News: Alipay arrives at London Heathrow

News: Alipay arrives at London Heathrow

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A new payment method is being introduced at London Heathrow Airport which will see a cardless and cashless process for passengers.

Plaza Premium Lounges is one of the first outlets at Heathrow to launch the payment method, known as Alipay, across all the terminals it operates in.

Alipay is a popular, eWallet payment system based in China which provides a secure way to shop and store money and all transactions are carried out safely through the Alipay website, either by searching for the outlet name or by scanning a QR code via a mobile phone, tablet or other technical devices.

The payment method is already popular within the travel industry with many airlines and airports across the world already accepting the electronic payment process such as Aeroflot, Vanilla Air and Emirates. 

Amin Amin, general manager of the United Kingdom arm of Plaza Premium Group, said: “Alipay is already a successful and well-known brand across East Asia and we’re proud to be able to bring the concept to Europe and the UK, but more importantly be the first brand to bring it to
London Heathrow Airport through our lounges, proving that once again Plaza Premium Group has a strong desire to do be one step ahead of our competitors which in turn gives a better customer experience.

“Alipay is a slick, easy and convenient way of paying in an ever-growing technology led age that is becoming ever-less reliant on cash and card payments and means that passengers that use our services won’t find the need to ensure that they carry various kinds of currency for the
destinations that they will visit.”

Payment methods that work in association with Alipay include Visa, Mastercard and American Express and it was launched in China in 2004 and Zapper is the UK company that facilitates Alipay.

Stephen Glenfield, digital manager at Heathrow, said: “We are constantly developing technology to adapt to the diverse needs of our passengers.

“We are delighted that Plaza Premium have become the first independent UK lounge to embrace Alipay, ensuring East Asian customers have a seamless and improved experience every time they travel through Heathrow.”

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November 1, 2017 at 11:23AM

When in San Francisco

When in San Francisco

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When in San Francisco, I don’t just care about tech the week that the iPhone XXL (pronounced “thirty”) comes out. I constantly discuss what Elon said; want what Bezos wants; wait to hear if Sergey agrees; and wonder what Zuck saw.

When in San Francisco, I carry half of my wardrobe around in a magically extending tote bag, pulling out and tucking away scarves and sweaters as I traverse neighborhoods. I buy many pairs of expensive jeans and yoga pants, and exclusively wear flats. I eschew irons of both types—hair and clothing.

When in San Francisco, I visit the Valley to watch unicorns prance with angels. They talk merrily about rounds and rounds of seeds.

When in San Francisco, I take the bus without irony, complaint, or comment. On the morning express, we sit in silence and I listen to cable cars chiming cheerily alongside us. I vaguely consider buying a car, but decide to wait for the ultimate disruption that renders cars obsolete. Someone out here is working on a better idea than the Segway, surely.

When in San Francisco, I embrace exercise as my primary form of socialization. Yes, let’s go on that hike, try aerial yoga, take a run along that trail, and bicycle soulfully. There’s usually a glass of wine in it for me afterward, which I promptly coat with sweaty fingerprints. We discuss the vintage. Because, when in San Francisco, I still don’t know what I’m talking about, but I talk a lot about wine.

When in San Francisco, my ultra-high rent includes such amenities as wall-to-wall carpeting, many thousands of stairs, a closet that eats up half the room, and why, yes, a bay window for charm.

When in San Francisco, I think about fog. Where does it come from? How dense is it? Will it show up today? Which neighborhoods does it like to hang out in most? Can I stop it from messing up my hair? In San Francisco, fog is essentially my boyfriend.

When in San Francisco, on a day when the horizon is haunted not by silky gray fog but by fiery gray smoke, I debate whether to wear a vaguely embarrassing white surgical mask. I give in. Then I give and give again.

When in San Francisco, I wander into bars or coffee shops or events and discover that there are more men present than women. I regret my wardrobe decisions.

When in San Francisco, I have opinions on nature. I take in the view. And talk about the light. I watch the sunset. And remark upon the colors. I hike through tall trees. And know what kind of trees they are. (O.K., not so much on the tree types. Let’s not go crazy here.)

When in San Francisco, a ten-minute stroll may or may not be rudely interrupted by a mountain that Google Maps neglected to mention. Such streets are referred to as “hilly,” which actually means “better call an Uber.”

