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Destinations

Atlantis, The Palm prepares for a bumper 2020 ·

Atlantis, The Palm prepares for a bumper 2020

Upon completion of a three-year makeover, Atlantis, The Palm has reported record-breaking 2019 with an average occupancy of 90 per cent. This increase in visits as a result of strong footfall from top source markets as well as from diversified markets and is in line with the tourism strategy set out by Dubai Tourism (DTCM).

Australia continued to be an important market for Atlantis, The Palm, with guest numbers remaining stable throughout 2019. Significantly bookings from the UAE were up by 39 per cent, while Norway experienced a 24 per cent growth in bookings, China an increase of 16 per cent and Russia 14 per cent. Closer to home for the resort, bookings from Saudi Arabia surged by 25 per cent, while bookings from the rest of the resort’s top markets, including the UK, USA and India, remained robust.

“Ahead of Expo 2020 we undertook a programme that has updated our property with contemporary flair, while staying true to the property’s iconic heritage. Revamped and revitalised, it has been stylishly upgraded, while still keeping the soul of Atlantis alive,” said Timothy Kelly, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Atlantis Resorts & Residences. “We are maintaining our focus on customer needs and demands, and constantly evolving, ensuring that each and every experience is unique, with all our visitors making memories that last a lifetime,” he added.

Dubai welcomed 16.73 million visitors in 2019, with Atlantis, The Palm’s diversified portfolio ensuring that more than half a million of these visitors checked into the iconic resort. With next year’s Dubai Expo 2020 projected to attract 25 million visitors over a period of six months, more than 70 per cent of visitors will be coming from outside the UAE, which will have a significant effect on Dubai’s hospitality industry – and Atlantis, The Palm is ready for the influx.

“With Dubai attracting more than 16 million tourists in 2019, more than half a million of these opted to stay at or visit  Atlantis, The Palm, which is testament to the hard work that has been put in to revitalise the resort. We fully expect the year ahead to be a buoyant one and we are looking forward to welcoming even more tourists in 2020,” said Timothy Kelly.

2019 marked a transformative year for the Atlantis, The Palm. To celebrate the completion of a three-year refurbishment programme, the resort recently launched the ‘Atlantis Reimagined’ campaign which seeks to hero the enhanced and invigorated resort. As of December 2019, Atlantis, The Palm saw the completion of the refurbishment programme that has refreshed the entire resort. Following a vigorous competition, UAE based architects WA were selected to refurbish the resorts’ rooms and suites, delivering a contemporary underwater design to provide a fresh look and feel in keeping with the resort’s underwater theme. Integrated technology with sound bars and touch screen panels, oversized flat television screens and bespoke chandeliers are just some of the stand-out features of the spruced up new suites.

Atlantis, The Palm, has also raised the bar of its luxury offering with the relaunch of its Imperial Club service including a brand new 3,091sqm lounge. The stunning new Imperial Club Lounge, located in the East Tower, sits over two floors and can accommodate Imperial Club guests for complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails, and canapés over the course of a day.

Additional refurbished guest areas include The Zone, a teen-only hangout for ages 13 to 17, Plato’s Lounge serving breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and the concierge and VIP check in lounge. Sun loungers located on The Royal Beach, Royal Pool, Zero Entry Pool and all guest towels have also been replaced for a cleaner, more modern look.

The programme has also seen the introduction of four new restaurants including the incredibly successful launch of revolutionary entertainment destination Wavehouse, the opening of the globally celebrated Cantonese fine dining restaurant Hakkasan and the introduction of Atlantis, The Palm’s poolside burger concept Beach Buns. November 2019 also saw the introduction of the cutting-edge  beachside venue WHITE Beach & Restaurant, the new Dubai hotspot complete with a stylish infinity pool for laid-back lounging, with majestic, uninterrupted views of the glittering city skyline. Additionally, all-day-dining restaurant Kaleidoscope received a complete refurbishment in 2018.

In 2020 Atlantis Aquaventure plans to open a third tower. The expansion, which will include nine new attractions including the world’s longest waterslide, will make it one of the largest waterparks in the world.

For further information about Atlantis please call +971 4 426 1000, or visit atlantisthepalm.com

 

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Destinations

Obituary Caribbean hotelier Royston Hopkin

Sir Royston Hopkin, owner and chairman of the luxury Spice
Island Beach Resort in Grenada, has died following complications from heart
surgery. He was 75. 

An icon in the Caribbean tourism and hospitality industry
and the only Caribbean hotelier ever knighted by the Queen of England, Hopkin
had a career that spanned more than 55 years.

