YEAR IN REVIEW
The stories, events and trips that left their mark in 2018
The stories and trips that left their mark in 2018
THE BIGGEST STORY GLOBALLY
Tech and more tech. The development of biometrics is evolving but we’re starting to see real changes – all the signs are that it will revolutionise airport travel (see digital feature, November issue). Social media platforms are no longer just for sharing emojis but becoming payment platforms, and then there are robots, autonomous taxis…
THE BIGGEST STORY LOCALLY
Marriott International relinquishing four management contracts in Dubai – not many saw that coming.
It was a year for rebrands and renovations, indicating that Gulf hospitality has come of age.
The mid-market bandwagon powers on and notable launches were Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City (brand’s largest regionally) and Hampton by Hilton Dubai Airport (world’s largest Hampton), but not everything was about scale, as evidenced by Zabeel by Jumeirah’s arrival. Saudi Arabia’s hotel scene remains red hot, with 84 new hotels in 2018.
Wandering out of Suite 9 at Al Maha and seeing the gazelles; enjoying the lofty Nile views from the new-look Sheraton Cairo; walking through the Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi’s sharp lobby and waking up in Hotel Café Royal’s suite, overlooking Piccadilly Circus and Houses of Parliament.
The ballerina at Piccadilly Circus. Not something you see every day!
You feel you’re in the movies at Aloft City Centre Deira – and having Arne Sorenson at the official opening ceremony was PR gold.
BEST IN-ROOM TOUCH
The pot of tea at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok, after six hours on the road.
A big year for Oman aviation and Muscat International Airport, which opened its new terminal.
Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class trip to London, albeit to report on the airline’s new economy products (!)
Frank Gardner OBE addressing guests at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards – and having tea with him, and his supersized camera, a few hours before the ceremony.
MOST REWARDING STORY
‘Final straw’ ( July-August) as hotels call time on plastic. Important subject and interesting to research.
Akira Back’s gastronomic ‘taster’ at the W Dubai – The Palm; I’ve not had Asian food like that before, and fun to have a group dinner in a suite.
REFLECTIVE TRAVEL MOMENT
Stopping the oars in the middle of a lake, in the middle of the Lake District; driving over to Ullswater didn’t disappoint either.
DEMAND AND SUPPLY
RevPar pressures and more supply meant it was another tough year for hoteliers. Much as I wrote in 2017.
DESTINATION TO WATCH
Tbilisi was a real eye-opener: short flight times, enjoyable F&B and mountain backdrop.
Guernica in Madrid. Never seen anything on that artistic scale before.
Strolling down Pattaya’s infamous Walking Street, in heavy rain, during a Thailand MICE trip. Then visiting the beautiful Sanctuary of Truth.
WASN’T THAT FUN AWARD
The ‘rainforest’ shower at Palazzo Versace Dubai’s spa – sure to invigorate the senses!
ABOVE: A gazelle grazes at Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
ABOVE: London view from Hotel Café Royal suiteBELOW: Cable car view above central Tbilisi