Korean Air May Raise Refund Fees for Premium Class Tickets

Korean Air May Raise Refund Fees for Premium Class Tickets

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“Idiot” fans are why we can’t have nice things: Following last week’s debacle with rowdy celebrity fans who delayed an entire international flight with their disruptive behavior, Korean Air has announced that the airline will increase refund fees for premium cabin tickets beginning Jan. 1, 2019, from around $27 USD to $177 USD.

Crazed fans swarming celebrities have increasingly become an issue in Asian airports, according to Korean news outlet Chosun Ilbo, and Incheon International Airport officials have particularly been at a loss to address various problems with these “sasaeng” fans, whose obsessions can border on delusional, who go so far as to purchase full-fare first-class tickets in order to get through security checkpoints and follow their cult idols around the airport.

Thus far, the airline’s website doesn’t reflect the fee increase, which was reported by Singapore’s Straits Times, and TPG had not heard back from Korean Air as of the time of publication.


Korean Air may raise prices for premium class refunds, although the website does not yet reflect the fare hike.

Featured photo by Shutterstock. The “finger-heart” hand gesture is a popular South Korean way to flash a “love” symbol in photos.

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December 18, 2018 at 07:16PM

Which Miles I Redeemed for Travel To and In Australia

Which Miles I Redeemed for Travel To and In Australia

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I spent two November weeks in the land of kangaroos, Vegemite and Hugh Jackman. Yup, my long-time dream of visiting Australia has become true!

How I Covered My Airfare TO Australia

What prompted this trip, as it happens frequently, was an airfare sale back in the summer. Many U.S. cities offered flights to the Land Down Under in the $800s, and I booked my round-trip journey from Salt Lake City to Sydney for $836.

Normally, these flights go for double the price, or more, so I felt good about paying for the flight outright with my Platinum Card from American Express and earning 5X points on the purchase.

However, domestic flights within Australia are a whole other beast, so here’s how I covered my three internal flights.

How I Covered My Airfare IN Australia

My plan was to visit three cities and their nearby areas: Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns. I wanted to finish my trip by snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, so I decided to move in that order.

Sydney to Melbourne

After spending several days in and around Sydney, I flew south to Melbourne. The short hop is just one and a half hours long, and I used British Airways Executive Club’s favorable redemption rates on short-distance travel. Although I could have flown one of the low-cost airlines, Tigerair Australia or Jetstar Airways, I wanted to fly a more reliable airline without being nickel-and-dimed for in-flight meals and luggage.

British Airways partners with Qantas Airways, the largest Australian Airline, so I booked a ticket for just 4,500 Avios + $13.30. In comparison, the same one-way ticket cost slightly more than $100, which I saved.

Melbourne to Cairns

I did the same thing on this leg as well. The 1,400-mile, three-hour Qantas flight up north set me back 10,000 Avios + $16.87—a small price to pay for the opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef on the planet, which is something I’ve wanted to see since “Finding Nemo” hit the screens.

Again, this flight would’ve cost me around $200 otherwise, and I decided to use the cash to pay for a boat excursion to the reef instead.

Cairns to Sydney

Because I initially booked my round-trip journey to Sydney, I had to go back there to catch my return home.

This flight would’ve set me back another 10,000 Avios plus tax on Qantas, but the cash cost was about $160 on Virgin Australia, a SkyTeam partner. Instead of redeeming miles and earning nothing back, I booked the flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards points on my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve Card at a rate of 1.5 cents per point via the travel portal.

When it was all said and done, I redeemed 10,672 UR points—almost the same number of points I was going to redeem via British Airways, except I will have earned Delta Air Lines miles on my flight by crediting it to the SkyMiles program. Flights booked via Chase portal are treated as revenue flights, and you can earn miles on your redemption to offset the cost even further. This is why collecting flexible points is so important—you have plenty of options when redeeming them for the best value.

Related: Make Sure to Check Cash Fare Prices Before You Book with Miles

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, I was able to save about $430 on my intra-Australia flights—half of what I paid to get there from the United States. Everything is relative, and while spending $836 on my flights to Australia doesn’t seem high, spending $430 on flights in Australia does.

Have you been to Australia? How did you pay for your internal flights?

