of a personal guide, a good GPS system (and a
stellar sense of direction) used to be the only hope for
foreigners to the city.
However, with the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic
Games on the horizon, and not forgetting the 2019
Rugby World Cup, Tokyo is seeing a swathe of tech
infrastructure and service industry upgrades that
promise to make the city more accessible and easier to
navigate for the growing number of foreign visitors.
JANUARY 2018
APP-ROPRIATE SOLUTIONS
Tokyo has one of the most efficient public transport
systems in the world – a train company’s recent apology
for a 20-second delay made headlines around the world
– but the sheer size and complexity can be confusing
to say the least. This is especially true at major stations
like Shinjuku and Shibuya, where the crowds and vast
number of exits and platforms are overwhelming.
To combat this, the government has implemented
more tourist information offices dotted around the
city. One recent service has been the addition of nonJapanese guidance staff at busy locations such as Tokyo
Station who can give directions and other information
in a variety of languages.
Service providers are also upping their app game to
help people navigate Tokyo and beyond. The Japan
National Tourism Organization ( JNTO), for example,
TOKYO
O
T O
KY
Find your way
with ease on your
next trip to the
Japanese capital
WORDS ROB GOSS
33
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
34
34
recently launched the Japan Official Travel App (jnto.
go.jp/smartapp/eng) available in Chinese (simplified
and traditional), English and Korean, offering a mix of
content such as travel articles with practical information
on how to get around, route searches for trains, maps,
and guides to manners and customs – quite a handy free
resource to have in your pocket.
Another new app that could be useful for anyone
aiming to get out of Tokyo is the Tokaido Sanyo
Shinkansen Reservation App (smart-ex.jp/en/lp/app).
With it, JR Central and JR West have teamed up to create
the first app in Japan that allows train bookings in English
– in this case for the bullet train – and also allows you to
change bookings up to four minutes before departure.
It’s currently available for download in the US, Australia,
Hong Kong and Singapore, although a spokesperson for
JR says it will soon be rolled out in other countries and
similar English apps will hopefully be following to allow
bookings on a greater number of trains and lines.
THIS PAGE
FROM LEFT:
JAL Explorer
app; and
Tokaido Sanyo
Shinkansen
reservation app
JANUARY 2018
GETTING CONNECTED
Of course, apps aren’t much good if you can’t access
them, and despite Japan’s hi-tech image, it’s been
something of an oddity that wifi accessibility has long
been extremely patchy while out and about in the capital.
However that appears to be changing. Teaming up with
rail and bus operators, plus certain tourist spots and
public facilities, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s
Free Wi-Fi & Tokyo (wifi-tokyo.jp) delivers connectivity
in an increasing number of locations around the city. It
still isn’t perfect but it is a move in the right direction.
Another app offering this service is Travel Japan Wifi
(japanfreewifi.com) from Wire and Wireless Co. A
recent partnership with flag carrier Japan Airlines (JAL)
has also seen the launch of an upgraded version, the JAL
Explore Japan Wifi app, available for both Android and
Apple devices. With this app, travellers can automatically
connect to more than 200,000 wifi hotspots operated by
the company across Japan in public areas such as airports,
major train stations, restaurants and key tourist locations.
The app is specifically designed to cater to foreigners
– residents in Japan are not even able to download the
programme, and it’s available in English, traditional and
simplified Chinese, Korean and Thai, while Japanese is
not supported.
If, however, you want guaranteed data during your
stay, sort out pocket wifi when you arrive at Narita or
Haneda airport. Alternatively, a free SIM card courtesy
of new start-up Wamazing was rolled out in February
2017. Foreigners can pre-register for the service and
then pick up their free SIM from vending machines at
Tokyo Narita airport. The SIM also comes with 500MB
of data or usage for five days – whichever you hit first.
Additional data can be bought through the Wamazing
app (apps.wamazing.jp), plus access to services such as
hotel reservations, taxi hailing or booking activities. So far
the app is only available in traditional Chinese, aimed at
travellers from Hong Kong and Taiwan, but Wamazing
TOKYO
LEFT: Tokyo
Edition Ginza
plans to offer English, simplified
Chinese and Korean in the
future.
FUTURE-TECH
Given Japan’s
reputation
for robotics,
it comes as
no surprise that
Tokyo is also turning
to automatons to help
visitors. In November
Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko
Koike, unveiled five
multilingual robots at
the Tokyo Metropolitan
Government Building
as a test run before the 2020
Games. The five – all of which can
communicate in Japanese and English, with some
able to use Chinese and Korean, too – will be in
place until February 2018 to see how well they
can assist visitors with tourist information
and directions.
Taking things even further into the future, you
will soon be able to pay for and access a range of
services with the tap of a finger. The new “Touch &
Pay” authentication system is part of the Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry’s efforts to promote
biometric identification services, and since
October it is gradually being rolled out at hotels and
tourist sites across Tokyo. By 2020, it should allow
travellers (after registering passport, credit card and
fingerprint data at the airport or a tourist office) to
check in, buy tickets, use lockers, and more across
Tokyo usingMobile
fingerTraveller
scans or e-passport
FA.pdf
1scans.
10/29/17
THIS PAGE:
Multiple smartphone
apps provide easy
access to travel
information, or simply
ask your friendly
neighbourhood robot
With the JAL Explore
Japan Wifi app,
travellers can connect
to more than 200,000
hotspots countrywide
ROOM FOR GROWTH
4:07 PM
Japan’s target of 20 million inbound
travellers annually by 2020 was reached
four
years early – the government has now
revised
that target to 40 million. To cater to that
growth, an
additional 10,000 rooms are slated for the
capital before the Games,
many of them ticking all the five-star boxes. Looking at the newest offerings,
Hoshino Resorts Co opened the Hoshinoya Tokyo early in 2017 in the central
Otemachi district, not far from Tokyo Station, offering a blend of high-end resort
and traditional Japanese inn.
The Aman group has launched a similarly sleek, relaxation-focused property
nearby: the Aman Tokyo. In November, Marriott introduced the group’s
millennial-focused lifestyle brand with the opening of Moxy Tokyo Kinshicho,
and also has a pair of Marriott Edition properties scheduled for 2020, one in
the Toranomon business district and another just off the main avenue in the
prestigious Ginza area.
Looking forward also reveals that Accorhotels will make a brand debut in the
Japanese capital when it opens its 143-room Pullman Tokyo Tamachi in autumn
2018, while luxury serviced residence Oakwood Apartments Nishi-Shinjuku is
scheduled to open in the summer. A 190-room Four Seasons property is also
planning to open in Otemachi by 2020.
35
PLAIN SAILING
36
If trains, buses and taxis aren’t your thing, and you
have some spare time in between meetings, Tokyo
has another mode of transport up its sleeve: water
buses. Aiming to offer an alternative to the city’s
highly congested roads, a number of companies
have launched services around Tokyo Bay, mainly
operating routes around Odaiba and up the Sumida
River to Asakusa. Tokyo Cruise Ship company offers
the most daily services, with the scenic journeys
lasting between 20 minutes and an hour, and
starting at ¥780 (US$7; suijobus.co.jp/en).
If the schedules don’t suit, there’s also a flexible
on-demand service. Tokyo Water Taxi (pictured
below) began operating its
first diesel-powered vessels
in mid-2016 around Tokyo
Tokyo has one of the
Bay’s waterways, and plans
most efficient public
to have a total of 60 iconic
transport systems in
yellow boats operating by
the time the 2020 Olympic
the world... but it can
Games rolls around. Some
be very confusing
landings welcome visitors
without a reservation, but
it’s best to book (there’s a
maximum capacity of six people). Journeys
cost around ¥2,000 (US$18; watertaxi.tokyo).
ESSENTIAL APPS FOR
NEGOTIATING JAPAN
GOOGLE TRANSLATE
This app allows you to translate to and from
multiple languages by typing or pasting in text
or by speaking into your phone’s microphone. Its
finest feature, however, is the camera input. With
it, you can scan something like a Japanese menu
and get a fairly accurate translation appear over
the top of the words it detects.
HYPERDIA
Free for 30 days after you first install it, this app
makes navigating public transportation easy,
providing timetable information and detailed
route searches for trains, subways and planes
nationwide.
GURUNAVI
Type in parameters such as your location, the
kind of food you want and even your budget,
and this app will list all the options, including info
on whether or not the restaurant has an English
menu or English-speaking staff.
JANUARY 2018
AV I AT I O N
38
PICTURED: An
airplane flies
above the Qutb
Minar Complex
in Delhi
JANUARY 2018
I N D I A N AV I AT I O N
INDIA F LYING
Compilation of major developments in Indian aviation during the past two years
WORDS AKANKSHA MAKER
W
hile writing this article in November 2017, I
had completed a year of heavy domestic and
international travel. This included flying out
of a few tier II towns (Porbander, Lucknow
and Guwahati) and some tier I cities
(Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru), where
I observed a few evident changing trends
such as airlines’ on-time performances, easy
connectivity and increased security at airports.
