Asia, Latin America airlines conquering the world...Conde Nast top hotels list
I wrote a very short item on this for the Saturday Travel section, but it's worth noting that the world's five biggest airlines now come from Asia and Latin America.
I had no idea, but the International Air Transport Association reported that Air China is twice the size of Delta and Lufthansa, with a market capitalization of $20 million. Next, and a rather distant second, was Singapore Airlines at $14 million, followed by Cathay Pacific at $12 billion.
China Southern has a market capitalization of $11 billion, the same as LATAM. LATAM, for those unaware, is the Latin American airline that was created by the recent merger of LAN from Chile and TAM from Brazil, and here's hoping their marketing folks come up with something better than LATAM.
Next in line were Delta and Lufthansa, each at $10 million.
I didn't spot any figures for Canada or WestJet. Sorry!
Fascinating stuff. Of course, it doesn't take a genius to see how China's economy is booming. It doesn't have the size of Air China or China Southern, but Star readers might remember a short story I did recently on how Hainan Airlines is beginning direct flights from Toronto to Beijing, putting them in direct competition with Air Canada.
CONDE NAST TRAVELLER GOLD LIST HOTELS
Conde Nast Traveller (UK Edition) came out with their gold list of hotels, and it was nice to see some Canadian content. The Fairmont Banff Springs was noted as one of the top three in the Americas and the Caribbean for its leisure facilities, as was the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The magazine noted the Banff Springs Willow Stream Spa (never had the pleasure) and the 24-hour Castle Pantry deli.
Top hotels in the Americas and the Caribbean for location were The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, B.C. I LOVE the Wickaninnish, which perfectly represents its place on the beach. Tons of local products are sprinkled about, including furniture made from driftwood that's washed up on the beach. Add in a great spa (a massage where you can hear the waves pounding on the rocks is a wonderful thing), awesome food and rooms with all the amenities, and you've got one of the great hotels in the world, I think.
I spotted a few other notables in the Conde Nast list, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a few other spots I'm familiar with. Sandy Lane in Barbados got top marks for hotel rooms in the Americas and the Caribbean, and deservedly so. It's an opulent, wonderful place with a great spa, outstanding beachfront location and all the amenities you could ever want.
Brown's Hotel in London was named as a top hotel for ambience and design, and I'll second that motion. I loved my room when I was there 18 months ago; both modern and classic and very solid, with notable books by British authors scattered about the room and a great high tea service to boot.
The Dolder Grand in Zurich was named a top hotel for service in Europe, which isn't surprising. I don't really like the new, modern wing that was grafted onto the old, historic one, but I don't doubt the issue of their service.
Finally, I kinda laughed when I noticed the magazine's top three hotels for location in Australasia and the South Pacific as I stayed in two of them during my recent visit to Australia and had dinner in the third. I can vouch for the perfect locale of Longtitude 131, a sumptuous place with tent-like rooms (see photo at left) just a few miles from Uluru/Ayers Rock. It's got incredible views of Uluru, and fabulous food, plus amazing rooms with a real sense of place. A dinner under the stars was quite memorable.
The Shangri-La has great views of the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Oprah (sorry, Opera) House. A tasty spot, for sure, and I had a great view of the Opera House. (In fairness, my view at the Park Hyatt in the Rocks district was even better.)
Finally, I didn't stay there but I can vouch for the food and the stupendous views at the Capella Lodge. it's located on Lord Howe Island, the world's most southerly coral reef island. It's about a two-hour flight from Sydney and it's absolutely, ravishingly beautiful. The views of the mountain peaks and the ocean from Capella are as magnificent as anything in Tahiti. My visit there was undoubtedly the highlight of my year.