Caledonian Sleeper unveils new rolling stock designs ahead of 2018 launch

Caledonian Sleeper unveils new rolling stock designs ahead of 2018 launch

Caledonian Sleeper has offered a glimpse of its brand new £150 million fleet of trains ahead of their introduction next year.

A dedicated website has been launched where details of the trains will continue to be revealed ahead of their phased introduction to service from spring 2018.

Visitors to the site will be able to see the development of the 75 state-of-the-art carriages, which are currently under construction.

The new trains will offer a range of accommodation options including new suites, which will feature a double bed with en-suite.

A host of new features have been included on the new trains, such as a hotel-style key card entry system, more accessible rooms, bespoke ‘comfort seats’ designed for long journeys, upgraded panels for phone and gadget charging, and Wi-Fi throughout the train.

The new trains will ensure guests enjoy a unique travelling hotel-style experience, waking at their destination refreshed and relaxed having travelled in comfort through the night

Peter Strachan, chairman, Caledonian Sleeper, said: “Travelling with the Caledonian Sleeper is a wonderful experience and the new train fleet being introduced will offer a new standard in overnight travel.

“This website is where members of the public can see the latest news on the trains and discover the exciting things we have in store.

“The sleeper is already a fantastic way to travel, and the new trains will improve the service dramatically.

“Providing comfort and convenience, the sleeper allows for plenty of time for a full day of work or play, before transporting you to and from the destinations we serve – without the hassle of flying.”

The introduction of new trains will be the culmination of a wide range of improvements and investment in the Caledonian Sleeper since Serco took over the franchise on behalf of the Scottish government in April 2015.

Further information and images of the new trains will available nearer the launch date.

American Express Global Business Travel acquires Banks Sadler

American Express Global Business Travel acquires Banks Sadler

American Express Global Business Travel acquires Banks Sadler

American Express Global Business Travel has completed the previously announced acquisition of Banks Sadler.

The international event management agency, headquartered in London, becomes part of American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express GBT.

As a result of the purchase, Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events, says Banks Sadler customers will profit from an expanded value proposition.

He explained: “We are bringing together one of the most respected agencies in the meetings and events sector with our leading capabilities and global footprint.

“The future of the business, and the collective value we can provide customers, is very exciting – everyone involved stands to benefit.”
With the completion, nearly 250 Banks Sadler employees join GBT’s approximately 12,000 employees around the world.

Banks Sadler was founded in 1982 in London and currently has offices in York, Windsor, Paris, Dusseldorf and New York.

Leigh Jagger, chief executive, Banks Sadler, added: “We bring an independent and entrepreneurial agency mindset to the table.

“This combined with the expertise and global footprint possessed by one of the largest travel, meetings and events companies in the world will generate massive opportunities for the business and our customers.”

Facebook heads to Rwanda for Annual World Tourism Conference

Facebook heads to Rwanda for Annual World Tourism Conference

Facebook heads to Rwanda for Annual World Tourism Conference

Attending the Annual World Tourism Conference in Rwanda, Facebook and Instagram representatives were in Kigali this week to discuss and explore ways in which social media can be used to effectively drive tourism growth across Africa.

Showcasing how both platforms can be used as a tool to creatively help change the narrative of Africa as a tourist destination, the team also took part in a live panel discussion exploring the ‘Evolution of Online Travel and Lifestyle Tourism: Leveraging Africa’s Diversity’.

The event, developed by the Rwanda Development Board, the Corporate Council on Africa and the Africa Travel Association, saw government officials, tourism ministers, tourism boards and business professionals from across the world and the continent descend onto the capital.

Showcasing how tourism operators and agencies can leverage Instagram, Facebook Live and Facebook 360, the Facebook and Instagram team discussed how new technologies can be used to create a seamless experience for both the tourist and the operator; from immersive travel experiences to entice potential customers, to using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to allow tourism companies to build customer service channels and communicate with customers prior to booking, during their trip and on their return home.

Commenting on Facebook’s involvement in the World Tourism Conference Akua Gyekye, public policy manager for Africa at Facebook said: “Social platforms offer tourism agencies and companies in Rwanda and across the Continent, wonderful opportunities to put their countries firmly on the map.

