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Banyan Tree Branches Out With 4 Exciting New Properties In Japan

Banyan Tree Branches Out With 4 Exciting New Properties In Japan

Banyan Tree Group has announced its expansion into Japan with the introduction of four locations.  Two have already opened, with the others being rolled-out over the next few years.

Banyan Tree Holdings brands include Banyan Tree, Angsana, Cassia, Dhawa and Laguna. The group is well known throughout Asia for its luxury wellness and sustainable ethos, with beautiful villas and resorts, especially in beachside locations.

Members of Accor Live Limitless can use points to make bookings at select Banyan Tree properties.

Both members and non-members can access luxury perks when booking (non award) stays through our travel agency - Rewarding Travel.

Banyan Tree and Angsana are two of our favourite spa/wellness groups, so this expansion into urban and ski-field locations is particularly exciting!

Watch this space...

Opened on 17 June 2022:

Dhawa Yura Kyoto opened its doors on June 17 near Sanjo Ohashi, a bridge that was once the final station of the ancient Tokaido Road from Tokyo. The road served as a route for long-distance voyagers during the Edo period in Japan. The 138-room hotel’s historic ties are reflected in the interior design and artwork, besides an 8lement Spa. 

As the first opening under the group’s newest concept, Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto is a 25-room hotel that also opened on June 17. It is located in front of Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1603 during the Tokugawa Shogunate. The new Garrya brand is a concept promising a Zen-like atmosphere along with a focus on well-being and sustainability at a more accessible price point. The first Garrya, the Garrya Huzhou Lucun, opened in Huzhou, China, in 2021, now accomp[anied by the Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto. 

Planned to open 2024:

Located in the Gion and Higashiyama district, Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto will open in spring 2024 as a 52-room luxury, hilltop urban resort. It is touted to be the first and only hotel in Kyoto city to have a Noh stage

Planned to open 2025:

A newly built resort set to open in 2025 in the most popular ski resort destination of Japan, Cassia Hirafu in Niseko will be a stone’s throw from Hirafu ski slope. It will feature 50 rooms and 113 residences that will be available for sale.

Planned to open 2026:

Renowned for its hot spring and views of Mount Fuji, Banyan Tree Ashinoko Hakone is slated to open in 2026, in an area adjacent to Lake Ashino.

Vienna scored top spot and Adelaide – last year’s highest ranked Australian city – dropped to 30.

After enduring 246 days of cumulative stay-at-home orders in 2021 (reportedly the most of any major city around the world), Melbournites may be heartened to learn that the judges at the Economist  recognised Melbourne as Australia’s most livable city in its 2022 Global Liveability Index report.

Melbourne came 10th in the report, tying with Japan’s Osaka, and the top spot was taken out by Austrian capital Vienna.

Last year, Adelaide ranked the third best city to live in in the world, but only 12 months later it’s dropped all the way to 30th place.

Australia’s largest city didn’t get a mention in the report’s summary, but Sydney ranked at 13, only two spots down from last year’s placement.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) assessed more than 170 cities across categories such as stability, health care, culture, environment, education and infrastructure. The EIU commented that Australian cities fell down the rankings due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

“In Australia, some states were slower to lift restrictions than others. As a result, Perth and Adelaide have lost ground since last year,” stated the report. Perth came in at 32 and Brisbane dropped 17 spots to 27th best city to set up home in the world.

So what made the Victorian city rank highest in the country? Melbourne’s education and infrastructure were named as the reason, but it ranked well behind other cities in the top 10 when it came to health care.

Here are the top 10 most livable cities according to the Economist 2022 Global Liveability Index:

Osaka and Melbourne

Air New Zealand set to relaunch 14 international routes

Air New Zealand set to relaunch 14 international routes

Air New Zealand is about to relaunch 14 international routes in 16 days and this will bring its international capacity up to 60% of pre-covid levels.

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be back helping to ensure that from July 9, the airline will have three-quarters of its international and domestic routes back up and running with popular destinations like Honolulu, Houston and Tahiti restarting after around 820 days of not operating.

“We are seeing first-hand how keen people are to travel again, particularly across the Tasman. Come July, we will double our services across the Tasman and restart popular direct services like the Sunshine Coast, Hobart and Adelaide. By July 9 we will be back at all nine Australian ports which is an important milestone for us.” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said.