He was the recipient of many awards, including Lifetime Achievement
awards from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean
Tourism Organization, CHTA Hotelier of the Year,  and the 2019 Caribbean Hotel & Resort
Investment Summit.

Hopkin had served as president of the Grenada Hotel and
Tourism Association and was a past president of the CHTA. He had worked as a
volunteer on CHTA’s board of directors and, along with CTO officials, helped
hoteliers and destinations develop their individual products.

He is survived by his wife Betty, four children, four
grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and the entire family of Spice Island
Beach Resort. 

Services are planned for March 5 in Grenada.

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Travel

Air New Zealand joins Nasa for special mission

It’s one small 45-minute flight from Kerikeri to Wellington, but potentially a giant leap for Nasa’s climate science division.

Air New Zealand has partnered with the American space agency as part of a scientific mission to better understand the effect of climate change on the planet.

Carrying Nasa instruments on their fleet of Q300s, Air New Zealand will begin an important data gathering mission at level not currently available to the space agency.

“This is the first time that we’ve ever taken scientific instruments and put them on a commercial airline,” said Professor Chris Ruf, principal investigator for the Nasa mission.

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Cruises

Aurora Expeditions Ramps Up North American Advisor Outreach

Aurora Expeditions continued its efforts to reach out to North American travel advisors with the appointment of Lisa Bertini as national sales manager USA, a new position. The Australian-owned company is broadening its geographic distribution as it added a new expedition ship last year and plans to add another one in 2021.

Bertini will be responsible for driving and developing agent distribution in the U.S. and will be based in Seattle. She joins a dedicated U.S. team that includes George Johns, business development manager. She has over 25 years of experience in the industry with previous service at Virtuoso, Zegrahm Expeditions and Society Expeditions Cruises.

Aurora has made other moves in recent months intended to help North American agents sell its products. That includes the recent release of a 360-degree virtual tour of the Greg Mortimer, the ship that entered the market late last year. This will be an excellent tool, according to Edith Beaudoin, director of sales – the Americas, for agents to use when familiarizing themselves with the new ship to enable them to accurately explain onboard offerings to clients. The virtual tour is live on the website (auroraexpeditions.com.au) and there is an available code that allows agents to embed the virtual tour on their websites as well.

The ship is named after Greg Mortimer who, with his wife Margaret, founded Aurora 28 years ago. Voyages are capped at 120 passengers. While 100 passengers explore on land—following guidelines set by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators—20 can explore the water on kayaks or by diving.

The company recently named its second purpose-built expedition ship, to be delivered in October 2021, after acclaimed marine biologist and oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. She was the first woman to become chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998. The vessel, which carries 126, pays tribute to Earle’s longstanding conservation efforts for marine protected areas and ocean wildlife.

Built to world-class polar standards, the Sylvia Earle will launch in October 2021 in Ushuaia, Argentina. In the spirit of exploration, and as part of its commitment to responsible travel, Aurora Expeditions will continue to name its new ships after explorers “who are passionate about their environmental commitment and who share the company’s vision for the future.”

The operator recently announced the 2021/22 program aboard both the Greg Mortimer and the Sylvia Earle. The new programs include, according to Beaudoin, a diverse portfolio of new itineraries and destinations, including Antarctica and the South Sandwich Islands, Ireland and Costa Rica. She said that while polar voyages remain core to the product, there are new itineraries to destinations like Ireland and Costa Rica to provide experiences in other biodiverse places.

The operator will continue to offer its range of adventure activities on all voyages from sea kayaking to rock climbing and polar diving.

An early bird deal on 2021/22 offers a saving of up to 30 percent on new voyages booked and deposited by March 21, 2020, or until sold out.

Working in parallel with Greg Mortimer, a mountaineer, Earle will be channeling her marine-conservation ethos into a fully immersive onboard guest experience, not only in the Polar regions but also in other destinations as the ship sails from south to north and vice-versa.

Both vessels feature the Ulstein-X-VBOW, with the Greg Mortimer the first ship in the world to deploy it. This is an inverted bow design that provides stability and comfort on ocean crossings, cutting through the swells, minimizing vibrations and disturbance and making quicker transits through waves. It also cuts fuel consumption.

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Travel

Winter holiday destination that’s even better in summer

Welcome to Don’t Delay Your Stay, news.com.au’s campaign to support communities hard hit by this summer’s devastating bushfires. Many of these regions rely on tourism, so one of the best ways to help is to visit and spend time in some of the most beautiful parts of our great country.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had to explain to people why in the world my family chooses to spend every summer holiday hanging out in Thredbo in the NSW Snowy Mountains.

Skifields? Summertime? I get it. It’s confusing.

