Hawaiian Revolutionizing Check-In Process at Honolulu

HONOLULU – In what Hawaiian Airlines is calling one of its most significant customer-oriented initiatives to date, the company is completely redesigning its ticket lobbies at Honolulu International Airport, a move that will revolutionize the speed and convenience of its check-in process. 

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and CEO, commented, "Hawaiian is bringing a dramatic transformation to the check-in process at our Honolulu hub that Hawaii's residents and visitors alike will find to be a faster, easier and superior experience. We have made it a priority to provide a standard of service that leads the airline industry and this new lobby design is a quantum leap forward from the traditional check-in process that travelers are used to." 

The redesigned lobby will be striking in appearance and the results will be immediate in reducing wait times for customers – especially during peak traffic periods. Hawaiian is removing its traditional ticket counter lobby configuration at Honolulu International Airport and replacing it with six circular, check-in "islands" in the middle of Hawaiian's two check-in lobbies in Terminal 2 at the airport, four in Lobby 2 and two in Lobby 3. 

Each check-in island features eight, agent-assisted, self-service check-in stations that can be used to check in for any scheduled interisland, mainland or international flight on Hawaiian. 

The innovative, free-flowing floor plan eliminates one of three check-in steps and also removes the limitation of having designated queues for various destinations, meaning customers entering the lobby will be able to go to any of the new 48 self-service check-in stations that are available, cutting peak period wait times by up to 75 percent. 

Each check-in station will be equipped with state-of-the art technology that allows customers to complete the check-in process for their flight, including the weighing of luggage, payment of any fees for upgrades and other services, and printing of destination luggage tags with assistance from Hawaiian's customer service agents. 

Customers will then place their checked luggage onto a single conveyor belt for inline U.S.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection, TSA screening and loading onto their flight.  

This new process will eliminate the current requirement to have luggage being checked to destinations outside Hawaii pre-screened by USDA before starting the check-in process. 

Hawaiian's new lobby design also provides designated service areas that will give customers a place to re-pack their luggage and carry-on items if necessary, or to receive additional assistance from Hawaiian's customer service agents. 

With the removal of the existing ticket counters, Hawaiian's customers will have more control over their check-in process, and its customer service agents will be free to move about the lobbies and provide more personal assistance alongside customers checking in for their flights. 

The new design is the result of two years of industry research and motion studies conducted by Hawaiian to find a solution to long lines and bottlenecks during busy periods and speed up the check-in process. 

Hawaiian expects to complete the $6-million self-funded transformation of both lobbies in June.

Lord Howe Island Tops Australian Traveller List of Things to Do Before You Die

New South Wales has once again proven to be Australia's most popular tourist destination with Australian Traveller Magazine naming Lord Howe Island as the number one place to visit before you die, the tiny island off the coast of Port Macquarie topping a list of 100 'must see' Australian destinations. 

"This is fabulous news and a glowing recommendation from one of Australia's top travel magazines, proving NSW continues to impress even the most experienced travellers," said Tourism NSW Executive Director Lyndel Gray. 

Ms Gray said the list of 'Top 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die', was decided on by a panel of high profile judges including Getaway reporter Catriona Rowntree, Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, Today presenter Lisa Wilkinson, legendary journalist George Negus, travel industry pioneer Bill Peach, Australian icon and entrepreneur Dick Smith, Budget Car Rental founder Bob Ansett,  TV chef Maggie Beer, the Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, and Australian Traveller's Editor, Elisabeth Knowles. 

"The list was chosen out of 800 nominations from readers, so for Lord Howe Island to have won top spot is an incredible accomplishment," said Ms Gray. 

"Tourism NSW actively works with Lord Howe Island Tourism Association to promote travel to the Island, providing funding and marketing support for promotional campaigns every year under the NSW Government's Regional Partnership Funding Program. 

"This weekend a new $250,000 joint tourism campaign between Tourism NSW, Lord Howe Island Tourism Association, Qantaslink and wholesalers will begin promoting holiday packages for the winter season, targeting mid-life singles and couples from Sydney, South East Queensland and Melbourne. 

"A range of experiences will be on offer such as nature activities like bushwalking, scuba diving, bird watching and a trek to the captivating Mount Gower. 

"Luxury and indulgence will also be an overlying theme with special packages offered by Lord Howe Island's two luxury resorts, Arajilla Retreat and Capella Lodge. 

