St Regis Hotels and Resorts Hosts Fifth Annual St Regis International Polo Cup

The 5th Annual St. Regis International Cup (SRIC) was held between polo teams from England and the USA at Cowdray Park Polo Club, in Midhurst, UK, on May 19, 2012.

The tournament saw England win the first international test match of the season by defeating the USA, with the two countries competing against each other for the first time in fifteen years. St Regis Hotels and Resorts, a subsidiary of US-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, sponsored the commemorative Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, in a partnership with American Express, a US-based financial services company that provides debit and credit cards.

Paul James, the global brand leader for St Regis and The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, said, ‘With the Diamond Jubilee followed by a summer of sports in London, this is the perfect time to celebrate the long-standing heritage of polo in England with this year’s St. Regis International Cup. Polo is an innate part of the St. Regis legacy; and in the past five years, it has been exciting to see this time-honoured social tradition continue to manifest in the UK and around the world among a new generation of affluent travellers.’

The St Regis hotel brand is expanding its polo presence in a number of destinations worldwide, by sponsoring polo matches and events in the United States, Bangkok, Singapore, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, in addition to hosting The St Regis International Polo Cup in England.

St Regis is currently offering a New Grand Tour itinerary for leisure travellers in search of luxurious experiences, and owns properties in a range of travel destinations including Aspen, and Bal Harbour, in the US, Shenzhen, in China and Abu Dhabi, in the UAE; with new resorts soon to open in Amman, Jordan, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lijiang and Zhuhai in China and New Delhi in India.

 

June 2012 Travel Bookings Indicate Growth in Travel Industry

Holiday Extras, a UK-based travel company offering pre-booked hotels and airport parking, has reported a 47 percent increase in airport parking bookings for June 2012, compared to figures achieved in the same period last year.

On April 30 this year, the company registered a record number of parking bookings through its website and through its customer service centre, a 6 percent increase from its previous record number of parking bookings made on April 3, this year.

The increase in parking bookings is thought to indicate a growth in travel bookings in general, and an upward trend in the travel industry. The figures also appear to indicate that vacationing is still a major priority for residents in the UK, despite the financial uncertainty brought about by the credit crunch.

However, the parking bookings do also infer a bargain hunting instinct among holidaymakers, as they aim to pre-book airport parking space to save money. The new survey results show that pre-booking airport parking slots often results in major savings of as much as 60 percent.

Matthew Pack, the company chief executive officer, said, ‘Early figures show that the Olympics are not stopping people booking their holidays for this summer. Holidaymakers are fighting the mood of austerity, which is really positive news for the travel industry.’

There are around 100 different car parks available for booking parking slots in advance, at around 26 airports in the UK. Parking slots are predictably most expensive around the major airports, including Birmingham, East Midlands, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted.

New Radisson Blu Resort Tsinandali to Open in Georgia

A new Radisson Blu Resort is scheduled to open in Tsinandali, Georgia, in 2014, according to an announcement by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, a hotel group formed by US-based Carlson and Belgium-based Rezidor Hotel Group.

The Radisson Blu Resort, Tsinandali, will feature 100 rooms and is part of the Tsinandali estate. It will be developed by Silk Road Group, a Switzerland based company.

George Ramishvili, the Silk Road Group company chairman, said, ‘We are happy that Rezidor partners with us to build an exclusive spa resort in Tsinandali. We will offer visitors a luxury experience of Georgia’s stunning nature, generous hospitality and its rich heritage of winemaking.’

The new hotel will include 100 rooms, a specialty restaurant, a lounge, cigar and pool bars, an original wine cellar, and extensive spa facilities including treatment rooms, a gym, a relaxation area, and an infinity swimming pool.

Kurt Ritter, the company president and chief executive officer for Rezidor, said, ‘We are delighted to add a rare vintage to our growing collection of contemporary resorts.’

19th century vineyards and gardens bound the Radisson Blu Resort, Tsinandali, and the Tsinandali estate includes two museums, one dedicated to the poet Prince Alexander Chavchavdze, and the second dedicated to Georgian wine and gastronomy. The estate is of historical significance, and is said to be a sought-after venue for corporate events, conferences, cultural programmes, and weddings.

The new hotel will be the third Radisson Blu property in Georgia, after the Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel in Tbilisi, and the Radisson Blu Hotel, Batumi.

 

UK Residents Prefer US Destinations for Bargain Holidays

British visitors are showing a growing preference for visiting destinations in the US, as a stronger pound makes bargain holidays in the States more lucrative.

