Armani Hotel Dubai: in the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building

15 May 2011

It’s not cheap to stay at Georgio Armani’s hotel in the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Rooms normally start at around $600 per night, and suites can cost many times that. The 160-room hotel, which is the designer’s first, reflects his minamalist style and offers stunning views of downtown Dubai. The Armani Hotel Dubai will be the first of many Armani and Emaar properties, with hotels and resorts planned for Milan, Marrakech, and Marassi.

The Armani Hotel Dubai is a truly unique experience, melding the eponymous fashion designer’s elegant, understated style with an extreme address in Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 2,716 feet. For his debut hotel, Giorgio Armani has dressed it in distinctive furnishings, fabric wallpaper and limestone floors.

Entering in the lobby, employees in Armani suits, seemingly recruited from modeling agencies, greet guests. They are struck by the lobby’s dramatic C-shaped leather sectional and Arabic-style arches — grandeur tempered by Armani’s signature subdued color palette — and by the absence of a check-in desk (that drudgery happens out of the public eye).

A host guides the guests to the rooms through futuristic zebrawood-paneled corridors trimmed with lights; the doors are flush with the walls and seem to float. In the 160 guestrooms, Armani’s familiar touch permeates every detail. Kingsize beds are wrapped tightly in checkered bedspreads like a birthday gift. The closets are intriguingly hidden behind panels, and the gently curving walls provide a subtly sophisticated reminder of the sky-high location.

A good cure for jet lag is the hotel’s outdoor pool and 12,000-square-foot spa on the third floor. It’s all a prelude to the on-site nightlife, which includes eight restaurants and a nightclub — at all of which fashion is (naturally) the theme. Global dance beats thump as videos of models in Armani play on a giant LED wall.

Elsewhere, hard-to-get Armani accessories are for sale at the hotel’s boutique, like watches and handbags from the Giorgio Armani Privé collection and an elegant selection of Italian sweets. Each of the restaurants dish out a different cuisine offering visitors a wide choice of culinary options that reflect the cosmopolitan nature of Dubai. Armani/Hashi presents a delectable take on traditional and modern cuisine and offers some of the best sushi in the city. Armani/Amal offers delightful Indian delicacies and a stunning view of the Dubai Fountain, which gives the city yet another superlative — the fountain is billed as the tallest performing one on earth.


Galaxy opens today in Macau!

15 May 2011

The Galaxy Macau, a multibillion-dollar casino resort complex, opened Sunday as Macau aims to draw a broader mix of visitors than the high-rolling mainland Chinese who have helped the city become the world’s most lucrative gambling market.

The casino, with 450 gambling tables and space for up to 1,500 slot machines, is the only one scheduled to open in the southern Chinese city this year. The $1.9 billion complex also boasts a 4,000-square meter wave pool and an artificial beach built with 350 tons of white sand. Guests can stay at three hotels, including one run by Singapore’s Banyan Tree and another by Japan’s Okura, with a total of 2,200 rooms.

Tropical and Japanese gardens, a Japanese tea pavilion, a Scottish-themed whiskey bar, 50 restaurants, a private members’ club and a shopping street are other draws. A nine-screen 3-D movie theater is to open later this year.

The launch of Macau’s 34th casino comes as the city seeks to diversify its economy away from gambling after years of searing growth that helped it overtake Las Vegas as the world’s top casino market.

Macau’s casino profits have been boosted by high-spending gamblers visiting from the Chinese mainland, many of whom travel on short junkets run by companies that lend them money to gamble and then collect debts once they return. The former Portuguese colony aims to develop cultural and entertainment attractions that can draw more middle-class families who will stay longer.

Macau’s economy has boomed since a four-decade casino monopoly was broken up in 2002, opening the way for U.S. and Australian operators to enter the market with local partners. Monthly casino revenues so far in 2011 have grown by at least 33 percent, after surging by more than half last year to $23.5 billion. The Las Vegas strip, in contrast, raked in $5.8 billion in revenue in 2010. Unlike Vegas, Macau has few attractions that don’t involve gambling.

“We are happy to follow the Macau government’s development strategy and build new momentum not driven by gaming culture,” said Galaxy Chairman Lui Che-woo, a Hong Kong-based billionaire who built his fortune on property and construction. The company expects a third of visitors to be high-rollers while the rest will be the so-called mass market, said Galaxy Vice Chairman Francis Lui, who is Lui Che-woo’s son.

