Σάββατο, 31 Ιανουαρίου 2015

Qatar’s new ultra-luxury resort opens

Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha, Qatar’s new ultra-luxury resort has officially opened its doors to welcome visitors and guests. The hotel is located on its own secluded island and is the first ultimate luxury hotel in one of Doha’s most sought-after locations.
The new hotel showcases the finest European architecture blended with traditional Arabian elements, a true palace in every sense of the word. From the palatial corridors and public spaces, to the luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, to a selection of the finest restaurants and lounges, this hotel is set to become a benchmark for bespoke luxury in Doha.
Marsa Malaz Kempinski enter
Marsa Malaz Kempinski has 281 luxurious rooms - including 69 suites, two Presidential suites and two Royal suites – provide the latest technology, along with service from your private butler catering to your every need, 24 hours a day. Additionally, the hotel also features a secluded beach located in a private bay along with outdoor swimming pools, water sports facilities, yachts jetty, tennis courts and plush gardens and patios allowing guests to relax in the luxurious surroundings of the resort.
Marsa Malaz Kempinski hall
Guests can select from six different types of restaurants, two cafés, al fresco pool-side dining, a sophisticated bar and an unprecedented rooftop nightclub with large open-air terraces. Additionally the tranquil spa will feature more than 20 treatment rooms, exclusive female areas, a health club, indoor pool, beauty salons, saunas and steam rooms.
The new waterfront destination features superior meeting facilities including a 1,100 sq m (11,538 sq ft) Grand Ballroom and seven meeting rooms with a separate entrance. The facilities also include a private suite, attached to the ballroom, ideal for VIP delegations or weddings.

Plans for New Ritz Carlton Resort in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. plans to open its second luxury hotel in Malaysia in one of the fastest growing catchment areas known as the Petaling Jaya Golden Triangle, within a development named Empire City.
The development is scheduled to be completed in 2016. The components of the development include over 2.5 million square feet of retail space; 1.2 million square feet of office space; and a world-class Ritz-Carlton hotel.
The Ritz-Carlton, Petaling Jaya will be designed according to The Ritz-Carlton design standards for which the company is known and will have 288 luxurious guestrooms and suites. The new Ritz-Carlton will be a 53-storey building located on a 4-acre site. It will be one of the tallest buildings in the area.

Wi-Fi becomes a must-have amenity for airlines

Wi-Fi has become an important in-flight amenity as a reclining seat and extra legroom. Routehappy, the product differentiation platform for air travel, announced findings of its new study about global state of Wi-Fi used on airlines.
Some key highlights include:
  • 52 airlines worldwide now offer in-flight Wi-Fi in most regions of the globe
  • Flyers have at least "some" chance of Wi-Fi on 24% of flights worldwide, with U.S. airlines offering at least "some" chance of Wi-Fi on 66% of their flights system wide and non-U.S. airlines offering at least "some" chance on 15% of their international flights
  • Nine non-U.S. airlines now offer at least a "very good" chance of Wi-Fi on more than 20% of their international flight miles: Japan, Emirates, Aeroflot, Iberia, Lufthansa, Singapore, Etihad, Norwegian, and Icelandair, with the latter two surpassing 80%
    • Delta offers the most flights and flight miles with Wi-Fi of all airlines, by far
    • United has most international planes with Wi-Fi and uniquely offers "Best" Wi-Fi
    • American/US offers "better" Wi-Fi on its entire Airbus narrowbody fleet, which totals more than 300 aircraft
  • 18 months ago, United offered at least "some" chance of Wi-Fi on 518 U.S. domestic flights, today it is 1445, a 179% increase; American added 630, Delta 503, JetBlue 386
  • Virgin America, Alaska, United lead on offering both Wi-Fi and power on the same flights
  • All the busiest U.S. domestic routes (20 daily flights or more in each direction including JFK-LAX, LGA-BOS, LGA-DCA, JFK-SFO, CLT-ATL) have Wi-Fi availability on all flights
  • The "best" or highest bandwidth system was introduced in 2014 and is currently available on nearly 1% of U.S. flights
  • Airlines are upgrading from Gogo ATG to Gogo ATG-4 ("better") on hundreds of aircraft
  • Routehappy Wi Fi2015 Infographic