Sure, the booming popularity of mountain biking has helped spread the word there’s more to this place than snowsports and apres – but to the wider public, it’s still something of a summertime hidden gem.

Far left: me aged two, taking a break on the Mt Kosciuszko walk.Source:Supplied

29 years on: same place, same vibe.Source:Supplied

With 31 years of memories attached to the place, watching so much of the beautiful national park surrounding Thredbo go up in flames – and at one point, coming dangerously close to razing the town – amid a mass evacuation in January was gut-wrenching.

Unlike so many devastated towns, thankfully, this one survived – and my family made sure to stick to our annual pilgrimage up the mountain just a few weeks after the danger passed. Sadly, it was by far the quietest Australia Day weekend we’d ever seen there.

Whether you’ve visited before, or this is the first you’ve heard about summer holidays in the mountains (you’re welcome) – there’s never been a better time to make the scenic journey to the Snowies.

Once you get there, here are all the must-do’s:

Eat and drink

WILDBRUMBY SCHNAPPS DISTILLERY

This local treasure should be at the top of everyone’s list. Located between Thredbo resort and Jindabyne, the distillery – set upon hectares of breathtaking farmland – creates its own homegrown schnapps, vodka and gin right in front of your eyes.

The best part? They offer a free sampling service of their impressively vast range, but be warned: There’s no way you won’t want to buy a bottle of your favourite in the gift shop before you leave (limoncello and butterscotch are personal highlights).

The Alpine Way distillery is surrounded by beautiful farmland.Source:News Corp Australia

They offer free schnapps taste testing.Source:News Corp Australia

Across both summer and winter, the distillery’s Austrian-themed restaurant is usually buzzing, so it’s highly recommended guests book ahead. Once you’re there, opt for Wildbrumby’s famous reuben sandwich, schnitzel burger or the gourmet sausages – and make sure you wash it down with one of their signature drinks, like the “Donner & Blitz”, (chilli schnapps and ginger beer, trust me, it works), bellini cocktail (with homemade peach schnapps) or a simple limoncello on ice.

THE LOCAL PUB, THREDBO

For a relaxed, picturesque and utterly local experience, you can’t beat Thredbo’s local pub.

The large venue boasts pride of place at the front of the resort, with a huge balcony offering panoramic views of the mountain.

The bistro balcony offers up incredible views of the mountain.Source:Supplied

It’s the perfect place to unwind with a cold drink after a hike or play some pool or darts while taking in the scenery. It’s got a low-key family-friendly vibe and serves up hearty Aussie pub dishes and daily specials.

You’re guaranteed to spot the locals’ table – a group who are usually more than willing to regale you with a mountain tale or two.

BLACK BEAR INN

The Black Bear restaurant is a longtime favourite of guests and locals alike – and most nights, its clientele is a pretty even mix of both.

The cuisine is hearty, wholesome, European-inspired fare, like the hugely popular “Trio of Schnitzels” – but make sure you arrive ravenously hungry.

Sunset is the perfect time for a drink on the balcony, and as darkness sweeps across the mountain, the restaurant’s wooden chalet-style interior will have you feeling like you’re tucked away in the Alps.

Sunset from the Black Bear balcony.Source:Supplied

The European-style interior.Source:Supplied

THREDBO BAKERY

Smack bang in the centre of town is Thredbo Bakery, serving up coffee, freshly-baked treats, mouth-watering bacon and egg rolls, salad rolls, sausages, pies, and mini pizzas. One option is to grab a table outside in the sunshine – the other is to take away a packed lunch to eat on a hike or on a picnic.

Pizzas from the bakery at the top of Mt Kosciuszko. Picture: Supplied/Bronte CoySource:Supplied

APRES BAR, THE DENMAN

For atmosphere, the Apres Bar within The Denman is just the right spot for a cosy evening drink.

While it’s decor is certainly visually appealing, it’s the expertise of the cocktail makers behind the bar that’ll keep you coming back.

(Pro tip: Ask the bartender for a “money shot”.)

Longtime Denman barman John is a cocktail whiz.Source:Supplied

EAGLES NEST

At 1937 metres above sea level, Eagles Nest is Australia’s highest restaurant and, needless to say, offers eye-catching views.

There’s cafe-style food, a full bar and six varieties of their famously delicious hot chocolates on the menu at the restaurant, which is open from 9.30am until 3pm every day.

Unless you feel like a steep hike from the village, the best way to get there is by taking the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift.

It’s a great spot to unwind. Picture: Supplied/Bronte CoySource:Supplied

Do

HIKING

I’m not usually one for hiking, but there’s something about the crisp alpine air that makes exploring the pathways around Kosciuszko wildly appealing.