Galaxy is hoping to attract visitors from other Asian countries such as Japan who will stay at least two days, half a day longer than average, Francis Lui said. The average length of stay for Las Vegas visitors is 3.6 days.

Francis Lui added that the casino has capacity to add another 150 gambling tables, depending on demand.

Galaxy Entertainment operates five other casinos in Macau, a special administrative region of China and the only place in the country where casinos are legal. It competes with market leader SJM Holdings Ltd., as well as Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.

Macau’s leaders have taken steps to prevent unrestrained casino expansion and encourage the city’s development as a tourist destination. The government last year announced it would withhold approval of new projects and cap the number of gambling tables until 2013. Last year, more than 80 percent of its 25 million visitors were from Hong Kong and mainland China.


Tips for better business travel: what can be done to make it more bearable?

15 May 2011

Here are some suggestions from wodani.wordpress.com staff and our favourite frequent fliers. And, if you think we’ve missed any useful tricks, email us with your own top travel tips at fma@mtm-t.com

  • Pre-book your seats, print and keep the confirmation as online booking systems can fail, leaving you in the enviable position to prove you are on the flight and in the right seat.
  • Ask for a specific seat when checking in. Make a note from past travels on a route or use seatguru.com to identify the best seat: even the best business or first class seats can vary by being close to or far from galleys, toilets or even other seats.
  • Bring with you your favorite ear-plugs. Sometimes the quality provided in the plane is poor or are missing from the pouch given to travelers. If you forget it, do not hesitate to ask to the flight attendant. Reducing the noise of the plane, especially during long-haul flights, helps to relax and reduce the stress.
  • Check the rules for bringing in telecoms equipment such as a personal VPN device as some countries place restrictions on their ‘import’.
  • Never put your laptop in your hold luggage, even if you’re not using it during your flight. The tender ministrations of the baggage handlers have dispatched more than one of my laptops to the great repair shop in the sky.
  • When you pack your hand luggage remember that your laptop will be X-rayed separately from your luggage in a plastic tray. Store it inside the hand luggage in a way that will be easy to take it out and in again fast. People queuing the security check behind you will not appreciate you slowing down the procedures.
  • Get a big wallet that takes passport, tickets and receipts all together in one place.
  • When you board the plane at the boarding counter you will get the boarding pass tag that indicates all you flight details as your name, seat number and flight number. Do not forget to hold it in your hand when you enter the plane and show to the flight attendant welcoming you. She/he is entitled to verify you have it with you and showing it at the boarding will avoid delays.
  • When you board do not forget to check your seat number. You will go directly to the right place avoiding delays and mostly to go up and down during boarding.
  • Keep the boarding tag with you during the flight, better in your passport. It will be useful when you will fill the immigration form that usually ask for your flight number.
  • When you get out of the plane and you pass through the immigration counter, the officer can ask you the boarding pass tag. Keep it inside your passport when you arrive to your seat after boarding.
  • Buy a light travel bag that holds a change of clothes, laptop, charger, phone, pen, paper and has a handle, shoulder and backpack straps.
  • Take your own Ethernet cable with you – plenty of hotels now have ports for broadband but either run out of cables or other guests have broken them.
  • Carry a couple of USB memory sticks because half the time you won’t be able to connect your laptop to whatever projection system you’re using and the only way to show off that vital presentation will be to stick the USB stick into the system’s USB port.
  •  Pack paper and pen – they have a longer battery life than your laptop and are more multi-functional.
  • Always carry some cash: Euro, Sterling or US dollars
  • Don’t carry more than you need (spares, extra clothes etc), buy replacement/extra items at an airport.
  • I usually carry a variety of metal things in my jacket pockets – pens, keys, coins, phone, memory stick, spectacles/cases, calculator (in wallet), business card case, etc – and I have found that, when going through airport security, it is easier and much quicker for me to take my jacket off and put in on the conveyor belt of the X-ray machine, than it is for me to try and remember to take everything out of all the jacket pockets into a silly little plastic tray, and then put them all back again.
  • Stay healthy. Would you really eat peanuts and crisps, drink wine, have chocolate and drink coffee all day at the office? OK – so maybe you would. But on a plane, you need to keep hydrated to avoid getting tired. Take water and perhaps some fruit – and avoid coffee and alcohol.
  • Take your own bottle of water on the plane. Even in business class they never come round with the drinks enough and it’s too easy to get dehydrated.
  • Always eat before – and not during – a long-haul flight.
  • If you travel a lot on the same route, you begin to realize the food rotates around a limited menu. Pretending to be a vegan or having other dietary requirements from time to time gives you a bit of variety.
  • Move to the destination time zone as soon as you take off. Once there, live to that time zone immediately – even if this means going to sleep three hours sooner or later than you want to.
  • I find that a pair of Bose Quietcomfort headphones and two little bottles of red wine usually do the trick for long flights!
  • Try to avoid working when you are travelling – the whole experience is bad enough without adding to the stress by having to complete your presentation before you land. Use the time to catch up on leisure reading and movies.
  • Transiting four or five time zones in quick succession can be really confusing. To avoid expensive mistakes I wear two wristwatches – one is set to my home time and one to local time. This not only helps me manage my body clock, it avoids common mode failures of a single battery watch!
  • Avoid going to the toilet before passport control when arriving by plane – there’s almost always a worse queue when you get out and you might as well go whilst waiting for your luggage (if you’ve decided not to travel with hand luggage only, which is always a quicker option).
  • In strange cities, if you can find out how best to get from the airport to your destination before you leave and the rough cost and time, everything will run a lot more smoothly.
  • Two consecutive nights in the same hotel is a chance to get some laundry done – so less clothes you need to pack in the first place.
  • Never be the last or first to leave an evening gathering in a hotel bar.
  • If your company isn’t on a good roaming deal or even an automatic partner network deal, before you visit a country do some homework on roaming fees relative to each mobile network in that country. Some can be a lot more expensive than others and at the other end you can choose the cheaper network manually.
  • If you aren’t yet a Skype subscriber then think about becoming one. In some countries, using VoIP in the hotel lobby or a wi-fi zone can save you a small fortune in mobile phone roaming charges. Don’t forget to pack your headset.
  • Pinch a few little pots of shampoo from a hotel and next time you are at home fill them with your own preferred shampoo etc.
  • When returning from a transatlantic journey, have a short sleep on the flight but stay awake until your usual bedtime. I find this helps reduce jet lag.
  •  The most effective way to avoid travel problems is to stay at home. Is your trip really necessary? One sets out optimistically but only rarely does the journey fail to disappoint. Most travel is damaging to the environment. Go for a walk or a bike ride instead.