“We’re excited to share ideas about how Instagram and Facebook can help Africa share its rich culture and beautiful landscapes with the world, and connect with the tourists of today and the future —an effort we’re proud to support.”

Ahead of the conference, Facebook undertook a number of training sessions including partnering with the ATA and Rwanda Development, the local business council, to train 100 tourism focused small and medium businesses in how to use Facebook platforms to promote, engage with communities, and grow their operations.

PyeongChang praised by IOC ahead of 2018 Winter Olympics

PyeongChang praised by IOC ahead of 2018 Winter Olympics

PyeongChang praised by IOC ahead of 2018 Winter Olympics

Following its ninth and final visit to PyeongChang, the International Olympic Committee’s coordination commission has left Korea “very confident” the city is prepared to welcome the world to the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

“Over the course of our three-day evaluation visit, PyeongChang’s readiness to host the Olympic Winter Games 2018 was highlighted,” said IOC coordination commission chair Gunilla Lindberg.

“We saw first-hand the advances that have been made on venues and infrastructure, as well as heard updates on plans to further engage with Olympic fans.

“While details must continue to be refined in the coming months, it was evident that the organising committee is well on its way to delivering successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

With all permanent venues complete or nearing completion, in addition to focusing on operational readiness PyeongChang 2018 will now ramp up its promotional activities, with the second phase of ticket sales starting next week, and the Olympic Torch Relay set to begin in just over two months.

Both of these important programmes are expected to heighten media and public attention for the games, while rights-holders’ and partners’ campaigns showcasing the event will also start to get underway.

The president of the PyeongChang 2018 organising committee, Lee Hee-beom, commented: “We are now just 162 days away from the start of the Olympic Winter Games and working to put the important finishing touches to the games.

“We are listening, and we are responding to all of our stakeholders and taking all the feedback and advice from the sessions this week.

“We want to make these the best winter games ever and showcase Korea to the world as a global leader in sports and as the new hub for winter sports in Asia.”

The commission also visited the Gangneung Olympic Village, which will house approximately 1,000 athletes during the games.

The commission members stopped off at another important legacy site when they visited the new high-speed train station at Jinbu.

Not only does the train serve as an additional transport option for those coming from Seoul for the Games, it will also connect Seoul to the Alpensia mountain region and Gangneung coastal areas for decades to come.

However, despite legacies being identified in the bid and different options being presented over the past seven years, the definitive legacy use for several venues is still outstanding.

Walsh leads delegate line-up at World Routes

Walsh leads delegate line-up at World Routes

Walsh leads delegate line-up at World Routes

Senior leaders from the aviation industry have signed on for the World Routes 2017 conference programme, including Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group.

The annual World Routes forum brings together airlines, airports and tourism authorities to plan and negotiate future air services.

It moves to a new location every year to shine a spotlight on different destinations across the globe.

The year’s event in Barcelona, from September 23rd-26th, has drawn some of the biggest names in aviation.

Walsh famously reached the top of the industry, running British Airways and Aer Lingus before taking up his current role at IAG.

Having recently launched IAG’s new low-cost airline Level from Barcelona El-Prat Airport, it will be an opportune time for him to talk about why the low cost, long-haul model will dominate the skies by 2020.

Other speakers include Skúli Mogensen, chief executive of Wow Air, Tewolde Gebremariam, chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines, and Giorgio Callegari, deputy chief executive of Aeroflot.

They will take part in a debate about route development in a world where disruptions such as fluctuating oil prices, rising nationalism and security issues are becoming the norm.

Other topics that will be explored during World Routes include air cargo development, working with the cruise industry to achieve growth, the ways that digital technology will reshape aviation by 2020 and the modernisation of aging airport infrastructure.

Steven Small, brand director, Routes said: “World Routes brings together the leaders who shape route development, direct the aviation industry, and help to shape and influence destinations.

“What better place to be involved in World Routes than Barcelona – one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.”

World Routes 2017 will be hosted by the government of Catalonia with support from Barcelona City Council.

Abu Dhabi sees strong rise in visitor numbers for July

Abu Dhabi sees strong rise in visitor numbers for July

Abu Dhabi sees strong rise in visitor numbers for July

Abu Dhabi achieved a four per cent increase in hotel guests last month, compared to July 2016, with almost 400,000 guests visiting the city.