Kosciuszko is a bucket-list trek for any Thredbo visitor – it’s the highest point in Australia and a relatively easy, low-impact walk along a largely metal pathway.

It’s a beautiful, easy walk and appropriate for a wide range of ages. Picture: Supplied/Bronte CoySource:Supplied

But my favourite is Dead Horse Gap – it involves a chairlift ride taking you to the start of the track and leads you down the mountain over about a 2½ hour period.

The rugged terrain is breathtaking and, at times, looks like something straight out of a movie.

Pack a few snacks for the road to enjoy along the way and keep an eye out for local wildlife – you may even catch a glimpse of the notoriously shy wild brumbies.

There are plenty of other walking options, too – more details can be found on Thredbo’s official website.

(Note: You’ll need to buy a chairlift pass for many of the hikes.)

SWIMMING

Thredbo is home to plenty of watering holes, providing an idyllic way to spend a hot summer’s day.

The dam near the entry (via Jindabyne) to the resort is a particularly good swimming spot, especially if you BYO floating devices.

The ultimate swimming spot.Source:Supplied

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Thredbo Mountain Bike Park has established itself as a top mountain biking destination with Australia’s only summer-long chairlift access.

There’s a mix of trails including downhill, flow, all-mountain, cross-country plus skills parks, and with daily lessons available, it’s suitable for first-timers all the way through to more experienced riders.

Mountain biking has become a popular summertime activity in Thredbo. Picture: SuppliedSource:istock

BOBSLED

If you’re looking for an activity the whole family can enjoy – the bobsled is just the ticket.

The 700-metre luge-style track twists and turns its way down the mountain, offering up a view of the village as you whiz by in the bobsled (a cross between a go-kart and a toboggan).

Speed is fairly easy to control, so parents can hop on with their young kids and do it at their own pace – while speed junkies will prefer to fly down at maximum speed.

It’s not cheap, but it’s great fun. A single ride is $10, six rides are $50, 10 rides are $70 and 20 rides are $120, and all can be purchased at Thredbo Sports, located at the bottom of the chairlift.

TENNIS/GOLF

Enjoy a round of nine-hole golf on Australia’s highest golf course, or grab some friends for a spot of tennis at one of the resort’s two available tennis courts.

Not a bad backdrop.Source:Supplied

FLY FISHING

Fishing season runs between the October and June long weekends in Kosciuszko National Park and is a popular activity among both locals and visitors.

Thredbo River is home to some of the wildest trout in Australia and features plenty of peaceful, tranquil fishing spots along its banks.

Whether it’s your first time or you’re just looking to brush up on skills, learn to do it like the pros with one of the resort’s experienced guides.

HORSE-RIDING

Guided rides through the Snowy Mountains region can be enjoyed by all ages and ability levels and range from just a couple of hours to two-day wilderness camping experiences.

As you peacefully meander through the valleys and up the slopes, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River tale.

BREWERY TOUR

If you’re keen to try out the local beer, you’re in luck: There are plenty of brewery options available.

There are two of them in Jindabyne alone: Jindabyne Brewing and Kosciuszko Brewery (at Banjo Paterson Inn), with both offering a hearty range of local beers.

If you venture a little farther to Dalgety (just under an hour’s drive from Thredbo), you’ll come across the charming Snowy Vineyard and Microbrewery, which also features wine tasting and an a la carte restaurant.

Stay

THREDBO ALPINE HOTEL

Situated in the heart of the village, the Alpine Hotel is just a couple of hundred metres from the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift – which is open year-round and ferries guests up to the top of the mountain – and Thredbo River. Each room features an ensuite bathroom, and the Cascades’ buffet breakfast is pretty sensational.

Plus, there’s always a vibe in the hotel courtyard, where fire pits and fairy lights make for a relaxed evening hangout spot.

The Alpine Hotel is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the main hub.Source:Supplied

The hotel courtyard is usually buzzing with activity.Source:Supplied

For more information and to book, head to the official website.

LANTERN APARTMENTS

The self-contained four-star Lantern apartments come with a fully-equipped kitchen, barbecue and laundry facilities – perfect for either a romantic couples break or a family stay.

Like many places in Thredbo, the view from the apartment balconies is picturesque – but Lantern’s location a bit higher up the hill makes it just a smidgen more spectacular (and a smidgen more pricey).

Inside one of the Lantern apartments.Source:Supplied

For more information and to book, head to the official website.

THREDBO YOUTH HOSTEL

The significantly more budget-friendly cost of youth hostels is usually the biggest selling point, but in this case it’s the jaw-dropping view from the huge balcony and comfy lodge-style dining room.

