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Emirates Boeing 777 new First Class Dubai to Brussels

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Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a relaxing long weekend in Dubai. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (December 19, 2018): Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels.

On October 10th 2018, I flew in an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER featuring the carrier’s newest and game-changing First Class product  from Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU). With floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, virtual windows, beds with zero-gravity position, and sleek design features inspired by Mercedes-Benz, Emirates’ new B777 First Class suites take luxury and privacy to the next level. As of now Emirates’ new First Class is only available on newly delivered B777-300ER aircraft which operate flights between Dubai and Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Munich and London Stansed. It’s unclear if Emirates plans to retrofit its existing B777 and A380 fleet with the new First Class suites due to exorbitant costs (upwards of $30 million USD per aircraft). Also, it’s currently impossible to book the new Emirates B777 First Class suite with award miles and it’s not clear when that option will become available.

Emirates features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the most luxurious A380 First Class products, the world’s best airlines for in-flight meals, the best First Class lounges, the best Business Class amenity kits, and the best First Class amenity kits.

Have you ever flown Emirates’ First Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.

  • Trip: Dubai (DXB) to Brussels (BRU)
  • Airline: Emirates
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
  • Aircraft registration number: A6-EQJ
  • Flight Number: EK181
  • Date: October 13, 2018
  • On time departure: yes (3 pm)
  • On time arrival: yes (7 pm)
  • Miles: 3200
  • Flight time: 7 hours
  • Seat: 1K
  • Class: First Class

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  1. Emirates chauffeur service
  2. Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai Airport
  3. Facts & figures about Emirates’ longhaul fleet
  4. First Class cabin
  5. First Class suite (+ best & worst suites)
  6. Amenities
  7. Meals
  8. Entertainment
  9. Onboard internet
  10. Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
  11. My verdict (score)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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1. EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE

One of the great perks about flying First (or Business) Class with Emirates is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. The carrier whisks you to and from the airport at both ends of your journey. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 48 hours prior to your flight. Within the United Arab Emirates (home base of Emirates), the complimentary chauffeur-drive service is available for all destinations within the the country, and is provided in a fleet of BMW and Mercedes cars with free in-car Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on emails, browse your social feeds or send a message on route to your final destination.

EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: PICK-UP
EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: PICK-UP
EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: DROP-OFF AT AIRPORT
EMIRATES CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: DROP-OFF AT AIRPORT
DUBAI AIRPORT TERMINAL 3: PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA
DUBAI AIRPORT TERMINAL 3: PREMIUM CHECK-IN AREA

2. EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI AIRPORT

All Emirates flights arrive and depart from Emirates Terminal 3 at Dubai International airport, currently the world’s largest airport terminal, with over 1,713,000 m2 (18,440,000 sq ft) of space. This terminal comprises two concourses: Concourse A (the world’s first A380 purpose-built facility, accommodating 20 air bridge gates) and Concourse B. Both concourses feature Business and First Class lounges. My flight departed from Concourse A, so this is a review of the Concourse A First Class lounge only.

The Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai is one of the most spacious, unique and innovative lounges in the world. In fact’s, it’s more of an ultra-luxe concourse floating above the terminal’s groundfloor rather than a defined space like you find in other First Class lounges around the world. The lounge is enormous as it spreads the entire length of the terminal, offering direct access to most gates with multi-level boarding. Immediately after you enter the lounge via the elegant reception area, you find yourself in a gallery lined by high-end, duty-free boutique shops, including brands such as Tiffany&Co and Bvlgari. From there, two walkways run along both sides of the lounge, offering a nice view of the terminal’s groundfloor below, and with plenty of seating areas along the way, most of them centered around the gates. At the opposite side of the lounge, the two walkways converge into the main seating area, which features a gorgeous chandelier. It’s pretty insane that this ridiculously overwhelming space and the large number of seats accommodate only a few First Class passengers, but I guess that is what Emirates aims to reach: impress their First Class passengers and make them feel very privileged.

Every seating area in the First Class lounge comes with its own food station, with food varying from light snacks, sandwiches and sushi, to desserts and cheese spreads. The main restaurant with its semi-open kitchen is located halfway the lounge, and offers both a la carte dining and an extensive buffet. The restaurant ambience does not feel very cozy nor intimate, due to the terminal’s incredibly high ceilings with gigantic pillars seeming to reach for the skies. During my visit, I had a light lunch (Italian burrata with heirloom tomatoes) at the restaurant, and it tasted excellent.

As an Emirates First Class passenger, you can also enjoy complimentary spa treatments at the Timeless Spa, which is located next to the First Class lounge entrance. The lounge also features a business center, a stylish decorated cigar room, a wine cellar, and two sleeping rooms (each featuring a dozen day beds).

As already mentioned, the lounge has direct gate access. When it was time to board, a staff member scanned my boarding pass, after which I took the elevator down to the Boeing 777’s jet bridge.

EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: ENTRANCE
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: ENTRANCE
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: ENTRANCE
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: ENTRANCE
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: DUTY FREE SHOPS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: MAIN SEATING AREA (FOOD STATION)
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: RESTAURANT
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: GATE ACCESS
EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT DUBAI: GATE ACCESS

3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT EMIRATES’ LONGHAUL FLEET

Emirates is by far the largest Boeing 777 & Airbus A380 operator on the planet.

  • With a current 105-strong Airbus A380 fleet and an order backlog for 57 additional aircraft combined, Emirates’ commitment to the A380 program is worth over $ 60 billion USD. All Emirates A380s are being fitted at the Airbus factory in Hamburg including significant cabin interior work and final livery, and are being delivered from Hamburg. The Emirates A380 program creates and supports manufacturing jobs across the global aircraft manufacturing supply chain. Airbus estimates that Emirates’ A380 orders alone support 41,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Europe, including some 14,500 in Germany alone. Emirates currently operates the A380 to 48 global destinations.
  • Emirates has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet, one of the most popular and advanced wide-bodied aircraft in commercial operation today. The airline welcomed the first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft into its fleet in March 2005 and over the last 13 years, the 777-300ER has become the backbone of Emirates’ fleet operating currently to over 119 destinations across the airline’s global network. Emirates has operated one out of every five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft produced to date and the average age of a Boeing 777-3000ER in Emirates’ fleet is a mere 6.5 years. From 2020, the airline will start taking delivery of 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s. These next generation aircraft will have a more fuel efficient design and will feature larger windows, increased cabin pressure and humidity, higher ceilings, wider cabin and an advanced inflight entertainment system contributing to a superior customer experience.
EMIRATES BOEING 777-300ER
EMIRATES BOEING 777-300ER

4. FIRST CLASS CABIN

Emirates newly delivered and refurbished B777s feature only 6 First Class suites arranged in 1-1-1 layout: 2 window suites on each side and 2 suites in the middle aisle. That’s a 20% downscale compared to Emirates’ B777s with the old layout, which feature 8 First Class suites (4 along the windows and 4 arranged in the center).