Hala Abu Dhabi to cooperate leading tour operators worldwide

Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management division of Etihad Airways, will cooperate with 45 leading tour operators worldwide to promote Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination. With the new cooperation, passengers transiting in the UAE capital will enjoy special privileges.
Preferred sales agreements have been signed in 23 countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia to expand the reach of Etihad Airways’ popular ‘Stopover in Abu Dhabi’ program, aimed at passengers transiting in the UAE capital.
The program allows guests of Etihad Airways and selected partner airlines to break their journeys in Abu Dhabi and enjoy special privileges, such as complimentary visas, overnight hotel accommodation and golf course access, before continuing onto their final destinations.
As a result of the new partnerships, the incentives can now be booked through the 45 tour operators, in addition to Etihad Airways’ website and the halaabudhabi@etihad.ae email.
The ‘Stopover in Abu Dhabi’ program includes:
•           Essential Stopover – guests are able to enjoy their first night free if staying a minimum of two nights. Rates start at US$36 per person for two nights on Bed and Breakfast basis.
•           Premium Stopover – for guests travelling in premium cabins. Guests in First Class are entitled to complimentary accommodation for two nights in a five star hotel in Abu Dhabi. Guests in Business Class receive one night complimentary in a five star hotel.
•           Transit Golf - guests who transit in Abu Dhabi between six to 12 hours can take advantage of playing a nine-hole golf course or pool access at Yas Links until their next flight.
•           Complimentary visa stopovers - for nationals who require a UAE entry visa. Hala Abu Dhabi will facilitate a complimentary UAE visa when booking two nights’ accommodation.

Learn how to cook like a chef in Australia

Australia is an international melting pot of culture and cuisine. From coast to coast, Australia is a land of plenty providing a spectacular array of fresh produce. Little wonder it’s also a land of brilliant cooks and culinary artisans who, not content with creating alone, are dedicated to spreading knowledge and know-how to those who share their passion for good food.
Whether your interest is pasta-making or pork butchery, there’s an abundance of unique classes waiting for students to roll up their sleeves, get cooking, and, of course, partake of their creations afterwards – and in most cases there is wine to accompany the meal as well.

A select few can be found below:
Hunter Valley Cooking School (NSW)
The family-run Hunter Valley resort showcases the best of this renowned wine region across its 28 glorious hectares of prime Pokolbin land. Only 35 rooms and cottages dot the 40-year-old shiraz vineyards. In the main areas, there are wine appreciation classes, massages and wonderful meals. The resort’s executive chef Phillip Collis leads small group cooking classes, during which three-course meals are prepared from local organic ingredients.
For more information visit, http://www.hunterresort.com.au/
Sydney Seafood School (NSW)
With 13,000 guests a year attending classes, Sydney Seafood School is Australia’s leading cooking school.
This iconic cooking school equipped and fun cooking environment. Come to learn how to handle seafood in ways that range from creating a simple (but sublime) paella to learning sophisticated preparation techniques alongside top chefs. Best of all is the freshness of the ingredients. The Sydney fishing fleet docks right beside the market ensuring the school gets the very finest catch.
For more information visit, http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au
Agrarian Kitchen (TAS)
The short drive from Hobart to The Agrarian Kitchen at Lachlan, New Norfolk, sets the mood with views of perfect pastoral scenes and the lovely Derwent River along the way. Former Gourmet Traveller food writer and a one-time Tetsuya protege, Rodney Dunn runs the kitchen with his wife Severine Demanet from an atmospheric old school house surrounded by an old-fashioned farm garden. What you’ll learn to cook will be dictated by what’s in season in the garden. The first task of the day is to head outside and harvest. There are perennials in the kitchen though: most classes include a hands-on lesson in making the perfect loaf of bread.
For more information visit, http://www.theagrariankitchen.com/
Lakehouse (VIC)
On the bank of Lake Daylesford, the exquisite Lakehouse retreat and restaurant is also home to one of Australia’s most popular cooking schools. A varying roster of renowned chefs take seasonal masterclasses in a kitchen that is amply stocked from its own garden-grown olives, stone fruits, herbs and edible flowers.
For more information visit, http://www.lakehouse.com.au/
A tavola! (VIC)
The Pizzini Winery in the cool climate King Valley winegrowing region produces consistently gorgeous wines with a focus on Italian varietals. The cooking school, run by Katrina Pizzini, also has an Italian flavour with classes on pasta making, antipasti and cheese making among the hands on classes on offer.
For more information visit, http://www.pizzini.com.au/
3Seeds (ACT)
Canberra’s Fyshwick Markets has been feeding the nation’s capital since the 1960s. These days, the fresh food icon goes the extra mile, thanks to the onsite 3Seeds cooking school, teaching Canberrans how to cook all manner of things, from tarts to tapas. The school conducts kids’ classes, too.
For more information visit, http://www.3seeds.com.au/
Sticky Rice Cooking School (SA)
Owned by passionate innkeeper Claire Fuller, this gorgeously Zen facility with a beautiful black and white decor hosts big-name guest Australian chefs such as Christine Manfield and Luke Nguyen, who come to instruct the foodie faithful in the ways of spice. Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and European cuisines such as Spanish are taught, with particular emphasis on spices, and grinding them fresh to amplify the intoxication. At class’ end, there’s a wonderful meal served with Adelaide Hills wines.
For more information visit, http://www.stickyricecookingschool.com.au/
Chapel Hill Winery (SA)
Chapel Hill Winery, in South Australia's spectacular McLaren Vale, is every foodie’s ideal escape. A 10-bedroom retreat, professional teaching kitchen and a 45-hectare vineyard nestled in the foothills of the Mt Lofty Ranges complete this culinary experience. The Retreat’s Executive Chef Rebecca Stubbs leads each hands-on class where worldly cuisine is prepared using seasonal, local products and coupled with a glass of wine from the award-winning vineyard.
For more information visit, http://www.chapelhillwine.com.au/
Long Apron Cooking School (QLD) The Long Apron Cooking School, at one of the Sunshine Coast’s most serene and luxurious retreats, is run by renowned chef Cameron Matthews, a man dedicated to the preparation and enjoyment of food in the family European way: with lots of love, laughter and the best ingredients. Guests learn to prepare the chef’s amazing Italian and French dishes, before sitting down to a long lunch with matched wine.
For more information visit, http://www.spicersgroup.com.au/
Spirit House (QLD)
Set in lush tropical gardens and utilising fresh Asian ingredients grown on surrounding farms, this hands-on Cooking School at the Spirit House offers daily classes that focus on Thai flavours and methods, demystifying ingredients and technique. Classes include ‘Chiang Mai Banquet’ and ‘Royal Thai Palace’ as well as ‘Chop Chop’, a lesson in professional knife skills. Guests cook four to six recipes each class, then wine and dine in a garden pavilion.
For more information visit, http://www.spirithouse.com.au/
Tamborine Cooking School (QLD) Located amongst two acres of gardens on the Western Escarpment, the Tamborine Cooking School overlooks the Albert Valley on Mount Tamborine. Each class focuses on fresh, seasonal produce, with samples and tastings of seasonal olives, macadamia, dukka and local cheese. Traditional cooking techniques and wholesome ingredients make up the School’s culture, while many of the vegetables, herbs and fruits are grown organically on the premises. Guests can stroll through the gardens and browse through cookbooks from the School’s culinary library.
For more information visit, http://www.tamborinecookingschool.com.au/
Faraway Bay Bush Tucker and Camp Oven Cooking School (WA)
This is no ordinary cooking school. Set in the remote East Kimberley region, the Faraway Bay Bush Tucker and Camp Oven Cooking School provides guests with a unique opportunity to learn more about the gourmet delights hidden within the pristine Kimberley wilderness. Guided bush walks encourage guests to look for ingredients like native lemon grass, bush passion fruit and rock figs. Boabs, kangaroo and a huge array of freshly caught fish are also on the menu. Much of the cooking takes place on the camp oven over an open fire at Eagle Lodge, overlooking the tranquil waters of Faraway Bay.
For more information visit, http://www.farawaybay.com.au/