When in San Francisco, I wake up early. It’s when the Soylent tastes best and I’m at my most innovative. A foghorn bleats out a productive backbeat, my own giant metronome. From what I’ve read, the early bird gets the higher valuation.

When in San Francisco, I step, blinking, out onto the street at 1:50 A.M. and wait a moment, in the hopes that the bartenders will rush out after me, having reconsidered the appropriate hour for last call. After five minutes, I order a Lyft, eat an ill-advised bacon-wrapped hot dog, and contemplate the most productive use of the next two hours and five minutes.

When in New York City, San Francisco ceases to exist. It’s the fever dream at the end of a fifteen-and-a-half-hour workday. It’s the sigh as I take off my heels. It’s some hazy hint of sweetness, like a cherry nestled in ice at the bottom of my cocktail glass.

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November 1, 2017 at 11:16AM

Last Chance to Earn up to 70k SkyMiles With These Delta Card Offers

Last Chance to Earn up to 70k SkyMiles With These Delta Card Offers

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Since late September, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and their business counterparts have been offering elevated sign-up bonuses. You now only have a week left to sign up and earn the increased bonuses; they’ll expire on Wednesday, November 8.

As a reminder, the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express are both currently offering 50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of membership and an additional 10,000 miles (for a total of 60,000) after you spend another $1,000 in the first six months. With both cards, you can also earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in your first three months of membership. Based on TPG’s valuations, 60,000 Delta SkyMiles are worth $720.

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The main benefits of the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex cards are 2x miles on Delta purchases, priority boarding, a free checked bag on Delta flights and 20% off in-flight purchases. Both cards have a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees.

The more premium Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express currently have elevated offers of 70,000 SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after you spend $3,000 in the first three months ($4,000 in the first three months on the business card). Based on TPG’s valuations, 70,000 SkyMiles are worth $840. The last time we saw this increased bonus, it required spending $4,000 in the first four months on the personal card and $5,000 on the business card, so the minimum spending requirement is $1,000 lower this time around. Additionally, you’ll earn a $100 statement credit when you make a Delta purchase in the first three months.

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Both versions of the Platinum card earn 2x miles on Delta purchases, priority boarding and the other perks available on the Gold Delta Amex cards. In addition, the Platinum Delta cards offer a companion certificate good for a round-trip domestic economy ticket each year after card renewal. Plus, you can earn MQMs toward Delta elite status, both from the sign-up bonus and by meeting the spending thresholds of $25,000 (for 10,000 more MQMs and 10,000 bonus redeemable miles) and $50,000 (for another 10,000 of each) in a calendar year. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Amex have annual fees of $195 and no foreign transaction fees.

Finally, note that in addition to offering all the perks of the personal versions of the cards, the two Delta business Amex cards get you access to 5% discounts with select vendors through Amex OPEN Savings and the Spender Manager mobile app for keeping track of business expenses. Additionally, you can add employee cards at no additional cost.

Bottom Line

Now’s a great time to sign up for any of these Delta Amex cards — especially the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex and its business version, since the spending requirement is lower than it was last time we saw these elevated bonuses. If you could use the perks like priority boarding as well as the extra SkyMiles, make sure to sign up by November 8.

Will you be signing up for any of these cards before the elevated offers expire on November 8?

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November 1, 2017 at 11:03AM

News: Perera to lead Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka

News: Perera to lead Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka

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Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka, has appointed Moshi Perera to the role of general manager.

Set to join the team this month, Perera will be responsible for the management of the 300-room property, including twenty-one exclusive suites, and will oversee all operations and teams within the hotel.

Perera will continue to establish Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa as one of the leading luxury hotels in the country, following its opening in June 2016.

He has over twenty years’ experience in the hospitality industry and has worked across the globe from London to the UAE for some of the world’s leading hospitality brands. 

Perera joins the Shangri-La brand for the first time having most recently worked as cluster general manager for Fairmont, The Norfolk & Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Kenya, which saw him develop the brand in East Africa and lead operational activities.

Prior to this, Perera was general manager at a range of Hyatt Regency Hotels in Kazakhstan, Zurich and Egypt.

Perera enthused: “I am delighted to be working with the team here at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa.

