Al-Ahram Weekly Online   2 - 8 July 2009
Issue No. 954
Travel
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Guidelines


Airline news

Green engines for Etihad

A RECORD-breaking $14 billion aircraft engine order was made by the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. The national airline of the United Arab Emirates chose GE Aviation, Rolls- Royce, Engine Alliance and International Aero Engines (IAE) to power the new Airbus and Boeing aircraft that it ordered at last year's Farnborough International Airshow. The Farnborough deal included 100 firm orders and options and purchase rights for a further 105 aircraft, which will be delivered between 2011 and 2020.

A key selection criterion in all of the deals has been the environmental performance of the engines. The engines Etihad Airways has chosen for its wide-body long range aircraft are amongst the most technically advanced and fuel efficient available and will help maintain the airline's fleet as one of the greenest in the sky.

The firm orders for 239 engines, which include 19 spares, is worth $7 billion at list prices, including maintenance contracts. If all options and purchase rights are exercised, the total number of engines will be 469, at a list price value of $14 billion, including maintenance contracts. This represents the largest engine order in commercial aviation history.

"Despite the tough economic challenges currently facing the aviation industry, Etihad Airways continues to roll-out its long-term expansion plans in a measured, considered and controlled manner," stated Etihad Airways' Chief Executive James Hogan. "These plans will establish Etihad Airways as the world's leading airline and our hub of Abu Dhabi as a leading global centre of commerce and tourism."

Designing for the senses

THE ITALIANS are invading Cairo with Spanish and Dutch ground support, and the city is happy to surrender to their forces -- design forces, that is. Designopolis opened its doors last month with a lavish celebration to commemorate the opening of Art of Form, which caters to clients with exquisite taste. By Ganz organised the inaugural Art of Form's celebrations, including an exclusive 1,000-guest party for lead designers and members of Cairo's elite.

Designed by GM Architects of Lebanon, the interiors and art gallery of Art of Form highlight the store's concept of living: modern and intelligent design. Aiming to represent and sell international brands of furniture, lighting and design, and home accessories, Art of Form will encompass a number of living areas divided into individual units to carry each brand in its own unique space.

Cairo is now arguably the design capital of the Middle East, and is predicted to join the ranks of design conscious and fashion forward cities such as New York, London, Paris and Milan. This evolution is certain to be assisted by the introduction of Art of Form. Art of Form's philosophy of creating certain moods will be highlighted. Dividing the brands into sensations, the show room space covers 1,000 square metres and will encompass the moods of "serene", "sensual", "nostalgic" and "energetic". Combined together, the diversity of brands encompasses the whole spectrum of experiences reflected in one's daily existence.

Brands include the Italian Giorgetti, Missoni Home, Moroso, Poliform and Varenna Cuccine, Paola Lenti, Catellani & Smith, and Melogranoblu encompassing the various design elements; whilst Nanimarquina is a Spanish rugs brand and Brand Van Egmond is a Dutch lighting brand.

Authentic Indian and Lebanese

CHEF Manoharan, in charge of the Maharaja Indian Signature Restaurant at Ramses Hilton, recently launched the Indian culinary demonstration sessions, in cooperation with the Indian Culture Centre in Cairo (ICCC). Manoharan demonstrated how to prepare and cook a three-course Indian meal, including a starter, main course and dessert, and also how to use Indian spices and the traditional Tandoori oven.

During the session, Suchitra Durai, wife of the Indian ambassador to Cairo and director of ICCC, gave a presentation about Indian culture and displayed pictures of Indian marriage ceremonies.

In another kitchen at the Ramses Hilton, the new chef Mahmoud El-Sayed is singing the praise of the Lebanese restaurant. "Al-Mandara, the open air Terrace at Ramses Hilton, is the best in Cairo," El-Sayed said, soon after arriving from Lebanon to begin his tenure there. Al-Mandara offers authentic Lebanese food, live entertainment, shisha and freshly baked baladi bread. The chef promises Lebanese food lovers a very original taste.

Meanwhile, the Ramses Hilton was selected as a winner of the global awards programme "Regional Winner for 2008", in recognition of its achievement in reducing risk in the business, improving guest safety and applying good standards of safety and hygiene at the hotel.

"Winning such prestigious awards enforces the fact that the Ramses Hilton's team is the best," stated the hotel's General Manager Haitham Nassar. "We are delighted to receive this award as we regard it as an acknowledgement of the high standards and best practices which we constantly seek to achieve."