 

[Image: Wikimedia/Phil Whitehouse]

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December 18, 2018 at 07:09PM

Airlines Can’t Turn You Away This Time: Popeye’s ‘Emotional Support Chicken’ Comes to Philly

Airlines Can’t Turn You Away This Time: Popeye’s ‘Emotional Support Chicken’ Comes to Philly

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As passengers continue to test the limits of what qualifies as an emotional support animal (ESA) aboard a plane, Popeyes — a Louisiana based fast-casual fried chicken eatery — has offered a loophole that’s a surefire way to get around those new regulations and policies. Well, sort of.

Introducing the ‘Emotional Support Chicken.’ Exclusive to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Popeye’s newest limited-time holiday promotion is offering customers a combo meal of three chicken tenders, fries and a biscuit for $8.49 all in a chicken-shaped paper box, that reads — you guessed it — emotional support chicken. 

emotional support chicken | Popeyes
emotional support chicken | Popeyes
The promotion is launching Tuesday, Dec. 18, which so happens to be the same day Delta Air Lines’ flight-ban of ESAs under four months of age officially begins. Intentional? Maybe. But, hey, at least those who had to leave their puppies at home have a three-piece chicken tender combo meal to provide some comfort en route to their holiday destination. 
Delta and other airlines such as American, Spirit, Southwest and more have been cracking down on emotional support animals since the start of 2018, which doesn’t come as a surprise, considering 61% of flight attendants reported onboard emotional support animals have caused some sort of in-flight disturbance in a survey.
As for the promotion, Popeyes sees it as “a gesture designed to bring holiday travelers some needed humor.” Hope Diaz, chief marketing officer of Popeyes, said to Yahoo Finance. “We hope to bring travelers a good laugh and a hot meal to ease the stress of holiday travel.”
Featured image by Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post.

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December 18, 2018 at 06:35PM

noted: The Laundromat Is Hot!

noted: The Laundromat Is Hot!

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A few weeks ago, Jeremy Foster, a photographer, and Marikh Mathias, a model and former contestant on “The Bachelor,” were riding around Salt Lake City, looking for a place to do an Instagram photo shoot.

The mountains were a 10-minute drive away, but it was raining that day. A coffee shop is a reliable backdrop, but Mr. Foster finds them too crowded and overly photographed. Instead, the pair ended up at 4th Street Coin Laundry, where Ms. Mathias sat in an orange plastic chair and stood in high-heels and designer jeans in front of a Speed Queen commercial washing machine.

In their choice of setting, the photographer and model were right on trend. Yes, it seems your corner suds shop has become a strangely coveted location.

For its fall 2018 campaign, Balmain, the French luxury brand, photographed the model Duckie Thot in a laundromat. Madewell recently used a laundromat to shoot a social media video for its jeans. And G-Star RAW took over an old-school laundromat to launch the brand’s G-Star Elwood X25 jeans during New York Fashion Week a few seasons back.

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Luxe suds: Balmain’s advertising campaign.CreditAn Le/Balmain
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The Tide is turning: G-Star Raw’s campaign.CreditTheo Wargo/Getty Images

Hermès went even further last year, when the house known for its five- or even six-figure Kelly and Birkin bags opened its own pop-up laundromat in New York. Hermèsmatic, as the space was called, featured washing machines and laundry carts in signature orange, and a free service to dip-dye scarves (which are … not washable).

Why has a place associated with domestic toil suddenly become chic?

Dawn Nagle, the vice president of marketing for Laundrylux, the distributor of Electrolux commercial machines in North America, said it’s about juxtaposition.

“It’s that contrast between the beautiful and elegant fashion with the everyday task of washing clothes,” Ms. Nagle said. “You have a background of machines, granite, stainless steel, and everything repeats. It really draws your attention to the model and the outfit.”

And of course, laundromats are instantly recognizable, open to all and found everywhere. It’s the rare chore you can’t outsource to your phone, and in cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the laundromat is one of the last democratic zones.

Perhaps that’s why on Instagram the #laundromatshoot has replaced the national park as the influencer backdrop du jour. A visual language has already established itself. There’s the sitting-in-a-laundry-cart pose; the casually-leaning-on-the-dryers; the risky crawl-inside-the-washer; and the hey-it’s-laundry-day-and-all-I-have-left-to-wear-is-my-bra. A group of dancers even went into a “heavy spin cycle” at a laundromat in Miami.