“It’s certainly an exciting time to be in Sri Lanka with the dramatic rise in tourism the country has seen over the past few year and I’m proud to be a part of this key change.

“I’m looking forward to showcasing a new level of service to guests and to making their experience of Hambantota even more memorable.”

Set beside the Indian Ocean and framed by swaying king coconut trees, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Golf Resort & Spa is located on Sri Lanka’s ancient Spice Route, along the island’s lush, unspoiled Southern coastline.

With 145 acres of tropical gardens, there is ample space at this striking property for guests to unwind within the spectacular surroundings, and make the most of the impressive facilities.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:50AM

News: La Manga Club celebrates summer of plenty

News: La Manga Club celebrates summer of plenty

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An irresistible combination of sport, spa and sunbathing helped contribute to an action-packed summer of plenty for holidaymakers from all over Europe at Spain’s famous La Manga Club this year.

Couples and families from no fewer than 55 different countries headed to the exclusive holiday, sports and leisure destination resort in Murcia, south-east Spain, during the school summer holidays to take full advantage of the award-winning facilities available.

Figures announced by the resort for July and August revealed that nearly 2,000 families stayed at La Manga Club during the busiest period of the year, with some 5,000 children taking part in the array of junior camps on offer.

Over the same period, golfers rented out 4,200 golf buggies while playing La Manga Club’s three golf courses and hit a staggering 237,500 golf balls on the driving range.

Things were just as busy on the tennis front, with the resort’s expert team of coaches giving 1,400 individual lessons to people aged from three to 85, while the five-star Spa La Manga Club performed nearly 1,500 spa treatments.

More Information

World Golf Awards recently revealed that the five-star La Manga Club resort, an unrivalled sports and leisure paradise in south-east Spain, will host its Gala Ceremony 2017 at the end of this year.

Find out more about the event here.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:50AM

News: World Ski Awards signs LEITNER as platinum partner

News: World Ski Awards signs LEITNER as platinum partner

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World Ski Awards signs LEITNER as platinum partner

The premier annual forum for celebrating new standards of ski tourism excellence, sharing principles of best practice, and for unrivalled peer-to-peer networking has re-signed LEITNER ropeways – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of ropeway systems – as a platinum partner for its fifth annual World Ski Awards.

This year, the event is being staged over the weekend of November 17th-19th at the five star A-ROSA Kitzbühel which sits nestled among the Alps and looks out on the Hahnenkamm and the Streif, two legendary icons of the renowned winter sports town.

As part of the celebrations, the industry leading showcase will partner with LEITNER ropeways for the fourth consecutive year.

The ropeway manufacturer is realising a modern eight seater chairlift in Kitzbühel called Jufen – its 15th installation in the famous skiing destination – to whisk World Ski Awards delegates to the legendary resort’s highest peaks.

The new chairlift will be equipped with the modern LEITNER Premium Chairs with real leather padding and – for the first time worldwide – the new station building created by the Italian car designer Pininfarina.

The project will again be a perfect combination of elegant design, comfort and highest technology.

Sion Rapson, World Ski Awards managing director, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with LEITNER ropeways who share our pursuit of excellence.

“The presence of the LEITNER Jufen chairlift at the fifth annual World Ski Awards is a great demonstration of our unique partnership and the role we play in bringing the ski industry together for amazing shared experiences.”

The World Ski Awards programme has categories for the Best Ski Resort, Best Ski Hotel, Best Ski Boutique Hotel and Best Ski Chalet for the world’s premier ski tourism nations.

The individual country level winner with the most overall votes will not only win the national award but also the world level award in the respective category.

“LEITNER ropeways has been a partner of World Ski Awards since 2014, which has provided an excellent opportunity for the company to highlight its leading role in international ski tourism.

“An intensive exchange of ideas with innovative and successful ski tourism companies is essential for us,” said Martin Leitner, vice president of the LEITNER Group.

Take a look at the full list of finalists for the 2017 World Ski Awards here.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:50AM

News: Hawkstone Hall set to debut as luxurious hotel in 2018

News: Hawkstone Hall set to debut as luxurious hotel in 2018

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Hawkstone Hall, a grade I listed 18th century mansion, set within 88 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, has been purchased by the Distinctly Hospitable Group, making them the fourth owner in the property’s 550 year history.

