Business Traveller Middle East - June 2024

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A NEW CHAPTER Meet the winners of the 2024 Business Traveller Middle East Awards DHS12 RO1.30 BD1.30 SR12 KD1 6 291100 745012 JUNE 2024
longevity hubs be the future of spa-based wellness? How partnerships in the sky have improved air travel e sleep tourism trend reviving health and hospitality Sustainability • Provence • Boston • Tried & Tested



Best practices from across the


An update on international travel


Travelling sustainably; Unlocking the potential of Saudi Arabia’s hospitality market; Integrating wellness into the heart of real estate


Fredrik Blomqvist, general manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, e Red Sea


Zahirah Marty, award-winning travel show host and managing director of e Destination Institute


e future of the global plant-based foods market


e futuristic new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International airport

Could a focus on longevity be the future of the spa industry?

e pioneer of the world’s rst Longevity Hubs explains what they’re really all about


Teeming with diversity, culture, and good food, the walkable city of Boston makes for a delightful summer break


From smoother journeys to frequent yer perks, airline alliances o er bene ts to all


Sleep tourism is on the rise, and the hospitality industry is ready to serve up a wide range of ve-star shut-eye

52 PROVINCIAL PROVENCE Gol ng, spa life, and stunning dining at Terre Blanche

TRIE D & TESTED 58 e St. Regis Riyadh 60 e Showhouse - Dubai 62 Blacklane Airport Transfer Service SMAR T TRAVELLER 64 Our guide to... VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) 26 58 06 UPFRONT
latest airline, hotel, and travel news

Hands up if you’ve ever stood in front of your mirror holding a hairbrush up in front of you as a microphone, practising your Oscars thank-you speech. No? Alright, maybe a drama-led career in acting isn’t your dream – it wasn’t mine, either – but I’d be willing to bet that there is something out there that you’ve dreamed of winning, whether that’s an award for business excellence, athleticism, musical or literary stardom, humanitarian or sustainability e orts, space exploration, or culinary exploits... A er all, we all have dreams don’t we? While our immense passion for what we do – whether that’s on a professional or personal level – is the most powerful driver, a bit of recognition from time to time certainly doesn’t hurt. Research shows that even a little bit of it can go a long way in providing a boost in morale and motivation, whether you’re a CEO or a junior employee – but that’s not all. It can set a benchmark to work towards –people who set goals are 43 per cent more likely to achieve them – and, along the way, presses us to re ect on what we have achieved so far, where we stand now, where we would like to go, and how we can get there authentically. And that is greatest prize of all: self-awareness can be a superpower in helping us to unlock our true potential, wherein the journey towards our goals is o en just as rewarding as the accolade itself. On the business front, however, awards can also act as an important endorsement of hard work and vision – and so it is with immense pride that we showcase the winners and highly-commended names from the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2024, which took place last month (p14). ank you for inspiring us.

As cliché as they may seem, the ideas that a rising tide li s all boats, and that we tend to be the sum of those we surround ourselves with most, do have a lot of truth in them – and choosing the right people for that invaluable support system can transform the way we achieve our goals, as well as how we feel about accomplishing them. Clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so: businesses across every aspect of the travel and tourism industry have been teaming up in strategic partnerships, and this month, we delve into the airline alliances bene ting brands and global travellers alike (p40)

Last month, we talked about the importance of nding balance in a nonstop world, and that still applies when you’re striving to be the best at what you do – burnout doesn’t lead to sustainable wins in life or our careers a er all. As the pace of summer encourages us to slow down, we take a look at the rising trend of sleep tourism, and how it’s giving a restorative boost to our health, happiness, and the hospitality industry (p46). May you rest well this month.


Are longevity hubs the future of spa-based wellness? (Page 26)

PROVENCE Golf, gardens, and Michelinstarred food at Terre Blanche (Page 52)

SMART TRAVELLER: OUR GUIDE TO VPNS Discover the VPNs that will keep your data safe on the go (Page 64)

published by Motivate Media Group and Panacea Media Ltd


Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer

Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice

Editor Yi-Hwa Hanna

Art Director Clarkwin Cruz

Editorial Co-ordinator Londresa Flores

Contributors Mark Caswell, Chris Chamberlin, Hannah Brandler, Alice Holtham, David Phelan

General Manager – Production S Sunil Kumar

Production Manager Binu Purandaran

Production Supervisor Venita Pinto

Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne

Group Sales Manager Chaitali Khimji

Senior Sales Manager Murali Narayanan


Managing Director Julian Gregory

Associate Publisher Middle East Rania Apthorpe

HEAD OFFICE: Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE; Tel: +971 4 427 3000; Fax: +971 4 428 2266; E-mail:

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ABU DHABI: PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE; Tel: +971 2 677 2005; Fax: +971 2 657 3401; Email:

SAUDI ARABIA: Regus Offices No. 455 - 456, 4th Floor, Hamad Tower, King Fahad Road, Al Olaya, Riyadh, KSA Tel: +966 11 834 3595 / +966 11 834 3596 Email:

LONDON: Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London, NW1 3ER, UK; E-mail:

Panacea Media Ltd

41-43 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PD; Tel: +44(0)20 7821 2700;

Panacea Publishing Asia Ltd

#2408 24/F Dominion Centre, 43-59 Queen’s Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong; Tel: +852 2594 9300; Fax: +852 25196846


Email:; Tel: +971 4 427 3542

btmiddleeast businesstravellerme

Business Traveller Middle East is jointly

For voting us “Best Hotel Brand in the Middle East” at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards.

At Rotana, we believe time well spent, is a life well lived. This enduring thought is at the heart of every experience we promise when you stay with us.

Treasured time. Our promise to you. Our sincere thanks

P.O. Box 95100, Abu Dhabi, UAE. T: +971 (0) 2 699 4444 F: +971 (0) 2 699 4445,


SAUDIA GROUP has con rmed what it says is the largest aircra deal in Saudi aviation history, with an order for more than 100 Airbus aircra . e agreement will see Saudia take delivery of 54 A321neos, while low-cost subsidiary yadeal will receive 12 A320neo and 39 A321neo aircra . Saudia currently operates a eet of around 150 aircra , ranging from A320-200s up to Boeing 777-300ERs, while yadeal operates around 30 A320-200 and A320neo aircra . e group said that the new order will “directly support Saudia Group’s objectives to connect the world with the kingdom, aligning with several key pillars of Saudi Vision 2030”, including attracting 150 million visits and expanding destinations to 250 by the start of the next decade.


EMIRATES AND FLYNAS have signed an expanded two-way interline partnership that will lead to more connections and choices for flynas customers via Dubai. Emirates’ current interline with flynas provides customers with connectivity (and single-ticket itineraries including onwards booking and baggage transfers) via four gateways – Riyadh, Jeddah, Medinah, and Dammam – to over 15 domestic points in Saudi Arabia. With the expansion of the interline to a bilateral arrangement, flynas customers can now also connect across any of Emirates’ gateways in the kingdom to a select roster of onward destinations on the airline’s network in the Far East, West Asia & Indian Ocean and Europe, via Dubai.

Hyatt to launch five-star waterpark in Dubai

FOLLOWING A RECORD YEAR of deal signings in 2023, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced major plans for scaled growth in the leisure space in the EAME region, including more than 70 properties in the pipeline across Hyatt’s various brand collections, as well as its very own waterpark. Set to launch in early 2025, the latter will be the first fully-serviced five-star waterpark in the city centre. Located at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, the waterpark will span 20,000 sqm, featuring 15 rides, a wave pool, a dedicated area for toddlers and small children, private cabanas, and dining outlets. It will be open to guests staying at the property as well as visitors to the city and the property, and aims to position Grand Hyatt Dubai as one of the most unique urban resorts in the world – a “destination within a destination.”



PALLADIUM HOTEL GROUP is strengthening its global presence with its arrival in the Middle East. In an ambitious new project, which will be carried out in conjunction with Al Marjan and Almal Real Estate Development – an awardwinning ultra-luxury developer based in the region – the Group will be bringing their first international opening with the launch of the Ushuaïa Unexpected Hotels & Residences, a hotel and residential facility on Al Marjan Island in the UAE’s emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. The project – which attracted more than US$100 million in investment – will consist of 442 hotel rooms and residential units, comprising a sophisticated beach club, restaurant, and infinity pool. It is currently scheduled to open in 2026.

Turkish Airlines teams up with football legend José Mourinho

THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR of the UEFA Champions League, Turkish Airlines has collaborated with one of football’s most esteemed managers, José Mourinho, by featuring him in their latest advertisement. As part of the campaign, in a short lm, Mourinho is seen experiencing Turkish Airlines’ in- ight services, emerging victorious in a challenging chess match, enjoying gourmet dishes from the business class menu, watching live UEFA Champions League matches, and relishing a comfortable journey with noisecancelling headphones.


READ: A Life Well-Spent, Colm McLoughlin

Penned by Dubai-based author and documentary producer Graeme Wilson –who has also written books on Emirates airline and His Highness, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – this biography of McLoughlin’s life tells the inspiring story of his life and career. It covers his childhood in regional Ireland to his current legendary status as a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, and the CEO of Dubai Duty Free – a role that he stepped down from on 31 May 2024, after 41 years of having led the company and 55 years in the travel retail industry. Dhs210, Kinokuniya UAE

LISTEN: The Curious History of Your Home

Have you ever looked at a double-glazed window and wondered how they were invented? Or how mint-flavoured toothpaste became the most ubiquitous teeth-cleaning substance of the modern

day? Well, now you might, after listening to this podcast hosted by historian Ruth Goodman. Produced by award-winning podcasters Noiser, it delves into the extraordinary history of the ordinary items that surround us every day.

WATCH: The Unbreakable Tatiana Suarez

American MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter Tatiana Suarez isn’t just a warrior in the cage – she’s been one in life as well. This documentary showcases her moving journey through being raised in poverty in a tough childhood, overcoming multiple major physical setbacks including a broken neck, beating thyroid cancer, and a resulting four-year hiatus from her calling - and the indomitable spirit and drive that led to her triumphant return, becoming an inspiration for others across the world. Available on HBO Max and on various inflight entertainment systems, including Emirates' ice system.

Our picks to make time fly by


DUBAI’S ROADS AND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY (RTA) has partnered with US-based Joby Aviation to release what is currently set to be the world’s first air taxi service in the emirate by 2025. The partnership grants Joby the exclusive right to operate air taxis in Dubai for six years, enabling the emirate to deliver “fast, clean and quiet air travel enabled by Joby’s revolutionary technology” to residents and visitors alike.

Meanwhile, Ras Al Khaimah Transport Authority and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Skyports Infrastructure, to transform the Northern Emirate's tourism and transportation o ering. Under the agreement, the three will collaboratively design, develop, and operate Ras Al Khaimah’s first electric vertical take-o and landing (eVTOL) air taxi ecosystem, with commercial operations set to commence by 2027. The project aims to propel Ras Al Khaimah forward as a destination of the future, seamlessly integrating Skyports’ vertiport infrastructure with RAKTA’s existing transport network and providing convenient zero-emission transport for tourists and residents to popular areas and attractions, including Al Marjan Island, Al Hamra and Jebel Jais –which is the UAE’s highest peak.

ydubai adds 10 seasonal destinations to its summer ight o ering

DUBAI-BASED CARRIER flydubai has added ten seasonal destinations to its summer route o ering, available between June to September 2024. The destinations include Batumi, Georgia; Corfu and Santorini in Greece; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Bodrum and Trabzon in Turkiye; Tivat, Montenegro; Olbia, Italy; and Sochi, Russia. These destinations will o er passengers the chance to easily jet o for an adventurous city break, relaxing beach getaway, naturefilled escape, or immersive cultural trip, with each destination shining at its seasonal best. The flights will begin from 14 June-16 June with frequencies of 1-4 times a week, and will run until dates ending 31 August to 22 September, at fares starting from Dhs1,800, all depending on the destination in question. For a full timetable, visit flydubai’s website.

St. Regis Red Sea Resort hosts the first-ever Red Sea Fashion Week

THE FIRST EDITION of the Red Sea Fashion Week, an initiative launched by the Saudi Fashion Commission, took place from 16 to 18 May at the brand-new St. Regis Red Sea Resort development in Saudi Arabia. The three-day event marked a key milestone for Saudi Arabia’s fashion industry and its integration into the global market, while also elevating the St. Regis Red Sea as one of the highly-anticipated destination's most exciting recently-opened properties. Attendees experienced two days of runway shows and activations featuring luxury fashion, jewellery, Ready-to-Wear, and Resort Wear collections from both Saudi and international designers.

Idioms from around the world that have us scratching our heads. This issue, it’s a Japanese expression.

Phrase: (Neko o kaburu)

Literally: To wear a cat on one’s head

Meaning: To feign innocence or kindness; pretending to be nice



Follow the beat to the heart of Dubai's fashionable restaurant, art and cultural scene. Dubai's electric energy is yours.

Book your stay and enjoy exclusive beach and pool access at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach.



Eurostar to power trains with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030

EUROSTAR HAS PROMISED to power trains across its five-country network by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. The high-speed rail network plans to “become the backbone of sustainable travel in Europe” as it works towards its target of carrying 30 million passengers by the end of the decade (for reference, Eurostar carried 18.6 million passengers in 2023). The operator has a fleet of 51 trains, serving 28 destinations in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. Eurostar trains have been running on 100 per cent wind power in the Netherlands since 2017, with the UK figure at 40 per cent since 2023. In Belgium, the rail network has signed a MoU with Infrabel to study the installation of solar projects to power trains.

Emirates starts operating with SAF at London Heathrow

EMIRATES HAS RECEIVED 3,000 metric tonnes of neat sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from Shell Aviation at London Heathrow airport, which it will be blending with conventional jet fuel to supply into the fuelling infrastructure network of the airport until the end of this summer. is is the rst time the airline will be using SAF to power some of its ights at London Heathrow – where it is participating in the airport’s SAF Incentive Programme – and is the largest volume of SAF it has purchased to date.


Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA has joined the World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. As an a iliate member, it will now align with nearly 50 global members to collectively address critical challenges a ecting the planet, communities, and the hospitality industry.


CLUB MED, known for its specialism in premium all-inclusive holidays, has announced the launch of the Club Med Musandam project – which will be its first resort in the Middle East – with an investment exceeding US$100 million. The Musandam location was chosen for its stunning natural beauty. The resort will spread over 250,000 sqm of land, with 600m of private beach, and sustainability will be at its heart. The brand maintains its commitment to eco-certification with renowned global independent ecoconstruction BREEAM or its local equivalent, and Club Med aims to achieve a four-star rating from the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) for the new development.

