January 2015 Travel News & Alerts

01 January 2015
Embassy Closures for the Month of January

Please be informed that the following embassies will be closed in January on the specified dates:

All or Most Embassies: 1st January 2015

1. Australia Embassy: 26 January 2015

2. Brazil Embassy: 2nd January 2015

3. China Embassy: 2nd January 2015

4. Italy Embassy: 6th January 2015

5. Japan Embassy: 2nd January 2015

6. Thailand Embassy: 2nd January 2015

7. Malaysia Embassy: 2nd January 2015

8. New Zealand Embassy: 2nd January 2015

9. Poland Embassy: 6th January 2015

10. Russia Embassy: 1st – 11th January 2015

11. Serbia Embassy: 2nd January 2015

                              7th January 2015

12. Spain Embassy: 6th January 2015

13. United States of America Embassy: 19th January 2015

14. Vietnam Embassy: 2nd January 2015


No visa applications will be processed during this period.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Third InterContinental opens in West Jakarta

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group (IHG) has entered into a management agreement with Indonesia’s Ciputra Puri Trisula, part of Ciputra Property, to develop the third InterContinental property in the country.

Located in the CBD of West Jakarta, Puri Kembangan, the new development comprises the 200-room InterContinental Jakarta West and 150-key InterContinental Jakarta West Residences, which will be part of the 74,000m2 Ciputra International Complex owned by Ciputra Puri Trisula.

The hotel will feature F&B options such as an all-day diner, a deli, a specialty restaurant and a lobby lounge. For recreational facilities, guests at the hotel can go to the spa or club lounge, whilst those staying at the serviced apartments can enjoy the residents’ lounge or joint facilities such as the pool and health club.

Catering to business travellers as well, InterContinental Jakarta West will offer a ballroom, meeting spaces as well as a business centre.

The hotel is a short distance away from the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and its location at Jakarta Outer Ring Road provides quick access to core areas of the city.

InterContinental Jakarta West joins IHG’s plan of 29 properties in Indonesia over the next five years. There are four InterContinental properties in the pipeline that will be situated in Dago Pakar and Bali.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Daily flights to Tokyo on Dragonair

Dragonair will operate daily flights to Haneda commencing 29 March 2015. The new service will depart Hong Kong International Airport at 1810, arriving in the Japanese capital at 2330. The return flight will then leave Haneda at 0145, getting back into HKIA at 0530.

Dragonair will run alongside the current 49 weekly services to Tokyo operated by sister airline Cathay Pacific, including twice daily flights to Haneda.

Tokyo will become Dragonair’s third destination in Japan, following Fukuoka and Okinawa. All the new Haneda flights will be operated using the airline’s two-class Airbus A320.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

New Marriott in Foshan

Marriott International has opened its first hotel under the Marriott Hotels brand in Shunde district of Foshan in Guandong Province. 

The 258-room property joins the growing portfolio of 19 hotels in Greater China under the Marriott Hotel’s brand.

Located in the Midea Plaza that makes it become the tallest international five-star hotel in Shunde, Shunde Marriott Hotel is situated in the eastern Daling district with convenient transportation accessibility. It is only ten-minute drive to both Shunde Station of Guangzhou Railway and Shunde Port, 30 minutes to Guangzhou South Railway Station and 60 minutes to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Shunde, a district of Foshan located in the center of the Pearl River Delta, is a highly regarded and one of the most affluent counties in China.

The Shunde Marriott Hotel offers guestrooms featuring either the scenic view Shunfeng Mountain Park or the city skyline. Each room is equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. The executive rooms and suites are located on the 28th floor together with the Executive Lounge.

The Shunde Marriott Hotel has been conceptualized to meet the varied tastes of travellers. Shunde Marriott Hotel offers a 1,400-square meter pillar-less grand ballroom which is unparalleled in Shunde. It is dquipped with the largest LED display panel in town as well as a 500-square meter foyer complementing floor-to-ceiling windows, the grand ballroom is poised to become a popular choice of business and social events in Shunde. There are five meeting rooms with spaces ranging from 30 to 110 square meters, functions of different scales can be fitted.

The hotel features a range of wellness options for traveller with an indoor swimming pool, a 24-hour health center, plus a spa center with six treatment rooms. Indulgence has never looked or felt this good.

