Gathy to lead development of Amaala Island

Internationally renowned French-Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy has been appointed as master planner for Amaala Island, part of an ultra-luxury destination taking shape on the north western coastline of Saudi Arabia.

Principal designer of Denniston, Gathy said: “The Island development will be an immersive and interactive art-inspired jewel.

“Its lifestyle components, its landscaping, the museums, and art installations together with the art community will transform this island into the diamond of the Red Sea.

“It will feature many different venues for permanent installations or temporary exhibitions and artistic performances.

“The graphic layout of its spine will be distinctive from the air and will be recognised internationally as an iconic landmark.

“The project features all elements programmed and reflects the areas, numbers and facilities.

“This is truly unique, nothing like it has ever been planned before.”

Representing one of Amaala’s trio of communities, the Island will be the tranquil home of an exclusive art community, and an Arabic botanical garden filled with sculptural pieces.

The Island will house masterpieces across four key design elements: a contemporary art museum and academy, a Riviera-lifestyle artists’ colony, immersive artistic experiences and art and sculpture co-creation opportunities.

Chief executive of Amaala, Nicholas Naples, said: “Amaala carves a unique positioning within the global hospitality portfolio, catering to select travellers looking for innovative experiential escapes.

“Our ambition is to create personalised experiences, catering to the individual needs of each guest.

“Entrenched in the philosophies of art, wellness, and inspired by the purity of the Red Sea, we are excited to be working alongside Jean-Michel Gathy and Denniston to bring to life our vision for the Island.

“It is here where our guests will embark on a transformational journey and feed the soul through arts and cultural offerings, with opportunities for philanthropic art co-creation.”

The active community of the Island will be anchored by an artists’ village of working studios, artisanal shops, galleries, plus exhibition and performance facilities hosting a year-round calendar of immersive, and transformative works, representing the pillar of arts and culture.

Fully aligned with Saudi Arabia’s ambitions for the future, the development of Amaala is being rolled out across three key phases, with completion of the destination aimed for ahead of the realisation of Saudi Vision 2030.

Designed to evolve and elevate the very best in travel, Amaala is located along Saudi Arabia’s northwest coast.

It is an ultra-luxury destination that focuses on curating transformative personal journeys inspired by arts, wellness and the purity of the Red Sea.

Set in the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nature Reserve across three unique communities, the 3,800-square kilometres year-round destination will include 2,500 hotel keys and more than 800 residential villas, apartments and estate homes, alongside 200 high-end retail establishments, fine dining, wellness and recreation.

It will house three distinct offerings.

Triple Bay will offer a fully holistic wellness retreat, state-of-the-art diagnostic medical facilities and authentic treatments designed to feature the local environment.

Triple Bay will also be home to a fully integrated sports and entertainment community.

The Coastal Development is set to become the defining hub of contemporary art in the Middle East, playing host to a dynamic programme of exciting events from the global arts and cultural calendar.

The Island will be the tranquil home of an exclusive art community, and an Arabic botanical garden complemented by a collection of sculptural pieces.

Take a closer look at Breaking Travel News explores the development here.

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European Union to act over coronavirus ghost flights

Officials at the European Union are seeking to offer struggling airlines a lifeline by suspending rules forcing them to run almost empty planes in order to keep prized landing slots.

Under the EU airport regulations, carriers are subject to a ‘use it or lose it’ rule.

They are required to operate 80 per cent of the flights in an allocated slot, or face losing the automatic right to it in future seasons.

As airlines battle collapsing demand in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has mooted suspending the rule.

The proposed measure will help both the European industry and the environment, she explained.

von der Leyen added: “It will release pressure on the whole aviation industry and in particular on smaller airline companies and also decrease emissions by avoiding so-called ‘ghost flights’ where airlines fly almost empty aircraft simply to keep their slots.”

The measure is expected to allow airlines to adjust their capacity in view of the falling demand caused by the outbreak.

“Given the urgency, the commission will in due course present a legislative proposal and calls on the European parliament and the council to swiftly adopt this measure in co-decision procedure,” von der Leyen added.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, welcomed the move.

He added: “As with airlines around the world, the impact of Covid-19 on our bookings has been significant and requires a swift response, which the transport secretary has recognised.

“This is a positive step, but we urgently expect detail of these measures, and confirmation that alleviation will apply to all markets for the full summer season.

“Prompt publishing of the legislation will allow the UK slot co-ordinator to act, enabling Virgin Atlantic and other airlines to operate schedules more efficiently and avoid flying almost empty planes for the sake of retaining valuable slots, which in turn creates unnecessary carbon emissions.”


Nick Wyatt, head travel and tourism at analytics firm GlobalData, branded the current situation “absurd”.

“The practice flies in the face of government green initiatives across Europe, unnecessarily burning fuel and creating carbon emissions,” he continued.

“The commission needs to act so van der Leyen’s statement is welcome news.

“Emissions created by these flights can be erased altogether and associated fuel cost savings will also be warmly welcomed by airlines at this extremely trying time.

“This practice is a result of necessity rather than choice.

“Slots can change hands for great sums of money in the secondary market, so it is perfectly understandable that airlines are protecting them.

“Airlines have been targeted by environmental protesters, sometimes with merit, but here, they need a helping hand from the authorities.

“The signs are promising but we now need to see clear action from Brussels.”

Image: Etienne Ansotte/DPA/PA Images

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Kempinski to rebrand two Schloss hotels in Europe

The 12.18. Group is expanding its strategic partnership with Kempinski Hotels.

