On the Ground: I arrived at JFK in late afternoon following a taxi transfer from New York–LaGuardia (LGA). The airport was bustling, but I was a bit early for check-in, so I made my way to the food court for a quick late lunch. Check-in, once I got to the desk following a group of travelers with massive luggage, was efficient and friendly. I didn’t yet have my seat assignment, but the agent took care of that in short order. However, when I asked about confirming a return seat assignment, I was directed to customer service where one harried agent was doing her best to accommodate the needs of multiple travelers while balancing hierarchy, including a group of three traveling together in first class. While she did a fabulous job given the circumstances, the process was a bit bumpy. (27/30)
Pre-flight: I fell in love with Turkish Airlines’ business-class cabin the minute I stepped onto the plane. The “pod” arrangement in a 1-2-1 configuration provided the ultimate in comfort and privacy. I changed into my “comfy” clothes for the overnight flight, adjusted the seat to my preference, accepted a pre-flight glass of Champagne and looked forward to a good night’s rest — an anomaly because I’m not a great sleeper even in my own bed. We pushed back an hour after our scheduled departure time, but flight attendants did their utmost to make our wait as comfortable as possible. (29/30)
In-flight: Once airborne, flight attendants distributed dinner menus and took drink orders. Since I was traveling on a Turkish airline to Istanbul, I opted for Turkish wines in lieu of the French offerings, and I was not disappointed. I sampled a variety of traditional meze (tapas) before tucking in to a fabulous meal. I passed on dessert as I was well into a quickie Berlitz Turkish-language course. (I apologize to anyone who may have been seated near me and annoyed by my occasional bursts of enthusiasm when I repeated a phrase out loud instead of in my head.) When I decided to recline, my seat was so comfortable I was able to sleep soundly, partially on my side, just as I do at home. Flight attendants served a light breakfast, and I changed back into my street clothes, in time for a slightly late arrival in Istanbul. (39/40)
The Experience: I was visiting Istanbul with friends who flew from JFK via a different carrier. My experience surpassed theirs by far.
Total Score: 95/100
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.
United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.
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.
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.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.
One of Palm Desert, California’s, signature hotel properties recently finalized its biggest-ever redesign. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is home to 884 guestrooms and nearly 250,000 square feet of event space. Every facet of the property has been redesigned ahead of the property’s grand re-opening in January.