A sympathetic refurbishment is being planned to restore the spectacular Georgian property to its former magnificent splendour.

The property was originally built as a stately family home, before being in the care of Catholic missionaries until June this year. 

By summer 2018, following the reinstatement of numerous original features, the 43,400 sq ft building will stand proudly as one of the most opulent hotels and exclusive wedding venues in the UK.

The imposing property and expansive grounds will also offer the ideal backdrop for extravagant corporate events, music festivals, yoga and fitness retreats and memorable celebrations.

A vast entertainment space, combined with 88 acres and copious accommodation options, mean the remarkable retreat is set to rival the very best of the UK’s event venues. 

Regardless of the occasion, guests will be able to enjoy a multitude of communal spaces including an impressive main hall, magical ballroom, refectory and the Gold Room to name a few.

The 18th century retreat stands handsomely amongst acres of manicured lawns, offering grade I listed beauty coupled with classic countryside charm. 

The building’s far-reaching gardens are perfect for exploring Shropshire’s quintessentially British countryside. 

Within its grounds, the estate boasts a rose garden, croquet lawn, apple orchard, ancient cemetery, forested areas, over half a mile of footpaths and a wonderfully romantic ‘secret garden’.

Furthermore, following the discovery of a water supply in the grounds, the original 18th century lily pond, fishing pond and waterfall will finally be brought back to life allowing the gardens to flourish once more.

In the main hall, there are a total of 12 suites – including the extravagant Honeymoon Suite – all of which will be named after Jane Austen characters. 

Adjacent to the main building, a newer wing built in the 1960s will undergo complete renovations to encompass a further 28 bedrooms. 

In each room, colour tones will mirror that of the main hall featuring soft hues of duck-egg blue and calamine pinks. 

Opulent furnishings and luxurious, deep mattresses will add a lavish touch to the bedroom interiors.

Hannah Whiting, group development director, said: “Since completing on Hawkstone Hall we are delighted with the progress we have made in restoring one of only two grade I listed buildings in Shropshire.

“The gardens have proven to be a major project over the summer and we have thoroughly enjoyed uncovering some of the lost and hidden features, numerous pathways and a secret garden.”

The decorated history of the property certainly plays a huge part in its charm. 

Hawkstone Hall was established by Richard Hill of Hawkstone (1655–1727), also known as ‘The Great Hill’, circa 1707.

It became the seat of the Hill family for more than 300 years. 

Since then, the house itself has been owned by Liberal Politician and Baron, George Whiteley, before the being bought by the Roman Catholic Redemptorist Order.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:29AM

News: WTM 2017: Qatar Tourism Authority set to showcase developing offering

News: WTM 2017: Qatar Tourism Authority set to showcase developing offering

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Qatar Tourism Authority is returning to London to exhibit at World Travel Market 2017, one of the leading events in the global travel trade calendar.

The QTA stand will showcase a strong delegation of leading private sector partners including hotels, destination management companies and other hospitality suppliers, providing a comprehensive one-stop welcoming service to the international travel trade.

QTA’s presence at WTM comes at a significant time in the country’s tourism development.

In the past months, Qatar has taken huge strides in implementing visa policies to facilitate visitor access to the country, resulting in Qatar now qualifying as the most open country in the region.

It is now easier than ever before for visitors from nearly half of the world’s countries to discover the destination’s renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.

In August 2017, Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, Qatar Tourism Authority, and Qatar Airways announced that nationals of 80 countries are now eligible for visa-free entry, without requiring any prior applications or fee payments.

A recent addition also includes the Electronic Travel Authorisation System, available to visitors of all nationalities who hold valid residence permits or visas from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Schengen countries, or the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

QTA attaches strong importance to the UK, which remains Qatar’s largest European source market.

QTA’s effort in this market, including close partnerships with the UK travel trade, has led to travellers discovering Qatar’s merits as a leisure tourism destination.

Perfectly located geographically, Qatar is also the ideal destination to visit as part of a stopover for travellers before connecting to their final destination.

Visitors can travel to Qatar as a standalone trip or as part of a stopover itinerary, on-board the national carrier, Qatar Airways, which connects Doha to more than 150 destinations across six continents.

Qatar welcomed 1.46 million visitors in the first half of 2017, representing a net growth of one per cent compared to the same period in 2016.