The improved on-time performances by airlines could be on
the basis of the new rule that was imposed by the Directorate
General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) back in September 2016.
According to the new regulation, if the flight fails to takeoff
within five minutes of getting a green signal from the airtraffic
control, it will have to be pushed to the back of the queue
where it will have to wait until the next available time slot.
Earlier, if the flight scheduled to take off didn’t do so on
time, it in turn delayed others in the queue behind it too.
With the new order, those organised for a timely takeoff as
per procedures aren’t inconvenienced any further as defaulters
are pushed back endlessly. Hence, Indian airlines now make a
conscious effort to avoid a tardy performance on the runway,
which would in turn garner a poor track record and reduced
priority for sought-after slots during peak hours.
Along with this, there has been an evident escalation of
flight frequencies, routes and passengers numbers in Indian
aviation. International Air Transport Association (IATA) had
published an interesting report in 2017 that forecasted major
upcoming travel trends worldwide. It forecasts around 7.8
billion passengers will fly in 2036 globally; a near doubling
of the four billion air travellers expected to fly in 2018. From
these numbers, the maximum demand is deemed to be out
of the Asia-Pacific region. It will be the source of more than
half the new passengers over the next two decades. In terms of
market size, the UK will fall from the third to the fifth place.
India will overtake the UK as the third largest aviation market
in the world by 2025. By 2026, the country (India) will have
337 million new passengers and a total of 478 million air
travellers. This will be more than that of Japan (just under 225
million) and Germany (just over 200 million) combined.
The prediction that India is projected to overtake the UK as
the third largest aviation market by 2025 has surely been sweet
to the ears of our hospitality industry and tourism bodies. It has
encouraged the government to further uplift the aviation sector,
as it has visibly been doing so since a few years. The government
realises the potential of this industry and India’s strong middleclass population of about 35 crore that enjoys an accelerating
spending power. In order to make flying affordable for all, airfare
JANUARY 2018
39
AV I AT I O N
DOMESTIC TO INTERNATIONAL
in 2016 was reduced by 18 per cent than that in 2015.
According to the Civil Aviation Policy of 2016, if each
Indian from the middle-class bracket takes one annual flight,
it will result in the sale of 35 crore tickets. Indian aviation is
strongly relying on the ability of the middle-class Indian to
take to the skies.
REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY
40
Limited regional connectivity is another reason why
middle-class India didn’t take to the sky much, until
recently. The country’s age-old train system has always
been reliable; however thanks to the fall in airfare and
the increasing convenience of air travel, there’s been a
noticeable transition in the way the Indian masses travel.
To further encourage this switch, a government initiative
called the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) Scheme
— literally translating to “flies the common man of India”
— was announced by the government in October 2016
and put in action in April 2017. It has been launched to
connect India’s under-served and unserved airports to
larger metros, and also aims to make air travel affordable
for the every Indian citizen (under-served airports do not
have more than one flight a day operating out of them.
Unserved airports have no flights operating to and from
them). Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated three
routes to kickstart this ambitious scheme — Shimla-Delhi,
Kadapa-Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad — last April.
Post this, India’s regional connectivity has seen a drastic
upward traction.
Under the UDAN Scheme, the government has
chosen five airlines to operate on 128 routes — Alliance
Air (15 routes), Air Deccan (34 routes), Air Odisha (50
routes), SpiceJet (11 routes) and Turbo Megha Airways
(18 routes). Together, they will connect 27 served, 31
unserved and 12 under-served airports. In UDAN’s
second bidding launched in August last year, the
government has acquired 141 more proposals that cover a
total of 502 routes, exemplifying the growing importance
of regional connectivity to India’s civil aviation. Tier
II destinations including Haridwar, Tezpur, Tirupati,
Srinagar, Shillong and Imphal are being included in
the scheme.
JANUARY 2018
ABOVE: SpiceJet
aircraft at Indian
airport
Prior to the launch of the UDAN Scheme, the civil
aviation authorities announced two amendments that
transformed the way India’s aviation industry conducts
business. The first being the amendment of the 5/20
rule — the long-standing norm of the Indian Aviation
Ministry under which national carriers were required
to complete five years of operational experience and a
minimum fleet of 20 aircraft to fly overseas. In February
2016, Tata Sons (the Indian holdings company that
maintains joint ventures with AirAsia and Singapore
Airlines for AirAsia India and Vistara respectively)
had openly voiced its opposition to the 5/20 rule.
“The 5/20 rule has thus far principally benefited only
foreign airlines, who have captured 70 per cent of the
international traffic from India, taking Indian jobs and
revenue with them. The removal of the rule is estimated
to boost international traffic to and from India to over
100 million passengers by 2021 and will stimulate the
domestic market. Increased competition within the
country will further contribute to lower (airfare) prices
and greater accessibility of air travel to common people,”
said a company official in a statement.
By March in the same year, a discussion headed by
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had reportedly concluded
with the decision to scrap the 5/20 rule. A formal change
was announced by the Civil Aviation Policy in June 2016,
thereby doing away with a part of the restriction. Going
forward, carriers no longer need to have completed five years
of service on domestic routes to fly international; but they
still require to operate a fleet of at least 20 aircraft or reserve
20 per cent of their fleet for domestic routes, whichever is
higher, before they can expand their horizons globally.
Out of the seven domestic players in India’s civil
aviation industry, the joint ventures of Tata Sons —
AirAsia India and Vistara — have benefited the most
from the policy change. Both airlines began operations
in 2014 and 2015 respectively. “Though a 0/0 or 0/10
would have been more than welcome, the amendments
that have been made to the policy are encouraging. We
will now focus on aggressively investing in India and
increasing the fleet size to 20 aircraft,” says Amar Abrol,
CEO of AirAsia India.
In fact, AirAsia India plans to start international flights
in the second half of 2018, after deploying 20 aircraft in
its fleet (it currently owns 14 airplanes). Abrol further
confirmed this in an interview with LiveMint
in November 2017: “We are on target to
launch our international routes the minute
we achieve 20 aircraft in India next year
(2018). We foresee our Indian operations
to be very profitable once we start flying
regional routes and connecting them to our
wide network.” Vistara is also rumoured to
begin its international operations around the
same time. The Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines
joint venture currently owns 16 aircraft and has
I N D I A N AV I AT I O N
announced that it would receive its 20th aircraft by the
end of the current financial year, that ends on March 30.
It will then receive two more aircraft by mid-2018, that
will primarily serve on its international operations.
EASING INVESTMENT
The second big amendment followed a week after the
announcement of the Civil Aviation Policy in June 2016.
In an effort to seek greater investment flows into the
country, India opened up to 100 per cent foreign direct
investment (FDI) by overseas entities (excluding airlines)
in domestic airlines. Although, foreign airlines are only
permitted to invest up to 49 per cent in an Indian airline,
the rule has made it easier for international carriers to set
up a domestic carrier in India. Airlines no longer have
to look for an Indian partner, but can join hands with
private investors abroad.
SECURITY MAKE-OVERS
Along with implementing amendments that alter the
aviation business on a macro level, the security arm of
Indian aviation — Central Industrial Security Force
(CISF) — announced the gradual doing away of the
dated practice of hand-baggage tagging during security
scan, post check-in. This elimination was initially
launched in December 2016 as a pilot project at six
airports — Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad,
Kolkata and Mumbai. To ensure easy functioning of this
new protocol, a committee comprising of the CISF, the
BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) and airport
officials was set up in 2016.
Recently, Goa, Pune, Nagpur, and Trichy airports
have also joined the bandwagon that has done away with
baggage tags after security check. With this development, a
total of 23 airports across India have stopped the redundant
and time-consuming practice — making security check
comparatively swift and uncomplicated. At the time of
going to press, about 27 other Indian airports, falling under
the Central Industrial Security Force — including Jodhpur,
Port Blair, Aurangabad, Bhopal, Tirupati, Imphal and
Jorhat — were being reviewed for this process.
BELOW: Security
check in progress
whatever liabilities it may have attached to it.)
Currently, Air India has a debt of about `52,000 crore.
Its assets are worth `30,000 crore and include engineering
items, property, a few art pieces and subsidiary businesses.
Further, an updated version of the country’s foreign direct
investment document restricts Air India from being
sold to a 100 per cent foreign company/airline. It can,
however, be sold to a joint venture wherein one partner
company is registered in India and has a minimum
shareholding of 51 per cent.