JUNE 2024

The birthplace of the Kingdom A 300-year-old legacy

At-Turaif, UNESCO World Heritage Site

1 United Airlines unveils Wrexham AFC kits

United Airlines, which is a sponsor for Welsh football team Wrexham AFC, is celebrating the team’s recent promotion to League One with exclusive Wrexham-inspired amenity kits and pyjamas that will be o ered to travellers on its longhaul international Premium Plus and Polaris cabins from 1 June.

2 JetBlue unveils new products, including “Watch Party” feature

This summer, JetBlue is introducing new entertainment options including a personalised inflight platform, Blueprint by JetBlue, featuring touchscreen TVs through which customers can create “watch parties” in sync with up to six other passengers.

3 Barceló Hotel Group to expand its global presence

Spanish hospitality management company Barceló Hotel Group is investing over US$400 million into a global expansion strategy, with a line-up of property openings scheduled for 2024 in the Middle East, Africa, and Türkiye region, as well as in other markets such as Thailand, the Maldives, and more.

4 Manchester Airport launches gaming zone

Manchester Airport has a new gaming zone at its Terminal 1. It features gaming PCs loaded with the likes of Fornite, Red Dead Redemption 2, Among Us, Hogwarts Legacy, Minecraft, and Rocket League, as well as a Nintendo Switch, and a Virtual Reality escape room.

5 Restaurants to be converted into Premier Inn rooms

Whitbread has announced plans to “unlock” 3,500 new hotel rooms at existing Premier Inn sites by converting 112 of their “lowerreturning branded restaurants” into hotel rooms, once the Food & Beverage o ering at the relevant sites has been transferred to an integrated restaurant.

6 Beond launches ights between Zurich and Dubai

Beond has added Switzerland to their roster, through newlyadded flights between Zurich and Dubai. The new flight o ering is Beond’s second from Dubai, after their Dubai-Maldives flights were launched in early April this year. It will operate twice a week from Al Maktoum International airport.


7 Emirates to resume ights to Nigeria from October Emirates is set to resume its services to Nigeria this October with a daily service between Lagos and Dubai, after having suspended them back in October 2022. Operated using a Boeing 777-300ER, each flight will have eight first class, 42 business class, and 304 economy class seats.

8 Finnair and British Airways partner on loyalty Finnair customers can now make their miles go further. By linking their accounts online, they can link their Finnair Plus loyalty accounts with their accounts on British Airways Executive Club, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, or Iberia Plus, with the ability to transfer Avios between them.

9 Singapore Airlines’ HighFlyer adds bene t Lounge operator Collinson will be providing businesses in Singapore Airlines’ HighFlyer programme with access to LoungeKey Pass. Four membership tiers of SIA’s HighFlyer programme will now be able to redeem a LoungeKey Pass for every 8,000 HighFlyer points earned on the company account.

10 Hong Kong Tourism Board signs major MoUs

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has signed MoUs with Emirates airline and dnata Travel Group, as part of a plan to promote Hong Kong to GCC residents. Already a visa-free destination for many GCC travellers, the new agreements will lead to packages curated to GCC regional tastes.

3 9 6 7 8 5 10 4 13 JUNE 2024

Success A New Era of

The 23 rd edition of the Business Traveller Middle East Awards celebrated the power players transporting the Middle East travel industry to the future

In a jubilant celebration of inspiring achievements, forward-thinking vision, and exceptional achievements, the 2024 Business Traveller Middle East Awards was held on 6 May at a high-profile gala ceremony at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre.

More than 350 guests attended, including a distinguished crowd of industry heavyweights spanning the hotel, aviation, and tourism industries. We honoured leaders in business travel and tourism, with 42 award categories across three main divisions.

The Guest of Honour was Raha Moharrak. A keynote speaker and renowned adventurer – who is the youngest-ever Arab and the first Saudi woman to have climbed Mount Everest – Raha inspired attendees with her boundary-breaking journey, and presented the first set of awards.

The highly-anticipated ceremony celebrated the companies at the forefront of business travel.

Emirates' outstanding work was recognised with five prestigious awards, including ‘Best Airline Worldwide’, ‘Airline with the Best

ABOVE: Together with co-host Julian Gregory of Panacea Publishing, and Guest of Honour Raha Moharrak, Ian and Jan Fairservice celebrated Motivate Media Group’s 45th anniversary, along with other VIP guests

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: More than 350 guests attended the celebratory gala dinner; Singer Lexie lit up the stage; Jan and Ian Fairservice, Colm and Breeda McLoughlin, Raha Moharrak, and David Fairservice; Emirates Skywards’ Dr. Nejib Ben-Khedher, Marriott International’s Sandeep Wahlia, and team Marriott; Guest of Honour Raha Moharrak inspired attendees

Premium Economy Class’, ‘Airline with the Best First Class’, ‘Airline with the Best Frequent Flyer Programme’, and ‘Best Airport Lounge in the Middle East’. Its hub, Dubai International Airport (DXB), was named ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’, while Dubai Duty Free won ‘Best Duty Free Shopping in the Middle East’. Fellow Dubai-based carrier ydubai – which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year – took home the trophy for ‘Airline with the Best Connectivity in the Middle East’.

From Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways was crowned ‘Airline with the Best

Cabin Crew’ and ‘Airline with the Best Economy Class’ – while from neighbouring Qatar, Qatar Airways was awarded ‘Airline with the Best Business Class’, ‘Best Regional Airline serving the Middle East’, and ‘Best Travel App’. From the wider global network, Singapore Airlines won ‘Best Asian Airline Serving the Middle East’,

Singapore Changi Airport was deemed ‘Best Airport in the World’, and Turkish Airlines won ‘Best European Airline Serving the Middle East’.

Hotels and hospitality brands from across 28 categories were also recognised. Marriott Hotels had one of the most sparkling accolades of the evening with the title of ‘Best Hotel Brand Worldwide’, while Rotana Hotels & Resorts won ‘Best Hotel Brand in the Middle East’. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts won ‘Best Luxury Hotel Brand in the Middle East’, while Rove Hotels was designated ‘Best Budget Hotel Brand in the Middle East’ – and Marriott Bonvoy won ‘Best Hotel Loyalty Programme in the Middle East’. Meanwhile, Ascott received the title of ‘Best Serviced Apartments Brand in the Middle East’.

Bleisure was introduced as a new category this year, with Rixos Premium Dubai JBR taking home the inaugural ‘Best Bleisure Hotel in the UAE’ trophy. Under leisure and lifestyle, Jumeirah Al Naseem won ‘Best Leisure Hotel in the the UAE’, and Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah won ‘Best Leisure Hotel in the the Middle East’. Radisson won the award for ‘Best Lifestyle Hotel Brand in the Middle East’.

“ is year’s Business Traveller Middle East Awards was, once again, a celebration of excellence for the region’s travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. As the Middle East readies itself for a new chapter of innovation and growth, we are honoured to be able to acknowledge the commitment, vision, expertise, and hard work of these regional and global brands. Congratulations, again, to all of the nominees and winners,” said Ian Fairservice, Managing Partner and Group Editor-in-Chief at Motivate Media Group.

Read on to discover the full list of winners!

The Business Traveller Middle East Awards is based on nominations and votes cast online by our valued readers. The shortlist, highly-commended names, and winners are determined through a rigorous and impartial process.
15 JUNE 2024



diverse mix of regional and global airlines competed for the 11 awards under this category. The winner in each is revealed below.


Etihad Airways


Etihad Airways



Qatar Airways



Emirates Skywards


Qatar Airways


Singapore Airlines


Turkish Airlines





CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Raha Moharrak presented the award for “Airline with the Best Economy Class” to Etihad Airways, which was also named “Airline with the Best Cabin Crew”; Francois Oberholzer and Rashid Al Bashri of flydubai received the trophy for “Airline with the Best Connectivity in the Middle East”; Emirates won “Airline with the Best Frequent Flyer Programme” for Skywards; Yi-Hwa Hanna presented the award for “Best European Airline Serving The Middle East” to Osman Nurettin Sen from Turkish Airlines

16 JUNE 2024

ABOVE: Emirates won “Airline with the Best First Class”

LEFT: Nancy Clark and Adil Al Ghaith from Emirates, and Dr. Nejib Ben-Khedher from Emirates Skywards, were presented with the award for “Best Airline Worldwide” by Ian Fairservice

BELOW: Qatar Airways won “Airline with the Best Business Class”

17 JUNE 2024
RIGHT: Singapore Airlines was named “Best Asian Airline Serving the Middle East” BELOW: Raha Moharrak presented the award for “Airline with the Best Business Class” to Alan Lee from Qatar Airways

There were five awards in the airports category, with several thousand votes cast in this group alone. The winner in each category is revealed below, shining a light on these regionally- and globallyrenowned hubs.


Qatar Airways


Dubai International Airport


Dubai Duty Free


Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai International Airport


Singapore Changi Airport

International Airport received the trophy for “Best Airport in the Middle East”; Ian Fairservice presented the award for “Best Duty Free Shopping in the Middle East” to Colm McLoughlin, Sinéad El Sibai, and Salah Tahlak from Dubai Duty Free; Qatar Airways won “Best Travel App”; Emirates First Class Lounge was named “Best Airport Lounge in the Middle East”; Terminal 2 at Singapore Changi Airport; “Best Airport in the World” was presented to Kenny Ang from Singapore Changi Airport


FROM TOP: Rania Apthorpe of Panacea Publishing (second from right) presented the award for “Best Hotel Loyalty Programme in the Middle East” to team Marriott; Ian Fairservice and Raha Moharrak handed team Rotana the trophy for “Best Hotel Brand in the Middle East”; Radisson was presented with “Best Lifestyle Hotel Brand in the Middle East” by Rania Apthorpe; David Fairservice presented the award for “Best Serviced Apartments Brand in the Middle East” to team Ascott; The title for “Best Luxury Hotel Brand in the Middle East” was presented to team Jumeirah; Rania Apthorpe presented the award for “Best Budget Hotel Brand in the Middle East” to Rove Hotels


There were seven awards for hotel brands. e winner in each category is revealed below.










There were 18 awards for individual hotels (apart from the Overall Best Business hotel), and each also had a Highly Commended award, which was for the property that secured the secondhighest number of public votes. Here are the winners.


The St. Regis Riyadh

HC: Raffles Doha


Pullman Dubai Downtown

HC: Jumeirah Mina A'Salam


Radisson Hotel Riyadh Airport

HC: Dubai International Airport Hotel


Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre

HC: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai


Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island

HC: Rosewood Abu Dhabi


Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

HC: InterContinental Ras Al Khaimah

Mina Al Arab Resort & Spa


The Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, Amman

HC: The Ritz-Carlton, Amman


Radisson Blu Hotel, Beirut Verdun

HC: Gefinor Rotana Beirut


InterContinental Citystars Cairo

HC: Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo


CLOCKWISE FROM BELOW: Hassan Malik from Deloitte (right) presented the award for “Best Hotel Brand in Bahrain” to Benoit-Joseph Metanomski from Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain; Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island was named “Best Business Hotel in Abu Dhabi”; Nicolas Soucaille from Blacklane (middle) presented the award for “Best Airport Hotel in the Middle East” to Caroline Jonsson and Basel Talal from Radisson; The St. Regis Riyadh won “Best New Business Hotel in the Middle East”

CLOCKWISE FROM RIGHT: Nicolas Soucaille presented the award for “Best Business Hotel in Dubai” to Ghaith Adnan from Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial Centre; JW Marriott Hotel Muscat won “Best Business Hotel in Muscat”; David Fairservice presented the award for “Best Bleisure Hotel in the UAE” to team Rixos Premium Dubai JBR, as well as the award for “Best Leisure Hotel in the Middle East” to team Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Dubai



CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: “Best Business Hotel in Riyadh” was awarded to voco Riyadh - an IHG Hotel; Nicolas Soucaille presented the award for “Best Refurbished Hotel in the UAE” to team Pullman Dubai Downtown; Hassan Malik presented the award for “Best Business Hotel in Jeddah” to Philma GomesEllis from Shangri-La Jeddah; The Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, Amman received the title of “Best Business Hotel in Amman”

FROM LEFT: Ashley Jacobs from Jacobsons (right) presented the award for “Best Business Hotel in Cairo” to Khaled Zaki and Wael Sami from InterContinental Citystars Cairo; David Fairservice presented the award for “Overall Best Business Hotel in the Middle East” to Anna Olsson from Fairmont Doha; Waldorf Astoria Kuwait won “Best Business Hotel in Kuwait”


HC: Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha


Waldorf Astoria Kuwait

HC: Grand Hyatt Kuwait


HC: e Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa, Manama


JW Marriott Hotel Muscat

HC: Jumeirah Muscat Bay


HC: Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre


HC: InterContinental Jeddah


HC: InterContinental Dubai Festival City


HC: e WB Abu Dhabi, Curio Collection by Hilton

BEST LEISURE HOTEL IN THE MIDDLE EAST Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

HC: e Chedi Katara Hotel & ResortA GHM Hotel


Presented by Vote processing partner In association with Sponsors Beverage partner
JUNE 2024


What does it mean to win an award from Business Traveller Middle East? We hear directly from a few of our winners on how the recognition has positively impacted them and the brands they lead

Receiving the Business Traveller Middle East Award for Best Leisure Hotel reflects the incredible dedication and hard work of our team. It confirms that our commitment to creating memorable guest experiences, guided by our Wonderful Hosts, resonates with our guests and the broader industry. This accolade highlights our efforts in blending industryleading facilities with thoughtful service, something Marriott is known for globally. This recognition motivates us to keep pushing boundaries, ensuring that our guests enjoy not just comfort and refinement but also responsible and sustainable hospitality.”

Winning the best hotel brand in the region for the eighth year is a source of immense pride for us at Rotana “I am delighted to witness our properties being recognised across the region. These wins are a true testament to the dedication of our team and their relentless pursuit of delivering quality service. It is not just a celebration of Rotana’s success but also a testament to the vibrancy of the hospitality industry. As we embark on our expansion journey, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a treasured time to our guests worldwide.”


Being recognised as the overall best business hotel in the Middle East and in Doha is a proud moment for Fairmont Doha, highlighting not only our team’s dedication but also the exceptional features and amenities our hotel o ers. From luxurious accommodations to stateof-the-art facilities, we strive to provide a distinguished experience for business travellers that sets us apart in the heart of Doha’s hospitality landscape.”