Dealchecker, a UK-based company offering a flight, accommodation, holiday and car hire price comparison service, has reported that UK tourists are looking to America for bargain travel offers, as poor weather in England urges increased numbers to look outside the country for their vacation requirements.

There has been a marked increase in searches for flights to New York City and other US destinations in April 2012, compared to figures for February 2012.

In April 2012, 4.5 percent of searches on the company’s website have been for New York, compared to 2 percent in February 2012, representing an increase of 125 percent. Searches for destinations in the USA have increased from 12 percent of the site’s total in February 2012, to 17 percent in April 2012.

Mark Attwell, the company managing director, said, ‘We specialise in finding the best travel deals, and the rise in searches for the US shows that the country offers great value. New York is a vibrant and diverse city, where visitors can grab a hot dog and stroll Central Park for free, or experience some of the world’s best museums, events and shopping. Considering the strength of the pound and the poor weather across Europe and the UK this spring, it is no surprise that British people have started looking to New York, Florida and other US destinations for affordable and sunny holidays.’

April 2012 has been the coldest April since 1989 in the UK, and the wettest ever, driving travellers to look for sunnier and drier destinations for their vacation.

Hilton London Metropole Undergoes Remodelling

Hilton London Metropole Hotel, located close to Paddington Station, in London, has recently completed a GBP2.3 million transformation ahead of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The transformation includes the remodelling of the 354 bedrooms in the hotel’s Conference Wing, to create what Hilton claims are the largest ‘Double-Double’ rooms in London. The recent renovation is part of a three-year plan of multiple property remodelling that is currently underway worldwide for the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand of US-based hospitality company, Hilton Worldwide.

Avner On, the general manager of the Hilton London Metropole, said, ‘With space at a premium in the Capital, Hilton London Metropole prides itself on offering a room that rivals other London hotels by providing comfort, style and much needed additional square footage. The refurbishment of our Superior rooms marks the next stage in Hilton London Metropole’s continued refurbishment programme and the efforts to offer our meeting and conference delegates the best possible experience when staying with us.’

The remodelled Superior rooms are claimed to offer a contemporary design suitable for both business and leisure travellers, including a flexible working area, a relaxation corner, two queen beds, a sofa bed and two LCD TVs.

The hotel, reported to be the largest conference hotel in the UK, is offering a total of 1,054 bedrooms, as well as two restaurants, a sports bar and a cafe. The hotel also has two large conference rooms, with the capacity to host 1,500 people at each venue. The remodelling of the rooms will allow the hotel to offer modern accommodation for all kinds of events and conferences.

Sheffield is New UK Caravan Hotspot

Sheffield, a city and metropolitan borough in South Yorkshire, England, is the home of the largest percentage of caravan and motor home owners in the UK, according to a survey conducted by Safeguard UK, a company that provides insurance for caravan owners.

The company has reported that around 10 percent of its caravan insurance buyers are from South Yorkshire, more than from any other single area of the UK. Part of South Yorkshire is located within the Peak District National Park, and it is also relatively close to the Lake District, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, all of which are destinations known for their scenic landscapes.

For most caravan owners, ease of access to caravan parks is an important criterion when buying a caravan or a motor home. This could be why Sheffield is such a caravanning hotspot, as its location is within such easy reach of vast areas of northern England’s most picturesque destinations, and caravan sites abound. Sheffield is also within easy reach of several of the UK’s main motorways, including the M1 and M18, making it an ideal centre from which to explore the UK countryside.

The survey also highlighted that London residents are less likely to be attracted to the benefits of caravan ownership, due to a lack of proper parking facilities in the congested city limits.

Andy Leech, the head of Safeguard, said, ‘While the counties of Yorkshire have some of the nicest scenery in the UK, its residents are furthest from the coast so it’s likely that they use their caravan or motor home to travel to seaside resorts for breaks away from home. Residents in central London probably struggle to store a caravan or motor home as space is limited in the capital, so it’s no surprise that there is such little concentration of Safeguard customers in those areas.’

 

British Airways Introduces Flights from Gatwick to Las Vegas

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has announced a new route from London Gatwick Airport, in the UK, to Las Vegas, USA.

The  new, three times weekly service commences from October 29, 2012, and will be operated by a three-class Boeing 777 aircraft, which will feature fully flat beds for Club World cabin passengers.

The new route will add more alternates for travelling between London and Las Vegas, by supplementing an already existing service of 10 weekly flights between Heathrow Airport and Las Vegas Airport.

Colm Lacy, the airline head of commercial at Gatwick Airport, said, ‘Las Vegas has proved to be an incredibly popular year-round destination from Heathrow so we are delighted to now be able to offer the route from Gatwick as well. This is the kind of destination our leisure customers at Gatwick are looking for and it will complement our existing USA and long haul leisure network.’