This has opened doors for Vistara and AirAsia India
to bid for the national carrier. If rumours are to be
believed, Tata Group has been eyeing Air India since
a while. However, IndiGo Airlines is the only airline
to openly show interest in Air India’s international
operations. In an internal discussion on IndiGo Airline’s
future plans regarding long-haul international flying
— Business Traveller India spoke to Rahul Bhatia,
co-founder of IndiGo Airlines. He says, “Quite simply,
we are interested in the airline operations of Air India.
And more specifically, we are focused narrowly on Air
India’s international operations and Air India Express.
That is what we have communicated in our one-on-one
discussions with the government officials.”
In September 2017, the government of India had invited
applications from investment bankers, law firms and other
entities to advise on the strategic stake sale of Air India.
However, there seems to be an indefinite delay in the
disinvestment of the troubled state-run carrier. It is unlikely
to take place in the fiscal year 2017-18, a divergence from
the initial plan of completing the process by early 2018.
A lot has transpired in our aviation business in the
last couple of years. These milestones and happenings
have made it quite an eventful time for the industry and
especially the middle-class consumer. From favourable
government policies, eased investment openings and
proactive players, the forecast seems exciting. Whether the
predicted numbers will actually play out is only for time to
tell. Until then, let’s keep our seat-belts fastened. BT
41
FALL OF THE GIANT
SPICEJET | DREAMSTIME
While mentioning the landmark happenings of Indian
aviation, it’s impossible to omit the disinvestment
of India’s national carrier — an announcement that
caused a stir in the industry. It was in June 2017 that the
Government of India decided to disinvest the loss-making
Air India. Since then, a group of ministers, headed by
finance minister Arun Jaitley, has been working out
details on how to take this forward.
There are two options that have been laid out — the
first includes selling off the airline’s subsidiaries before
the final sale of Air India; and the second option is
to sell the airline on an “as-is-where-is” basis. (The
latter is a legal term that means the buyer purchases
the item on sale in whatever condition it is in and with
JANUARY 2018
4 HOURS IN...
42
Stockholm
WORDS TOM OTLEY
Island-hop
around the
Swedish
capital,
taking in
Baroque
palaces
and a wellpreserved
shipwreck
JANUARY 2018
1
Ralambshovsparken
Stockholm is a walkable city that
also has excellent public transport.
Assuming you only have half a day, it’s
a good idea to stay above ground and
see as much as possible, so this tour
can all be done on foot with the odd
boat trip. A good place to start is the
island of Kungsholmen, once known
for its small-scale industries in the 19th
century but now an elegant residential
area of apartment blocks and a lovely
park – the Ralambshovsparken.
Created in 1935, it links in with other
parks on Kungsholmen to make a
delightful place to stroll year-round.
You’ll find cafés, play areas for
children, a beach, a skate park, an
open-air theatre (in the summer) and
sculptures by modern Swedish artists.
The Monument over Yxman (1967)
by Eric Grate will see you off as you
begin the attractive 20-minute walk
to the next stop, at the eastern tip of
the island.
2
Stadshuset
Kungsholmen is also home to the
stunning Stadshuset (City Hall).
It was designed by Ragnar Ostberg
in 1923 in the Swedish National
Romantic style, although parts
look almost as if they have floated
in from Venice – monumental yet
playful, and an arresting sight both
from across the water and from its
attractive terrace, with steps leading
down to the Riddarfjarden bay
flanked by two statues, Song and
Dance, by Swedish sculptor Carl
Eldh. The golden crest on top of the
106-metre-tall tower is the Three
Crowns or Tre Kronor of Sweden, its
heraldic sign dating from the 1300s.
You can take a guided tour of the
interior if you have time (or if it’s
raining), taking in the Golden Room,
the Prince’s Gallery and the Blue Hall,
where the Nobel Prize banquet takes
place each December. 90 kr (£8).
international.stockholm.se
3
Royal Palace
Cross the bridge next to City Hall
and go via Norrmalm then the tiny
island of Helgeandsholmen to reach
Gamla Stan (the Old Town). Take
a little time exploring its winding
streets and souvenir shops before
making your way to the Royal Palace.
You could spend all day here. As well
as the huge expanse of buildings,
there are several museums including
the Treasury and the Royal Armoury.
With time tight, simply wander
through the palace itself, the rooms
of which are impressive examples
of late Baroque opulence with their
furnishings and paintings. Must-see
sights include Queen Kristina’s silver
throne, looking very empty now but
for all the visitors taking selfies; and
the richly decorated Royal Chapel,
which is up some stairs close to the
entrance and exit. Open Tues-Sun
10am-4pm; 160 kr (£14.75).
kungahuset.se
STOCKHOLM
4
5
3
43
4
Vasa Museum
5
Moderna Museet
From the Vasa Museum, you can
jump on one of the circular boat
trips that stop off here (single tickets
from the pier at Allmanna Grand to
Skeppsholmen cost 30 kr/£2.70).
These range in length from a few
minutes to a tour of the whole
archipelago, or you can just pick and
choose your journeys. A short one
would be across Ladugardslandsviken
bay to the island of Skeppsholmen
opposite, where the chief attraction
is the Moderna Museet (modern
art museum). Collections change
regularly but it is well worth a visit
and is a great spot for lunch in the
restaurant, where there are views
across to Djurgarden. The permanent
collection features works by Picasso,
Dali and Rauschenberg. Open
10am-8pm Tues and Fri, 10am-6pm
Wed-Thurs, 11am-6pm weekends;
entry free to permanent shows.
modernamuseet.se BT
2
STOCKHOLM
1
2
3
5
4
VISIT STOCKHOLM
Swedes aren’t naturally boastful, but
it can sometimes feel that way after
listening to some of the recorded
commentaries you get on the city’s
open-top buses and boat cruises.
Everything from Ikea and Tetra-Pak
to the pacemaker and dynamite is a
Swedish invention, not to mention car
brands such as Volvo and the muchmissed Saab. If you’ve had to listen
to a lot of this self-congratulation,
the antidote is to swing by the wreck
of the Vasa. Intended as a mighty
warship, even its own designers
doubted it would stay float, and so
it proved – having launched into the
harbour in 1628, the first gust of wind
caused it to capsize, killing 30 and
sinking into mud, where it remained
remarkably intact for 333 years until
1961. It was then raised and restored.
Open daily 10am-5pm (8pm Wed);
130 kr (£12).
vasamuseet.se/en
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
44
Verbier ’s legendary skiing is part natural
brilliance and part hard work
WORDS TOM OTLEY
JANUARY 2018
VERBIER
45
A
t around seven in the morning, while the Swiss resort of
Verbier is still in darkness and the surrounding mountains
indistinguishable from the night-time sky, the patrouille
(ski patrollers) begin their day’s work. Overnight, in
preparation, as skiers fill the après-ski bars then move on
to restaurants and nightclubs, the lights of the snow cats
can be seen grooming the slopes ready for the next day.
That job completed, now it is time to make those same
pistes safe before the day’s skiing can begin.
To see what is involved, I met up with a member of the patrouille –
Victoria Jamieson. One of 28 people patrolling the Verbier Four Vallées
area (and one of only two women), her working day starts at 7am and
ends at nearly 6pm. In between, it involves everything from making sure
the pistes are safe by checking they are correctly marked and coming to
the aid of injured skiers to, depending on snow conditions, setting off
controlled avalanches with bombs.
To get up there, we took the Médran gondola from Verbier (1,200 metres)
up to Les Ruinettes (2,200 metres), and as the tops of the mountains became
clearer against the lightening sky, stopped for a minute to watch a faint pink
edge the horizon as this beautiful part of the world awoke.
From one point of view, the patrouille are the security team ensuring
the safety of the resort before it opens, except here there are no
intruders to worry about – only nature. As well as 410km of pistes,
Verbier has 11 “itineraries”, which are marked but ungroomed, and
endless off-piste opportunities.
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
46
46
NEED TO KNOW
TOURIST INFO
verbier.ch/en
ACCOMMODATION
Hotel La Rotonde
+41 27 771 65 25
hotelrotonde.com
LIFT PASS
An adult Verbier day pass
is priced from 66CHF/£50;
an adult six-day pass is
priced from 357CHF/£273.
SKI RENTAL
Ski Service
skiservice.com
Faction Skis
factionskis.com
European Snowsport
+41 27 771 21 76
europeansnowsport.
com
LESSONS
ISTA
+41 79 385 02 20
ista-education.
com/en
TAXI
Taxi Alpina
+41 79 442 55 55
taxialpina.ch
JANUARY 2018
Verbier has to strike a balance between being a
resort where skiers can challenge themselves, but also
one where safety is paramount. To that end, a recent
innovation has been the International Snow Training
Academy (ISTA). For skiers who do not intend to leave
the piste, there is also the assurance that no avalanches
will occur, and if they do fall and hurt themselves, help
will be swift in coming. For both of these tasks, the
resort relies on its patrouille.