Must see festival for wine lovers: Mendoza Harvest Festival 2015

If you are a wine lover, Argentina’s Mendoza Harvest Festival is a great opportunity to seduce yourself with this enormous festival that takes place in Mendoza during 10 whole days. The National Grape Harvest Festival of Argentina has been held in the Mendoza province for many years. In 2015, it is celebrating its 79thyear.
It is a part of a group of festivities that are celebrated all over the 18 departments which make up the Mendoza province, during the months of December, January and February. The festivities culminate in an impressive Central Act in the city of Mendoza (province capital) during the first days of March. The shows have begun in December and continue until March 10 so you still have time to experience the Harvest Festival in 2015.
vendimia queensEach of the 18 departments that comprise the Mendoza province holds its own grape harvest festivities for choosing their queen. You can see the candidates for the crown of the National Harvest Festival 2015 byclicking here.
The main events are in March 2015. They are:
March 1 (Sunday): "Blessing of the Fruit",
March 6 (Friday): "White Way of the Queens",
March 7 (Saturday): "Carousel Harvest",
March 7 (Saturday): "Central Act of the National Party Harvest ".
March 8 (Sunday): "Second Night"
March 9 (Monday): "Third Night"
March 10 (Tuesday): "Fourth Night"
Here you can spend the day wandering the grounds that have a carnival-like atmosphere and attend decadent events like chocolate and wine tastings. There are many concerts, dancing and fireworks. The Argentinean cowboy, or gaucho, spirit is very much alive and it’s sure to make for an eventful holiday. The festivities are also comprised of folk shows, Creole craftsmanship and preparation of traditional food.