We were truly excited to have won the Business Traveller Middle East Award for Best Business Hotel in Kuwait. is is a great testament to all of the hard work and dedication that our team have put in. Our hotel is equipped with so much technology and so many amenities for the business traveller, where we always work hard to nd ways to give more time back to people, so they can focus on their work while we take care of the rest. I’m really proud to receive such an award.”


Business and leisure collide in every enriching experience at Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Work and relax in the M Club or the modern, versatile Greatroom. Head out and enjoy new experiences across the vibrant city, then relax in the comfort of the oh- so- familiar at Marriott Hotels. Meet up for a social hour in our modern bar, catch up over coffee, relax by the pool, and explore the best local recommendations. Whatever your speed, we’re here to make the trip wonderful, always.

CALL +971 4 666 1111 FOR



As more hotels and hospitality brands across the world move towards ultrapersonalised, science-backed journeys in their spa and wellness o erings, Clinique La Prairie’s Longevity Hubs remain a pioneer in turning back the clock

Forever Young

When most of us hear the word spa, the rst image we tend to conjure up in this day and age is that of a massage in a soothing environment, perhaps surrounded by some candles. It’s such a great way to relax that it has become an integral part of the modern luxury hospitality industry. But in 2024, a spa isn’t always just a place to unwind – it can be so much more.

Whether they o er mainly massages or incorporate other holistic wellness pursuits, from meditation and yoga to steam rooms and various therapies, the bottom line is always the same: the spa is a place where people can not only relax, but also improve their health. With research showing that 75 to 90 per cent of all doctor’s o ce visits are for stress-related issues, it gures that a place that can help you alleviate stress would be considered a sanctuary for health. But it is so much more than just relaxation. To understand just how deeply the concept of a spa is tied to the improvement of our health, we must rst look to its etymology. Although the origins of the word “spa” are not concrete, one of the most commonly-held beliefs it that it

ABOVE: The Hammam room at The Longevity

Hub by Clinique La Prairie, at One&Only

One Za’abeel

OPPOSITE PAGE: A massage room at The Longevity Hub by Clinique La Prairie, at One&Only

One Za’abeel

was derived from the Walloon word “espa”, which means fountain. e Walloons were said to have developed the word from a town in eastern Belgium that is known for its mineral-rich thermal waters, called – wait for it– Spa. It is in those mineral-rich waters that the heart of the spa concept truly lies. e curative properties of thermal springs date back to prehistoric times, and they have been embraced all over the world, from the traditional onsens of Japan to the 16th century Roman medicinal bathing habits in Bath in the UK. is water gets its healing powers from a rich variety of minerals that are said to help soothe irritated skin, improve circulation and digestion, minimise pain, aid sleep, and reduce psychological stress. eir power is such that they not only decrease our discomfort, but also improve our health, and in doing so, prolong life. And it is precisely through this philosophy that Clinique La Prairie – a pioneer of the medical spa concept – has found a way to rede ne the spa of the 21st century. Headquartered in Montreux, Switzerland, it opened its rst wellness destination in 1931 following a breakthrough by its founder, Dr. Paul Niehans, in the eld of cellular therapy. His goal? To slow down the ageing process, and

JUNE 2024
The goal is to help visitors live longer, healthier lives through wellness journeys

help people rejuvenate and revitalise their bodies, so they can live life to the fullest. By 2020, the brand took another great leap forward through the establishment of its very first Longevity Hubs: “The perfect combination of science, expertise, and a pioneering spirit with luxury Swiss hospitality to accompany you on every stage of your Longevity journey.” The first two were opened in 2020 in Madrid, Spain, and Bangkok, Thailand, and in 2023, the third was opened at the St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island

in Doha, Qatar. In January 2024, the brand opened its fourth location in the heart of the chic Songshan district in Taipei, Taiwan, and in March 2024, it opened its fifth Clinique La Prairie Longevity Hub at the One&Only One Za’beel in Dubai in the UAE. Like Dr. Niehans’ original goal, their aim is to help visitors live longer, healthier lives through ultra-personalised wellness journeys, unrivalled science, and a truly holistic approach to health and wellness.

The Dubai-based Longevity Hub boasts a 3,800 sqm space spread over three storeys in the luxury vertical resort, with offerings including cryotherapy, infrared light therapy, IV drips, supplements with tailored formulas, regenerative facials, detoxifying massages, and a number of noninvasive aesthetic beauty boosters. It also has a fitness centre where guests can work with personal trainers to achieve their physical goals, as well as explore training for the brain and mind through Neuro Wave Stimulation. Although guests can enjoy a “regular ” treatment, the real benefit lies in the personalised wellness journeys and bespoke rejuvenation programmes.

“ We do a three-step assessment that will give us a footprint of your biological age, and based on that, we will craft a wellness programme for you that could last either weeks, months, or a year,” says Paulina Mercader Aguilar, general manager of the Clinique La Prairie Longevity Hub at One&Only One Za’abeel. “ We measure the heavy metals in your body, the minerals, and we do a deep comprehensive analysis of your skin that will give us eight different markers, so we can even see how your skin will look in ten more years. Then we do the body analysis composition. All this information goes to our software, which was developed in Switzerland, so we can craft the best wellness programme for you,” she explains.

Science lies at the heart of everything the hub offers, and in a field where new developments are constantly possible, it’s important to stay ahead of the game. “ You might think innovation sounds exciting, but it can also be quite challenging,” says Olga Donica, head of innovation at Clinique La Prairie Montreux. “Being a sciencebased company, it is important for us to maintain that authenticity and expertise, along with this luxury touch.”

“In this day and age, we look at health in a completely different way. It’s no longer about just being healthy on the surface, it’s about what we can do to improve ourselves at every level. We look at how we’re eating, sleeping, and how we are taking care of ourselves; how we can spread happiness and shine as we build happy relationships with others as well. It’s a much more complex, broader space that encompasses elements including medical care, nutrition, well-being, and exercise, with a synergy between all of these components, because it’s the only way that we can address how complex we are as humans. Ten years


ago, we were mainly talking about genetics in the context of a hospital or medical clinic. But now, we are using this knowledge and information to drive personalised programmes that enhance every aspect of our well-being, in a way that is just as unique as we all are.”

Donica explains that right now, their main focus is on finding ways to help people add years to their life, and to spend the largest number of those years in good health. Technology is, naturally, one of the most important tools enabling them to do so. One of the biggest recent findings in the fields of longevity and ageing, she says, is that when interventions are not personalised, they aren’t anywhere near as effective. “Until today, we also thought that ageing was a static process – something that we couldn’t do much about. But in reality, ageing is a highly regulated process, and we can and do have the possibility to reverse certain aspects of ageing. If we are capable of changing our environment, sleep quality, stress levels, exposure to pollution, mental health, and other such components, it can truly make a difference. I believe that the next boom in this field will be through technology; for instance, being able to place a device in your arm that can instantly assess the true dynamic of your health in seconds and in real time, and from there, start to explore our extremely individualised interventions that can be the most meaningful to you,” she says.

It’s a bold dream, and one that we’d expect no less than from a brand that started offering its longevity-focused services long before anybody else. Yet while it could very well be the future of the spa, it is still relatively niche, says Simone Gibertoni, CEO of Clinique La Prairie and cofounder of Clinique La Prairie Holistic Health.

“ There are not so many people who are ready to invest [in this], and you do have to invest quite a bit of money in this,” he says. “ Take supplements, for instance. While [people] are often ready to spend US$500 on a cream, they’re often not so ready to spend that on a longevity supplement. It’s a difficult buy, even though one is simply a topical treatment, while the other is one that you ingest. So building this kind of model needs to be econommically sustainable. A lot of what I see in the market today is not, so our effort is also to have a model that is economically sustainable.”

Gibertoni is committed to enabling more people to scratch beyond the surface when it comes to well-being. “If you look at the macro trends in what’s happening in health and wellness, lifespan is decreasing. So there is a lot that we can do by introducing people to longevity. There are many things that make us different, but the first one is the fact that we have 50 doctors; we invest in and spend a lot of time on our research, and what you’ll find here is always thoroughly tested. You won’t find fads here,” he says.

We can, and we do, have the ability to reverse certain aspects of ageing

Cutting-edge technology is key, and as pioneering machines and systems that were once only offered at their Swiss clinic now become more widely available, the clinic is already looking towards the next way to take longevity treatments further. They aim to use groundbreaking tech to not only develop new preventative treatments, genetic interventions, and more, but also to make it easier for people to access these treatments, whether that’s through a userfriendly app, or the option for guests to use any of their interconnected hubs around the world while they travel without losing a beat.

And underlining it all, they hope to educate.

“Even if people only have three or four hours to get a glimpse into the world of longevity, we want to inspire and help them, whether they continue the journey with us, or with somebody else. What is important is that they’re introduced to this serious methodology we’ve developed,” Gibertoni notes.

Clinique La Prairie hopes to eventually establish 40 locations across the world. Next year, it will launch a health resort at AMAALA – a wellness-focused luxury giga-project at Saudi’s Red Sea. “It’s going to be the biggest development ever created in wellness,” Gibertoni says. The day spa will always have its place as a beautiful tranquil environment in which to relax and pamper ourselves – after all, self-care is also integral for good health. But for people looking for something deeper, the Longevity Clinic could well be their spa of the future

FROM TOP: Relaxation areas, and hammam facilities, at the Longevity Hub by Clinique La Prairie at One&Only

The birthplace of the Kingdom A 300-year-old legacy

At-Turaif, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Travelling towards sustainability

As business travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels and is predicted to soar further, how can international business leaders continue to connect face-to-face while reducing their environmental footprint?

For an industry whose future looked uncertain at one stage – indeed, during the height of the pandemic, I recall reading a prediction from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who predicted that more than 50 per cent of business travel would disappear over the coming years – the way that the business travel industry has now rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels has been nothing short of remarkable.

While technological advancements for video conferencing have undoubtedly meant that conducting meetings online has never been easier, in what was a rare misjudgment, Gates seemingly underestimated humans’ natural desire to connect face-to-face.

But what does all of this mean for our progress towards greater sustainability?

While estimates suggest that only 20 per cent of travel is for business, we as industry leaders have a responsibility, more than most, to ensure that we lead the way towards a greener, more eco-conscious future. Although options for leisure travellers to offset their carbon are increasing, with recent figures suggesting that just 1 per cent of them currently do so, it’s also fair to say that we cannot rely on them to collectively make micro-decisions that de-carbonise the industry.

As someone with brands in London and the UAE myself, finding ways to reduce the need for trips is something that I’m always very conscious of, with the first step being to always evaluate the necessity of each trip. Whether that’s a flight across to the UK, or a meeting that’s at the other end of the city in Dubai, whenever possible, we should explore alternatives to physical travel. Like we do in other areas, as business leaders, we must lead by example and demonstrate our commitment to sustainability through our actions.

As policy makers in our own businesses, we also have the opportunity to implement sustainable travel policies within our workforce and to instill a culture of sustainability that includes getting to and from work too. The likes of encouraging carpooling and bike-to-work schemes not only reduce carbon emissions, but can also foster a sense of community among employees. This also extends to learning and development too, like encouraging our HR teams to choose to find online training sessions, instead of flying guest speakers over.

The sustainability choices we make during travel must also extend beyond the flight iself

We have great transport networks in Dubai and are fortunate that many of our venues are close to a metro station. As leaders, we should actively promote the the use of public transport for our colleagues, and for those locations which aren’t as accessible, provide shuttle services – or as is the case in a location like Expo City, invest in electric bikes to facilitate efficient movement between venues and reduce our reliance on traditional vehicles.

For the times when travel is unavoidable, in addition to offsetting miles ourselves by making donations to environmental organisations, we should also look at ensuring that the choices we make during our trip are sustainable too. Whether that’s staying in a net zero carbon hotel – of which there are an increasing number – or eating at restaurants with a garden-to-table ethos, sustainability must also extend beyond the flight itself.

Above all, sustainable travel shouldn’t be a buzzword; it should be imperative for all businesses in the 21st century. By adopting conscious travel practices, implementing robust policies, and leading by example, we can minimise our environmental impact while driving positive change within our organisations and beyond. As leaders, let’s commit to traveling sustainably and paving the way toward a more environmentally responsible future.

JUNE 2024

Unlocking Saudi Arabia’s hospitality potential: navigating the landscape for competitive edge

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on the brink of a paradigm shift, poised to ascend as the globe’s premier luxury travel hub. With Vision 2030 charting a course toward economic diversification and youth empowerment, Saudi Arabia presents a vista of unparalleled growth for the ever-evolving hospitality sector.

There is a growing awareness of the demand for personalised experiences, particularly amongst the country’s young and wealthy population — 63 per cent of Saudi’s population is under 30, and over half is under the age of 51, resulting in a greater emphasis on quality service delivery and customer satisfaction. Hotels have also adopted better technology such as contactless services and data analytics to enhance guest experiences and improve operational efficiency.

Vision 2030 aims to draw 150 million tourists annually by 2030, with a projected 70 million from international shores, presenting a lucrative playing field for hoteliers. Facilitating this surge, the Saudi government has eased visa regulations and poured resources into transformative ventures like AlUla, NEOM, and the Red Sea project, a flagship regenerative tourism endeavour, meeting consumer demands for cultural authenticity and immersive local experiences.

The Red Sea project, scheduled for completion by 2030, comprises 50 resorts and has inaugurated the Red Sea National Training Academy – an initiative that provides training and employment opportunities for Saudi youth, preparing them for roles within these properties.

Amidst the nation’s progression is its commitment to gender equality. Recent data from the Human Capability initiative highlights significant progress, with almost 30 per cent of Saudi’s senior private sector management roles being held by women –and notably, 45 per cent of SMEs in the kingdom are led by females.

Considering these advancements, the hospitality industry which is set to generate US$3.02 billion in revenue by 2027, must adapt to meet the evolving demands of the revived Saudi market.

Hoteliers aiming to thrive in the dynamic KSA landscape can gain a competitive edge by prioritising the following:

• Cultural Sensitivity and Authentic Experiences: Embrace the rich cultural tapestry of Saudi Arabia and offer authentic experiences that resonate with both domestic and international guests.

• Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Practices: Prioritise sustainability

initiatives to align with the growing demand for environmentally conscious travel options.

• Investment in Training and Development: Collaborate with initiatives like the Red Sea National Academy to invest in training and upskilling Saudi youth, ensuring a skilled workforce that can deliver exceptional service.

• Diversity and Inclusion: Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace environment, reflecting the progressive strides of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and tapping into the talent pool of both men and women.

• Technology Integration: Embrace technological advancements to enhance guest experiences, streamline operations, and stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

• Partnerships and Collaboration: Forge strategic partnerships with local businesses, cultural organisations and tourism authorities to create unique offerings and tap into niche markets.

