Why does this hotel look like it’s made of giantJenga blocks?

While doing a lazy backstroke in the lagoon pool, my eyes gravitate to the constellation of lights reflected in the mirrored ceiling five storeys above.

All that’s on my mind is relaxation and the illuminated eye candy – not thoughts of hallmark sustainability, biophilic design, or carbon sequestering.

 

But, I will eventually wrap my head around all the eco coolness of this design hotel of all design hotels – the Pan Pacific Orchard in Singapore.

To be honest, my wife, Kerry, and I chose to stay at the Pan Pacific Orchard because it’s uniquely beautiful and luxurious, not because it has a bio-digester that transforms food waste into water that can be used for cleaning.

After all, the 23-storey, 347-room hotel, which opened in June 2023, is an architectural wonder resembling a tower constructed of giant Jenga blocks. Its most marvelous features are four, 22-metre-tall terraces scooped out of its vertical facade.

The second-floor Forest Terrace is for the open-air lobby and bar; the fifth-floor Beach Terrace for the lagoon pool; the 11th-floor Garden Terrace for the cabana lawn and patios of the Pacific Club Lounge and Florette Champagne & Oyster Bar; and the 18th-floor Cloud Terrace for the outdoor convention space.

Each guest room overlooks one of the terraces and the balcony of each room juts into the terrace’s air space.

“It creates four vertical, curated, themed and symmetrical ecosystems,” said Pan Pacific Orchard director of communications Teresa Koh as she showed my wife and I around.

“We’re very proud to be a luxury hotel that at its core is all about responsible sustainability.”

It doesn’t hurt that all this environmental consciousness is uber-chic and eye-catching.

The two exposed support columns either side of the hotel are covered in vines that are now creeping across the building and dripping from the terraces.

More than 100 other species of plants, shrubs and trees, including all those palms on the pool terrace, end up covering 300% of the hotel’s base land area in lush foliage. The greenery and the terrace’s designs result in self-shading, that aforementioned natural cross ventilation, carbon sequestering and air purification. Singapore-based WOHA Architects, a biophilic specialist, designed the hotel to be an iconic slice of nature in an otherwise largely concrete-and-glass megatropolis.

The Green Mark Platinum Certification was awarded for solar panels on the roof that power all common areas, collected rainwater keeping the terrace ecosystems lush, the previously mentioned bio digester and Swisspro water filtration systems in every room eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles.

All in all, it makes Pan Pacific Orchard the new prototype for high rise tropical hospitality.

Guest rooms are compact and well-designed with comfy beds and high-end linens and that balcony that juts out into the terrace air space. We lounge at the lagoon pool; sip signature cocktails called Cloud and Forest (in a nod to the terrace themes) at Florette; eat crispy pork at Mosella restaurant; and take breakfast, afternoon tea and happy hour in Pacific Club Lounge on the garden terrace.

Pan Pacific has 50 hotels and resorts in 30 cities in Asia, Europe and North America under the Pan Pacific, Parkroyal and Parkroyal Collection banners, including Pan Pacifics in Vancouver, Whistler and Toronto

In April, Air Canada started flying four times a week between Vancouver and Singapore, the only non-stops connecting Canada with the multicultural, Asian city state of six million people. In fact, it’s the longest flight Air Canada operates at 16 hours and 10 minutes Vancouver-Singapore. One-way fares on the quick, quiet and comfortable Boeing Dreamliner 787 start at $734.

Hotel rates for Pan Orchard start at around SG$440.

For more information, visit www.aircanada.com and www.panpacific.com.

—STORY BY: STEVE MACNAULL

Virgin Limited Edition welcomes luxury safari camp to portfolio

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition has added the Finch Hattons Luxury Safari Camp in Kenya to its collection of unique retreats.

Located in the Tsavo National Park of Kenya, this marks the ninth property within the collection and its fifth footprint in Africa, complementing its other properties across the continent, including Mahali Mzuri, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard, and the famed Kasbah Tamadot.

It will also become an integral part of the wider parent company, Virgin Hotels Collection, encompassing Virgin Hotels and Virgin Limited Edition, which was formed last year.

About Finch Hattons Luxury Safari Camp

The tented safari camp, already distinguished for its family values, is deeply rooted in community and sustainability.

