Flying with flare
A GLOBAL poll of 16 million air travellers voted Etihad Airways last month as having the best business class among world airlines. The national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, which began flying less than six years ago, also won the world's Best Business Class Catering Award. The annual World Airline Awards, run by UK-based consultancy Skytrax, was conducted during a 10-month period among 97 different nationalities.
The public poll took into account all aspects of the air travel experience -- on the ground, at the airport and on-board -- as well as the quality of customer service delivered by each airline's staff. Etihad's business class came fifth in the 2008 Skytrax survey and tenth in 2007. The 2009 award was presented to the Abu Dhabi-based airline at a special ceremony held in Hamburg, Germany.
"For Etihad Airways to win the accolade of having the best business class experience when the airline flew its first aircraft just over five years ago is a remarkable success," noted Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted.
Etihad Airways' business class cabin offers passengers a fully flat bed on every aircraft in the airline's fleet of 29 wide- bodied aircraft, in-seat massagers, on-demand meals, and concierge service at Abu Dhabi airport, including a complimentary limousine.
"We believe it is the consistency and high quality of the end- to-end travel experience we are able to offer our business class customers that really make us stand out," stated Peter Baumgartner, the airline's chief commercial officer.
Expanding boarding via mobile
STARTING in April, Lufthansa passengers were able to use a mobile boarding pass on flights between Frankfurt and Vancouver, thus making it the first airline to give passengers travelling on an inter-continental flight the option of receiving a mobile boarding pass, with a 2D barcode on their mobile phone. The electronic boarding pass replaces the need for a printed paper document. The service will gradually be extended to more long-haul routes over the next few weeks.
More than 75,000 Lufthansa passengers a month already use electronic boarding passes, which is a simple, fast and flexible way to check-in with a mobile boarding pass that is sent to an Internet-enabled mobile phone. The airline introduced this service almost a year ago on all domestic routes and on many of its European flights, and it has proven extremely popular among passengers.
In addition to the relevant flight data such as the passenger's name, flight number and departure time, the boarding pass contains a 2D barcode, which allows passengers to pass through the security checkpoints and then proceed straight to their departure gate. There, the card is read by a scanner, enabling the passenger to board the aircraft without a printed mobile pass.
Lufthansa passengers can request an electronic boarding pass via the mobile portal lufthansa.com by using an Internet- enabled hand-held device or they can check in online. All they need in order to identify themselves at check-in with their mobile end device is their booking code combined with their name. Alternatively, passengers can continue to collect a printed boarding pass at a check-in terminal or at a ticket counter if they cannot display their electronic boarding pass on their mobile or, for example, if their phone needs charging.
Boost from British Airways
STARTING 1 May, British Airways (BA) is offering a 50 per cent discount on a second ticket purchased with a full fare first class ticket. The new offer applies to bookings made between 1 May 2009, and 31 May 2009, for travel between 1 May 2009, and 31 March 2010.
"Now you can enjoy the ultimate comfort," noted BA Country Commercial Manager in Egypt Mervat Alfy. "The FIRST cabin is a heaven of calmness and refinement, providing you with the personal space you need to escape and relax. We offer this exceptional level of space and privacy at very competitive fares available now in Egypt."
FIRST customers enjoy a great deal. On board, these include flatbeds, à la carte dining, turndown service with a mattress, sleep enhancers, pyjamas and slippers, as well as extra luggage allowance. On the ground, ticket holders can enjoy a priority check-in service, complimentary treatments at the Elemis travel Spas, exclusive dining in restaurants at Heathrow's Terminal 5, and full access to its lounges offering showers, clothes presses, free Internet access, workstations and cinemas.
THE MONTH of May will herald Lebanese promotion at Al Dabké restaurant at Fairmont Heliopolis. Guests will be treated to a spectacular exhibition of authentic Lebanese cuisine, prepared by Chef Michel, through a variety of Lebanese cold and hot mezzeh, fatta and grilled dishes, as well as the famous yoghurt menu.
Assistant Food & Beverage Manager at Fairmont Heliopolis Ahmed Kandil believes the promotion gives the local and expatriate community to experience the delectable Lebanese cuisine. Al Dabké restaurant is exemplary in fine Lebanese dining, allowing guests to enjoy this distinctive style of cuisine in an oriental setting.
Investing in staff
SEMIRAMIS Hotel Co, in partnership with the Egyptian Hotel Association (EHA) and in affiliation with the Hotel School Lausanne (EHL) agreed to establish a High Institute for Hotel Education in Egypt. Under the auspices of Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana a letter of intent was signed by Semiramis Hotels Co Chairman Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Abdullah Al-Suleiman and EHA Chairman Wassim Mohieddin, to create a High Institute for Hotel Education. The project will be financed by both parties, the tourism fund, enrolment fees and other supporting entities.
The Semiramis Hotel Co had contracted the renowned EHL in Switzerland to provide a detailed study on developing training programmes for the Egyptian hotel industry. As a result, EHL recommended putting in place a series of international hospitality management programmes for middle management, executives and managers in the hospitality industry.