JUNE 2024

Integrating wellness into the heart of real estate

As our collective awareness of the importance of health and well-being becomes clearer, it is more important than ever that the real estate landscape is transformed with spaces created with wellness in mind

My journey to weaving wellness into the fabric of luxury real estate has been both a personal quest and a strategic transformation. Crossing the milestone age of 50 illuminated the profound significance of wellness—not merely as an abstract ideal but as a tangible, lived experience. It dawned on me that our life’s actual value is not measured by the mere span of years we live, but by the quality and vitality of those years. This epiphany has fundamentally shifted my perspective towards luxury real estate, making wellness not just an added feature but the cornerstone of our ethos. Including wellness facilities in real estate development surpasses the traditional bounds of luxury; it marks a pivotal evolution in our conceptualisation of living spaces. As awareness of the significance of health and well-being burgeons, the demand for environments that foster these aspects intensifies. Embedding facilities like fitness centres, yoga studios, meditation spaces, and holistic health centres in developments is now essential. These amenities not only add value but are integral to cultivating communities where the health and wellness of residents are a priority. They create spaces that encourage physical activity, mental well-being, and social interaction, cultivating a sense of belonging and connection among residents. By prioritising health-conscious design and community engagement, real estate


luxury lies not just in opulence, but in the thoughtful curation of spaces that enhance wellness

developers contribute to a fulfilling lifestyle for their residents, aligning with the evolving needs and values of modern living. Moreover, it also fosters a vibrant sense of community. These amenities create spaces where residents can come together to engage in health-promoting activities, fostering social interaction and a sense of belonging. By promoting community wellness, real estate developers contribute to a broader societal trend towards health consciousness. This approach not only attracts residents who prioritise their well-being but also broadens the appeal of the property across diverse demographics, catering to the evolving lifestyle preferences of modern consumers.

When crafting living spaces, the approach should integrate wellness-focused architectural design with sustainable materials, with the goal of supporting the physical health of residents and nurturing sustainable living practices. This strategy is particularly meaningful in the ultra-luxury segment, where despite the availability of numerous luxuries, the most valued aspect is often the qualitative improvement in residents’ well-being. The true luxury lies not just in opulence, but in the thoughtful curation of spaces that enhance wellness, offering a sanctuary that rejuvenates the body and mind.

Emphasising community engagement and health consciousness in these spaces creates a ripple effect, inspiring a collective commitment to sustainable living practices

and creating a lasting impact on the way we experience luxury living. When considering designs we should prioritise wellness by incorporating advanced health facilities such as state-of-the-art gyms, spa and relaxation areas, yoga and meditation spaces, and perhaps even specialised clinics or wellness centres within the development. This comprehensive approach provides not only amenities but also a holistic framework for a where residents are provided with opportunities to enhance their health goals while experiencing a sense of community and privacy within the development.

From an architectural perspective, collaborations with industry-leading designers ensure that the creations are both visually appealing and sustainable. In challenging environments like hot climates, the designs are aimed at reducing environmental impact through innovative solutions, with a strong focus on sustainability and efficiency.

The pursuit of sustainability is a core value when guiding efforts to obtain prestigious certifications that validate this commitment as part of a broader that aligns with global trends.

My view on integrating wellness into luxury real estate is profoundly personal and strategically focused. It recognises the indispensable link between our living environments and our overall well-being, emphasising the importance of creating spaces that not only cater to luxury but also support a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. This holistic approach extends beyond the superficial aspects of luxury, delving into the very fabric of how we interact with our surroundings. By integrating wellnesscentric amenities and practices into real estate developments, we enhance the quality of life for residents.

JUNE 2024

Best Business Hotel in Muscat

JW Marriott Hotel Muscat offers a haven to discover ‘The Whole You’. Spread your wings and soar to explore 304 spacious rooms & suites, four carefully curated dining outlets, spacious meeting and event spaces. Unwind at Spa by JW while young guests delight in Family by JW experiences.

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Business Traveller Middle East gives Fredrik Blomqvist, general manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, five minutes to pitch his property to prospective guests

A slice of paradise nestled along pristine shores, Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, transports you to a realm where luxury, nature, and unparalleled hospitality converge to create an experience unlike any other. We strive to take guests on a journey into seldomexperienced nature, wildlife, and culture, setting new standards in sustainability and desert hospitality as Saudi Arabia drops its pin on the global tourism map.

At the heart of our property lies a commitment to providing our guests with an unforgettable escape from the ordinary. Each aspect of the resort has been meticulously designed to reflect our dedication to excellence and to ensure that every moment of the stay is imbued with comfort, beauty, and tranquility.

Our accommodation offerings range from the charming Wadi Rooms to the spacious Wadi Suites with private terraces, a One-Bedroom Pool Villa with a private swimming pool and sun loungers, a Two-Bedroom Pool Villa that boasts a walk-in closet with majestic mountain peaks, and a Three-Bedroom Pool Villa that fits up to six people with a private cinema room; each room provides a yoga mat, a pillow menu with natural mat organic mattress, sustainable bathroom amenities and more. But what truly sets us apart are our key pillars: sustainability, wellness, experiences, art and design and culinary excellence. These pillars are not just guiding principles; they are the foundation upon which every aspect of our resort is built. Wellness isn’t just a notion here; it’s a lifestyle. Our world-class spa is a sanctuary of serenity, where you can immerse yourself in a variety of holistic treatments inspired by ancient healing traditions. Featuring six treatment rooms, including two outdoor cabanas, you’ll discover the perfect space to unwind and revitalise. Additionally, our spa boasts an array of facilities including an infra-red salt sauna, traditional sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool, and a vitality pool, each designed to dissolve stress and tension. Spanning two floors and nearly 4,000 square meters, the Six Senses Spa offers the most exclusive amenities in the region. From indoor and outdoor treatment rooms to our biohacking recovery lounge and anti-aging centre, we provide unparalleled opportunities for rejuvenation and renewal. Additionally, our culinary experiences, where every meal is a celebration of flavour, freshness, and sustainability are like no other. Boasting seven distinct outlets designed to tantalise every palate, each venue offers

a unique ambiance and an unparalleled experience. Our cooking school offers handson classes where guests can uncover the secrets of our distinctive local cuisine. During the day, adults can partake in various lunch experiences and workshops, while children can engage in entertaining educational activities. As night falls, our executive chef or sous chef offers a private dinner experience with a customised menu and exceptional service beneath the sparkling night sky.

We also provide an unparalleled backdrop for special events. Our creative team designs each occasion with precision, blending stunning locations, gourmet cuisine, and tailored activities. From intimate gatherings to grand celebrations, our resort offers versatile venues, for meeting rooms, Barbeque events, weddings and more!

Moreover, I am pleased to share that we, as a resort, have received the LEED Platinum certification, marking a significant milestone in the kingdom. This accolade reflects our commitment to sustainability and community enrichment.

Our resort seamlessly integrates with the local environment, paying homage to the region’s heritage while pioneering sustainable practices. From sourcing local materials to engaging in community outreach, every aspect of our operation is meticulously designed to minimise our environmental impact and foster local prosperity. Our renewable energy infrastructure, water conservation efforts, and waste management initiatives demonstrate our dedication to a greener future. Through educational workshops and sustainability tours, we invite guests to join us on this journey toward a more sustainable world.


Zahirah Marty

Award-winning travel show host and managing director of The Destination Institute


You’ve appeared on numerous TV shows in South Africa and beyond. How does being a TV personality or local celebrity affect your everyday life? I can’t say I’ve ever seen myself as a personality or celebrity, and I’ve never made any life choices on this basis. I love when people recognise me from a show or social media and come say hello, but more importantly, my work allows me to connect with so many people through doing what I love, and this I am very grateful for.

What are the most difficult challenges of your job? My life feels like an odd juxtaposition at times. I absolutely love what I do, but I am the mum of a seven-year-old boy, and a big part of what I do takes me away from home very often. This is by far the greatest challenge for me, but I am very blessed that he is so independent and cheers Mama on all the way. That, and he gets to experience some pretty incredible things too!

And the best? The people I meet. My career has evolved from simple having a passion for travel, to being in a position where I can travel, present stories, and train people on destinations and how best to market them. I am a nomad at my core, and being able to constantly be in motion, gliding through the world seeing, smelling and experiencing different countries and cultures is a blessing and gift I never take for granted. I also have an insanely talented and wonderful team, which makes my job so much easier.

Why did you pursue this career path? I fell out of love with traditional PR. My job now brings together the fundamentals of my

training and background of PR and brand, and combines it with an ever-changing tapestry of cultures, landscapes, and human connections. This career was an intentional construction of my passions built into a job.

What are your top packing tips? Maximise space and minimise wrinkles by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Ensure you have important items like medications, toiletries, a change of clothes, and travel documents in your carry-on bag. Pack clothing items that can be mixed and matched, reducing the number of items you need to bring.

What is your earliest memory of a holiday as a child? Being packed into the car and driving across South Africa; whether down the Garden Route over December, or into (what was then) the Eastern Transvaal. My parents worked really hard and made sure school holidays were spent seeing our beautiful country. We covered the length and breadth of South Africa and those memories are what make me love my home country so much.

What are your suitcase must-haves? The suitcase varies based on destination, but my hand luggage has staples: headphones, a good book, and snacks, always!

What is your go-to in-flight entertainment?

I fly a fair bit, and usually on the same airline, so I tend to work my way through inflight selections quite quickly. My go-to is downloading a full season or two of a crime series, or movies that are new to streaming platforms; it’s usually the only time I get to sit down and watch anything these days.

How do you spend your air miles? Oh, that’s an easy one – upgrades!

What countries will you be travelling to next?

The travel show I host, called Zahirah’s Bucket List Adventures, takes me to some pretty exciting destinations. Coming up, I have Kenya, Desaru Coast, Bali, South Africa, and possibly France and the USA.

What’s one travel memory you’d rather forget?

Oh my goodness, the answer is so easy and so embarrassing! Whilst traveling around Guangzhou in China with my dad, I had an urgent need to use the loo. At the time, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that the toilets would be Eastern (squat) style, or that these cities weren’t geared for tourists. There was no toilet paper, and everyone else knew to bring their own. It wasn’t pretty, or pleasant; I left with one sock less than I went in with! I now know I have a very sensitive tummy.

What’s your ultimate bucket list destination and why? This is like asking parents to choose a favourite child! If squeezed to choose one, I’d have to say Antarctica. Its pristine beauty, untouched landscapes, and unique wildlife make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Exploring this remote continent offers a profound connection with nature and a sense of awe-inspiring adventure that is unrivaled anywhere else on Earth.








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Teeming with diversity and culture, from historical sights and outstanding museums to renowned sports venues, outdoor festivals, world-class dining, and green spaces, the walkable city of Boston makes for a delightful summer break


In 2000, Boston –the most populous city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – was named a majority-minority place, meaning that the majority of the population could be de ned as a minority group. With this comes great diversity in the population, and with diversity comes great food. ere is an abundance of restaurants serving up authentic food from cultures across the world, that could take your palate from Mexico and Italy to Lebanon, Jamaica, India, Peru, Morocco, Japan, and everywhere in between, within a day. Each neighbourhood has its own charm and ethnically-accurate culinary treasures, but if you want to start your day with another of life’s greatest simple pursuits – peoplewatching – you’ll want to enjoy a leisurely brunch on Newbury Street. Although this bustling commercial street has been described as Boston’s answer to NYC’s Fi h Avenue, among the high-end shops and stunning 19th century brownstones you’ll also nd quirky one-of-a-kind boutiques and a ordable restaurants serving up delicious food that you can enjoy al fresco, as outdoor patio dining hits its peak here during the sunny months. Joe’s on Newbury, Stephanie’s on Newbury, La Voile, Sonsie, Trident Booksellers & Café, and Little Whale Oyster Bar are good picks.

AFTERNOON e time between breakfast or brunch and dinner can be one of the most challenging parts of the day in Boston, simply because there is always so much to do that it’s hard to choose. If you fancy a nearby walk, you’d be remiss not to take a stroll through the Boston Public Garden. Established in 1837, it was the rst public botanical garden in the United States. While there, you can visit the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues – a famous sculpture by Nancy Shon inspired by the namesake children’s novel by Robert McCloskey – or take a swan boat, as written about in another classic book, E.B. White’s e Trumpet of the Swan. Bonus: Cheers fans can visit the bar that inspired the one in the TV show nearby too. If you prefer to be indoors, you can visit one of the city’s countless museums or libraries instead, from the Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Science to the Boston Athenaeum, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, USS Constitution Museum, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, or e Paul Revere House, to name some. If you prefer for your history to come with

a snack, you can head to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market in the city’s Government Center area. is waterfront spot has been open since 1742, and it still boasts a fully-operational food hall with more than 50 vendors. One of the most unique picks, however, is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. e museum was the site of a 1990 the that saw 13 of its works stolen, and to this day remains unsolved – and in line with its unique take on displaying art, wherein they don’t use conventional labels and instead encourage people to nd their own meaning in each piece, the stolen works’ frames still hang there empty as a symbol of hope, should they ever be returned. It also has a stunning courtyard.


Choosing an a er-dark pursuit in this city can be an equally tough choice. A Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park is a must-do for sports fanatics. Culture vultures might enjoy a play in the theatre district or at one of the many concerts and outdoor festivals that spring up during summer, while foodies will love dining at iconic venues such as Mistral or e Oak Room, perhaps followed by drinks at Clink – a bar at e Liberty, a unique hotel built upon a former jail that retained its original bars and cells, and transformed them into a Luxury Collection hotel. But as many locals would agree, one of the most magical ways to spend an evening in Boston is in its North End: this tiny neighborhood is crammed with more epic Italian restaurants than you can shake a cannoli at (which you can nd at Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry, the two reigning champions). As live music streams in around a backdrop of fairy lights, you’ll be transported to 1950s Little Italy.

from Dhs2,435
Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi to Boston four times a week, Traditional Italian spaghetti with meatballs Cherry Blossom trees on The Esplanade Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge
Fresh cannoli

Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, guaranteeing that you can be in the car in less than a minute from the arrivals gate.

