TRAVEL HOT LIST
LIFE HACKS FOR JETSETTERS, FROM THE GLAMOUR TO THE NITTY GRITTY: WHERE TO GO, HOW TO FLY AND WHERE TO STAY, FROM CELEBRITY SPOTS TO SECLUDED WILDERNESS, RESTORED BEAUTIES TO BRAND NEW DESIGNS.
BEST TRAVEL ACCESSORY Qantas Cash
There are plenty of travel debit cards out there but what we like about Qantas Cash is its convenience. The Mastercard debit feature is already built into your Qantas Frequent Flyer card, which means one less piece of plastic to travel with. You can load up to 11 currencies and lock in exchange rates; you can also easily switch between default currencies with the accompanying app. Most importantly, it allows you to minimise various fees and at the same time you can earn Frequent Flyer points when you use it.
LUGGAGE INNOVATION Rimowa’s electronic luggage tag
Apparently one of the most common reasons suitcases go missing is because of an unreadable or damaged airline luggage tag. German suitcase maker Rimowa has come up with a clever solution: the airline's luggage tag is integrated into the actual suitcase and visible via a digital screen. Eliminating the need for a paper tag means passengers can check in at home using a partner airline’s app (at this stage it’s only Lufthansa but more airlines are in the works) and send the tag information directly to the suitcase via Bluetooth. At the airport it’s just a case of dropping your bag off and boarding.
SMOOTHEST SECURITY SCREENING Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Security is a necessary fact of travel so any airport that makes an effort to create a better passenger experience gets full marks from us. Security at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was redesigned last year, and while the queue length sometimes looks daunting, the design of the security area makes the process surprisingly smooth. There are tubs for placing your items in at defined spots in the preparation area, which minimises pushing and shoving, and it has been designed to allow for faster passengers to conveniently pass slower ones.
BEST BUSINESS LOUNGE Qatar, Hamad International, Doha
It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the al-Mourjan Business Lounge at Hamad International Airport. Spread over 10,000sq m it provides business-class passengers with multiple dining and relaxation areas. There is something for everyone, with designated quiet areas as well as family rooms and a children’s nursery. One of the lounge’s best features, however, is that it has been designed with the solo traveller in mind – there are plenty of seating options with privacy screens for those looking for some much needed solitude.
BEST FIRST LOUNGE Etihad First Class lounge, Abu Dhabi
Mercifully there are no announcements in Etihad’s new First Class lounge in Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport when it’s time to board your flight. That said, the lounge is so comfortable and relaxing you might easily forget about your flight and find yourself rushing for it at the last minute. The ambience here is more five-star hotel lobby than airport lounge. There’s an a la carte dining area, a bar and a spacious and quiet relaxation area. There’s a Six Senses Spa in the lounge as well as beauty services for a wet shave or manicure while in transit. And if you’re travelling in the airline’s A380 Residence you'll have your own private lounge and bathroom facilities.
MOST ENTERTAINING SAFETY VIDEO Qantas
You know the drill – even if you’re a frequent flyer you should pay attention to the safety demonstration as every aircraft is different. Safety demonstrations, however, are all pretty much the same: that is to say dull. Qantas’ new video, which was rolled out earlier this year, is part safety demonstration and part tourism promotion for Australia. Filmed at various locations around the country it’s certainly one of the industry’s more original and watchable safety demonstration videos. If you haven’t seen it yet, find it on YouTube.
MOST INNOVATIVE SEAT PRODUCT Etihad Airways’ A380 and Dreamliner Business Class seats
Etihad calls its A380 and 787 Dreamliner business class seats Business Studios. The clever dovetail cabin design with rear and forward facing seats creates roomier “pods” with more space and privacy for passengers. The cabin configuration also means that each seat, which is 55.8cm wide and reclines to a fully flat bed, has direct aisle access. But one of the features we like the most with this seat product is the ability to adjust the firmness of the seat cushion so you can feel the luxury where it counts.
THE NEW HOTEL WITH AN UNUSUAL HISTORY The Watergate, Washington D.C.
When the Luigi Moretti-designed Watergate Hotel opened in 1967 it quickly became popular with politicians and celebrities alike. Then in 1972 the hotel gained notoriety because of its connection to the burglary that took place in the adjacent Watergate office tower, which eventually led to the downfall
of president Richard Nixon. The hotel closed in 2007 and recently reopened after a $US125 million makeover. The 336-room hotel now boasts interiors by the London-based designer Ron Arad. Throughout the hotel there are nods to its past such as the staff uniforms by Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant or pencils that are engraved “I stole this from the Watergate Hotel”.