Returning to skiing after a decade, I was more
concerned about staying safe and enjoying myself
without injury than with testing my limits. I had spent
the previous day with a ski instructor from the European
Snowsports ski school. He took me across the whole
of the Verbier ski area as I progressed from a nervous
snowplough down an easy red run, to remembering
how to do carving turns and, then, finally, heading for
black slopes. It’s possible that many people have had a
bad experience in the types of group lessons that were
common 20 or 30 years ago and either been put off skiing
(or put off lessons), but teaching techniques have changed
among the ski schools that have blossomed across the
Alps in the intervening period. On that first day back as
a returning intermediate skier, I skied dozens of kilometres
of red runs, had lunch at the sun trap of La Chaux (2,260
metres) at Le Dahu restaurant, and took the cable car up
for the stunning views from Mont Fort (3,330 metres),
from where confident skiers can take a black run down –
and the rest of us can simply take the cable car.
Switzerland in general, and Verbier in particular, is
an expensive place to ski. Yes, there are ways of reducing
the cost – staying in Le Chable further down the valley
for instance, or travelling at an off-peak time. January, if
possible, is best, as the school holidays have ended, the
price of ski passes drops, the snow is good and you will
have quiet slopes and mountain restaurants, and less
expensive accommodation. But whatever you do, you
will be paying a lot of money, so it’s gratifying
that the money is reflected in the experience, both onand off-piste, in the town. Perhaps you would expect
free sets of tools at the tops of lifts to help complete
minor repairs to ski equipment, or slopes regularly
blasted by snow cannons, or poles straightened on an
almost hourly basis, or lifts replaced to speed them and
make them more comfortable, but in Verbier (and many
ski resorts across Switzerland) there is a recognition of
the importance of preserving the natural environment,
not least since the tourist authorities want to attract
visitors in the summer, when the snow has disappeared
and the resort and its mountains need to look as
unspoilt as possible. To that end pistes are not blasted
out during the summer to make them uniformly blue or
red in difficulty, and even the avalanche bombs are in
bags made of a biodegradable tissue paper.
VERBIER
RESTAURANTS
AND BARS
FER A CHEVAL
The “Horseshoe” is open all day and very
popular for après-ski on the bustling Rue de
Médran – great music and food. Rue de Médran 16
• +41 27 771 26 69 • feracheval.ch
RESTAURANT LE
CAVEAU
The place to head for a
traditional raclette or
fondue. Place Centrale
• +41 27 771 22 26
• theplacetobe.ch/
restaurant-le-caveau
←
BOT TLE
BROTHERS
VERBIER
Underneath the Hôtel Nevai, this is
a modern sister restaurant to the one in
Geneva – sleek and stylish, with smaller
visually led portions and an extensive cocktail
list. Route de Verbier Station 55 • +41 27 775 40 00
• bottlebrothers.ch
Still, there’s no doubt that the prices reflect the visitors
and a visit to the Vinabagnes shop in the centre of town
(www.vinabagnes.com) leaves little doubt about the
budget that some can afford, with its extensive range of
Swiss wines along with French, Italian and Portuguese
wines and a lot of magnums of extremely good wines for
entertaining in chalets. It was only the early start which
prevented me from buying a bottle for later enjoyment.
Back up on the slopes as sunlight lightens the skies,
we ski down the virgin pistes with Victoria. It’s hard to
know which is more enjoyable: skiing slopes completely
free of others, as though this was all for ourselves, or
clocking the looks of those
passing overhead in the cable
cars, them wondering who we
are that we managed to get up
here so early. For the patrouille,
though, this is just the
beginning – hours of vigilance
and ensuring the safety of skiers
lie ahead. Verbier’s website
promises that “pure energy lives
here”. It’s something to live up
to, but only after a leisurely
breakfast on the mountain. BT
LE MILLENIUM
Underneath the Hotel La Rotonde,
this serves stylish food in large
portions, attractively
plated with excellent
service. Route de Médran • +41
27 771 99 00
• lemillenium.ch
←
LE DAHU
The best pizzas
on the mountain, as
well as a wide choice of
pasta dishes and salads.
La Chaux• 41 27 778 20 00 • ledahu.ch
CHALET CARLSBERG
This Italian restaurant sits right next to the
Attelas ski slope. It has stunning views down
to Verbier and across the mountains. There are
lovely sheepskin-covered chairs as well
as an outdoor terrace with a self-service
snack bar. It shuts at 4.30pm though.
Chalet Carlsberg, 1936 Bagnes • +41 27 775 26 73
• verbier.ch/en/fppoi-chalet-carlsberg-200.html
JANUARY 2018
47
48
JANUARY 2018
SPA
Health
hacks
Asia’s city spas are your secret
weapon when it comes to wellbeing
WORDS C ATHARINE NICOL
49
49
JANUARY 2018
50
D
isconnecting from everyday pressures gives
you time to reboot. Physically, your body lets
go of chronic tension, initiating a mini-detox
and essential self-healing. Mentally, your
brain de-stresses, and this psychological space
can throw up solutions to problems, bring
creative ideas to the fore and maximise
sleep quality.
Relaxing is good for your heart and immune system,
memory and decision-making, mood and weight loss.
However, like all valuable skills, relaxing needs to be
practised, and when you’re on the road, spas are your
secret weapon. Book in for a little – or a lot of – guided
relaxation targeted to your specific needs, and ideally
learn some new habits to take home.
PREVIOUS PAGE:
Mandarin Oriental
Shanghai Pudong,
luxury spa suite
CLOCKWISE FROM
THIS PAGE:
Cordis Hong
Kong’s traditional
Chinese medicineinspired Chuan
Spa; Waldorf
Astoria Shanghai;
Panpuri Organic
Spa at Park Hyatt
Bangkok
JANUARY 2018
UNWIND IN BANGKOK
The city’s most anticipated hotel opening of 2017,
the flawlessly stylish Park Hyatt Bangkok includes the
calming and already award-winning Panpuri Spa. Start
disconnecting from the day’s stress in the whirlpools,
crystal steam and laconium sauna. Then try the mini
Gentlemen’s Retreat comprising a delicious skinstimulating body scrub, muscle de-knotting massage and
blissfully relaxing facial, a trifecta of healing that leaves
you feeling simply good.
TIP: Hydrotherapy helps lower the blood pressure and
calm the mind.
bangkok.park.hyatt.com
Across the Chao Phraya River, the leafy green
Anantara Riverside Bangkok feels like a resort, and to
accompany the laid-back atmosphere offers one-, threeor five-day Balance Wellness programmes, combining
mind-body classes, spa treatments and healthy food.
Start your day with yoga and meditation overlooking
the river, followed by a day of juices, beautifully
prepared wellness meals and spa treatments, finishing
with a healthy dinner and goodnight foot massage.
Longer programmes also include a “before and after”
consultation to set goals and measure benefits.
TIP: Meditation trains the brain to quieten, resulting in
increased productivity.
bangkok-riverside.anantara.com
DETOX IN HONG KONG
In the heart of Mongkok, the Cordis Hong Kong
combines fitness, pool time and hydrotherapy with your
spa visit. Earn your spa indulgence in the gym or doing
laps in the rooftop pool, before continuing the detoxing
process with the Chuan Tao of Detox. From movement
to enforced stillness and silence, don’t fight the downtime
while you’re cocooned in a warm wrap – instead let your
thoughts ebb and drift. The following back, neck and
shoulder massage targets typical tensions, and the facial
refreshes skin and mind for an all-over rejuvenation.
TIP: Exercise and stillness activate feel-good endorphins
and detox the brain.
cordishotels.com/hongkong
SPA
prepares the body for a deep slumber. The blissfully
unhurried two-hour massage uses soothing Swedish and
neuromuscular techniques, enhanced by a calming oil
blend of vetivert and camomile. Give in to the gentle
strokes and aromatherapy and for best results, book your
treatment for just before bedtime.
TIP: Relaxing downtime before bed improves the
quality of your sleep.
fullertonhotels.com
For some real time out, the ESPA at Resorts World
Sentosa tempts you onto Singapore’s holiday island
for its day-long De-Stress programmes, combining
fitness, nutritious meals and juice shots. Peppered with
sleep-inducing treats, stay at the Beach Villas and check
in for your lifestyle and skin analysis consultations
before embarking on your two treatments a day, like the
cleansing, calming hammam ritual and stress-relieving
scalp and shoulder massage. You’ll be given a sleeppromoting aromatherapy blend and unlimited time in
the Sleep Zone too.
