DECEMBER 2016/ JANUARY 2017
High Fliers 2016 Best in Business Travel Columbian Gem Cartagena, Old & Young
on demand Private skies promise better ways to fly
Westward, Ho! Idyllic Island Getaways Champagne Moments in Asia
WE ROAR WITH PRIDE •2
South African Airways thanks the readers of Business Traveler for singing our praises, yet again – awarding us in 2016 with “Best Business Class to Africa” and “Best Airline in Africa” honors. We invite you to fly with us to over 75 destinations on the continent and experience the world-class hospitality of Africa’s most awarded airline.
www.flysaa.com • 1-800-722-9675 or your professional travel consultant
N B U SI N E SS T
Best Business Class to Africa and Best Airline in Africa
South African Airways 2016
n Inside December 2016/ January 2017
On The Cover 30 Wings on Demand New planes, wider markets, more flexibility – private skies promise better ways to fly
Special Reports 12 High Fliers In the search for the superlative, our readers select the 2016 Best in Business Travel
Destinations 22 A New Side to Sydney The The Australian city is adding some impressive lifestyle districts
26 Colombian Gem Cartagena is one of the oldest – and youngest – cities in the Americas
Departments 08 Upfront One on One with EVA Air’s EVP of corporate planning Albert Liao. IATA predicts air travel will double by 2035. British Airway’s app adds Apple Pay.
18 Take offs & Landings Tomorrow is Now Arriving: Ideas for air travel come from all quarters. Plus new route news
16 Loyalty Update Airline and hotel rewards programs news and promotions
34 Tried & Tested EVA Air 777-300ER Royal Laurel Class Taipei – Chicago O’Hare Marriott Park Lane London
Intermedia Travel Group
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44 38 Lifestyle News
Designer & Art Director Michele Cameron ML.Cameron @comcast.net Production Marylee DeFerrari email@example.com
Marriott’s M Beta innovation lab goes live. The Huntington elevates its dining experience. Etihad launches new luxury amenity kits. Practically everyone uses technology to enhance travel
56 4 Hours In Seoul
58 World Wise Stacking the Deck – Frequent flier miles could be in your wallet
40 Gathering Places Westward, Ho! – Team-building adventures cowboy-style
44 The Good Life Business Traveler® North America is published ten times a year at our address as above. The magazine is independent of commercial interest. Unsolicited manuscripts will not be accepted for publication. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers who cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of the text, photographs or illustrations without permission is prohibited.
Champagne Moment – Bubbly finds a new audience in Asia
48 Escape To Spoiled for Choice – Idyllic island getaways
54 The Scene We round up some top events in the upcoming months.
N B USIN ES S T
Business Class (Staggered Layout)
2016 Airline with the Best Overall Customer Service
First Class with Door
ASIANA380 Business Class
N B USIN ES S T
Dressing Room (Lavatory)
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11.1” Monitors in Economy Class
A CLASS BEYOND THE ORDINARY
Reservations • 1-800-2ASIANA • us.flyasiana.com
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Our staggered layout offers direct access to the aisle, more private space, and fully reclining flat-bed seats for a pleasant in-flight experience.
n Talking Point
Celebrating the Road Travel is a gift that can change your world
n the Well, Duh! Department, the worldrenowned market research firm of JD Power has recently announced a completely predictable discovery: Travelers spend more money in destinations they like than they do in destinations they don’t like. According to the 2016 Destination Experience Satisfaction Study, “a great travel experience drives higher spending.” The study polled more than 26,000 travelers to determine their overall satisfaction with their visits – whether for business or leisure – to the top 50 US travel destinations. The study looked at six factors: activities; cost and fees; food and beverage; infrastructure; lodging; and travel/arrival. The research found that for a typical 3 to 4 day trip, visitors spent $1,169 on a trip on average. However, visitors who rated their satisfaction a 10 out of 10 spent over $1,400, or 24 percent more than average for the same 3 to 4 days. Now these findings hardly come as a surprise to those of us who travel regularly, both at home and abroad. When we feel good about our experience during our journey, we tend to take something of that experience home with us. We see the sights, we taste the food, we meet the people. And somehow that all becomes a part of our identity. As the Power report puts it,“Visitors often view cities as more than just a place to visit, they develop a strong emotional connection.” The JD Power research also uncovered another nugget that’s only a little more surprising: Those who travel for business enjoy their trip slightly more than those who travel for leisure. When the cost of the trip is taken into consideration, this makes sense because business travelers typically don’t bear all the expense themselves. But beyond that, satisfaction around travel and arrival is also higher among business travelers. The researchers speculate that this may be because business travelers have“learned to adapt to the
travel process much better than less experienced travelers.” That’s another way of saying we’re just a little more adept at gaming the system. The study also looked at the role that food, entertainment and lodging plays in creating visitor satisfaction. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The report keeps coming back to the love affair that a traveler forms with a destination – and how that induces us to spend more money there. For your humble editor, whenever I’m traveling in a city I love it’s a celebration of sorts, rather like the upcoming holiday season. I seem to be swept up in a gladness of heart that makes down-to-earth budget limits sound like ‘bah, humbug.’Thus I’m more inclined to open up my wallet, take out the credit card and mash the numbers ‘til they’re flat. It’s the kind of behavior I’d be far less likely to indulge in after I get home, when the holidays are past and the bills come due. But that’s OK, because travel – like a holiday – is special. As Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at JD Power, observes,“While visitors spend more when they have a great experience, they’re also more satisfied with the value they receive for their expenditure.” So when that next out-of-town assignment lands on your desk, remember, it can be more than a business trip. You can make it a celebration. In other words, do what it takes to turn your travels – which are transient – into experiences – which will be part of you forever. Whatever the effort, it’s worth it. Because what it offers is a rare and precious gift. BT
— Dan Booth Editorial Director
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6 n December 2016/January 2017
WE’RE FLYING HIGH! Service is its own reward, but awards are nice, too. We’re honored to be named Best Airline for North American Travel by Business Traveler. Thank you— we couldn’t have done it without you! To learn about our corporate programs visit jetblue.com/corporate or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
on ONE N E
The Taiwan Link
EVA Air’s EVP of Corporate Planning Albert Liao talks North American growth plans and the airline’s new SKYTRAX rating
BT: Earlier this year, EVA Air received the highest five-star rating from SKYTRAX. What steps were taken to achieve that? LIAO: Of the list of fivestar airlines, almost all of them are in Asia putting us in good company. We had to look at every part of the travel experience. For example, business class service without trays; instead we serve meals restaurant-style. We also offer three meal choices for economy class. We focus on the details like providing cotton fabric bags for small items that need to be stowed at takeoff and addressing passengers by name. Typically, Taiwanese people are rather shy, and we had to educate our staff on how to interact more with international passengers. We installed WiFi on our long-haul Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s. Passengers tell us it works quite well on long flights. BT: EVA Air is known for pioneering the premium economy product. How did that idea come about? LIAO: We launched “Economy Deluxe” in 1992
8 n December 2016/January 2017
on the Los Angeles route. Today, we call it Elite Class and is one of the best in the industry with large seats, extra legroom and luggage allowance, and upgraded meals and amenity kits. We offer it on all of our long-haul Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft although we will be phasing out the jumbo jets soon. Our Elite Class product is ideal for price-sensitive customers who want added comfort. BT: EVA recently launched additional frequencies from JFK and LAX departing midday to complement the midnight departures from most gateways. What made you decide to launch new daytime frequencies from the US to Taipei? LIAO: The midday departures are timed to connect well with our late afternoon, southeast Asian bank including cities like Bangkok, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. We will soon add Jakarta and Singapore. This is a big market for North American travelers, and this midday departure gives people added flexibility. Taipei is perfectly positioned to carry passengers from North America to all of Asia in the most time-efficient schedule. While our midday flights will take some time to become popular since they are so new, we are confident they will succeed. Our midnight departures are already favored by many business fliers because they can rest inflight and land in Taipei around 6 in the morning for the start of the work day. BT: Tell us about your focus on North America and potential route expansion.
LIAO: North America is a huge market for EVA. We added Houston last year using one of our Hello Kitty jets. This year, we added Chicago. Both cities are hubs for our Star Alliance partner, United, making them key gateways for connecting passengers. San Francisco is also one of our most important gateways because of the strong connections between the tech industries in Silicon Valley and Taiwan. We are also looking at several more cities including Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Honolulu and Washington, DC. BT: Hello Kitty planes are a hallmark of EVA livery. Have you found that Americans get as excited when it comes to the Hello Kitty flights? LIAO: Yes, we have great demand for our Hello Kitty flights. We operate our Hello Kitty jets on dedicated routes including Houston in North America, Paris in Europe, and Bangkok and Tokyo in Asia. Some passengers go out of their way to book these flights specifically because they love how the Hello Kitty branding is part of the experience from check-in kiosks to the meal service – and even the bathroom toilet paper! We offered Hello Kitty flights from LAX for just over a year, but we only have a limited number of aircraft. We decided to invest that unique product in Houston because it was a new market for us.
BRITISH AIRWAYS APP ADDS APPLE PAY British Airways has added Apple Pay to its iPhone app, allowing customers to store payment card details and pay for flights from their smartphones. The option is available for purchases made using UK-billed cards for British Airways flights departing UK airports. In addition, BA says it intends to roll out the feature to include customers departing from other airports flying to the United Kingdom “over the coming months.” The carrier has also added a new upgrade offers feature to its app for both Apple and Android users, enabling customers to take advantage of promotional upgrade offers directly through their smartphone. Visit ba.com to learn more. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
IATA Predicts Air Travel Doubling by 2035 In the next 20 years, the number of passengers traveling by air will almost double from 3.8 billion air travelers in 2016 to 7.2 billion passengers in the year 2035, according to forecasts from the International Air Transport Association. The prediction is based on a 3.7 percent annual compound average growth rate. The biggest driver of demand, according to the IATA research, will be the AsiaPacific region which is expected to account for more than half the new passengers over the next 20 years. The forecast also predicts that growth will increasingly be driven within developing markets. Over the past decade the developing world’s share of total passenger traffic has risen from 24 percent to nearly 40 percent, and this trend is set to continue. “People want to fly,”notes Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “Enabling people and nations to trade, explore, and share the benefits of innovation and economic prosperity makes our world a better place.”
Silk Air Unveils New Mobile App Regional carrier Silk Air has launched its new mobile app that offers features such as flight booking, exclusive fares and itinerary management. The home screen can be set to display flight updates and information, and alerts such as check-in reminders. The app also enables members of parent company Singapore Airlines’ loyalty program, KrisFlyer, to view details such as miles and tier information. Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, the app is compatible with iOS 8 and 9, and Android version 4.0.3 onwards. For more information visit silkair.com.
pentahotels Debuts At Charles de Gaulle The first pentahotels property in Paris has celebrated its opening a mile from Charles de Gaulle Airport. The hotel offers 186 rooms including 12 junior suites, as well as 8 conferences rooms. The hotelier currently has properties in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, the UK and China. Visit pentahotels.com for more information.
China Airlines Takes Delivery of Its First A350
China Airlines has taken delivery of its first A350-900XWB at the Airbus Facilities in Toulouse, France. With the more efficient aircraft, the airline plans to serve European destinations including Vienna, Amsterdam, and Rome. The longer range A350-900 makes it possible to fly from Taiwan to Amsterdam or Rome nonstop. For details visit china-airlines.com.
PROPERTY PIPELINE AND OPENINGS n Kimpton Announces New Miami and Tampa Properties – Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has announced two new Florida properties, the 96-room Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach in Miami and a 150-room property in Tampa, located in the Westshore district and featuring a restaurant from Michelin-starred Tuscan chef Silvia Baracchi, as well as a rooftop bar, rooftop events facility, and 4,000 square feet of events space. Both hotels are set to open in 2018. Visit kimptonhotels.com. n Iconic Raffles Hotel Singapore To Undergo Restoration – Singapore heritage property Raffles Hotel will undergo an extensive restoration program, starting January 2017. The property is expected to remain open for most of the renovation but will close near the end of 2017 for the final phase. The restored property will then reopen in the second quarter of 2018. Visit raffles.com. n Carlson Rezidor Plans Five Angola Hotels – Carlson Rezidor is to open its first hotels in the southern African country of Angola. Five Park Inn by Radisson properties will be located in the cities of Luanda, Cabinda, Benguela, Lubango and Namibe, and are scheduled to open in the next 18 months. Visit parkinn.com. n Six Senses Debuts in North American – In a double first for the Thai hospitality group, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has announced a new Six Senses New York, the company’s inaugural property in North America and its first urban hotel. Scheduled to open in 2019, the 137-room property will be located on Manhattan’s 10th Avenue. Visit sixsenses.com. n Ritz-Carlton Sets 2018 Open in Xian – Ritz-Carlton Hotels has announced its first property in northwest China, the 288-room Ritz-Carlton Xian, scheduled to open in 2018. Visit ritzcarlton.com.
December 2016/January 2017 n 9
ETIHAD AIRWAYS LAUNCHES NEW ANDROID APP Etihad Airways has introduced a new mobile app for Android smartphones, providing customers with comprehensive trip management including flight booking, check-in, mobile boarding passes, checking flight status, or viewing frequent flier miles balance. Other features include a simple flight search, a credit card scanner for payments and a passport scan. The airline recently launched an iOS application for iPhones, and partnered with Abu Dhabi Airports to enable guests to navigate Abu Dhabi International Airport using indoor maps. The new Android app is available to download via the Google Play Store.
