Value added re­lax

Wal­let-friendly UK, pop­u­lar Thai­land and af­ford­able Eastern Europe are among this sea­son’s travel hotspots,

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Summer Travel - reports Dominic El­lis

Loy­alty-linked pro­mo­tions, favourable ex­change rates and ex­tend-yourstay of­fers should make sum­mer 2017 a good one for trav­ellers from the Mid­dle East. Mar­riott Re­wards’ mem­bers are bask­ing in rates which are down as much as 30 per cent across 17 brands and 200 ho­tels. The newly en­larged ho­tel op­er­a­tor is run­ning three key pro­mo­tions:

Reg­is­tra­tions for all three pro­grammes can be made un­til Au­gust 30 and the earn­ing pe­riod runs un­til Septem­ber 4. How­ever a Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional spokesper­son says mem­bers need to reg­is­ter for the spe­cific pro­mo­tion they would like to par­tic­i­pate in and “there is no crossover”, which per­haps will change in fu­ture when loy­alty is fully in­te­grated. Reg­u­lar guests can book up to Au­gust 31 for stays un­til Septem­ber 9 and en­joy 20 per cent off on the best avail­able rate and 30 per cent off on food and soft bev­er­ages at par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants – which rises to 30 per cent off on best avail­able rate for loy­alty mem­bers and 30 per cent off on their next stay (be­tween Septem­ber 10-De­cem­ber 31). Möven­pick Ho­tels & Re­sorts’ Sum­mer 2017 pro­mo­tion, which ap­plies to book­ings of two nights or more, of­fers guests who book their stay on­line a US$20 voucher to spend at any par­tic­i­pat­ing ho­tel restau­rant.

POUND VALUE

There were 365,000 vis­its from the UAE to the UK in 2016, up 5 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year and col­lec­tively they pumped £566 mil­lion into the Bri­tish econ­omy, ac­cord­ing to VisitBri­tain data. Al­to­gether there were 777,000 vis­its from the GCC to the UK in 2016, up 7 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year, and vis­i­tors spent £1.43 bil­lion.

In­bound trav­ellers con­tinue to ben­e­fit from favourable ex­change rates and if you book your Bri­tish Air­ways flight with your HSBC credit card be­fore July 30, for travel un­til March 31, you’ll re­ceive 15 per cent off (ba.com/hs­bcuae).

EURO­PEAN BAR­GAINS

If you’re look­ing for Euro­pean deals, HotS­tats sug­gests you scour the ho­tel mar­kets which have faced the big­gest chal­lenges over the last ten years and were at the top of their cy­cle as the global fi­nan­cial crisis hit in 2008 – such as Vi­enna and Prague.

For Prague, the im­pact from the down­turn and un­timely ad­di­tions to stock, cou­pled with a ris­ing cost base, meant ho­tels in the Czech cap­i­tal recorded a profit per room of 51.85 in 2016, which was 16.1% be­low 2007 lev­els (¤61.78).

A lit­tle fur­ther along the Danube, Bu­dapest re­mains stag­ger­ingly af­ford­able too, with su­per­mar­ket shelves sell­ing bot­tles for as lit­tle as 785 Hun­gar­ian forints

Mar­riott Re­wards Me­gaBonus In­fi­nite Points: Up to 4,000 Mar­riott Re­wards bonus points per stay (be­gin­ning with the sec­ond stay) The Ritz-Carl­ton Re­wards Sum­mer So­journs: Dou­ble Ritz-Carl­ton bonus points for stays longer than two nights SPG Take Three: Triple Star­points for stays that in­clude a week­end, or dou­ble Star­points for week­day stays at par­tic­i­pat­ing ho­tels

– that’s less than US$3 – and chalk boards op­po­site St. Stephen’s Basil­ica ad­ver­tis­ing burg­ers in the HUF1,900-2,390 range (US$7-8.6).

