Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 May 2008
Issue No. 896
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Airlines & airports

Etihad increases flights to Egypt

THE NEW summer flying programme of Etihad Airways, launched in March, offers air travellers from Egypt a greater choice of services and improved flight connections. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will operate a total of 728 weekly flights out of Abu Dhabi this summer to global destinations, compared to 494 in the same season last year. A new service to Beijing launched on 30 March is one of the highlights of the summer schedule.

In addition to the new routes, Etihad Airways will increase the frequency of its flights to a number of key destinations within the GCC, Middle East, Europe, the Indian sub- continent, Africa and the Asia Pacific, increasing its flights to Cairo to 12 per week.

"Etihad will offer air travellers from around the world significantly improved connection opportunities through our Abu Dhabi home base as we continue to add breadth, depth and additional frequency to the airline's expanding global route network," said James Hogan, Etihad Airways' chief executive.

Weekly flights to Matrouh

STARTING June three direct weekly flights will operate between Cairo and Marsa Matrouh through Express, EgyptAir's domestic and regional company. The new line is expected to transport half a million passengers annually.

Investors of Matrouh governorate believe that the new line will help revive domestic as well as international tourism and investments since many Arab and foreign investors prefer air travel to land transportation. Investors also expect Express to multiply its trips between the two cities soon.

Emirates booked

EMIRATES officials recently announced that Dubai will host the inaugural Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature (EAIFL) from 25 to 1 March 2009 in Dubai City.

It will be the first event of its kind on this scale to be held in the Middle East. EAIFL will be an annual event, bringing together people of all nationalities and cultures to celebrate literature and reading in all its forms.

Authors scheduled to speak at the festival include Paolo Coelho, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Lynne Truss, Anne Fine, Jeremy Strong and Lauren Child. Other participating authors will be household names in genres such as fiction, children, lifestyle and sport.

EAIFL is directed by Isobel Abul-Houl, director of Magrudy's, the region's leading chain of bookshops, and Bill Samuel, vice chairman of London bookshop Foyles.

"One of the roles of the airline, from its start-up, has been to promote Dubai as a tourist and commercial destination," Mike Simon, Emirates' divisional senior vice president of corporate communications, said. "We believe the EAIFL will help strengthen the literary scene in Dubai as well as attract visitors to the festival."

Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa launch codeshare

ETHIOPIAN Airlines and Lufthansa passengers can now fly with either airline on routes between Frankfurt and the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa after a codeshare agreement was signed. Customers have a choice of seven flights per week on this route.

The agreement and the cooperation between Lufthansa and Ethiopian Airlines have established the basis for further collaboration. An extension of the codeshare deal to onward flights from Frankfurt to European and US destinations as well as from Addis Ababa to destinations in Eastern and Central Africa is already being discussed. "Codesharing will benefit customers of both airlines. It will boost Lufthansa's flight offering in Africa and also give passengers from Ethiopia access to our global route network via our Frankfurt hub," Wolfgang Mayrhuber, Lufthansa chairman and CEO, said.

Hotels & resorts

Mediterranean gourmet in Alexandria

FOOD lovers will have a unique opportunity to attend an exclusive culinary event scheduled at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano from 15 to 21 June. The Mediterranean Gourmet Summit is positioned to seize the world of cuisine by storm as the week-long occasion is celebrated with gastronomic delights prepared by master chefs from Four Seasons properties and top restaurants around the world. A medley of cooking classes will also take place during the summit, where chefs will pass on their talents to a number of participants.

The chefs will be creating select dishes with a Mediterranean, Asian and Mexican flare at outlets within Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria.

Renowned culinary master David Jansen will be arriving from Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, where he is currently chef de cuisine at the celebrated Fountain Restaurant consistently voted one of the best restaurants in the US, the eatery having won a variety of awards. Jansen has a real passion for working with the freshest local ingredients and is looking forward to cooking in Byblos, Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria's premier restaurant.

Yoshinori Mizutani, of Four Seasons Hotel Cairo The First Residence, is from Japan and was formerly resident chef during service for the ambassador of Japan. Mizutani, together with senior sous chef Nyoman Suasa, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, will be serving up Sushi and Balinese delights at Sushi etc. Suasa has vast culinary experience and creates masterpieces such as Nasi Goreng and Sambals, Sushi and others.

Chef Brian Moyers, recently named chef de cuisine of the Boulevard at Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles brings with him extensive culinary knowledge and experience from some of America's leading restaurants. Moyers will be preparing his Californian cuisine in Fresca, a relaxed chic outlet.