Galaxy Macau™ to open on 15 May 2011

8 May 2011

15th May 2011 – Grand opening for Hotel Galaxy Macau.

Eagerly awaited destination resort projected to be a major attraction for millions of Macau visitors every year

Galaxy Entertainment Group announced that Galaxy Macau, the newest and most eagerly anticipated integrated destination resort in the Cotai entertainment area, will open on 15 May, starting the countdown toward Macau’s biggest opening for 2011.

Over 97% of Macau’s almost 25 million visitors in 2010 were from Asia, according to Macau Government Tourist Office statistics. Visitors from mainland China and Hong Kong, which are considered the primary feeder markets in the immediate term, together totaled 22 million or 81% in 2010.

Accommodation at Galaxy Macau will be provided by three iconic Asian hotel brands: It will include the 250 suites and 10 floating villas of the Banyan Tree Macau; the 500-room Hotel Okura Macau; and the 1,500-room Galaxy Hotel, which will become GEG’s flagship Cotai hotel. The three hotels will be available to guests on the opening day. Galaxy Macau also marks the entry into the Macau market for both the Singapore-based Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts and Okura Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Japan’s most prominent hotel company.

Banyan Tree also brings with it the first Banyan Tree Spa in the Pearl River Delta. At 2,800 square meters, the Banyan Tree Spa Macau – the biggest in the Banyan Tree group – will include 21 treatment rooms as well as a private spa floor for its hotel guests.

Of the more than 50 restaurants and bars found at Galaxy Macau™ a number of them are attractions in their own right. Here the exquisite tastes of Japanese Kaiseki contend with Michelin recommended Cantonese offerings. Just across the gardens and around the corner guests can enjoy the best Korean barbecue to be found outside of Seoul. These are only but to name a few of the treats awaiting our guests.