Future is bright for Ljubljana airports: Air Serbia doubles capacity, Turkish Airlines increases flights

Aerodrom Ljubljana recorded an increase in traffic in 2014 and is expecting growth in 2015 as well. In comparison with the last year total passenger numbers were up 3, 1% and cargo tonnage was up 7, 2%. Air Serbia has already doubled its capacity.
In March Turkish Airlines will add flights to Istanbul and Swiss International Airlines will provide daily flights to Zurich. Data published on anna.aero shows Aerodrom Ljubljana has, besides Zagreb, achieved the highest traffic increase in the region, even higher than Venice.
Traffic at Ljubljana Airport is expected to increase in 2015 as well. Passenger numbers will be higher due to additional flights of some airlines. To mark the anniversary of its service to Ljubljana, Air Serbia, the Serbian national airline, has doubled its capacity in December. It now serves two daily flights between Ljubljana and Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, which is a hub for numerous excellent connections to many destinations throughout Europe and other destinations from Etihad Airways’ network of flights all over the globe.
In March 2015 Turkish Airlines will also increase a number of its weekly fights to Istanbul from 7 to 10. In March Swiss International Airlines will be returning to Ljubljana Airport, providing daily flights to Zurich.

SWISS unveils more Business Class enhancements

SWISS continues to invest at all levels in its Business Class product. The SWISS Business cabin on European services will soon feature greater seating comfort and more privacy through a guaranteed free adjacent seat, while an exclusive bus transfer will be available to Business Class travellers at selected airports. And on its long-haul routes SWISS is expanding its Business Class culinary offering alongside its convenient “quick meal” option.

New lounges will also be opened in Zurich towards the end of the year. SWISS Business is available for as little as CHF 169 (one-way) or CHF 299 (round-trip) on European routes.

SWISS, the Airline of Switzerland, is investing continuously in its fleet, its products and its services under its “Next-Generation Airline of Switzerland” strategy. And in its latest action here, the airline will be substantially further enhancing the quality of its Business Class product.

More comfort and privacy on European flights

The Airbus A320s and A321s of SWISS’s European fleet are currently undergoing an extensive cabin refurbishment. The programme, which began last month, extends to ergonomic new seats and a new cabin and seating design that tangibly raise inflight comfort levels. SWISS will also guarantee to keep the neighbouring seat vacant for all its Business Class guests in Europe from the end of March onwards, to offer greater privacy on board. SWISS Business is available to destinations within Europe for as little as CHF 169 one-way or CHF 299 round-trip.
“Our customers can enjoy all the appeal and advantages of Business Class travel at a very attractive price,” confirms Markus Binkert, SWISS’s Chief Commercial Officer. As a further new service, inbound Business Class travellers will be provided with their own exclusive bus transfer from the aircraft to the terminal from the end of March onwards. The new facility will be offered at Europe’s major airports for flights which arrive at non-terminal stands.

SWISS Business long-haul: new lounges and a broader culinary range

New lounges will be opened for Senator-status travellers and SWISS Business customers at Zurich Airport’s Dock E in the fourth quarter of this year. The spacious new lounges will extend over some 2,000 square metres, and will feature a terrace with views of the airport and its runways and the Alps beyond. Both lounges will offer a range of freshly-prepared meals, and the Senator Lounge will also boast a staffed bar. The Senator Lounge will accommodate up to 175 travellers and the Business Class Lounge up to 200. Both lounges will be located conveniently close to the departure gates for SWISS’s long-haul flights.

On board, SWISS is expanding the range of its culinary offering, providing a wider selection of starters and adding a separate cheese course. The full meal service is also accompanied by a “quick meal” option, which enables the customer to decide for themselves whether to enjoy their meal to the full or use the time to rest – an option that is particularly welcome on night flights.

VTB boosts cooperation with Transaero Airline

VTB bank has opened to Transaero Airlines 9 billion roubles loan for 3 years secured by state guarantee. The loan is to be used to finance the airline’s operations.
The airline and VTB have been successfully developing their cooperation over eight years. In addition to credit financing, the airline actively uses the bank’s certificated securities.
Olga Pleshakova, CEO Transaero Airlines, said: “Transaero Airlines and VTB Bank have been reliable partners over the years of their cooperation. Thanks to VTB funding, the airline will continue to implement the comprehensive programme aimed at optimizing its operations and enhancing operational efficiency. Transaero’s New Year holiday flight programme has set new records in the airline’s history as the airline carried 540,000 passengers during the holiday season. There is a demand for the airline’s product on the market. Assisted by VTB Bank funding, the airline will continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable air services for millions of our passengers. ”

First Deputy President and Chairman of the VTB Bank Management Board Yuri Soloviev said: “Supporting the national civil aviation industry is a vital element of Russia’s economic development. Moreover, VTB Bank has consistently focused on working with the real sector. I am confident that we will continue our mutually beneficial cooperation.”

Curaçao releases the latest happenings on island

The tiny, yet bustling island of Curaçao, located in the Southern Caribbean, shares its latest news, events, and promotions:


  • Non-Stop Routes from New York and Canada
Curaçao is celebrating the success of the recently launched non-stop routes from New York via JetBlue and Montreal and Toronto via Air Canada, which have come just in time for the winter season.  As of last month, JetBlue became the only airline to offer non-stop flights from New York to Curaçao. Flights operate twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, between New York’s JFK International Airport and Curaçao’s Hato International Airport.  Canadians can also now travel direct to Curaçao from Toronto with Air Canada  every Friday, and direct from Montreal on Thursdays.