The cabin itself feels a little claustrophobic and the aisle is very narrow, but that’s because the 6 suites – each one offering up to 40 sq ft (3,7sq ft) of personal space – take most of the cabin’s space. The suites are so large that they have ample space to change in the privacy of your suite even after the bed has been made.

The most remarkable cabin feature outside the suites is a magnificent artistic motif printed on the front wall of the first middle suite, which represents the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree, a figure that is used as a design highlight throughout the aircraft. An indigenous evergreen plant, the Ghaf is a considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and has deep cultural and ecological significance.

EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS CABIN

5. FIRST CLASS SUITE (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

I had selected suite 1K for the 7 hour flight from Dubai to Brussels.

Each suite is fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors, a first in the airline industry. This creates a level of privacy otherwise experienced only on a private jet. Contrary to Emirates’ older B777 and A380 First Class suites – which have a lot of walnut veneer and gold trim in their design  – the new B777 First Class suite features a sleek interior with a soothing color palette of soft greys, cream and champagne, conveying a contemporary, open and airy feel. Above the three windows (which feature stylish curtains instead of traditional blends) as well as on the suite’s front wall, there’s another motif of the Ghaf tree.

The suite’s layout it very similar to Emirates’ old First Class product (which I reviewed here). It has an ergonomic soft leather seat at its center, which can be adjusted by a control panel in the arm rest into dozens of custom positions for optimal comfort, including the fully flat-bed position (a bed of 86 inches or 218 cm long with retractable armrest). The suite’s side (towards the aisle) features a personal wardrobe, which is large enough to hang a jacket or coat. The wardrobe’s external wall has another control panel, which allows you to adjust the suite’s temperature and lighting. On the other side of the seat (towards the windows), you find a tablet and another control panel, which can be used to command the inflight entertainment system or even to video call ‘room service’ (more on that below).

In front of the seat is a 32-inch Full HD LCD TV screen (the largest in the airline industry). There’s a non-cooled minibar on one side of the TV (containing non-alcoholic drinks) and a small cabinet on the other (with a glass and a bottle of Evian water). Below the TV screen is a large desk, which has a vanity unit on the inside (with mirror, writing kit, and an “inspiration kit’ with Breydo skincare products). The suite’s large tray table is hidden under that desk and you need to pull on a robe-like bar in front of you to release the tray table and slide it towards you. Underneath the desk is a lot of open space and another cupboard to store your belongings and hand luggage during the flight.

There are subtle differences with Emirates’ old First Class suite, such as the location of the private minibar on both sides of the TV screen instead of in the arm rest, but overall, the new B777 First Class suite’s layout feels very similar. That said, the new First Class suite does feature some new spectacular design elements:

  • The soft leather seat reclines into a fully flat-bed that can be placed in a ‘zero-gravity‘ position inspired by NASA technology, giving a feeling of relaxation and weightlessness, similar to what astronauts experience onboard spacecraft.
  • To ensure all First Class passengers have a view, Emirates introduced the industry’s first virtual windows for the two suites located in the middle aisle. These virtual windows project the view from outside the aircraft using real-time technology with fibre-optic cameras. Wow! This is probably the first plane where I would prefer an aisle seat over a window seat.
  • Passengers can easily communicate with the cabin crew or request ‘room service’ using a video call function on the suite’s tablet (similar to a 5-star hotel).
  • The suite comes with a service window where you can be served drinks and canapes undisturbed after closing the floor-to-ceiling sliding doors.
  • The suite features impressive temperature & LED lighting controls. There are different lighting themes available (with adjustment of the brightness within each theme), ranging from red, orange and yellow to green, blue and purple. Your chosen colour will appear throughout your suite, such as on the floor-level mood lighting, behind and around the curtains, and in the wall pattern.

What are the best First Class seats on Emirates’ new B777?

  • As you can imagine, all 6 suites are equally excellent (especially since the middle seats feature virtual windows, allowing a view for all First Class passengers).

What are the worst First Class seats on Emirates’ Airbus A380?

  • There are no bad seats in Emirates’ new B777 First Class cabin. That said, couples or travel companions may want to choose the pair of suites 1A&1E or 2K&2F since these suites have their entrances located in front of each other (so you can still communicate with each other when you leave the doors of these suites open).
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VANITY UNIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VANITY UNIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: MINIBAR
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: MINIBAR
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: SERVICE DOOR
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: SERVICE DOOR
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: CEILING
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: CEILING
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VIRTUAL WINDOWS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VIRTUAL WINDOWS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VIRTUAL WINDOWS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: VIRTUAL WINDOWS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: FLAT BED POSITION
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS SUITE: LIGHTING THEMES

6. AMENITIES

Emirates First Class passengers receive the following amenities:

  • The First Class amenity kit bags, made from fine leather, come in eight designs in charcoal grey for men and pale grey for women. The kit contains Bvlgari’s woody floral fragrance – Eau Parfumée au thé noir – in addition to the usual necessities – albeit in luxe edition – such as toothbrush, toothpaste, handkerchiefs, and deodorants. The men’s amenity kit also provides Gilette shaving foam and a razor, as well as moisturizers and aftershaves by Bvlgari. The First Class amenity kit’s content is not different from what you get as an Emirates Business Class passenger.
  • In addition to an amenity kit, Emirates also offers an ‘inspiration kit‘ with Breydo skincare products to its First Class passengers. The kit, which is hidden in the desk’s vanity unit, includes a cleansing face towelette, facial toner, eye cream, chamomile roll-on sleep oil and chamomile pillow mist spray.
  • Emirates’ First Class pyjamas are the world’s first moisturising sleepwear range to ever be developed for an airline. Designed to prevent skin dehydration, the pyjama’s fabric is crafted with the use of natural ingredients – Shea Buter and Argan Oil – which are released with every motion, keeping your skin moisturised and protected. The patented Microcapsule Technology locks in the natural benefits, allowing you to wash the pyjamas and use them again them again. Catering to female and male sizes – the pyjamas come in four sizes and in a jersey travel pack. The dark grey men’s pyjamas come with wide leg pant and ribbed collar, while the female’s pyjamas come in a light grey tapered pant and reverse darker colour collar. Slippers are provided as well.
  • The inflight entertainment experience is enhanced with brand new Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling E1 headphones. These headphones were designed exclusively for Emirates to ensure the sound was optimised for the First Class cabin. The headphones are lightweight and made of aluminium and sheepskin leather for a comfortable fit. You cannot take the headphones with you after the flight since they can only be powered within a plane.
  • In the suites located along the real windows, binoculars are provided in case you want to explore the sky outside their windows.
  • When you want to sleep, the crew provides turn down service and will make up your bed with excellent bedding and plush pillows. This includes a cream coloured, furry blanket, which – when opened – has armholes and pockets to keep hands and feet warm. The blanket can also be converted into a travel pillow, providing comfort and support for the neck.
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PYJAMAS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SLIPPERS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SLIPPERS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INSPIRATION KIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INSPIRATION KIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WRITING KIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WRITING KIT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: BINOCULARS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: BINOCULARS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