Mr. Foster was drawn to the Salt Lake City laundromat because it had big street-facing windows that let in natural light, a neutral interior and a vintage vibe. “It’s a fun place to be that’s also not crazy-distracting,” he said. “And where do you find ’70s bowling chairs?”

Another reason laundromats may now be modish is that they have become more than just laundromats, at least in a few cities. Places like Spin Laundry Lounge in Portland, Ore., Laundré in San Francisco, Laundry City in Baltimore and Celsious in Brooklyn have been consciously designed as not just places to drop your wash but community gathering spots. They offer amenities like Wi-Fi, food and coffee, attentive customer service, eco-friendly machines and bright, clean environments where if you drop a garment on the floor, you won’t want to rewash it.

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Spin Laundry Lounge in Portland, Ore.CreditNate Watters
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The scene at Laundré in San Francisco.

One of the consequences of creating an inviting laundromat is that it becomes overrun by Instagrammers, said Ariana Roviello, the owner of Laundré.

“There are tons of bloggers that come in that don’t even do laundry,” Ms. Roviello said. “They get a coffee and do a photo shoot in the back. You obviously want the exposure. But it’s a tricky thing. People are there doing laundry, going, ‘Why are all these people here?’ I’m always, like, ‘Please don’t sit in the laundry carts. They’re not made for your weight.’”

Blame this folly on Corinna and Theresa Williams, the owners of Celsious, in Williamsburg. Before their laundromat opened last year in a cheerful, high-ceilinged space with a mezzanine cafe, the sisters posed in a laundry cart in Vogue.

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Corinna Williams (left) and Theresa Williams, the owners of Celsious.CreditRebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

“It’s a cute picture,” Corinna said.

Said Theresa: “Such a mistake. Now everyone is recreating it.”

Like Ms. Roviello, the Williamses opened their laundromat because, as Corinna put it, they “couldn’t fathom how a place where you went to get your clothes clean could be so not clean”; how otherwise demanding urbanites “accept it as the status quo.”

Sitting in the lofted cafe as the machines spun down below, Corinna offered a simpler explanation for why laundromats, the grungy and the upscale, have become a setting for high-style shoots.

“Fashion is laundry,” she said.

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December 18, 2018 at 06:09PM

United Ramps up Regional Jet Stockpile With ExpressJet Purchase

United Ramps up Regional Jet Stockpile With ExpressJet Purchase

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Give anything long enough, and history is apt to repeat itself — even in aviation. ExpressJet, once a subsidiary of Continental Airlines, is coming back home in a roundabout way. After ceasing regional jet operations with Delta Air Lines in 2017, parent company SkyWest is selling ExpressJet to United Airlines joint venture ManaAir, LLC for $70 million in cash.

ExpressJet presently operates a fleet of more than 120 jets: 105 Embraer ERJ-145s, 14 Bombardier CRJ700s, eight CRJ200s and one CRJ100. With Delta out of the mix and its service to American Airlines winding down, the move to United is a logical one.

In past years, ExpressJet operating Delta Connection routes with a fleet of CRJ200 aircraft (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
In past years, ExpressJet operated Delta Connection routes with a fleet of CRJ200 aircraft. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

The company will operate 25 United-owned Embraer 175 aircraft, which “feature a special, 70-seat configuration versus the current 76-seat E175 configuration that’s currently flying.” The transition is slated to begin in Q2 2019, and if things go well the agreement also gives ExpressJet “priority position to add 25 new dual-cabin aircraft with United should those opportunities arise.”

There’s no word just yet on which routes or regions these jets will serve, but it’s safe to say that competition is rising in the space. Beginning Jan. 31, 2019, Delta Air Lines will begin serving short and medium-haul markets with the new Airbus A220 — a narrowbody jet with 3-2 seating that looks, feels and acts like a modern widebody within. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for the next-gen E2 showcased in 2016 to become a reality.

H/T: FlightGlobal

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December 18, 2018 at 06:02PM

Comma Queen: A Grammarian’s Xmas

Comma Queen: A Grammarian’s Xmas

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We sticklers are in fine fettle (cliché!) this holiday season. One guy hates “’Tis the season,” and he’s right: ’tis overused. I get pedantic about the placement of the vocative comma in “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” The song is not a suggestion to “merry gentlemen” to rest but an imperative to gentlemen to “rest merry.” Someone on Twitter admonishes those who claim that the spelling “Xmas” takes the Christ out of Christmas: X is not just a soulless abbreviation (say, for Xanax) or the unknown quantity in an algebraic formula (Let x equal what you will) but the Greek letter chi, which looks like X, which is rendered in English as “Ch,” which is the first letter of the Greek spelling of “Christ” and therefore Christ’s initial—Christ is the X in Xmas. So shut up.

