Travel news: this month (February 2024) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature travel conteststips, or news.

Today: February 2024 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. &Beyond launches expedition yacht in the Galapagos Islands

Conservation-led luxury travel company &Beyond (one of my favorite hotel brands) has announced the extension of its South America portfolio with the launch of an expedition yacht in the Galapagos Islands. Named the &Beyond Galapagos Explorer, the 38 m (124 ft) yacht will operate on two 7-night routes in the east and west of the famed Galapagos Islands. Boasting just six suites and cabins, the yacht will cater for a maximum of 12 guests, with two expert guides present on each departure. In addition to the highest level of guiding, the vessel will also offer beautifully appointed spacious indoor and outdoor guest areas, as well as four exquisite cabins and two luxury suites. The &Beyond Galapagos Explorer will set sail on its first departure on 17 June 2024. Situated on the equator, the Galapagos consists of 18 main islands, three smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1878, the islands are home to a remarkable variety of flora and fauna, with many species found nowhere else on earth. Notable species include the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguana, and blue-footed booby.

&Beyond Galapagos Explorer

2. Capella announces a new luxury hotel in Taipei, Taiwan

Capella Hotels and Resorts announced the launch of Capella Taipei, opening at the end of 2024 and poised to become an urban sanctuary in the heart of Taipei’s vibrant Dunhua North Road. . Mere minutes from the 101 area, this 86-key luxurious retreat aims to offer a unique blend of city energy and serene elegance. Conceived by André Fu Studio, the hotel’s concept of a ‘modern mansion’ was birthed out of André’s personal reflection of Taipei – a modern city that juxtaposes between a world of vibrancy and poetic locality. Capella Taipei is set to be a pinnacle of culinary excellence, featuring the Grill, its main restaurant with innovative grilling, aging, and smoking techniques, offering sustainably sourced, farm-to-table produce with a French-inspired seasonal menu. Authentic Cantonese cuisine with Taiwanese influences and a premier Japanese Omakase restaurant will further enhance the dining experience. Guests will also have access to a spa with four treatment rooms, a fitness studio equipped with Technogym latest offerings, and an outdoor heated pool.

Capella Taipei, Taiwan

3. Etihad Airways introduces new luxury amenities across all cabins

Etihad Airways has launched a new collection of amenity kits and loungewear created in partnership with renowned Italian design house, Giorgio Armani, and luxury wellbeing brand ESPA. In addition, the UAE’s national airline has introduced a range of complimentary tote bags for guests on longer flights in Economy.

  • Etihad’s new Business Class amenity kits, designed by Giorgio Armani, come in two unisex styles – a clutch bag and a cube. The co-branded Giorgio Armani and Etihad unisex clutch bag features “The Dunes”, a contemporary print design drawing inspiration from the rolling sands of the stunning Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi. Following the flight, the bags can be used to conveniently store small tech products, cables, or personal items for convenience on the go. The kits are filled with luxury ESPA skincare products including lip balm, face mist, and body lotion, alongside convenient gifts including plush slippers, an eyeshade, earplugs and a travel dental kit.
  • Guests flying in The Residence, Etihad’s unique three-room private suite in the sky, and those in First Class will be treated to a stylish and highly desirable Giorgio Armani and Etihad branded large folio bag – one of the largest amenity kits in the sky. Collectable in four colours, the bag is perfect for use post flight to carry documents, tablets or even a 13” laptop, and will be a coveted accessory for all stylish travellers. The large folio bag comes packed with goodies from ESPA.
  • The Residence and First Class guests are also gifted bespoke Giorgio Armani and Etihad loungewear and slippers, beautifully presented in the large Giorgio Armani folio bag. The charcoal loungewear is soft to the touch, anti-wrinkle, and features a Henley neckline and bespoke tonal print inspired by the modern Abu Dhabi skyline, as well as matching trousers with pockets. In Business Class, Etihad takes Emirati design inflight with the new Etihad Business Class loungewear gifted to all guests on ultra-long haul flights over nine hours.
  • In Economy Class, passengers on flights over six hours are welcomed with a tote bag containing their inflight essentials, including gifts of Beekman hand cream, eyeshade and ear plugs. The fashionable tote comes in three collectible designs featuring the tailfin designs of Etihad’s iconic aircraft livery. Each bag is made from a 500ml PET bottle rescued from landfill. Packing the inflight amenities in the reusable bag also removes further single use plastics that would normally be used to pack the items individually.

etihad airways new amenity kit

4. Etihad Airways enables pilots to fly both A350 and A380 aircraft

After successfully obtaining rigorous regulatory approvals and completing thorough pilot training, Etihad has achieved the qualification for its pilots to seamlessly operate both Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft interchangeably. This milestone positions Etihad as one of the pioneering airlines globally to attain such versatility in its pilot capabilities. Airline pilots are typically restricted to flying only one aircraft type. However, under certain conditions such as high similarity of flight deck, pilot procedures, and the implementation of special training, pilots may be enabled to operate two similar aircraft types through a dedicated programme approved by the aircraft manufacturer and the Civil Aviation Authority, known as ‘Mixed Fleet Flying’ or ‘MFF’. Over the past decade, Etihad has obtained similar approvals to qualify its Airbus pilots to interchangeably fly the A320 and A330 types, A330 and A340 types, and its Boeing pilots to fly the 777 and 787 types, setting new standards for fleet commonality. Building on this legacy, the latest approval to fly both the Airbus A350 and A380 will further enhance the efficiency and flexibility of Etihad’s widebody network.