Marriott Hotels is known to be the first in the industry to roll out mobile check-in and checkout exclusively for Marriott Rewards members and this feature is available in the new property. Using the Marriott mobile app, Marriott Rewards members receive a push notification on their mobile devices alerting them that they can check-in and an automatic confirmation when their room is ready. At the end of their stays, guests receive a push notification alerting them that mobile checkout is available. The hotel also has a Greatroom lobby concept, featuring an open and flexible lobby space for guests to use for business with full access to technology from Wi-Fi to power points.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Qatar now flying to Amsterdam

Qatar Airways has revealed its first new destination in 2015, to the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, starting from June 16.= The Doha – Amsterdam route will operate with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, one of the latest next-generation aircraft in the airline’s fleet, offering 254 seats configured in two classes, with 22 fully-flat-bed seats in Business Class and 232 in Economy Class.

Flying non-stop, the total journey time between Doha and Amsterdam is six hours and 35 minutes.

The daily flights will be departing from Doha in the morning, arriving into Amsterdam in early afternoon, with return flights to Doha departing in the late afternoon. The schedule provides the convenience and flexibility for passengers to travel to the city for short leisure breaks or business meetings.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Hyatt to offer Free WiFi

Hyatt Hotels Corp will make Wi-Fi free at all hotels worldwide "regardless of booking method or loyalty program participation".

From February 2015, guests at Hyatt hotels in all tiers may access basic Wi-Fi in both guest rooms and public spaces at no charge on an unlimited number of devices.

Some Hyatt properties offer for a fee faster "premium Wi-Fi" service, which Hyatt Gold Passport members at the diamond or platinum tier also may access for free. Hyatt's announcement follows recent announcements by Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts that they next year would offer free Internet to travellers who book through their websites and mobile channels.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Digital passports for India by 2016

India plans to start issuing e-passports to its nationals by 2016, a top official has been quoted as saying.

The government is in the process of tendering for the new passports and orders in this regard have been issued, said Muktesh K Pardeshi, chief passport officer, Ministry of External Affairs.

Also known as Biometric or digital passports, these new passports will have a microprocessor chip embedded in it.

India, which attained the distinction of being the third largest passport issuing country after China and US last year by processing one crore applications, is aiming at 20 per cent growth this year, he said.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Fraser Hospitality breaks second-tier Chinese cities

FRASERS Hospitality is eyeing a bigger share of the China market with the addition of 10 more serviced residences in the second-tier cities of Tianjin, Nanchang, Hefei, Dalian, Kunming, Wuxi and Chengdu, and two more in the key cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Following the openings of Modena Zhuankou Wuhan and Modena New District Wuxi last year, the securing of these new serviced residences involve the addition of more than 2,400 new apartment units, almost doubling Frasers’ China portfolio to 26 properties in 14 key cities and second-tier cities.

This makes China one of the fastest-growing markets for Frasers Hospitality, which together with South Korea and Japan, currently make up one-third of its total revenue.

Frasers’ new additions in China will be across all of its three brands: Gold Standard serviced residences, Modena by Fraser serviced residences, and Capri by Fraser hotel residences.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

The Four Points by Sheraton in Seoul

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has signed its first Four Points by Sheraton hotel in South Korea.

The Four Points by Sheraton Seoul Namsan is scheduled to open in May 2015, in Seoul’s Yongsan-gu district.

Part of a mixed-used development, the 342-room Four Points will occupy floors 19 to 30 of a high-rise tower, which will also feature retail and office space. Hotel facilities will include a restaurant and bar plus fitness and meeting facilities.

The Four Points by Sheraton Seoul Namsan will join Starwood’s existing portfolio of seven properties in Korea, which currently includes W, Westin, Sheraton and Aloft hotels. It also has a further two hotels in the pipeline, under the Sheraton and Luxury Collection brands.

Four Points is now Starwood’s fastest growing brand, with a global pipeline of more than 50 new hotels.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

New Indian Airline - Vistara

On 9 January, Vistara’s inaugural flight, to Mumbai, took off from Terminal 3 of Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport for Mumbai's GVK Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Terminal 2.

Headquartered in New Delhi, Vistara will begin operations with its fleet of brand new Airbus A 320-200s and will soon announce the start of sales, routes and schedules, it stated.

Analysts expect Vistara’s entry to shake up the market and create strong demand from frequent-flying mid-level professionals for its various service options including the premium economy class. Vistara said it was the first full-service airline to introduce the service.

Vistara is also the first airline to offer a value-based frequent-flyer programme called Club Vistara, in which loyalty points are accrued based on actual spending on tickets rather than miles travelled.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

US Preclearance at Abu Dhabi Airport for all US-Bound Flights

From Thursday 15 January US preclearance will open for the early morning EY103 to New York JFK and EY183 to San Francisco flights, both of which conveniently connect with inbound services from Mumbai, Delhi and other cities in India and the Indian Subcontinent.

The new early morning US preclearance operation complements the mid-morning one which caters for Etihad Airways passengers on flights to Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Washington, D.C., who all proceed through the facility.

