Posts Tagged ‘airport’

Where to do business in Budapest?

April 22, 2009
View of Parliament from Castle Hill on the Buda side

View of Parliament from Castle Hill on the Buda side of the Danube

I’m just back from a trip to Hungary‘s capital Budapest, checking out hotels for ttgluxury. I visited several fine hotels in the city, different in style but they all had things in common: they’re all finding the current climate a challenge, and consequently offering excellent rates and deals. And, they all to varying degrees have business traffic as a significant part of revenue.

Budapest is a 2.5 hour flight from the UK. We flew with national carrier Malev from Gatwick (from £87.70 inc taxes, business class £341.70 ). Business class gets you the Aviance lounge at Gatwick and the comfortable Malev lounge at Budapest airport, with bar, nice snacks and free Wifi − plus friendly, attentive service onboard and rather palatable Hungarian bubbly.

The city is actually two – Buda and Pest, joined by name but split by the mighty river Danube, on its 2,850km route from Germany to the Black Sea.

Budapest is a dazzling showcase of architectural styles, from Baroque to Bauhaus via Arts Nouveau and Deco. Some buildings are meticulously restored, others crumbling and pocked with bullet holes from the 1956 uprising.

Museum of Fine Arts

Museum of Fine Arts

There’s plenty to keep delegates entertained when not working: river cruises, traditional thermal spas, countless world-class museums, a busy year-round cultural programme, great walks and cycle rides and buzzing night life. Find out more here

InterContinental

InterContinental

With its brand-new executive Club lounge facilities and vast conference floor with multiple layout options, the 400-room InterContinental is the obvious choice for corporates. The 1960s block is no architectural gem but is in a beautiful spot right on the banks of the Danube in the heart of the city with wonderful views.

Another modern five-star option is the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, with state-of-the art conference facilities and separate reception for 450 delegates. When I visited, a gleaming S-class Mercedes stood centre-stage in the lobby, to demonstrate how the hotel can incorporate promotional events such as car launches.

There’s also the stunningly palatial Boscolo New York Palace, and for smaller events (80 capacity theatre-style) the Bauhaus-style boutique Andrassy Hotel. The Andrassy’s location among most of the city’s embassies and close to several corporate headquarters ensures a steady flow of business traffic.

For exclusive and memorable events, the landmark, exquisitely restored Art Nouveau Four Seasons Gresham Palace says business traffic makes a small but significant portion of its revenue.

Four Seasons Gresham Palace

Four Seasons Gresham Palace

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Two nights in Bangkok: Weerasak and the wine angels

March 10, 2009

OK, let me explain the title: Weerasak refers to Weerasak Kowsurat, chairman of Tourism Authority of Thailand board of directors. I met him during a recent press trip to Bangkok. We were on the 55th floor of the Centara Grand hotel, where the Red Sky bar and restaurant boast stunning views over the multi-hued neon cityscape. redskybar

Weerasak told me he’s optimistic about visitors to Thailand in 2009, despite the setbacks of global recession and last year’s airport protests. He says he expects 14 million visitors during 2009 – including plenty of Brits.

“We understand British visitors, and we know they value the genuine friendliness and care that is the core of Thai hospitality. And a key factor is the value for money Thailand offers – we know how important this is during these times.”

He also pointed out that the Skytrain extension to the airport would be open on August 12.

This should be a welcome improvement to travelling into the city, as traffic is appalling.

wineangel21The Centara adjoins the Bangkok Convention Centre and on the 22nd floor you can walk straight from hotel to the vast multi-space auditoria which can merge to host a maximum of 6,000 delegates theatre style.

Also impressive is Lifestyle on the 26th floor, with spa, decent sized gym, panoramic pool with bar and gardens, plus two tennis courts.

Which brings us to the wine angels – abseiling up and down the spectacular glass two-story wine cellar at The Red Sky bar and restaurant on Fifty Five, to pluck fine vintages from the upper shelves.

Check out luxury travel news & views at ttgluxury.com

Heathrow expansion: Tories throw spanner in the works

January 15, 2009

Heathrow: First it was celebrities buying plots of land on the third runway site (see below).

