Posts Tagged ‘global’

Counting the costs of G20

April 1, 2009

What is the carbon footprint of the G20 summit? Of this, a fascinating factor is what the CO2 levels of president Obama’s London visit are: that 747 (Airforce One), his 500-strong retinue, all the preceding support flights bringing battalions of SUVs, helicopters and of course ‘the Beast’ – the 3.5 tonne bomb-proof Cadillac limo.

Surprisingly none of the eco-warriors seem to be publishing calculations on this – anyone know?

Please share this info with us!

And another factor – how much is G20 costing? Figures being tossed around are in the region of £20 million. Ironic that at a time when the business travel and meetings and events sectors are thoroughly debating cutting down and video conferencing options, the big daddy of all meetings is being staged. I guess budgeting considerations are different when the global taxpayer is footing the bill…

Living it Taj: back in business

December 18, 2008

It’s heartening to see the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai announcing that it will be reopening on Sunday (December 21). This seems a remarkably quick feat given the amount of damage to the hotel we saw on TV during those appalling terrorist attacks.

I hope it’s equally disheartening for the terrorists to see such a determined return to “business as usual”. 

In the words of the Taj homepage: “You will feel the buzz of business as usual and experience hospitality that is quintessentially Taj.” taj-exotica-maldives27

OK, there’s a dash of PR cliché, but I think I can agree there is something “quintessential” about these hotels. I’ve stayed in two of them, the Taj West End in Bangalore and the Taj Exotica in the Maldives. Very different – the West End is a business hotel in the heart of a global commercial hub, while the Exotica is a romantic hideaway resort on a tiny Indian Ocean atoll.

If you missed them, here’s the Maldives and India (Golden Chariot train journey) stories for ttgluxury:

In both properties I found the staff and management – how to describe? I don’t know, beyond the usual exquisite Asian levels of service, they’re sophisticated, intelligent, without too much fuss.

Bangalore’s West End with its tranquil pools and tropical gardens is a calm oasis in the crazy tumult of this full-throttle city.

The Exotica in the Maldives is… well, OK, the picture you see is my snap of the sun rising over the aircraft carrier-sized infinity pool on my presidential water villa. But that doesn’t mean I’m totally biased.

Now, you may think an impoverished travel journo is easily taken in by a bit of five-star hospitality. But most writers have been around long enough to distinguish between quality service and bullshit and bling. In fact anyone who’s bought a surly, crap coffee for the wrong side of £5 in London, Paris or anywhere else will understand.

Anyway, good luck to the Taj for its fast-track reopening on Sunday. And when you’re next inviting those freeloading ladies and gentlemen of the press to sample your wares, bugger the firebombs – I’ll be there.



Global economic crisis forces Zoombak to close its UK business

November 19, 2008

Another sad chapter in the global money meltdown story: Zoombak – which provides lightweight cheap personal GPSs – is closing its UK consumer business. zoombak-pic1

I went to the product launch a month ago at London’s Haymarket hotel.

These things are the size of a match box and you can (or could until now) attach them to your dog’s collar, kid’s bike or you car while you’re away.

We watched as the team live-tracked a fleet of taxis around the south-east on google maps. There were a couple of cute dogs in attendance at the champagne reception – they were mostly interested in the canapés – and we tracked their walkies around Pall Mall. It was good fun and the team talked up a storm.

One chap told me how he had one on his young daughters bicycle, and set up an ‘inclusion’ zone around her school – so he knew when she arrived safely each morning, and when she had set off for home.

The range of potential business and personal usage was vast. Estate agents, hauliers and taxi/fleet firms were among the sectors interested in the product.

You could monitor your car’s security from the other side of the world – especially if your teenage kids are tempted to go for a spin while you’re away. Beloved or valuable dogs were also kept under close satellite surveillance. There were hopes that one day a model would be small enough for cats.

I thought the whole concept had great potential, so it’s sad to hear today that the UK operation is being closed down.

Zoombak‘s European vice-president, Barry Wilson, said: “When your product category is effectively a new market area, major investment is required to create and develop this market.

“At some point there has to be a return on that investment. Given these difficult trading times and low overall consumer confidence, it is almost certain we will not be able to generate a return on the proposed UK investment within an acceptable timescale.

“We’ve therefore had to make the very difficult decision to withdraw from the UK consumer market.”

Current customers will get full purchase refunds. More at