Christmas carols are coming in for more than the usual punishment, in this our second Xmas A.D. (after Donald). Alexandra Petri, a columnist for the Washington Post, compiled a list of no fewer than a hundred Christmas songs, ranked from least to most heinous. Naturally, “The Little Drummer Boy” comes in at No. 100. (Petri has a special prejudice against any song with lyrics that imitate musical instruments: “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”; “ding dong, ding dong.”) Frank Loesser’s duet “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has been banned on some radio stations for its retroactive associations with the #MeToo movement. If you are inclined to defend “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” get in line behind William Shatner.

Carols offer prime examples of what linguists call mondegreens: misheard words. In “Silent Night,” Round John Virgin is the classic lurker at the Nativity. Listen closely to the children as they invoke another beloved character in “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” inviting “O Gumby, O Gumby” to Bethlehem. Christmas carols are always primed for parody. I first heard the lyrics to the one about the Three Wise Men as sung by my wise-ass older brother: “We Three Kings of Orient are / Smoking a Havana cigar.” Years later, following family tradition, my younger sister, the fabulous Baby Dee, wrote her own lyrics to two holiday classics, “Rudolph the Disgruntled Reindeer” and “Frosty the Manic-Depressive Snowman.” Cover the children’s ears—these songs are X-rated, in the irreligious sense of the word.

My abiding holiday gripe is actually a year-round one: the trend among cashiers, when they are ready for the next customer, to call out “Following guest.” I’m not sure which offends me more, “following” or “guest.” “Following” suggests that the customer (note: not “guest”) lacks initiative, like a sheep standing in line to get fleeced. And we like sheep, as Handel says repeatedly in “The Messiah,” but we don’t want to be one. “Guest” is the stores’ way of trying to fool us customers, whether buying cat food or panettone, into thinking we are held in high esteem, when really the cashiers just want to get our money and get us out of there. What was wrong with “Next,” Santa?

My favorite in the Christmas canon is “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” with its hearty chorus of “Love and joy come to you, / And to you your wassail, too.” I never had a clear idea of what a wassail was. Sounds like something you wave when you’re happy, as a dog its tail, and that’s about right: “wassail” is from an Old English expression meaning “be thou well,” uttered while holding aloft a cup of mulled wine (or ale or punch). The word came to refer to the drink itself, and then became a verb: to go a-wassailing is to go from house to house wishing the occupants good health and collecting a little cash on the side, perhaps to spend on . . . wassail. It’s a Christmas carol that doubles as a drinking song. The wassail of my choice this year is a giant bottle of stout bottled in Wisconsin under the label “For Whom.” All in favor of “whom” are invited to step up. Next!

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December 18, 2018 at 05:43PM

Skift Global Forum Recap: How Airlines Can Maximize the Results of Ancillary Merchandising

Skift Global Forum Recap: How Airlines Can Maximize the Results of Ancillary Merchandising

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Business has never looked better for the global aviation industry. Carriers around the world are reporting record profits as more airlines get smarter about marketing and selling “ancillary” products that passengers add to their basic fares. In fact, industry-wide ancillary revenue is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2017 and 2021. But for all their recent success, today’s airline industry sits at a critical crossroads. That’s because the same tactics that are helping carriers increase their ancillary revenue can also have a negative impact on customer satisfaction, potentially impacting an airline’s long-term brand image.

In order to sustain their recent success with ancillaries, airlines need to adopt a more retail-oriented mindset in their offer creation process. This means that simply “unbundling” products and services from airfares will no longer be enough. Instead, carriers will need to embrace the concept of “hyper-relevance,” meaning that they understand and serve customers differently based on their constantly-evolving needs. However, many airlines have been slow to make this link between relevance and offer creation. How can airlines be ‘smarter’ with their offers? And are there new techniques that forward-thinking airlines are using to increase ancillary revenue while remaining focused on customer satisfaction?