Jorge Gonz´les was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and started his career in cooking a decade ago. As restaurant chef for Aramara at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Gonz´les will be delighting guests with Mexican spices and creative dishes at Kala,a fresh and vibrant sea-view restaurant with an expansive buffet.

Also attending the summit will be Giovanni Speciale, executive sous chef at Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai. Originating from Puglia, southern Italy, Speciale's unique and flavoursome approach to cooking comes from his Italian hometown, where secret recipes and methods were handed down to him from his mother. While his heart remains with Italian cuisine, Speciale also has an exceptional talent for seafood. Stefano's will be the venue of choice for Speciale, with its open kitchen, chic dژcor and traditional, warm southern Italian hospitality.

Promotions in Marriott

ULRICH Huth, the general manager of the Cairo Marriott Hotel, recently announced the selection of Nancy Georggy, director of marketing communications.

Georggy joined the Cairo Marriott's family in 2005 as marketing communications coordinator and has proved to be extremely reliable, hard working and shouldered the enormous responsibilities of marketing communications while achieving the department's goals.

New resort in Sahl Hasheesh

ORASCOM Development & Management (ODM) in partnership with Joud Fund recently announced the launch of a new Cape Citadel development in Sahl Hasheesh, a fully-fledged luxury resort embracing one of the most beautiful hotel complexes on the Red Sea.

Located only 20 minutes from Hurghada International Airport, Cape Citadel constitutes the five-star Citadel Azur Hotel, Cape Citadel real estate and an international sailing marina, all connected with a shared transportation system.

The luxurious Citadel Azur Hotel, designed by renowned architect Amr El-Alfi, is unique with its coral fossil stone rustic features, arcades, vaults and multi-level landscape. Emerging as a castle from underneath the sea, its irregularity, wildness and myriad of classy amenities from restaurants, bars, swimming pools and private beaches to a range of classy sports and wellness activities, the hotel provides the anchor for the Cape Citadel resort.

Cape Citadel real estate, the highlight of the development, features a range of separate and twin villas, chalets and different sized apartments and studios, all sharing the magnificent view of the Red Sea. And to further complement the living luxury, Cape Citadel homeowners will enjoy full access to all the amenities of the Citadel Azur Hotel.

The International Cape Citadel Marina located in the bay next to the hotel comprises 28 berths of up to 4.5m in depth. The full-service diving centre adjacent to the marina will offer excursions out to the treasure trove of coral located just below the surface, including fishing safaris, diving trips, and a range of water sports for the whole family.

Semiramis appoints general manager

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the appointment of Jںrgen Baumhoff as the new general manager at InterContinental Semiramis Cairo.

Baumhoff, who officially started his new role on 17 March, brings with him over 35 years experience in the hospitality industry and will play a vital role in maintaining this celebrated property's position as a symbol of modernity and style in Egypt. Having recently concluded a multi-million dollar lobby renovation, the InterContinental Semiramis Cairo, featuring 728 rooms, boasts exceptional facilities and continues to be one of the cities most revered establishments.

Having worked with IHG for 25 years, including a regional general manager role in the United Kingdom for InterContinental hotels, Baumhoff has clearly demonstrated his passion and drive for the hotel industry. With a strong commitment to quality and customer satisfaction Baumhoff will play a pivotal role at the InterContinental Semiramis Cairo where he will oversee all hotel management operations.

Baumhoff has held several general manager positions in Germany, Hong Kong, Australia and London. He recently returned from Qatar where he was CEO of a hotel development company.

Renovations in JW Marriott

The JW Marriott Hotel Cairo is currently undergoing massive reconstruction and adding to its reputation as the finest hotel in Cairo with world class facilities.

The main project opening in summer 2008 is the Mandara Thai Spa. The spa offers 300 treatments and boasts a stunning reception area located on the second level with stairs descending to a magnificent new heated indoor swimming pool. All this at the heart of a huge new fitness complex, complete with state-of-the-art equipment and a 10-metre high climbing wall.

The spa features spacious private rooms for singles and couples with baths and Jacuzzis, and luxurious suites which include private steam baths. It focuses on privacy to enhance the feeling of being pampered and the sense of well-being that follows, to emphasise beauty, rejuvenation and a uniquely indulgent and exotic experience with an East-West flavour.