“Africa is one of my favourite parts of the world. Each cornerstone offers something entirely unique, surrounded by rich heritage and culture,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “I’m delighted Finch Hattons and all of the incredible wildlife in the Tsavo National Park will join our Virgin family and I can’t wait to visit soon.”

Finch Hattons features 17-luxury tented suites and three decades of safari experience from the Kenyan-based Gehlot family – the owners of Finch Hattons and co-owners of Mahali Mzuri – together with Sir Richard Branson. It will offer future Virgin Limited Edition guests extraordinary experiences within the treasures of Tsavo, not to mention Africa’s only Shetani lava flow and breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

“This is a momentous occasion for Virgin Limited Edition and the whole of Virgin Hotels Collection as we welcome Finch Hattons to our family, remarked James Bermingham, CEO, Virgin Hotels Collection.  “Growth is very much part of our plan for the entire collection over the coming years and this is just the start as we look to expand our guest choice across the globe.”

Available to book this July

Finch Hattons will become part of the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio from July 1, 2024.

Rates start from $796 per person per night, including accommodation, all meals and drinks, as well as all scheduled activities including game drives, excursion to Shetani lava flow, Oldonyo Larami volcano hike, yoga, nature walks and return airstrip transfers.

For more information visit https://www.virginlimitededition.com/finch-hattons-coming-soon/

Polar adventure company launches helicopter trip through Patagonia

Quark Expeditions has blazed a new trail in expedition travel with its inaugural helicopter-supported voyage through Chilean Patagonia.

The polar operator also confirms that 90 of the 165 passengers (55 per cent) who joined the maiden voyage of “Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine” in March 2024 were repeat guests of Quark Expeditions.

The 15-day itinerary, which ran March 13 to 27, 2024, departed Buenos Aires with embarkation from Ushuaia, and included Cape Horn, a transit through the Beagle Channel, then into Chile’s spectacular network of fjords and channels, featuring helicopter flightseeing and Zodiac cruises along an enchanting stretch of coastline that’s known for some of the most remote and picturesque landscapes on Earth.

Trip highlights

Highlights included:

  • Heli flightseeing: Our two H145 helicopters provided unmatched views of Patagonia’s mountain-top glaciers and ice caps—which are not visible from sea level.
     
  • Heli landingUltramarine‘s helicopters transported guests to the peaks of Canal de las Montanas (Channel of the Mountains) where they enjoyed unsurpassable views of the surrounding fjords.
     
  • Immersive cultural experiences: Guests visited an 85,000-hectare estancia (South American ranch) and explored the cultural heritage of the town of Puerto Natales.
     
  • Unrivalled wildlife: Guests observed a staggering array of wildlife, including guanacos, the elusive puma, South American sea lions, Andean foxes and whales.
     
  • Phenomenal bird-watching: Species included Andean condors, Magellanic penguins, Chilean flamingos, oystercatchers, kingfishers and three types of Caracaras.
     
  • Hiking and photography tours: Guests choose from guided photographic adventures and various levels of hikes in Torres del Paine National Park.
     
  • Paddling and kayaking excursions: Guests observed a variety of marine life up close, such as mussels, kelp, snails, starfish and krill.
     
  • Journey down Iceberg Alley: From the deck of Ultramarine, guests witnessed a series of epic ice formations, most notably in the region of Tierra del Fuego.

Quark Expeditions’ next departure of Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine embarks March 13 to 27, 2025, and March 12 to 26, 2026.

Adults-only all-inclusive with overwater suites opens in Antigua

Royalton CHIC Antigua, the highly anticipated adults-only all-inclusive resort is officially open, marking a significant milestone for top-tier lifestyle travel in this region of the Caribbean.

As the newest addition to Blue Diamond Resorts’ portfolio and its first property exclusively for adults on the island, it introduces the innovative ‘Party Your Way’ concept to cater to couples, groups of friends, and solo travellers seeking an unforgettable social vacation experience amidst the stunning backdrop of the Caribbean Sea.

 

About Royalton CHIC Antigua

Royalton CHIC Antigua boasts a wide array of amenities and offerings designed to delight the senses and elevate the vacation experience.