Hyatt Centric Premieres In Manhattan Hyatt Hotels has announced the debut of the Hyatt Centric Times Square in the heart of New York City. Previously known as Hyatt Times Square New York, the 487-room Manhattan property is part of the Hyatt Centric brand of full-service lifestyle hotels. Amenities include a spa, a soon-to-be-announced food and beverage concept on the ground floor, and design enhancements to the rooftop lounge, Bar 54. The hotel’s additional features will be in place in the first quarter of 2017. For details visit hyatt.com.
DHS Considers 11 More Preclearance Airports The Department of Homeland Security has announced that 11 more foreign airports are being considered for possible inclusion in the US Customs and Border Protection preclearance program. The airports are: Bogota, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Keflavik, Iceland, Mexico City, Milan, Osaka, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, São Paulo and St. Maarten. The program allows travelers to undergo immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection before boarding a flight to the United States, avoiding possibly longer lines after arrival in the US. Preclearance is currently available at 15 overseas locations, mostly in Canada, the Caribbean and Ireland, and another 10 are already under consideration including London Heathrow, Tokyo Narita and Stockholm Arlanda where operations may begin as early as 2019. Learn more at dhs.gov.
Qantas Reveals New Dreamliner Cabins Qantas has unveiled the cabin designs which are to be installed on its 787-9 aircraft due for delivery late next year. The business class cabin will feature 42 of Qantas’ new fully-flat Business Suites which were recently fitted to the carrier’s A330 aircraft. The all-new economy seat will offer extra seat pitch, more storage areas, USB ports and a larger HD screen. Qantas is due to reveal the first Dreamliner destinations in the coming months, with the first international flights going on sale before Christmas. Learn more at qantas.com.au. BT 10 n December 2016/January 2017
N B USIN ES S T
November 2016December 2016/January 2017
n Special Report
12 n December 2016/January 2017
Special Report n
In the search for the superlative, our readers have selected the 2016 Best in Business Travel Awards
hroughout 2016, business travelers have felt the seismic shifts shaking the travel landscape, as the trifecta of rising demand, technology and competition continually usher in a parade of new brands, products and services. Against this backdrop of transformation, how does one judge what it means to be the best in the world of travel? For the experienced business traveler, the idea of ‘best’ is more than measuring incremental improvements – it’s a concept that means surpassing the rest of the field to offer a truly distinct travel experience. Whether it’s a superior flight or a exceptional night, a top-notch venue or a luscious menu, what the readers of Business Traveler expect – regardless of the changing landscape – are experiences that are nothing short of the superlative. From new classes of airline service to robot butlers, whatever direction the travel industry takes, the choices you, our readers, make – in your everyday travels and in your votes for the Best in Business Travel Awards – have always put you out in front of these changes. As a result, the industry looks to you as a bellwether for what’s working, what’s meaningful, what’s truly best in the competitive world of business travel. Your Voice, Your Choice This year, as it has been since the Best in Business Travel Awards were instituted in 1988, the nominees for these awards are determined by the votes of the readers of Business Traveler. No one from our staff had any part in pre-selecting companies or picking the recipients. So these awards truly reflect our readers’ choices. For the 2016 awards, Business Traveler readers selected 33 different travel providers in 42 categories, including the best airlines, hotel companies and car rental, both by regions and worldwide, plus such categories as airports, loyalty programs and the most exciting meetings and events cities. Among the recipients are five winners who are new in their respective categories. Now celebrating 28 years, the Best in Business Travel Awards recognize those products and services that represent the superlative in the industry – the best from different regions of the world, Visit businesstravelerusa.com
December 2016/January 2017 n 13
n Special Report
different types of travel providers, different classes of service. Insights garnered from you, our Business Traveler readers, and your own first-hand experiences. This year we’ve broken the awards out into seven groups: Best Airlines by Region, Best Air Travel Experience, Best Hotel Experience, Best Hotel by Region, Best Loyalty Programs, Best Connections on the Ground and the Best in Global Travel. Best in Global Travel The Best in Global Travel group includes 10 winners whom voters chose as the airlines and alliances which deliver the world’s best air experiences, either by class of service – from economy to first – or by different contributions to the air travel value chain – everything from Best Overall Customer Service to Best Airline Cuisine. Citing such factors as levels of service, route structures, convenience and comfort, readers voted these industry leaders to be the best worldwide at what they do. Best Airlines by Region These award winners represent top value and superlative service in specific geographic regions of the world. The carriers who have been voted the winners in this group come from seven major global regions: North America, South America/Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This group also includes the top airline for North American Travel, as well as the North American carrier judged best for international travel. Best Air Travel Experience This group of awards put the focus on the best in business class, based on the expectations of high-frequency, high value business travelers, all the way from the initial contact with the airline to arrival at the final destination. Readers took into consideration such factors as the quality of groundside support, inflight service, cuisine, amenities, and the aesthetics of seating comfort and space. The categories are broken out by regions and also include top long-haul transoceanic routes and the best overall experience in North America. Best Loyalty Programs It pays to be loyal, and our readers understand that their loyalty to their favorite travel brands ought to garner the most desirable premiums and innovative experiences. The winners in this group have consistently offered programs with more flexibility, greater 14 n December 2016/January 2017
accessibility and, most important, truly rewarding rewards to attract and keep faithful followers. Best Hotel Experience In the rapidly diversifying world of hospitality brands, styles and business models, for the business traveler, the key to a successful trip still comes down to choosing the right hotel to meet the trip’s objectives. This group of hotel awards recognizes superior service, comfort and attention to the individual guest that is the hallmark of great hospitality across the planet. This group encompasses the variety of hotel offerings; luxury properties, chains with a business focus and boutique hotels. But even with all the options, these award winners represent our readers’ picks for the business traveler’s best hospitality value. Best Hotels by Region To be truly appealing to the business traveler, a hotel should be a product of its own culture and location. Hotel chains in five regions – North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America – are honored in this group. These winners are recognized by our readers as consistently meeting the needs of business travelers, and more than that, delivering an experience that reflects the sense of place in their own geographic regions. Best Connections on the Ground The point of business travel isn’t just travel – it means business. So our readers understand that to take advantage of all the opportunities that each trip presents, you need to be in the right place at the right time. Business travelers look for those connecting points that work well, like airports with the best in convenience, technology and comfort, and all the amenities like super duty-free shopping. After the airport, reaching your final destination is a journey that frequently begins with a rental car. And our award winners in this group, both in North America and around the world, are experts at making that connection for travelers a seamless one. The most important connection for the business traveler is the one that’s the ultimate aim of the travel – meeting with others. And often those meetings take place at conferences and events. Whether at an international convention or closer to home in North America, business travelers want superlative experiences. So it’s no surprise that the winners of these categories are the cities that have consistently offered the most exciting and memorable opportunities to connect. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
Special Report n
THE WINNERS BEST IN GLOBAL TRAVEL Best Overall Airline in the World Singapore Airlines Best Airline in the World for International Travel Etihad Airways Best Airline Alliance Oneworld Best First Class Service in the World Etihad Airways Best Business Class Service in the World Qatar Airways Best Premium Economy Class in the World Virgin Atlantic Best Economy Class Service in the World Singapore Airlines Best Airline Cuisine in Business Class Turkish Airlines
BEST AIRLINES BY REGION Best North American Airline for International Travel Air Canada Best Airline for North American Travel JetBlue Best Airline in South/ Latin America Avianca Best Airline in Western Europe British Airways Best Airline in Eastern Europe Turkish Airlines Best Airline in Africa South African Airways Best Airline in the Middle East Qatar Airways Best Airline in Asia China Southern
Best Overall Inflight Experience in the World Asiana Airlines
BEST AIR TRAVEL EXPERIENCE Best North American Airline for Business Class Service Delta Air Lines
Airline with Best Overall Customer Service Asiana Airlines
Best North American Airline for Inflight Experience Air Canada
Best Airlines for Trans-Atlantic Service Lufthansa Best Airline for Trans-Pacific Service Cathay Pacific Best Business Class to South/Latin America LATAM Best Business Class to the Middle East Etihad Airways Best Business Class to Africa South African Airways Best Business Class to Asia Singapore Airlines Best Business Class to Australia/New Zealand/ South Pacific Qantas BEST LOYALTY PROGRAM Best Frequent Flier Program Delta Sky Miles Best Hotel Loyalty Program Marriott Rewards BEST HOTEL EXPERIENCE Best Business Hotel Chain in the World Hilton Hotels & Resorts
BEST HOTELS BY REGION Best Business Hotel Chain in North America Marriott Best Business Hotel Chain in South/Latin America Starwood Hotels & Resorts Best Business Hotel Chain in Europe Hilton Hotels & Resorts Best Business Hotel Chain in the Middle East Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Best Business Hotel Chain in Asia Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts BEST CONNECTIONS ON THE GROUND Best Airport in the World Singapore Changi Airport Airport With Best Duty-Free Shopping Incheon International Airport Best Car Rental Company in North America National Car Rental Best Car Rental Company in the World Hertz
Best Luxury Hotel Chain Ritz-Carlton
Best International Business Meetings Destination Seoul
Best Boutique Hotel Chain Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
Best North America Business Meetings Destination Las Vegas December 2016/January 2017 n 15
Wyndham Rewards Now Includes Condos and Homes Wyndham Rewards has announced that members can redeem their points for stays in 17,000 condos and homes in addition to 8,000 hotels. The condo and home properties can be redeemed for 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points per bedroom per night. Similarly a free night at a hotel property can also be redeemed for 15,000 points. Get the details at wyndhamrewards.com.
Qantas Partners with Airbnb
In a first for the sharing economy, Qantas has announced it will be collaborating with online accommodation marketplace Airbnb to offer Qantas Frequent Flyer members the ability to earn Qantas Points. Loyalty members will receive one Qantas Point for every A$1 they spend on accommodations when they book Airbnb lodgings through the airline’s own direct website. For details visit qantas.com.
Redeem Delta SkyMiles For A Ride On Delta Private Jets Delta SkyMiles members can now redeem miles towards Delta Private Jets. The program allows members to purchase a $25,000 Jet Card with 2.5 million miles. The Jet Card is a pre-funded travel card that gives customers the ability to enjoy simplified booking and more. The new option makes SkyMiles the only major airline loyalty program that offers members a chance to redeem miles for a private jet experience. For details, visit deltaprivateeverywhere.com.
SkyTeam Introduces Retroactive Frequent Flier Credit Tool SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, has introduced an online, retroactive credit tool to make it easier for frequent fliers to keep their account balances up-to-date. Customers simply log into their FFP account, enter their flight details and the system validates the request immediately, eliminating the need for manual processing of post-travel claims. The tool is already available across most of SkyTeam’s 20 members, and the alliance says the remaining airlines will be implementing the new tool over the coming months. Visit skyteam.com for more information. 16 n December 2016/January 2017
Etihad Partner Airlines Align Tier Benefits Etihad Guest has aligned tier benefits across all Etihad Airways Partner airlines so that silver, gold and platinum members have equivalent privileges such as priority check-in, priority boarding, lounge access and additional baggage allowance. The move means that Etihad Guest miles can be earned on all eight airlines – Air Berlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways and NIKI, along with the individual programs such as Jet Airways’ Jet Privilege – as well as spending on free flights, cabin class upgrades or gifts from the Etihad reward shop. Find out more at etihad.com. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
be privileged. be one. As a oneworld Emerald frequent flyer, you have additional exclusive benefits with your top tier status. With fast track at security lanes at select airports, you can relax sooner. With extra baggage allowance, you are welcome to check one additional bag, free. Learn more about oneworld benefits for frequent flyers at oneworld.com
an alliance of the world's leading airlines working as one. airberlin American Airlines British Airways Cathay Pacific Finnair Iberia Japan Airlines LATAM Malaysia Airlines Qantas Qatar Airways Royal Jordanian S7 Airlines SriLankan Airlines oneworld benefits are available only to passengers on scheduled flights that are both marketed and operated by a oneworld member airline (marketed means that there must be a oneworld member airlineâ€™s flight number on your ticket). For information on oneworld, visit www.oneworld.com. airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and oneworld are trademarks of their respective companies. LATAM Airlines (Paraguay) is currently not a part of oneworld.
n Take Offs & Landings
With passenger traffic booming, ideas for air travel are coming from all quarters
tomorrow is now arriving F
or many frequent business travelers, the airport is literally a means to an end. After all, it’s called a ‘terminal’ for a reason; the airport is the end point, either at the beginning or the completion of the journey. There was a time when airport design, services and amenities were utilitarian, oriented to throughput rather than stay-awhile hospitality. Today airport management and some very savvy retailers have wised up to the presence of lots of travelers in a relatively confined space. For example, Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the US, welcomes around 42 million visitors annually; by contrast, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International, the busiest airport in the world, hosted over 100 million guests last year. 18 n December 2016/January 2017
Consequently airports are increasingly coming to be viewed – and to view themselves – as more than jumping off points. According to a recent survey from Priority Pass, the independent airport lounge access program, more than half (53 percent) of the 3,000 frequent travelers polled said that the airport is something to be enjoyed. “We are witnessing an important shift in mind-set when it comes to the airport experience,”says Stephen Simpson, global marketing director for Priority Pass, part of Collinson Group.“It is clear that today’s frequent fliers no longer view themselves as passengers merely transiting the airport but as consumers seeking more rewarding travel journeys.” An important factor in that shift is the rise of the so-called ‘digital’ flier. A separate Visit businesstravelerusa.com
Take Offs & Landings n
survey by Priority Pass found that 50 percent of European travelers say digital boarding passes and e-tickets make the airport experience much easier, with 24 percent of travelers using airport mobile apps, a figure that jumps to 41 percent of frequent business flyers. Those findings are confirmed in another study conducted by Honeywell in the United Arab Emirates. That research reveals that air travelers are increasingly relying on new airport and in-flight technologies to make travel smarter and less stressful. Passengers in the UAE survey agree such developments as self-service kiosks, e-boarding passes and e-tickets, and luggage location tracking are key to reducing stress levels and improving the airport experience.
