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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 01 - 11 - 2007

Hotels & resorts
One Club floor added
SINCE its opening two years ago, InterContinental CityStars has created several over- the-top retreats to make guest stays more memorable. The hotel's Club floors have become known as one of those exclusive retreats where frequent business travellers can experience a higher standard of accommodation, personalised service and a host of special privileges and amenities to go with it.
The hotel recently added the 11th floor to its already existing 12th and 14th floors, totalling 114 Club rooms and suites, almost 15 per cent of the total hotel inventory of 790 rooms and suites.
Guests who stay on Club floors have restricted access to their floor, special bedding, concierge service and a lounge that offers a free breakfast buffet, evening snacks and a happy hour. They also usually have fewer children,
"We have been facing a growing demand for Club rooms from our leisure and business travellers who represent 60 per cent of our core business and who are looking for VIP rooms and pampering," said Thierry Perrot, area general manager of InterContinental Hotels Group CityStars and general manager of InterContinental Cairo CityStars.
Hilton hotels regain top spot
IN A SURVEY conducted by Business Development Research Consultants (BDRC), an independent research company, Hilton Hotels has regained its top ranking as the leading hotel brand of choice in the Middle East, according to the 2007 Middle East Hotel Business Guest Survey.
The rankings, published in the 2007 BDRC survey report, saw Hilton regain its pole position by achieving the highest scores among hospitality brands in four of the five criteria terms, including unaided awareness, level of usage, preferred first or second choice for guests, and the highest loyalty ratio.
The survey provided over 900 business travellers with the opportunity to express their views on both business and leisure travel across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.
SOS children at Funtasia
CAIRO Marriott Palace recently marked the closing of its summer kids' outlet Funtasia Land by hosting orphans of the SOS Village. The children spent the day with the hotel management and enjoyed exciting games and delicious food, ice creams and candies provided by Funtasia Land.
Le Meridien Dahab Resort opens
LE MERIDIEN Dahab Resort, affiliated to the Starwood Hotel group, has opened in Dahab, on the Gulf of Aqaba in South Sinai.
The resort comprises 182 rooms and suites overlooking the sea and literally sits at the base of Sinai's rugged mountains. It's only a one-hour drive (80km) from Sharm El-Sheikh Airport in an area renowned for its exceptional marine life and proximity to the desert. It has a magnificent one kilometre long private beach on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.
The five-star deluxe resort is stunningly designed in and out by French architect and interior designer Alain Jaouen.
Only 110 uniquely decorated rooms and suites are opened in this phase whereas 70 more rooms and an extensive state-of- the-art spa and Wellness centre will follow in 2008.
Guests will have a choice of leisure facilities including five swimming pools, a children's club, dive and windsurfing centres, a Jacuzzi, steam and sauna, beautifully landscaped gardens and tennis courts.
Le Méridien Dahab Resort also offers a choice of superb restaurants in keeping with its elegant surroundings, with the highlight being Vie, the first Asian Fusion restaurant in the city of Dahab.
For more information about bookings and rates log on to www.lemeridien.com/dahab.
A child's smile at Sheraton
FOR THE fifth year, Sheraton Cairo Hotel held the "A smile of a child" charity tent under the sponsorship of MobiNil, Mansour Group and Orascom Telecom.
The campaign aims at shedding light on the plight of disabled children and supporting their integration into society.
This year the charity tent hosted 66 orphanages from Egypt's governorates including disabled and able-bodied children who were encouraged to do volunteer work. Thirty distinguished schools participated.
Airlines & airports
From Cairo to New York
STARTING next year, Delta Airlines will operate five direct flights between Cairo International Airport and JFK in New York, the first time for a US carrier to operate direct flights between Egypt and the US.
Tony Sharaf, of Delta Airlines, said the US company decided to operate the route due to the increase in the tourist movement between the US and Egypt as well as the increase of trade relations between the two countries.
Delta Airlines flies to 315 cities in 54 countries and operates 400 weekly trips to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Lufthansa expands
STARTING from 28 October to March 2008, Lufthansa's global route network will encompass 188 destinations in 79 countries. New routes include Orlando in the US and Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan. In order to maintain as stable a schedule as possible throughout the year, many of the new services added this summer will continue to operate in the winter season.
The seating capacity across Lufthansa's entire network will increase by 5.7 per cent compared with last year. Available capacity will be increased by four per cent on European routes and by 6.5 per cent on international routes. "We are enlarging our long-haul route network, with the focus on America and Asia," said Karl Ulrich Garnadt, a member of the board of Lufthansa Airlines. "We are further expanding our route network to Eastern Europe and simultaneously raising frequencies on several routes to business destinations," Garnadt added.
Cuts on Emirates
EMIRATES Airline in Egypt has announced a significant price cut on its eastern destination and South African flights. Reductions between 10 per cent and 17 per cent aim to make east bound journeys more attractive and rewarding for travellers from Egypt. Valid between 15 October and 15 December, the Economy Class fares are applicable for round trips to Dubai, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka and the airline's eight gateways in India -- Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Kolkata and Bangalore.