The YHA balcony is pretty special.Source:Supplied

The rooms are basic, clean, comfortable YHA fare with the option of private or shared rooms.

For more information and to book, head to the official website.

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When in Canada: three legendary stays ·

When in Canada: three legendary stays

Australian travellers exploring Canada this summer are eager to make their accommodation as memorable as the trip itself, clambering to stay in some of the country’s most iconic hotels, whose striking architecture, exclusivity and indulgent service have helped them acquire landmark status. Read on for three legendary Canadian stays.

Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland and Labrador
It’s a striking example of world-class innovation.

The magnificent Fogo Island Inn stands on crooked pilotis on the dramatic and rocky north-east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador,  providing panoramic views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, surrounded by whales, seabirds and icebergs.

The island’s people and stories are felt throughout the Inn:  bespoke furniture and fixtures entirely handmade by local carpenters; the textiles– quilts, rugs, pillows – are hand-crafted by island artisans following the centuries-old tradition of “made not bought”.

The pristine, solitary island awakens the senses and inspires creativity.  Enjoy an art workshop, hike the rugged coastal trails and fish for cod the traditional way. Fogo Island Inn embodies the vibrant spirit of the island and passes it on to all who stay there.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
It’s little wonder Quebec City’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, with its incredible history and beautiful European architecture, is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. Perched on a hill overlooking the walled city of Old Quebec, it’s one of Canada’s most magnificent buildings.

Discover the unique stories behind eleven of Canada’s Fairmont Hotels  – each of them an historical and architectural monument – and delve into their glamorous past and present glory.

In Victoria, on Vancouver Island, the historic Fairmont Empress smiles down upon the city from her imposing throne on the harbour-front, where she has watched over her subjects since the early 20th century when the hotel was built as a tribute to Queen Victoria. High tea at the Empress is mandatory, a timeless experience taken up by more than 80,000 guests annually.

Stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta and find out why it’s Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies”, or explore turrets reminiscent of a French estate at Ottawa’s landmark Fairmont Château Laurier, next door to the historic Parliament Buildings.

Every illustrious Fairmont has its own distinctive character, but each one serves up the same gracious hospitality and world-class cuisine.

Sparkling Hill Resort, British Columbia
Nothing says luxury like the 3.5 million Swarovski crystals adorning the foyer of Sparkling Hill Resort.

Perched atop a granite bluff overlooking the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia, this high-end spa with its striking contemporary architecture spares no expense to create the ultimate in holistic wellness experiences.

Choose from more than 100 different healing and pampering treatments, including its signature Cryo Cold Chamber. Brace yourself for three minutes in minus 110 degrees Celsius where your nervous and circulatory systems will undergo a boost like no other.

Take in the sweeping landscapes of thriving wine country that surround the resort and feast on locally-sourced farm-to-table creations at the PeakFine Restaurant.

Fair warning: after immersing yourself in this 12,000 square metre spa, with its seven aromatherapy steam rooms, three indoor/outdoor pools and endless treatments, your body, mind and spirit will sparkle like the crystals that festoon the ceiling.

Getting there

Air Canada has direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with connecting flights to central and eastern Canada.

www.keepexploring.com.au

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Transport

United increasing fee for checked bags

United will increase checked bag fees for domestic and short-haul
Caribbean flights, starting with travel beginning March 6. 

The price will be $35 for the first checked bag and $45 for
the second checked bag, up from the current rate of $30 and $40, respectively. 

However, customers who pay their bag fee online before
check-in will continue to pay the current rate. Travelers who booked their
trips prior to Feb. 21 also won’t have to pay the higher fees. 

With the increase to $35 for the first checked bag, United
is following a lead set by JetBlue in January. Other carriers may well follow. 

After JetBlue increased its fee for the first checked bag to
$30 in August 2018, American, Delta, United, Alaska and Hawaiian quickly
followed.

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Destinations

Atlantis, The Palm prepares for a bumper 2020 ·

Atlantis, The Palm prepares for a bumper 2020

Upon completion of a three-year makeover, Atlantis, The Palm has reported record-breaking 2019 with an average occupancy of 90 per cent. This increase in visits as a result of strong footfall from top source markets as well as from diversified markets and is in line with the tourism strategy set out by Dubai Tourism (DTCM).

Australia continued to be an important market for Atlantis, The Palm, with guest numbers remaining stable throughout 2019. Significantly bookings from the UAE were up by 39 per cent, while Norway experienced a 24 per cent growth in bookings, China an increase of 16 per cent and Russia 14 per cent. Closer to home for the resort, bookings from Saudi Arabia surged by 25 per cent, while bookings from the rest of the resort’s top markets, including the UK, USA and India, remained robust.