Further breakdown by visa type shows a 23 per cent increase in global leisure visitors, demonstrating the increasingly diverse leisure options for tourists seeking family-friendly entertainment and authentic hospitality.

This growth signals that QTA’s strategy to diversify its source markets and enhance its visitor experience is on track.

Qatar also witnessed a 39 per cent increase in stopover visitors thanks to the introduction of a free 96-hour transit visa, combined with the success of the +Qatar campaign, which offered stopover passengers a free night’s stay in a five- or four-star hotel throughout the summer.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:29AM

News: Hilton and Transcorp Hotels extend Abuja partnership

News: Hilton and Transcorp Hotels extend Abuja partnership

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Hilton and Transcorp Hotels, a subsidiary of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, have announced the signing of a 20-year extension to the current agreement to manage the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

The agreement will see Hilton manage the property until 2037.

The hotel, which is a national landmark for having hosted countless heads of state and global events like the World Economic Forum on Africa, has been operated by Hilton since its opening in 1987.

Speaking at a signing ceremony in Washington DC, Chris Nassetta, Hilton president, said: “We have had an incredible relationship with the Transcorp team and we are happy to announce that we will continue to grow that relationship throughout the next 20 years.

“With our mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, I am delighted we will be able to continue welcoming guests to this hotel until at least 2037.”

The award-winning 667-room hotel – one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa – is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation which will transform the property.

The extensive refurbishment will continue the Transcorp Hotels legacy as the leading provider of hospitality in Nigeria.

Tony Elumelu, chairman of Transcorp, the largest listed conglomerate on the Nigerian stock exchange and owners of hospitality subsidiary Transcorp Hotels, confirmed: “We are delighted to continue our long-standing owner-operator relationship with Hilton.

“Our investment in the renovation reflects our commitment to shaping Nigeria into a leading hospitality centre in the West Africa region and with Hilton as our operating partners, we are confident that we will continue to lead in the sector.”

Hilton and Transcorp Hotels have two additional properties in the development pipeline.

Furthermore, Hilton expects to open six hotels in the next six months across Africa, and open properties in 15 countries where it currently does not operate in the next three years.

Hilton, which has more than 5,000 hotels globally, has had a continuous presence in Africa for more than 50 years, expects to more than double its current presence across the continent in the next five years.

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November 1, 2017 at 10:29AM

News: Hong Kong International Airport signs with Amadeus for iCUSS deployment

News: Hong Kong International Airport signs with Amadeus for iCUSS deployment

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Hong Kong International Airport signs with Amadeus for iCUSS deployment

Remember the days when you could only check-in to your flight at the airport and at the few desks of the airline you were flying with?

The long queues are what most travellers remember and what airport staff dread.

Travellers today have numerous ways to check-in – on a computer or mobile, at a kiosk or desk, or outside of the airport.

However, for the airport, this means many different types of systems and expensive infrastructure to do the exact same thing.

It’s because of this, Hong Kong International Airport and Amadeus have announced an agreement to deploy the world’s first hot-swappable battery powered movable check-in kiosks, called iCUSS, with both a self-service and full-service mode, reinventing the entire check-in experience.

With 42.2 million departing passengers in the first seven months of 2017, Hong Kong International Airport’s check-in process needs to be as efficient, flexible and cost-effective as possible.

The versatile cloud-based mobile kiosks are powered by Amadeus’ common use technology and can be rapidly deployed and relocated for use by the traveller to check-in themselves or by the airport staff to provide full-service operations.

The airport can now say goodbye to different systems and fixed locations, meaning greater freedom and flexibility to serve passengers throughout their journey to and around the airport.

Vivian Cheung, deputy director of airport operations, Airport Authority Hong Kong, said: “With an increasing number of passengers and infrastructure constraints at the airport, we now need a more sustainable way to check-in passengers faster and from anywhere.

“We also wanted to give the option to travellers to check-in at their convenience.”
Cheung added: “We choose to partner with Amadeus as we share the same vision to reinvent the traditional way travellers check-in.

“We look forward to working with Amadeus to significantly reduce passenger process times, save airlines resources, and free up space in the terminal – and together we hope to extend this to other airports and set a new check-in standard in the airport industry.”

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November 1, 2017 at 10:10AM