Jurys Inn transforms Belfast city hotel for enhanced customer service

Jurys Inn has completed a GBP9.1m major renovation programme at its Belfast city hotel.

As part of the programme, Jurys Inn Belfast completed major bedroom and public area upgrades, including a new look bar and restaurant and improvements to the check-in experience.

The hotel received an 80-bedroom extension, increasing hotel capacity by 42 percent with the hotel now offering 270 bedrooms in total. The new bedrooms have each been decorated with an individual wall mural of iconic Northern Ireland landmarks. All bedrooms now feature the exclusive Dream bed by Jurys Inn, and also include a flat screen TV, large workspace with an ergonomic chair, en suite bathroom, complimentary toiletries and more. Upgraded technology has also been introduced to the bedrooms, allowing for contactless key card entry.

Ryan Foster, General Manager of Jurys Inn Belfast, said: ‘We’re very excited to announce the completion of our refurbishment following a massive £9.1 million investment. We have completely transformed the hotel while also adding a brand new 80 bedroom extension. We look forward to welcoming guests and locals alike, and hope they love the hotel’s new look as much as we do. Whether it’s for a weekend away or a business trip, we’re certain you will find everything you need here at Jurys Inn Belfast.’

The hotel’s new-look bar and restaurant offers contemporary dining. ‘The Kitchen’ menu includes a wide range of food options served throughout the day ranging from artisan pizzas and burgers to steaks and salads. Guests can enjoy a rich, freshly brewed coffee from the hotel’s all-day Costa Coffee bar.

The hotel’s lobby, restaurant and bar areas have been refurbished to offer new decor with contemporary furnishings. Further, new self-check-in kiosks and a new connectivity area have also been introduced to the hotel lobby. Guests can now easily set-up their laptops in the area to work remotely, while availing of the hotel’s complimentary high-speed WiFi. The lobby area has also been revamped with a brand new ‘Off the Shelf’ shop that stocks a selection of drinks, snacks and travel necessities.

Ryanair launches new Manchester-Poitiers route, announces extra flights from Stansted for May

Ryanair, the Irish low fares airline, has announced a new route to Poitiers from Manchester, with a twice weekly service commencing in June 2019.

With the addition, Ryanair’s Manchester Summer schedule includes 64 routes in total with nine new routes to Bordeaux, Billund, Gothenburg, Kyiv, Marrakech, Marseille, Nantes, Poitiers and Thessaloniki.

Ryanair’s Robin Kiely said: ‘Ryanair is pleased to announce a new Manchester route to Poitiers, commencing in June, which will operate twice weekly, as part of our extended Manchester summer 2019 schedule.’

Stephen Turner, Commercial Director at Manchester Airport, said: ‘It’s great to see Ryanair continuing to add new routes from Manchester for Summer. Poitiers is another French destination for the airport opening up a fantastic region for the 22 million people in our catchment area to explore.’

Ryanair has also announced extra flights from London Stansted for May, with 20 additional return flights to Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Morocco. Ryanair is offering more than 7,500 extra seats for travel between 29 April and 7 May, to destinations including Alicante, Biarritz, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Marrakesh, Seville and Tenerife. The seats are now on sale on the Ryanair.com website.

Ryanair’s summer 2019 London Stansted schedule offers 142 routes, including six new routes to Kalamata, Kiev, Lviv, Nantes, Rodez and Vigo, with over 1,200 weekly flights.

Besides budget fares, Ryanair’s latest ‘Always Getting Better’ improvements for enhancing customer experience includes the addition of more routes, flights and destinations; Ryanair rooms with 10% off travel credit, and the ‘Try Somewhere New’ travel content platform on Ryanair.com.

Ryanair announces London schedule with 23 new routes

Ryanair, the Irish low fares airline, has launched its biggest ever London S 2019 schedule, with 23 new routes and over 180 routes in total, from Ryanair’s four London airports – Stansted, Luton, Southend and Gatwick.

As part of the London S19 schedule, Ryanair will introduce a new three-aircraft base at Southend and two more aircraft at Luton, adding to a total of six aircraft. The airline has also announced 23 new routes including three at Stansted, viz. Kiev, Lviv and Nantes; and six at Luton, viz. Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Bologna, Cork and Malaga. At Southend, Ryanair introduced 14 routes including to Alicante, Bilbao, Brest, Copenhagen, Cluj, Corfu, Dublin, Faro, Kosice, Malaga, Milan, Palma, Reus and Venice.

In total, the London S19 Schedule will operate over 180 routes, expected to carry over 26 million customers per annum, up five percent over the previous year.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: ‘Ryanair is pleased to launch our biggest ever London S 2019 schedule with over 180 routes from our 4 London airports, including 1 new base at Southend and 23 new routes to exciting destinations such as Barcelona, Bilbao, Copenhagen and Kiev. Our S2019 schedule will deliver 26m customers p.a. through Stansted, Luton, Southend and Gatwick, all at the lowest fares, as we continue to grow London traffic, tourism and jobs.

We remain concerned at the increasing risk of a hard (no-deal) Brexit in March 2019. While we hope that a 21-month transition agreement from March 2019 will be agreed, recent events in the UK have added uncertainty, and we believe that the risk of a hard Brexit (which could lead to flights being grounded for a period of days or weeks) is being underestimated.’

Separately, Ryanair also announced a new route from Cardiff to Malta, with a twice-weekly service commencing in April 2019, which will be a part of Ryanair’s summer 2019 schedule.

Commenting on the new Maltese route, Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport, said, ‘Our customers have been asking for the return of flights to Malta for some time, so we’re absolutely thrilled with today’s announcement that Ryanair will operate regular, low-cost services to this popular Mediterranean destination from early 2019.