"Both of these resorts are regularly featured in travel magazines and Capella Lodge was recently named on the international Gold List of luxury retreats by Conde Nast Traveller U.K," Ms Gray said. 

"I'm also excited to announce that both Capella and Arajilla will be showcasing their products, along with Lord Howe Island Tourism Association, at the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) which begins this weekend at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. 

"ATE is Australia's premier annual tourism event, organised to promote the best of Australian tourism to the international travel and tourism trade. 

"The event is the largest international travel trade show of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the Sydney event will be the biggest yet, putting a global spotlight on Sydney and NSW with 85 different companies displaying their tourism destinations and attractions to more than 800 international travel wholesalers from 40 different countries. 

"Lord Howe Island's presence at ATE, along with a Tourism NSW hosted familiarisation trip to the Island this weekend for 10 international travel wholesalers and three international travel writers, will go a long way towards promoting the Island's unique beauty and attractiveness as a holiday destination around the world." 

Ms Gray said Tourism NSW was committed to promoting Sydney and regional NSW destinations both domestically and internationally. 

Time Fast Approaching for Emirates' Geneva Launch

Guests at the Emirates Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo next to the life-sized replica of the airline's A380 Onboard Shower Spa. More than 600 guests attended the event, promoting the launch of passenger services between Dubai and Geneva on 1st June. Also on display at last night's function were an Emirates' A380 First Class Private Suite and Onboard Lounge.
Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Worldwide, on stage with cabin crew during the Emirates' Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo last night. The airline will launch a daily flight to Geneva from 1st June.
Food from across the world at Emirates' Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo last night, ahead of the launch of the airline's Dubai-Geneva service from 1st June.
Emirates has given a new meaning to the expression 'Time flies' with its plans to launch flights to the "birthplace of watch making" - now just eight weeks away.

Geneva will be added to the airline's European route network from 1st June. Last night, more than 600 guests from the travel industry and the city's wider business community attended a high profile road show event in Geneva as an introduction to the airline and its home of Dubai.

For many, it provided an opportunity to get close up to the airline's flagship A380 aircraft, which has already carried more than 4 million Emirates passengers around the world.

A First Class Private Suite was also on show at the city's Palexpo for guests to sink into, as were life-size replicas of the Onboard Shower Spa and Onboard Lounge.

The Dubai-Geneva service will be operated by a combination of Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The aircraft will be arranged in a three-class configuration, offering First Class Private Suites, lie-flat seats in Business Class, and a spacious cabin in Economy Class.

Throughout all cabin classes, passengers can enjoy the latest version of the airline's much admired ice in-flight entertainment system. It offers a staggering array of over 1,200 channels, making time fly like never before whilst at 40,000 feet.

Geneva is sometimes referred to as the "birthplace of watch making" as the industry dates to the mid 16th century in the city. Even in 1790, Geneva was exporting more than 60,000 watches a year. In 2010, Swiss watch manufacturers exported more than 26 million finished watches, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

The luxury sector, including watch making, is amongst the top three employers in the Geneva region, representing 60% of its exports.

Each Emirates' 777 aircraft serving Geneva will have 15-20 tonnes of cargo capacity - space for plenty of luxury watches, along with high-end fashion goods, diplomatic cargo, relief shipments for the International Red Cross, pharmaceutical products and electronics.

"Geneva is our second gateway into Switzerland after Zurich. We see strong demand for both leisure and business travel, bearing in mind the presence of hundreds of international organisations and Geneva's status as a major financial centre," said Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Worldwide.

"We're just eight weeks out from the launch and last night's road show event helps drive awareness throughout the travel trade about the new flights and the additional cargo capacity they offer in and out of Switzerland," Mr Vaughan added.

As with Zurich, passengers flying Emirates from Geneva can travel non-stop to Dubai, where they are able to connect to an impressive network of destinations throughout the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, the Far East and Australasia.

Starting 1st June 2011, EK 089 will leave Dubai daily at 0855hrs and arrive in Geneva at 1345hrs. From Geneva, EK 090 departs at 1515hrs, arriving in Dubai at 2330hrs.

Geneva will become the airline's 26th destination in Europe and 112th point globally. On 1st August, Emirates launches flights to Copenhagen, its first passenger service into Scandinavia.

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong - World's tallest hotel opens

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has finally opened and dominates the skyline as the world’s highest hotel.

Located at the very top of the International Commerce Centre (ICC) in Hong Kong, occupying floors 102 to 118, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is the newest addition to the brand’s growing global portfolio of 75 luxury properties and its 16th hotel in Asia.