  • Curaçao Unveils New Winery
Located near Hato International Airport, Curaçao recently opened the island’s first-ever winery and vineyard.  Run by the Visscher family, the vineyard has over 2,000 plants on two acres of land, which will eventually be expanded to 25 acres.  The wine will be harvested from the island’s soil and will be available to bottle and sell next year.  However, in the meantime, visitors can enjoy tastings and special events at the winery, open Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and every Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for happy hour.

  • Renovations at Curaçao International Airport
Curaçao Airport Partners has invested almost $10 million in renovations to its airport facilities. These renovations include adding air-conditioning to the check-in hall and screening area, updates to the runway, a new Curaçao Airport app, and the development of a “Jet Centre Curaçao” to enhance passengers experience upon arrival and departure.

  • Baoase Luxury Resort To Feature New Suites
The island’s five-star upscale property, Baoase Luxury Resort, continues its expansion plans this year with the addition of ten new exclusive suites. The suites will be located on a secluded part of the resort, hidden by a wall made of natural stones, palm trees, and plants. The suites will also feature outdoor showers and private pools, as well as offer either direct access to a private beach or the resort’s beach.  The expansion is slated for completion in April 2015.

  • New Openings at Blue Bay Curaçao Golf & Beach Resort
Located in Sint Michiel, this beachfront resort has had several recent updates to the property and surrounding area.  These include the opening of new restaurants, Sunset Bar & Grill Restaurant and Pictures Restaurant.  Mediterranean-inspired, Pictures Restaurant is part of the new 36-room boutique hotel, Bay Side, which is slated to open at the resort in March.

  • Papagayo Beach Resort Redecorates Villas
Papagayo Beach Resort recently refurbished its 75 villas with the help of several renowned designers. The spacious two and three-bedroom villas now sport a trendy look and feel, with refreshed open kitchen layouts and wood floors. Additional renovations will continue this year, with updates to the Royal Suites, lobby, pool area, and restaurant.

  • Floris Suite Hotel To Open New Spa
This February, Floris Suite Hotel, the island’s well-known LGBT-friendly and adults-only boutique hotel, will debut a new 1,500 square foot state-of-the-art spa.  The spa will offer guests a large steam room, dry sauna, treatment facilities, rain showers, and more.  The property plans to build a new gym facility later this year as well.

  • Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Expands Watersports Offerings
In partnership with Ocean Encounters, a local dive operator, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort now offers standup paddleboard clinics and lessons for guests looking to explore the waterways surrounding the 2,000-acre plantation. Guests can also now take advantage of on-site windsurfing lessons.

Source:- Caribbean Tourism

The Cayman Islands Ends Year with Record Breaking Arrivals

Consistency in delivering excellence and a commitment to providing Cayman kind experiences has once again earned the Cayman Islands a record breaking year of visitation.  In what was notably the best year in over a decade, the country welcomed over 380,000 stay-over guests by the end of 2014 according to visitor arrival statistics released by the Department of Tourism.

The data shows that 382,816 total visitor air arrivals were recorded, representing a 10.84 per cent increase over the 2013 performance and is the best stay-over visitor arrival figure the Cayman Islands has recorded in over 14 years. Notably the month of December showed the best visitor arrival figures for any December since the year 2000 with 40,568 stay over visitors accounting for a year-over-year increase of 3.58%. This included an increase in cruise arrivals for the year which totalled 1,609,555 passengers, a year over year increase of 16.98%.  This cruise arrival figure marks the best year since 2007.

“It has been a wonderful experience throughout 2014 to witness the success of tourism businesses continuing to climb throughout the year.  Hotels recorded exceptional occupancy, taxi drivers were consistently busy, and we have seen growth throughout the sector,” shared Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism Hon. Moses Kirkconnell.   “We know that this success comes from our continued commitment to partnerships with private sector entities, the diligent work of this government, the Department of Tourism and the unique approaches implemented throughout the year to an integrated strategic plan.”

This plan included Department of Tourism in-market activations in key cities such as New York City, London and Toronto.  “It was another successful year of promoting the Cayman Islands to a global audience,” commented Mrs. Rosa Harris, Director of the Department of Tourism.  “One fun initiative over the summer was taking Stingray City to the streets of London using a 3D chalk art simulation.  We received such positive reactions from people who stopped by to ‘kiss a ray’ and learn about the destination in an unexpected way.  We look forward to more creative initiatives in 2015 and further raising the awareness of the Cayman Islands as a leading destination in the Caribbean for discerning travellers.”