AIRPORT REPORT n Turkish Airlines Opens New Lounge at Dulles – Turkish Airlines has opened its newest lounge at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. The facility is the first in the US for the airline. The facility serves Business Class and Star Alliance passengers and offers a food and beverage buffet, showers and bathroom facilities, free WiFi, entertainment, a business area, prayer and relaxation rooms and a direct connection to the Aerobridge. n London City Airport Introduces Full-body Scanners – London City Airport has completed the first UK trial of the Quick Personnel Security scanner R&S QPS200 from Rohde & Schwarz. The scanners are now in place to screen passengers. As with existing scanners, the technology quickly detects the location of potentially dangerous objects, but the open plan design means passengers simply stand in front of the scanner with their arms held slightly away from the body. The design allows for quicker processing of passengers, according to the airport. The scanners have been certified by the European Civil Aviation Conference, and are already in use in German federal facilities.
Simplifying the Business While all that technology is important today, it’s going to be vital to the success of the air travel system of tomorrow. According to projections from the International Air Transport Association, the aviation industry is set to nearly double its passenger traffic in the next 20 years, from 3.8 billion air trips in 2016 to some 7.2 billion trips in 2035. To handle this level of activity, airports, airlines and the entire aviation infrastructure will have to embrace new ways to get air travel done. One such future concept is a program IATA calls Simplifying the Business, an initiative which examines the passenger experience from end-to-end. The StB
perspective spans all the processes of air travel, from shopping and booking, to navigating the airport, to arrival at the final destination. The focus is on how each of these factors can be transformed so that aviation can successfully accommodate the rising tide of traffic in the coming decades. Elements of IATA’s Simplifying the Business program include: • Smart Security, a joint effort with Airports Council International to make airport security checkpoints more efficient and less intrusive. The initiative is making progress in Europe, and the first US airport, Hartsfield Atlanta International, just joined the program. • One Identity would allow an air traveler to offer their identification documents just once, eliminating repetitive ID checks at security, border control and the gate. • New Distribution Capability is a standard that IATA has been working on for some time, which will give consumers wider access to products and services currently available only directly from the airlines due to technology limitations. • ONE Order will build on NDC standards to streamline booking and ticketing records into a single and flexible order record, eliminating multiple reference numbers and documents across the trip. • Real-Time Interaction provides customers with accurate real-time information from all travel service providers throughout their journey. “My dream journey through the airport would offer security processes
n IAH Breaks Ground for New Tech Ops Center – United Airlines has partnered with the City of Houston and the Houston Airport system to break ground on the new United Airlines Technical Operations Center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. The airline, which is expanding its facilities at the Houston airport, is adding almost 200,000 square feet of new hangar capacity for maintaining its fleet of widebody aircraft. The facility will consolidate United’s Houston maintenance facilities at IAH, and is scheduled to be completed in late 2018. December 2016/January 2017 n 19
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that are both effective and convenient, constant communication that makes me aware of changes to my journey or opportunities nearby, and a more efficient way of identifying myself to the airline, security staff and border management,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, speaking at the “Innovating Better, Together” World Passenger Symposium at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai in October. De Juniac called for air transport stakeholders to work together and embrace speed and innovation to meet the challenges of growth and rising passenger expectations. Tracking Success One such initiative that’s coming sooner than you think to a baggage carousel near you is radio frequency identification technology, or RFID. The technology, already familiar in many other applications, can accurately track bags in real time across key points in the journey. According to a business case presented by global IT provider SITA and IATA at the Dubai symposium, initial deployments of RFID by carriers such as Delta Air Lines show a near perfect 99 percent success rate for tracking bags. As a result, RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25 percent and save the industry more than $3 billion over the next seven years. One of the key areas that RFID promises to address is mishandling baggage during transfer from one flight to another. With the technology, airports, airlines and ground handlers will be able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey and ensure the right bag is loaded onto the right flight. RFID is one solution that’s being offered to meet IATA’s Resolution 753, a requirement that, by 2018, airlines must be able to keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish. “The airline industry is at the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking,”maintains Jim Peters, chief technology officer at SITA. “Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – airline passengers will be happier, ground operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.” Interestingly, the improvements in handling rates don’t cost a lot. The SITA report finds that RFID capabilities can 20 n December 2016/January 2017
be deployed for as little as a penny per passenger on average while saving more than two cents per passenger. Now a penny a passenger may not sound like much, but when that could add up to 7.2 billion pennies, pretty soon you’re talking some serious money. Baggage tracking is one of the research programs being conducted by SITA in the airline industry. Others include passenger identity management of the future, an industry-wide disruption warning system and enhanced cybersecurity for airlines and airports. Crowdsourcing Solutions Of course, not all the great ideas to improve the air travel experience need to come from the experts. At Munich Airport, the InnovationPilot crowdsourcing platform is looking for passengers and visitors to offer input and suggestions on specific airport issues.
The website innovationpilot.de launched in June to invite creative minds to play a role in the design and implementation of airport projects and events by contributing their requests and proposals. All postings are open to comments, discussion and improvements by the online community. InnovationPilot just completed its second round of idea seeking in October. According to the Terminal 2 operating company, a joint subsidiary of Munich Airport and Lufthansa, the project is generating a wealth of innovative ideas on how to improve passenger experiences at security checkpoints, the gates and baggage pick-up. “Since the kick-off of our InnovationPilot crowdsourcing platform in June, we’ve been delighted with the many valuable ideas from our community and the very positive response,” says Jörg Ebbighausen, the head of corporate development at Munich Airport. BT
n LOT Announces Newark-Warsaw Route – LOT Polish Airlines has announced new flights between Newark and Warsaw beginning in 2017. Four-times weekly service will begin April 28, operating Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday aboard 767-300s with Business Class and Economy class. In June a Tuesday flight will begin and in August the service moves to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a three-class configuration. Visit lot.com for more information. n Delta Adds Nonstop LAX-DCA Service – Delta Air Lines will begin nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on April 24, 2017. The daily flights will be operated using a Boeing 757-200 aircraft that will offer full flat-bed seats in First Class. Because of DCA’s perimeter rule, only 20 roundtrip flights beyond 1,250 nautical miles are made available to commercial carriers. Delta is reallocating one of its two “beyond-perimeter” roundtrip flights from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. At the same time, the airline will begin daily service from Washington-Dulles to Salt Lake City. For details visit delta.com. n Etihad’s 2017 Schedule Includes Daily DFW Flights – Etihad Airways is adding four new flights to its DFW-Abu Dhabi route beginning Feb. 2. This will give the carrier daily flights on this route. The service will continue to use Boeing 777-200 aircraft with three classes of service. For details visit etihad.com. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
A new side to Sydney From corporate glitz to bohemian charm, the Australian city has some impressive new lifestyle districts to check out By Mark Graham
ydney has added two new areas to its already formidable range of lifestyle developments, both within easy reach of the Central Business District. In years to come, Barangaroo, located behind the Harbour Bridge, is almost certain to be part of any business-related itinerary, given that the ambitious and expansive complex is targeted at the corporate world, with gleaming office towers and, by year-end, a range of upscale restaurants. A casinoresort is also planned for the gigantic site, which features parkland, walkways, fast-food outlets and coffee shops. Chippendale Creative Precinct is a rather less grandiose project – more a gentrification of a once-seedy suburb at the top of the main George Street thoroughfare. It now hosts art galleries, boutiques, noodle bars and gourmet restaurants, including the Kensington Street Social, operated by star UK chef Jason Atherton. Take a wander through either district if you get some time between meetings. Barangaroo The developers of Barangaroo (barangaroo.com) clearly have deep pockets – illustrated by their decision to trumpet their food and beverage aspirations by hosting a pop-up of the world’s best restaurant, Noma, in February and March this year. Even before the first dish was served, it had generated a huge buzz in Australia, with 27,000 people on the waiting list for a table at the oceanside venue. Danish chef René Redzepi spent months scouring the country for ingredients before creating a menu that included seafood paired with wattle seed, lantana flowers and crocodile fat. It was meant to send the message to Sydneysiders – and the world at large – that Barangaroo was aiming high by offering a formidable range of gourmet options. The space where Noma operated will, in time, be occupied by the popular Aussie 22 n December 2016/January 2017
BARANGAROO DELIVERY AUTHORITY
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Barangaroo has been dogged by controversy ever since redevelopment plans were announced
culinary duo of Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt, who also run the Bentley, Monopole and Yellow restaurants in the city. The first fully-fledged restaurant to open was Anason (anason.com.au), featuring Turkish cuisine based on the meyhanes (taverns) of Istanbul. It is right on the waterfront, as are a whole slew of other restaurants scheduled to open later this year. These include Lotus, serving Chinese-style dumplings; Banksii, a bar and bistro with a Mediterranean theme; Tapa Vino, offering sherry, wine and food; and Zushi, a yakatori bar serving a range of sake. As of now, you can pop into the high-end food court Canteen, choose from a wide selection of coffee shops, or pay a visit to the Barber Shop (thisisthebarbershop.com), which offers haircuts accompanied by a “wee dram”of whisky from the in-house bar. On the fringes of Barangaroo is Beer Deluxe (kingstreetwharf. com.au), which offers a tempting range of 20 beers on tap and a total of 150 different brews – reaffirming that Australia has come a long way from the days where drinkers were offered the uninspired choice of ice-cold draught Foster’s, ice-cold draught Tooheys or icecold draught Carlton. There will be plenty of thirsty after-work customers from the Barangaroo complex in the years to come – developers estimate that when it reaches capacity, about 23,000 office workers will have International Towers Sydney on their business cards. Towers Two and Three are operational, with a combined 11,000 workers, a figure that will rise to 17,000 when Tower One opens before the end of the year. 24 n December 2016/January 2017
This page: The Barber Shop; Barangaroo Reserve Opposite page: Chippendale Creative Precinct’s UTS Gallery and Central Park; Kensington Street Social
Still, Barangaroo – it takes its name from a formidable 18thcentury female Aboriginal leader – has been dogged by controversy ever since plans were announced to redevelop the former container wharf, which is a 15-minute harbor-hugging walk from the Circular Quay ferry terminal. The thrust of the criticism is that the footprint, and scale, of the AU$6 billion project has crept beyond the planning permission. It is certainly big, covering 54 acres in total. As well as the three commercial blocks, there is a mile-long harborside walkway, along with a 14-acre park – Barangaroo Reserve – that sits right on the headland offering views of the Harbour Bridge, along with cycling and walking trails, and foliage that will include 75,000 native trees and shrubs. A new ferry pier is due to open early next year. Chippendale Creative Precinct The area of Chippendale was unlikely to ring many bells until recently, even with people who have a decent knowledge of Australia’s largest city. But what a difference a few years makes. The former rundown neighborhood – now the Chippendale Creative Precinct (chippendalecreative.com) – has become one of the city’s most vibrant enclaves with funky restaurants, lively bars, trendy boutiques and carefully curated art galleries, many housed in restored factories and warehouses. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
“Kensington Street is becoming one of Sydney’s top dining destinations”
The dynamic force behind its transformation and gentrification was gallery owner Nicky Ginsberg, who saw the potential for it to become a creative hub and campaigned successfully for funding from public and private sources. It has a restaurant by Michelinstarred chef Jason Atherton, whose innovative food can be found at the Kensington Street Social (kensingtonstreetsocial.com) in the Old Clare hotel (theoldclarehotel.com.au). Named after the Irish owner’s native county of Kensington, and open since last September, the 62-room boutique property is a renovation of two heritage buildings – the Clare Hotel pub and a Carlton and United Breweries administration building – and is a Design Hotels member. “Before joining last year, I hadn’t heard of Chippendale, or the Kensington Street precinct,”says Kensington Street Social’s general manager, Michael Gavaghan.“Ten months later, Kensington Street is becoming one of Sydney’s top dining destinations with a wide selection of new eateries and bars showcasing street food, fine dining and more casual shared experiences.” The Kensington Street Social menu is described as BritishMediterranean, with plates made for sharing. Among the star dishes is “tea and toast” – wild mushroom tea served in a teapot, with relish-and-bone-marrow toast. Other specialties include marinated salmon, sea urchin risotto, Moreton Bay bug tail lobster and Bolivian chocolate soufflé with macadamia nut ice cream. The neighboring Automata (automata.com.au) has a distinctive design, as well as a captivating five-course tasting menu that Visit businesstravelerusa.com