Croa­tia, now more con­ve­niently con­nected to Dubai with Emirates’ new flights to Za­greb, was re­cently awarded its first Miche­lin star for the Monte restau­rant in Rov­inj, Is­tria and it is emerg­ing as a gas­tro­nomic hub. Hil­ton Im­pe­rial Dubrovnik has rates from AED1,265 when book­ing di­rect.

Ba­tumi in Ge­or­gia, Qa­bala in Azer­bai­jan and Ti­vat in Mon­tene­gro are among fly­dubai’s new sum­mer des­ti­na­tions. Porto Mon­tene­gro opens the Re­gent Pool Club Res­i­dences in July (62 one to three­bed­room res­i­dences).

Is­tan­bul con­tin­ues to post com­pet­i­tive rates in or­der to boost visitor numbers.

Fair­mont Quasar Is­tan­bul is of­fer­ing a sec­ond room for chil­dren at 50 per cent dis­count, in­clud­ing breakfast for both rooms, ac­cess to ex­clu­sive fam­ily ameni­ties and the menu for un­der 12s is also half price (free for un­der fives). Its sum­mer rates start from 199 be­fore taxes.

Still un­sure of French travel plans? Air France has in­tro­duced an ‘Af­ter Show’ op­tion un­der its Flex fares en­abling busi­ness pas­sen­gers to take a flight later than orig­i­nally sched­uled at no ex­tra charge. It is based on seat avail­abil­ity in econ­omy.

Clas­sic car lovers should check out the road-and-stay pack­age from Grand-Hô­tel du Cap-Fer­rat, A Four Sea­sons Ho­tel, Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Mi­lano, and Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Firenze where you can travel be­tween prop­er­ties in style in a 1961 Gi­uli­etta Spi­der, Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Cabrio or Porsche 356 Speed­ster (à la James Dean).

Other stylish op­tions in­clude Grand Ho­tel Tre­mezzo in Lake Como, where guests can ac­cess the neigh­bour­ing Villa Sola Cabi­ati, a re­gal 18th cen­tury res­i­dence, which can host events.

New open­ings in Ger­many in­clude the 94-room Sir Niko­lai Ham­burg (pictured) and Sir Joan Ibiza is also set to open this sum­mer (sirho­tels.com).

Read more on Bu­dapest in the Septem­ber is­sue

DIS­COVER ASIA

Eye-catch­ing ho­tel open­ings in­clude Park Hy­att Bangkok, Edi­tion Sanya, Bangkok Mar­riott Mar­quis Queen’s Park and Kerry Hong Kong, a new build on the Kowloon wa­ter­front from Shangri-La Ho­tels & Re­sorts. Anan­tara Angkor Re­sort has re­opened in Siem Reap as a lead­ing all-suite bou­tique re­sort. Phnom Penh is an­other des­ti­na­tion worth look­ing out for – an­other new ad­di­tion to Emirates’ net­work. Tam­sin Cocks, Edi­tor of Busi­ness Trav­eller Asia

Pa­cific, says: “Bangkok and Thai­land are top des­ti­na­tions in Asia Pa­cific again, Ja­pan is also grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity with lots of routes open­ing up to smaller tourist des­ti­na­tions, while China con­tin­ues to see plenty of growth and new open­ings.”

Meliá Shang­hai Hongqiao re­cently made its de­but as the brand’s flagship prop­erty in China and on the eastern flank are three Gar­den Vil­las fea­tur­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese de­signs. Close to Shang­hai’s Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion & Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, the 187room ho­tel is Meliá Ho­tels In­ter­na­tional’s third in China, fol­low­ing Gran Meliá Xian and Meliá Ji­nan.

Un­der its ‘Dis­cover Asia’ pro­mo­tion, guests book­ing two con­sec­u­tive nights at any par­tic­i­pat­ing Best West­ern ho­tels in Asia re­ceive a free third night. All rates in­clude free in-room wifi, and many ho­tels also in­clude free daily breakfast.