7. FOOD & BEVERAGES

After boarding, I was offered Arabic coffee, dates, and a hot towel. The crew also put a basket with several snacks (e.g. dried mango, chocolates, etc …) on the desk, which was removed during the takeoff and landing phase of the flight.

Lunch was served shortly after takeoff (although you could have your meal at any time during the flight). I choose the following selection from the impressive menu:

  • Canapés: grilled venison with cranberries, smoked Scottish salmon with chives and avocado cream, and Bleu d’Auvergne on gingerbread with spiced apricot chutney
  • Appetiser: caviar presented with a traditional selection of finely chopped onion, grated egg, sour cream and lemon, served with melba toast and blinis
  • Mushroom soup served with chives
  • Seasonal salad with toppings including veal rashers, shredded carrot, cherry tomatoes and bocconcini, dressed with creamy French vinaigrette or olive oil with balsamic vinegar
  • Main course: poached cod served with moghrabieh, saffron tomato salsa, grilled asparagus and vegetable julienne
  • Dessert: chocolate truffle cake served with raspberry jellies

The food tasted excellent and was nicely presented. The caviar was an absolute highlight! During the entire flight, a walk-up bar was installed in the galley, which offered small bites and snacks (e.g. chips, sandwiches, etc …) . Shortly before landing, I ordered some more items from the menu for dinner:

  • Appetizer: traditional Arabic mezze: a spread of local savoury dishes including herbed feta, sautéed spinach with chickpeas, aubergine salad, mujaddara, houmous, bamieh bil zeit, stuffed vine leaves, seafood kibbeh and harhoura Salmon gravadlax
  • Main course: pan-fried salmon with lemongrass fumet Served with coriander pesto, shiitake mushrooms and pak choi
  • Dessert: an assortment of fresh-cut fruit
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PRE-DEPARTURE ARABIAN COFFEE SERVICE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: PRE-DEPARTURE ARABIAN COFFEE SERVICE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: HOT TOWEL SERVICE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: HOT TOWEL SERVICE
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACKS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACKS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACKS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACKS
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: MENU
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: WINE LIST
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: LUNCH
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: SNACK BAR IN GALLEY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: DINNER

8. ENTERTAINMENT

Emirates entertainment system, called ICE (information, communications, entertainment) is the best in the industry, albeit a bit overwhelming when you are using it for the first time. You have three options on how to control the system: touching the screen (problematic given the seat pitch), using a small wired remote, or using a touch-screen monitor that is about the size of a small tablet.

ICE has an extensive range of new-release and classic films, television shows, box sets and audio options to choose from. You can choose from up to 1,800 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on demand and in multiple languages. You can also relax to music from around the world or play a range of fun games.

My favorite ICE feature is the outside camera that you can access on your screen. Emirates’ B777s are equipped with two cameras: one facing forward and once facing straight down (no tail camera like on the A380). When not in a window seat, it can be handy watching the aircraft take off via the cameras.

EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

9. ONBOARD INTERNET

Emirates offers 20MB of free WiFi within the first two hours of log in across all your devices on board most of its flights. That’s enough data to browse your favourite social networks and send messages. If you like to use onboard WiFi for longer or you need more data, you can choose from one of Emirates’ data plans, with a pricing dependent on the fact whether you are a member of Emirates’ loyalty program ‘Skywards’ or not.

If you’re an Emirates Skywards Silver or Blue member, make sure you log in as a member and not as a guest so you can enjoy both the 20MB for free and then buy a discounted plan:

Cabin class Emirates Skywards tier Plan options
First Class, Business Class Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight
Economy Class Gold, Platinum Unlimited free Wi-Fi throughout the flight
Economy Class Silver Up to 150MB of data, for USD 4.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 7.99
Economy Class Blue Up to 150MB of data, for USD 6.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 10.99

The following applies to non-Emirates Skywards members:

Cabin class Plan options
First Class, Business Class and Economy Class Up to 150MB of data, for USD 9.99
Up to 500MB of data, for USD 15.99
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS: ONBOARD WIFI

10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

#CREW: the crew during this flight was excellent (as is always the case with Emirates). There were two crew members that took care of the only two passengers in the First Class cabin. They almost made me forget I was flying (although I am a nervous flyer), and genuinely talked about how they loved working for Emirates.

# LAVATORY: there are 2 decently sized lavatories for First Class passengers in the galley behind the cockpit. Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.

EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY
EMIRATES B777 FIRST CLASS LAVATORY

# VIEWS: we enjoyed clear weather for most of the journey, resulting in some great views (especially above eastern Iraq).

EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT
EMIRATES B777: VIEWS DURING THE FLIGHT

11. MY VERDICT
  • Cabin design: 10/10
  • Seat comfort (upright): 10/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 10/10
  • Food (quality):  9/10
  • Food (quantity): 10/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 10/10
  • WiFi: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10

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this month (February 2019) in luxury travel

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Friday newsletters always feature travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (February 22, 2019): February 2019 luxury travel news.