5. Iberia unveils sustainable amenity kits

Iberia has unveiled new toiletry bags designed by Teresa Helbig, inspired by her uniforms for Iberia and which will be available in Business and Premium Economy class on long-haul flights starting this summer. The bags’ design combines blue, red, and yellow. The sustainable toiletry bags include new natural and vegan cosmetic products, made entirely in Spain by Uvas Frescas, using surplus grapes from the wines selected by the Wine Club (Araex) and served on board Iberia flights, and with packaging made from sugar cane with I’m Green TM certification. They were produced by Kaelis by recycling 7.5 million 550ml plastic bottles, saving 1.2 million litres of water and reducing energy emissions by 70%. Additionally, these sustainable products are packaged by Envera, the Iberia employee association for parents of people with disabilities, which employs more than 400 people with disabilities. The Business Class toiletry bag includes, in addition to cosmetics, a pair of night socks, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, lip balm and hand cream. The bag that will be given to Premium Economy customers will include socks, a mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and earplugs.

iberia new amenity kit

6. InterContinental makes its debut in Auckland, New Zealand

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has made its debut in New Zealand’s largest city with the opening of InterContinental Auckland. Gracing the city’s waterfront at the halo address of One Queen Street, InterContinental Auckland anchors the one billion dollar (NZD) Commercial Bay lifestyle precinct, which houses the city’s latest upscale office, retail, social, and dining hub. The hotel offers 139 thoughtfully designed guestrooms and suites, with the majority accentuating the finest aspects of Auckland with scenic city and water views. Each room features a Whariki (woven panel), selected by Beronia Scott and Te Pūawai Ōrākei Marae, the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei weaving collective, helping guests embrace the locale’s unique culture. In partnership with internationally renowned chef, Gareth Stewart, Advieh Restaurant & Bar opens as the hotel’s all-day dining destination, presenting a contemporary twist on Middle Eastern inspired cuisine while championing New Zealand’s finest produce.  The hotel will also open a 24-hour fitness center as well as a rooftop bar on level 21 to open later in the year, independently owned by renowned hospitality experts, Five Fellas.

intercontinental auckland

7. The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Las Colinas opens, following multimillion dollar renovation

The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Las Colinas, opened its doors after a $55 million USD renovation. The property has a 38-year-old legacy in the Dallas area and used to be managed for Four Seasons (prior to the takeover by Marriott). Ideally positioned on 400 acres, The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Las Colinas is situated on a former family ranch just minutes from downtown Dallas. Surrounded by a breathtaking natural setting, the property boasts two 18-hole golf courses and holds the esteemed certification of an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, capturing the innate beauty of Texas. Adjacent to the resort is The Nelson Sports and Golf Club, providing guests with access to expansive recreational facilities. The 427 guest rooms have been revamped with elements that capture the free-spirited essence and lifestyle reflective of the resort’s historical roots as the former Little Ranch on the Hills.  There are upcoming enhancements coming to the property including several new additions. This February will mark the opening of Knife Italian, the latest restaurant concept by Michelin-starred chef John Tesar. Furthermore, the resort pool is undergoing a complete reimagination.

The Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Las Colinas

8. Qantas unveils new inflight safety video

Australia’s flag carrier Qantas has introduced a new onboard safety video featuring front line team members and Frequent Flyers taking viewers on a journey through key safety information from some of the most unique destinations in Australia and around the world. Qantas Chief Customer Officer Catriona Larritt said safety is the number one priority across the Qantas Group, and the inflight video together with Cabin Crew, plays a key role in capturing the attention of travellers to watch and listen to the critical information. “First and foremost, the video is about familiarising our customers with safety procedures and we try to make it as engaging as possible, in particular for regular flyers who might otherwise tune out. We are proud to feature our own well-travelled team members and customers, to not only deliver the safety message but also promote travel and tourism by inspiring people to explore destinations they may not have experienced throughout Australia and beyond.” The new Qantas safety video was filmed across 14 destinations over 40 days in temperatures ranging from -36 degrees in Lapland, Finland to 36 degrees in Jaipur, India.

9. Raffles will debut a luxury hotel in the mountains of Neom, Saudi Arabia

Raffles Hotels & Resorts, a leading luxury brand of Accor, unveiled plans to debut a new resort in Trojena, the year-round mountain destination located in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Slated to open in 2027, the new Raffles hotel will feature a striking ring-shaped design, offering stunning scenic views of the surrounding destination from every vantage point. The resort is set to include 105 guestrooms, which are arranged around the perimeter of the ring, offering unobstructed vistas and privacy. Circular zones and meticulously landscaped gardens on the ground level will encourage exploration and discovery, while the roof, comprised of a variety of circular apertures, allows for ample natural light. The Raffles resort will also feature the signature hallmarks for which the globally renowned hospitality brand is known, including its legendary butler service, exceptional culinary offerings, and an emphasis on destination arts and culture.

Raffles Trojena

10. Emirates introduces pajamas In Business Class

Emirates has launched an innovatively designed, complimentary inflight loungewear set for Business Class passengers including a relaxed cowl neck top and drawstring pants, comfortable slippers, and a matching eye mask. The loungewear is composed of a super soft premium modal material, which customers find lightweight and breathable. Designed to reflect contemporary athleisure trends, the cozy fabric is in a relaxing shade of light blue, available in two sizes. The botanic fibres and jersey knit style means the loungewear has an elegant drape that flatters various body types, ensuring soft and stretchy comfort above the clouds. Presented in a complementary drawstring pouch, each set contains an adjustable loungewear top and pants, a pair of warm slippers and an eye mask. On flights of 9 hours or more, Business Class passengers will receive the full set with loungewear top and pants, slippers and eye mask, while on flights that have a duration of 2 hours and 30 minutes or more, passengers will receive complimentary slippers and eye mask sets.

emirates pajamas business class



  1. Pajamas is the preferred spelling in American English, while pyjamas is preferred in the main varieties of English from outside North America 😉

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