Luxury In Motion

MTechnology, innovation, and a growing desire for comfortable, personalised transport are transforming premium chau eur services from a privilege reserved only for the ultra-wealthy, to a more widely-enjoyed form of accessible luxury for the modern high-flyer. We spoke to Nicolas Soucaille, general manager of Blacklane Middle East, to learn more reclaimed. e uninterrupted, quiet environment of a chau eur-driven car can serve as a mobile o ce, enabling seamless continuation of work. Business travellers can use their time on the road to catch up on work, make calls, attend virtual meetings, or prepare for appointments. Or they can use the time to relax and recharge, improving overall productivity.

ore people than ever before are seeing the value of a private chau eur service. Why do you think this is? ere is a growing appreciation for elevated experiences. Switching from a regular ride-hailing service to a chau eur service provides a level of reliability and personalised attention to detail that is hard to match. is includes the assurance of a professionally trained chau eur, punctuality, and a high standard of maintenance and cleanliness, all of which contributes to peace of mind and overall convenience. Our chau eurs are all trained and accredited through our academy, to ensure a stress-free experience for passengers. Our app makes it easy to schedule on-demand rides, pre-book journeys, or hire a chau eur by the hour. Our vehicles feature ventilated massage seats, in-car wi , ambient lighting, and in-cabin noise cancellation. is level of luxury, combined with the ability to use travel time productively, makes chau eur services an attractive option for many.

How can a personal chau eur help you make more e ective use of your time?

In today’s busy world, time is a luxury. Having a personal chau eur empowers travellers to use their commute more productively, reclaiming valuable time. Consider this: if the average person spends around two hours a day driving in the city, that’s approximately 730 hours a year

What is the profile of your typical user?

Our user demographic is diverse, re ecting the broad appeal of our services. We’ve seen signi cant growth across various segments, particularly among business professionals, families, and tourists. Our on-demand rides are extremely popular for day-to-day use, whether travelling to work, attending events, or enhancing dining experiences. Our hourly service is highly valued by those with busy, while certain routes such as Dubai to Abu Dhabi have become increasingly popular, allowing passengers to work or relax during the commute. Blacklane’s airport transfer services have seen signi cant growth, particularly with the added bene ts we provide for airport pickups. With features like ight tracking, 60 minutes of complimentary wait time, and a chau eur meet-and-greet at the arrivals gate, we ensure a seamless experience for our guests. Moreover, we’ve secured VIP lanes at DXB

We recently conducted a study revealing key insights into business travel among UAE professionals. e study showed that 56 per cent of respondents reported working on the go more than before the pandemic. is re ects the increasing demand for e cient travel solutions that allow for productivity. Furthermore, 43 per cent of UAE travellers use chau eur services for work commutes, highlighting the growing preference for reliable and comfortable travel options.

Who else do you think could really benefit from a chau eur service?

Whether for a busy professional needing reliable transport, a parent looking for safe travel options for their family, or residents wanting to enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, or a tourist seeking a seamless travel experience, [a service like this] has something to o er. For those who may not be aware of the advantages, we invite them to try our service. Our commitment to comfort, safety, and reliability ensures a superior travel experience. Every guest will nd that having a personal chau eur can transform their journey.

What’s your approach towards sustainability?

Since 2017, all Blacklane rides globally have been 100 per cent carbon neutral, with the company o setting all carbon emissions from every journey, a rst in the industry. In the UAE, we operate an all-electric eet, aligning with the country’s sustainability goals and reducing our environmental footprint. Additionally, over 50 per cent of our chau eurs are female, highlighting our commitment to diversity and inclusion within our workforce. Luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand.

What are your future growth aspirations?

We have ambitious plans to expand our electric eet across more regions, meeting the growing demand for sustainable luxury travel. We aim to enhance our service o erings, providing even more convenience and comfort for our clients. We are also focusing on innovative partnerships and collaborations with like-minded brands and initiatives.


Why airline alliances work for global travellers

From smoother journeys to frequent flyer perks, airline alliances offer benefits to all

Airline alliances are the gold standard of modern aviation. Consistency and proper integration between airlines remove much hassle from the travel experience. But formal alliances offer so much more – and not just for passengers.

Let’s wind the clock back to 1997, when the concept first took flight. Hungry for new opportunities, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Thai Airways and United Airlines banded together to form Star Alliance. Dubbed “The Airline Network for Earth”, its name tips its key objective – having a broad network of destinations dotted across the map, like clusters of stars in the night sky. For the trivia buffs, Star Alliance’s logo also connects five points to create a circuit –representing those five founding airlines working together. Precious metals double as Star’s global frequent flyer tiers: Silver and Gold. Not to be outdone, American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines (later absorbed into Air Canada), Cathay Pacific and Qantas would then come together and form oneworld in 1999. Making a planetary play of its own, oneworld is symbolised by a globe-like

orb, across which oneworld’s members can transport you. Oneworld’s frequent flyer tiers would also pay homage to the earth. High flyers would be identified via gemstones: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.

You can expect broadly the same privileges with a partner airline

A third collective emerged in 2000, which joined Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air. SkyTeam was what it said on the tin, championing simplicity over branding trends. Regular flyers would simply be categorised as Elite or Elite Plus.

Whatever the name, alliances serve to boost airline bottom lines. Fresh revenue opportunities come when a traveller flies with a new partner. Mix in operating benefits – everything from smoother transits to coordination on spare parts – and there’s a lot to keep the accountants happy. Efficiencies also drive alliances to recruit new members. A gap in a region could be plugged by adding a strong local partner. Or perhaps, a non-aligned airline might have close ties with an alliance member. That can also motivate an airline to change its alliance allegiance. Brazil’s

TAM Airlines notably switched from Star Alliance to oneworld after its merger with LAN, forming LATAM in 2012. (Ironically, LATAM would later exit oneworld after investment by SkyTeam’s Delta, without LATAM joining SkyTeam itself.)


Airlines needn’t belong to global alliances to facilitate frequent flyer ties or baggage through-check. But alliances provide consistency. One ticket can cover an entire multi-stop or round-the-world journey. In other words, for the passenger, it’s just easy. Alliances also enforce global standards. How much baggage can I bring? Can I visit the lounge? Where do I line up? When you have lofty elite status, it’s usually straightforward. You can expect broadly the same privileges with a partner airline as you’d get on your home carrier. For instance, British Airways’ Executive Club Silver unlocks BA’s business class lounges. It also aligns with Sapphire – oneworld’s middle rank. Through Sapphire, you’ll qualify for lounge access across oneworld. Book airlines near and far – Finnair, Iberia, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and more – and your loyalty to BA is rewarded and recognised. That’s the power of an alliance.

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For the savvier flyers, drilling down into the detail can pay dividends. For example, not all paid fares on partner airlines accrue Tier Points or help retain status. Keep that in mind when booking ‘best fare of the day’ in economy: the lower-end tickets often don’t count. You might also need to undertake a certain amount of travel on your ‘home’ airline each year to keep that status in check. On the flipside, some frequent flyer programmes track your travels year-on-year for recognition that lasts a lifetime. It’s a serious reward for those practically living in their aisle seat (see box, right).

But as in life, some relationships aren’t forever. When it’s time to move on, asking for a ‘status match’ can be a fast-track to enjoying creature comforts somewhere new.

“Is the grass really greener somewhere else?” ponders Mark Ross-Smith, CEO at StatusMatch – a business that helps high-value travellers switch allegiances. “Well, yes… sometimes,” he teases. He suggests four key times where a status match proves highly valuable. The biggest drivers are moving to a new city or when an employer significantly changes its travel policy. But dissatisfaction with the status


BA Executive Club has Gold membership for life if you earn 35,000 Tier Points throughout your lifetime. (That’s effectively lifetime oneworld Emerald.) They don’t have lifetime status for the lower ranks, though.

Finnair Plus has Lifetime Gold (oneworld Sapphire, earned at three million lifetime tier points) and Lifetime Platinum (oneworld Emerald, given at five million tier points).

Lufthansa Miles & More has Frequent Traveller Lifetime at 30,000 Qualifying Points (Star Alliance Silver), and Senator Lifetime at 40,000 Qualifying Points (Star Alliance Gold).

Qantas has Lifetime Silver (oneworld Ruby), Lifetime Gold (oneworld Sapphire) and contentiously, given it’s so ridiculously stratospheric to even get close, Lifetime Platinum (oneworld Emerald).

AA, Delta, and United all also offer lifetime status through their million miler ranks as well.

quo, or just the itch to try something new, can be great times to pounce. No single alliance has the entire world covered, though. Your favourite alliance might be solid at home, but less strong as you venture further abroad. In fact, you could have the highest possible frequent flyer card and still be barred from a lounge. SkyTeam, for instance, only grants lounge access when travelling

internationally. Hop on Air France from Paris to Toulouse and the lounge is off-limits. On this, SkyTeam CEO Patrick Roux says: “Loyalty is a key priority for SkyTeam and our members this year. As such, some evolutions are being studied and could be announced in the next months.”


Business travel is never ‘one size fits all’ – the same is true of alliances. But what makes each one stand out?

No doubt, a tweak to that international-only quirk of SkyTeam would be well-received. But its network and membership base is rather strong across the UK and Europe. London-based Virgin Atlantic is the alliance’s newest edition – recently marking its first anniversary in SkyTeam. There’s also founding member Air France, joined by KLM in the Netherlands, Spain’s Air Europa, Czech Airlines, Italy’s ITA Airways, and TAROM of Romania. For travel to, from, and within these countries, SkyTeam has the edge. Further afield, members including China Eastern, Korean Air, Delta, and Vietnam Airlines provide attractive networks and connectivity.

But then, there’s Star Alliance. The world’s first airline alliance is also the largest, sporting 26 members. Nine of those are based in Europe, giving Star Alliance an even greater presence across the region. European members include Greece’s Aegean Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, SWISS, and TAP Air Portugal. More broadly, Air Canada, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and others bring individual strengths. Its members serve 1,200 airports, providing the greatest opportunities for earning and spending miles, and for frequent flyer recognition. SkyTeam and Star Alliance treat status similarly. There’s a lead-in level, followed by core benefits at the ‘main’ elite

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tier – SkyTeam Elite Plus and Star Alliance Gold, respectively. But some frequent travellers dislike this approach, as there’s nothing higher to aim for. You could be a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, PPS Club or Solitaire PPS Club member, but when you fly across Star Alliance, the treatment is effectively the same through Star Alliance Gold.

That’s where oneworld sets itself apart. Rather than two tiers, oneworld has three. While oneworld Sapphire is broadly equivalent to SkyTeam Elite Plus and Star Alliance Gold, oneworld Emerald is a cut above.

Naturally, lounge access is part of the parcel. But at key airports, Emerald cardholders are treated to an even better lounge than their Sapphire counterparts. Quite often, that’s a first class lounge – even if flying economy. Comparatively, alliance-wide recognition with SkyTeam and Star Alliance is capped to business class lounges instead. Emerald members also get that little

bit extra: more checked baggage, separate fast-track queues or higher boarding priority… the list goes on.

On a personal note, I’ve held top-tier status with all three global alliances, but it’s oneworld Emerald that keeps me hooked. Sure, there’s access to The First Wing at London Heathrow. But no matter how often I fly, nothing beats waltzing into a first class lounge. With oneworld, I get that experience even if I’m booked on the lowest-cost economy ticket – it’s a massive drawcard.


Is it time for a fourth global alliance to shake things up? Some have tried – but with a twist. Ten years ago, Etihad kicked off a quasi-alliance of its own, dubbed Etihad Airways Partners (EAP). Launched with five such partners, its goals aligned

I’ve held top-tier status with all three alliances, but it’s oneworld Emerald that keeps me hooked

with the ‘big three’. Frequent flyer cards from participating airlines carried EAP branding, with tier levels and benefits standardised for consistency. Etihad didn’t view this as a true ‘fourth alliance’ though – EAP member Airberlin was simultaneously in oneworld.

Traditionally, alliances target global travellers within the fullservice market. But other alliances exist with more modest ambitions and customer bases. Vanilla Alliance brings together five airlines based around the Indian Ocean with the aim of better local connectivity. U-FLY Alliance is the first group of exclusively low-cost carriers, spread across China and Korea. Value Alliance has a similar remit with a larger footprint. Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ low-cost offshoot, is among its members.

For oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance though, things have been busy. Oneworld will soon welcome Oman Air into its family – and possibly Hawaiian Airlines. There’s also talk ITA Airways could shift from SkyTeam to Star Alliance in a deal with Lufthansa Group. One of Star Alliance’s founding members, SAS, plans to do the reverse: hopping to SkyTeam as it inks a tie-up with Air France and KLM.

Alliance-branded lounges are also gaining importance. Oneworld debuted its first two locations in early 2024, at Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol. Last year, Star Alliance opened an additional lounge at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport for travellers venturing beyond the Schengen Area. SkyTeam similarly revealed a lounge in São Paulo in 2023, but no longer offers a branded lounge at London Heathrow – home to newest member Virgin Atlantic. Branded lounges “offer a very good proposition for customers in markets served by lots of SkyTeam carriers but without a home airline,” SkyTeam’s Roux reflects. “We are certainly planning to open more in future. Watch this space.” We certainly shall.


The inside scoop

The global plant-based food market is predicted to be worth a staggering US$132,207.38 million by 2032. We talk to Noel Clarke, SVP of Impossible Foods, to learn how the hospitality industry should take note

Impossible Foods aims to create “a truly sustainable global food system”. What would this look like? We want to champion a global food system that is more reliant on plants than it is on animals. People have said this is a lofty goal, but more than a decade later, Impossible is proving that progress is achievable. Plantbased meat products offer a seamless replacement for the animal meat that consumers know and love, significantly lowering the barrier to entry for curious meat-eating consumers to try more plantbased options. We’re confident that once people experience for themselves how delicious and nutrient-dense it can be while also being better for the planet, they’ll see no reason to go back to animal meat. That’s where the opportunity lies – with every meat eater converted into a plant-based believer, our positive impact on the planet grows.

Plant-based foods have been around for a long time. What do you think made them boom in recent years?

It’s simple: there are more, better-tasting options. The biggest misconception about plant-based meat is that it’s designed for “someone else” or that you have to compromise on taste. Maybe that was true years ago, but now, there are products like ours that are intentionally designed to replicate the craveworthy experience of eating animal meat. Better products coupled with increased availability has opened up the door for many more consumers to come into this space, and they’re realising that these options aren’t just for vegans and vegetarians – they’re for anyone who enjoys food. And as the category continues to evolve, we can only expect to see more growth.

How do you think this will affect the F&B industry moving forward? It’s normal to see some scepticism with new innovations and to question their staying

power. We saw this with plant-based dairy and now, as the category has matured, these options have become just as commonplace as conventional dairy products. We expect to see the same happen with plant-based meat. We’re just getting started and we still have a long runway of growth ahead of us. To guarantee the longevity of this space, it’s incumbent on us and the rest of the plant-based category to continue raising the bar when it comes to delivering great-tasting, nutrient-dense products. We have an advantage over the animal when it comes to product evolution, so we all have to keep innovating and improving. Our peers’ success is our success if it means that consumers are more likely to have a positive first impression of plant-based meat.

