Value added relax
Wallet-friendly UK, popular Thailand and affordable Eastern Europe are among this season’s travel hotspots,
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.
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).
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
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