The Cayman Islands ranks in the top five of Caribbean destinations visited by cruise passengers. “The planned improvements for the cruise port and George Town should increase visitation to allow us to easily move into the number two spot on that list in a very short time,” says Councillor in the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Joseph Hew.  “The continued increase in visitor numbers is confirmation that our beautiful scenery, amazing activities and friendly people continues to draw visitors from far and wide.”

The cruise berthing project is seen as crucial to grow the cruise tourism sector of the economy and to increase job creation and opportunities for small business development. “The tourism sector has seen tremendous gains in 2014 due to agility in responding to market needs and focus on infrastructure priorities that have led to 10 per cent increase in visitation,” says Chief Officer in the Tourism Ministry, Mr. Stran Bodden. “The Ministry of Tourism, District Administration and Transport will continue to focus on the main points of entry and transportation segments of public transportation and the National Flag Carrier Cayman Airways to ensure there is strength with all Cayman Islands Government Agencies to result in future achievement and synergy.”

Another unique initiative was to bring a bit of Caymankind warmth to New York’s Trump Ice Skating Rink in Central Park as the temperatures began to drop this past Fall.  Cayman’s own Sir Turtle provided free skating rounds to lucky individuals and shared information about the destination to those who took part in the fun.

The efforts of the DOT global teams are matched by on island partners who steadfastly continue to provide an exceptional experience in an unparalleled setting.  This was once again recognised by the visitors who repeatedly voted for the Cayman Islands in a variety of Readers Choice Awards and publications that awarded the destination numerous accolades.

World Travel Awards named the Cayman Islands 2014 World’s Leading Destination.  Caribbean Journal lauded the country as Destination of the Year.  Niche travel areas such as dive won numerous awards throughout the year, including earning an impressive twelve placements in Top Five or better in the Scuba Diving magazine’s coveted Top 100 Readers Choice Awards.  The four first place positions earned were for the categories:  Best Overall Diving; Best Underwater Photography; Best Marine Environment; and Best Wall Diving.

“It is an important reminder for us all that tourism is something we all participate in when living in the Cayman Islands.  It is up to each of us to preserve the environment to continue to earn such esteemed accolades in ecotourism, it’s important for us to put forth the spirit of Caymankind in all we do whether we work in the tourism industry specifically or not, and we must continue to be innovative in how we reach our audience,” shared Mr. Kirkconnell.  “I am looking forward to seeing how far we can go in 2015 and beyond.”

As the destination continues to anticipate future growth in visitor arrivals—both stay over and cruise—improvements will continue throughout the year to come in areas such as the airport redevelopment, cruise berthing facilities, new accommodation properties, and strategic marketing programs supported by additional airlift.

Four Seasons Hotel Miami Takes Valentine’s Day To New Heights

This Valentine’s Day Four Seasons Hotel Miami is offering one Ultimate Romance package, making it an exclusive “over the top and under the stars” experience.  Available Saturday, February 14, 2015, the package includes a personalized five-course wine-paired dinner in EDGE, Steak & Bar, accommodations in a luxury suite, Sunday Brunch for two and more.  Priced at USD 10,000, proceeds benefit Kristi House, Inc. a private, non-profit organization that provides services to child victims of abuse in Miami-Dade County and serves as the Children’s Advocacy Center for the area.

The evening begins with a private Champagne toast atop the 70-story Four Seasons tower, the tallest building south of Atlanta, offering breathtaking views of Miami’s glittering skyline.  A customized five-course dinner in EDGE Steak & Bar follows.  Menu offerings, based on the couple’s preferences, are designed by Executive Chef Aaron Brooks and paired with the Sommelier’s selections.  Dessert and Champagne are enjoyed by candle light in the privacy of poolside cabana, featuring artistically crafted creations by debut Pastry Chef Keith Wallace.

The morning after, Sunday, February 15, the couple will enjoy brunch at EDGE, Steak & Bar, rated one of the Best Brunch Buffets in America by Travel + Leisure.  The elaborate display includes fresh salads and fruit, action stations of made-to-order BBQ, oyster shucking, ceviche and other seafood-on-ice, create-your-own tacos, whole roasted pork made Miami-style in a Caja China, unlimited á la carte options, endless desserts and free-flowing Mimosas, Mojitos and Bloody Marys.

Available one night only, Saturday, February 14, 2015, and for USD 10,000, the Ultimate Romance package benefits the local Miami organization, Kristi House Inc.

Scrap flight tax to protect all passengers from impact of devolution urge UK airlines

UK airlines are putting their differences aside to call for Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be abolished across the UK during the next Parliament. Nathan Stower, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association (BATA – the trade body for UK airlines), will tell industry leaders and politicians gathered in London tonight that growing public and political concern, combined with forthcoming devolution of powers over APD to Scotland, presents a new and unique opportunity to secure abolition.

