On the Ground: A uniformed Singapore Airlines bellman greeted me as I arrived at the first-class curbside drop-off at Changi Airport. He whisked my bags away while a Singapore Airlines hostess escorted me to the first-class check-in lounge. The entire process was quite efficient. I was completely relaxed. I received my boarding pass and proceeded to do a bit of duty-free shopping before retiring to the first-class lounge to await departure. The lounge offered an array of conveniences including Internet-wired computer stations. Singapore Airlines does not make boarding announcements in the lounge, so I headed for the gate about 40 minutes prior to scheduled departure. 18/20
Onboard: I chose this particular flight to check out Singapore Airline’s new Raffles-class Space Beds. The cabin had a total of five rows in a two and two and two seat configuration. While the lie-flat seats were designed to offer the ultimate comfort for long-haul travelers, my first impression of the SpaceBed was that it seemed a bit confining. Flight attendants welcomed us with a choice of water or orange juice, followed by newspapers and a hot towel. We enjoyed a quick meal service-choice of sandwich or salad-during the 40-minute flight. Flight attendants were extremely courteous and gracious. 35/40
The Experience: Departure was slightly behind schedule, but we arrived at the beautiful Kuala Lumpur International Airport five minutes early. A tram transported passengers to the main terminal where I proceeded to the Premier Lane to pass through Immigration. I headed for the baggage carousel, picked up my priority-tagged luggage and cleared customs. Although Singapore has a reputation for being the best, I thought the quantity of food served for the lunch/snack was less than adequate. The airline’s first-class lounge is practical, but could use a facelift and a few more computer stations. 35/40
The Last Word: Overall, a very smooth shuttle flight experience.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced plans to take over an existing hotel in Switzerland. The property is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation to open at the end of next year as Mandarin Oriental Palace, Luzern. The property was previously Hotel Palace Luzern, on the shores of Lake Lucerne and in the heart of the city; it originally opened in 1906.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.