changes regularly. A third high-end restaurant in the hotel building, Silvereye (silvereye-restaurant.com.au), is presided over by former Noma executive chef Sam Miller, who focuses on preparing Australian vegetables and herbs in innovative ways. Tasting menus of three, seven or 11 courses are on offer. If fine dining does not appeal to you, there are a number of smaller noodle shops, burger joints and bistros to choose from. Try Din Tai Fung (dintaifung.com.au) for some of the world’s finest Chinese-style dumplings; consistency is the key to the Taiwanesebased chain’s success, with a devoted following in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. Dotted around the precinct are up to 20 galleries, located either in the low-rise brick-built street buildings or the more spacious confines of the adjoining Central Park mall (centralparksydney. com). UTS gallery (art.uts.edu.au/gallery) showcases contemporary art, as does Ambush (ambushgallery.com). White Rabbit Gallery (whiterabbitcollection.org) has artworks from China spread over four floors of an old factory. Long before gentrification began in the area, the Harrington Street Artists Co-operative Gallery (harrington streetgallery.com) was founded by artist John Ogburn as a showcase for emerging talents. The addition of more and more galleries doubtless benefits all artists, as thousands of potential buyers – from Sydney and further afield – head to the area daily to browse and buy, soak up the bohemian atmosphere and round off the day with a meal, or cocktails in the lively bar of the Old Clare hotel. BT December 2016/January 2017 n 25
Columbian Gem History and the New World meet in Cartagena, one of the oldest – and youngest – cities in the Americas
By Ramsey Qubein
n one of Latin America’s hottest cities, things are really looking up. The city’s steamy temperatures are almost a metaphor for the buzz surrounding this colorful town along Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. Known formally as Cartagena de Indias, the city was originally settled in the 1500s by Spanish commander Pedro Heredia who gave the city the same name of his hometown Cartagena, Spain (today, an important port city for cruise ships in the southern Spanish region of Murcia). Cartagena de Indias would become a major port in its own right, and a center of growth during the Spanish empire’s rule of this region of the world. During its tumultuous history, the city saw ups and downs thanks to its position as a principal trading port – which made it a target of pirates looking to plunder its riches – as well as its role as a center for the slave trade. But luckily, the city’s fortunes today take a decidedly more upbeat path. Significant investments in security reform and trade regulation have improved Colombia’s reputation around the world. This allows the country’s secondary cities to share in the limelight with the capital, Bogotá, when it comes to luring visitors whether for business or pleasure. The comparison between the Colombian city of Cartagena and its Spanish counterpart is notable. Both have striking colonial-era architecture, and both are burgeoning destinations for meetings
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and conventions. City leaders on both sides of the Atlantic quickly recognized the touristic importance of each destination and followed in the footsteps of other savvy leisure towns, looking to build their business base through infrastructure and service improvements. And it’s working for both Cartagenas. Global events like the Summit of the Americas, the Latin American Economic Forum, and the Interpol General Assembly have all taken place in the Colombian city. It’s not just diplomatic events that are drawn to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but corporate and commercial functions as well. The success of the city’s efforts have helped it reach the ninth spot in the latest ranking of Latin American cities by the International Congress and Convention Association. Build It and They Will Come With its walled city center packed with crisscrossing streets, each seemingly more picturesque than the last, building the hotels and conference facilities necessary to host large groups in Cartagena has presented quite a challenge. For this reason the compact city is quickly growing vertically rather than horizontally. “In recent years, the skyline has started to look like Miami or Panama City, with lots of high-rise condo buildings filled with vacation buyers and investors from other parts of Colombia, as well as Venezuelans trying to put their money in a more stable place,” says Timothy Scott Leffel, editor of LuxuryLatinAmerica.com and an expert on the region. Taxis are cheap, and walking distance between the beachfront or the historic colonial center and the commercial section of town is easy. Branching off from the historic center is the narrow stretch of land known as Bocagrande, the newer section of town where most of the beaches and their accompanying hotels are located. At the very tip is the popular Hilton, an anchor of the city’s hotel industry for years thanks to its own sizeable convention center. The property is fresh from a remodel in its lobby area with new lighting and furnishings and guestroom accommodations. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide jaw-dropping views of the waterfront with little obstruction thanks to its location on the point, making it one of the most popular hotels for American visitors. Thanks to a forward-thinking tax incentive by former President Alvaro Uribe, hotel construction that begins before the end of 2017 can receive a long-term exemption from taxes for hotel services. This has helped boost interest in the destination especially with international brand names. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
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Yet to open, but nearing the end of construction, are the new Hyatt Regency and Sheraton hotels, also situated along Bocagrande. Both modern towers will rise above the beachfront with a mix of guest rooms, private residences and large-scale meeting facilities to capture growing business demand. In addition, a slew of other brands have their sights set on the city as they recognize the flourishing demand for luxury accommodations. A full-service Marriott and new AC by Marriott – one of Marriott’s new design-focused properties with its own Spanish roots – are set to open in the city by 2018. New hotel openings lead to increased demand from tourists and business travelers alike, especially when they are linked to international names with the marketing power to help fuel interest in the city. Where To Meet With the growth of meeting spaces available, it comes as no surprise that building more hotel rooms has become a priority. Outside of the numerous hotel meeting venues, there is the modern Las Americas Convention Center, which is situated on the beachfront and only a short distance from hotels and the airport. With a capacity to host 3,600 attendees, it often does double duty with the Cartagena de Indias Convention Center in the old town. The latter can welcome as many as 4,000 conferees. Casa 1537, a beautifully restored colonial mansion, offers another unique venue for gatherings of as many as 1,000. Within the walled city, outdoor squares and small boutique properties have rooftop terraces perfect for small get-togethers. It’s common to pass wedding processions taking place on the steps of centuries-old churches adding to the town’s overall festive atmosphere. “With the US economy doing well and the dollar maintaining strength against the Colombian peso, meetings and conventions in Cartagena can come with a lower end cost than comparable ones in dollar-denominated economies such as Costa Rica or Panama,” Scott points out. Immersing Yourself in History In the historic colonial center of town, visitors can opt to explore on foot or hop aboard one of the many horse and carriage tours that navigate the cobblestone streets. Cafes, shops and impromptu musical and dance performances surprise and delight visitors. Fresh fruit vendors, Colombian coffee shops and lively bars spill out into
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tree-lined squares which offer that all-important respite from the hot Caribbean sun. It can be especially crowded when cruises are in port. But ships leave by the evening hours, which lets locals and overnighting tourists have the tasty restaurants and lively nightclubs to themselves. There are numerous smaller boutique hotels, which have been converted from colonial houses into quaint inns that recreate the feeling of living in the old town. For visitors desiring a bigger hotel, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is a perennial favorite among those who want to bunk within the walled city. Its preservation of the colonial architecture makes this one of the most highly favored hotels in town. Getting There Rafael Nuñez International Airport is named for the former president who’s perhaps best remembered for writing Colombia’s national anthem. This is the main point of entry for visitors to town. While compact, the airport is functional, but will soon be bursting at the seams. In addition, its lone runway often doubles as a taxiway meaning aircraft have to turn around and backtrack after landing, which limits aircraft movements during peak periods. The airport – Colombia’s fourth largest – is only a few miles from town, meaning taxi rides are both brief and inexpensive. Links to the United States are limited to Delta flights a few times a week to Atlanta and low-fare carriers JetBlue and Spirit, which compete to Fort Lauderdale. JetBlue and Avianca also offer service to New York JFK. Increased nonstop airlift to the US could go a long way toward boosting the region’s tourism prospects although no new routes have been announced. Once more hotel projects are completed, that may happen quickly. Luckily, there is plenty of competition from regional airlines like Avianca, Copa, and LATAM. In addition, Copa has announced plans to launch a low-fare airline named Wingo which will fly domestic routes from the city. It’s not just the airport that is responsible for the rising tourism numbers to Cartagena. Cruise lines have increasingly added the city as a port of call thanks to government investment in improving the port facilities. While this influx of leisure guests lasts only one day at a time, it introduces the destination to enamored visitors who could likely find a return in their future, whether for work or play. While the nation’s capital of Bogotá is the center of Colombia’s economy and government, Cartagena is often referred to as the jewel in the nation’s crown. Just remember to bring some sunscreen. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
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WINGS ON DEMAND New planes, wider markets, more flexibility â€“ private skies promise better ways to fly By Jerome Greer Chandler
Above: Bombardier Global 6000
The ability to hold confidential meetings aloft is an underestimated bonus in todayâ€™s Wikileak-y world. 30 n December 2016/January 2017
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Next, in the mid-1980s,“the whole market shifted,”with the advent of fractional ownership, Gennari explains. Propelled by fractional ownership juggernaut NetJets, the concept took off, especially among companies disenchanted with the traditional charter concept. With the fractional model,“one of their big selling points was that you pay only point-to-point pricing – ‘live hours’ (the time during which passengers were on board).“In charter you also pay ferry time: If people flew one way down to Florida and wanted to come back one week later, they’d fly back empty.” In the aviation business, whether corporate or commercial, there is little operators loathe quite as much as an unproductive flying machine, one that’s not making any money. You don’t make money by flying empty – unless you levy a ‘ferry’ fee. As a result,“companies started popping up that would go out and buy a fleet of aircraft that was put out just for charter,” says Gennari.“There were ‘virtual’ crew bases. So if you wanted to fly just one way from New York to Florida they’d fly you one way and just leave the airplane down there and see what business they could pick up. They’d just keep moving the airplane around the system.”
ld definitions are dying by the dozens each day, and we scramble to rewrite digital dictionaries to keep up. So it is with the business jet – that one-time corporate bauble signifying success or excess that’s become (some argue) an essential tool of business travelers on momentous missions. Over the last quarter-century Gary Gennari has witnessed the metamorphosis up-close and personally. When Priester Aviation’s senior vice president of charter first started, he says“it was mostly a relationship business. We were dealing with the likes of the Rockefellers and the Whitneys. That was the caliber of people that chartered aircraft.” Now, Gennari says,“the market has developed so much.” Then what had been a toy became a tool, as corporations sought to make the most of high-value business travelers’ time. Business jets didn’t exactly become mass transportation, but corporations bought them, leased them and chartered them as never before. Their prime selling point was, and remains, enhanced productivity for senior executives on an increasingly planetwide stage. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
New Kid on the Block The latest bizjet business model entails selling memberships on private jets. Those memberships translate to seats on certain routes, blurring the lines between business jets and airlines. One of the prime practitioners is a company called JetSmarter, which bills itself as“the world’s largest mobile marketplace for private jets.” The company’s fact sheet asserts it has“fundamentally rewired the marketplace, and reinvented an industry for the on-demand economy.” JetSmarter offers three categories of service: JetShuttle – This lets members (there’s a $5,000 minimum perperson annual membership fee) search and book a seat on an already scheduled bizjet route such as New York-San Francisco, Geneva-London or Dubai-Riyadh. That fee gets you a first seat “free.”You pay extra for additional seats. JetDeals – Offers one-way flights on private jets. In contrast to JetShuttle, these flights are sporadic. Members can get anywhere from one to four“free”seats on JetDeals by virtue of that membership. JetCharter – You can book the entire airplane. Or share the ride with others from other companies. ”JetSmarter is the only private travel service company to operate by way of innovative app technology,”says CEO and founder Sergey Petrossov. He contends his operation is“unlike any other private jet venture,”and labels previous booking and payment methods“archaic.” Costs are kept comparatively low, he says, because JetSmarter partners with more then 800 carriers globally. JetSmarter’s goal here appears to be luring commercial airline business travelers out of the first or business class cabin and into business jets that can afford them digital booking options in our December 2016/January 2017 n 31
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BUSIER SKIES More private jet entrants mean more options for business fliers By Tom Otley DELTA AIR LINES is targeting the private market with its Delta Private Jets subsidiary. As well as selling regular charters, it also offers a private jet card with an initial purchase of $100,000 to $500,000 – you can earn ten Delta SkyBonus points per dollar spent. The flights can also work in conjunction with regular Delta services, with chauffeured cars taking you from one domestic flight to the next, missing out the terminal experience altogether.
JETFLY is a fractional ownership program allowing individuals to buy anything from a 1/8th share (62.5 hours per year) to a 50 percent share (250 hours per year) of an aircraft from a pool of 20 twin-piloted Pilatus PC-12s (single turbine propeller aircraft). These have either six or eight seats and, because they can land at a lower speed, they can access out of the way airports. A monthly management fee applies (Jetfly has 70 full-time pilots) and there is guaranteed availability within Europe at 24 hours’ notice. The aircraft could fly from London to as far as Marrakech with four passengers.