TIP: A few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow
helps nudge you into sleep.
rwsentosa.com
Relaxing is good for your heart, immune system,
memory, mood and decision-making. However, like
all valuable skills, relaxing needs to be practised
JET LAG RECOVERY IN SHANGHAI
At the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, even if
you arrive mentally stressed and jet lagged, you can’t
help but feel rejuvenated after its Reconnect Ritual.
This starts with your body being cosseted in a warm
wrap, literally hugging you with TLC healing. Next is
one of the most mentally relaxing treatments around:
Shirodhara is the pouring of warm oil on the “third
eye” and feels like it is actually massaging your brain.
With a bit more time, head out of the city into the
verdant New Territories to find Fivelements Hong
Kong at the Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy.
The Balinese-themed spa offers half- or day-long
programmes. The four-hour Detox Rejuvenation
works on internal organ and digestive cleansing via a
Dan Tien abdominal massage, a powerful experience
if you’ve never had one before. It’s followed by the
Black Diamond Detox combo of body exfoliation with
toxin-absorbing, mineral-rich carbonised black bamboo
powder, as well as a massage. Feeling squeaky clean
you’ll then get a taster of the spa’s phenomenal living
cuisine as a lunch or post-treatment dinner.
TIP: A body scrub is an easy way to feel cleansed from
head to toe.
hk.fivelements.org
SLEEP IN SINGAPORE
We all know how important sleep is to a quality
waking life. At The Fullerton Spa, within the stunning
neoclassical Fullerton Hotel Singapore, the Sleep
Deeply treatment coaxes the mind to switch off and
JANUARY 2018
5 15 1
52
JANUARY 2018
SPA
Finally, the Hydro Quench Facial breathes life into your
complexion. You’re pretty much guaranteed to nod off
during one or all of these treatments.
TIP: Short naps boost your performance and mood
without impacting sleep.
waldorfastoria3.hilton.com
Meanwhile, the Mandarin Oriental Pudong’s Ban Ri
Xian Half Day Reviver combines a body composition
analysis (it’s always motivating to know where you stand
on the wellness scale), with a tough love PT session that
takes into account your current state of wellbeing and
offers a tailor-made workout. The recovery massage
and hydrating facial are the sweet treats, and the combo
creates an ideal way to shake off jet lag.
TIP: Exercising can help beat time-zone tiredness and
reset your clock.
mandarinoriental.com/shanghai
DE-STRESS IN KUALA LUMPUR
Relinquishing your phone for some spa time may have
you sweating (in a bad way) to begin with, but ultimately
it will be refreshing. At the Mandarin Oriental Kuala
Lumpur, the Digital Detox Retreat gently relieves you of
your gadgets, before a scrub and massage focuses on your
head, neck and shoulder muscles while your brain clears.
It will then be in a receptive state for the mindfulness
activities that follow, such as journaling, doodling or
colouring. It may sound childish but don’t knock it till
you’ve tried it.
TIP: An enjoyable, creative pastime with no pressure or
deadline releases stress.
mandarinoriental.com/kualalumpur
A short drive out of the city, The Chateau Spa &
Organic Wellness Resort offers a Stress Relief programme
that ranges from two to seven nights. The five-night
version includes stress management counselling, while the
seven-night programme adds horseback riding. Add La
Exercising can help beat time-zone tiredness and
reset your clock, while the power of touch is proven
to decrease stress and promote wellbeing
Santé Spa treatments, such as the de-stressing seaweed
peat ritual herbal baths and salt grotto mud treatments,
plus classes in yoga, breathing, chanting, meditation
and yoga nidra (yogic sleep) to accompany your stay.
TIP: Slowing your breathing can minimise stress
in seconds.
thechateau.com.my
CLOCKWISE FROM
OPPOSITE BOTTOM:
Resorts World
Sentosa’s ESPA;
Le Chateau
Malaysia The
Chateau Salt
Pool; Mandarin
Oriental Kuala
Lumpur luxury spa
treatment room
ALL OF THE ABOVE IN MANILA
At the Fairmont Makati’s Willow Stream Spa the
Executive Retreat is a two-hour soothing massage
that encourages a quick nap and relaxes tension held
in the upper and lower back. The therapist will use
hot compresses aiding detoxification, and stretches
to exercise the body and increase flexibility. Using
sampaguita oil for a natural uplifting effect, stress will
diminish while energy levels will be boosted.
TIP: The power of touch is proven to decrease stress
and promote wellbeing.
fairmont.com/makati
Take a drive out of the city to The Farm at San
Benito, where its Wellness Experience programme
harnesses nutrition and hydration, exercise and sleep,
detoxification and relaxation for graceful ageing.
Tailor-made for your specific needs and for as many
nights as you have time for, consultations and lab
diagnostics point to the best combination of medical
techniques, natural therapies, exercise and diet.
TIP: Wellness leads to quality of life, vitality,
contentment and happiness.
thefarmatsanbenito.com
JANUARY 2018
53
53
D E S T I N AT I O N S
VIRGIN LANDS
WORDS APRIL HUTCHINSON
The Seychelles, in the heart of the Indian Ocean, remains
determined to protect its natural attractions
54
JANUARY 2018
SEYCHELLES
55
ew places on Earth are as hopelessly idyllic and exotic as the Seychelles, where prehistoriclooking giant tortoises amble between towering granite boulders and flour-soft beaches demand
to be adored.
This Indian Ocean archipelago is fairly new to the tourism game, with the international airport
only having opened in the early 1970s. The country is still blissfully undeveloped, with the powers
that be taking a measured, low-impact approach. Even more commendable is the placing of more
than half the country’s land under the protection of national parks and reserves.
The population of just under 95,000 people is spread across 115 jewel-like islands, with much of
the tourism and hotels concentrated on the main island of Mahé. The second most touristy island is Praslin. But
where the Seychelles comes into its own is in its array of castaway luxury resorts set on their own remote islands.
Little wonder then that the country has become the favoured destination of many celebrities, from George and
Amal Clooney to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Seychelles’ appeal runs much deeper than mere celeb-spotting though. The islands the stars adore for
beauty and privacy are actually pioneers in conservation. Take Fregate; the size of Monaco yet with only 16
villas, it’s a Jurassic Park-like retreat. The current 2,200-strong population of Aldabra giant tortoises were bred
from a population down to just 150 only 25 years ago, and they now roam freely across the island. Fregate is
JANUARY 2018
D E S T I N AT I O N S
RIGHT:
Diving
with a
hawksbill turtle
BELOW:
A Seychelles
magpie robin
56
also responsible for saving the little
Seychelles magpie robin from
disappearing forever, and there are
now more than 200 of these dainty little birds back in
the archipelago. Fregate’s popularity is further bolstered
by its seven beaches and the excellent Rock Spa resort.
North Island – which has just 11 villas – is also
known for its conservation work, with its “Noah’s Ark
Project” involving rehabilitation and restoration of a
once ecologically devastated island. Like many in the
Seychelles, North Island’s natural state was destroyed by
intensive plantations more than a century ago, but the
mission since has been a return to its pre-human state:
many species of birds have returned, while hawksbill and
green turtles nest on its beaches once again.
One of the best examples
The eco-mission on many of the Seychelles’ Eden-like
of the Seychelles’ islands paradise – and one you don’t
to be a guest at a luxurious
has been to return them have
private island to experience – is
to their pre-human state Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve,
the only place with all six of the
country’s endemic palm species. Set deep in the heart
of Praslin, this UNESCO-recognised site exists almost
in its prehistoric state and is famous for being the home
of coco de mer, a palm tree that produces the largest
seed in the plant kingdom and now found only in the
Seychelles. The utter beauty of Praslin’s beaches will
impress even the keenest beachcombers; two of the best
are Anse Georgette and Anse Lazio, fringed by takamaka
trees and bordered by the large granite boulders so
typical of the Seychelles. Places to stay include the highly
JANUARY 2018
desirable hillside villas of Raffles Praslin, or the more
established Constance Lemuria, which has the country’s
only 18-hole golf course and three beaches on site.
A ferry runs from Mahé to Praslin, but from May
to September, it’s not so pleasant if seas are rough; it
is also possible to fly between the two. Praslin is also a
handy island-hopping base, with Cousin and Curieuse
islands nearby, both with strong conservation stories to
tell. Curieuse is the only other island where coco de mer
grows today; but in its past, the island was destroyed by
fire, pillaged of its resources and tortoise population,
and used as a leper colony. Its story now is a very positive
one, as it’s managed as a reserve you can visit by day
trip. Cousin Island Special Reserve is another success
story. This former coconut plantation is now a speciessaving sanctuary, and has become the most important
nesting site in the western Indian Ocean for the critically
endangered hawksbill turtle.