“The opening of this landmark hotel in Hong Kong is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to delivering the very best product, facilities and service in this international gateway city,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

“Partnering with Hong Kong’s premier developer, Sung Hung Kai Properties, we have been able to create something truly spectacular to welcome our guests not just to the highest hotel in the world, but also to one of the very best hotels in the world. We are taking luxury to new heights in every sense.”

The stylish and contemporary interiors by Singapore’s LTW set the scene for this thoroughly modern hotel set in the heart of Hong Kong. The sense of arrival is breathtaking with views of Victoria Harbour and the iconic Hong Kong skyline as the backdrop. Guests will be welcomed into the arrival lobby on the 9th floor before being transported up to the hotel lobby on the 103rd floor where panoramic views over Hong Kong await them.

The hotel’s 312 guest rooms all offer spectacular city and harbour views. Starting at 50sqm for a Deluxe Room, and reaching 365sqm for the magnificent Ritz-Carlton Suite, rooms provide state-of-the-art technology including WiFi, iPod docking stations, blu-ray DVD players and flat screen TVs. In addition, Club room guests can enjoy the panoramic view from the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with complimentary food and beverage presentations 24 hours a day. The Club also gives guests access to a dedicated Club Concierge, work stations, meeting rooms and WiFi throughout.

In a move that perfectly articulates the brand’s shift in design philosophy and service evolution, the hotel’s six dining venues have been created by some of the biggest names in restaurant design, including Japan’s Spin Design Studio and Wonderwall. The hotel offers three restaurants on the 102nd floor, including Tin Lung Heen, which is a Chinese restaurant serving refined Cantonese cuisine. Tosca, an Italian restaurant which offers Southern Italian cuisine with an open kitchen and the very stylish The Lounge and Bar which features stunning crystal fire pits. In addition, there is a chocolate-themed lounge named The Chocolate Library on the 103rd floor and a stylish patisserie named Pastry Gems located on the 9th floor.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown is Ozone located on the hotel’s 118th floor. This sleek, stylish and contemporary restaurant and bar will set a new benchmark for Hong Kong’s social and dining scene. Offering contemporary Asian tapas, signature cocktails and a stylish wine list, Ozone has bar and restaurant seating in zoned sections and the world’s highest al fresco terrace where guests can indulge in the incredible views over the city.

For those wishing to relax and indulge, The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA is the ultimate in urban spa sanctuary experiences. Located on the 116th floor and featuring nine deluxe treatment rooms and two couple’s suites all with floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, the spa will appeal to both residential guests and Hong Kong citizens alike and offer a true escape from the city some 490 meters below. A world-class team of professional therapists will ensure a spa experience like no other. The hotel also features a fully equipped fitness centre and an indoor infinity pool overlooking the Victoria Harbour on the 118th floor with a 28m x 7m LED screen on the ceiling that can display images and videos.

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has one of the largest ballrooms in the city at 930sqm. Elaborately decorated with a sea of crystal chandeliers, the décor of the Diamond Ballroom is suited to weddings, meetings and gala events. Complemented by an additional four meeting rooms, the total of 1,300sqm of meeting space is set to become the new social centre for Hong Kong and the benchmark for events in the region.

In the podium of the ICC, the one million square foot Elements shopping mall offers some of the finest shopping in Hong Kong with luxury brand names featured throughout this world-class location. The ICC will also host an Observation Deck, Sky100 on the 100th floor and offer direct connections to Hong Kong International Airport in 20 minutes and Central in five minutes. The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of the city and will become a must-see tourist attraction now that it has opened.


Exhausted stranded travellers wait for news at Tokyo railway station during recent quake.

The recent string of natural disasters in Queensland, New Zealand and Japan are making travellers increasingly nervous about their safety overseas, according to the results of an independently
commissioned national survey of 1,000 travellers conducted by CheapHotels.com.au.

Earthquakes, tsunamis and floods are top of traveller’s minds with one in three (33%) saying they are rethinking or changing their travel plans for 2011.

Although the survey reveals travellers are more aware of the potential risks of a natural disaster striking, (62%) admit they do not properly prepare themselves for a potential crisis in advance of travelling.

One in ten travellers surveyed said they’ve personally experienced a natural disaster whilst travelling.