VICTOR is known as the Uber of private aviation, with its sleek app and website for booking empty legs on jets. Its Victor for Business corporate travel arm has seen it set up a partnership with travel management company CTI, giving the latter’s clients access to more than 7,000 aircraft worldwide. PRIVATEFLY has opened a US office in Miami. The company, established in Europe in 2008, says the launch is a step forward in its ambitious US growth plans, following strong sales over the past two years. The new team, at Fort Lauderdale International airport, will handle US client flight sales for any global route. 32 n December 2016/January 2017
For corporations with offices distantly dispersed worldwide, long-range nonstops are imperative got-to-have-now world.“The biggest trend we’re seeing is a steady growth in the need for on-demand travel,”says Petrossov. “Consumers like the ease of being able to book on-demand from the palm of their hand.”He asserts bizjet models such as JetSmarter “will only continue to grow as the demand increases.” Even as JetSmarter and comparable companies surge, other more traditional business jet operators are quick to differentiate their product from this latest iteration of corporate mobility.“The whole aggregation model is the latest and greatest,”says Pat Gallagher, executive vice president of NetJets, the company that pioneered fractional ownership.“At the end of the day, all they are doing is just aggregating demand and trying to put people into seats on empty airplanes.” Gallagher maintains that’s not the product he nor charter companies are selling,“not really what the private aviation experience is.”As for on-demand, Gallagher says,“They tell you when to go, and you’re flying with complete strangers. That’s not the business that NetJets is in. It’s an entirely different value proposition.” Whether you’re considering booking charter, fractional or aggregate-generated bizjet passage, you’d do well to do your due diligence. According to Lufthansa Private Jet senior manager Stephan Grandy,“There are many brokers who sell empty-leg flights for very low prices. The downside of this concept is less flexibility in regard to timing and routing – as well as uncertainty about the service level and operator.” Bizjets’ very reason for being to begin with revolves around time well spent, maximizing productivity and convenience.“Our customers have guaranteed access to an airplane on X amount of notice,”says Gallagher.“That can be four hours to ten hours, depending on the aircraft they own.” A quick refresher from Gallagher on fractional ownership:“A person or an entity purchases a share of an aircraft. They’re actually buying an undivided interest in a specific serial numbered aircraft, and then placing that piece of the aircraft into a large interchanged pool. That allows them to draw from that pool as needed. So they actually have title to an aircraft, have the benefits that go along with the acquisition of an aircraft. You have the tax benefits for your company that go along with owning a capital asset.” Long Legs Increasingly, corporate jets are called on to make heretoforeimpossible nonstop leaps from continent to continent. With its fleet Visit businesstravelerusa.com
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of 700-plus aircraft deployed across the planet, NetJets is seeing a demand for long-legged aircraft, as are many other operators. Consider the Bombardier Global 6000. Its 6,000 nautical mile (6,904.8 statute mile) range is impressive, right up there with some new long-range commercial airliners. Among the stable of 45 flying machines owned or managed by Priester Aviation is the Gulfstream G650, whose nonstop range is a full 8,053 miles. For corporations with offices distantly dispersed worldwide, long-range nonstops are imperative, a critical element in today’s service equation. Ranging closer to home is another of NetJets dozen missionspecific aircraft types, Embraer’s EMB-505 Phenom 300. Its range is a more workmanlike 2,268 miles. The smallest airplane in Priester’s portfolio is Cessna’s CJ3+. It can fly 2,040 nautical miles nonstop. Accessibility is another important service component, the ability to get to your ultimate destination with as little friction as possible. The new Cessna Citation Latitude fits nicely into that
niche. Gallagher says it can operate into“over 5,500”airports in the United States. By contrast, the number of airports hosting scheduled commercial service in this country is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500. Hybrid Connections Some destinations “are not easy to get to with commercial airlines,” says Lufthansa Private Jets’ Stephan Grandy, a company that uses NetJets’ fleet to provide an extension of premium service. Here’s the way it works: Fly Lufthansa or SWISS intercontinentally, say from Frankfurt to JFK. At Kennedy, hop on a NetJets operated Lufthansa Private Jet the rest of the way, perhaps to one of the 5,000 airfields in the US that accommodate bizjets, but are bereft of commercial airline service. So, if some business jets boast all that nonstop range, why not just fly a Gulfstream 650 or a Bombardier Global 6000 all the way? European and North American-centric Lufthansa Private Jets (LPJ) “does receive a few requests for long-range flights,”says Grandy. But in most cases he recommends booking an intercontinental First Class ticket on Lufthansa proper and hopping on an LPJ to fly the rest of the way. “Most people underestimate the cost of long range private jet flights,” he argues.“The cost can exceed the price of a first class ticket by far. Secondly, no matter how new and well equipped a private jet is, it just cannot quite match the comfort and spaciousness of a First Class cabin.” Visit businesstravelerusa.com
Left to right: Gulfstream G650; Lufthansa Private Jet; Embraer’s EMB-505 Phenom 303
Ah, cost.“If you’re just comparing the cost of flying NetJets to the cost of flying commercial from LaGuardia to LAX, we’ll never compete,”concedes Pat Gallagher. But then with charter and fractional, price per se is not the issue. The value of the time for executives is. The ability to hold confidential business meetings aloft is an underestimated bonus in today’s Wikileak-y world. The ability to eschew traditional TSA security lanes is too. Then there’s the tweaking of your trip aboard true point-to-point flights, without connections or refueling stops. Evolutionary Tweaking If aggregating empty-leg unused seats, then turning them around so they sell is getting the most press of late, certain charter and fractional operators quietly go about the business of polishing their
products. And the elemental service is most significantly safety. “One of the areas where we place the most significant amount of innovation and R&D is safety,”says Gallagher of NetJets, by far the planet’s largest player. Getting the data to plan and implement a safety program, he contends, has much to do with size. A“lot of it is our sheer scale. With a company of over 6,000 employees and 700 aircraft we have access to a lot of data to learn from.”NetJets operates hundreds of flights a day, monitoring the flight data recorders every takeoff and landing. It downloads that data to continually tweak and improve its training program. Rest time for pilots is another issue that’s made headline for a number of commercial carriers in recent years, prompting NetJets to“invest in software packages that track pilot alertness and circadian rhythms,”says Gallagher,“to make sure that our Netjets pilots are not being put into scheduling situations that would conflict with their rest.” He contends NetJets efforts go far beyond Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Case in point: FAA requires pilots to have ten hours of uninterrupted rest. But Gallagher points out, “If you have someone who flew overnight for a week in a row, took one day off and then comes back and flew a different shift next that could have a material effect on their alertness. We monitor things like that.” Such quiet, incremental action rarely makes the headlines. But business travelers can live just fine with that. BT December 2016/January 2017 n 33
n Tried & Tested
Marriott Park Lane London
BACKGROUND: The exterior profile of the Marriott Park Lane is unmistakable. Housed in what started out as an elegant late Edwardian apartment building – now Grade II listed – designed by noted architect Francis Thomas Verity, the hotel underwent extensive renovations in 2015. The result is a 5-star luxury hotel that stands out among Mayfair’s many elite establishments. WHERE IS IT? Around the corner – literally. The building is at the intersection of Oxford St. and Park Lane, right across the street from Marble Arch and just above the Tube stop of the same name. However the hotel entrance is actually tucked away on a side street. It was a little hard to find at first, but its location away from the constant stream of Oxford Street traffic makes for safer and more convenient car pickups and dropoffs. WHAT’S IT LIKE? Despite the hotel’s beaux arts exterior, following the 2015 renovations the interior has taken on a distinctly 21st century tone. The lobby is a white marble affair, understated and elegant, and sprinkled with intriguing pieces of art. In contrast to the coolness of the entry, everyone on staff, from the doorman to the hosts at the check-in desk, was unfailingly warm and courteous. ROOM FACILITIES: When I stepped in the room, the first thing I saw out our secondstory window was a big red double-decker bus rolling by on busy Park Lane, and I thought, ‘Oh, no, we’re going to be listening to traffic all night.’ But my concerns were quickly dispelled when the bus pulled away, but I was hearing – practically nothing. A clever 34 n December 2016/January 2017
TESTED BY Dan Booth HOW MANY ROOMS? 124 rooms, 28 suites PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Elegant rooms, exemplary service and location, location, location PRICE Internet rates for Marriott Rewards non-refundable advance purchase in midNovember was ₤418 ($520) per night. CONTACT Marriott Park Lane, 140 Park Lane, London, England W1K 7AA UK tel +44 20 7493 7000, marriott.com.
double window arrangement made the room incredibly quiet. In fact, the view across Hyde Park was expansive and downright serene. The room itself was generous by London standards, but not huge. The furniture befit a room this size, and the bed was to die for. It took a few minutes to find the refrigerated minibar, which was secreted away in the bureau. And I never did figure out the light switches, which were interconnected some way but seemingly without logic. The bath was spacious and well-appointed with marble finishes, a large shower and plenty of counter space replete with Floris bath amenities. RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The hotel’s on-site res-
taurant is Lanes of London, a well-appointed spot that offers a cozy, posh-pub atmosphere and a menu mix that features both traditional fare and internationally-inspired dishes. Here too, the air of hospitality prevailed; despite being a stranger, I was treated like one of the regulars. And breakfast in the Executive Lounge each morning was a perfect start to our London escapades. BUSINESS AND LEISURE FACILITIES: The hotel offers three meeting rooms across nearly 1,300 square feet of conference space. And the recently opened Club at Park Lane features massage treatments, a state-ofthe-art fitness center complete with steam room, and – in something of a coup – the
FACILITIES R MP3 DOCK R x WI FI R x MINI BAR R x 24hr CONCIERGE R x MEETING ROOM R x EXECUTIVE FLOOR R x RESTAURANT R x BAR R SPA R x POOL R x GYM
only hotel pool on Park Lane, a stunning indoor beauty that fairly demands you take a relaxing swim. VERDICT: With its Mayfair address, the Marriott Park Lane’s location on the northeast corner of Hyde Park is absolutely unbeatable. If you’re looking for a refined stay in the midst of everything this great city has to offer, this hotel ticks all the boxes. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
Tried & Tested n
EVA Air 777-300ER Laurel Class Taipei (TPE) — Chicago O’Hare (ORD) CHECK-IN: The international departure halls at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport are neatly organized in rows of check-in desks with easy-tofind lanes for premium cabins and Star Alliance elite members. US-bound departures require passengers to stop by check-in for a boarding pass even if one checks in online, but it is a swift and efficient process with priority security lanes. The lounges are located just past security amid a full array of duty-free shops, but the speedy WiFi, cold-pressed juices and dim sum in the lounge were calling my name. BOARDING: Since this was an inaugural flight, there was plenty of fanfare at the gate with speeches from dignitaries and the airline’s president. EVA Air has a strong presence across the Pacific connecting passengers between Asia and North America. The Taiwanese media turned out in full force, too. As passengers were boarding, everyone was given a gift bag with a traditional Chicago favorite: Garrett’s Popcorn. As we pushed back, the airport offered a water cannon salute in honor of the inaugural service. Once on board, the offer of a pre-departure juice, water or Champagne was made, and the airline’s signature Krug Champagne was delivered in a tall flute accompanied by a warm towel and Godiva chocolate. It began to become apparent that everything EVA Air does is above-average.
TESTED BY Ramsey Qubein PLANE TYPE 777-300ER SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1 SEAT PITCH 81-87 in/205.7 cm-221cm SEAT WIDTH 26 in/66 cm
THE SEAT: Oh, the seat… window seats are especially private as they angle away from the aisle with a massive, swing-out television screen, a large console for storing items, and a power outlet and USB port. Each seat has several large windows, but the best part is that the seat goes completely flat (in addition to various lounging positions) with an arm rest that rises to cocoon you in privacy. A large pillow and thick, plaid duvet were there for added comfort. THE FLIGHT: Name recognition was a hallmark from all crewmembers. Since I placed my meal orders with my reservation, the flight attendants knew my choice already, but I still perused the thick menu packed with beverage selections (EVA Air is the only airline to serve Krug in business class) and three meal services. All meals are served a la carte directly on the table for a true restaurant experience. I
appreciated the stemless wine glasses – which remained topped up constantly – and the service ware meticulously placed on the tablecloth. The mid-afternoon departure meant an early dinner, starting with a lovely appetizer. My main dish of rack of lamb with couscous was perfect and presented with great flair. Fresh fruit followed along with a cheese and dessert cart, and there were always snacks available in the galley. The cabin is wonderfully quiet; after a morning of meetings, it was nice to recline my seat and conk out for awhile. Halfway through the 13-hour flight, I ordered the traditional Taiwanese noodle soup. The fairly priced onboard WiFi by T-Mobile worked quite well even over Alaska. After yet another slumber, the third meal of the day was wok-fried noodles with vegetables. ARRIVAL: Before touching down, I made one last visit to
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees PRICE Internet fares for Royal Laurel Class $5,187 roundtrip CONTACT evaair.com
the restroom, which looked as immaculate as it had when we departed Taipei. The flight landed almost an hour early thanks to excellent tailwinds and we were met with yet another water cannon salute. I had flown EVA before, but was excited to try the airline on a long flight. It more than exceeded my expectations, and the SKYTRAX 5-Star award comes as no surprise to this seasoned traveler. VERDICT: On the heels of being named a SKYTRAX Five-Star Airline, EVA was ready to show off its prized inflight product on this inaugural Taipei-Chicago flight. Exceptional, a la carte dining in business class and traditional hospitality in all cabins make this Star Alliance airline a real winner. BT December 2016/January 2017 n 35
We Make Your Business Ours Youâ€™ll find our hotels and restaurants are designed to delight, thanks to the perk-y extras like our hosted nightly wine hour, award-winning restaurants, yoga mats in every room, complimentary PUBLIC bikes and free WiFi for Kimpton Karma Rewards members. Add our bold, playful design and you have the ultimate boutique hotel stay at over 65 hotels in 30 cities. KIMPTONHOTELS.COM
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38 News 40 Westward, Ho!