This brand-new resort offers 235 meticulously designed rooms, each blending modern comfort and elegance with lively touches synonymous with the ‘Party Your Way’ lifestyle, creating a vibrant atmosphere. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations, including rooms with breathtaking ocean views, swim-out access, and walkout oceanfront suites, each featuring a balcony or terrace.

In addition to its rooms and suites, the resort will feature exclusive twelve Overwater suites for those seeking an unparalleled luxury experience – Chairman, Presidential, or Junior Suite – with special Diamond Club™ perks, such as seamless check-in, access to exclusive areas, and personalized butler service.

Dining and amenities

Dining at Royalton CHIC Antigua is a remarkable journey into gastronomic excellence, with seven restaurants and five bars.

Notable among these is the Overwater Restaurant “Pescari,” embracing a “Diningtainment” concept that merges dining and entertainment with panoramic ocean views, setting a new standard for elevated culinary experiences in the region.

Guests seeking an upgraded experience can opt to stay in the Diamond Club™ room categories, which offer the best room locations and come with a set of specific room amenities and services. Additionally, guests enjoy access to private areas, dinner reservations, and personal butlers to ensure that their stay exceeds expectations.

These room categories have proven to be a resounding success at other Royalton Luxury Resorts properties, where certified butlers maintain the highest standards in hospitality services and are consistently favored by guests.

Royalton CHIC Antigua is now open and ready to welcome spirited guests to indulge in the luxurious paradise of Antigua.

For more information or to book your stay, visit www.royaltonchicresorts.com.

This luxury tour operator just added Africa to its travel portfolio

Classic Vacations, a global luxury travel company, is expanding its portfolio to include luxury offerings on a new continent: Africa.

Classic’s Africa portfolio launches with a range of carefully crafted itineraries designed to highlight southern Africa’s most iconic destinations and hidden gems. Whether travellers are seeking adventure in the wilderness, cultural immersion in vibrant cities, or just relaxation, there will be a tour to suit every taste and interest.

“Our diverse product offerings now span from city experiences in iconic destinations such as Cape TownJohannesburg, Livingstone, and Victoria Falls to unforgettable safari adventures in Kruger National Park, BotswanaZambia, and Zimbabwe. At Classic, we pride ourselves on curating exceptional experiences, and our newest additions promise to deliver even more to immerse travelers in the beauty and excitement that this magnificent region offers,” said Joelle Apilado, vice-president of product, Classic Vacations.

Africa offers a wealth of unique experiences that our customers are asking for. Add that to our preferred luxury accommodations and curated VIP service, and travelers are guaranteed to create memories that last a lifetime,” she concluded.

To learn more about Classic Vacations and its new Africa trips, visit www.classicvacations.com.

Eurail is adding more routes for those who crave “slow travel”

Eurail has partnered with its rail network to offer customers new cross-border routes, new partnerships with rail carriers, and new itineraries to explore.

In 2023, Eurail sold more than 1,000,000 passes for the first time in the company’s history. For travellers looking for an authentic, slow travel experience, Eurail is an increasingly popular choice.

Highlights for 2024

Some timely highlights include:

  • New night trains from Brussels or Paris to Berlin: The ÖBB Nightjet routes will now connect Brussels and Paris to Berlin, replacing the formerly known City Night Line train that last operated in 2014. Travelers can now experience this route again three times a week with the European Sleeper and ÖBB Nightjet through reservations.
  • New cross-border train connecting Vilnius to Riga: Cross-border rail services are back between Lithuania and Latvia, connecting Vilnius and Riga while passing through Siauliai. This development will allow passengers to travel efficiently and comfortably from Poland through all three Baltic countries.
  • A New, state-of-the-art night train, connecting Vienna, Innsbruck, and Hamburg: ÖBB Nightjet began their brand new ‘Nightjet of the new Generation’ connecting Vienna, Innsbruck, and Hamburg, featuring the first mini cabins designed for one person.
  • New cross border train, connecting Subotica to Szeged: This route fills a missing gap in the network connecting Subotica and Szeged and makes travel across the region more accessible, especially between Belgrade and Budapest.
  • The BOB (Berner Oberland Railway) is now fully included in the Eurail Pass: Travelers can now visit one of the world’s most beautiful valleys and discover the highlights of the Jungfrau region. From Interlaken to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, and further on to Wengen via the Wengernalp Railway (WAB), all in one Pass.