These questions were at the heart of a recent panel discussion at the 2018 Skift Global Forum, presented in partnership with the Accenture Amadeus Alliance, entitled “Maximizing the Results of Ancillary Merchandising for Airlines.” The session, which featured executive participants from United Airlines, Amadeus, Seabury Consulting (now part of Accenture,) and Etihad, examined emerging strategies that airlines are using to increase ancillary revenue, along with opportunities to leverage new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence in service of this process.

Participants in the session were quick to emphasize that the airline industry’s ancillary strategy has always been focused, first and foremost, on giving consumers more choices. “At Etihad we’re putting our ability to adapt the customer experience at the heart of our strategy going forward,” confirmed Tristan Thomas, head of corporate strategy, analytics, and innovation for the airline. “In fact, in the next few weeks we’ll launch a new brand campaign with the word ‘choice’ as a tagline…it’s not credible for a customer to not be able to customize their experience on a 16-hour flight. It’s a long time to spend in the air and only receive a ‘one size fits all’ proposition.”

In fact, many airline industry executives believe that ancillary products are helping to drive even higher positive sentiment among passengers. “At United, we’ve found that customers who buy ancillary products have higher customer satisfaction when compared to those who don’t,” said Kajal Narasimha, managing director, merchandising and personalization at United Airlines. “So it’s really important for us to create products and services that resonate with our customers, and to create a buying experience that caters to their different needs.”

Narasimha’s point about different needs was an important one, particularly for panel participants like John Luth, chairman and CEO of Seabury Consulting and Corporate Advisory (part of the Amadeus Accenture Alliance). Luth pointed out that many of today’s most successful airline ancillary merchandising strategies depend on the concept of hyper-relevance, a practice where brands try to meet consumers on their own terms, using insights to deliver buying experiences that dynamically adapt to their changing needs. “It’s not just personalization, it’s personalization in the context of where the traveler is,” said Luth. “If you’re on a business trip and an airline is promoting something that has nothing to do with that business trip, that’s a wasted opportunity. Thanks to technology, we’re not only able to make travelers feel recognized and special, but to also deliver something that’s helpful for them.”

Still, many airlines struggle to figure out how to build the right tools and systems to make this type of hyper-relevant offer possible. Even if it may seem daunting, panelist Meg O’Keefe, director airlines customer unit – digital merchandising and customer experience management solutions for Amadeus, emphasized that evolving airline ancillary merchandising strategies can be easier to implement than executives might realize. “It is possible to put together an approach which allows airlines to build upon the assets that they have already,” said O’Keefe.

She notes that the Accenture Amadeus Alliance is already helping carriers like Scandinavian Airlines figure out how to get started. “They said, ‘We’d like to know how we can do better – how can we increase our revenue adoption per passenger if we change the pricing [for ancillaries]? We have a static price across routes, but we want to see what happens if we start to alter the price,’” explained O’Keefe. After running different types of pricing scenarios on behalf of the airline, the Accenture Amadeus Alliance was able to produce a significant incremental lift in revenue. “Just by adding advance seats as a product…we were able to project a 15 percent revenue uplift over a year.”

As airlines get more sophisticated in their strategy for ancillary merchandising, techniques and technologies are helping them to get even more accurate in how they anticipate and satisfy passengers’ changing needs.

One technology with big potential is machine learning. According to United Airlines’ Narasimha, her company is using machine learning techniques to assist passengers as they make purchase decisions. “When you look at our seat map today and you want to pick one of our seating products (like extra legroom, or an upgrade) normally you’d have to go in and look around for what’s interesting to you,” said Narasimha. “What we’ve done with machine learning is use what we know about your past choices: whether you’ve picked an aisle, or a window seat. So we make a recommendation to you based on your previous choices, or what people like you are looking at. And we’ve seen a double-digit increase in people taking us up on that offer, just because it’s made it easier for customers to decide.”

There are also new innovations emerging in the realm of pricing. Etihad’s Thomas explained how his organization is now experimenting with auction-style techniques to encourage customers to bid on flight upgrade products. “We’re starting to see `bidding processes work well when people already have a seat and they’re looking to upgrade,” said Thomas. “We offer an eBay-style experience, and it taps into a point we’ve made a few times on this panel, which is that it’s a pretty tactical initiative…but we’ve seen a 23 percent increase in the average fare we receive.”

In fact, as Thomas notes, it’s a great example how a relatively small project to further optimize airline merchandising can yield big results. “There is so much in the airline industry that can be optimized,” said Thomas. “Even something as playful as introducing a bidding process has yielded substantial benefits for us.”