44 Champagne Moment 48 Spoiled for Choice
54 Whatâ€™s On
56 4 Hours in Seoul
58 Stacking the Deck
58 Visit businesstravelerusa.com
December 2016/January 2017 n 37
n Lifestyle News
Marriott’s M Beta Innovation Lab Goes Live Marriott Hotels has officially opened a unique property in Uptown Charlotte, NC, marking the debut of M Beta at Charlotte Marriott City Center. The urban hotel is an innovation lab fielding many of Marriott Hotels’ design and technology developments in“live beta.” Guests are invited to provide feedback – from traditional surveys to physical Beta Buttons throughout the hotel which can be used to register approval of the corresponding innovation. Among the concepts being launched are: • Hosted Arrival instead of the traditional front desk check-in. • Flex Fitness with on-demand group and personal workouts available on screens in the fitness studio or in-room. • A Marketplace where guests can enjoy locally sourced coffee, unique retail and limited-edition food selections from Charlotte small businesses. Beta Button engagement and feedback are aggregated and presented in real-time on digital screens throughout the hotel, as well as on TravelBrilliantly.com.
The Huntington Elevates Its Dining Experience Once a Gilded-Age millionaire’s estate, The Huntington – now home to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens – is ushering in a new era of destination dining on its historic grounds through the dining and catering services of Palo Alto-based Bon Appétit Management Co. The Huntington, located in San Marino, CA, welcomes 750,000 visitors a year and features five dining spaces. In addition to providing dining services at The Huntington’s various locations, Bon Appétit also will provide catering for private events. “At a time when cuisine has become key to every type of cultural experience – from museum going to concert watching – food is no longer incidental. It is part of our culture,” says Laura Trombley, Huntington president. To learn more visit huntington.org.
Practically Everyone Uses Technology to Enhance Travel Almost all travelers who own smartphones rely on their devices to enhance their travel experience in several ways, according to a new survey from the Consumer Technology Association. The poll of 600 participants found that 97 percent of travelers use technology to provide easy access to information and directions, capture pictures and video, and stay in touch with family and friends. Survey respondents cited smartphones (64 percent), digital cameras (61 percent), tablets (27 percent) and laptops (17 percent) as the tech they use most on their travels. Additionally, almost half of respondents say they are looking for a travel experience customized to their preferences. For more information, visit CTA.tech/research.
Etihad Launches New Luxury Amenity Kits Etihad Airways has unveiled a new range of luxury amenity kits for first class passengers, created in collaboration with fashion designer Christian Lacroix and Hungarian skincare brand, Omorovicza. The embossed bags come in gray and plum – intended for men and women, respectively – with a second phase design of black and burgundy set to be introduced in the future. Along with the specialty Omorovicza products, the kits include items for comfort – such as ear plugs – personal grooming, and sleep and relaxation. Initially the bags are being introduced on A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Mumbai, before being extended fleet-wide in early 2017. Find more information at etihad.com. BT 38 n December 2016/January 2017
n Gathering Places
WESTWARD, HO! Saddle up for a team-building adventure cowboy-style at one of these deluxe guest ranches By Lark Gould
Right and above: Ranch at Rock Creek; and Triple Creek Ranch
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Gathering Places n
Experiences run the range – from sunrise yoga to fly-fishing to shooting to cattle drives
f the mention of the words“dude ranch”still conjures up images of Billy Crystal going toe-to-toe with Jack Palance in the 1990s flick City Slickers, you’re about due for an update, partner. Today, the term is forever branded in the lexicon of travel and hospitality as a luxury stay in cowboy country that is likely to have bragging rights – and hats – attached. Urban cowboys and nature lovers find privately sought dreams on these spreads, if only for a week, attended by rough and tumble ranch hands who know a thing or two. Whether romancing the big skies, improving riding and roping skills, or huddling with the company brass for some strategizing and team building, a ranch retreat is a wonderful way to get away from it all and connect with one’s inner cowboy. And there is no shortage of such ranches to choose from, ranging from sparse and simple settings with few amenities and so-so cuisine, to Relais & Chateaux layouts with amazing wine cellars and Michelin-starred chefs. The Dude Ranch Association, with more than 100 vetted members in eleven states represents only a fraction of the possibilities but remains a good place to start when weeding the dudes from the wannabes. For meetings, these ranches can be especially beneficial, says Colleen Hodson, executive director of the Dude Ranch Association, a membership organization that has been around since 1926. “Ranch meetings have really become quite popular, especially in the last five years,” says Hodson.“The ranch guests tend to be more focused on the meeting, not daydreaming and looking outside, as they know there will be plenty of ranch time later. Also ranches are ideal for team building exercises and people really have a good time. Each stay is customized to the group or people at hand and everyone gets something out of it.” Horseback riding is part and parcel of the ranch experience, although this activity can range from simple nose to rear walks around the corral to wild runs through the meadows to afternoons of rounding up steer – an expensive undertaking for ranches and one that comes with a lot of liability. Chances are a ranch vacation will be the only place guests can experience riding and enjoy it western style, amid the sagebrush and the pines on endless winding trails. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
Home on the Range Ranches can run from the small with only a few cabins to the quite large, with facilities that can handle up to 250 guests for a meeting or event. Most ranches offer meetings facilities for around 40 to 50 people, Hodson says, and most ranches in the Dude Ranch Association have added these facilities and supporting technology in the past few years to meet the steadily growing demand. “For the larger groups, you really have to book a year in advance, and that does not include the summer months, which are mostly given to families. Group meetings and retreats really get going in the shoulder months of September and October and May and June,”she adds.“Only a handful of ranches are open year ‘round.” Several of those four-season ranches in the luxury category are in Montana. These include Triple Creek Ranch, the Ranch at Rock Creek and Paws Up, among others. At Triple Creek Ranch in the Bitterroot Valley some 75 miles south of Missoula, you are as likely to find yourself sipping a 2010 Château Margaux with the former Intel CEO who owns the place as you are donning cowboy chaps and mounting a Paint in the corral. The ranch has 30 rooms, most of them large, independent cabins with a wood-burning fireplace. As a Relais & Chateau property the pampering is noticeable. Similarly, dining here is an event with a focus on French culinary and even a cooking school at the ready for customized programs. As with most ranch operations, just about all guest requests are packaged in the nightly price, which is more geared to small groups December 2016/January 2017 n 41
n Gathering Places
Right: Ranch at Rock Creek Ranch
Most ranches offer meetings facilities and supporting technology to meet the steadily growing demand
and couples than it is to meetings. But small groups can bond along the trails with rides that can be customized for any skill level or interest. Fly-fishing, too, comes with the territory.
can get with gourmet ranch food, such as steak cuts from grass fed, range-happy cattle, all punctiliously paired with the appropriate precious wine.
Room to Roam Similarly, the Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, MT, also around 90 minutes from Missoula International Airport, is a high-dollar luxury ranch that welcomes meetings and business travelers with a full roster of amenities and facilities. The property has 95 beds across 38 rooms in the lodge, cabin houses and luxury tents, plus more than 10,000 acres to roam amid Montana’s wide-open prairies. There is plenty of outdoor space to take care of large groups in terrace and patio spreads and temporary canvas pavilions. A bowling center/bar and lounge handles the post-dinner play and, as a working ranch, you’ll find scores of horses ready to be saddled and plenty of cattle wandering the foothill paths. Riding there, unlike many ranch resorts out West, is on demand and accordingly what and when the guest wants it – not when the ranch hands have a line ready to go out. All riders are welcome here – walk ‘em, trot ‘em, even canter and run. BYOB, or else boots and chaps can be provided at no charge. Fly-fishing, too, happens on demand in the creek or rivers, or in secret spots known to the staff. Leave the tackle on the banks and take a family-sized inner tube for a float down Rock Creek in warmer weather. All is inclusive here, from horseback rides (all skill levels accommodated), fly fishing, rafting, guided (and solo for the adventurous) hikes along seemingly endless miles of scenic trails, the soothing saltwater pool, the gourmet meals (meatloaf is a must-have here, as is the venison), the wine list and the bowling and movies afterwards. Operated as a working ranch, it’s not unusual to round up an errant steer or two while riding a rugged trail on horseback. Guests need only bring the right clothes and shoes. All else is provided -the gear, the tackle, the shooting equipment (Glocks included) and the mountain bikes. Added amenities include a spa designed somewhat like Westworld meets Greenwich Village, a saltwater pool, a plethora of prairie dogs and nights full of stars. Dining is as creative as one
Bring Your Cowboy Attitude The Ranch at Rock Creek also offers plenty of team building opportunities and adrenaline rushes under the wide-open skies of Montana. The ranch is owned by Jim Manly, himself a CEO of a boutique investment bank, who often brings out company performers for some get-to-know-you down time. The resort at times is said to be the most expensive in the US (rates lower considerably for groups, of course) with its decked out tents and 38 bedrooms in an assortment of luxury cabins. Winter brings its own fun with trips to the nearby Discovery Ski Area, located by an old and atmospheric mining town. The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming (around 3.5 hours from Denver and one hour from Laramie) is also a shoe-in for groups. Here the specialty is offering retreats and incentive programs with accommodations for up to 150 guests. However, it is not open all year and therefore most of those meetings would happen during the shoulder seasons. The ranch offers a collection Lodge Rooms, Cabin Suites, Cabin Residences as well as the Magee Homestead (a prairie hideaway that can sleep as many as 24 guests), all furnished in western décor. But lest you cringe at the idea of roughing it, the ranch offers premium 400 thread count linens, Egyptian cotton towels, plush robes, Brush Creek Ranch Signature Toiletries, and coffee stations. Experiences run the range – from sunrise yoga to wrangling to fly-fishing to shooting to cattle drives. Families are welcome and easily find their interests here. Groups and meetings are looked after by dedicated staff. Other top choices for ranch vacations or bond-building dude ranch retreats include the Home Ranch in Clark, CO., Alisal Ranch in Solvang, CA, Paws Up near Missoula, MT, and Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, AZ. “Or you can call me and I’ll match you up,”says Hodson, who says she has been to most of them. Best advice? Book early, Hodson says. These ranches are smallish, very eco-friendly places that get filled up quite fast. But, she adds, slow down – make sure you bring your cowboy attitude. BT
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n The Good Life
COURTESY OF KEN SEET/FOUR SEASONS
As Asia continues to thirst for premium lifestyle experiences, Champagne is finding a new audience
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The Good Life n
hampagne has come a long way since the days of Dom Perignon’s oft misquoted exclamation,“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars”– made while noticing the effervescence within a bottle of white wine that had gone somewhat awry. Back then, Champagne was known as the “devil’s wine,”as it was not uncommon for the weak, poorly made glass bottles of the day to spontaneously burst, wounding – at times fatally – those within the blast range. These days, the quintessential, most luxurious of wines from the most salubrious of wine regions has won the hearts and palates of many and become a symbol of celebration the world over. In fact, its popularity has soared in recent decades, mostly thanks to new money from Russia and China, coupled with continued loyalty from its most abundant markets, the US and UK. In Asia, trendy new Champagne bars are beginning to emerge in first-tier cities such as Shanghai, where hotspots like Monkey Champagne (houseofmonkey. com) are pitching high-quality, highpriced Champagnes to Millennials with to Millennials who have the money to spend. Champagne consumption in China is currently less than 1 percent of total wine consumption, but many believe there is plenty of room for expansion. Vinexpo and the IWSR (International Wine and Spirits Report) have already seen sales to China more than double in the last eight years and expect to see at least a 10 percent increase in Chinese consumption of sparkling wine by 2018. China, however, is not the leader in the Asian Champagne market, nor does it feature in the top ten in the world. This honor goes to Japan, ranked the fourth largest export market for Champagne in 2015, at 11.8 million bottles annually. China by comparison imports just over two million bottles annually, while Hong Kong – the self-proclaimed“Wine Hub of Asia”– imports just over 1.5 million. Visit businesstravelerusa.com
“The overall Champagne market in Japan oscillates between the fourth and fifth biggest in volume terms and is the largest prestige cuvée market in the world, together with the US,”says Master of Wine Ned Goodwin, former Tokyo resident and currently brand ambassador for Charles Heidsieck Champagne.“There’s a high degree of appreciation of the synergy of Champagne’s yeast-driven textures and flavors, with the similarly fermentative nature of many Japanese foodstuffs. Champagne is acknowledged by Japanese wine professionals and regular consumers alike as very agreeable with Japanese fare.” “There is no shortage of great places to drink fine Champagne in Japan,”says renowned wine critic and oenophile Hajime Yamaguchi, who recommends Champagne bars such as Vionys (vionys. com) –“the most famous in Tokyo and one that most of our sommeliers recommend” – as well as Flute Flute by Romi’s in Osaka (anjou.co.jp/shop/fluteflute), which “serves not only Champagne but also cuisine seasoned with soy sauce collected from all over Japan, for example strawberry flavored soy sauce.” A Taste of Something Special In Hong Kong there are specific Champagne bars and establishments that do not hide their association with brand. In the illustrious Mandarin Oriental Hotel, lovers of Champagne Krug can find a plethora of the finer vintages in the Krug Room (mandarinoriental.com) over a luxurious meal, whilst those on a somewhat smaller budget can visit the Bollinger Room at the newly opened Maison Eight (maisoneight.com). Those with the cash to flash can head to the Grand Hyatt’s Champagne Bar (hongkong. grand.hyatt.com), a stalwart on the Hong Kong Champagne scene and, more significantly, one of the places to be seen in the city. Hong Kong is the auction capital of the world these days, with more and more Champagne under the hammer. In recent
years tastes have swung increasingly towards vintage Champagne for its value for money in the tax-free city.“The real bargain is vintage Champagne via auction. Its condition can be hit or miss, but the pricing is right and you’ll always have a talking point for a party,”according to Hong Kong-based Debra Meiburg, Asia’s first Master of Wine. One wine that has seen a tremendous following over the last decade has been Champagne Salon. Famed for releasing its vintages more than ten years after the wine’s actual production, this Champagne seems perfectly at home in a city as thirsty for a prestigious label as it is for the product inside the bottle.“Salon has a special place in Hong Kong because it’s a luxury product. The perception of Champagne in Hong Kong is very high. The Champagne brand in Hong Kong is very strong and this certainly helps us,” says Didier Depond, the current president of Champagne Salon. Around Asia, import duties on alcohol can often restrict high-priced wines to the more wealthy population. Cities such as Seoul, Singapore, Manila and Bangkok have huge tax levies on imports, thus making the wines even more expensive when they hit the upper echelon of wine lists. This does not deter those from indulging though, says Christopher Lowder of the new, uber-trendy Charles H bar in Seoul’s Four Seasons hotel (fourseasons.com/seoul). “Many more restaurants do now have the option and opportunity to offer Champagne to guests. Whether Champagne picks up in Korean culture moving forward will have a lot to do with whether or not restaurants can ditch the pretentiousness and make it less of a splurge and more of a staple.” Sparkling Concoctions In order to make Champagne more accessible and appealing to the wider market, Lowder serves a volley of Champagne cocktails that incorporate December 2016/January 2017 n 45
n The Good Life
a little of everyone’s favorite tastes. “Champagne lovers are in heaven, because they get all of the pleasure of enjoying, for example, a bottle of Billecart Salmon or Louis Roederer,” he says.“But they also get to see their favorite Champagne flavors paired with fresh citrus and house-made cordials. It’s a very popular serve for wine and cocktail lovers alike.” Champagne cocktails are also a prominent part of Champagne consumption in Singapore, notes Brandwatch vice president Christel Quek. Australian reds dominate Singapore’s wine consumption, but there are a few places to get a good Champagne cocktail: “Cut, owned by Wolfgang Puck (wolfgangpuck com) does an amazing Champagne cocktail called Rough Love,”she says, while also recommending Gibson (gibsonbar. sg) and Jigger & Pony (jiggerandpony.com) for top-quality Champagne cocktails in the Lion City. The ostentatious Flute – A Perrier-Jouet Bar is the pinnacle of the Champagne lifestyle in Bangkok (lebua.com). Located in the prestigious Dome at Lebua, State Tower in the city center, the world’s highest open-air Champagne bar is the hangout of Bangkok’s rich and famous and, while only serving Champagne from the House of Perrier-Jouet, if there is one place in Bangkok to be seen sipping from a flute, this is most certainly it. Taiwan, in particular Taipei, has always had a rich culture of wine consumption and this is reflected in their love of Champagne too. Cale Jackson, chef, food and beverage consultant and resident of Taipei for over 20 years, notes there are some fantastic places to enjoy both 46 n December 2016/January 2017
Clockwise from above: Charles H bar in the Four Seasons Seoul; signature Champagne cocktails at W Taipei’s Woobar; Flute – A Perrier-Jouet Bar at the top of Bangkok’s State Tower; and an impressive display in the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s Krug Room
great Champagnes by the glass and great Champagne cocktails in the city. Bars such as the Mandarin Oriental’s MO Bar (mandarinoriental.com) and Woobar in the W Hotel (woobartaipei.com) are at the top of Jackson’s recommended hangouts, where fine Champagne is almost always the order of the evening. However, with few places outside of hotels specializing in Champagne itself, Taiwan would seem to have unfulfilled potential.“For the majority of Taiwanese, wine is still supposed to be red, but there is no doubt that consumers’ desire to drink Champagne is on the march, as highlighted by the continued year-on-year growth in the category,”says Mark Pygott, Master of Wine student, wine writer and educator in Taipei.