For more information, visit www.eurail.com.

Marriott Miches Beach to open in Dominican Republic

Marriott International will soon welcome Marriott Miches Beach, an all-inclusive resort, currently the Sunrise Miches Beach Resort in Dominican Republic.

Set to undergo a conversion process commencing in the second quarter of 2024, the resort is slated to open its doors under the Marriott Hotels brand in the first quarter of 2025.

Nestled on a sprawling 62-acre site in the enchanting locale of Miches, within a 60-minute ride distance of the Punta Cana International Airport, the resort boasts nearly 1,000 feet of pristine beachfront. It will feature 498 rooms, with balconies and terraces, and select accommodations offering private swim-up pools.

Following the announcement of the first Marriott All-Inclusive Resort, in Cancun (Mexico) in late 2023 (set to open in March 2024), the Marriott Miches Beach, An All-Inclusive Resort, Dominican Republic, joins a portfolio of worldwide properties debuting into Marriott Hotels All-Inclusive flagship throughout 2024 and 2025, including Marriott Puerto Vallarta, An All-Inclusive Resort and Marriott Djerba, An All-Inclusive Resort – Tunisia.

 

Five-star luxury hotel will transform Toronto’s skyline

An $800 million-dollar skyscraper is set to debut at Adelaide and Duncan streets in Toronto.

Dreamed up by real estate developer Peter Freed of Freed Developments, the first-ever Freed Hotel and Residences tower will bring both Katsuya by Sam Nazarian’s Disruptive Group by sbe and artwork by renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to Toronto

Designed by Chicago-based tall building experts Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, renowned for the next world’s tallest and most luxurious skyscraper Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, as well as  Central Park Tower in New York, the project will feature 100 five-star luxury hotel rooms and 400 luxury condominiums with a world class Skybar/restaurant on the 63rd floor, boutique spa, and a 10,000 sq ft Katsuya Restaurant on the 2nd floor.

 

Key features & design elements

Key features of the Freed Hotel and Residences project include:

  • Freed Hotel Debut: Freed Hotel and Residences marks the introduction of the first-ever Freed hotel in Canada, offering an unparalleled blend of luxury, style, and sophistication through hotel-style living.
  • Multi-Functional Tower: The project will feature 100 luxury hotel rooms and 400 luxury condominiums with a world class Skybar/restaurant on the 63rd floor.
  • Katsuya, Contemporary Japanese Restaurant: The hotel will house the exquisite Katsuya Japanese restaurant by Sam Nazarian’s Disruptive Group by sbe on the second floor.
  • Takashi Murakami Art IntegrationTakashi Murakami will bring forward his famous artwork, “Together with the flower parent and child,” that will be featured prominently inside the lobby of the first-ever Freed Hotel and Residences.
  • Amenities include: 62nd floor Sky Lobby with grand staircase leading to 63rd floor restaurant and bar featuring 70 ft tall space below a sloping skylight, boutique spa, terrace and outdoor garden, private spaces for entertaining and dining, fitness and yoga studio, private theater room, valet parking and full-service concierge, and more.

The Freed Hotel and Residences is scheduled to begin sales in March 2024 and will be located at 240 Adelaide Street West. 

Potential buyers can expect a diverse range of units ranging from 270 sq.ft. to over 9,800 sq.ft. For further information on Freed Developments, click here

Hyatt Hotels is adding 35 luxury hotels for 2025

Hyatt Hotels has plans to open 35 luxury hotels and resorts globally through 2025 across the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Miraval, Alila, Andaz, Thompson Hotels, and The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brands, as well as Inclusive Collection brands Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts and Dreams Resorts & Spas.

Hyatt has doubled the number of luxury rooms, tripled the number of resort rooms, and quadrupled the number of lifestyle rooms in only five years.

With 70 per cent of its rooms categorized as luxury and upper upscale, the Hyatt portfolio has grown to meet increased demands for luxury and resort accommodations while upholding consistent, top-tier quality, personalized experiences, and bespoke service.

Keeping up with tourist demand

Travel and tourism are expected to increase by approximately 12 per cent of global GDP by 2033 according to a recent World Travel & Tourism Council report.