Cebu Pa­cific Air is rais­ing fre­quen­cies and ca­pac­i­ties to Cebu, Davao and Hong Kong from July 4, fol­low­ing the de­liv­ery of two new air­craft, up­grad­ing flights on th­ese routes from A320s to A330s. The air­line has or­dered seven A321ceos with de­liv­er­ies start­ing next year.

SUM­MER SUITE STAYS

Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Prague’s Suite Get­away Pack­age in­cludes daily breakfast for two, li­mou­sine trans­fer to the Ho­tel, and 25 per cent off Spa treat­ments dur­ing the stay.

Corinthia Ho­tel Lisbon of­fers air­port trans­fers, stays in suites “filled with Cham­pagne, truf­fles and white roses”, 40 credit to­wards an ESPA treat­ment in the spa and an­other 40 credit re­deemable in Tipico restau­rant (pack­age from 20 per room per night).

KICK BACK ON AN IS­LAND

If you’re look­ing to push the boat out, North Is­land’s re­fur­bish­ment in the Sey­chelles blends style with na­ture. Through­out the day, the dé­cor and fur­ni­ture in the com­mon ar­eas takes on a cool, fresh palette of blues and whites while night is rep­re­sented by a richer palette. Pres­i­den­tial vil­las start from 5,835 per night and 9,185 per night for Villa North Is­land ex­clud­ing tax.

VIR­GIN TURNS ON SPAN­ISH STYLE

Vir­gin Lim­ited Edi­tion re­cently opened a third villa on the Son Bun­y­ola es­tate on the Span­ish is­land of Mal­lorca. The new three-bed­room villa, Son Bala­gueret, com­ple­ments Sa Terra Rotja and Sa Punta de S’Aguila which opened last sum­mer. Each of the three pri­vate vil­las “pro­vides tai­lored ser­vice in a spec­tac­u­lar set­ting”.

Son Bun­y­ola is a large pri­vate es­tate lo­cated in be­tween Es­porles and Banyal­b­u­far on the north-west coast. The Lim­ited Edi­tion col­lec­tion has been hand­picked by Sir Richard Bran­son.

ROOM WITH A VIEW

North Is­land re­minds us pre­mium views come at a high price so easyHo­tel has had a bit of fun and in­tro­duced ‘fake views’ which guests can en­joy when they book a budget room in its Lon­don Old Street Ho­tel. For an ex­tra £1, cus­tomers can ‘up­grade’ to a view of Tower Bridge or Buck­ing­ham Palace.

SAUDIA HOL­I­DAYS TAKES OFF

Saudi Ara­bian Air­lines (Saudia) has en­tered into an agree­ment with Ex­pe­dia Af­fil­i­ate Net­work (EAN) to launch Saudia Hol­i­days. Saudia car­ried more than 29 mil­lion pas­sen­gers last year, and has a net­work of 86 do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions, so the leisure op­por­tu­ni­ties are ev­i­dent. The tie-up pro­vides trav­ellers with ac­cess to 225,000 ho­tels glob­ally. Dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days, Saudia will op­er­ate 48,144 flights with seat­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 10.3m pas­sen­gers, up 20 per cent on last sum­mer.

SHOP BE­FORE YOU FLY AT ADDF

On­line or­ders at Abu Dhabi Duty Free can be made up to two hours be­fore your flight, and two weeks in ad­vance. A ‘wish­list’ can also be cre­ated to save items ahead of con­firmed travel plans.

Clock­wise: Four Sea­sons’ En route to La Dolce Vita pack­age; Sir Niko­lai Hum­burg study; Fair­mont Quasar Is­tan­bul; Porto Mon­tene­gro

Clock­wise: Anan­tara Angkor Re­sort; Villa North is­land in Sey­chelles; Melia Shang­hai Hongqio; Son Bun­y­ola; Home ex­change Phuket; easyHo­tel Lon­don Old Street

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