Work Hard, Play Hard Increasingly, it seems the future of Champagne in Asia lies with the Millennial generation. As the“work hard, play hard” ethic further permeates Asian culture, so too is the lifestyle that accompanies it, and Champagne plays a large part. “More and more, Korea’s young professionals are spending their evenings at Charles H with a bottle of Champagne. When guests come into the bar, they are greeted with a complimentary welcome glass of Billecart Salmon Extra Brut. For a lot of them, this gesture is an enticing sip that often turns into a full bottle,” says Lowder.“Most of our guests at Charles H are young professionals in their late 20s or early 30s, and this group is definitely falling in love with Champagne.” So there is reason to be optimistic, with more and more venues opening up Asiawide and further interest in Champagne from the younger generation.“There was a brief surge of interest in ‘grower Champagnes’ in the past few years, but the city is primarily dominated by large Champagne houses,”says Meiburg.“And while I love the Grand Marques as well, I do think we need to find space for the boutique producers, just as we do in the world of fashion.” And that’s what it is really: Fashion. As with most everything, it’s all about trends and the perception of fashion of the time. As more and more people in Asia look to affirm their success in life, one product seems to represent the pinnacle: Champagne. As long as Champagne is held up high on that pedestal, it will be a product desired as much for aspiration as it is for enjoyment. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
n Escape To
Spoiled for choice From outstanding beaches to action-packed adventures, Asia offers a host of idyllic island getaways By Tamsin Cocks
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Seeking Sun and Sand The tropical island of Hainan, the“Hawaii of the East,” has been transformed into China’s leading beach hotspot, offering miles of coastline, high-quality golf courses, and natural scenery including hot springs and waterfalls. Sanya, at the southern tip of the island, is home to a host of five-star resorts, originally occupying Dadonghai and Yalong bays. However, as beachfront space has all been bought up, international brands entering the market have shifted slightly north to Haitang Bay, which boasts 14 miles of sweeping sand. Recent openings include Grand Hyatt Sanya Haitang Bay Resort & Spa, while Marriott has the Xiangshui Bay Marriott Resort & Spa set to open in early 2017. Raffles has also announced a second resort on the island’s east coast, featuring a golf course. WHERE TO STAY: The five-star MGM Grand Sanya, located on Yalong Bay, offers luxury accommodation with the added thrill of an assortment of Las Vegas-style shows, from magic performances to fire-breathing acts, as well as the relaxing interior of Sho Spa (mgmgrandsanya.com). Alternatively, Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay Resort, located on a private inlet minutes from Yalong Bay, offers equal luxury, fine dining options and fun-filled activities (sanya. park.hyatt.com). There’s no shortage of picturesque beach escapes in Asia, but Boracay in the Philippines is one of the best. The island’s crown jewel is White Beach, famous as much for the two and a half-mile sweep of powdery white sand as the hypnotizing sunsets that fill the horizon at dusk. If you can rouse yourself from lazing in paradise, there’s an array of water sports, shopping, ATV riding, ziplining and more. For evening entertainment, head to Station 2, where fire-artists light up the beachfront and bars crank up the volume for a high-spirited party scene. WHERE TO STAY: Shangri-La leads the way in terms of five-star resorts here. Sheltered in a quieter area in the north, the property offers 219 guestrooms and villas with private balconies and all the trimmings including CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La (shangri-la.com). No beach roundup would be complete without mentioning the tropical paradise of Koh Samui – one of Thailand’s largest islands, Left and above: Boracay’s sandy paradise; Koh Samui’s tropical beauty
December 2016/January 2017 n 49
n Escape To
renowned for palm-fringed beaches, lush forests and a happening nightlife scene. From high-end wellness retreats to spa getaways, the island has no shortage of luxury lodging. Coming soon are two beautiful resorts: The Beach Samui – a Design Hotels property nestled on the southern tip with just 21 suites and penthouses and a modern design led by Philippe Starck and YOO founder John Hitchcox; while Ritz-Carlton is also developing a new 187-room luxury getaway on the northern tip of the island. WHERE TO STAY: Amari Koh Samui has reopened after a year’s renovation. Situated on a secluded stretch of Chaweng Beach, the resort comes with two pools and a spa (amari.com). Jungle Fun For a rip-roaring rainforest adventure, look no further than Langkawi. The Malaysian archipelago offers a host of jungle pursuits, from canopy walks on Mt Gunung Raya to cycle trips exploring exotic flora and fauna. If you’re into wildlife, bring binoculars to spy the magnificent tropical specimens. Kayaking through ancient mangroves and leafy hikes are also popular activities. And let’s not forget the island also boasts a number of beautiful beaches, with waterfront hotels such as the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, a tranquil retreat rustically designed like a traditional Malay village. Here, guests can enjoy natural beauty, five-star restaurants, soothing spa treatments and more (meritushotels.com/pelangi). WHERE TO STAY: The recent opening of the St Regis Langkawi heralds the island’s first all-suite resort, with 85 luxuriously appointed rooms and four private villas (stregislangkawi.com). The Andaman Langkawi is a five-star resort with an ecofriendly USP, hosting a Marine Life Laboratory and Coral Nursery within the hotel, tasked with replenishing the fragile reef that surrounds the island, and giving visitors the chance to learn about the delicate marine ecosystem (theandaman.com). Underwater Adventures Aside from its reputation as a honeymoon spot, the Maldives is a diver’s dream. The Indian Ocean paradise is made up of more than 1,000 islands and is renowned for its thriving coral atolls, lagoons and abundance of colorful marine life. Top sites include Fotteyo Kandu in Vaavu Atoll for exciting caves and overhangs, while the strong currents of Lhaviyani Atoll’s Kuredu Express offer up big fish action from reef sharks and manta rays. Anantara recently opened up its first PADI-certified free-diving center – available to guests at three of its resorts – for those who want a different subaquatic experience. WHERE TO STAY: Vacationers are spoiled for choice in the Maldives, but a brand-new opening in September is the St Regis Vommuli Resort, Maldives. The idyllic resort offers 77 private villas, a tranquil spa with six private treatment rooms, an infinity swimming pool, fitness center and yoga space, plus dive and activity center (starwoodhotels.com/stregis). Japan’s southern island of Okinawa is another diving hotspot, with year-round warm water and a variety of oceanic creatures from hammerhead sharks to unique nudibranchs. Another draw is the chance to explore WWII shipwrecks and underwater ruins. Back on land, Okinawa offers a long list of relaxing vacation pursuits, from beautiful beaches to World Heritage sites and endless 50 n December 2016/January 2017
Clockwise from above: Scuba diving in the Maldives; exploring Langkawi by kayak; and Jeju Island’s Pinx Golf Course
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opportunities to sample the local cuisine. If you’re still in need of an ocean fix, the Churaumi Aquarium lets visitors get up close with whale sharks, manta rays and more. WHERE TO STAY: Five-star options are limited in this quiet Japanese backwater, but the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa is an excellent choice, with a luxury golf course, spa, 97 guestrooms and three dining outlets (ritzcarlton.com). Alternatively, the Hyatt Regency opened last year, ideally located between Naha main street and a historical pottery street, with upscale guestrooms and facilities (naha.regency.hyatt.com). Golf Havens There are many premium fairways in Asia, but for breathtaking views while you swing, an island location is hard to beat. Lying just a short hop from Singapore, the Indonesian island of Bintan, and its up-and-coming neighbor Batam, boast a number of championship golf courses as well as upscale resorts. From the Laguna Bintan Golf Club, designed by golf legend Greg Norman, to the much-lauded Ria Bintan Golf Club, enthusiasts can enjoy some of Asia’s best courses. Meanwhile, on Batam Carlson Rezidor is set to open the brand-new Radisson Golf & Convention Centre Batam, featuring 271 rooms and a championship golf course. WHERE TO STAY: In addition to golf resorts, there are a number of venerated five-star properties on the island. The gorgeous colonial exterior of The Sanchaya Bintan houses a collection of fivestar villas (thesanchaya.com), while the Banyan Tree and Angsana Bintan also offer luxurious accommodation and five-star service. South Korea’s Jeju Island is another option for golfing pros, with more than ten top-class courses to choose from. The volcanic island offers a dramatic backdrop and some unusual teeing-off spots, with popular resorts including Castlex Golf Club, Pinx Golf Club and Jungmun Resort. If your handicap isn’t working out for you, the island has plenty of unique cultural attractions, beautiful scenery or casinos to explore as an alternative. WHERE TO STAY: Five-star options range from The Shilla Jeju, with suites offering stunning mountain or sea views, complete with balcony and whirlpool tubs (shillahotels.com), to the larger Hyatt Regency Jeju, with 222 rooms and suites, which offers a tempting outdoor pool with luxury cabanas (jeju.regency.hyatt.com). Set Sail Just off the coast of Queensland, near the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, lie the Whitsundays – a tropical collection of 74 stunning islands. There’s no better way to traverse the calm waters than by hopping aboard a majestic sailing yacht, whether you charter a boat or become the skipper of your own vessel. Dotted around the region is an appealing range of luxurious spa resorts, restaurants serving up amazing seafood, and plenty of hidden beaches. WHERE TO STAY: A number of independent and boutique properties offer quality accommodation. On the main Hamilton Island lies the Beach Club Hotel, an adults-only oasis on Catseye beach, with a host of serene pampering treatments and ways to unwind (hamiltonisland.com.au/beach-club). Another excellent island-hopping destination is Phuket, particularly the stunning karst landscape of Phang Nga Bay, which boasts the iconic“James Bond”island, Koh Panyee – a Muslim Visit businesstravelerusa.com
December 2016/January 2017 n 51
n Escape To
Right: Sailing in Phuket’s Phang Nga Bay; Below: exploring the pristine expanses of the Whitsundays and Camiguin Island in the Philippines
fishing village on stilts in the middle of the Andaman Sea – and multiple hidden lagoons and beaches. Back on the main island, there’s a wealth of luxurious hotels, dining spots, spas and top-class hospitality to enjoy.
opportunity to hunt down unique pieces of furniture. Mystical temples, serene cantilevered rice paddies, colorful festivals and iconic dance shows are also enjoyable ways of immersing oneself in the island’s inimitable traditions.