Many delights pool-side

AURA at Four Seasons at The First Residence celebrated its first anniversary with regular patrons and Cairo's crème de la crème. Guests enjoyed the pool-side night breeze and live music at the exclusive event, held to mark the beginning of its second year as Cairo's favourite "Lebanese with a twist" restaurant.

Its cosy and comfortable in- and outdoor seating, embracing casual yet sophisticated poolside dining, boasts breathtaking views of the Nile. At this ideal summer setting, serving modern Lebanese cuisine, Chef Shadi delivered his famous mouth- watering flavours and delicacies from Lebanon, including hot and cold mezzas, oriental grills and delectable desserts.

Like its name, Aura will be the perfect spot to feel a light breeze and relish in the positive energy that emanates from the wonderful food and great company of the night.

A Heavenly year

ONE decade later, consumers and critics agree that Westin Hotels and Resorts is still the "best in bed". Hence, the chain will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its best-in-bed standing with a five-month long global celebration of Heavenly Bed, including Heavenly white sales, new Heavenly product offers and special promotions.

Westin Hotels sparked a hotel bedding revolution with the 1999 launch of the Heavenly Bed, an icon which inspired countless imitators, ignited the hotel-bed wars and jump- started the hotel retail phenomenon. Since, more than 75 million guests have tucked themselves into Heavenly Beds at Westin hotels around the world including presidents, Hollywood royalty and professional athletes, and more than 30,000 beds and 100,000 pillows have been sold.

"Westin's custom Heavenly Bed forever changed the hotel industry's bed offerings 10 years ago; and we are extremely proud that today the bed and the Heavenly lifestyle brand continue to grow," commented Nancy London, vice-president, Global Brand Management, for Westin Hotels and Resorts.

Westin has expanded Heavenly into a full-lifestyle brand, with similarly luxurious offerings for the bath, the baby, and even the dog. From Beijing to Boston, all of Westin's 169 properties and more than 29,000 employees will participate in the celebration with special events, Heavenly promotions and giveaways.

The brand will also recognise the hard-working room attendants who keep the luxurious multi-layered beds beautiful over the years, and will also offer meeting-planner incentives around the Heavenly theme.

Summer specials galore

PLUNGE into a mango filled summer at the Semiramis InterContinental between 1 July-20 August at Café Corniche and Tea Garden, with mouthwatering delights for lunch and dinner that include mango mille-feuille and mango mousse cake. Available exclusively at the Grill is a gastronomic mango selection for dinner featuring specialty dishes such as the mango and green chili Riviera.

At the Ambassador Club, shrimp varieties will rule the dining menu, with enticing dishes such as the shrimp sateh with sweet and sour sauce, as well as grilled jumbo shrimps with pineapple salsa. Meanwhile, every Tuesday Night and Day is offering guests an evening of flavourful Moroccan specialties. Known for its sensual cuisine filled with rich sauces and spicy side dishes and salad, Moroccan cooking elevates the senses. On Thursdays, the restaurant offers seafood delights as chefs perform live for diners, producing such delectables as Tandoori-style sardines and sizzling rib eye steaks with Cray fish sauce.

After dinner, guests might enjoy the Haroun Al-Rachid Nightclub, where Arabian nights and delights are always guaranteed. Outstanding programmes include the dynamic dancer Dina and other glittering entertainers, who perform until the wee hours of the morning.

Experiencing more

THE RITZ-Carlton Sharm El-Sheikh is introducing an enticing summer vacation package to provide guests with more than just value for money -- memorable moments. With a selection of free nights offers, which are not just about spending less but experiencing more, the range of value-added free nights are designed to encourage travel to this unique destination between June and mid-September, 2009.

'The summer dream package' offers the option of spending three nights at the price of two, four nights at the price of three, and staying five nights at the price of four. The package includes deluxe double room pool and garden accommodation, daily breakfast for two, two children less than 12 years can stay in the parents' room for free on bed and breakfast basis.

This package is available for Egyptians and foreign residents only, and in case guests change the length of their stay they will be offered the best available rate.

Exquisite Indian dining

TAMARIND, the new Indian restaurant at Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas and Spa recently opened its doors to guests. Diners celebrate India's unique culture and ambiance by enjoying a flavourful array of authentic Indian dishes designed by Chef Iswara, who hails from Chennai India. His previous expertise at Le Meridien Mauritius helps him bring his imaginative and skilful style to create the most traditional delectable dishes from all corners of India.