The figure pushes the cumulative total for the first seven months of the year to over 2.6 million, maintaining a growth of seven per cent on the year, according to figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

The latest TCA Abu Dhabi report shows that 396,548 guests checked into the emirate’s 164 hotels and hotel apartments in July delivering 928,502 guest nights.

Hotel revenues for the month were AED 327 million (US $89 million) from a total of almost 33,000 available rooms.

All three regions of the emirate – Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and Al Dhafra – posted guest arrival increases on the back of strong domestic tourism visitors from within the UAE, with these 138,273 arrivals accounting for 35 per cent of all monthly visits.

Double-digit growth from key tier one markets of the UK and USA, up 28.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, reflect an upsurge in summer demand, with China’s phenomenal expansion continuing unabated, posting a monthly comparable increase of 87 per cent.

“The launch of a full programme of Abu Dhabi Summer Season events has helped underpin these figures,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“July’s growth in visitors from China, UK, and USA, and the month’s UAE visitor arrivals total of 138,000 is encouraging and compares favourably when adjusted to take into account the Eid A Fitr boost contained in the July 2016 figures.”

Guests from the UK remain strong, placing the market third, with 136,000 Britons arriving, reflecting a 5.5 per cent growth rate, with British guests continuing to be one of the longest stayers, staying on average, 3.7 nights.

Seguin to lead Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort

Seguin to lead Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort

Seguin to lead Outrigger Mauritius Beach ResortOutrigger Enterprises Group has appointed Franck Seguin general manager of the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, effective September 1st, 2017.

He will report to Outrigger president and chief executive Scott Dalecio.

Seguin brings to Outrigger more than 20 years of experience in hospitality, including senior resort management roles in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and North Africa.

Most recently, he was general manager of the Banyan Tree Takamaka in the Seychelles.

Seguin also knows Mauritius well, having been general manager of the Angsana Balaclava, a five-star suites and villas property, and the Intercontinental Balaclava, a 210-room hotel – both in Mauritius.

Apart from his native French, Seguin speaks English and conversational Spanish.

He has a bachelor’s degree in hotel and tourism management from the Vatel Business School in Lyon, France.

“It’s my pleasure to welcome Franck to Outrigger,” said Dalecio.

“With his in-depth Indian Ocean knowledge and international hotel experience, Franck will help us grow the already acclaimed reputation of the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort.”

InterContinental Ljubljana opens in Slovenian capital

InterContinental Ljubljana opens in Slovenian capital

InterContinental Ljubljana opens in Slovenian capital

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts continues its trailblazing heritage by opening the doors to InterContinental Ljubljana in Slovenia’s beguiling capital.

The city is one of the latest rising stars in a hot list of emerging destinations in eastern Europe.

Located in a modern 20-floor building in the centre of Ljubljana, the luxury InterContinental Ljubljana is just a short walk from the iconic Ljubljanica River, Park Tivoli and Ljubljana Castle.

The hotel has 165 guest rooms including 15 suites, most with panoramic views, and features contemporary interior design with sophisticated details reflecting Slovenian authenticity.

With its blend of culinary, design and cultural influences from neighbouring Austria, Italy and Croatia, Ljubljana sits in the heart of one of Europe’s most diverse countries.

The charming city centre is steeped in history, architecture and a hive of traditional and fusion cuisine, making it the ideal 48-hour city break for romantics and culture lovers alike.

InterContinental Ljubljana is perfectly placed to explore the city, from enjoying the local brda wine or trying the newest food markets, or to discover the neighbouring regions, from wine-tasting in the Vipava Valley, boating on Lake Bled, or skiing in the Triglav national park.

Tom Rowntree, vice president brand management, luxury & boutique brands, Europe, at InterContinental Hotels Group, commented: “InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has been pioneering luxury travel in emerging destinations around the world for more than 70 years, and InterContinental Ljubljana is a prime example of this.

“Slovenia is a country of rich diversity, fusing multiple European influences in its food, culture, design and landscape – InterContinental Ljubljana brings this together in one very sophisticated and stylish offering.”