Ritz-Carlton gives back

HOW about a relaxing vacation and some volunteer work at the same time? The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, starting April, launches the "Give Back Getaways" programme which offers travellers the opportunity to share their time with local groups dedicated to child welfare, feeding the hungry and preserving the environment.

Give Back Getaways is the latest opportunity to volunteer under Community Footprints, the Ritz-Carlton social and environmental responsibility programme. "We have come to recognise the interest many of our guests have in becoming more involved in the region where they are spending their vacation. Many of them are active volunteers in worthwhile activities at home, and want to continue this spirit of giving when they visit other parts of the world," explained Simon Cooper, president and chief operating officer. "We believe Give Back Getaways is a unique way for our hotels to partner with guests to provide an experience both memorable and personally enriching," Cooper said.

The employees at each Ritz-Carlton hotel were asked to identify an organisation or cause in need of support in their community. They then partnered with the group to prioritise needs for hands-on assistance, and scheduled dates throughout the year when Give Back Getaways will be offered. From building a library for children of migrant workers at the Dandelion School in Beijing, to serving as a spotter and mapping the location of endangered Blue Iguanas in Grand Cayman, each of the programmes offered will include instruction by professionals so participants can make a meaningful contribution to the project they select to participate in as a volunteer for the half-day programme. All profits from the half-day programmes will be donated to the partner organisation.

Three of the five Ritz-Carlton hotels in the Middle East have committed themselves to preserving the natural elements of their environment, thereby safeguarding each respective location's sense of place. Known for its excellent diving, the Ritz- Carlton, Sharm El-Sheikh has teamed up with geological experts at a local dive centre to educate guests about the beautiful yet fragile coral reefs in the Red Sea. For several selected days in the year and under the watchful eye of dive experts, resort employees and guests will assist in removing endangered corals from identified areas to designated "safe zones".

Kids facilities at Rotana

IT'S HARD to find a place appealing to both adults and children. Grand Rotana Resort & Spa, Sharm El-Sheikh succeeded in reaching the right formula. While you're snorkeling, relaxing by the beach, enjoying a cocktail by the pool or being pampered in the first class Zen Spa, your children can have their share of fun through the resort's programme "let kids be kids".

Children will enjoy Shetland pony riding at the Pony Station at various hours of the day with their mini-carriage on the beach promenade around the resort. They can also visit lovely animals at the pony house, feed them and learn how to take care of them.

Also the Kids Club and Kids Cafژ located on the beach front will take care of the little ones and keep them occupied with activities and games.

Kempinski in Egypt

LUXURY hotel group Kempinski and local tourism developers Abu Soma Development Company held an official signing ceremony marking the managerial handover of the new Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay. The agreement heralds Kempinski's first foray into the Egyptian hospitality market, and is likely to be followed in quick succession with a series of upscale resorts in select locations throughout Egypt.

"As a rule, Kempinski is very selective about the markets and the properties we add to our portfolio and we have identified Egypt as a strong destination with great potential in terms of tourism growth and quality of the offering," said Juerg Siegenthaler, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Kempinski.

According to Business Monitor International, the Egyptian Tourism industry is flourishing, with an impressive 9.8 million visitors in 2007, up 13 per cent from 2006. Of particular importance to Kempinski, tourism room nights also saw a healthy increase of 13 per cent, amounting to 96.3 million nights over 2007. Projections for 2010 placed visitor numbers in excess of 11.2 million, which paves the way for additional hotel accommodation to cater the influx of guests.

Part of the master plan is Soma Bay Peninsula. The 324- room Moorish-inspired hotel has a private natural sandy beach which extends 400 metres along the seafront with access to excellent water sports and diving opportunities. Six restaurants and bars overlooking the marina and Soma Bay propose an inviting range of cuisines. An impressive landscaping of waterfalls, lagoons and pool complement the resort with four floodlit tennis courts, two squash courts and a health club and spa with a state-of-the-art gymnasium and a full range of wellness treatments.

Conrad Sharm switches off

THE CONRAD Sharm El-Sheikh Resort will help combat climate change by participating in Earth Hour 2008 and switching off lights. Earth Hour 2008 is a global event created to show that man can make a positive impact on climate change. Starting 8pm on 29 March 2008 non-essential lights and appliances at the Conrad Sharm El-Sheikh Resort were switched off for an hour. Guests were also invited to take part in the initiative by switching off TVs, mobile phone chargers, MP3 players, laptops and printers by simply unplugging them.

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