The Seychelles’ third most populated island is La
Digue, a charming place where most people use two
wheels to get around. Boat tours from Praslin usually
include bike hire, so you can soak up local life there
and head to beaches such as Petit Anse, Grand Anse
and Anse Source d’Argent, one of the Seychelles’ most
famous. Félicité is a larger island where the new Six
Senses Zil Pasyon took up residence this year, occupying
less than a third of the island, with 30 villas and 17
private residences.
The hot new hotel opening for 2018 will be Four
Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island, which
will open on March 1, 2018, as the only resort on that
island. Home to 40 suites, here days might be spent
SEYCHELLES
INFORMATION
Seychelles Tourism Board
seychelles.travel
WHERE TO STAY
LEFT: Palms
fringe many
island tracks
BELOW: The
seed of a coco
de mer palm
BOTTOM: A giant
tortoise on
Praslin Island
with a picnic and hike into the jungle, checking out
15km of beaches, or bumping into some of the 150
giant Aldabra tortoises. You could pair a stay at
Desroches with the new British Airways flights – after
a decade, direct flights will resume from Heathrow on
March 24, with a twice-weekly service to Seychelles
International airport in Mahé.
There’s plenty to see and do on the main island
too, where the capital Victoria is about as bustling
as the Seychelles ever gets. For a moment of respite,
step inside Kenwyn House, one of the oldest and
best examples of French colonial architecture on
the island and a place to shop for arts and crafts.
Another popular option on Mahé is the island’s rum
distillery, Takamaka, where you can learn about
rum making – and get a little taster. If you’re craving
healthier, outdoor activities, head to the highest point
in Seychelles, Morne Seychellois – at 905 metres. It’s
a three-hour hike and sits inside a national park that
claims an impressive 20 per cent of the whole island.
Culturally, Seychellois are mainly descended from
African slaves brought by the French and later freed
by the British, while Chinese merchants and traders
also started arriving about 150 years ago, contributing
to the Creole mix. Festival Kreol is a big deal for the
Seychelles (in late October 2018). If you’re visiting
at that time, expect a week of events showcasing the
colours, sounds and flavours of Creole culture. Joining
in with the hip-swaying, foot-shuffling Sega dance
will be a must – especially if you’ve had a drop of that
rum to give you a boost of confidence. BT
Constance Lemuria
constancehotels.com
Four Seasons Resort
Seychelles at Desroches
Island fourseasons.com
Fregate Island Private
fregate.com
North Island north-island.com
Raffles Praslin raffles.com
Six Senses Zil Pasyon
sixsenses.com
WHAT TO DO
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve
sif.sc
Cousin Island Special Reserve
cousinisland.net
Curieuse Marine National Park
seychelles.travel
Takamaka takamakarum.com
Morne Seychellois National
Park seychelles.travel
JANUARY 2018
57
HOTEL LISTINGS
MIRFA HOTEL
WALDORF ASTORIA RAS AL KHAIMAH
AL MARFA Away from the bustle of city life, overlooking
the azure blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, the Mirfa Hotel
offers 114 newly renovated rooms. The hotel provides
excellent accommodation for the business and leisure
traveller, state-of-the-art conference facilities, a fully
equipped gym and ample parking.
+971 2 8953009
rsvn@mirfahotel.com
RAS AL KHAIMAH Cradled by the Hajar Mountains, a
championship golf course, sandy beaches and the azure
waters of the Arabian Sea, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah
is 50 minutes from Dubai Airport and brings true Waldorf
service to the most alluring beachfront location in the UAE.
+971 7 2035555
rasalkhaimah.info@waldorfastoria.com
waldorfastoria.com/rasalkhaimah
CROWNE PLAZA DEIRA, DUBAI
SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, DUBAI
HOTELS COLLECTION
Business Traveller Middle East
magazine is available in all
of these exclusive hotels
GRAND MILLENNIUM DUBAI HOTEL
58
DUBAI The 340-room five star hotel features awardwinning restaurants and bars, spa and health club, stateof-the-art meeting rooms, a magnificent ballroom
and exceptional banquet facilities.
+971 4 429 9999
reservations@grandmill-dubai.com
grandmillenniumdubai.com
gb digital edition strip ad 174 x
C
M
Y
CM
MY
CY
CMY
K
JANUARY 2018
DUBAI located in the cultural heart of Dubai, Crowne Plaza
Dubai – Deira lies at the convenient gateway between the
old and new districts of the city. Features 300 guest rooms
and suites, and an array of meeting rooms, 6 restaurants
and bars, a dedicated and fully equipped fitness centre with
outdoor swimming pool, the hotel is the perfect place for
both leisure and business guests.
+971 4 262 1555512/24/17 4:34 PM
74mm.pdf
cpdeira.info@ihg.com
crowneplaza.com/deira
DUBAI The award-winning Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai
offers luxurious accommodations, exceptional dining and
gracious hospitality in the heart of one of the world’s most
dynamic cities. The hotel’s 302 superbly appointed rooms
and suites offer a combination of traditional luxury and
modern functionality. Spatial elegance, awesome views and
thoughtfully selected furnishings create an experience of
unparalleled style and comfort.
+971 4 3438888
shangri-la.com/dubai
TRIED & TESTED FLIGHT
the
eport
TRIED AND TESTED
AIRPORT LOUNGES
LONDON COCK TAILS
LONDON HOTELS
• flydubai
DUBAI-KILIMANJARO,
B737 MAX BUSINESS CLASS
• American Express
Centurion lounge
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL
• Jean-Georges
at the Connaught
LONDON, UK
• The Lalit London
LONDON, UK
• Emirates lounge
LONDON HEATHROW TERMINAL 3
• Ella Canta
LONDON, UK
• The Westbury
LONDON, UK
• The Hari
LONDON, UK
JANUARY 2018
59
TRIED & TESTED FLIGHT
60
flydubai B737 MAX-8
business class
DUBAI-KILIMANJARODAR ES SALAAM-DUBAI
B A C K G R O U N D Six MAX -8 aircraft are
now in flydubai’s fleet and plenty more are
coming – the original order in 2013 covers
76 aircraft and 150 were ordered at the
Dubai Airshow in November. In time, the
regular 737s will be phased out as more
MAX come on stream.
I was part of a delegation on a flying
visit to mark the resumption of Kilimanjaro
flights (introduced October 2014) and the
route is served six-times weekly, three
linking with Dar Es Salaam. The aircraft
was used to mark the relaunch but isn’t
on the first wave of routes (see panel).
Tanzania is now served with 14 flights a
week with Dar and Zanzibar too.
JANUARY 2018
C H E C K - I N The dedicated business
class check-in is at the end of Terminal
2 departures near immigration. I passed
through the e-gate (no Smart Gates yet)
and relaxed in the lounge.
T H E L O U N G E Split over two levels, the
bottom floor contains a dining area and
selection of hot dishes, snacks and drinks
and upstairs offers more comfortable
lounge seating.
B O A R D I N G We walked through the
business class lane at the end to a holding
lounge and onto the bus. This unassuming
corner of Dubai Airport not only had the
new MAX with its distinctive split-design
winglets but also the 7000-liveried B737
was parked opposite. We boarded the
front and you immediately enter the 10seat business class cabin (two less than
normal B737s, the highlight being the
two single seats on the second row). The
overhead lockers are deep enough for
carry ons but this is a narrowbody aircraft
and it felt busy with 10 people settling in;
take care not to bump your head if you’re
in the window seats.
T H E S E A T The custom-made Thompson
Vantage seats are comfortable and
Whether it’s the ‘re-engined’
aircraft or the noisecancellation headphones,
I found it quieter than your
standard B737. The 15.6inch HD touchscreen shows
a good selection of films – if
not quite in partner Emirates’
ICE league – and the audio
was very clear.
TRIED & TESTED FLIGHT
BEST FOR
Two ‘throne’ seats
PRICE
Business class return
fares start from AED4,525
including taxes and
40kg checked baggage.
Economy fares start
from AED1,395 with 7kg
hand baggage.
FLIGHT TIME
6 hours 5 minutes
C ONFIGURATION
2-2 (1-1 second row)
SE AT WIDTH
Seat width 20.6-22.3in
SE AT RECLINE
180 degrees
CURRENT ROUTES
thoughtfully designed with headphone
and USB ports by your shoulder (on older
B737s, the headphone jack is by the screen
which can be awkward if passengers need
to step out). A narrow storage area is thick
enough to hold your travel documents or
mobile, and there is a section for a small
water bottle, and more storage by your feet.
The seat reclines into a 180-degree flatbed
by sliding the first button forward and there
is a small handset which I didn’t use much
with basic volume/brightness controls.