Every last Friday of the month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:

  1. InterContinental Hotels takes over the Six Senses brand
  2. British Airways unveils stunning retro livery
  3. Mandarin Oriental opens an ultraluxe Dubai resort
  4. Air France unveils new A330 Business Class product
  5. Aman announces a new property in Japan
  6. Grand Hyatt New York to be torn down and redeveloped
  7. Boeing is developing a supersonic plane
  8. A Virgin Atlantic plane breaks the speed record (faster than the speed of sound!)
  9. Rosewood announces a resort on the Island of Hawaii
  10. Rosewood Bangkok will open in March 2019
  11. Airbus puts super jumbo A380 out of production
  12. A new ultraluxe resort opens in the Maldives
  13. Air Senegal’s unveils its new A330-900neo Business Class

1. InterContinental Hotels takes over Six Senses

Six Senses – one of my favorite hotel brands in the world – has become part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). IHG is one of the world’s leading global hotel companies with a growing number of luxury brands including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Regent Hotels & Resorts and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. IHG purchased the award-winning hospitality and wellness company from private equity fund Pegasus Capital Advisors for $300 USD million. The sale includes the management of 16 hotels and resorts, 37 spas and sister companies Evason and Raison d’Etre. Following the acquisition, Six Senses is now expected to grow to 60 hotels within the next 10 year, including a desert hideaway in Israel’s Negev Desert, the transformation of a series of 19th-century mansions in Istanbul and the group’s first project in North America, a contemporary duo of twisting towers designed by Bjarke Ingles located in Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood and along the High Line. Additional projects are currently under way in Austria, Brazil, Mainland China, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand. “This is an exciting new era for Six Senses,” said Six Senses Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs. “IHG believes in our purpose to merge the two platforms of wellness and sustainability to promote personal health, and the health of the planet. Joining forces with IHG means we can use a wealth of systems and operational excellence to grow our brand and reach new markets without losing our quirky personality and playful touch.”


2. British Airways unveils stunning retro livery

Last Monday, large crowds gathered at Heathrow to watch the much-anticipated arrival of a British Airways Boeing 747 painted in the iconic design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The aircraft entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport on February 5 where it was stripped of its current British Airways Chatham Dockyard design before being repainted with the BOAC livery which adorned the BOAC fleet between 1964 and 1974. Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “The enormous interest we’ve had in this project demonstrates the attachment many people have to British Airways’ history. It’s something we are incredibly proud of, so in our centenary year it’s a pleasure to be celebrating our past while also looking to the future. We look forward to many more exciting moments like this as our other aircraft with heritage designs enter service.” The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023, to allow as many customers as possible to have the chance to see it. By this time, British Airways will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet, replacing them with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft. This includes taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four years – which feature new cabins and are more environmentally efficient – as well as another 26 short-haul aircraft, all part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers.


3. Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is now open

Located in the heart of Dubai, and a stone’s throw from the water’s edge, the new Mandarin Oriental Jumeira is set to bring a new wave of chic design and luxury experiences to the shores of the city. Designed by acclaimed international designer Jeffrey Wilkes, the property features spacious and elegant guest rooms and suites, most with private balconies and terraces, offering pristine ocean views or the dynamic city skyline. Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai has six restaurants and bars, all of which are noteworthy additions to Dubai’s dining scene. The two signature restaurants are Tasca by Portuguese celebrity chef José Avillez and Netsu, a Warayaki-style Japanese steakhouse by Australian-born chef Ross Shonhan. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai takes wellness experiences to another level, with its focus on locally inspired experiences. All nine treatment rooms feature individual changing and bathroom facilities, and some have private terraces overlooking the ocean. This welcoming oasis offers exceptional heat and water experiences, and a range of holistic rejuvenation and relaxation treatments. There is also a state-of-the-art fitness center and a Little Nomads kids’ club with a range of fun activities for younger Mandarin fans.


4. Air France unveils new A330 Business Class product

Completely redesigned, Air France‘s new A330 seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 layout and convert into a lie-flat bed that is 2m (6,6 ft) long and 57.1 cm (22 inch) wide for jet lag-free flying across time zones. Passengers can choose to enjoy greater proximity when they’re traveling with someone or total privacy thanks to a sliding panel separating the seats. The ambient lighting emphasizes the details of the new Business cabin’s decor where leather and the Air France brand’s symbolic accent have pride of place. A brand new, extra-wide HD touch-screen measuring over 18.5 inches offers over 1,400 hours of entertainment. Its intuitive interface comes with a new more user-friendly handset. The toilets, inspired from the cosmetics universe, and the self-service bar in a blue and Champagne color scheme have also been redesigned with customers’ well-being and comfort in mind. Until the end of the winter season, the new A330 Business Class product is available on flights to Accra (Ghana), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Houston (USA). As from the 2019 summer season, the new Airbus A330 will progressively serve Accra (Ghana), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Cotonou (Benin), Lagos (Nigeria), Niamey (Niger), Bengaluru and Delhi (India) as well as Seattle, Chicago and Dallas (USA).


5. Aman announces a new property in Japan

Nestled in the verdant foothills of the symbolic mountain of Hidari Daimonji, Aman Kyoto will open in November 2019, representing a place of untold beauty, where small jizo statues sit contentedly among the yamamomiji maples. The resort will combine privacy, relaxation and rejuvenation with the vibrancy of Japan’s ancient Imperial capital, home to 17 Unesco World Heritage Sites. The secluded grounds are part of what was an artistic community that gave rise to the revered Rinpa school of painting some 400 years ago, and are within easy reach of Kyoto’s most important sites, including the stunning golden temple, Kinkakuji. Aman Kyoto’s latticed pavilions will be contemporary homage to the traditional Japanese Ryokan inn, strikingly minimalist in their geometry, and each serving as a window onto their spectacular natural surroundings. The interiors will be spacious and light-filled – ingeniously crafted to foster peace, relaxation and contemplation at every turn. Aman Kyoto’s signature Restaurant in the Dining Pavilion will be a landmark addition to one of Japan’s most celebrated gastronomical regions. The convivial Living Pavilion with its central fireplace and glass doors opening onto an ornate garden terrace will serve home-cooked Kyoto obanzai style cuisine throughout the day. The fresh spring water that flows near Aman Kyoto will be central to the philosophy at the resort’s Aman Spa.


6. Grand Hyatt New York to be torn down and redeveloped

According to the Wall Street Journal, a development group has agreed to buy and tear down the Grand Hyatt New York, the famous glass-sheathed hotel by Grand Central Terminal. TF Cornerstone, a Manhattan developer, and MSD Partners, an investment firm whose clients include Dell Technologies founder Michael Dell and his family, said they plan a new development totaling about 2 million square feet, which will include offices, retail and a scaled-down Grand Hyatt. A hotel has stood on the site of the current property since 1919, when The Commodore Hotel opened. The property was redeveloped by (USA president) Donald Trump and opened as The Grand Hyatt New York in 1980, although Trump is no longer connected to the hotel. The current Grand Hyatt New York will remain open until 2020, and the redevelopment is subject to city and state approval. The plans have been made possible following zoning changes in the area around Grand Central station, to allow for the construction of new skyscrapers.