MOST ANTICIPATED FUTURE NEW YORK HOTEL OPENING The Whitby
The London-based hotel company Firmdale opened its first New York outpost in 2009 with the Crosby Street Hotel in Soho. In December the company is expected to open the doors to its second Manhattan property, this time in Midtown on 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The Whitby will be similar in scale to Crosby Street with 86 rooms and suites spread over 15 floors. The entire top floor will be one penthouse apartment with two private terraces. Interiors will be by designer and co-owner of Firmdale, Kit Kemp.
MOST ANTICIPATED FUTURE LONDON HOTEL OPENING The Wellington
Very little is known about this hotel but that hasn't stopped excitement about it building. It was announced earlier this year that Hollywood actor Robert De Niro together with partners Ira Drukier and Richard Born plan to open an 83-room hotel in London’s Covent Garden to be called the Wellington Hotel. If it is anything like the Greenwich Hotel in New York which De Niro and co. opened in 2008, then expect it to be the hottest place to stay in London when it opens in 2019.
MOST ANTICIPATED FUTURE PARIS HOTEL OPENING The Lutetia
Competition from Asia-based luxury hotel chains entering the Parisian market (Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, Raffles) has forced the city’s grand dames to book in for a much needed facelift. The Ritz Paris reopened this year, the Hotel de Crillon is currently closed for refurbishment as is the Lutetia on Left Bank which is due to reopen mid-2017. The Lutetia has been owned by the Alrov Group since 2010 and will be the third hotel to open under its Set Hotels banner, joining the Cafe Royal in London and the Conservatorium in Amsterdam. As with those two hotels, there’s been an emphasis on design with a star architect overseeing each project – David Chipperfield in London and Piero Lissoni in Amsterdam. For the Lutetia it’s the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
MOST PRIVATE AUSTRALIAN HOTEL Satellite Island, Tasmania
To be fair, hotel may be overstating it when it comes to Satellite Island. Privacy and seclusion, however, are guaranteed – Condé Nast Traveler described it as “thrillingly remote”. The 34-hectare island in D’Entrecasteaux Channel between Bruny Island and the Tasmanian mainland has only been available to rent since last year and is the ultimate island getaway. Only 40 minutes from Hobart the island can accommodate up to 12 people. While there you have sole use of the island apart from the native fauna and the island’s manager, who is on call if you need him.
BEST NEW HOTEL IN SYDNEY Ovolo Woolloomooloo
The Hong Kong-based Ovolo Hotels is the third hotel operator to occupy this site in the historic Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo. The first operator was Starwood’s W brand, which opened in 2000 after an extensive restoration of the unique timber structure. In 2007 Taj took over the property and renamed it Blue Sydney. The hotel, however, failed to maintain the buzz created around its initial opening. Ovolo commissioned Hassell architects to breathe new life into the 100-room hotel. The result is a transformed space that is light, bright and buzzing once more.
BEST NEW HOTEL IN CHINA The Temple House, Chengdu
This is Swire Hotels’ third property in its House Collective, after the Opposite House in Beijing and the Upper House in Hong Kong. While Chengdu might not be on everyone’s radar as a holiday spot, its position as China’s sixth-largest city and a financial and IT hub means that it attracts its fair share of business and convention travellers. The hotel was designed around a restored traditional courtyard building and the 100 guest rooms are generous in size with the smallest at 63sq m.
A NEW TAKE ON DOWNTOWN Four Seasons New York Downtown
Reservations are now open for Four Seasons’ second hotel in New York City. The new 185-room hotel will open later this year on Barclay Street, adjacent to the famous Woolworths Building. The hotel is part of the 30 Park Place complex which will also be home to 157 Four Seasons Private Residences and will be the tallest residential building in the Downtown area. The tower was designed by Robert AM Stern architects and the hotel’s interiors are by the Yabu Pushelberg design house.
Clockwise from right, a Rimowa suitcase with electronic flight tag; the palatialltil bbusinessi llounge att DDoha’sh’ Hamad International Airport; Qantas’s new take on the safety demonstration; and the relaxation room in the Emirates first-class lounge...
Clockwise from right: the Watergate Hotel lobby; Robert De Niro’s Wellington Hotel in London; the Temple House courtyard in Chengdu; and Satellite Island in Tasmania