“Ahead of Expo 2020 we undertook a programme that has updated our property with contemporary flair, while staying true to the property’s iconic heritage. Revamped and revitalised, it has been stylishly upgraded, while still keeping the soul of Atlantis alive,” said Timothy Kelly, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Atlantis Resorts & Residences. “We are maintaining our focus on customer needs and demands, and constantly evolving, ensuring that each and every experience is unique, with all our visitors making memories that last a lifetime,” he added.

Dubai welcomed 16.73 million visitors in 2019, with Atlantis, The Palm’s diversified portfolio ensuring that more than half a million of these visitors checked into the iconic resort. With next year’s Dubai Expo 2020 projected to attract 25 million visitors over a period of six months, more than 70 per cent of visitors will be coming from outside the UAE, which will have a significant effect on Dubai’s hospitality industry – and Atlantis, The Palm is ready for the influx.

“With Dubai attracting more than 16 million tourists in 2019, more than half a million of these opted to stay at or visit  Atlantis, The Palm, which is testament to the hard work that has been put in to revitalise the resort. We fully expect the year ahead to be a buoyant one and we are looking forward to welcoming even more tourists in 2020,” said Timothy Kelly.

2019 marked a transformative year for the Atlantis, The Palm. To celebrate the completion of a three-year refurbishment programme, the resort recently launched the ‘Atlantis Reimagined’ campaign which seeks to hero the enhanced and invigorated resort. As of December 2019, Atlantis, The Palm saw the completion of the refurbishment programme that has refreshed the entire resort. Following a vigorous competition, UAE based architects WA were selected to refurbish the resorts’ rooms and suites, delivering a contemporary underwater design to provide a fresh look and feel in keeping with the resort’s underwater theme. Integrated technology with sound bars and touch screen panels, oversized flat television screens and bespoke chandeliers are just some of the stand-out features of the spruced up new suites.

Atlantis, The Palm, has also raised the bar of its luxury offering with the relaunch of its Imperial Club service including a brand new 3,091sqm lounge. The stunning new Imperial Club Lounge, located in the East Tower, sits over two floors and can accommodate Imperial Club guests for complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails, and canapés over the course of a day.

Additional refurbished guest areas include The Zone, a teen-only hangout for ages 13 to 17, Plato’s Lounge serving breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and the concierge and VIP check in lounge. Sun loungers located on The Royal Beach, Royal Pool, Zero Entry Pool and all guest towels have also been replaced for a cleaner, more modern look.

The programme has also seen the introduction of four new restaurants including the incredibly successful launch of revolutionary entertainment destination Wavehouse, the opening of the globally celebrated Cantonese fine dining restaurant Hakkasan and the introduction of Atlantis, The Palm’s poolside burger concept Beach Buns. November 2019 also saw the introduction of the cutting-edge  beachside venue WHITE Beach & Restaurant, the new Dubai hotspot complete with a stylish infinity pool for laid-back lounging, with majestic, uninterrupted views of the glittering city skyline. Additionally, all-day-dining restaurant Kaleidoscope received a complete refurbishment in 2018.

In 2020 Atlantis Aquaventure plans to open a third tower. The expansion, which will include nine new attractions including the world’s longest waterslide, will make it one of the largest waterparks in the world.

For further information about Atlantis please call +971 4 426 1000, or visit atlantisthepalm.com

 

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Destinations

A world first ·

A world first

Overview:

· Global Journeys now offers a unified aggregation of multi-day land tours, river cruises and ocean cruises in one system, offering 10,000+ worldwide trips

· The capacity to combine back to back tours, tour and river cruise, tour and cruise, cruise and tour, cruise and cruise is a world first for all OTA’s globally

· For the first time travellers can search, compare and book their entire journey online in one place

· This opens opportunities for land and cruise partners to work together to create innovative itineraries that combine land tours, river and ocean cruises

· A phased cruise rollout is underway with nine cruise lines live and more to follow

Story:

Global Journeys, one of few multi-day touring OTA specialists around the world, have integrated ocean cruising into their portfolio of 10,000 + worldwide journeys.

A first for all OTA’s globally, Global Journeys now offer the unified aggregation of multi-day land tours, river cruises and ocean cruises in the one system.

“For the first time, travellers will be able to combine land tours and cruises seamlessly” says Campbell Harris, Global Journey’s CEO.“ We looked at the existing online cruise solutions and weren’t that impressed, so we decided to build our own, which enabled us to integrate of all three journey styles into the one engine.”