7. Boeing is developing a supersonic plane

Boeing announced a partnership with Aerion, a  Nevada-based company pioneering next-generation supersonic aircraft. As part of the agreement, Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight test resources, as well as strategic vertical content, to bring Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet to market. The AS2 is designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 1.4 or approximately 1,000 miles per hour. With the ability to fly up to 70 percent faster than today’s business jets, the AS2 will save approximately three hours on a transatlantic flight while meeting environmental performance requirements. The aircraft is slated for its first flight in 2023. Founded in 2003 to develop new, more efficient aerodynamic technologies for supersonic aircraft, Aerion introduced its AS2 12-passenger business jet design in 2014. The company unveiled the AS2’s GE Affinity engine design in 2018. “Aerion is the industry leader mapping out a successful, sustainable return to supersonic flight,” said Tom Vice, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Aerion. “The AS2 is the launch point for the future of regulatory-compliant and efficient supersonic flight. Together with Boeing, we’re creating a faster, more connected future with tremendous possibilities for enhancing humanity’s productivity and potential.”


8. A Virgin Atlantic plane breaks the speed record (faster than the speed of sound!)

According to CBS, the fastest jet stream on record provided a turbo boost to commercial passenger planes flying in an eastbound direction over the USA. With the help of this rapid tailwind, Virgin Atlantic Flight 8 from Los Angeles to London hit what could be a record high speed for a commercial plane: 801 mph (1230 km/h) over Pennsylvania at 9:20 pm last Monday night. “Wow, that’s fast,” a Boeing spokesman told CBS News via email. But it’s not something the plane manufacturer tracks, so they can’t confirm if 801 mph is a record. For reference, the speed of sound is 760 mph; but the plane did not break the sound barrier. That’s because part of the plane’s speed is attributed to the swiftly moving 200 mph+ air surrounding the plane. So relative to the air around it, the plane’s speed falls far short. Jet streams like the one Monday can have a big impact on flights. “A 100 mph increase in the jet stream above typical can add or remove about an hour from a five to six hour flight,” according to a spokesperson from FlightAware, a global aviation software and data services company based in Houston. While you might be pleasantly surprised by an early arrival going eastbound, you’re likely to face delays westbound battling the powerful headwind. While winds of this magnitude do affect air travel, FlightAware said changes in the upper level winds are accounted for.


9. Rosewood announces a resort on the Island of Hawaii

Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort is set to open in 2022 after a complete renovation of the current property. Located on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the iconic Hawaiian retreat that has laid dormant since 2011 will once again open its doors and welcome back ‘ohana (family) to the historic and culturally rich destination. Spanning 81 acres of stunning geologic landscape and richness, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, will draw inspiration from the history of the site, local culture and natural elements to create a unique guest experience that complements the distinctive Hawaiian setting. Conceptualized and developed by intrepid explorer Johnno Jackson in the early 1960’s, the original Kona Village Resort was best known for its free-standing, palm thatch roof hales and tranquil location. Located close to Kona International Airport, Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, will debut 150 unique, standalone guest hales with locally-inspired décor, spectacular views and a privileged sense of seclusion. Spearheaded by Hawai‘i-raised architect, Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects, each accommodation will offer a private lānai and outdoor shower. An array of distinct dining venues, including the original resort’s beloved Shipwreck Bar and Talk Story Bar, will offer elevated yet relaxed food and beverage experiences. Guests will have access to new leisure facilities including Sense, A Rosewood Spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center, as well as multiple pools and tennis courts. A diverse outdoor recreational program will include ocean sports and activities designed to inform, inspire and excite travelers of all ages.


10. Rosewood Bangkok will open in March 2019

Rosewood Bangkok, a visually striking, ultra-luxury property in Bangkok’s prime central business and retail district, will open 31 March 2019, marking the second Thailand property for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts after the opening of Rosewood Phuket in 2017. The 30-story standalone property will help reshape the Bangkok skyline by occupying two connecting high-rise structures that create a modern tribute to the Thai spirit. Its contemporary form is inspired by the wai — the graceful Thai gesture of palms pressed together in greeting. The hotel will be conveniently connected to the BTS Station amidst a luxury enclave of embassies, new office towers and upscale malls. The ultra-luxury hotel will embrace a striking, contemporary architectural design and will be home to 159 guestrooms. Featuring the Rosewood brand’s A Sense of Place philosophy, carefully curated interiors, dining and spa experiences will be an amalgam of contemporary sophistication and touchstones of Thailand’s heritage and customs. Four restaurants and lounges will be complemented by recreational facilities including Sense, A Rosewood Spa; a Fitness Studio; and indoor-outdoor saltwater swimming pool.


11. Airbus puts super jumbo A380 out of production

Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft. Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380  in 2021. Emirates has also decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft. “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results”. “The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators,” Tom Enders added.


12. A new ultraluxe resort opens in the Maldives

With only 26 beach and ocean houses on a tiny coral reef-encircled island, The Nautilus Maldives is a bohemian hideaway located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve.  Here, a kaleidoscopic wonderland of incredible marine life awaits discovery: trips to world-renowned Hanifaru Bay to swim amongst manta rays; diving on iridescent coral reefs; exploring remote sandbanks and deserted islands or just cruising the ocean on a custom-built yacht are among the many adventures guests can look forward to. Built by a Maldivian entrepreneur, this is his ultimate project in the country, created to express his personal vision of the best that luxury can be – not just in the Maldives, but worldwide. With its modern bohemian style, and concept of absolute freedom for its guests, who enjoy no rules, no dress codes, no set restaurant hours, no fixed menu choices, its driving philosophy is to make guests feel not only completely at home, but also as if time itself no longer exists.