WHERE TO STAY: Starwood’s Naka Island Resort, part of its Luxury Collection, offers an incredible private island experience for pretty unbeatable prices – rates start from around THB7,000/$200 (nakaislandphuket.com). For a distinctive, modern five-star resort consider the Indigo Pearl Phuket (recently renamed The Slate). In addition to being conveniently close to the airport, the resort offers a fabulous design concept based on the owners’ connection to Phuket’s ancient tin mining industry (indigo-pearl.com).
WHERE TO STAY: From the brains behind Potato Head, comes Katamama – a 58-suite boutique hotel in Seminyak that opened in April. Embodying “handcrafted hospitality,”every aspect bears the work of Indonesian craftsmen, while each room features a balcony, garden or private pool (katamama.com). Alternatively, for a more peaceful retreat, Ametis Villa tucked further round the coast in sleepy Canggu, offers a selection of luxury villas, complete with private butlers and a spa, to soak up the peaceful Balinese culture in style (ametisvilla.com).
Culture Vultures Bali is one of the most popular Indonesian destinations, offering relaxing retreats, beaches, nightlife and plenty of cultural interest. A thriving community of artisans has blessed the island with exquisite woodcarving workshops and art studios, providing an excellent
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Something Different If you’ve already checked off this list of must-visit island retreats, perhaps it’s time to turn your attention to some of the more hidden gems around the region. Thailand’s Ko Tarutao – the largest island of Tarutao National Marine Park – has somehow managed to stay under the radar, despite being the filming location for the popular Survivor TV show in 2012. As such, the island offers picture-perfect white beaches, unspoiled natural beauty and fascinating wildlife from tree pythons to wild pigs. Another immaculate beauty spot is the Philippines’ tiny Camiguin Island – known as the“Fire Island”after the four volcanoes contained within. Old churches, hot springs, waterfalls, beaches and the volcanoes themselves make this small paradise worth seeking out. Finally, head to Vietnam’s southern island of Phu Quoc for balmy waters, pristine beaches, a relaxed, undisturbed atmosphere and superb southern Vietnamese cuisine. La Veranda Resort Phu QuocMGallery Collection offers luxury accommodation redolent of a colonial French seaside mansion – a unique experience guaranteed to ease away any lingering city stress (laverandaresorts.com). BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
n The Scene
Around The World
Christmas at Kew
We round up some of the top events in the months ahead from all over World Snow Festival
London November 23 – January 2 For the holidays Kew Gardens becomes a magical land, with brightly colored laser beams dancing over water and Santa busy in his North Pole village. Find fairy-tale avenues of flora, plus vintage rides, Christmas gifts and traditional festive fare. Visit kew.org.
Grindelwald, Switzerland January 18 – 23 This six-day festival started in 1983 when a Japanese artist sculpted a gigantic snow statue of Heidi. Each year, this village at the foot of the Eiger turns into an icy gallery as works of art emerge from enormous blocks of snow. Visit worldsnowfestival.ch/en.
US Botanical Gardens Season’s Greetings
Burns Night Supper
Washington, DC November 24 – January 2 The US Botanical Garden’s annual holiday show Season’s Greenings celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Model trains chug past plant-based recreations of the Grand Canyon, the Gateway Arch, Mount Vernon, the Statue of Liberty, and many more. Visit usbg.gov.
Habits de Lumiere Festival Epernay, France December 9 – 12 Dazzling sound and light shows highlight the Habits de Lumière festival on Epernay’s Avenue de Champagne. Also on the program: Champagne tastings and bars, children’s activities and a car parade through the city’s streets. For details see visitfrenchwine.com.
The Taste of Tasmania Hobart, Australia December 28 – January 3 One of the most enduring culinary festivals in Australia takes place in Tasmania when food vendors descend on Hobart’s waterfront. Buskers, local musicians and DJs join in to make this summer feast a delight. For more information visit thetasteoftasmania.com.au. 54 n December 2016/January 2017
Scotland & Worldwide January 25 Burns Suppers celebrate the life and poetry of Scotland’s favorite literary son Robert Burns. Held on or around January 25, they are most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland but can occur wherever Scots – or aficionados of Burns’ poetry – gather. Visit scotland.org. National Youth Day India January 12 Since 1985, India has celebrated National Youth Day on January 12, the birth date of Swami Vivekananda, whose teachings have inspired numerous youth organizations. Observances at schools and colleges include processions, speeches, music, Yogasanas, sports and more. Visit festivalsofindia.in. Australia Day Australia January 26 January 26 is Australia Day, the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet at Port Jackson, New South Wales, a settlement which later became known as Sydney. Celebrations include outdoor concerts, sports, barbecues, festivals and fireworks across Australia. Visit australiaday.org.au. BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
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n 4 Hours
SEOUL Explore the Korean capital’s Namsan district to find reminders of the past and panoramas of the modern city By Jeremy Tredinnick
NAMDAEMUN Where better to begin an exploration of Seoul than Korea’s National Treasure Number 1: Namdaemun, the Great South Gate. The massive pagodastyle gate is made of stone and wood and was built in the 14th century by the first Joseon dynasty ruler, but has been rebuilt a number of times, most recently after an arsonist attack in 2008 that destroyed the curving wooden roofs. It reopened in 2013 after a full reconstruction, and earlier this year the changing of the guards ceremony began again, featuring three stern but colorfully-clad sentinels who stand watch over the gates as tourists walk through the gated archway. Cross the road to the northeast and you’re at the entrance of Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s largest wholesale market with a 600-year history. During the day you can find virtually anything here, from cheap clothing to bottled ginseng, art to
2 56 n December 2016/January 2017
fishing gear to kitchenware – the list is endless. But it’s at night, when merchants from all over the country come to buy goods, that this market is most alive. Namdaemun is free to visit, open 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM. The market begins around 10:30 PM and ends at roughly 5:00 PM the following day; namdaemunmarket.co.kr/english.
NAMSANGOL HANOK VILLAGE AND KOREA HOUSE A ten-minute cab ride skirts Namsan peak’s northern slopes and brings you to Namsangol Hanok Village, a great place to see five immaculately presented traditional hanok houses and get an insight into the Joseon family homes and life of yore. Visitors can try their hand at playing traditional games in the main courtyard, while soon-to-be-married couples dress in traditional clothing for photo shoots in the bucolic surroundings. (Open 9:00
AM – 9:00 PM every day except Tuesday; admission free; english.visitkorea.or.kr) Next door is Korea House, a restored traditional hanok that offers a superb introduction to classical Korean cuisine plus traditional dance performances. Lunch 12:00 – 2:00 PM; dinner served in two sessions: 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM and 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM; booking is essential; tel +82 2 2266 9101; koreahouse.or.kr/eng.
N SEOUL TOWER Before A 15-minute walk or quick cab ride back west and you’re at the Namsan Cable Car Station, the fastest way to the top of the 860-foot “mountain.” The five-minute ride up gives a taste of the views to come, and shows Namsan’s forested slopes laced by walking and biking trails (a one-way ticket costs ₩6,000/$5.20). Exit the car, climb some steep steps and you pass five stone-built, torpedo-shaped
3 Visit businesstravelerusa.com
4 Hours n
structures, the restored signal beacons that in ancient times warned the city of impending invasion. In front of you is the Palgakjeong, an octagonal pavilion with a beautifully colored geometrically patterned ceiling and the elegant sweeping eaves typical of traditional Korean architecture. But the structure that really dominates Namsan’s summit is N Seoul Tower, a huge needle of concrete that offers one of the most stunning 360-degree city views in the world. From the Observatory viewing level, 1,571 feet above sea level, the Han River winds across the southern view from west to east, and each window panel cleverly displays the name and distance of a famous city that lies in the direction you are looking. N Seoul Tower is open 365 days a year; Observatory open 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM (10:00 AM – midnight on Saturdays); tickets cost ₩10,000 ($8.70); nseoultower.co.kr/eng.
NAMSAN PARK Where the Bund ends, at Yanan Road East, turn “inland”for a block then south (left) – you’ll soon be part of a stream of people heading into the old Chinese quarter, a rambling network of streets and alleys whose focal point is the Yuyuan Garden. This restored classical 16th-century Chinese garden, built by government official Pan Yunduan for his parents, is a beautiful example of Ming-era landscaping that covers nearly 5 acres filled with pavilions linked by covered corridors Visit businesstravelerusa.com
and bridges, open courtyards, streams, ponds, ancient trees and stands of bamboo. Sadly, you’re unlikely to find the peace and tranquillity it was designed to inspire, since you’ll be sharing it with hordes of mostly Chinese tourists, but nevertheless, wandering its winding walkways, pausing in ornate pavilions with curving eaves, and gazing into carp-filled pools by weeping willows is a wonderful antidote to the city strife outside. The Wall of Cloud-piercing Dragon, Exquisite Jade Rock, Inner Garden and Hall of Heralding Spring are all highlights. Next to the garden’s entrance is the famous Mid-lake Pavilion Teahouse with its
zigzag bridge – a cultural must-do if you’re willing to fight the crush – and after that it’s time to work your way back through the kitsch of the bazaar to the Huangpu River. Yuyuan Garden is open 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM; admission RMB40 ($6); 218 Anren Jie (Street).
OAK ROOM, MILLENNIUM SEOUL HILTON Just across the road stands the Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel – and you’ll be ready for a drink by now. The hotel’s Oak Room is an attractive, Englishstyle bar selling draft beers, wine and other libations, with refined live music in the evenings. It overlooks the hotel’s pretty garden and you can sit outside when the weather is fine, or partake of the BBQ buffet. The Oak Room is open 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM; Millennium Seoul Hilton, 395 Namdaemun-ro 5-ga, Jung-gu; hilton.com. BT December 2016/January 2017 n 57
n World Wise
stacking the deck The future of your frequent flier miles could be in your wallet By Ramsey Qubein
riginally frequent flier miles were literally measured in miles – distance flown equaled miles awarded, and eventually free travel or other goodies, to entice customer loyalty to a particular airline. But those days are gone, nowadays, loyalty ain’t what it used to be; with flights running at near-capacity, freebies and upgrades are harder to come by, so some airlines seem bent on devaluing frequent flier miles. Earning miles by flying has become far more complicated for most travelers who do not book the most expensive fares. The spider web of rules are built around confusing algorithms with partner airlines and restrictions on fare class eligibility. And when it comes time to spend them, award prices are going up and award rules are getting more obscure. Could it be time to look to your wallet to earn those coveted frequent flier miles? By racking up credit card points and miles instead of focusing your purchasing power on a specific program, it’s possible to extract more value. Credit card programs allow you to earn and burn miles without the restrictions of airline loyalty programs. If you play your cards right (literally), you can score tens of thousands of miles at a time just for signing up for a card. Most of the good deals have spending requirements, but if you have to put purchases on a credit card anyway, why not earn the maximum amount of miles in the process? “Once-loyal fliers are increasingly shopping around, becoming airline ‘free agents,’ buying on price and discovering alternative and low-cost airlines,” says Stefan Krasowski of the Rapid Travel Chai blog.“Premium travel credit cards are replacing airline and hotel elite status cards at the top of wallet for business travelers.” Of course, credit card offers change frequently, so it pays to shop. Right now two of the biggest out there are the Chase Sapphire 58 n December 2016/January 2017
Reserve card (so much in demand that the manufacturer actually ran out of the metal material used to make the cards) and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard for world travelers who always look forward to the next adventure. Chase’s high-end card offers benefits like travel credits, fee waivers for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, and lounge access. While eligible applicants receive 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $3,000 within the first three months, they must still pay the $450, which is not waived. Another juicy offer is the Barclaycard, which offers 50,000 points for spending $3,000 within the first three months, but only has an annual fee of $89 (waived in the first year). Cardholders earn double miles on all purchases (not just a bonus on certain categories as with other cards). Miles can be spent as travel credits or for gift cards, which relieves you of the pressure of finding award space on a particular airline. “A mile flown is no longer a mile earned with airline programs, but a mile spent is still a mile (or more) earned through credit card programs,”explains Krasowski. Savvy spenders know how to manage their budget to have more than one card without dinging their credit. Score a few card bonuses and you have enough for several free trips. Note that card offers peddled on the plane or in airport terminals are rarely the best deals. Consult websites like RewardExpert.com, which detail card offers and benefits on a daily basis. If you want to win the mileage game, stock up on ‘currency’ that can be used any time for travel or easily transferred to another program. By choosing the right credit cards, you obtain the flexibility to rack up miles expeditiously without tying yourself down to one travel program. As they say in the advertising world, maybe it’s time to ask “What’s in your wallet?” BT Visit businesstravelerusa.com
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