At a later stage, EHL will provide and develop the support mechanism to establish a High Institute for Hotel education in Egypt which provides an internationally-recognised curriculum and degree.
Felchlin chocolate delights
GUESTS at the Grand Hyatt Cairo can meet famous chef Simon Badertscher, Felchlin's Export Corporate Pastry Chef, between 3-8 May. Badertscher flew in from Switzerland to present a live preparation of Felchlin chocolate recipes. Moreover, a large display of Felchlin products will be available in the hotel lobby for guests to savour.
The Swiss chocolate factory selects the finest cocoa beans for the traditionally slow, gentle process involved in Felchlin's Grand Cru Chocolate. In fact, at the World Chocolate Symposium in Italy, the Felchlin Grand Cru Maracaibo was awarded the best covertures in the world, by juries made up of pre- eminent chocolate masters and connoisseurs who judged taste profiles and subtlety.
MEMBERS of the exclusive First Residence Ladies Club were treated to a delectable chocolate buffet and a presentation on relieving stress and maintaining healthy relationships on 13 April at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence. Abdel-Nasser Mahmoud Omar, professor of psychiatry at Ain Shams University, brought the ladies together with humour, general interest and a healthy smattering of changing habits and actions in one's life to minimise sources of stress, how to develop and enhance one's relationship with one's partner, family members and friends.
Omar introduced important concepts such as self-love, key warning signs that are symptoms of depression and tactics for self betterment. Club members frequently meet in Four Seasons style to exchange various experiences and topics which are of interest to the modern woman, and endeavour to host a variety of events ranging from lectures and fashion shows to culinary secrets.
After the presentation, everyone was treated to a sampling of The First Residence's new chocolate buffet. Entitled Chocolate Sundays, The First Residence is introducing something to drive away start-of-the-week blues: a chocolate buffet which is certain to put you in a better mood.
2790 years of service
OVER 200 employees, who between them served at the Ramses Hilton for over 2790 years, were recognised for their dedication and contribution to the success of the hotel. A large ceremony took place at the Ramses Hilton Ballroom, attended by General Manager Haitham Nassar and department heads, where staff were handed awards according to their years of service.
The award ceremony was organised by Human Resources Manager Youssef Ahmed and his team.
Facelifts at the Nile Hotel
DURING a special gastronomic event, two hallmark outlets were recently relaunched at The Nile Hotel, Cairo. General Manager Martin Kleinmann celebrated the new locations of the Da Mario restaurant and Abu Aly café, accompanied by Chairman of Misr Hotels Fathi Nour, Area Vice-President of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Middle East, Pascal Duchauffour and Patrizia Raveggi, director of the Italian Cultural Institute and Cultural Attaché at the Italian Embassy.
"When we took over this legendary hotel, we made a commitment that the restaurants will remain a top destination for people who love food and entertainment," said Kleinmann. Agreeing with his sentiment, Raveggi said, "I believe the new management has successfully reinvented the sensory experiences of the Da Mario and Abu Aly in the prime new locations within the hotel."
The evening commenced with a cocktail reception followed by dinner at Da Mario, the premium Italian restaurant that features both indoor and outdoor settings. The restaurant now has a bistro atmosphere, smooth live music and an extensive menu depicting the regions of Italy.
The guests also delighted in the new look of Abu Aly, the open-air Oriental café. Abu Aly is well-known for its authentic Egyptian cuisine, vast selection of shisha flavours and the fine tunes of takht.
Targeting Saudi tourists
THE OWNERS of main travel agencies in Saudi Arabia and top travel writers from Saudi publications were in Cairo as part of the marketing campaign to boost Saudi tourism to Egypt. The visit was organised by EgyptAir and Hilton regional sales office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Staying at Ramses Hilton, the group was given a comprehensive orientation tour of the hotel's rooms, suits and restaurants. They were received by Richard Gosling, director of operations, Ahmed Dahmash, director of international sales in Saudi Arabia, Amal Rateb, public relations & advertising manager, Maha El-Kady, public relations manager, Manal Fouad, assistant executive floors manager. The group was impressed by the hotel staff and services, and superior preparations ahead of the Arab tourist season.
Health and safety first
AFTER an auditing process which lasted three months, Sheraton Cairo Hotel was granted the Cristal Silver Certification for achieving threshold score results. The Cristal/E-Cristal risk management system is the first electronic health and safety auditing and corrective tracking tool.
The Cristal Risk Management food hygiene and safety module provides the basic elements with further modules covering general safety, fire safety, pool safety, and even hurricane/ business continuity modules, which all serve to achieve the highest level of hygiene.
AHMED El-Meligui, director of sales at the Hurghada Marriott Red Sea Resort has recently been awarded the Leadership Special Achievement Award -- Leader, UKIMEA 2008 Regional Award Winners, Ahmed has been selected as the best of the best within the region and is now in the running of the Global Awards.