13. Air Senegal’s unveils its new A330-900neo Business Class

Air Senegal’s first A330neo has touched down at Blaise-Diagne International Airport in Dakar. The A330neo, painted in the livery of Air Senegal and named “Casamance,” was presented during a ceremony attended by His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, and Philippe Bohn, Chief Executive Officer Air Senegal. After the ceremony, the plane flew back to Toulouse for more testing and is expected to be formally delivered to the airline within the coming weeks. Air Senegal, which started operations in 2018, is set to become the first African airline to receive and operate the newest member of the leading Airbus widebody family. Fitted with a three-class cabin comprising 32 Business class, 21 Premium Plus and 237 Economy class seats, Air Senegal plans to operate its first A330neo on the soon to be opened Dakar-Paris route and develop its medium and long-haul network. The A330neo is a true new generation aircraft building on the A330’s success and leveraging on A350 XWB technology. It incorporates highly efficient new generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, and a new greater span 3D optimised wing with new Sharklets. Together, these advances bring a significant reduction in fuel consumption of 25% compared with older generation competitor aircraft of a similar size. The A330 is one of the most popular widebody families ever, having received over 1,700 orders from 120 customers.


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Review of Bisate Lodge (Rwanda)

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Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in the amazingly beautiful country of Rwanda. You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: KLM A330 (new) Business Class from Amsterdam to Rwanda
  • Review: Kigali Serena Hotel
  • Review: Bisate Lodge by Wilderness Safaris, Volcanoes National Park (today)
  • Review: Encounter with the mountain gorillas (my best travel experience ever!)
  • Review: One&Only Nyungwe House (Nyungwe National Park)
  • Review: Ruzizi Tented Lodge (Akagera National Park)
  • Review: KLM A330 (new) Business Class from Rwanda to Amsterdam (via Uganda)

Today (February 20, 2019): Review of Bisate Lodge (Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda)

Comprising just 6 spacious forest villas, Bisate offers an ultra-luxurious base from where to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region. Situated within the amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate is surrounded by natural splendor, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture.

Bisate Lodge features in my lists of the best new hotels of 2017 and the ten best hotels in Rwanda.

Have you ever stayed at Bisate Lodge? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

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*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Rwanda with my Rwanda travel guide ***


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Situated within the amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate Lodge occupies a 27-hectare steep hillside site of majestic natural splendor, with phenomenal views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno peaks of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. The lodge is close enough to Kinigi (the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park) to be convenient for the morning gorilla treks, but far enough away so as to feel remote and even – as a result of the onsite indigenous reforestation project – part of the spectacular Park. Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali (with the nearest airport) is 105 km (65 miles) or a 3 hour drive from the lodge, with most of the scenic journey taking place via a perfectly paved road (except for the last miles, which is on a rocky, volcanic path that requires a 4×4 car).
  • Bisate Lodge features only six ultra-luxurious thatched villas, perched on the hillside. Each villa comprises a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception space and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace. The domed living room comes with either a kingsize bed or two twin beds (covered with green geometric pattern cushions), a sofa, a small desk, and two armchairs on a cowhide rug in front of a log-burning fire. The spacious bathroom features a black oval, resin bath tub in the center, two sinks with leather-framed mirrors, a walk-in brick rain shower, a separate toilet, and eco-friendly amenities by Africology, a South African wellness company. Both the living room and bathroom have enormous windows that open to a bamboo balcony with breathtaking views of Mount Bisoke ‘s imposing volcanic cone.
  • Besides the six thatched villas, Bisate Lodge also features one main lodge sphere, with a design rooted in Rwandan building tradition. Styled in the same decor as the villas, the dome’s interior features wooden floors and walls covered in dried woven grass mats – just like the ones found inside Rwandan homes. One side of the main dome houses a chic bar with a cozy sitting area around an open fire, where guests gather in the evening to share their gorilla adventures of the day while enjoying a pre-dinner aperitif. An intimate dining area with only six tables and a bar counter are located on the other side, and it’s here that breakfast, lunch and dinner are served (more on that below). Both the dining and bar area feature enormous windows, with black steel doors leading to a balcony that offer views of the surrounding volcanoes. The main lodge also houses a wine cellar in its basement.
  • Created by Johannesburg-based architect Nick Plewman, the lodge’s unique design is based on the King’s Palace at Nyanza. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture. The emerald green color in the textiles and chandeliers is reminiscent of the verdant greens of the rainforests and the vibrant markets that dot the villages throughout the country. Many of the furnishings are decorated using “imigongo,” an art form unique to Rwanda that uses cow dung and goes back hundreds of years; the dung is mixed with soils of different colors and then painted in geometric shapes. The use of black and white cow hides also reflect the rural way of life in the villages, and volcanic stone is used in the fireplaces to echo the volcanoes of the adjacent National Park.
  • Bisate Lodge offers an all-inclusive formula, with room rates including all meals, drinks, coctails, and some premium wines. Meals are served in the restaurant or on the adjoining terrace. The set dinner menu changes daily, offering slow-cooked, hearty and healthy dishes served in colorful ceramics. Signature dishes include liboke (chicken cooked and served in banana leaves), sambaza (fried, spicy small fish spiced served with ginger rice), and kachumbari (a traditional tomato and onion salad). Ingredients featuring strongly in Bisate’s menus include wild honey, avocado, climbing beans, mango, kale, papaya, plantain, passion fruit, pineapple, macadamia nuts and chilies. A highlight for many will be their first experience of Rwandan coffee – sourced from the local Kigufi Coffee Estate – called Gato Keza.
  • Bisate Lodge is managed by Africa’s top safari operator, Wilderness Safaris. Founded in Botswana in 1983, Wilderness Safaris is widely acclaimed as the continent’s foremost ecotourism operator, dedicated to conserving and restoring Africa’s wilderness and wildlife. They do this by creating life-changing journeys for guests in some of the most remote and pristine areas in Africa, hereby helping to conserve Africa’s spectacular biodiversity and share ecotourism’s benefits with the communities that live alongside these areas. Wilderness Safaris operates more than 40 camps in seven countries, including several iconic and ultraluxe properties such as Mombo & Little Mombo in Botswana and amazing North Island in the Seychelles.
  • Bisate Lodge is deeply committed to Wilderness Safaris’ 4Cs sustainability ethos of Commerce, Community, Culture and Conservation. Its pioneering reforestation efforts have already seen over 20,000 indigenous trees planted to date. In a country where agriculture has dominated for decades, previous traditional practices have denuded Rwanda of much of its original forest cover, thus leaving indigenous species with very limited habitat. Bisate’s reforestion project has aided in the return of numerous endemic species to the area, such as southern tree hyrax, side-striped jackal and at least one species of genet. Guests are also encouraged to get involved in the reforestation project by planting a tree on the Bisate property during their stay, thus directly contributing to the restoration of the area.
  • With only six villas and twice as many staff as guests, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that service at the lodge is exceptional and personalized. More than 50% of Bisate’s staff comes from the neighboring communities. Because there are so few guests here, there’s plenty of time to interact with the superfriendly staff, whether it’s chatting to the barman before dinner, sharing your love for Africa with the general manager, or exploring the nearby villages with the lodge’s guides. To give you an example of the attentive service: after your gorilla trekking, the staff will clean your hiking boots and return them in no time (with your shoes looking better than new). Also, the staff is there to welcome every guest upon arrival, dancing and singing a song in Kinyarwand.
  • The prime reason why you stay here is gorilla trekkingSpotting a wild gorilla in the African jungle is on many people’s bucket list and ranks among my favorite wildlife experience in the world. Mountain gorillas are the most majestic, and sadly, rarest apes of all non-human primates. Only 1000 of these magnificent creatures remain in the world, all of them found in the border area between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A guided gorilla tracking takes anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, and allows you to spend one hour with the apes once you found them. It’s an awesome adventure, often undertaken by travelers as they are overwhelmed by emotions after seeing the movie Gorillas In The Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey. I will publish a review of my gorilla encounter next week.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Bisate Lodge is one of the most exclusive accommodation options in Rwanda, comprising just 6 stunning rooms set inside thatched, spherical pavilions containing every conceivable luxury. There’s no much to say against the lodge, but you may want to know the following nonetheless:

  • Bisate Lodge is one of the most exclusive but also most expensive lodges in Africa. But you should know that going in, and rates do include all meals, a 20 min shoulder & back massage, and on-site excursions (excluding gorilla trekking). Most importantly, at Bisate Lodge, you don’t pay for an overnight stay, but you pay for a life-changing experience and a memory that will last a lifetime.
  • Bisate Lodge features a lot of stairs (built with uneven volcanic stone), which makes the property not ideal for mobility challenged guests. There is a lot of climbing up and down the hillside to get to the room, the restaurant or to go on the daily activities. But that’s nothing compared to what awaits you while tracking the gorillas!
  • The location of the lodge is spectacular (with phenomenal views) but the property is not located inside the rainforest but rather in a rural area, just above a local farming community (at the moment, there are no lodges inside the Volcanoes National Park). That may change though in the near future, since the park will be extended and this, combined with reforestation, will practically place Bisate Lodge within the park boundaries.  
  • Facilities at the lodge are rather limited. There are only six villas and one main lodge building, but that’s it. There is no spa, gym or swimming pool. That said, spa treatments can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own villa. Also, it’s rumored that Wilderness Safaris may build an on-site spa in the near future, enhancing the wellness offerings at Bisate Lodge.  

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: the property has no pool
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: the property has no spa (treatments are done in the privacy of your villa)
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional 9,6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Bisate Lodge (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: There are only 6 villas as Bisate Lodge and they all feature the same layout. The higher located villas have the best view (but reaching them involves more stairs).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

In the heart of Africa, fractionally south of the equator, Rwanda’s relatively high altitude provides it with a remarkably pleasant tropical highland climate, albeit also with plenty of rain. Although it’s regarded as a year-round activity, the best time to visit Rwanda is during the short dry season from December to  February or over the long dry season months of June to September. These periods offer by far the easiest hiking conditions (for gorilla or chimp trekking) and the lowest malaria risk. The dry season does not necessarily means sunny season as there is often a light cloud cover, helping to moderate the temperatures. Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from about March to May, when the rain is heavy and persistent. October to November is the short rainy season, with occasional light showers in the afternoon.


HOW TO GET THERE

Bisate Lodge can be reached from Kigali by car, a journey of around 2,5 hours on an excellent paved road (only the last miles are on a dirt road). However, it’s also possible to charter a flight to the airport at Ruhengeri, which is just over half an hour’s drive from the property.


PHOTOS
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO THE PAVILIONS
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – FOYER
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BEDROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BATHROOM
BISATE LODGE: VILLA - BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: VILLA – BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – EXTERIOR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – ENTRANCE
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WELCOME AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BAR & SITTING AREA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – DINNER ROOM
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – AFTERNOON TEA
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY (VIEW)
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY (VIEW)
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - BALCONY (VIEW)
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – BALCONY (VIEW)
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION - WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: MAIN PAVILION – WINE CELLAR
BISATE LODGE: REFORESTATION PROJECT
BISATE LODGE: REFORESTATION PROJECT
BISATE LODGE: REFORESTATION PROJECT
BISATE LODGE: REFORESTATION PROJECT
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
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BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE: LUNCH
BISATE LODGE AT NIGHT
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BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: DINNER
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
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BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
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BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: BREAKFAST
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: PATH TO HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP
BISATE LODGE: VIEW FROM HILLTOP

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Top 10 best hotels & lodges in Rwanda

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Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (February 18, 2019): Top10 best hotels & lodges in Rwanda.

Twenty five years after the devastating genocide, Rwanda has risen from the ashes and has managed to rebuild itself into one of Africa’s safest and most peaceful nations. Breathtakingly beautiful and largely untouched, Rwanda offers towering volcanoes, emerald green rain forests, privileged access to the endangered mountain gorilla, and so much more. Rwanda has long been an off the beaten track destination, far from the ordinary traveler’s itinerary, but things are about to change in a big way with the installation of Ellen DeGeneres’ new gorilla conservation center with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and the opening of a new string of ultra-luxurious hotels. Emerging as Africa’s newest luxury travel hotspot, here’s my pick of the 10 best hotels & lodges in Rwanda.

There is more information (with reviews & Youtube clips) below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite hotel in Rwanda in the comments.

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*** Get the most of your (luxury) trip to Rwanda with my Rwanda travel guide ***


10. RADISON BLUE HOTEL & CONVENTION CENTER

Ideally located 5 km (3 mi) from the city center and Kigali International Airport, the stylish Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Center is a 5-star hotel in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. The hotel offers 292 modern and spacious rooms along with an all-day dining, an exquisite Italian restaurant, a bar, lobby lounge and an outdoor swimming pool designed to provide a memorable experience to business and leisure travelers alike. With the capacity to accommodate up to 5000 delegates in its 18 meeting rooms including an auditorium, meeting and events planners can take advantage of the Convention Centers’ versatile event space and state-of-the-art facilities. The on-site spa is designed to offer a relaxing experience for couples, friends and individuals looking for rejuvenation.