Check out the video above to watch the full 20-minute conversation.

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December 18, 2018 at 05:10PM

9 Idyllic (and Newly Reopened) Caribbean Hotels to Visit Next Year

9 Idyllic (and Newly Reopened) Caribbean Hotels to Visit Next Year

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By the time last year’s brutal hurricane season ended in the Caribbean, several resorts in the region — particularly on St. Barts, Anguilla, the British and United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — were devastated. Collectively, the area suffered over $140 billion in damage, and tourism, the region’s main economic driving force, nose-dived. Buildings were flattened and basic services upended; on Anguilla, for instance, 90 percent of the electricity infrastructure was impaired, as was the main water supply. Just over a year later, though, almost all of the hotels in the affected regions have reopened, many with massive renovations and improvements that should draw crowds this holiday season — and help restore local economies. Here, a rundown of some of the most notable comebacks in the islands.

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CreditCourtesy of Guana Island

The reconstruction of this verdant, mountainous 850-acre private island resort was funded entirely by its owners, Henry and Gloria Jarecki and their family, who purchased the property in 1975. They invested heavily in a stronger infrastructure, including a new water filtration system, and enhanced internet service that will be less susceptible to future storms, as well as raised roads to better survive future flooding. The 18 stucco-walled suites and villas were also renovated — but the décor (spare but charming, with vintage botanical prints, rattan furniture and floral-patterned textiles) still feels wonderfully retro — and the Jareckis are helping to restore the damaged coral reef just offshore. They also expanded the island’s organic orchard, adding greenhouses and crops, including soursop, coconut and microgreens, as well as more than 100 chickens, which will supply all of the eggs for the resort.


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CreditCourtesy of Secret Bay

Located on a wild, forested corner of tiny Dominica, in the West Indies, this secluded resort has been fully restored by its owner, Gregor Nassief, who reopened the property on Nov. 1. The six existing one-bedroom villas are now joined by a new two-storey one-bedroom villa that Nassief has named Ti-Fey: a treehouse of sorts made of polished, sustainably sourced Guyanese greenheart wood. It’s set high above the ground amid the jungle vegetation and offers a view of the crashing surf below through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Nassief has also added a new seafood restaurant — which serves grilled lobster and fish caught in the surrounding waters — as well as a yoga pavilion that offers small classes and spa treatments.


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CreditEmily Lab

After a year of renovations, the serene hillside Hotel Le Toiny reopened in October on its perch at the rugged eastern end of St. Barts. New additions include eight free-standing one- and two-bedroom villas overlooking the undeveloped expanse of Toiny Bay, which join the 14 existing ones, as well as a new infinity pool and bar — a literal beach club where the tables and chairs sit directly on the sand, steps from the water. The hotel has also recruited the chef Jarad McCarroll, who previously worked at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ours in London, to oversee its French-inflected namesake restaurant.


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CreditCourtesy of the Christopher Hotel

Located in the mostly residential area of Pointe Milou, on the northern coast of St. Barts, the Christopher comprises a series of modernist buildings that sit among some of the island’s most exquisite private houses, with views toward St. Jean Bay, a popular destination for windsurfing and snorkeling. Three new four-bedroom villas will debut in January, featuring the hotel’s modern, minimalist look (think cool slate-gray stone floors and slatted wooden day beds), while the restaurant, Christo, has a reimagined menu focused on local organic ingredients. The property’s Sisley Spa, meanwhile, has launched new treatments, including a Hawaiian-influenced lomilomi massage that incorporates acupuncture.


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CreditCourtesy of Cheval Blanc

Reopened earlier this month, the Cheval Blanc, a beloved fashion- and art-world hangout, combines elegant minimalist interiors — all whitewashed walls and rattan furniture — with lush tropical surrounds (bougainvillea, banana leaf). The beachfront property unveiled a new look conceived by the French architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia that includes 19 new rooms and two restaurants, as well as gardens by the famed landscape designer Madison Cox. Fruit trees and palms now complement sculptures by the Paris-based contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Garcia used indigenous decorative pieces found on his world travels in all 52 guest rooms.