I enjoyed the ‘throne seat’ (2B) on the
way out and slept soundly for most of the
night flight, and returned in 1A which was
fine; each seat is encased in its shell and
the fold-down table fixture doubles up as
a privacy divider. Another innovation is the
car-style seatbelt although I didn’t find it
easy to loosen and sometimes it tangled up
with the headphones.
Economy passengers have adjustable
headrests and the emergency exit
rows (15/16) offer extra legroom
(AED200 surcharge).
it so soon. DXB is busy at this time and
we left half an hour after our 0240
scheduled departure.
Whether it’s the ‘re-engined’ aircraft or
the noise-cancellation headphones, I found
it quieter than your standard B737. The
15.6-inch HD touchscreen shows a good
selection of films – if not quite in partner
Emirates’ ICE league – and the audio was
very clear.
I found the F&B adequate. On the
way out I had a standard-plane egg
(‘scrambled egg’) and chicken sausage
and the return meal, I wasn’t offered
bread, though it was available, and there
was a mix-up with the menu cards.
This might be an area that needs
some attention, particularly now
flydubai is codesharing with Emirates.
Amenity bags are being considered for
longer flights. We had some moderate
turbulence as we met a jet stream on
the return, around Salalah, but otherwise
it was smooth both ways.
T H E F L I G H T I saw this aircraft (A6-
the best as they have a storage cupboard
and space either side where you can keep
your laptop and spread out.
MAX) at the Dubai Airshow static display
so it was an unexpected treat to fly on
B E S T S E A T The single ‘throne’ seats are
The MAX -8s are initially
flying on Bangkok, Kiev,
Moscow SVO, Bucharest,
Prague and Asmara.
CONTACT
flydubai.com
A R R I V A L We had a warm African
welcome in Kilimanjaro with dancers and
drummers by the apron. It was a tight hour
on the ground in which a press conference,
gift exchange and cake-cutting were
completed before we took off to Dar, which
took on new passengers, and was cleaned,
prior to returning to Dubai.
It would have been great to spend more
time in green Tanzania but it was a good
opportunity to test the MAX to the max.
V E R D I C T This is a sharp product and
marked improvement, and perfectly
comfortable for flydubai’s longer flights.
I felt fine arriving back in DXB at the end
of the 18-hour travel day. It’s still early days
for the MAX though and some services will
need to bed in. Dominic Ellis
JANUARY 2018
61
SMAR T TR AVELLER
How to get from
London Heathrow
to the city centre...
62
...by road
H
eathrow is 25km
west of central
London, with
many (mostly) efficient
public transport options.
Consider the alternatives
before hiring a car, and
if you are heading for
the centre of town, make
sure you factor in any
extra costs. Most vehicles
have to pay a congestion
charge of £11.50 per day
for driving inside central
London between 07001800 Monday to Friday
(see tfl. gov.uk for more
details); enforcement
is strict and fines for
non-payment are severe.
Traffic congestion is
often heavy – the average
speed on central London’s
roads is currently around
8mph. In outlying traffic
arteries congestion is also
commonplace, including
the routes to and from
Heathrow.
JANUARY 2018
BLACKCABS
These tend to be expensive –
fares can average around £1 per
minute, meaning a trip into
London might cost around £45£90. The advantage is that they
can use the (faster) bus express
lanes on the M40 when there’s
traffic congestion in other lanes.
Gett and Hailo are black
cab-hailing apps that allow
you to pre-book or request
last-minute pick-ups.
MINICABS
Many local companies serve
Heathrow, so depending on
where you are heading in the
Greater London area, it may
be worth finding a mini-cab or
chauffeur company.
TAXIPICK-UP
If you arrange a taxi or mini cab
pick-up, there are Authorised
Vehicle Areas where taxis of all
types are expected to wait if, for
instance, your flight is delayed.
They can then go to the Short Stay
SMAR T TR AVELLER
Car Parks (at Terminals 2,3,4 or 5). Drivers
have to pay to park, and wait there or come
into the airport to collect you.
UBER
You can request a fare estimate based on
your destination without having to confirm.
Expect to pay around £45 to reach central
London. Pickup is at each terminal’s Short
Stay Car Park. At the time of going to
press, Transport for London, the transport
licensing body, has chosen not to renew
Uber’s operating licence in London – but
Uber’s 40,000 London drivers continue to
operate while the case is contested in further
court appeals.
CARHIRE
Primarily useful if your onward destination
is not central London. There are car hire
operators at all terminals, with reception
desks from Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise,
Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt. To drive
towards central London from Heathrow,
take the M4, which is connected to the
M25 – the main orbital motorway that
encircles most of Greater London.
CARSHARE
This is a car hire model that allows rental by
the minute, hour or day. Cars are accessed
electronically and can be parked across Greater
London. Currently, Zipcar dominates; the
Zipcar Flex scheme, new in 2017, allows
you to collect a car in one location and leave
it in another. The main disadvantage is that
you need to register beforehand. The Zipcar
collection point at Heathrow is at Terminal
5. Other options include Sixt’s Drivenow
(which also has a Heathrow depot) and
Carplus. Other companies such as Blue
City, Co-wheels Car Club, E-Car Club,
Hertz24/7 and Enterprise Car Club
don’t currently have car share depots at
Heathrow.
COACHES
National Express is the UK’s largest
scheduled coach operator, offering more
than 200 services every weekday to and
from Heathrow from 154 pick-up points.
Coaches call at all Heathrow terminals
and have air-conditioning, leather
reclining seats and wifi. Oneway fares
start from £6. Many Heathrow services
go directly to the terminals, while others
from around the UK involve a change at
Victoria Coach Station before onward
travel to Heathrow. BT
63
Transport for London,
the transport licensing
body, has chosen not to
renew Uber’s operating
licence in London – but
Uber’s 40,000 London
drivers continue to
operate while the case
is contested in further
court appeals
JANUARY 2018
TRIED & TESTED AIRPORT LOUNGES
American Express
Centurion lounge
H O N G KON G
I NT ERN AT IONA L
B A C K G R O U N D Unveiled in September,
the 740 sqm Centurion lounge was
the first to open outside of the US
(additional locations include Miami,
San Francisco, Seattle, Houston and
Dallas). It’s near Gate 61 in Terminal 1.
The bright, open reception stands behind
sliding glass doors, in front of a “living
wall” of foliage. Amex platinum card and
Centurion members get free access for
themselves and up to two guests. One-day
passes for additional guests cost US$50.
W H A T ’ S I T L I K E ? To reach the main
64
part of the lounge, guests walk down
an open corridor with views over the
concourse. On the way is a reading and
meeting room containing a long table,
TV and computer bar, as well as a private
phone room.
The central part of the lounge features
restaurant seating, a staffed bar and a
buffet of local and international dishes.
The breakfast menu, available until 11am,
features French toast with maple syrup
and mixed berry compote, and assorted
dim sum. Lunch and dinner options include
gnocchi with tomato sauce or pan-fried
sole fillet with caper cream sauce. A free
bar serves signature cocktails inspired by
the surrounding region, and there’s a good
wine selection chosen by expert Anthony
Giglio of US-based Food & Wine magazine.
There is one unisex shower cubicle
with L’Occitane amenities. A more private
area is exclusively available for Centurion
members and their guests. This includes
more seating options and staff to help with
any travel or card service requests. The
section also features an à la carte menu
created by chef Lau Yiu Fai of the Michelinstarred Yan Toh Heen restaurant at the
Intercontinental Hong Kong. Cantonese
dishes include spring rolls with kimchi and
pork, prawns with black truffle, and baked
egg tartlets with bird’s nest.
Emirates lounge
LO N D ON H E AT HR OW
T ER MIN AL 3
B A C K G R O U N D The Emirates’ lounge
in Terminal 3 was last renovated
and expanded in October 2015 and
accommodates 400 guests.
F A C I L I T I E S Up a spiral staircase,
the lounge is a vast, U-shaped space
comprising numerous living areas furnished
with potted plants, posh artwork and
glossy coffee tables. Armchairs upholstered
in caramel and grey leather line the space,
offering passengers the option to work in
privacy, watch the news or recline facing
the runway.
Passengers can board the aircraft
directly from the lounge. There are plug
sockets at every armchair, and there is a
business centre near the boarding door
with four Lenovo computers. There are
JANUARY 2018
Veuve Clicquot bubbly is
free-flowing but there are also
reds and whites including
two buttery Burgundies
men’s and women’s shower facilities
where towels, dental kits and toiletries
are provided.