The new route is open for advance bookings at the company website, ba.com. The airline is also offering exclusive holiday packages to its passengers flying on the new route, which also may be booked via the airline’s website.

The company is offering a three-night stay at a hotel in Las Vegas, commencing from GBP826 per person, inclusive of airfare. The holiday offers are currently available at the company website. Amongst the Las Vegas hotels included in the vacation offer are the three-star Riviera Hotel and Casino, and five-star hotels including The Venetian Resort Hotel, the Aria Resort and Casino, and The Wynn Resort Las Vegas.

 

London Heathrow Airport Announces Second Phase of Efficiency Trial

London Heathrow Airport has announced the commencement of the second phase of a trial to improve and control punctuality and flight delays at the airport from July 1, 2012. The trial will be running until the end of March 2013.

BAA LTD, owner and operator of six British airports, including Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with the UK Department of Transport, a UK government department, will conduct the second phase of the Operational Freedoms trial.

The first phase of the Operational Freedoms trial ran from November 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012. In this phase, the airport experimented with ways of using runways and airspace to work through disruptions affecting the airport operations. New measures implemented during this phase involved the use of both runways for arrivals or departures, instead of only one.

The Civil Aviation Authority has recently published results from the first phase of the trial, which includes improvements in punctuality, the lowering of emissions, and a reduction in the number of planes taxiing across runways. However, people living near to the airport have complained about an increase in sound pollution, and the authority has reported that detailed analysis is required to link the first phase of the trials to the increased sound levels.

Tim Hardy, the airside director for BAA, said, ‘This trial does not mean an increase in the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow. However, with Heathrow operating at full capacity, we need to look at ways to strengthen resilience, which will bring benefits to the local community through fewer late-running flights, to passengers by providing a more punctual service, and to the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions.’

 

Air Nigeria Commences Flights from Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport has announced a new service to Lagos, in Nigeria, with flights offered by Nigeria’s national carrier, Air Nigeria.

Air Nigeria is offering passengers a daily flight to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, from London Gatwick Airport, using an A330-200 aircraft. The service became operational as of May 17, 2012, and the airline has stated that its intention is to offer a unique onboard experience on its flights at affordable fares.

David Amurun, the country manager for Air Nigeria in UK, said, ‘Air Nigeria’s return to its long hub operations with a London-Lagos route is exciting news for passengers. After a successful turn-around of the airline over the last two years, the airline is now well positioned to compete favourably on the international market. Gatwick Airport has excellent links into London and the South East making it easily accessible for business and leisure travellers.’

The new route is expected to strengthen business and tourism relations between UK and Nigeria.

Guy Stephenson, the chief commercial officer of Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Air Nigeria and its passengers to the airport today. We expect this route to be very popular, not only for people wishing to meet up with friends and family, but also with businesses in London and the South East wanting to help strengthen trade and investment links between the two countries. Nigeria is the third fastest growing economy in the world and is important therefore that we continue to help broaden trade links with these growing markets.’

British Fliers Vote for Low Cost Flights for International Travel

Around 74 percent of travellers surveyed by Skyscanner, a UK-based flight search engine, have said that they would welcome low-cost no-frills airlines for travelling on long-haul routes.

British travellers are ready to give up on the amenities offered by regular airlines on long distance routes, in order to save on costs.

The survey has indicated that 48 percent of around 1,800 travellers polled are willing to give up on more personal space and legroom to travel on low-cost airlines for four hours or more. Around 30 percent of those polled are willing to fly low-cost for more than ten hours on a flight, the equivalent of a flight from Singapore to London.

The results also suggested that some travellers, around 22 percent, may opt to fly low-cost for more modest flying times of four to six hours, and go for traditional airlines with improved amenities when flying longer distances.

Travellers have also rated their indispensable long haul amenities, with 35 percent of them voting for an extra two inches of legroom when travelling on long haul flights, in addition to the legroom that is currently offered by low-cost airlines on their traditional routes, while 14 percent favoured in-flight entertainment, and 9 percent voted for the provision of food and refreshments. Around 18 percent of travellers surveyed stated that complimentary hold baggage on a long haul flight with a low-cost airline would be their preferred amenity.

The company travel editor, Sam Baldwin, said, ‘The results of this survey show there is a definite demand for low cost airlines to operate long haul routes – it appears people are more than happy to surrender some level of comfort in order to satisfy their taste for travel, as long as the price is right. In recent years, low cost airlines have started to introduce more mid haul routes, so it is not unfeasible that long haul routes could be next to be added.’