Great news for travellers to Australia and its near neighbour.

Turkish Airlines Targets Nonstop Australia Flights

Turkish Airlines Targets Nonstop Australia Flights

Turkish Airlines is considering the launch of non-stop services to Australia using either Airbus A350-1000XWB or Boeing 777X aircraft. Australia is a whitespot in the carrier’s network of more than 300 destinations worldwide. The only other major exception is Greenland.

The airline already operates 777-300ERs, as well as A350-900s. However, Turkish Airlines may go for an additional version, such as the A350-1000XWB for the ultra-long-range services from Istanbul to Sydney and Melbourne.

“Australia is the last continent which Turkish Airlines is not flying to,” Turkish Airlines chairman Ahmet Bolat said at the 2022 IATA annual general meeting in Doha.

For Turkish Airlines, the nonstop flying time from Istanbul (IST) to Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) would be approximately 17 hours. Services could start in 2026 or 2027.

In the meantime, until the ultra-long-range capacity is available, the Istanbul-based carrier already has codeshare connections to Australia. The airline is also looking for partnerships in Australia and is talking with nations like Malaysia or Indonesia for fifth freedom rights.

“If we would have that [fifth-freedom], then we could share the markets with the home carriers,” Mr Bolat said. “With the existing fleet we cannot do nonstop flights. We are talking with our codeshare partners, because it is more comfortable to operate Australia with the same aircraft.”

Turkish Airlines has an interesting loyalty program Miles&Smiles, so direct flights to Australia may open up some interesting opportunities with Turkish Airlines and other Star Alliance members.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (RCYC) has postponed its planned launch date by three weeks, from 6 August to 31 August 2022, citing delays caused by external strikers. 

In the latest setback for the ultra-luxury ship, Evrima, RCYC confirmed it has faced “ship completion interruptions” fuelled by “a prolonged metalworkers strike”. RCYC, its subcontractors, and the Astander Shipyard are not involved in the metalworkers’ disagreement. However, disruptive protests near the Astander Shipyard, in Santander, Spain have impacted the finishing process, causing the company to reschedule its inaugural voyage.

Evrima will now enter service from Athens, Greece on its scheduled 10-day Greece to Italy itinerary departing 31 August. The voyage will sail to Parga and Corfu in Greece, overnight in Dubrovnik, and call at Korcula and Rovinj in Croatia, Koper in Slovenia before concluding in Chioggia (near Venice) on 10 September.  

Bookings for the Evrima (pictured) remain open for the 2022/23 Winter cruises, the 2023 Mediterranean cruises and the 2023/24 Caribbean cruises.

Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty program for Ritz-Carlton Yachts Collection - members can earn/burn points.  

To learn more about Marriott Bonvoy, refer to our Complete Guide to Marriott Bonvoy. To request more information regarding the Ritz-Carlton Yachts Collection...

NH Hotels officially joins GHA

NH Hotels officially joins GHA

Pictured is the NH Collection Plaza Santiago.

On June 20th, NH Hotels officially joined Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. 

NH Hotel Group is one of the largest hotel companies in the world and brings to the alliance more than 350 properties in 30 countries under three brands – NH Hotels, NH Collection and nhow.

NH Hotel Group is majority-owned by Minor Hotels, a Bangkok-based operator of more than 160 hotels and a GHA shareholder. Minor Hotels’ global family of brands include Anantara, Avani, Elewana Collection, Oaks and Tivoli which were already member brands of the alliance and participate in GHA DISCOVERY.

The move sees the transformation of NH Rewards into the GHA DISCOVERY loyalty programme, becoming NH DISCOVERY and creating a 21-million-strong global membership. Existing NH Rewards members will retain the value of their points and their other benefits, including Member Rates with up to 10% discount and additional rewards for booking on the NH or GHA websites.

For more details on GHA Discovery, see our Guide to GHA Discovery

A unique feature of the NH Discovery version is that NH Hotels shareholders can upgrade their tier status for attractive benefits.  

Under T&C 4.9 Members of the NH DISCOVERY Programme who are also NH’s Shareholders may upgrade their Tier as follows:

*  To the Gold Tier if they hold a block of shares to a value which is lower than 2,000 Euros; or

*  To the Platinum Tier if they hold a block of shares to a value equal to or greater than 2,000 Euros but lower than 3,000 Euros.