InterContinental Ljubljana also features a bar, a patisserie, a spa with an indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, a spacious Club InterContinental lounge with a fireplace, and extensive meeting and banqueting space with capacities for up to 300 guests.

In addition, using its international know how and local insights, Club InterContinental offers an enhanced service with bespoke package experiences and rewards.

Modena by Fraser undergoes brand refresh

Modena by Fraser undergoes brand refresh

Modena by Fraser undergoes brand refresh

Frasers Hospitality is refreshing its Modena by Fraser serviced residence brand as part of its commitment to meeting the evolving needs of travellers through continuous innovation.

In conjunction with the first anniversary celebrations of Modena by Fraser Bangkok, Frasers Hospitality is rejuvenating the Modena by Fraser brand with an emphasis on simplicity, sustainability and holistic wellness in the creation of modern living spaces.

Combining functional home comforts with the convenience of state-of-the-art meeting facilities, Modena by Fraser appeals to guests seeking comprehensive amenities in a relaxed and simple environment.

Launched in 2010, the Modena by Fraser brand was created to offer affordable and stylish fully-serviced residences in fast-growing cities and it made its debut with the opening of Modena by Fraser Putuo Shanghai.

The successful launch of Modena by Fraser Putuo Shanghai was followed by four additional openings under the Modena by Fraser portfolio, including Modena by Fraser New District Wuxi and Modena by Fraser Zhuankou Wuhan in 2014, Modena by Fraser Bangkok in 2016, and Modena by Fraser Changsha in 2017.

At the heart of the revamped Modena by Fraser Brand is holistic wellness.

The service offerings are designed to help guests feel at home from the moment they arrive, allowing them to transition as smoothly as possible into their new ‘home’ so that they can focus on the task at hand.

One of the new features of the revamped Modena by Fraser brand is the provision of a carefully curated sleeping pack consisting of camomile tea, eye masks and a pillow menu, which has been specially developed to help guests feel relaxed and recharged for the day ahead.

Travellers can also unwind after a busy schedule through a diverse range of recreational amenities such as 24-hour gym, steam and sauna facilities and all-day dining options.

“As a growing global hospitality brand, we are committed to staying responsive to our guests’ travel needs by evolving with the changing consumer landscape.

“We recognise the pressures that travellers often experience in this fast-paced world, which is why Modena by Fraser has been designed to create a private sanctuary for our guests.

“To improve travellers’ quality of sleep, we have introduced a new sleep kit that includes a pillow menu, so that guests can feel prepared and recharged the next day.

“By focusing on simple, minimalist and intuitive design, the Modena by Fraser brand offers a solution that takes care of guests, the environment and the local community concurrently.

“We aim to raise awareness among today’s travellers about the positive experiences that indulging in simplicity creates for them,” Choe Peng Sum, chief executive of Frasers Hospitality said.

Qatar Airways adds new flights to Kathmandu, Nepal

Qatar Airways adds new flights to Kathmandu, Nepal

Qatar Airways adds new flights to Kathmandu, Nepal

Qatar Airways will add an additional daily flight on its Doha-Kathmandu route from September 1st, to meet high demand during Nepal’s festival season, which takes place every year in September and October.

The additional frequency will be served by an Airbus A320, departing Doha at 01:25 and arriving in Kathmandu at 08:55.

The added flight will accommodate passengers travelling to Nepal for its annual festival season, which features many large parades and outdoor fairs offering traditional Nepalese music and a colourful atmosphere.

Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is an expanding metropolis filled with ancient temples, beautiful walled gardens and many markets offering an assortment of local crafts, pieces of jewellery and traditional clothing.

Visitors to Kathmandu can spend the day wandering among the famed temples and relics of this ancient city, soaking up its atmosphere and enjoying an exhilarating feast for the senses.

Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to add an additional frequency to Kathmandu, in anticipation of increased demand for passengers travelling to Nepal for the festival season.

“This additional daily flight will allow our passengers even more opportunity to experience Kathmandu, a captivating city that draws travellers from all over the globe.”

With the additional daily flight starting on September 1st, Qatar Airways will offer four daily flights between Doha and Kathmandu, providing its passengers even more flexibility when travelling to Nepal.

The award-winning airline recently added additional flights to Colombo and Dhaka, to accommodate increased demand to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.