At a total investment of HK$14.9 billion, the 550,000-square-meter Galaxy Macau is the first truly integrated resort property of its kind because it is the only one in Macau with real resort features. Most prominent of these is the property’s spectacular 52,000-square-meter Grand Resort Deck, where a 350-ton white sand beach frames the 4,000-square-meter Skytop Wave Pool – the world’s largest of its kind – generating waves that will reach as high as 1.5 meters. Several pools, tropical and Japanese gardens, a traditional Japanese tea pavilion and private cabanas will dot the Grand Resort Deck area, making it perfect for private and corporate functions.

Upon opening Galaxy Macau will feature more than 50 international dining outlets. True to its focus on providing an authentic Asian resort experience, more than half of them will serve Asian cuisines, making it the widest such selection in Macau under one roof. The selection makes it possible for visitors to eat at Galaxy Macau once a week for a year and never eat at the same restaurant twice.

Rounding out Galaxy Macau’s resort offering will be extensive in-house entertainment across multiple live stages and clubs including the ultra-exclusive China Rouge, a hybrid private membership club, performance theatre, bar and restaurant conceptualized by renowned Hong Kong designer Alan Chan to evoke a modern vision of 1930s Shanghai. It is anticipated that China Rouge will instantly become one of the trendiest nightspots in Macau, drawing discerning clientele from around the region. Of particular note, Galaxy Macau is proud to announce its plans for a 9-screen, 3D, multi-function cinema theatre to follow later this year. Open to Galaxy Macau guests and the local community, the theatre will be state-of-the-art and the first of its kind in Macau. The property will also feature a retail boulevard offering a unique shopping experience of Asian as well as international brands.

Banyan Tree Macau

The world-renowned Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts brings its exquisite “Sanctuary for the Senses” philosophy to the Galaxy Macau™. Taking its name from the strong and graceful banyan tree—a centuries-old symbol under which one finds peace of mind and internal harmony—Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts is consistently listed among the top hotels of Asia.

Banyan Tree Macau is an exclusive resort comprising 250 suites and 10 pool villas. It is the first high-rise urban resort in the world to feature private indoor relaxation pools in all of its expansive suites, and the only luxury hotel in Macau with full-sized resort villas amidst private gardens with a private swimming pool.

Each opulent suite and villa is a tribute to Oriental design, with high ceilings and ornate furnishings, complemented by auspicious vermillion red accents.

All guests receive a myriad of top-of-the-line comforts, including LCD TV, stereo system, mini safe, mini bar, bathrobes and turndown service in the evenings. Villa guests can also enjoy Banyan Tree’s famed Asian hospitality through a dedicated butler service provided by the exclusively appointed Resort Host.

Hotel Okura Macau

The legendary Okura Hotels & Resorts brings its signature blend of modern comfort and tradition to the Galaxy Macau™, providing a distinctly Japanese interpretation of “World Class, Asian Heart” hospitality for guests at this spectacular resort. Leisure and business travelers at Hotel Okura Macau can choose from opulent suites or luxurious guest rooms that offer the highest-quality relaxation through Okura’s harmonious combination of function and comfort. Okura was founded on the principle that its hotels must consistently offer the best accommodation, cuisine and service … a complete experience that visitors to Macau may now experience for the first time, only at Galaxy Macau.

Galaxy Hotel

The Galaxy Hotel’s 1,500 rooms and suites represent an evolution of resort accommodations. Luxurious and beautiful, these contemporary rooms offer five-star amenities throughout and stunning views that stretch to the city or water landscape. They also afford guests a level of deep comfort that conveys a kind of respect that only a host with true Asian Heart can present.

Banyan Tree SPA
The renowned award-winning Banyan Tree Spa offers a myriad of Asian health and beauty treatments and therapies as well as Banyan Tree Gallery products, which helping make the Galaxy Macau™ the most complete holiday destination in the city. Discover a Sanctuary for the Senses amidst more than 2,800 square meters of treatment rooms and facilities, staffed by gracious and professional therapists and framed by twin tropical pools. It’s World-Class relaxation delivered with Asian Heart only at Galaxy Macau.

Grand Resort Deck
The Galaxy Macau’s amazing Grand Resort Deck makes it Macau’s first true resort, offering guests all the pleasures of a tropical holiday. Swim in the world’s largest skytop wave pool, build a sandcastle, or simply pull up a lounge chair and sunbathe along 150 meters of shoreline.