“Few of us give thought to what we’d do if a worst case scenario became a reality when we’re travelling, but a fun, relaxing holiday can turn into panic and chaos in a matter of seconds should disaster strike,” says Braden Yuill, Managing Director of CheapHotels.com.au. “A small amount of preparation before you travel will lessen the stress in an emergency.”

Here are some planning tips to help travellers pull through a catastrophe should one occur.

1. Research potential dangers at your destination in advance. Check the news in the area you are travelling. Check out www.smartraveller.gov.au which advises travellers of potential hotspots around the world.

2. Make sure you know the refund policies of ravel agencies, airlines and hotels if you get stranded.

3. Check that your travel insurance covers natural disasters.

4. Register with Australian embassy and know where it is located.

5. Leave your contact details with families and friends and inform them on your travel plans.

6. Know your emergency numbers and the international dialing code. Make sure global roaming has been set on your phone.

7. Keep a copy of your personal info (passport, credit card numbers, etc) on your phone, your PDA or somewhere safe.

Westin Hotels Accelerates Growth In China With The Opening Of Its First Hotel In Nanjing

The Westin Nanjing also Marks Starwood's Debut in the bustling Capital of Jiangsu Province

Lengthening its lead as the largest five-star hotel operator in China, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) announces its landmark debut in Nanjing, China with the opening of The Westin Nanjing. The first Westin to open in the bustling capital city of Jiangsu Province, The Westin Nanjing boasts an ideal location at the top of the Nanjing International Center.

With the addition of The Westin Nanjing, Westin now operates 11 hotels in China and is set to double its footprint in this key global market in the next two years. The rapid expansion of the Westin brand is helping to drive Starwood's growth in China, where Starwood plans to increase its portfolio from 70 to more than 114 hotels by the end of 2012.

"The Westin Nanjing is a terrific addition to our fast growing portfolio in China, giving us a foothold in one of the country's most vital economic and cultural centers," said Nancy London, Vice President and global leader for Westin Hotels. "Fueled by the success of its distinctive wellness positioning, Westin is well on its way to establishing itself as an international market leader with unprecedented opportunities for growth in the world's most rapidly developing economies."

Overlooking Xuanwu Lake, The Westin Nanjing is located in the Hunan Road central business district in the heart of downtown Nanjing. The hotel provides direct access to Nanjing's leading businesses, entertainment and shopping and is close to the Xuanwu Lake subway station and the Nanjing Train station. Nanjing Hall of City Planning & Construction Exhibition is just five minutes away.

"We are very excited to introduce the Westin brand to Jiangsu Province and expect the hotel to contribute to the increasing importance of Nanjing as a tourism and business destination," said Mr. Richard Deutl, General Manager of The Westin Nanjing. "Known for its stellar global reputation and emphasis on wellbeing, The Westin brand is an ideal choice for the dynamic city of Nanjing and will undoubtedly emerge as a top choice among business travelers."

The soothing Westin Sensory Welcome creates a memorable first impression as guests enter the hotel, with its blend of signature white tea scent, music, botanicals and mood lighting. Guests at The Westin Nanjing will awaken their senses with the Westin Heavenly Bath® experience and restore in the Heavenly Bed®, a 10-layer ensemble of luxurious comfort featuring a pillow-top mattress set, a cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, a comforter, duvet and five plush pillows. Rooms also feature 42" LCD HDTV, high-speed Internet access, mp3 docking station, and an ergonomic work space to offer travelers convenience and productivity in a tranquil setting.

The Westin Nanjing features three restaurants and lounges headed by renowned executive chef Ricky Yin, including Seasonal Tastes on the 23rd floor with an open kitchen, full-length windows and magnificent sunrise views of Xuanwu Lake, and the Five Zen5es - a favorite among locals and tourists alike for its authentic Huaiyang cuisine and sleek design.

Ideal for both business functions and social events, The Westin Nanjing provides more than 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space including a 5,700 square-foot grand ballroom overlooking the lake. Additional amenities include a full-service business center, indoor, heated swimming pool and WestinWORKOUT® gym with the latest in cardio equipment and weights.

About Westin Hotels & Resorts

Westin Hotels & Resorts makes the healthiest choices irresistibly appealing, so guests leave feeling better than when they arrived. With over 170 hotels and resorts in over 36 countries and territories, Westin is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. Starwood Hotels is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1025 properties in nearly 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

Great opening offers at this and other great new hotels can be found at www.starwoodhotels.com/newhoteloffers.

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