Tamarind boasts a full range of Indian dishes with distinct regional influence and flavour, infused with coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and many more spices. Chef Iswara noted that the secret is knowing how to treat this mixture of spices correctly in the cooking process, especially when using them in his strictly guarded recipes. Specialties at Tamarind include tandoori khazana, achari jinga and lamb seekh kabab out of the original charcoal clay oven tandoor. Other delights include murg jalfrezi, lamb roganjosh and Tamarind's signature dish Punjabi butter chicken.

Best environmental hotel

FOR THE FIFTH time in six years, Sheraton Miramar Resort, El-Gouna won the prestigious Middle East and North Africa Award for Best Environmental Hotel. The MENA Travel Platinum Award 2009 reflects the hotel's continuous efforts and achievements in implementing environmental practices, and focus on sustainable tourism through the realisation of environmental management standards.

The resort is committed to benchmarking its operation in the fields of energy and water conservation, total waste management and a strong commitment towards the local community. It already has a long-standing record of environmental achievements since 2000, when it participated as a pilot hotel in carrying out environmental audits of large sections of the Red Sea. This effort earned it the elite Environmental Company Award of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Africa and the Middle East.

The MENA travel awards annually recognise and reward real virtuosities and superior services in the region, encourage higher standards and applaud exceptional efforts made by industry members. Furthermore, it stimulates the competitive spirit to reach higher levels of achievement within the region, and motivates cooperation and teamwork amongst the industry's various segments, develops value packages and provides end users with regional value added services.

Jazzing up the Red Sea

AS PART of its expansion plans, Jaz Hotels, Resorts and Cruises, the hospitality division of Egypt's travel conglomerate Travco Group, will soon open the luxurious five-star beachfront resort Iberotel Aquamarine in Hurghada. The holiday retreat offers rooms and suites decked with a full range of modern day amenities, including in-room Internet connection.

Meanwhile, Madinat Makadi -- the company's tourist village along the coastline of the Red Sea -- recently introduced Iberotel Makadi Palms residences. These luxury apartments and studios offer a deluxe home-like feeling, with splendid views of the championship golf course and the sea.

There are four upcoming developments in the budding tourist destination, Sharm El-Sheikh, including the four-star Sol Y Mar Sharks Bay and Sol Y Mar Neama Bay. At the same time, the five-star hotel, spa and restaurants complex Iberotel Mercato -- designed by the world famous Daniele Morelli -- is the next management venture in the dynamic shopping complex Il Mercato. As for those seeking more serene surroundings, there is the five-star Jaz Bab Al-Shams resort which is tucked away on the quiet shores of Nabq Bay.

Jaz Hotels, Resorts and Cruises is one of the flags under Travco Group International. Its portfolio encompasses Jaz Resorts, Iberotel Hotels and Resorts, Sol Y Mar Resorts and Travcotels Nile Cruise Ships, in key destinations such as Cairo, Ain Al-Sokhna, Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab, Taba, Hurghada, Makadi, Marsa Alam, Safaga, Luxor, Aswan, Marsa Matruh and the UAE.

Sailing through the market

WITH the unprecedented ultra-deluxe five-star development in 6 October governorate, an eco-resort on the beautiful Bobales Island in Siwa, the developments in Sahl Hashish and Soma Bay, Jaz Hotels, Resorts and Cruises is set for a major boom. Jaz is the hospitality division of Egypt's travel conglomerate Travco Group.

In Upper Egypt, the group owns the five-star Iberotel Aswan which offers various meeting and banquet facilities. The hotel is also a favourite honeymoon destination for newlyweds who are interested in the marvels of ancient Egypt.

Overseas, expansions also extend to the tropical island of the Maldives, where construction of its seven-star development project will soon be underway on the Baa Atolls' most pristine Island of Vokkaru.

The group's Nile Cruise division is also taking off, with the new MS Château Lafayette setting sail this summer. Already, MS Jaz Omar El Khayam on Lake Nasser was a huge success, alongside the five-star deluxe MS Jaz Minerva and MS Jaz Legacy. MS Jaz Columbus is expected to join the fleet next year.

The company also recently unveiled plans for the MS Jaz Elite Dahabeya and MS Jaz Prestige Dahabeya, introducing a new concept of exclusivity through eight-cabin yachts for those who appreciate luxurious cruising and intimate surroundings. Other plans include a second all-suite cruise ship, MS Jaz Esperia, consisting of 34 elegantly furnished suites unmatched by any other vessel on the Nile.

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