AirAsia is named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline @ 2010 World Airline Awards

7 May 2011

AirAsia was named the winner of the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Award at the 2010 World Airline Awards – the Passenger’s Choice awards

© Skytrax All rights reserved

AirAsia has picked up two different Awards at the 2010 World Airline Awards in Hamburg. For the second year running, AirAsia was was named winner of the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline award. AirAsia also picked up the Award for Best Low-Cost Airline Asia.

Commenting on the awards received by AirAsia, Skytrax Chairman, Mr Edward Plaisted said : “this is a fantastic achievement for AirAsia to be here collecting the award as World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the second year running. They are clearly meeting and exceeding their customer’s expectations to have been named winner of this outstanding, global recognition. The awards represent a true recognition of the front-line product and service that AirAsia is delivering to it’s customers, and the branding as the Passenger’s Choice awards underlines the fact that AirAsia are succeeding in satisfying the hardest critics – their users.”


Airplane “Toiletiquette”: let’s follow 20 simple suggestions during flight

7 May 2011

I’m sitting on a plane penning this story right now. Ahh the beauty of in-flight internet connectivity. I’m two rows from the lavatories on the back of the plane, allowing me to view people’s airplane “toiletiquette”. Yes- there is such a thing. In tight quarters like an airplane, and the lavatories, it’s about courtesy for the fellow passenger entering after you.

Toiletiquette. In collaboration with my awesome flight crew, we’ve assembled some tips!

1. Learn where the door knob is  (I know, this is amazing to me as well, but the crew says it’s a crisis)
2. Don’t slam door upon entry and exit
3. Open the door slowly for those standing in queue
4. Don’t pull or knock crazily when you see the door is marked “occupied”
5. Lock the door! If you are inside (apparently this happens on every flight)
6. Once you’re inside, Men, please lift the toilet seat up to well, you know… do #1
7. Always close the toilet lid when you are finished
8. Just a hygiene tip, Ladies, squat over the seat, don’t sit on the seat… seriously, you’ll thank me
9. Wash your hands and I even use my hand sanitizer once I get back into my seat as well
10. Don’t throw your towels onto the sink area and leave it dirty for the next person. Use the trash
11. Don’t use the toilet seat cover area for a trash can
12. Let the crew know if there is a lack of toilet paper, hand towels, soap
13. Parents: use the bathroom to change your baby… do not do in the cabin! Request a changing table from the crew
14. DO NOT THROW DIAPERS or poopy towels in the toilet. Use the trash
15. Toilet = toilet paper only
16. And on that same note: Ask for plastic poopy zip-lock bags the crew has for dirty diapers
17. If you brush your teeth:
A. Don’t use the airplane’s water from the sink- Use bottled  water only
B. Please wipe down the sink once you’ve spit out the toothpaste from your mouth
18. Don’t hold up the bathroom for your personal use of changing, make-up and hair, overall primping
19. Always wear shoes into the bathroom, as many many times there is urine on the floor among other things
20. Use these tips and you’ll have the best “toiletiquette”!


Qatar Airways wins award for World’s Best Business Class at 2010 World Airline Awards

7 May 2011

Qatar Airways was named the winner of the World’s Best Business Class Award at the 2010 World Airline Awards, that took place in Hamburg.

© Skytrax All rights reserved

Qatar Airways was also named among the top three airlines in the world at the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2010.

The honour was among several awards that the airline collected at a ceremony in Hamburg. Qatar Airways global ranking among more than 200 international airlines rose to number three in the world – up from fourth spot last year, further cementing its stature as a world leading airline.

Qatar Airways took the World’s Best Business Class award in one of the most hotly contested categories. The airline’s Business Class catering was recognised separately as the best in the world.

The airline also took the title for Best Airline in the Middle East for a fifth consecutive year, emphasising Qatar Airways’ competitiveness and dominance in a region boasting several world-class airlines.

Qatar Airways also became the first airline to receive the Staff Service Excellence Award for the Middle East. The new award replaces the Best Cabin Staff in the Middle East category, which Qatar Airways has won for the past seven years. The expanded category now includes airline staff at all passenger touch points, including onboard, reservations, check-in and airport personnel. 

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