Are some markets more receptive to plant-based foods than others?

We’ve seen firsthand how this movement varies from market to market. In Europe, the plant-based meat sector had a years-long head start and is a much more mature industry, especially in markets like the UK and Germany. The US category has faced some headwinds, though we continue to persist as Impossible is outpacing the growth of the rest of the category. The Middle East is starting to see exponential growth in population year on year, thus the demand for plant-based options has grown in tandem. Every market is different in that cultural traditions, preferences, and lifestyles all vary. What’s important is that we tailor our strategy to meet local consumers where they are.

What are the key reasons to opt for plant-based – vegan or not?

People choose plant-based options for a variety of reasons – whether it be for animal welfare, the environment, or their health. Regardless of the reason, what’s great about products like ours is that they tick a lot of the boxes. They offer the same delicious flavour as

animal meat but without the high saturated fat or cholesterol, and they’re better for animals and the planet. It’s hard to argue with that, whether you’re vegan or a flexitarian.

How do you see plant-based options being offered in the travel and hospitality industry in the future?

Unique dining environments like hotels and airlines demonstrate just how seamlessly plant-based meat can fit into various eating occasions. We’ve already seen success in this sector in the US by partnering with popular airlines like Delta and United, and we see a lot of room for continued growth. The more versatile applications we can serve our products in, the more we can open consumers’ minds.

What’s your favourite destination?

That’s such a difficult question – I love to travel and visit new cultures and places. Protecting those places and ensuring my kids can enjoy them as much as I have is one of the key reasons I work at Impossible. When I think of my favourite places, it’s French Polynesia for unspoilt beauty, Thailand for the friendly welcoming culture, and of course Ireland (home) for the craic!

What would you never travel without?

It seems obvious, but my camera has to be top of the list. It’s a privilege to be able to travel, but it’s always over far too quickly –and the videos and pictures you take along the way allow you to transport back to some of those incredible moments. I use noisecancelling headphones for the flight and to maintain my sanity through busy airports. And whenever possible, my family: I do a lot of business travel alone, but am happiest when on adventures with the gang and seeing the world through the kids’ eyes. Impossible Foods is one of the world’s leading developers of plant-based meat products, such as its signature Impossible Burger


When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? You know – the kind where you wake up feeling truly rested, full of energy, and ready to take on the world.

If your answer is “I can’t remember ” or “too long ago”, then it seems that, unfortunately, you’re in a majority.

In a recent study by Australia’s Flinders University, which tracked data from almost 68,000 adults across the world over a nine-month period, only 15 per cent were found to have slept for the recommended seven to nine hours for ve or more nights per week. While the exact amount of shut-eye one needs per night can vary depending on age and various other lifestyle and health-related factors, getting too little – or poor-quality – sleep on a regular basis can lead to a whole host of other health issues, from heart problems and obesity to an increased risk of developing dementia. On a less extreme level, in the day-to-day, being sleep-deprived can leave us feeling more irritable, with less control over our emotions and slower cognitive skills, and with more trouble focusing, learning, retaining information, or reacting to things – whether that’s physically or emotionally.

schedule, while 41 per cent were getting less than six hours of sleep a night. For the study, Premier Inn consulted with Silentnight sleep expert Hannah Shore.

“ We must allow our bodies the right amount of time in each stage of sleep to fully recover – ve cycles of 90 minutes per night. Deep sleep repairs the body physically, whereas light sleep bene ts the brain function and emotional processing,” said Shore, who described the percentage of people sleeping for less than six hours a night as alarming. “ is substantial percentage questions the accuracy of self-perceived sleep quality,” Shore says. Happily for Premier Inn, a majority of their UAE guests surveyed did rate their sleep as good or excellent. But the brand is still concerned about the high number of those not getting enough slumber. With every challenge, a solution-oriented trend usually ensues, and this case is no di erent.

From pillow menus and smart beds to sleep concierges, science-backed personalised reports, and suites curated around the art of slumber, sleep tourism is on the rise, and the hospitality industry is ready to serve up five-star shut-eye

It’s not just about the amount of sleep we need – it’s also the quality. ere are over 90 known sleep disorders disrupting people’s ability to snooze restoratively, from sleep apnea and insomnia to parasomnia. And the Middle East region isn’t immune to these issues: in a recent UAE-based sleep survey conducted by Premier Inn, more than 40 per cent of the country’s residents were found to not be getting enough quality sleep. e survey, which polled more than 950 people ahead of World Sleep Day in March this year, found that 32 per cent of respondents were su ering from the e ects of an irregular sleep


e global sleep aids market – which includes pillows, mattresses, and sleeprelated medications and devices – is predicted to be worth more than US$158 billion by 2032, with a lot of this growth being accredited to the developments made possible through sleep-related technology. And the business opportunities a orded by the boom in “Sleep Tech” have spilled over into various other industries, from F&B to travel.

Sleep tourism, which began emerging as a major trend in the travel industry in 2023, is on the rise with no signs of stopping. In fact, with its intersection between the growth of wellness tourism and escapism travel – both of which have rest and relaxation at the core of their appeal – it should come as little surprise to discover that the sleep tourism market, which was valued at more than US$640 billion in 2023, is projected to grow by almost 8 per cent, or more than US$400 billion, within the next four years.

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Luxury hotel rooms: the ultimate haven for a good night’s sleep?

Forward-thinkers in the hospitality industry are responding in kind. From Bali, Indonesia to Los Angeles in the US, hotels are rolling out offerings that go beyond the standard pillow menu. The Conrad Bali has come up with a concept called SWAY – a 60-minute session that offers a combination of well-being, meditation, and sleep therapy by suspending guests in a cocoon-like hammock, while Los Angeles’s Hotel Figueroa has a dedicated “Rest and Recovery Suite” that gives guests their own customised pillows, an intelligent mattress that adjusts to your ideal sleep temperature, Gamma Light Therapy’s Revive red-light lamp, cutting-edge earplugs to reduce noise pollution, Molekule air purifiers, and magnesium-infused supplements for a snooze-inducing nightcap. Upon waking – to the sunrise-stimulating

Loftie Lamp – in-room fitness options and circadian rhythm-friendly coffee alternatives are available, along with complimentary use of the Headspace meditation app. At the Park Hyatt hotel in New York City, the Bryte Balance™ smart bed provides guests with AI-powered technology that can guide and soothe them into optimal sleep conditions, combined with a “multisensory relaxation and wellness experience called Somnify™ that pairs calming sleep-inducing audio with soothing motions within the mattress to help you sleep. Over in nearby Massachusetts, the Four Seasons Hotel Boston offers a Sleep Ritual in their spa, in partnership with Ground Wellbeing – a wellness products company that has origins in the hotel spa industry. The Sleep Ritual goes beyond a standard spa treatment to help guests activate their Parasympathetic Nervous System. Meanwhile, the InterContinental

Hotels Group – following a global survey they conducted, which found that business travellers lose about an hour of sleep for every night they’re travelling – introduced a mobile sleep aid called Journi Mobile Task Light, designed to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythmn and, in doing so, eliminate some of the stressors affecting one’s ability to sleep well.

Brands including Premier Inn, The Mandarin Oriental, and Hyatt Hotels have partnered with sleep experts to curate higher-quality slumberrelated offerings. In Japan, the home of the capsule hotel – conceived as a solution to help sleep-deprived workers to get more shut-eye around long weekday commutes – the 9h ninehours hotel chain has grown from one location in 2009 to 10 across the country by 2024. Their entire philosophy has been built around sleep, down to the name – one hour to shower, seven hours to sleep,

ABOVE: Experts claim that at least onethird of the world’s population suffers from sleep disorders

OPPOSITE PAGE: According to a 2019 survey by InterContinental Hotels, business travellers face a number of unique sleep challenges during trips, from long work hours and unfamiliar noises to adjusting to a new environment, jet lag, and more



Excess blue light from screens, or “doomscrolling”, before

and one to get dressed – and at some of their locations, guests can opt to receive a post-stay “sleep measurement report ” that will tell them how well they slept, assessed with data on movement, respiratory status, noises made, and more, all gleaned from sensors built into the capsule unit.

The Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has launched a collection of restpromoting retreats called the Alchemy of Sleep; London now boasts three Zedwell Hotels – “the hotel you check-in to tune out”, where the promotion of sleep and well-being is a core focus of the brand identity; and in Portugal, the luxurious 15room Coimbra-based Hästens Sleep Spa – CBR Boutique Hotel is the “first and only hotel in the world where you can fully enjoy the Hästens Sleep Spa experience.”

In the Middle East, at the Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som in Qatar – the largest wellness resort in the Middle East – a unique take on blending modern holistic health treatments with Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM) has resulted in sleep-promoting rituals like no other. Through TAIM healing

practices and herbal remedies, the resort weaves these philosophies into a 360-degree approach that aims to treat the problems from every angle: through great movement, quality nutrition, and both inner and outer healing that can lead to educated, sustained lifestyle changes for guests. They even offer a specific “Stress Reset & Burnout Recovery” retreat that aims to nix fatigue and exhaustion.


One of the first hotels to take note of the benefits of sleep-focused offerings for guests was the Westin Hotels & Resorts. The brand first launched their Heavenly ® Beds back in 1999, and with that, kicked off a worldwide reputation for being “Best in Bed” These original beds were conceived by Barry Sternlicht, the former chairman and CEO of the Westin’s parent company at the time, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. When Sternlicht saw data suggesting that guests were feeling tired and uncomfortable after a stay at his Westin hotels, they began exploring mattresses from across the world, and testing every single one out. The result? The bed that was,

essentially, the pioneer of the “dreamy hotel bed” becoming a part of a hotel brand’s key offerings – and in doing so, waking up the rest of the industry to its potential. Since then, the Westin – part of Marriott International, including Marriott Bonvoy – has developed a following so loyal to their beds that when they offered guests the chance to buy their own for their homes, people jumped at the chance. More than 500,000 of the Westin’s Heavenly® Beds have since been sold from their online store, and the range even includes a Heavenly® Dog Bed for four-legged friends.

This spring , the Westin unveiled the next generation of their Heavenly® Bed. With plush-top mattresses with innovative silver fibre weave, layers of temperature-regulating gelinfused memory foam, high-quality hypoallergenic materials, biophilic design principles, and fresh charcoal blankets, sateen linens, and a cloudlike feel, the new beds are sure to reinvigorate guests. But the Westin isn’t stopping there. Recognising that bad sleep is also keenly related to one’s environment and wider habits, the brand is on a mission to help guests enhance their overall well-being in the pursuit of better sleep wherever they go, and really listen to their feedback.

“In a culture that has long glorified busyness and productivity, Westin knows that a good night’s sleep is paramount to guests’ overall wellbeing, which is why our iconic Heavenly® Bed has resonated with travellers for decades. Understanding

TOP RIGHT: The 9h ninehours woman Shinjuku capsule hotel in Tokyo, Japan BELOW: A room at Premier Inn, where the brand is so dedicated to ensuring guests get quality sleep that they’ve enlisted the help of a sleep expert
bed has been linked to poorer sleep quality


Looking for a great spot in which to rest your head, or a retreat that’ll help you leave feeling restored and well-rested? Here are some of the Middle East locations that can help you do that.

1.) Rosewood Abu Dhabi

The property has recently launched “Revive in Retreat ” – a three -day experience that includes a dreamcatcher massage, sound healing session, and Antidote Sleep Journey treatment, with the choice of an IV Therapy Booster or a one-hour personal training session to help boost energy.

2.) Six Senses Zighy Bay

The five-star brand boasts a “Sleep with Six Senses programme” . The resort’s ecofriendly Oman location, an integrated holistic haven, has recently appointed a new director of well-being, alongside the launch of a new Beach Sanctuary.

the devoted fanbase the legacy bed has garnered over the years, our goal was to listen and carefully review every aspect of the guest and associate experience, ensuring each update was both intentional and impactful,” said Brian Povinelli, Marriott International’s senior vice president and global head of marketing and brand.

Getting into bed with a holistic, lifestyle-centered approach

Indeed, going beyond the bed seems to be the key to getting better shut-eye, whether we’re in a hotel or at home. With the demands of a busy modern lifestyle, and the increasingly blurred boundaries exacerbated by our increasing use of and dependence on technology, many people fail to maintain good “sleep hygiene”: a term developed as far back as the 1970s to refer to the behavioural and environmental practices one can follow to create better conditions for sleep.

“People are ‘too busy’ to prioritise sleep. In a bid to get everything done, the last thing a lot of us do before bed is tidy the kitchen, or send one last

3.) Westin Hotels & Resorts

The newly-upgraded Heavenly ® Bed can be enjoyed at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, which recently completed an extensive three-year refurbishment project that has resulted in a soothing aesthetic, intended to make you feel like you’re in a cozy yet luxurious mansion.

4.) Banyan Tree AlUla

One of Saudi Arabia’s best places for astro-tourism, AlUla offers visitors the chance to switch off from the noise of the city with some star-gazing – a perfect night-time activity to wind down with, before a peaceful sleep in this unique and quiet desert oasis.

5.) Sha Emirates

Set to open in 2026, SHA Wellness Clinic’s second-ever international location and the first in the Middle East will be the “world’s first healthy-living island” .

email. These are things which will tell our bodies it isn’t time for bed yet,” says Shore. “As children, we have good bedtime routines that involve going to bed and waking up at a similar time every day, with a wind-down routine before bed. As adults, we [tend to] forget the importance of this. A good routine should allow the mind and body to calm down from the day, and prompt the body that it is time for sleep. A 30-minute wind-down routine could be reading a book, doing breathing exercises, or simply watching some TV so long as it is nothing too engaging – re-runs of shows you’ve already seen are good,” she explains. “ This should be done in a cooler, darker room that will prompt your body to start producing the right hormones to help you drift off to sleep easier. By keeping the same sleep/ wake time, this also helps to regulate the production of the right sleep/ wake hormones at the right time,” she says. Shore explains that doing so can help the body repair itself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Among the

The renowned Spanish brand’s expertise on sleep issues fuses technology and pathology for a curative approach.

6.) Premier Inn Middle East

The brand’s Premier Inn Beds, famous for their comfort, have been revamped, and can be enjoyed in any of their seven hotels in Dubai, two in Abu Dhabi, or two in Doha.

7.) Zulal Wellness Resort

Guests seeking extra peace, quiet, and reflection can book a Serenity Grand Deluxe Room distanced from the body of the resort for more quiet, with pyjamas, special bedding, and a journal provided.