The food and drinks offering is
impressive, with a dedicated dining area
at the back of the lounge and well-stocked
The private Centurion area
features an à la carte menu
created by chef Lau Yiu Fai
of Michelin-starred Yan Toh
Heen restaurant
V E R D I C T The menu was a highlight,
while the open design and colour scheme
create a stylish place to relax. The lounge
is a great perk for Amex platinum and
Centurion members. Tamsin Cocks
bars at intervals throughout. Veuve
Clicquot bubbly is free-flowing, but there
are also red and white wines. When I
was there, these included two buttery
Burgundies, a Mosel Riesling, a bighitter of a Bordeaux red from 2006, and
a younger Spanish Priorat with strong
red berry flavours. There is also a good
selection of quality spirits next to a coffee
maker and a wide variety of teas.
The back wall of the canteen is reserved
for hot dishes such as braised lamb,
roasted peppers, fish pie and salmon
teriyaki. Juices include kale, spinach
and apple; tomato; and cloudy apple.
A free-standing station is dedicated to
cold dishes, including pulled duck confit,
grilled tuna salad, caramelised goat’s
cheese and beetroot horseradish salad.
There is also a dessert station with a
broad cheese selection, pavlova and
rhubarb crumble.
V E R D I C T A well-equipped lounge with
outstanding food and drink, and plenty of
secluded spots to work or relax. The facility
to board directly from the lounge is also a
huge plus. Marisa Cannon
T R I E D & T E S T E D LO N D O N R E S TAU R A N T S
Jean-Georges at
the Connaught
THREE
HOTEL
COCKTAILS
Ella Canta
◆ FLEMING SWEEP
Vong restaurant (1995-2002) was Jean-Georges
Vongerichten’s last major foray in London. This
time, the Connaught hotel offers a very different
setting for the French-born, US resident chef’s
work – a relaxed, yet high-end all-day dining
room in an attractive light-filled space.
Vongerichten is best-known for fusing
classic French techniques with Asian flavours.
The crab crostini with lemon aioli and dill
was generous with a subtle chilli kick, while
the Cornish Dover sole was served with
plump padron peppers and a frothy Sriracha
sauce. The black truffle and Fontina pizza
had truffle shaved generously across rich
cheese that pulled away in ribbons. A truffled
cheeseburger came with melted Somerset
Brie, black truffle mayonnaise and yuzu
pickles, with none of those strong flavours
overpowering the others. For dessert, the
chocolate caramel peanuts was like a fancy
version of a deconstructed Snickers bar.
VERDICT Ingenious flavour combinations, a
luxurious setting and warm, informed service
make this a great spot for impressing clients
or marking a special occasion. Michelle Harbi
Tanqueray No 10,
Cocchi Americano,
elderflower,
sour dry hop,
champagne
Gong bar,
Shangri-La at the
Shard
◆ BLACK DIAMOND
Woodford Reserve,
Mr Black’s cold
press coffee
liqueur, Campari,
salted Lapsang
Souchong syrup,
Haeckel’s Black
Diamond incense
American Bar,
the Savoy
The Intercontinental London Park Lane’s latest
fine-dining restaurant is run by Martha Ortiz,
best-known for her restaurant Dulce Patria
in Mexico City. The understated design, by
David Collins Studio, makes the most of a long,
unprepossessing space with its entrance on the
corner of Park Lane and Piccadilly.
The à la carte menu is short – with about
eight starters and nine main courses. Appetisers
include a velvety black bean soup with pork
skin, foie gras and mezcal, as well as pickled
salmon tostada. Mains range from black cod
with potato and chilli – the fish moist and tasty,
served with a fresh cactus salad – to delicious
Michoacan-style fatty pork carnitas and salsa.
Churros, for dessert, didn’t quite have the
wow of the rest of the food, although the
caramels and chocolates to accompany coffee
were delicious. The wine list has a strong Latin
American focus, while the service is friendly
and knowledgeable.
VERDICT Excellent – from the intriguing interior
design to the choice of drinks and the newlyimagined Mexican food. Tom Otley
◆ MMM HOP
HOURS
PRICE
CONTACT
7am-11am; 12pm- Starters £10-£25; Carlos Place;
2pm; afternoon
mains £15-£45;
+44 (0)20
tea 2.30pm/
wines from £39
7107 8861;
4.30pm;
by the bottle the-connaught.
6.30pm-11pm
co.uk
Fords gin from
London’s Thames
Distillers, tree
sap cordial, bitter
hibiscus and fizz
Dandelyan, the
Mondrian London
HOURS
PRICE
CONTACT
11.30am-1am Mon- Starters £9-£13; One Hamilton Place,
Wed; 11.30am-3pm mains £18-£37;
Park Lane; +44
Thurs-Sat; 11.30am- wines from £35 (0)20 7318 8715;
6pm Sun
by the bottle
ellacanta.com
JANUARY 2018
65
TRIED & TESTED LONDON HOTELS
The Lalit London
W H A T ’ S I T L I K E ? Open since February,
the Indian group’s first European hotel is a
conversion of the 19th-century St Olave’s
grammar school, about a five-minute walk
from London Bridge station. Offering quiet
respite in a hectic area, it’s set back from
the road and is almost country-house
like with its red-brick exterior. The £50
million renovation is a triumph, introducing
plenty of Indian decoration that doesn't
seem incongruous.
F A C I L I T I E S The 70 rooms range from
16 sqm Cosy Classroom up to the 120 sqm
Legacy suite. All have hand-embroidered
silk bed headboards and heated marble
floors in the bathroom. Baluchi restaurant
is in the former Assembly Hall and
features Hyderabadi
chandeliers.
66
V E R D I C T Handy for
the City of London,
with friendly service,
great style and
a good-looking
restaurant.
Tom Otley
The Hari
W H A T ’ S I T L I K E ? A new name for a hotel
that has been through several incarnations
and now is a member of Preferred Hotel
and Resorts’ Lifestyle Collection. Glassfronted, it normally has a smart doorman on
duty and bikes lined up for guests’ use. It
has an intimate, almost nightclub feel, and
features eclectic furniture and art by Mario
Testino and Tracey Emin. Located in the
centre of Belgravia but away from its main
roads, on the corner of Chesham Place and
Pont Street, it’s between Knightsbridge
and Sloane Square stations, and about five
minutes’ walk from Hyde Park.
F A C I L I T I E S There are 85 rooms starting
from 23 sqm, plus 14 suites. My second-
JANUARY 2018
BEST FOR…
B E S T F O R … Design fans who love
seeing a modern take on
India coupled with the
very English architecture.
The initial welcome,
tastefully refurbished
rooms and exemplary
service.
DON’T MISS…
Dinner in the stunning
Baluchi restaurant.
PRICE
Internet rates for a
flexible midweek stay
in December started
from £340 for a Cosy
Classroom room.
CONTACT
181 Tooley Street;
+44 (0)20 3765 0000;
thelalit.com/the-lalitlondon
The Westbury
W H A T ’ S I T L I K E ? The Westbury has
recently rebranded itself as the fourth
member of the Luxury Collection of
independent hotels, and is nearing the end
of a comprehensive refurbishment of its
rooms by Alex Kravetz Design. Doormen in
top hats welcome guests into a marblefloored, pillared lobby. I was struck by the
number of employees on duty.
F A C I L I T I E S There are 225 rooms
(starting from 24 sqm) including 64 suites.
All feature a workdesk, minibar, free wifi for
Starwood SPG members when booking
direct, and Handy smartphones for free
local and international calls. The best
of the restaurants, Alyn Williams at the
Westbury, holds a Michelin star.
D O N ’ T M I S S … The restaurants.
P R I C E Internet rates for a
flexible midweek stay in
December started from
£293 for a Signature
room. CONTACT
37 Conduit Street;
+44 (0)20 7629 7755;
westburymayfair.com
V E R D I C T Excellent
service in all areas of
the hotel, and a good
location for anyone
wanting to be close to
London’s Mayfair or
Oxford Circus. Mark
Caswell
floor Studio King Suite (44 sqm) featured
wood panelling, good blackout blinds and
soundproofing, a Nespresso machine, free
and fast wifi, and a Handy phone for free
calls and data. Italian restaurant Il Pampero
is a well-designed space with a central bar
and plenty of booths. Upstairs, the Snug
bar offers afternoon tea and late-night
drinks. Behind it is the Garden Terrace
with lots of greenery and a retractable roof.
There’s a meeting room for 24 people, and
a small gym.
V E R D I C T Many
hotels in this area are
corporate or have a
mannered, “townhouse”
feel – the Hari is very
different, and all the
better for it, with good
staff and amenities.
Tom Otley
B E S T F O R … Boutique hotel lovers
seeking a quiet location.
D O N ’ T M I S S … The leafy Garden Terrace
for a cheeky cigar.
P R I C E Internet rates for a
flexible midweek stay
in December started
from £229 for a King
Superior room. C O N T A C T 20 Chesham Place;
+44 (0)20 7858 0100;
thehari.com,
preferredhotels.com
While at Raffles,
why not visit Dubai?
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