At the UK airline industry’s annual dinner, BATA will describe recent reforms that abolish the two highest long-haul bands and exempt children from paying APD as ‘positive steps in right direction’, but will call for the final destination to be abolition. Nathan Stower will say:

“The UK still has the highest tax on flying in the world by some margin. The next Government should finish the job, put this damaging tax on trade, tourism, families and businesses out of its misery, and abolish APD in the next Parliament.”

With keynote speaker and Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond MSP in attendance, BATA will welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to act on APD when they receive the necessary powers.

Citing Northern Ireland and the Netherlands as examples, BATA will highlight how passengers are prepared to travel across land borders to take advantage of differences in flight taxes. The UK Government was forced to significantly reduce APD on long-haul flights in Northern Ireland during this Parliament, followed swiftly by full devolution, to stem the flow of passengers travelling south to Dublin to take advantage of Ireland’s nominal equivalent tax. The UK and Scottish governments will be urged to learn from the Northern Ireland experience. BATA will say:

“BATA members respect the decision to devolve APD to Scotland and agree that the tax is damaging to families and businesses in Scotland, as it is in the rest of the UK. We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to halving APD with a view to abolition, but urge that full abolition be achieved by both the Scottish and UK governments in the next Parliament to prevent unfairness for passengers across the UK and to avoid market distortions.”

Supporting the campaign, Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO said:

“APD is tax on passengers and has a proven, negative impact on UK tourism, investment and business activity. That is why we are working with other UK airlines to abolish the tax.

“Abolishing APD would boost the UK economy and pay for itself by increasing revenues from other sources. Research by PwC has revealed that the GDP boost to the UK economy would amount to at least £16 billion in the first three years and result in almost 60,000 extra jobs in the UK over the longer term.”

David Burling, Managing Director for Thomson and First Choice, said:

“We wholeheartedly support the call for the full abolition of APD. The devolution of the power to levy APD to the Scottish Parliament may result in the sensible removal or reduction of this tax north of the border. Whilst we would of course support this for our Scottish customers, it would be unacceptable to have different rates of APD across the UK and  therefore, if this scenario emerged, we would  strongly urge the UK government to enforce consistent rates across the country to lessen the impact for customers travelling from  other regional airports.”

The abolition of APD will be one of five policy proposals contained in a new manifesto produced by BATA to be published in March. The manifesto will set out the economic and social benefits generated by UK airlines and will propose five policy areas where Government action would enable the sector to deliver even more in the next Parliament.

Source:- BATA

Ashford Bowdler level crossing upgrade will make it safer for community

Network Rail is to upgrade and improve safety at Ashford Bowdler level crossing. The upgrade, which will see the current half barriers replaced by full barriers, is part of a £75 million project to modernise the railway between Newport and Shrewsbury, with new signalling technology installed along the route.

The upgrade is one of a number of possibilities that the company explored in order to improve safety at the crossing. The decision to proceed with the upgrade was taken following a consultation exercise with the local community. As well as the upgrade option, Network Rail also explored the possibility of closing the crossing.

Network Rail held a public meeting in Ashford Bowdler at the beginning of January to present the options and listen to the views of the community. Local residents made it clear that they wanted to retain the level crossing and their preference was for the crossing to be upgraded.

Christine Booth, operations risk advisor for Network Rail, said: “We are developing a £75 million project to modernise the railway between Newport and Shrewsbury with new signalling technology installed along the route. As part of this scheme, we are looking at how we can reduce risk at level crossings in this area.

“There are a number of options available to improve safety, including upgrade and closure. It’s really important that the community have their say on the options and we will always take their views on board.

“After meeting with the community in Ashford Bowdler, we have decided upgrading the crossing is the best option to balance the need of improving safety with the concerns of local residents if the crossing was downgraded or closed.”

Network Rail is committed to improving safety at level crossings, through its closure programme and public information campaigns.

