AIR NZ THE HIGHEST FLYER
Our neighbours across the Tasman have pipped Australia to have the topranked airline for 2018. Aviation safety and product rating review website Airlineratings.com has put Air New Zealand at No. 1 in its latest Top 10. Qantas is second and Singapore Airlines third, both on the strength of new 787s and A350s, and revamped in-flight service. Virgin Australia – whose new business class is turning heads, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways, All Nippon Airways, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines complete the list.
It is the fifth consecutive year that Air New Zealand has been honoured for factors including recordbreaking financial performance, inflight innovations, environmental leadership, young fleet and motivation of its staff. Conde Nast Traveller readers have also named the airline as best in the world outside the US.
The judging panel said Air New Zealand came out No. 1, or equal first, in all the awards’ audit criteria. It was also judged to have the best premium economy offering in the air.
Qantas was named as “best catering” winner for the fourth year, and topped the Best Lounges and Best Domestic Class as well for inflight service that “matches or exceeds international service”.
Etihad was named Best Long Haul Airline and Emirates continued its leadership in the in-flight entertainment stakes.
To be in the Top 10, airlines must achieve a seven-star safety rating and demonstrate leadership in innovation for passenger comfort. AIRLINERATINGS.COM
On November 9, one of the most famous trains in the world chugs into cinemas in the star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
In the film, Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) is making the trip from Istanbul to London, until the train is stranded in a snowdrift in Yugoslavia, where one of the passengers is murdered.
The cast also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench and American funnyman Josh Gad, who followed up his filmic journey with a train ride on as real a deal as still exists today – the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
“It was one of the thrills of my life,” Gad told News Corp movie reporter Neala Johnson. “It was the tail end of winter so you saw all of these incredible snow-covered peaks but also all of this incredible greenery. Going through the Austrian Alps in particular was one of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve ever experienced.”
Though the original Orient Express, which carried passengers in luxury from 1883-2009, no longer exists, Belmond (which also runs the Royal Scotsman) now operates the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, carrying passengers around Europe in restored 1920s art deco opulence, with multiple bars and restaurant cars. Its regular route runs London-Paris-Venice, but the company also adds occasional departures to Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Prague, Rome, Stockholm and Istanbul.
If a $4040 one-way trip from London to Venice sounds a bit rich, many of the genuine vistas are on show in Murder on the Orient Express. “They did an unbelievable job recreating the experience of being on that train,” says Gad. “The hero train in the film was built on a gimbal, so as this train is synthetically moving, you also have these high definition, 360 degree images of actual mountains and all of this terrain being projected. BELMOND.COM
FRESH LOOK AT FISH
Fifteen years in the making, Europe’s largest freshwater aquarium has opened in Lausanne, Switzerland.
AQUATIS, set on Lake Geneva – the largest body of freshwater in Western Europe – is home to 20 different ecosystems, 300 plant species, 10,000 fish from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America, 100 reptiles and amphibians.
The Sri Lankan family behind Dilmah Tea has added a third property to its Resplendent Ceylon hotel collection.
Beachside Wild Coast Tented Lodge opened last week on the edge of Yala National Park, home to wild elephants, sloth bears and leopards. Combining the comforts of a luxury hotel with a wilderness safari camp, the lodge has 28 tented “cocoon suites” offering panoramic jungle views from the double-height glass facades.
The opening is timely as Sri Lankan Airlines returns to Australia for the first time in 15 years. The airline last week launched daily nonstop services between Melbourne and Colombo. RESPLENDENTCEYLON.COM SRILANKAN.COM/AUSTRALIA
AIR NEW ZEALAND It’s plane and simple, Air New Zealand is the consistent winner to airline honours.