In the first phase of the cruise rollout, Global Journeys have partnered with nine cruise lines including Viking, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Azamara, Oceania, Celebrity, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Ponant, with more cruise lines to follow.

“The aggregation of all forms of multi-day journeys allows us to marry the hundreds of thousands of land departures in our portfolio with thousands of cruise departures, enabling our clients to pair trips together and for us to package them together automatically.”

This also opens up opportunities for our land and cruise partners to work together to create new itineraries that previously would have taken many man-hours to complete. For the first time they will be able to consider a myriad of new journey ideas – like wrapping up active adventures with luxury cruises.

Back to back tours, tour and river cruise, tour and cruise, cruise and tour, cruise and cruise – the journey combinations available to our clients won’t be available anywhere else.

“We operate a click to enquire full service agency model, so each client has the support of a dedicated travel advisor, and with the ability to add flights and accommodation to their trips, our clients can search, compare and book their entire global journey online in one place.”

About Global Journeys Global Journeys specialise in multi-day guided tours, ocean cruising and river cruises. Partnering with the world’s leading travel operators to offer their clients over 10,000+ trips worldwide.

Website: www.globaljourneys.com

Address: 10 Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Heads, Queensland 4567

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Cruises

What It's Like to Be a Black Female Hotel Owner

In 2019, the worldwide hotel chain, Choice Hotels International, Inc. awarded six franchise agreements for hotel developments in the U.S. and the Caribbean to organizations led by African American women.

Businesses owned by women of color in 2018 grew faster than other women-owned businesses, so in this move, Choice Hotels was making a financially-savvy decision. However, what the company was indirectly doing is far more important: assisting African American women in joining the top fold of the hospitality industry through hotel ownership.

According to the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) less than one percent of all hotels are owned by African-American women. This seems out of proportion when you consider that there are 5 million black millennial travelers in the U.S. who spent $63 billion on travel in 2018.

We sat down with three black female hotel owners to look more closely at their experiences and journey into the top levels of the hospitality industry.

Why did you become a hotel owner?

In 2018, Deidre Mathis became the first black woman to own a hostel in the United States when she opened Wanderstay in Houston, Texas.

“Hostels accommodate guests from all over the world from many different backgrounds and it was very imperative for me to show that not only do diverse people stay in hostels, but they can own and run them too,” Mathis said.

Mathis’ inspiration for opening a hostel was two-fold: “I decided to make our first location (Wanderstay Houston) a hostel because not only did the city of Houston have a need for it but also because I had just finished traveling 12 countries over a year, staying in over 40 hostels and I wanted to bring that same experience to the USA for other travelers from across the globe to experience.”

She added, “It was very important for me to add some much-needed diversity in the hospitality industry.”

Hotel ownership occurred a bit differently for Sheila Johnson, Founder & CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts.

“I have always been fueled by an independent, entrepreneurial spirit,” Johnson explains. This is true – before becoming a hotel owner, she was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and worked in sports entertainment.

“After leaving Black Entertainment Television, I carved out a new life for myself, both personally and professionally. As a result, I became the founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, where I remain dedicated to bringing a touch of luxury into the lives of countless men, women and children of all creeds, colors and income levels,” she said.

“I was introduced to the hospitality industry because of the opportunity to build and open Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA. However, I learned that to grow I needed to form a management company.”

And she did. There are now five hotels under her luxury hotel management company, and her properties have won everything from a Five-Star Rating by Forbes Travel Guide in 2019 to the 2019 Traveler’s Choice Award Winner for TripAdvisor.

As for our third hotel owner, Kristin Kitchen, Founder and CEO of Sojourn Accommodations. Her path to hotel ownership began with her first property, the historic Six Acres Bed & Breakfast. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio, Six Acres was the home of Zebulon Strong, an abolitionist and Quaker, and his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

“Six Acres Bed and Breakfast today was where I attended my high school graduation at the house of a classmate whose family owned the house for 3 generations. His mom told me the history of the house and that is was part of the Underground Railroad,” Kitchen said. “Later the house fell to ruins and I would pass by on my way to church on Sundays and say… ‘I got to do something with that house.’”

The next week, Kitchen took a drill from church, unscrewed a board off the window of the dilapidated home, and crawled inside. What she found there, sent her on the path toward buying the home and turning it into a bed-and-breakfast.

“There was so much ancestral conversation going on that I don’t think that I decided to open a bed and breakfast. I think ‘they” called on me to restore the house so that the house could restore the people,” Kitchen explains.

“I was given so many signs along the way that it was pretty clear that it was going to be part of my life’s work.”

Growing an empire

All three hotel owners have expanded their business. They’re not just hotel owners, they’re owners of hotel chains.