The preclearance process provides passengers with the unique opportunity to pass through all required checks including US customs, immigration and security conveniently while in Abu Dhabi before they board their flight to the US, enabling them to avoid queues on arrival.

Another key benefit of US preclearance is that baggage security screening meets United States TSA security standards, allowing air travellers who connect onto a US domestic flight to have their baggage checked through from Abu Dhabi to their final destination.

US preclearance at Abu Dhabi Airport is the only one of its kind in the Middle East, and the United Arab Emirates’ capital is one of a small group of airports around the world to offer passengers preclearance into the US.

During its first 12 months of operation, the US preclearance in Abu Dhabi has improved the passenger experience through the introduction of automated passport control (APC) kiosks and greater numbers of officer processing desks.

The self-service APC kiosks expedite the US entry process for American, Canadian, and eligible visa waiver program (VWP) international travellers, by providing an automated process through US preclearance’s primary inspection area.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Savour Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s flavours on Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific and mandarin Oriental Hotel Group are both globally recognized, home-grown Hong Kong brands that provide superior services to travellers around the world. To showcase the two brands’ Asian heritage and demonstrate their understanding of travellers’ needs Cathay Pacific and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group have come together to create a whole new food and beverage experience. The latest collaboration follows their successful partnership on the airline’s London route last year.

Cathay Pacific is now working with the top chefs from the Group’s hotels worldwide to bring a local touch to each menu. The newly designed menus are all seasonally inspired, with each chef expressing the culinary culture of the destinations they represent.

The new menus will be served throughout 2015 on a monthly basis. Each menu will incorporate seasonal produce, prepared and cooked in both contemporary and traditional ways – from the wizardry of molecular gastronomy to the patience of low and slow cooking.

In the first wave of menus offered, winter dishes by Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky, from Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and Executive Chef and Culinary Director Thierry Marx, from Mandarin Oriental, Paris, will be featured on flights from Hong Kong to London and Paris to Hong Kong, respectively, from 1 to 31 January. In February, passengers travelling from Hong Kong to Paris and New York to Hong Kong will be able to enjoy a selection of dishes created by Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky and Executive Chef Christian Pratsch, from Mandarin Oriental, New York, respectively.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Air France inaugurates La Première cabin

On 12 January, Air France has officially inaugurated its new premium cabin on its route to Singapore and Jakarta. The first class cabin was soft launched last September before it began operating on flight AF254, a B777-300ER, out of Charles De Gaulle.

The seats in the cabin feature a 79” fully flat bed with a 30” wide futon mattress that is manually installed by cabin crew on requests, and fully retractable armrests and a curtain divider to create the effect of a private cabin. Each guest has a personal 24-inch (61cm) HD touch screen, one of the largest ever seen on board, offering a totally new intuitive navigation experience on an exclusive graphic interface, inspired by the iPad and available in twelve languages. Movies, games, music, TV series, etc. Close to 1,000 hours of programmes on demand will soon be available.

Starting next month, the new cabin will be available on all of Air France’s daily flights to Singapore and Jakarta and from later this year on, services to New York, Dubai, Libreville and Yaoundé.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Hilton now at Munich Airport

On 7 January 2015, Hilton Hotels & Resorts opened its first hotel at Munich Airport in Germany. The 389 guest room property is the only hotel to provide direct access to the terminal building and establishes a Hilton Worldwide presence at more than 35 major airports across Europe.

Hilton Munich Airport boasts a full height glass atrium which contributes to its spacious public areas. Guests at the hotel benefit from a range of quality amenities including large scale state of the art conference and business facilities spread over 20 meeting rooms. The hotel is also undergoing a significant extension which will see 160 guest rooms added to the building in 2017.

Hilton Munich Airport offers a range of dining options, including local cuisine and international dishes served at Charles Lindbergh. Cocktails and snacks can be enjoyed in the stylish Nightflight Bar, while business and leisure guests wishing to keep fit away from home can take advantage of the hotel's fitness facilities which incorporates a 17 metre swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam bath and fitness area.

Munich Airport was voted third best airport (and number one in Europe) by passengers at the 2014 World Airport Awards. Its geographical location at the heart of the continent means it is well placed for passengers travelling to Germany or in transit to other destinations. Flughafen München GmbH originally developed the hotel in 1994 to enhance the quality and customer experience at Munich Airport and will commence the hotel extension following completion of the conversion under the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand.

Munich city has emerged as an important business and leisure destination, hosting events which include investment show ExpoReal and the popular annual Bavarian beer festival - Oktoberfest.


For further information please contact your travel manager.