New Or Old Upper Class Seats On Virgin Atlantic’s A330?

When you next travel on Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic, will you get the new seats or the old dated cabins? It was expected that the Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class retrofit would be complete by the end of March. The news had been provided by respected Airline Route and reported on by Business Traveller Magazine.

Airline Route now reports that the A330s operating leisure routes out of London Gatwick and Manchester will have the new Upper Class cabins towards the end of March. These routes (from Gatwick and Manchester) cover the Caribbean and, in the case of Manchester only, services to Boston and San Francisco.

The bad news applies for Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow services. The A330s from here are rostered for some of the carrier’s most important business destinations. Upper Class passengers are now going to have to wait until September/October before the revised A330 Upper Class cabins are available. From September 1 the following Heathrow routes will see the retrofitted A330s: Dubai, New York Newark, New York JFK (some services only), and Washington Dulles as well as routes from Manchester to Atlanta and New York JFK. Effective October 30, the retrofitted A330s will appear on services between Heathrow, Atlanta and New York JFK. From October 31 the plan is then to roster the revised A330 for one daily Heathrow to Miami service.

The general advice is to check the situation on these retrofits at the time of booking. I reviewed what you currently experience on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class on the A330 which is not great. Virgin does feature in my top 10 airlines in the world, but I prefer the Business Class product on British Airways over Virgin’s dated Upper Class on their A330’s. You can also read my report on which is best overall in Business; Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Vs British Airways Club Class.

Virgin Atlantic

Top 5 Best OverWater Villas Worldwide NOT In The Maldives

Continuing our series of best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, this article outlines the top 5 best luxury overwater villas NOT in the Maldives.

You may not have realised, but there are overwater villas or bungalows all over the world. Most recently, Sandals has just launched brand new overwater villas in the Caribbean. Further south in Panama you can stay in some of the cheapest overwater bungalows in the world. If you are Europe based, how about booking into an overwater bungalow over a Swiss Lake? Wherever you choose, you no longer need to fly half way around the world to experience an overwater escape.

Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica

In December, Sandals unveiled its first five all-inclusive over-the-water villas in in Montego Bay, Jamaica. These are the first honeymoon style overwater bungalows in the Caribbean (pictured above) and form the newest part of this luxury all-inclusive resort. There are 17 overwater bungalows and each comes with a private pool, Jacuzzi, glass floors, and a personal butler. The glass panels in the villas’ floors illuminate at night and show sea life swimming underneath. The deck boasts not only the small infinity pool but two outdoor showers, an oversized over-the-water hammock, chic white sun loungers and a shaded circular swing chair . The villas also have 24/7 room service and two dedicated butlers. They’ll even pack and unpack your suitcases or draw you a bath with petals and champagne.

The resort itself is situated only a few minutes away from the airport in Montego Bay with a free shuttle to and from. This makes the resort easy to get to although it does suffer from occasional aircraft noise.

Sandals South Coast Resort also on Jamaica is also in the planning stages of building 12 overwater bungalows. This resort also offers 2 miles of white sand beach along with a wide selection of water sports, including snorkelling and scuba diving.

And the cost of a night in one of these overwater villas? Well you can book 3 nights for US$8814.10/£7115 including standard Sandals online discounts. If you book for a week or more you may get a lower price, but for shorter stays it appears that the rate will be around US$3,000/£2,421 per night.

Banana Island Overwater Villas, Doha, Qatar

Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara is a paradise sanctuary, offering an alcohol-free environment, an island of beaches and indulgence. Just 25 minutes from the heart of Qatar’s vibrant capital, yet a world away, a luxury catamaran ferry will whisk you across the crystal clear water to reach this breathtaking island.

The eight two-bedroom Over Water Villas and trio of prestigious three-bedroom Anantara Over Water Villas offer 360 square metres of luxurious space and a 62-square-metre personal pool. In the evenings, beds are scattered with rose petals. Lighting has 10 mood light settings and the towels are folded into different animal shapes each night. Kissing swans and even a grinning monkey can be found, all made out of towels, hanging on the back of your bathroom door.