‘South Wales is home to a thriving Maltese community and so this service makes it easier to travel between both destinations, whilst also serving as another access point for European visitors seeking to explore Wales.’

InterContinental Hotels Group adds 13 luxury and upscale hotels in UK

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said that it will expand its luxury and upscale estate, establishing itself as one of the leading luxury hotel operators in the UK.

Accordingly, IHG has entered into a conditional agreement with Fonciere des Regions (FdR), to rebrand and operate 12 high quality open hotels (2.2k rooms) and one pipeline hotel (185 rooms) into its portfolio across the UK. The move will expand the InterContinental brand, and enable IHG to launch its luxury boutique brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the UK, adding multiple hotels for the brand in major city centres, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

The agreement is a major step as IHG plans to take the brand global, expanding on the first signings for Asia and China last year, and will act as a catalyst for Kimpton’s growth in Europe. This agreement aims to strengthen IHG’s position in the upscale segment in the UK, and will establish a presence for its new upscale brand. These hotels will represent the IHG brand in its largest market within the Europe, Middle East, Asia & Africa (EMEAA) region, where it will initially be launched later this year.

Keith Barr, chief executive officer, IHG commented: ‘We are focused on continuing to expand our leadership in luxury and upscale, which are both high-value segments with significant growth potential. Bringing Kimpton to such an important market as the UK is a key part of our plans, as is the introduction of our new upscale brand, which will provide an exciting, differentiated offering to both guests and owners. Together with the recent addition of Regent Hotels & Resorts to our portfolio, we are building real momentum behind our plans to deliver industry-leading net rooms growth.’

Following FdR’s acquisition of the hotel properties and operations, IHG will operate the hotels that currently operate under the Principal Hotels and De Vere Hotels brands under long-term ‘managed leases’ as part of its luxury and upscale portfolio. The hotels include The Principal London, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, The Principal Edinburgh George Street, The Principal Met Hotel (Leeds), The Principal York, De Vere Oxford Thames, The Grand Birmingham (pipeline), The Principal Manchester, The Principal Blythswood Square (Glasgow), The Principal Grand Central (Glasgow), The Principal St David’s (Cardiff), The Principal Oxford Spires and De Vere Wotton House.

Saga Cruises to launch new all-balcony cruise ship

British cruise line Saga Cruises has announced plans to introduce a new all-balcony ship, which will be available to holidaymakers from 2019, The Telegraph has reported.

The new vessel will carry nearly 1,000 passengers in around 540 suites and cabins, each with a balcony. Around 15 per cent of cabins will be designed for single occupancy, and leisure facilities will include outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and beauty salon.

Saga Cruises currently only operates two ships, the 446-passenger Saga Pearl II and the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire, both of which will be eventually phased out. The plan for a new vessel comes as demand for sailings on the current ships are mounting: they carried around 25,000 passengers last year, with a 75 per cent repeat passenger rate. Sailings on the two existing vessels sell out far in advance, the report noted.

Additionally, according to research by Saga on the travel/holiday patterns of the 50-plus age group, spending on cruising is expected to increase by 43 per cent to £2.2bn by 2020. This compares with £1.65bn in 2014 of £41bn on travel and tourism as a whole. Nearly a third (32 per cent) of the over-50s in employment said they were planning to increase their spending on cruises post retirement.

Built by Meyer Werft in Germany, the new vessel will come into service in 2019. A second new vessel may also enter service by 2021.

Robin Shaw, chief executive of the cruising division, said that ‘There is no expectation that customers will pay more’ as a result of the new ships.

The Saga Pearl II and the Saga Sapphire will visit 14 new ports in 2016, including Holy Loch, Scotland; Boulogne-sur-Mer in France; Pyramiden in the Svalbard archipelago; San Remo in Italy and Southwold in Suffolk.

InterContinental set to open new hotels in Russia and CIS

Travellers seeking the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) brand in Russia and the CIS will have more choice as the company plans to expand in the region with the opening of three hotels: Holiday Inn Express Naberezhnye-Chelny, Holiday Inn Express Samara and Staybridge Suite Baku.

Holiday Inn Express Naberezhnye-Chelny is the third hotel planned as part of the multi-development franchise agreement signed with Regional Hotel Chain in March 2013, to develop 15 new hotels in Russia by 2019.

The 145-room new-build property will open in the second quarter of 2015. It is not only the first IHG hotel to be built in Naberezhnye Chelny, but also the first internationally branded hotel in the area.

The newly built 115 room Staybridge Suites hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with Asnaf Alkon Group. The first branded extended-stay hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, Staybridge Suites Baku is expected to see high demand for longer stays from the city’s thriving energy industry and an influx of tourism from neighbouring countries.

The 145-room hotel Holiday Inn Express Samara will be newly constructed on an office building site and will open by the end of 2015. The hotel will occupy a central location in the city of Samara – a host city for the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup. The hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with Rosa Mira Group, a first time owner with IHG.

Robert Shepherd, IHG chief development officer, Europe said: ‘These three signings demonstrate IHG delivering its growth ambition across Russia and the CIS.

‘We continue to see considerable headroom for growth here, particularly in the mid-scale and upper-mid scale segments. The Holiday Inn Express brand is gaining great momentum across Europe and despite being a new hotel brand in Russia; we’re delighted it is being so positively received in this region.

‘The brand has strong consumer appeal worldwide and it is proving just as popular with our owners and investors. Its efficient concept reduces build costs and operating costs, supporting a strong return on investment.’

With its stated goal being to create ‘Great Hotels Guests Love,’ IHG has 19 hotels (5,283 rooms) open in Russia and the CIS with a further 10 hotels (2,644 rooms) in the pipeline. The Group is planning to have 100 hotels open, or in the pipeline, in the region by 2020.

Launched in 1991, Holiday Inn Express has over 2,200 hotels around the world.