Crystal Cruises offers 7-Day European voyages in 2015

Luxury cruise leader Crystal Cruises is offering travelers a varied menu of conveniently scheduled itineraries through Europe, including Sunday to Sunday and seven-day voyages this summer and fall. Sailing throughout the Mediterranean and Baltic Sea, and Northern Europe, the shorter itineraries complement the line’s more common 10-, 11- and 12+-day voyages.
Each seven-day cruise offers at least one overnight stay, often upon embarkation and/or disembarkation, allowing travelers ample time to immerse themselves in destinations before, during and following their Crystal cruise.
“The departures and returns afford those with limited travel time the ability to enjoy a dream vacation abroad without overextending their time away from work and other commitments,” said Crystal’s president, Edie Rodriguez. “Our varied range of itineraries is carefully designed to meet any traveler’s dreams of a journey to new and favorite destinations.”
Among the seven-day, Crystal Serenity voyages in 2015 are:
  • August 30, Rome to Venice (overnight): Sorrento (overnight), Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; and Rijeka, Croatia
  • September 6, Venice (overnight) to Istanbul (overnight): Dubrovnik, Croatia; Mykonos, Greece; and Izmir, Turkey
  • September 13, Round-trip Istanbul (begins with overnight): Kuşadasi, Rhodes and Santorini, Greece
  • October 11, Athens to Venice (overnight): Monemvasia and Katakolon, Greece; Sarande,     Albania; and Split, Croatia
  • October 18, Venice (overnight) to Monte Carlo: Kotor, Montenegro; Naples, Rome and Florence, Italy
  • November 6, Monte Carlo (overnight) to Lisbon: Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Spain; Gibraltar, United Kingdom; Portimão, Portugal
  • November 22, Monte Carlo (overnight) to Marseille: Genoa, Florence, Rome and Naples, Italy; and Corsica, France
The line’s other acclaimed vessel, Crystal Symphony, sails an August 16 seven-day jaunt round-trip from Copenhagen, calling in Berlin/Warnemünde, Germany and Helsinki, Finland and overnighting in St. Petersburg, Russia. This is followed by a Copenhagen to Amsterdam voyage beginning August 23, featuring an overnight in Edinburgh/Rosyth, Scotland and Hamburg, Germany; and calling in Newcastle, England; and Helgoland, Germany (maiden call).
Through March 2, 2015, compelling, all-inclusive “Book Now” cruise fares for 2015 seven-day Mediterranean voyages start at $1,995 per person.

Scoot fares sweetens for Valentine’s Day

Scoot sweetens its fares for Aussies so that they could surprise their Valentine with a cheeky visit to Singapore with special fares. Spread your Valentine’s love further, to Singapore, grab a bargain today and sweep them off their feet this Valentine’s Day. Give them a few weeks to pack, plan and prepare to take off from March 1st 2015, or for Valentine’s Day 2016.
Regular economy fares to Singapore are from $219, (ex Sydney & Melbourne*) from $199 ex Gold Coast and from $149 ex Perth. Regular Scootbiz to Singapore one way are ex Sydney Melbourne* and Gold Coast from $499 and from Perth from $399. All above fares are one way and include taxes and surcharges.
Bookings can be made between 0000 13 February and 2359 15 February 2015 (Singapore/Perth time) for travel between 1st March till 30th November 2015, and 1st Feb – 26th March 2016. Blackout periods may apply over school holidays and event periods.
To access these and other promotional fares, visit flyscoot.com

Lufthansa starts offering new Premium Economy class from Munich

Lufthansa is once again offering passengers a new travel class, which can now be experienced for the first time on selected routes from Munich. The new Premium Economy seats, depending on the aircraft type, are up to three centimeters (just over an inch) wider than in the normal Economy Class. Difference is not only at seats, an enhanced service also awaits Premium Economy passengers.
Each has its own, broad armrest, which allows for greater privacy and in total provides about 10 cm (4 inches) more space at the side. The back rest has ample recline, while the seat pitch of 97 cm (38 inches) is almost 17 cm greater than in Economy Class, which means that passengers have about 50 percent more room. The head rests can be adjusted continuously and the side wings pivoted for added comfort and support. From the second row back, the seats have height-adjustable foot rests to provide extra comfort. For technical reasons, a padded front leg rest is built into the first row of seats. Practical features around the seat, including a bottle holder, a power socket and plenty of storage space for personal items, also help to ensure a relaxed journey.
Initially, the new Premium Economy Class service will be offered on flights to Tokyo Haneda, Hong Kong and Shanghai. In mid-February, it will be extended to flights to Seoul. Additional destinations will be served from Munich in the summer, once more Airbus 340-600 aircraft have been refitted.
In terms of price, the average Premium Economy fare is closer to the Economy fare than to the Business Class fare. The new travel class is currently being rolled out across Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet. The upgrade for a round-trip flight across the North Atlantic or to Asia varies according to the length of the route, but on average is about 600 euros. Fares to Shanghai, for instance, start at 1,419 euros. Passengers travelling to Tokyo Haneda can enjoy the new travel experience for as little as 1,819 euros.
Lufthansa premium economy2
On board, an enhanced service awaits Premium Economy passengers. They are greeted with a welcome drink at their seat, where they will also find a bottle of water and a top-quality amenity kit with practical travel accessories. Meals can be selected from a dedicated menu and are served on porcelain tableware, in keeping with the new travel class.
Passengers can navigate the extensive in-flight entertainment program using their own touch screen monitor built into the seat in front. Alternatively, they can use the remote control, which doubles as a controller for computer games. The monitor, with an eleven or twelve inch screen depending on the aircraft type, is at least two inches larger than the monitor in Economy Class. A wide range of newspapers and magazines complete the in-flight entertainment offering.