As part of the deal, the Schloss Roxburghe in Scotland and the Schloss Fleesensee in the heart of the Mecklenburg Lake District will operate as Schloss Fleesensee Kempinski and Schloss Roxburghe Kempinski.

The hotels will remain in the ownership of the 12.18. Group; management and operation will also be carried out by 12.18. Hotel Management, based in Berlin.

The rebranding of the hotels will be implemented over the next few months.

Kai Richter, managing partner of 12.18. Group, said: “The brand Schloss stands for historical charm with extraordinary design in the midst of breath-taking nature.

“We are proud to manage our hotels in the future as Schloss Roxburghe Kempinski and Schloss Fleesensee Kempinski.”

Located within the striking natural landscape of the Scottish Borders, an hour from Edinburgh and Newcastle, this recently transformed historic manor house of Schloss Roxburghe Kempinski comprises 20 rooms with Scottish inspired interiors, a welcoming bar and a restaurant serving Scottish cuisine with a French twist.

A championship golf course and a comprehensive range of sporting pursuits from clay pigeon shooting to tomahawk throwing and fly fishing completes the offering.

Formerly owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, the hotel, the golf club and parts of the associated estates have been part of the portfolio of 12.18. Investment Management since 2018.

The Schloss Fleesensee on the Mecklenburg Lake District has been part of the portfolio of the Düsseldorf-based company since 2014 and has been extensively revitalised over the past few years.

The 179-room hotel, which also includes five golf courses, received the German Design Award for this work.

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Address Jumeirah Resort on schedule to open later this year

Address Jumeirah Resort has announced the structural completion of its two 310-meter towers.

The topping out of the two towers marks the first key turning point towards the completion of the project, which is due to be unveiled toward the end of the year.

The 77 double-height levels were completed in just 799 days – an average of three levels completed per month.

The resort is now in an interior fit-out phase and in the final structural topping out of the 310-metre high sky bridge, which will link the two skyscrapers at the very top.

The sky bridge will feature an infinity pool, once completed, boasting the distinction of the highest infinity pool in the world.

The 443 fully furnished and serviced apartments and 478 unfurnished residential apartments offer living areas, and are fitted with branded fittings.

The apartments will offer its residents views of the Arabian Gulf, the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye) and direct beach access.

In addition, residents will also enjoy signature Address services and the Spa at Address facilities, multiple pools for adults and families, a fitness centre on the 75th floor, Qix Club for children, world-class food and beverage outlets, gentlemen and ladies hair salons and high-end retail outlets, including fine jewellery.

Additional services will include a 24-hour concierge, weekly cleaning and maintenance, in-room dining services and a U by Emaar Silver Card membership.

Looking ahead to completion, which is on track to coincide with the launch of Expo 2020, Emaar Hospitality Group have also announced key restaurant and retail spaces within Address Jumeirah Resort.

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Northern Italy off limits to British travellers

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has begun to advise against “all but essential” travel to a number of regions in northern Italy.

The move comes in response to various control and isolation measures imposed by the Italian authorities over the weekend.

The Lombardy region – which includes the cities of Milan, Bergamo and Como – and the provinces of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini (all in Emilia Romagna) are all to be avoided.

At the same time, British travellers are advised against visiting Pesaro e Urbino (in Marche); Alessandria, Asti, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and Vercelli (all in Piemonte); and Padova, Treviso and Venice (in Veneto).

British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction.

Residents of other parts of Italy are permitted to leave the isolation areas to return home.

Otherwise entry into and exit from the quarantined areas is forbidden without official permission on the grounds of strict necessity.

Authorities have confirmed that this will be granted for reasons such as medical need or work requirements.

Italy has been among the hardest hit countries by coronavirus outside of China.

The number of cases jumped to 7,375 over the weekend, while there have been 366 fatalities to date.

Additional restrictions to combat the virus include the closure of museums, cultural institutions and the suspension of all public gatherings, social events including pubs, nightclubs and games halls.

Religious ceremonies and funerals are suspended.

Ski facilities in the affected mountain areas are closed.

Across the whole of Italy, museums and cultural institutions are closed and all sporting fixtures must be played behind closed doors.

Childcare facilities, schools and universities are closed until March 15th.

Public and social gatherings should be avoided with cinemas, pubs and clubs closed.


Responding the decision, ABTA suggested holidaymakers should avoid the regions.

“Customers who are imminently due to travel on package holidays which include the named locations should be offered alternative arrangements by their travel provider.

“If no suitable alternatives are available, package holiday customers should be offered a full refund,” explained a statement.

“Customers who have booked their flights and accommodation directly should speak to their airline and accommodation provider to discuss their options.

“They should also check their travel insurance to see if this will cover any additional costs.

“Customers currently in the named locations should contact their travel provider to discuss their options and follow the instructions of local authorities and local public health advice.”

Image:  Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

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Philippines seeks to mitigate coronavirus impact

Philippines minister of tourism, Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, has unveiled a series of measures to combat falling revenues in the sector in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Authorities have banned non-Filipino travellers arriving from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

The decision is expected to cost the country around $850 million Romulo-Puyat explained.

In response, the Philippines will invest $9 million in a new domestic travel campaign designed to boost tourism demand.

There will also be $1.7 million for industry staff training to prepare for the virus.

Romulo-Puyat added that, while foreign arrivals grew by nearly ten per cent in January, the figure collapsed 42 per cent to 418,128 in February.

Hotel occupancy rates in Boracay and Bohol plunged by 40 per cent, and other prime destinations such as Cebu and Manila are also suffering from reduced occupancy.

In a further attempt to slow the spread, the department of tourism has cancelled a shopping festival which was scheduled to take place from until March 31st.

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