*  To the Titanium Tier if they hold a block of shares to a value equal to or greater than 3,000 Euros. 

The value of a block of shares will be determined considering the number of shares multiplied by their market value. In order to enable the upgrading of a Tier, Members must prove their status as a Shareholder by sending their securities account certificate by email to 

If you are a shareholder of NH Hotels, these upgrades last for as long a you own the requisite value of shares, providing a way of holding tier status without the requirement of stays or spending.

I Prefer Hotel Rewards Program benefits have been enhanced

I Prefer Hotel Rewards Program benefits have been enhanced

Preferred Hotel Group has released a series of updates and enriched benefits to its I Prefer  loyalty program. From the launch of I Prefer Gift Cards and a Stay, Reward, Repeat bonus points offer to the next installment of I Prefer Auctions, an ever-lasting Flexible Member Rate, and the introduction of a new points-plus-cash option to book Reward Nights – these program enhancements reflect Preferred Hotel Group’s commitment to deliver a range of value-rich benefits that cater to the needs of its loyalty members worldwide.   

Highlights of the I Prefer Hotel Rewards loyalty program enhancements include: 

I Prefer Gift Cards with 20% Bonus Value 

I Prefer Gift Cards are now available and can be used towards services, experiences, and stays at hundreds of participating I Prefer hotels and resorts across the globe. As an introductory special, purchasers will receive a 20% Bonus Card with each I Prefer Gift Card purchased now through June 30, 2022. To purchase I Prefer Gift Cards, and take advantage of this special launch offer, visit the  I Prefer Gift Cards site

Stay, Reward, Repeat Offer 
I Prefer members staying one, two, or three consecutive nights will now have the opportunity to earn up to 15,000 I Prefer Bonus Points – which is enough to redeem towards a free Reward Night or other  travel opportunities such as I Prefer Auctions and Reward Certificates. Pre-registration is required and bookings must be made by September 30, 2022, for stays through December 31, 2022. For additional details and to register for this offer, visit the dedicated Stay, Reward, Repeat Offer site. 

I Prefer Reward Nights Plus 
The recent launch of I Prefer Reward Nights Plus invites I Prefer members to book exclusive hotel rates using a combination of points plus cash, while earning points on the cash portion of their rate. For as little as 3,000 points plus cash payment in varying amounts, members can book and enjoy a selection of independent hotel experiences including but not limited to, Hotel Carlton in Antananarivo, Madagascar; Metropole Hotel in Venice, Italy; Royal Plaza on the Scotts in Singapore; NIZUC Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico; The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles, California; Ohla Eixample in Barcelona, Spain; Hotel Sans Souci in Vienna, Austria; and The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.; with more hotels from desirable global destinations coming soon. To learn more and to book stays at participating properties, members can visit the dedicated I Prefer Reward Nights Plus site. 

Additional program updates include: 

I Prefer Auction to run June 16-22, 2022 
Offering a unique way to bid and win one-of-a-kind travel experiences, the next I Prefer Auction will run June 16-22, 2022 and feature a curated selection of 15 hand-picked experiences available for limited-time bidding. Exclusive to I Prefer members, bids start as low as 12,500 I Prefer Points and include experiences such as a Guatemalan wellness ritual, afternoon tea for two in London, formal Omakase dining in Bangkok, cable cars in San Francisco, a perfect Parisian spa day, rooftop dinner for two in Saint-Tropez, a rebalancing massage in Coastal Italy, and more. Members can view the full list of experiences, and the complete terms and conditions, by visiting the dedicated I Prefer Auctions site. 

Flexible Member Rate  
Recognizing the importance of member-only value and flexibility, Preferred Hotel Group is pleased to announce that the I Prefer Flexible Member Rate is here to stay – members can book enjoy savings of 10% or more on top of the best available rate at more than 300 participating hotels. The flexible rate is also fully cancellable up through the day of arrival, providing travelers with the peace of mind needed if travel plans get disrupted. For additional details and to book, visit the dedicated Flexible Member Rate site

I Prefer is free to join. For more information, read our Guide to the I Prefer program, which contains a link to enrol.