But  the Tories are throwing a bigger spanner in the works: they vow to pull the plug on the project if they get into government – this was said categorically by shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. heathrow-silhouette

Surely this must be a bigger threat than the likes of Emma Thomson and Zac Goldsmith buying parcels of land in fields near the Sipson – the village earmarked for bulldozing to make way for the runway.

I expect most political pundits would say all bets are off at the moment as to who would win the next election and when that will be. But they’d probably say the Tories have a fair chance of winning.

This raises a whole bunch of interesting questions for the project. What will happen to the massive amount of commercial contracts signed off by then if the projects already underway?

Participating companies would presumably already invested millions. Is this going to put firms off bidding?

What if compulsory purchase orders for the site have already been completed?

And does this mean they will give stronger support to a new estuary airport? – as proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson

Answers below please. UK Plc needs to know!

Heathrow: how cunning is Operation Baldrick?

January 13, 2009

The press are busy today adding a showbiz splash of celebrity names to the Heathrow airport expansion furore – a much-needed dash of colour to the Hounslow concrete grey of this story.

Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson and comedian Alistair McGowan are among those buying up land which will be needed by BAA for the third runway. They’re adding their clout to a plan of action by Greenpeace.

The idea is that completing compulsory purchase orders on all these tiny plots of land, with their disparate owners around the world will be a Herculean task for the government. airport3

It’s kind of cunning I suppose, but also rather depressing – rather than changing the path of global CO2 emissions and climate change, it just means the Heathrow expansion will take longer and be more expensive.

Meanwhile, in the fraught intervening years, Heathrow and its surrounding environs will just carry on being increasingly polluted, congested, dysfunctional and miserable. Great.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Why not just build another bloody airport!? Instead of tinkering around with this 70-year-old edifice that was originally conceived in the Jurassic era of air travel. Like those many other countries, which have a more creative, forward thinking, can-do attitude towards air travel.

Bangkok blues

November 27, 2008
Krabi, Thailand: We’re meant to be flying to Bangkok tomorrow (Friday) to connect with an Eva Air flight to London.
Everyone’s watching and waiting as the stalemate at Bangkok airport drags on: prime minister, protesters and army holding their positions.
Saw it first on the news on Wednesday morning – then nothing this morning: the hotel’s only English-language news station CNN has not mentioned Thailand since the ghastly events in Mumbai unfolded.

The news websites are highlighting how PAD’s airport blockade is damaging Thailand’s “vital” tourist industry.

The resorts here are working round the clock to keep on top of events: incoming guests are cancelling because their flights haven’t arrived, outgoers are staying longer because they can’t get home.

Apart from this, it’s hard to imagine anything’s wrong with the world – in the Pakasai resort set in lush rainforest gardens, its rooftop pool overlooking the Andaman sea, life goes goes on its languid pleasurable way.

But the people working here are saying that for the tourism industry, on the long hard-working road to recovery after the tsunami, this is the last thing they need.

 

 

An airport for the 21st century?

November 6, 2008

It is disheartening to hear the politicos bickering, agonising and tying themselves in knots over Heathrow expansion.

In all those tiger economies of the east, they’ve not dithered for years about tacking extensions onto a creaking 70-year-old airport in the middle of town. They’ve just gone ahead and built a brand new multibillion-dollar showpiece somewhere else.

Why can’t we do that? Why does everything we do have to be so shoddy and ‘make do’?

What is so outlandish about building a new airport in the Thames estuary? It’s the kind of thing they do everywhere else in the world.

The business travel community tends to view situations from a global outlook. The tussling over ‘slots’ and the extraordinary levels of congestion in the sky and on the ground looks terribly rickety and old-fashioned compared to what’s going on in the near and far east.

Then there’s all the talk of closing Heathrow and putting the thousands of people – who live in the area and service the airport – out of work. Why? With the steady growth of air travel – which seems to continue despite economic cycles and fuel price fluctuations – there’s enough planes wanting to fly in and out of London to justify both the airports.
Perhaps the pressure could be eased on Heathrow – less early morning/late night flights, less CO2-spewing stacking in the skies, less queues, less delays. Does this really sound so terrible?

I know there’ll be a million good eco-arguments against building in the Thames estuary, but if not out to sea, then where? There are an equal number of arguments against Heathrow expansion, and I don’t see how a new train link to Manchester or wherever is going to solve the problems of the world’s busiest hub.