RADISON BLUE HOTEL CONVENTION CENTER KIGALI


9. VIRUNGA LODGE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Set on a stunning hillside, the magnificent Virunga Lodge boasts panoramic vistas of the Virunga Volcanoes and the beautiful lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera. Each of ten luxurious bandas named after the Rwandan lakes features a spacious bedroom with a cosy fireplace, as well as private terrace with sweeping views of the breathtaking surrounds. Those in need of relaxation can revel in the comfort of the main lodge or spend some time in the Dian Fossey Map Room. Each guest will enjoy the opportunity for a relaxing complementary massage. Adventures include tracking gorillas and golden monkeys, hikes to the top of the volcanoes, scenic walks through the picturesque villages surrounding the lodge, or day trips to the lively towns of Kigali or Kampala.

VIRUNGA LODGE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK


8. KIGALI SERENA HOTEL, KIGALI

The elegant Kigali Serena Hotel is perfectly situated within one of the city’s most vibrant boulevards, and is the best hotel in town for a business stay or to start or end a gorilla safari. Here, guests are welcomed into a gleaming granite atrium, adorned with lovely Rwandan artworks. The property features 148 sophisticated rooms, including 25 lavish suites, that come with air conditioning, Wi-Fi connectivity, a satellite television, and a lovely ensuite bathroom. The hotel offers a wonderful selection of dining options, from the Milima Restaurant that overlooks the sparkling swimming pool to the Sokoni Restaurant that has become a popular meeting place for both locals and travelers alike. In the evenings, you can retreat to the hotel’s convivial lounge where two bar areas await.

KIGALI SERENA HOTEL KIGALI


7. RUZIZI TENTED LODGE, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

With a maximum of 20 guests, Ruzizi Tented Lodge is an intimate, charming camp, overlooking Lake Ihema in Rwanda’s Akagera National Park. The camp’s nine tents are spaced widely apart on either side of a thatched reception and dining area, set back from the lake shore and hidden among swaying palms and fruiting fig trees. Each tent has an en-suite bathroom, a dressing area and either comfortable queen or twin beds, with a small patio at the front and accessible by wooden boardwalks. The lodge was designed to blend in with the surrounding environment in order to create a feel of being connected to nature.  Where possible, trees and vegetation were left undisturbed during the construction, and even incorporated into the structure.  The lodge is powered by solar energy and prides itself on being environmentally conscious.

RUZIZI TENTED LODGE, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK


6. SABYINYO SILVERBACK LODGE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is Rwanda’s first ever community owned lodge. The lodge was built and is operated by Governors’ Camp Collection, but the ownership rests with a Community Trust, which uses rentals and community fees from the lodge to drive socio-economic and conservation initiatives in the communities adjacent to the National Park. The lodge, situated in the foothills of the mighty Virungas, the chain of 15,000 ft volcanoes stretching through Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, affords wonderful views of the volcanoes and the surrounding countryside. Accommodation at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge comprises six cottages, two suites, one family cottage. All are stone buildings with Rwandese terracotta tile roofs, and feature large sitting areas, fireplaces, stylish en-suite bathrooms finished with Venetian plaster a dressing room and a sheltered veranda.

SABYINYO SILVERBACK LODGE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK


5. SINGITA KWITONDA LODGE & KATAZA HOUSE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Singita Kwitonda Lodge & Kataza House (opening summer 2019) will be located on a breathtaking, isolated but contained 178-acre piece of land right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park. The presence of the lodge on the park border will help to improve the function of the buffer area between agricultural plots and the habitat of the estimated 320 mountain gorillas that find sanctuary here. Set within a landscape of wetlands and lush meadows, there will be eight suites and a four-bedroom villa linked by volcanic rock pathways to a central lodge. Singita Kwitonda will be built to embody the spirit of Rwanda and offer a tribute to the lodge’s namesake – Kwitonda – a great silverback gorilla whose legend lives on in Rwanda and was known for his humility and gentleness.

SINGITA KWITONDA LODGE KATAZA HOUSE, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK


4. MAGASHI CAMP BY WILDERNESS SAFARIS, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK

Magashi Camp (opening spring 2019) is situated in the productive and phenomenally diverse north-eastern corner of Akagera National Park, overlooking scenic Lake Rwanyakazinga. Akagera comprises some of the most scenic savannah in East Africa – open plains, woodlands, lakes, swamp, and grassy low mountains – and is home to one of Africa’s highest hippo densities, some very large crocodiles as well as rare sitatunga and inscrutable shoebill. Six spacious and airy tented guest rooms will offer uninterrupted views over Lake Rwanyakazinga while Magashi’s main area will comprise a luxurious lounge, dining and bar area, wine cellar and pool, as well as an expansive viewing deck with convivial fire pit. The architecture and interiors will pay homage to traditional Rwandan culture.

MAGASHI CAMP BY WILDERNESS SAFARIS, AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK


3. ONE&ONLY GORILLA’S NEST, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Nestled amongst a forest of eucalyptus trees, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest (opening later this year) will provide breath-taking views of Rwandan hills and the slopes of the Volcanoes National Park. Guests will be able to discover the magical habitat of critically endangered mountain gorillas, a rare adventure. Bespoke accommodation will honor the location and natural elements will be woven throughout the resort, to inform the design of both the public and private spaces of the resort. Local African cuisine will surround a traditional Boma, providing the perfect location to share adventures from the day and enjoy fruit and vegetables from the resort’s garden. The resort will also offer an indulgent One&Only spa. One&Only also has a second lodge in Rwanda (more on that below), offering guest a journey to the country’s two most spectacular national parks.

ONE&ONLY GORILLA'S NEST, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK


2. ONE&ONLY NYUNGWE HOUSE, NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK

Alongside ancient rainforest, within the lush green expanse of a working tea plantation, Nyungwe House offers an exciting window to Africa’s fascinating wildlife and culture. Situated on a working tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe National Park, One&Only Nyungwe House is the first of two new One&Only resorts to have opened in Rwanda. Exploratory treks and hikes through the forest give guests access to the park’s nearly 250,000 acres, where they can discover black-and-white colobus monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, and more than 275 bird species. After full days out in the park, guests can retire to the resort’s modern suites and villas, each featuring decor accented with traditional African touches and vast private decks equipped with fireplaces.

ONE&ONLY NYUNGWE HOUSE, NYUNGWE NATIONAL PARK


1. BISATE LODGE BY WILDERNESS SAFARIS, VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Comprising just 6 spacious forest villas, Bisate offers a luxurious base from where to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region. Situated within the amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate is surrounded by natural splendor, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture.


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