In turn, Hyatt’s luxury portfolio is expanding to meet that demand in new international markets.

This includes the debut of Park Hyatt hotels in the U.K., Mexico, and Malaysia; the Thompson Hotel brand’s expansion in Europe with the first properties in Austria and Italy; the Andaz brand’s growth in the Americas with its first hotel in the Caribbean; The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand’s first properties in the Nordics and India; as well as Hyatt luxury growth in the trending destination of Portugal, with the planned openings of Andaz Lisbon and Dreams Madeira Resort, Spa & Marina.

Hyatt hotels coming 2025

The following luxury Hyatt properties will open through 2025:

Timeless Collection 

Timeless Collection hotels deliver the comforts of a home away from home with a consistently elevated experience, with exciting openings including:

  • Park Hyatt
    • Park Hyatt Marrakech (early 2024)
    • Park Hyatt London River Thames (mid 2024)
    • Park Hyatt Los Cabos at Cabo del Sol (2024)
    • Park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur (mid 2024)
    • Park Hyatt Changsha (2024)
    • Park Hyatt Johannesburg (2025)
    • Park Hyatt Cancun (2025)
    • Park Hyatt Phu Quoc (2025)
    • Park Hyatt Taipei (2025)
    • Grand Hyatt
    • Grand Hyatt Kunming (2024)
    • Grand Hyatt Mexico City Santa Fe (2025)
    • Grand Hyatt Cancun Beach Resort (2025)
    • Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences (2025)
    • Grand Hyatt The Red Sea (2025)

Boundless Collection

Boundless Collection hotels that will make their debut and deliver best-in-class offerings and compelling experiences designed to excite and inspire, include:

  • Miraval
    • Miraval, The Red Sea (2025)
  • Alila
    • Alila Shanghai (late 2024)
    • Alila Dalit Bay (2025)
    • Alila Dongao Island (2025)
  • Andaz
    • Andaz Doha (mid 2024)
    • Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (renovation unveiling mid 2024)
    • Andaz Miami Beach (late 2024)
    • Andaz Turks & Caicos at Grace Bay (2025)
    • Andaz Lisbon (2025)
    • Andaz Bangkok (2025)
  • Thompson Hotels
    • Thompson Houston (2024)
    • Thompson Palm Springs (2024)
    • Thompson South Beach (2024)
    • Thompson Vienna (early 2025)
    • Thompson Rome (early 2025)
    • Thompson Monterrey (2025)
    • Thompson Shanghai (2025)

Independent Collection

Independent Collection hotels are all unique – from storied properties and vibrant neighborhood locales to immersive retreats. New openings include:

  • The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
    • Hotel Toranomon Hills (2023)
    • Grand Hansa Hotel (2024)
    • Noor-Us-Sabah Palace (2025)

Inclusive Collection

Inclusive Collection, part of World of Hyatt, resorts deliver immersive, elevated experiences where everything is seamlessly included, with expected new resorts including:

  • Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts
    • Zoëtry Halkidiki (mid 2024)
  • Dreams Resorts & Spas
    • Dreams Estrella Del Mar Mazatlan (mid 2024)
    • Dreams Madeira Resort, Spa & Marina (mid 2024)

For information on Hyatt’s existing brand portfolio, please visit www.hyatt.com.

This Canadian airline is now flying to 31 new European cities

WestJet guests will gain access to 31 additional cities across 11 European countries from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) through an expansion of WestJet’s codeshare agreement with Air France.

As a result of a successful 10-year partnership, the two airlines have connected millions of travellers between Canada and Europe with the convenience of one-ticket and the ability to earn WestJet Dollars throughout their entire journey.

Previously, WestJet and Air France’s code share agreement included 22 destinations through Charles De Gaulle Airport, all of which will be maintained as the number of onward destinations in Europe now grows to 53 which will be accessible as part of the WestJet network.

Due to exceptional demand for its seasonal service to the city of love, WestJet has extended service between Calgaryand Paris to now operate year-round. The once seasonal route will continue to fly on WestJet’s 787 Dreamliner up to seven days per week during peak travel periods and function as the ideal connection hub for our guests to seamlessly connect onto Air France to these additional destinations.