7.) Sleep ’n fly

Need a quick snooze while in transit at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3? These sleep pods and cabins can be rented per hour, and have showers too.

factors we should consider in creating a good sleep environment – including maintaining the right temperature and light, and not exercising too close to bedtime – we should also take into consideration our night-time content consumption habits. “ There are many articles which say we shouldn’t be using our devices before bed due to



If there were a recipe for a great night’s sleep, these are the key ingredients that Shore would add:

1. A solid sleep/ wake routine, with little change in time.

2. A 30-minute wind-down ritual.

3. Keeping the room cool enough to not disturb your body temperature.

4. Exposing yourself to bright natural light in the morning, and sticking to dark, dull light at night-time.

5. A comfy bed!

blue light. However, so long as we are using the eye comfort mode setting, which swaps out the harsh blue tones for subtle yellow tones, that blue light has very little impact on our sleep. What we should be concentrating on is the type of content we are consuming. If we are watching something very stimulating – with action that can make you jump, or with loud noises, or that is very addictive that makes you want to watch just one more episode – this will keep the brain engaged, and will produce wake-promoting hormones. However, watching reruns of your favourites – where you know exactly what happens – or listening to music at low levels, or reading something you have read before, can help you shut off all those thoughts that can be running around your head.” It is perhaps within this idea that the magic of a luxurious hotel stay can truly emerge. When we travel, whether for business or leisure, we tend to shake up our routines and be so focused on the new experiences around us that we don’t fall to our regular habits. While for some, this can mean more discomfort due to being exposed to a bad bed, noisy environment, or the lack of our home conveniences, in the right environment, it can mean giving ourselves the chance to put our daily stressors aside and feel taken care of.

“Many guests have expressed their appreciation for the relaxing ambiance of our rooms,” says Jon Leonard, director of property for Premier Inn Middle East. “ This, along with the quietness within the hotel –attributed to the efforts we’ve made to minimise noise disturbances –creates an environment where guests can get good quality sleep. [We have also found] that staying in a hotel can mitigate external disruptions from partners and children (by 22 per cent), or environmental factors such as climate control (by 36 per cent). And surely, the best part about a

Staying in a quiet hotel can help to mitigate external disruptions that can affect sleep

hotel stay is our sumptous breakfasts the next morning!” Leonard adds. Premier Inn has made the effort to line their AC ducts and add in vibration isolators to dampen air noise in guest rooms, insulate drainage pipes to muffle water sounds, ensure doorways have good seals to block sound and light to the corridors, and incorporate special acoustic walls into some rooms to reduce the noise between them. In May 2024, they also introduced their new Premier Inn Bed in their hotel rooms, working with Silentnight to do so. It’s a dreamy partnership: Premier Inn is the UK’s largest hotel brand, and Silentnight is the UK’s most trusted bed brand – and this new bedding has been rolled out across their Middle East properties as well. Their new mattress has been crafted with breathable materials to help keep people cooler during sleep (and in doing so, aligning with the body’s natural temperature changes during sleep), special foam to give extra comfort, and a 1,000 pocketzoned spring system to support all body shapes, as well as the option to choose between firm and soft pillows to find the perfect support for each individual. With poor sleep having been linked to a change in social behaviours – sleepdeprived individuals are more likely to struggle with social interactions, leading to other issues caused by loneliness, a lack of healthy relationships, and increased workplace stress – it’s clear that being conscious about improving our sleep habits, whether at home or while we travel, is an important priority. And with so many hotels making the effort to help us do so, in ways we can experience both in their rooms and beyond, perhaps a happier, healthier, more well-rested future for more of us needn’t be just a dream.

TOP RIGHT: Hannah Shore, sleep expert for Silentnight and sleep consultant for Premier Inn BELOW: Hotel brands are working to ensure premium conditions for sleep

Provincial Provence

As Terre Blanche marks its 20th anniversary, we experience the resort’s golfing and spa facilities as well as Michelin-starred food and blush rosé


Stroll along the cobbled pathways of the Terre Blanche resort and you’ll be forgiven for mistaking it for an authentic Provençal village.

Firstly, there’s its size, occupying 301 hectares of land in Provence – for context, that’s 1.5 times the size of the principality of Monaco.

adorable pipistrelle bats are so small they fit inside a matchbox. For keen birdwatchers, the wildlife reserve of Saint-Cassien Lake is just a few kilometres down the road and home to migratory and non-migratory birds, including mallards and waders.

The design has been woven into the fabric of the landscape for the past two decades

Then there’s the design, which has been woven into the fabric of the landscape for the past two decades. Buildings have been constructed with white stone from nearby quarries, while terracotta-toned interiors have been achieved thanks to the use of local red clay. The 115 suites and villas feel more residential than hotel-like, largely owing to the layout of independent houses dotted across the labyrinthine resort. As such, they promise a high level of privacy – the only downside being that I didn’t catch sight of the rumoured A-lister in our midst, and was instead starstruck by vistas from my vast terrace.

An array of on-site facilities adds to the village feel, with buggy transportation whizzing me from the standalone spa to the two 18-hole championship-level golf courses undulating across the resort. I didn’t even need to leave the grounds to grab a pastry, since the in-house boulangerie crafts 17 varieties of bread, plus delicious saffron cake and herb-packed croissants.


A major part of the resort’s charm is the access to wilderness. The Le Riou Blanc river runs through the resort and acts as a natural corridor for wildlife, with gates on either side of the river ensuring that animals are free to roam – undisturbed by guests. The biodiverse landscape is home to more than 175 plant species, 54 birds and 20 mammal species – including a herd of donkeys and 15 species of bat. Placards provide information about the fauna and flora throughout the grounds. I embraced my inner Attenborough and absorbed the interesting facts – my favourite being that

Terre Blanche’s focus on respecting the local environment has certainly paid off, with the resort awarded Green Key certification at the start of the year due to its sustainable strides. Initiatives include the banning of pesticides and chemical fertilisers for its green spaces, using organic waste as compost for the land, and leaving areas of grassland untended in order to allow plants, insects and butterflies to flourish.


Nestled in this wilderness are also the lush green fairways of the Le Château and Le Riou golf courses – designed by Welshman Dave Thomas. Anyone can try their luck at the former, while the latter is reserved for members and guests.

Aside from playing for leisure, Terre Blanche is also a European Tour Destination that attracts golfing professionals and those looking to perfect their skill. The state-of-the-art Albatros Golf Performance Centre offers training courses and various high-tech tools, including a Putting Lab and a Club Fitting, but the holy grail is the Biomecaswing Centre.

The only centre of its kind in Europe, the centre provides a physical assessment and precise analysis of a player’s balance and gestures – including a video evaluation of your swing so you can adapt and refine it for your next round of golf. This level of analysis would have been useful to people participating in the Terre Blanche 20 Years Open, an anniversary golf competition for guests and golf amateurs held on 19 May.

Sustainability has also seeped into the resort’s golfing areas, with Terre Blanche in the process of replacing every square foot of grass on its golf courses with Bermuda Grass Riviera, which requires 50 per cent less water.


Those who prefer to swap sports for the spa can jump on a buggy to the two-storey building. Treatments here use products from Swiss skincare brand La Maison Valmont and French cosmetic brand KOS Paris, but have a fittingly regional twist. Take the

THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Views over the golf course; the Deluxe Premier Suite; take a dip in the infinity pool; the resort offers a range of accommodation, including villas; the Terre Blanche Spa
53 JUNE 2024

Farandole massage, for instance, which is inspired by the namesake Provençal dance. As someone who struggles to relax during massages, I found the energising and rhythmic treatment to be a perfect fit – a masseuse manipulated my limbs in a graceful and balletic manner before freeing me of many knots. Further locally inspired options include treatments with honey from the region or heated aromatic pouches – followed by honey cakes from pastry chef Jérémie Gressier, naturally.

Relaxation continues at the ultra-plush post-treatment room, where I lounged on

salads with pale rosé wine, so light and delicious you might as well order another glass, carafe or bottle.

Elaborate tasting menus are served on a beautiful terrace overlooking Roman hilltop villages

Prominent on the menu are wines from Château d’Esclans, the famous wine estate behind the popular Whispering Angel rosé that has taken the UK by storm – appearing in bars, restaurants and pop-up terraces as well as airport lounges and onboard (perhaps you’re enjoying a glass inflight right now?).

fine dining Le Faventia is unmissable, with executive chef Christophe Schmitt’s elaborate tasting menus served on a beautiful terrace overlooking the Roman hilltop villages of the Pays de Fayence – from where much of the produce is sourced. Our six-course menu featured ingredients ranging from ewe’s milk cheese from the nearby Ferme

a massage bed with my toes cushioned in soft slippers. Alternatively, guests can dive into the 20-metre indoor pool, flooded with natural light from bay windows.


Gourmet restaurant Le Gaudina and Michelin-starred Le Faventia both reopened, in March and April respectively, following renovations by French Riviera-based architect Philippe Bonino. The design team reused as much of the existing furniture as possible, while new fabrics and trimmings have been sourced from French houses. The

des Claux to oysters from Tamaris and herbs from the on-site garden. Particularly special was the moment when the bright-red king prawns were steamed tableside within a matter of seconds. Tableware, too, is crafted locally, with delicate dishes resembling sculptural artwork designed by ceramicist Magali Barraja.

You’re also in good hands at Les Caroubiers, the resort’s clubhouse venue. Much like a neighbourhood bistro, the formule (set menu) is handwritten in cursive on a chalkboard – with dishes crossed out once out of stock. We paired our niçoise

Winemaker Sacha Lichine acquired the estate in 2006, and the Château d’Esclans wines are now sold in over 100 countries, with LVMH acquiring a majority stake in the company at the end of 2019. We spent our last day in Provence at Domaines Sacha Lichine, discovering wine-making practices before touring the idyllic 19th-century château and tasting the various wines within the portfolio. Guests from Terre Blanche also gain access to the private chapel, where you’ll find a sculpture of the two cherubs that inspired the branding.

The tour ended with a visit to the Barbiepink shop, which not only sells stacks of the blush bottles but also branded hats and swimming trunks. Back home at the far more picturesque Terre Blanche, I uncorked a bottle of the rosé to enjoy in peace on my terrace. I might not have heard the whispers of angels, but heaven didn’t feel far off.

THIS PAGE, FROM TOP: The indoor pool at the spa; fine dining at Michelin-starred Le Faventia; Château d’Esclans, which makes Whispering Angel rosé
the eport Tried, Tested, Tasted. SMART TRAVELLER Our guide to... VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) TRIED AND TESTED TRANSPORT Blacklane Airport Transfer Service 62 TRIED AND TESTED HOTEL The St. Regis Riyadh The Showhouse - Dubai 58 60 64 TRIED AND TESTED RESTAURANT

The St. Regis Riyadh

BACKGROUND When visionary hotelier

John Jacob Astor established the first St. Regis Hotel in New York in 1904, it’s unlikely he envisaged his brand making its way to the Middle East. But fast forward 120 years, and the debut St. Regis hotel in Saudi Arabia, The St. Regis Riyadh, is just over six months into operations. Located in one of Riyadh’s newest and most exciting shopping and dining destinations, it laces New York luxury with Saudi Arabian hospitality in a remarkably harmonious way.

WHERE IS IT? The location of The St. Regis Riyadh, overlooking gorgeously grand Via Riyadh with its myriad upscale shopping and dining options, is ideal both for business and leisure travellers. Reachable from King Khalid International Airport in around 30 minutes, it’s a central base for exploring much of the city.

ROOMS While the hotel looks like it could be large and corporate from the outside, inside there are just 83 guestrooms, including 23 suites, all adorned in smart, contemporary tones, while still giving a subtle nod to the locale. Guest rooms feature all the modern comforts you’d expect from a five star resort: luxury Frette linens, a supersized free-standing tub, and flat screen TV. But you’ll also find locally sourced design features and nods to Salmani architecture, in keeping with Via Riyadh’s aesthetic.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The St. Regis DNA is everywhere: the sparkling chandeliers

that sit pretty everywhere from the lobby to the spa; the spacious suites, adorned in smart, contemporary shades of teal and soft beige, laced with golden accents for a touch of New York glamour; and of course in the St. Regis butler service, on hand to sort anything from restaurant reservations to information on spa treatments, or a particular kind of pillow. If space is a measure of luxury, this must be one of the city’s most luxurious stays, as everything is laid out generously, thoughtfully designed with plenty of cosy nooks in the communal areas for those looking for a little privacy.

FOOD AND DRINK Though there’s a whole host of internationally renowned restaurants on the hotel’s doorstep, guests

If space is a measure of luxury, this must be one of the city’s most luxurious stays

BEST FOR Ultimate luxury in the Saudi capital


Sunset mocktails at third floor terrace, Stella Sky Lounge


A one-night stay in a deluxe king room starts from SAR1,882


Via Riyadh, 2941 Makkah Al Mukarramah Road, Al Hada District. Tel: +966 115 089 555;

shouldn’t miss dining at Jackie (an ode to the former First Lady), The St. Regis Riyadh’s elegant interpretation of an all-day dining restaurant. Flooded with natural light and dressed in calm hues of white and blue, marble floors, mirrored walls, and triple height ceilings create a space that’s bright and inviting. For dinner, the culinary focus of Jackie strays from the brand’s American DNA to o er a largely Greek menu, with options like slow braised octopus with cherry tomatoes and capers, a board loaded with traditional mezedes, and prettily plated fish and meat for mains, all of which are generous portions and served on gold plated chinaware.

MEETINGS Designed with business travellers in mind, there’s over 1,500 square metres of events space across six event venues, incluing the grand Astor Ballroom, with capacity for up to 400. For meetings, guests benefit from access to business centre facilities including projectors, microphones and TV screens.

LEISURE The leisure facilities include a well-equipped third floor gym, with floorto-ceiling windows of the city unrolling as far as the eye can see; and a rooftop swimming pool, lined with plush seating. But the finest of the hotel’s facilities has to be the St Regis Spa, the largest in Riyadh. It’s a maze of zen-inducing experiences one after another: pampering treatment rooms; relaxation areas where the wow factor from the flickering fireplaces is surpassed only by the suspended glass chandelier;  and a dedicated room of temperature-based experiences, including a snow shower, sauna, and plunge pool.

