Thursday Briefing: Le Méridien Etoile in Paris Reno, Qatar Updates Cruise Arrivals

le meridien etoile hub

It’s not Friday yet — here’s your chance to stay on top of the workweek with our roundup of the top travel headlines you should be following today. 

Le Méridien Etoile in Paris Unveils Renovation

In big luxury hotel news this morning, Le Méridien Etoile in Paris has taken the wraps off a top-to-bottom renovation project led by London architecture firm Michaelis Boyd in partnership with French interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. The hotel has updated its guest rooms and suites, jazz club, public spaces and meetings concept. 


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All 1,025 guest rooms and suites received a makeover that brings local Paris touches to the hotel’s midcentury style, with a translation of the River Seine depicted on the walls and illustrated maps of Parisian arrondissements adorning the headboards. Public spaces, including the Le Méridien Hub lobby concept, have been likewise updated, with a lighting installation that reflects the traffic circles of the city, a custom-tiled accent wall that pays homage to the city’s metro system and the Longitude 2°17 Bar, which serves éclairs, light bites and illy coffee. 

The hotel’s famous Jazz Club Etoile has likewise been refreshed, with an updated design that emphasizes bright colors and vintage furniture, as well as the works of visual artist Christian Gastaldi, who was inspired by the posters displayed in the metro system. Also on tap are plans for a refreshed musical offering spotlighting jazz, soul, funk and blues, as well as a new menu curated by Executive Chef Laurent Bélijar.

For meetings and events, the hotel has nearly 27,000 square feet of space, with design cues taken from the 17th arrondissement. “Petits Salons” hold up to 25 people, while “Grands Salons” provide space for events of up to 1,200. The renovation of the conference centre and public areas was overseen by London-based architectural duo Alex Michaelis and Tim Boyd

Qatar Announces Updates for Cruise Arrivals

In cruise news, Qatar is aiming to make it easier for cruise passengers arriving at the destination with new arrival measures at Doha Port

The new measures, developed by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), in co-ordination with the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Ports Management Company – Mwani Qatar, include a passenger manifest containing passport details of passengers and crew shared with immigration officials 48 hours in advance of the ship’s arrival, allowing immigration officials to process all relevant information and clear passengers before the ship docks. Additionally, cruise passengers are now eligible for transit visas due to the short duration of their stay. 

Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA, said in a statement announcing the new procedures that they have been introduced in anticipation of significant increases in the number of cruise passengers. The coming cruise season will be the first to witness the arrival of larger ships with over 1,500 passengers on board, with the MSC Fantasia being the first “mega-ship” docking, in December. Thirty-two ships carrying over 50,000 passengers are expected to arrive in Qatar this cruise season, which continues until April 2017. The first ship of the season is expected to dock on October 18.

Qatari officials also recently signed an agreement with VFS Global that will soon allow for a faster tourist visa application process. 

Bangkok Takes Top Travel Destination in MasterCard Poll

In terms of research, MasterCard has released the latest edition of its Global Destinations Cities Index, in which Bangkok has edged out London as the top travel destination by projected visitor volume for the 2016 calendar year. The rankings are: 

Bangkok - 21.47 million visitors
London – 19.88 million visitors
Paris – 18.03 million visitors
Dubai – 15.27 million visitors
New York – 12.75 million visitors
Singapore – 12.11 million visitors
Kuala Lumpur – 12.02 million visitors
Istanbul – 11.95 million visitors
Tokyo – 11.70 million visitors
Seoul – 10.20 million visitors

Dubai posted a big jump this year in terms of international visitor spending, coming in at $31.3 billion, ahead of second-ranked London’s $19.8 billion. 

When looking at the fastest-growing cities in terms of visitation, the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East, and Africa are all making big gains. The fastest-growing destinations are: 

Osaka (24.15 percent)
Chengdu – 20.14 percent
Abu Dhabi – 19.81 percent
Colombo – 19.57 percent
Tokyo – 18.48 percent
Riyadh – 16.45 percent
Taipei – 14.53 percent
Xi’an – 14.20 percent
Tehran – 12.98 percent
Xiamen – 12.93 percent

And Now: A Famous YouTuber’s $21,000 Flight

Your clients may be watching this morning a nine-minute video by popular YouTuber Casey Neistat, who was upgraded to first class on Emirates Airlines and is billing the experience as a “$21,000 flight.”

The flight can actually go for as little as $9,000, but the over-the-top amenities — including a cooked-to-order menu of scotch and caviar, a secluded pod with a chair that converts to a bed, and a five-minute shower — are making waves on social media, with the video racking up 8 million views on YouTube since Monday, according to AdWeek

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