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CreditCourtesy of Belmond Cap Juluca

On the white-sand shore of Maundays Bay — considered one of the best beaches on Anguilla, with a view of St. Martin in the distance — this whitewashed, Mediterranean-style resort is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It has also been rebranded by the hospitality company Belmond following the hurricanes — a project that included a total renovation of its 170 terraced rooms and villas. Additions include a striking infinity-edge pool, a new spa with three treatment rooms and Cip’s, a Venetian-inspired restaurant from the team behind Cipriani.


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CreditCourtesy of Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection

After almost a year of rebuilding, the majestic cliffside Malliouhana resort will reopen this month on the shore of Meads Bay in Anguilla, with 11 new beachfront suites and four garden suites — all accented in the hotel’s signature palette of lemon yellow and turquoise — plus an upgraded spa with an ocean-view infinity pool. New cabanas line the two-tiered main pool, which now extends toward the cliff’s edge for even better views of the Caribbean. And for guests desiring extra privacy, there’s a new two-bedroom villa on the secluded Turtle Cove Beach, which features a garden patio, plunge pool, whimsical paintings by the Haitian artist Jasmin Joseph and seashell chandeliers.


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CreditCourtesy of Jumby Bay Island

In October, Jumby Bay — the remote resort off the northern coast of Antigua’s main island (which is only accessible by boat) — unveiled the second part of a three-phase reopening that includes a new five-treatment-room spa, reimagined interiors and a palm-fringed, slate-tiled infinity pool and teak pool deck. Inside, the Brazilian designer Patricia Anastassiadis has decorated the property’s airy guest rooms and common spaces with objects including vintage Portuguese trestle tables and a 1920s wooden canoe. There’s also a new shop that will sell swim- and beachwear from brands including Orlebar Brown and Anya Hindmarch. These improvements follow a change of management; Jumby Bay is now part of the German-based luxury brand Oetker Collection.


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CreditCourtesy of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Although Puerto Rico is still recovering from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Maria, life has come roaring back to the island — its capital, San Juan, is once again buzzing with newly opened restaurants, shops and galleries — and the same is true at its most high-end resort, the sprawling, 1,400-acre, 114-room Dorado Beach. The interiors have received a makeover — with a lighter, brighter color palette — but, luckily, some things remain untouched, like the glass and stone sculptures by the Puerto Rican artists Carlos Mercado and Rosa Ortiz that appear throughout the property. In the resort’s gardens, more than 300,000 new tropical plants have helped restore the lush grandeur for which the hotel is known.

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December 18, 2018 at 05:09PM

8 Ways Travel Improved Worldwide in 2018

8 Ways Travel Improved Worldwide in 2018

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If you’re heading out of town this week, the airport may not look too different from the one you walked through in January. The same sitcoms are showing on your seatback screen, assuming you still have one. And hopefully the people you’re traveling to visit are familiar faces, too.

But there’s a lot about travel that has changed over the past 12 months—even if you were too fixated on your destination to notice. Here, the major highlights.

Flights Went Farther

Qantas Airways Ltd. debuted its newest ultra-long-haul this spring: a flight from Perth to London. At 17 hours, it came close to breaking records.

Then in October, Singapore Airlines Ltd. did what Qantas didn’t. Its 18-hour, 45-minute route—which spans 10,400 miles from Changi to Newark—is 500 miles longer than the previous record-holder, a Qatar Airways flight from Auckland to Doha. Credit goes to Airbus’s new A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft, which guzzles less fuel than previous versions and makes the journey possible. (According to our reviewer, the journey feels every bit as long as it is, even if there are only business-class seats aboard.)

And flights are only going to continue getting longer. Gulfstream made advances this year that will help private aviation reach extreme distances, and Qantas’s goals are so ambitious, it would like to have 20-hour flights from New York and London to Sydney by 2022—possibly on planes with bunk beds, child-care facilities, and gyms.

Planes Got Nicer

Unlike recent years, which saw monumental advancements in luxury such as Qatar’s Qsuites or Emirates’ Residences, 2018 was a bit of a snooze. That’s not a bad thing: Sometimes it’s the less-glitzy, incremental advancements that can have a wider-reaching effect.

American Airlines Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., and United Airlines all started installing premium economy cabins along their international routes—a first—while JetBlue Airways Corp. announced the expansion of its relatively affordable (and very comfortable) Mint Business Class. A large number of European carriers, too, added more first-class seats to their planes, reversing a yearslong trend to get rid of those ultra-premium seats.