Radisson brand to exit US as Choice Hotels acquires Radisson Americas' business, including 624 properties

Radisson brand to exit US as Choice Hotels acquires Radisson Americas' business, including 624 properties

Radisson’s nine brands in the United States will eventually go under the control of Choice Hotels, adding 624 hotels and over 68,000 rooms to their portfolio.Radisson will make a quiet exit from the U.S. market, ultimately transitioning all of their American properties to Choice Hotels.

Under the agreement, Choice Hotels will acquire the franchise business, operations and intellectual property of Radisson’s North American operations, including 624 properties in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. The portfolio includes 10 Radisson Blu hotels, 130 Radisson hotels, 453 Country Inn & Suites hotels, and 17 Park Inn by Radisson properties.

The additional 624 hotels with over 68,000 rooms expand Choice Hotels' presence in the US West Coast and Midwest.

In turn, Radisson will change their business strategy to focus on growth in the Asia-Pacific Region, along with Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Radisson has a stated goal of doubling their international footprint by 2025.

The acquisition of some of the industry’s most recognized brands extends Choice Hotels’ customer reach in the upscale segments, as well as to more business travelers and a broader demographic within Choice’s core leisure segment. The combination strengthens Choice’s ability to provide a more holistic product offering across segments and continue to capitalize on consumer trends expected to fuel future demand for travel such as remote work, increasing retirements and road trips.

The deal was unanimously approved by the Choice Hotels Board of Directors and is expected to close in the second half of 2022, pending regulatory approvals.

Patrick Pacious, President and Chief Executive Officer of Choice Hotels, said, "This transaction brings together two highly complementary businesses, enhancing our guest offerings in the core upper-midscale hospitality segments, while extending our reach into the upper upscale and upscale full-service segments....”

It is unclear when the hotels will transition into the Choice Privileges loyalty program.

The remaining (outside of the Americas) Radisson has a reasonable presence in the growth region of Asia-Pacific (180 properties in China, 120 in India and 120 in Southeast Asia), but no presence in Oceania.

In particular the hotel group wants to open more high-end art’otels. Several are earmarked to open in the coming years, including two in London, in the redeveloped Battersea Power Station and another $300 million building in London's trendy Hoxton district. 

Mandarin Oriental has signed a long term management agreement with Attestor Limited (a London based investment manager) to rebrand and manage the historic Hotel Cristallo in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. .

Currently a (Marriott) Luxury Collection property, the historic property will undergo a substantial renovation after closing in the second quarter of 2023, re-opening as a Mandarin Oriental resort in the summer of 2025, ahead of the Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics.  After re-opening, the hotel will feature 83 guestrooms, many with balconies, including 30 spacious suites with beautiful views of the Dolomites. Due to an extensive investment in artificial snow systems, the Dolomites are among the few Alpine resorts with guaranteed snow throughout the season and feature 1,200 kilometers of interconnected slopes.

The resort will also feature a range of restaurants and bars, flexible spaces for entertainment and events, as well as an extensive spa and wellness facility, which includes a swimming pool that transverses from inside to outside the building.  

The property sits above the most recognized mountain village in the Dolomites, a short walk away from Cortina d’Ampezzo, known as the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’, which features many award-winning restaurants, luxury brand boutiques and local arts and crafts. Venice Marco Polo Airport is reachable in one and a half hours by car. 

The all-year resort will provide a picturesque backdrop from which to enjoy a broad range of experiences from skiing to golf, cross country walking and hiking, tennis, ice skating, mountain climbing and a Kid’s Club equipped to match the needs of various age groups. 

Hotel Cristallo was built in 1901 in Art Nouveau style by the Menardi family and was a popular ski destination in the 1930s for the European cultured elite. After the Olympic Games of 1956, the Hotel entered its “golden era” as a renowned ski destination, hosting royals and celebrities, including Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra, Saul Bellow and Vladimir Nabokov. It has featured as a backdrop for a number of award-winning films, maintaining its historical charm as an early 20th century grand hotel.  In 2021, the property was acquired by funds managed by Attestor Limited, who also own Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como. Hotel Cristallo will undergo a thorough renovation including a new extension, created by award-winning architects Herzog and deMeuron.

Mandarin Oriental is renowned for exemplary service and is one of our favourite luxury hotel groups, so we are excited.. Watch this space as the Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics get closer, as I am sure the rooms and suites will be booked out very soon after the reopening.

Mandarin Oriental has a loyalty program - Fans of M.O.