Travel can be undertaken from Cairo International Airport and Borg Al-Arab Airport in Alexandria.
"From time to time Emirates introduces special fares that make travelling more enjoyable. I am confident our latest 'East Specials' will be well received by our valued customers in Egypt," said Khaled Al-Serkal, Emirates' Egypt area manager.
Flights can be booked online at www.emirates.com/egypt
Etihad in Guinness
ETIHAD Airways has entered the world famous Guinness Book of Records for 2008 following the airline's successful record for the greatest weight difference during flight formation at January's Al-Ain Aerobatic Show.
Capt Granger Narara, Etihad Airways vice-president for flight operations, flew into the record books as he piloted an Etihad Airbus A330-200 in formation with a Sukhoi Su-26 and an Extra-300S and two stunt planes.
Etihad Airways is a platinum sponsor of the Al-Ain Aerobatic Show, a highlight of the international aerobatics calendar which draws an audience of more than 125,000 people from more than 40 countries.
New Business Class arrives
LAST week, British Airways unveiled the new Club World to an exclusive launch event held in Cairo at the Baron Palace.
The unveiling coincides with the airline celebrating its 80th anniversary of flight operations to Egypt. It all began on 26 December 1926 when the first flight was inaugurated by Sir Samuel Hoare who was the British secretary of state for air transport at the time.
Today, not only has travel become more convenient but much more comfortable. The new Club World seat is a perfect example of that convenience.
The Club World seat is 25 per cent wider and offers more privacy, greater comfort, with more storage. Created with the help of leading designers, British Airways Club World is filled with quality fabrics and mellow personal lighting, which create an atmosphere of elegance and class.
To date, more than three-quarters of British Airways Boeing 747 fleet have been fitted with the new cabin. The �100 million overhaul of Club World is part of an investment programme in the airline's products and services that includes enhancements to its First Class cabin and the introduction of an on-demand in-flight entertainment system in every cabin across the long-haul fleet.
Cornell agreement
IN AN ATTEMPT to raise quality standards in the tourism sector on all fronts and to specifically create opportunities for the benefit of Egypt's hospitality industry professionals, the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), under the auspices of Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana, recently signed an agreement with Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration (CU-SHA).
Garana was there for the signing of a letter of agreement by Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation Ahmed El-Nahhas and Thomas Kline, director of executive education at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. It will bring the expertise of one of the world's most prestigious and highly renowned leaders in the field of hospitality education to Egypt.
Under the agreement, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the ETF and CU-SHA will work in close alliance to deliver educational programmes through a combination of Cornell industry-leading online courses and Cornell faculty-led in- country courses, aimed at furthering the development of industry professionals and maintaining excellence within the Egyptian tourism industry.
Five comprehensive programmes will be offered by Cornell, with an inaugural Senior Executives Programme planned for December 2007. This exclusive programme targets a select group of 40 general managers of full-service in three to five-star hotels, focuses on strategic hospitality management and high performance financial management, and seeks to elicit the involvement and enthusiasm of senior hoteliers about the Cornell education experience, as it is these role models who will encourage and inspire their staff to follow in their footsteps.
The Ministry of Tourism is to finance 40 per cent of the participant's costs for the in-country programmes for Egyptian nationals, and will negotiate student loans for broadening the participation base for those who wish to enrol in Cornell's online learning courses.
Naguib in Pharaonic Village
The PHARAONIC Village in Giza last week celebrated the inauguration of a museum dedicated to Mohamed Naguib, the first president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The inaugural, in which a statue of the late president was unveiled, was headed by Abdel-Salam Ragab, board chairman of the Pharaonic Village, and attended by Naguib's family members, Maj Gamal Hammad, former Arab League secretary-general Esmat Abdel-Meguid, ambassador Riad Sami, Naguib's chief of bureau, writer Anis Mansour, Abdel-Moneim El-Sawi, Talaat El-Sadat and writer Mahfouz Abdel-Rahman.
The 600 square metre museum includes 250 unique photos of the former president as well as five original certificates including those of his primary and secondary education in addition to military certificates. The museum also includes some of Naguib's personal possessions such as his radio, telephone, a video camera, a suit, military medal, military cap with his name and a copy of the Quran.
Pharaonic Village officials say the museum intends to shed light on a vague period in the history of Egypt and to uncover Naguib's true personality.
Speed boat rally
HURGHADA, on the Red Sea, is currently hosting the second Egyptian Speed Boat Rally from 26 October to 4 November.
Coordinator of the event Mustafa El-Nahhas said 450 international participants representing more than 20 countries will take part in the rally. Participants include rally skippers from France, England, The Netherlands, Russia, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, the US, Greece, Belgium, South Africa, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Jordan.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) is providing all facilities for the rally due to its significance in promoting Egypt abroad. Consequently, before, during and after the event international media coverage has been extensive, including stories on Egypt's tourist facilities and potential.
Ahmed Shukri, head of the domestic tourism sector at the ETA, said the rally was now listed on the agenda of international marine rallies supervised by the International Organisation for Marine Rallies.

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