Still stuck in cattle class? Don’t worry: Even perks such as in-flight internet access were a focus this year, as service got more ubiquitous and faster than ever. (We tallied up the best airlines for Wi-Fi here.)

Tented Camps Became All the Rage

Hotels with four walls are so 2017. This year was all about the tented camp—experiential properties inspired by the glamour of the African savannah. They cropped up in Bali, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, with more in the works in Mexico, Costa Rica, and beyond. And no, we’re not talking about roughing it. These are tents with private pools, indoor and outdoor showers, canopied beds, and butler service. The canvas walls just add to the adventure.

The Caribbean Rebounded

A year after the one-two punch of Irma and Maria, both Category 5 hurricanes, hotels have refurbished and reopened and new air routes have improved access to quieter corners of the region. Meanwhile, travel companies at every end of the spectrum are engaging in smart philanthropic efforts.

The combination has been a powerful one. Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of Embark (formerly Ovation Vacations) says that 62 percent of his Northeast client base is traveling to the Caribbean this winter season, up from a historical average of 53 percent. Among the hotels to prioritize: the sceney Mandarin Oriental Pink Sands in Canouan, the fully redone Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve in San Juan, and Silversands, the first resort to pull out all the stops on the lush island of Grenada. And just about anything in St. Barts and Anguilla.

Hotels Figured Out How to Take on Airbnb

No, the answer isn’t to start offering apartment rentals. In fact, the companies that tried that approach largely floundered in 2018—Accor had to write off $288 million on One Fine Stay; Hyatt decided to sell off Oasis, its home-rental collection.

Instead, hoteliers found success in the extended-stay model, which was due for a rethink. In Europe and the U.S., “boutique apart-hotels” took the best parts of extended-stay hotels (large suites with kitchens, affordable rates) and merged them with modern-day luxuries like high-end design, third-wave coffee shops, and vibrant co-working spaces.

One such brand, Locke, was purchased by Brookfield Capital for an industry-setting price of $565 million. Its main competition? Not Marriott, but Airbnb. “The intention is to cover every major European city and get the company to $2 or $2.5 billion [in valuation]—then we’ll look at the U.S. and Australasia markets,” Locke’s founder, Eric Jafari, told Bloomberg back in July.

Layovers Became Less Painful

New hubs made globetrotting a more streamlined pursuit this year. Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, which is slated to become the busiest passenger hub in the world, opened its first phase; Oman debuted a new hub for the Middle East; Singapore’s Changi went next-level with automation technology; and even the most nightmarish U.S. hub, New York’s LaGuardia, unveiled part of its $8 billion face-lift to all cheers and no jeers.

And it’s not just the airports that have gotten upgrades, either—it’s how we navigate them. New and expanding companies are offering VIP treatment to fliers, letting them skip the customs line, get into exclusive lounges, and drive them straight to the plane’s door.

The Balkans Became Buzzy

There’s no question: The trendy destination of 2018 was the Balkans. (Yes, the whole region.) Europhiles looking for the next big thing set their sights just past over-touristed Croatia and to places like Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia. All have untrammeled, postcard-perfect landscapes, fascinating history, distinct food traditions, few crowds, and easy access. Whether you want to connect them by road trip or regional flights, it’s easy to check off a couple of countries in a single weeklong trip. (Up next on the insiders’ heat map: the Silk Road.)

Kid-Friendly Travel Went Next-Level

Multigenerational travel—trips that include kids, parents, and grandparents—has been a dominant force in the industry for the last few years. But this year the idea got a new spin. First was the concept of “skip-gen” trips, where grandparents cut the parents out of the equation and take the grandkids for a grand tour, European or otherwise. That put more pressure on the older generation to channel what younger travelers want—which isn’t always easy.

As a response, TCS World Travel has convened a panel of teenage travel consultants who can help adults cater to their ever-shifting preferences. A few months later, Big Five Tours and Expeditions followed suit. Hotels have also started to overhaul their family-friendly programming.

And if that all wasn’t enough, private aviation company VistaJet took in-flight entertainment to new heights with a program that delivers themed, six-figure play parties at 45,000 feet.

 

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Nikki Ekstein from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: A 2016 shot of an Airbus A380-861, operated by Qatar Airways, departing Britain’s Heathrow Airport and bound for the Arabian Gulf city of Doha, capital of Qatar. Bloomberg

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December 18, 2018 at 05:03PM