“Salamander Hotels and Resorts continues to evolve with the addition of new properties to the portfolio. On March 1, we will open Eclipse at Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica, which promises to be the finest property to open in a generation in the Caribbean,” said Johnson.

Although a bed-and-breakfast owner for 14 years, Kitchen is now the hotel chain owner of a boutique brand of hotel properties. “I just opened a new boutique hotel in Miami, Florida, called the Dunns-Josephine Hotel. It is the launch of a new brand of hotels focusing on African American history and culture called Sojourn Heritage.”

“Heritage tourism is the fastest-growing sector of the tourism industry. It is very important for us to get into the market and tell our stories, share our experiences. We are planning to launch our brand in several different cities over the next 3 years before we franchise our model,” Kitchen explained.

Like Six Acres, Dunns-Josephine Hotel has a connection to African American history, something that will play a big role in subsequent properties that Kitchen opens.

She explained, “We launched the new brand in a historically black community called Overtown which is going through rapid gentrification. This hotel is the last in this community from the days of segregation when all the stars could perform on South Beach but had to go Overtown to go to sleep. We have themed the hotel in the Harlem Renaissance because this community was once called the ‘Harlem of the South.’”

As for Mathis, she says, “Wanderstay Hotels will eventually open an assortment of accommodation types.”

The importance of black female hotel ownership

“It is of the utmost importance to have more black owners so we can continue to dispel the myths surrounding education and abilities,” said Johnson. For her, African American representation at the top levels of the hospitality industry is beneficial, not just to other African Americans, but to society as a whole.

“As both an African American and a woman – one who came of age in the very heart of the white and male-dominated 1950’s and 60’s – I’ve spent my entire life working and fighting, often against the longest of odds, to gain even the smallest toehold on the American Dream,” she said. “It is our obligation to continue to elevate the curious, intelligent, inspiring leaders of the black community and remove the preconceived notion of what that looks like in hospitality.”

Kitchen echoed Johnson: “How does it make me feel [to be a black hotel owner]…? Proud. What does it mean to me? It means the world to me!”

“There are very few black-owned hotels or B&Bs so having the opportunity to break bread with a diverse population is something that I think so many people are actually looking for and are definitely excited about once they have the opportunity. What you realize is that we all have so much more in common than the news will ever report,” Kitchen said.

However, she added that accurate representation and acknowledgment of African American contribution in the past has a space within the hospitality industry and is equally as important.

“I feel responsible as a keeper of our history to make sure that we continue to create a place where open dialogue and discussion for those of different races, genders, and cultures are always welcomed and encouraged,” Kitchen said. “My job is to often to teach or correct what many have learned in history books and popular culture about the African American experience.”

How can other African American women break into the industry?

Opening a hotel is a big task for anyone, no matter your background, however, Johnson makes a good point: “In my time, and throughout the previous roles I have held, I have found that we are not lacking talented qualified women of color. What there is, is a lack of economic opportunity.”

Opening a hotel isn’t something you can do without money and amassing that kind of wealth could take years if not decades. Add on the fact that African Americans face more systemic obstacles to economic opportunity — fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits, job instability, and discrimination and segregation in the workplace — and black women only get 61 cents per dollar compared to white men, and it’s no wonder African American women only make up less than one percent of hotel owners.

Despite this seemingly impossible task, Wanderstay Hotels-owner Mathis found a way to raise capital including getting a small business loan, running a Indiegogo fundraising campaign that brought in $5,000 from the Houston community in 31 days, and winning over $75,000 in business pitching competitions including the Bank of American/Mastercard Grow Your Biz Pitch Competition in 2019.

For African American women interested in owning their own hotel, Mathis says: “My advice is pretty universal and can work for anyone: 1) Increase your personal credit score 2) Save as much money as possible 3) Get a mentor ASAP 4) Don’t let barriers get in the way 5) Do your research 6) Write a solid/feasible business plan.”

In looking for opportunities to break into the hospitality industry that doesn’t involve hotel ownership, Kitchen says, “There are so many new ways to get into the hospitality industry. There is a young woman named Samella Watson who just launched a new app called My-Cierge which we are now using in Miami that enhances the guest experience.”

Having more black voices in the hospitality industry is important to Kitchen because as she explains, ”The telling of our stories is crucial to the true evolution of America.”

As for Johnson, more African American women hotel owners would improve the hospitality industry in so many ways.

“There needs to be a recognition that people of diverse backgrounds bring forth new ideas and experiences and look at life from a different perspective. It is the only way we are going to evolve the industry and make an impact,” she said.

“Change truly starts at the top, and at Salamander Hotels and Resorts, it begins with me.”

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