VERDICT This is an unmistakably St. Regis property, the brand’s luxurious DNA laced into every area, from the design to the service and the culinary o ering. Alice Holtham

JUNE 2024

The Showhouse - Dubai

BACKGROUND A new “dinner and a show” concept created by Solutions Leisure Group – one of the UAE’s most wellrespected F&B companies, with STK, Asia Asia, Wavehouse, and Ula among their many beloved brands – The Showhouse opened in May 2024. The venue aims to provide guests with a playful new take on immersive dinner theatre, with a new show theme each quarter. Its inaugural o ering, titled “Down the Rabbit Hole”, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, encourages viewers to break out of the ennui of the mundane by embracing a wacky and slightly cheeky take on the classic tale – all accompanied by an expertly-curated French-Mediterranean set menu, for a night to remember.

THE VENUE Located in a car park, the sense of intrigue begins before you’ve even stepped in the venue door. To get there, you


dazzling chandeliers

and a boudoir-like feel, you’ll feel like you’re at the Moulin Rouge

can valet your car at the InterContinental Dubai Marina’s entrance as usual, from which you’ll take a lift down to the basement, where you’ll be greeted with framed artwork of the night’s performers. A quick skip across from there, you’ll find an arch of glowing vanity lights that will lead you through a plain door. And that’s where your journey down the rabbit hole begins. If you’re after a quieter way to watch the show, you can ask for one of the booth seats towards the back – or if you’re in the mood for something really immersive, you can opt for one the stageside seats that are right in the thick of the action. Take note: if you don’t like having your picture taken, the latter will make it hard to avoid, since everyone will be taking pictures of the thrilling antics on the stage next to you.

WHAT’S IT LIKE From the moment you enter, you know you’re in for something a little di erent from the norm. The reception foyer is decked out like a performer’s backstage studio, with the sta dressed on-theme, and the restaurant beyond that is a surprisingly vast space that immediately transports you to another world. With rich velvet seating, dazzling chandeliers, and a boudoir-like feel, you’ll feel like you’re at the Moulin Rouge. The show itself, led by a camp take on Alice’s white rabbit, runs continuously throughout the meal – unlike some other

dinner shows, which tend to pause between courses. Performances include a mix of live singing, sultry ballroom dancers, edgy ballerinas, and wow-inducing aerial artists and contortionists, set to a blend of modern pop, 80s hits, 90s rock, and curtain-raising showtunes worthy of Broadway.

FOOD AND DRINKS Although everyone in the house is invited to share a (nonalcoholic) potion much like Alice’s “drink me” vial to kick o the show at 9pm, there are four set-price menus to choose from, all of which include a three-course meal and varying amounts of drinks. Prices run from Dhs395 (Silver) per person, with Gold (Dhs495) getting you the option to pick a preferential seat, and VIP (Dhs545) available for tables of four or more. The menu options are just as decadent as the décor, with starters including burrata, beef tartare, frisée salad with crispy duck egg, foie gras, and lobster cocktail. Mains include duck leg confit, filet steak, corn-fed chicken, mushroom risotto, and wild sea bass, topped o with a choice of five desserts. And they are dedicated to being as authentic as possible with them – that is to say, none of these dishes skimp on the butter, cream, or other indulgent ingredients, making for a rich meal that feels just as wanton as the show itself.

SERVICE The sta are incredibly friendly and attentive – not only are they very clear and helpful, and time things beautifully, they’ll even help with the good vibes by dancing alongside you by the end of the night, making you smile all the way through.

VERDICT A perfect way to let your hair down for a night. Ideal for birthdays and date nights alike – or just to shake o the weariness of routine – without breaking the bank, and reminding yourself that it’s ok for life to be a little more dramatically fun.


7pm to 12am on Wednesdays & Thursdays and 7pm to 3am on Fridays & Saturdays


InterContinental Dubai Marina, an IHG Hotel



Blacklane Airport Transfer Service

BACKGROUND A luxury limousine service that was launched in 2011 in Germany, Blacklane is available in more than 500 cities across almost 50 countries worldwide, including the UAE (in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Türkiye, and Qatar. We tested it out in the UAE, where it is available for cityto-city transfers between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for hourly service within each city, and for professional airport transfers.

THE OFFERING Blacklane’s airport transfer service can be booked via their website, or via their app, in any city of your choice. While this does, as the name might suggest, o er you a chau eured ride to and from the airport in one of their luxury vehicles, a Blacklane journey comes with a slew of other perks, including a chau eur that has undergone extensive training in their academy, as well as a complimentary 15-minute wait time at your home, or 60 minutes of complimentary wait time at the airport, giving you ample time to get through customs and baggage claim. At DXB airport, the company has access to VIP lanes at Terminal 1 and 3, which means that you can get to/from your gate within just a few minutes at most. All of the vehicles are electric, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are in a more sustainability-friendly transport option, and once you’re actually at the airport, there’s

more: the Blacklane airport transfer service can also gain you access to nineteen business lounges at Dubai International airport, making sure you can travel in style.

It can also gain you access to nineteen business lounges at Dubai International airport

THE APP I booked my ride through the app, which is available for both Android and iOS. You can prebook a ride up to one hour before pickup time, or months in advance, with “easy changes/cancellation available up to one hour before the ride starts”. You can also personalise your ride (“Want jazz playing? Include a note for your cha eur when booking”). I was asked to pick a vehicle size/type, after which I was prompted to enter my flight number (so the chau eur could be aware of the correct terminal and gate – and track the flight for any major time changes), the name I wished to have on the pickup sign, and any custom notes for the chau eur (such as the need for child seats). Once done, I was given a map preview and the estimated time and distance of my route, followed by a payment option – which can also be fulfilled with Apple Pay if you wish. Confirmation was instant. So far, so good. However, when I tried to change my pickup time later – I realised I didn’t need to head to the airport quite as early as


Available for booking 24/7


Almost 50 countries worldwide


I’d initially thought – I ran into some snags. The first couple of times I tried, I got an error message, but I succeeded on the third try. However, the next morning, I got a notification from the app saying that my driver had arrived – at my original time. When I checked the app again, it also showed me the initial time, not the new one. If I hadn’t taken a screenshot of the confirmed change, I’d have thought I was imagining it. Clearly, this was a bug from the app not from the driver’s side, but in the future, I’d personally feel better making sure the timing was certain before booking..

THE CARS Blacklane’s entire fleet is now made up of luxury Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles, and mine was an EQS sedan that could seat up to three people and two large pieces of luggage. For a slightly higher price, I could have opted for an SUV or a Business Van, each of which boasts a larger capacity. The car itself is beautiful. Sleek outside and luxurious inside, it has leather seats that recline, with plenty of room for my legs, and there’s even a massage function. The vehicle is super quiet, and it was a smooth, peaceful ride.

SERVICE The sta are exceptionally friendly and polite – from the start, it’s clear that it’s more than a cut above your regular ride-hailing app. My driver – a jazz enthusiast who plays the saxophone – was happy to oblige me with pleasant conversation along the route. It left me with a spring in my step despite how tired I was.

VERDICT A truly premium airport ride that can turn a regular leisure holiday into a really special one, or a busy business trip into a much more relaxed one. They are true to their word about trying to help passengers reduce stress and reclaim some precious time back – worth it, if it’s within your budget, especially for longer journeys that need a little more comfort on either side.

JUNE 2024

Our guide to…

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)

e all know that online activity needs to be private and secure. If you suspected that the businesscritical information you’re about to share with a colleague is at risk of being seen much more widely, you would hesitate to send it. This is where VPNs – short for Virtual Private Networks – come into play. While it once seemed that they were used for suspect practices or dodgy dealings, today’s rise in remote working, whether at home or on the road, has changed this perception. VPNs o er convenience, security and access to the internet wherever you are. A VPN can help to ensure that online activity

remains confidential. It may even allow you to continue to do business freely when travelling in a country with government restrictions or online censorship.

Without a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) and the websites you visit can pick up a lot of data from your online activity. Packets of data sent when you’re on the internet reveal your exact location (from your IP address), which websites you visit, and for how long. This data collection is often benign –Netflix, for instance, wants to know your location because its library of movies and shows varies in di erent territories.

But it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you happen across an unsecured network, any

information you enter here is also collected – hence the importance of a VPN when using a public wifi network, such as at an airport (take note business travellers!).

With a VPN, your actions, website visits and keystrokes are kept hidden. The data is encrypted before it leaves your device so that nobody can read it. The encrypted data goes to your VPN company where it’s decrypted so that the websites you’re visiting can understand it, but your identity, IP address, and physical address are safely hidden. The same process happens in the other direction.

As well as security, one of the big benefits of a VPN is that it can change your apparent location. This can be for something as

simple as checking out the prices in pounds or dollars on products online instead of being redirected to a local site. For those of you using mobile phones, the secure VPN remains in place if the wifi is spotty and you decide to switch to a 5G connection, which is especially useful for travellers on the go.

The next question is which VPN to choose. A simple rule is that free VPNs are unlikely to be as good as ones you pay for. It costs money to run a VPN and to create secure apps, and some services are free because they track you with cookies so that a iliates can target you with ads – which feels counterproductive. Here we round up some of the best options.

JUNE 2024


Best for: Fast speeds and great reliability

Cons: The app interface is not always smooth

Price: From £3.59 per month on a one-year plan

NordVPN regularly comes first on ‘Best Buy’ lists for VPNs, and the company often tops independent speed tests. Since every VPN slows your connection a bit, the lowest speed loss is what you’re after. In a recent test, NordVPN lost 11 per cent, while Surfshark lost 17 per cent and others even more. Its reach is wide, available in over 100 countries, and its consistent reliability is partly down to having a network with around 6,000 servers (Surfshark has about half this number).

It’s also easy to use: click on the NordVPN icon on a Mac or PC, choose a country from the long list and click Quick Connect. Plus, it consistently unblocks streaming services, wherever you are. There are lots of great features, including a zero-logging policy – it says it doesn’t collect or store information such as tra ic logs, IP addresses or browsing data.

You can use up to ten devices with just one account, which is more than some rivals, and it works on multiple operating systems and browsers. Higher tiers of subscription packages add malware protection, a password manager, encrypted storage and cyber insurance.


Best for: Unlimited simultaneous connections

Cons: Connecting to the server can be slow

Price: From £2.29 per month on a one-year plan

Surfshark is easy to use and accessible, with quick connect

options so you can join your nearest server easily. It has one standout feature: there’s no limit to the number of devices you can connect at the same time. This makes it a great choice for families who want to connect laptops, games consoles,   phones and tablets all at the same time (though conversation between family members may su er a little if everyone is engrossed online!).

Other neat features include multi-hop connectivity, where Surfshark creates a VPN connection to a server and then

you connected as quickly as possible. The app settings are easily understood and it’s simple to find the server location you want. Its excellent ease-of-use and secure connections come at a price, though it does include a password manager and a year’s access to cloud storage. Like all VPNs, it can sometimes be slower than a connection without a VPN: all that encrypting and decrypting your precious data can take time. That said, it’s still speedier than many rivals, and some servers, such as the UK and New York, were found to be faster than more remote areas. Overall, speeds were

bounces the tra ic to a second VPN server for an extra layer of security. NordVPN (which also o ers multi-hop capabilities) and Surfshark merged in 2022 but both still operate independently. Surfshark says it has more than 3,200 RAM-only servers. RAM-only means it is run on volatile memory rather than regular hard disks, so no data is stored.


Best for: Beginners

Cons: More expensive than some

Price: From £6.87 per month on a one-year plan

Express VPN is highly userfriendly, with a minimalist and intuitive interface designed to get

switch, which stops your connection to the internet if the VPN goes down, and strong encryption levels – a lower price doesn’t mean security corners are cut.

Speeds, however, aren’t always as fast as pricier rivals. Like Surfshark, it allows unlimited simultaneous connections, but speed slowdown can a ect PIA. If you have a fast connection to start with, this won’t be a problem. In a hotel with slow wifi, though, you might notice the di erence. This might be cumbersome if you want to stream video, which needs higher bandwidth than internet surfing. Its no-log policy holds water as it is independently audited.


Best for: Casual users

Cons: Connection times can be slow Price: Free/from £5.11 per month on a one-year plan

easily enough for web browsing and streaming video without a glitch. A 30-day money-back guarantee means you can try the service out before you make a commitment.



Best for: Those on a budget

Cons: Speeds can be slower

Price: From £2.71 per month on a one-year plan

Private Internet Access has a dull name, which is why it’s often abbreviated to PIA. But it has a huge number of servers (over 20,000) in about 90 locations, which may help if you’re travelling. And it includes important features like a kill

If you’re determined to have a free VPN, Swiss-based Proton is the one to choose. It o ers a generous free level because it says online privacy is a fundamental human right. The free o ering is paid for by other subscribers, so there are encouragements to upgrade to paid. The paid-for version promises faster connections, access to servers in 85 countries (the free service only has five countries and you can’t choose which one you connect to), ad blockers and service support for streaming. Paid subscribers can also use Secure Core, which routes tra ic through multiple servers for extra privacy from high-tech snoopers. A recent additional feature is Stealth, which helps you get online in countries that are not partial to private connections, such as China for instance, which the company claims is better than rivals o er. David Phelan


Charting The Course

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has approved designs and the start of work on a futuristic new passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport. Once fully operational, it will be the largest airport in the world, with the capacity to handle up to 260 million passengers as well as 12 million tonnes of cargo per year. It will stretch over an area of 70 sq km. Part of a strategic plan from Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects and Dubai Aviation Corporation, the new airport will be five times the size of the current Dubai International Airport, able to accommodate 500 aircraft gates and five parallel runways. The new airport will feature cutting-edge technology and design, with His Highness Sheikh Maktoum stating that the airport will feature new aviation technologies employed for the first time in the aviation sector. It will include west and east processing terminals; four satellite concourses with over 400 aircraft contact stands; uninterrupted automated people mover systems for passengers; an integrated landside transport hub for roads, Metro, and city air transport; as well as a major commitment towards sustainability practices that aims to achieve it a LEED Gold Certification. The new developments include plans to transfer all operations at Dubai International Airport to Al Maktoum International Airport “in the coming years”. Work on the new airport is set to commence immediately, with the first phase of the project expected to be completed within the next 10 years. It is projected to generate an estimated workforce and residential requirements for more than a million people.

JUNE 2024

Over 40,000 sq. metres of spectacular shopping.

Thousands of limited editions and travel exclusives. Hundreds of the world’s most desirable brands. But only one glorious destination: Dubai Duty Free.



Enjoy our beautifully designed rooms and suites with stunning Gulf views, unwind at our Fairmont Spa and pools, savour a variety of dining experiences at our renowned restaurants, and plan a fantastic family time with our delightful kids’ club.

Elevate your leisure with complimentary access to the esteemed Bagatelle Beach Club, or venture into the vibrant heart of Doha with captivating city excursions.


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