Although you could do a layover on one of these overwater villas as it is so close to the airport, at US$4,373/£3,531 per night, this resort is not cheap if you must stay overwater. During flash sales premier (non over water rooms) start at US$297/£240 per night.

Hotel Palafitte Overwater Bungalows in Switzerland

The five star Hotel Palafitte is built over Lake Neuchatel, perfects the overwater bungalow in pure Swiss style and opulence. This architectural masterpiece is the first overwater villa resort in Europe making it ideal for a weekend break. 40 eye-catching wooden pavilions stand on piles in the lake. Each room has its own terrace and the overwater roomss offer direct access to the lake. La Table de Palafitte restaurant has 13 Gault Millau points is another highlight of this modern hotel (which opened in spring 2014).

The advantage of the Hotel Pafitte overwater bungalows is that this is an easy place to pop in for just 2 or 3 nights. Rates start at around CHF 328.00/US$327/£263

Rosewood Mayakoba Overwater Suites, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Located near Playa del Carmen, 40 miles south of Cancun, the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort has 18 Deluxe Overwater Suites which sit above a mangrove lagoon. Each suite is large and comes with a heated plunge pool. These were the first honeymoon style overwater bungalows in the Caribbean. At less than an hour away from the Cancun Airport, these overwater villas are easy to get to.

Low season online specials from US$938/£757 per night High season online specials from US$1,708/£1,379 per night.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora Bungalow Suites, French Polynesia

For effortless luxury in a tropical paradise, with glorious sands and majestic mountain vistas, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Snorkel amongst colourful reefs, dive with whale sharks and manta rays before returning for your overwater bungalow with private plunge pool. Enjoy panoramic views from a deck that also offers access to the lagoon and relax in a private bedroom with serene views of the South Pacific.

Prices come in at around $4,500 /£3,741per night.

If you prefer to stick with the Maldives, discover my best romantic honeymoon hotels in the Maldives with private pools. my 5 of the best luxury resorts in the Maldives, my top 5 best places to travel and my best wilderness lodges in the world.

Review: Iberia A330 Business Class Madrid to Johannesburg

On January 2nd 2017, I flew Business Class on Iberia on an Airbus A330-300 from Madrid-Barajas International Airport (MAD) in Spain to O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in South Africa. Iberia operates an impressive international network from Madrid dominating the market for flights between Europe and South America and it has recently added direct flights to key Asian and African cities, such as Johannesburg. In 2010, Iberia merged with British Airways, although both airlines keep flying under their own and well-known brand names.

Pre-boarding, I had access to the Iberia VIP Velazquez Business Lounge at Madrid airport.

Business Class Cabin

Iberia’s Airbus A330-300 planes are equipped with two Business Class cabins: a large cabin which seats 28 passengers in front of the plane (behind the cockpit) and a smaller, more intimate cabin with just 8 seats in front of the 242 seat Economy Class cabin. Both cabins are separated from each other by a galley. This is a different layout than the one you find on Iberia’s A330-200 planes where all 19 Business Class flat-bed seats are located in one cabin.

The A330-300 features Iberia’s latest Business Class product (in contrast to some of the carrier’s older A340 planes, which are still equipped with an inferior product). The cabin features Iberia’s signature bright-red colour on the tv screens as you board, which contrasts nicely with the soft grey colours of the seat cushions, tray table, and storage cabinets. The colourful pillows add a nice touch. The seat themselves are Solstys-style, fully lie flat seats placed in 1-2-1 configuration, which means that all seats face forward and that every passenger has access to the aisle, even when all seats are reclined. Note that this seating pattern means that middle pairs and window seats have a few inches/cm more length in bed mode than their aisle counterparts. This is a similar product like the one you find on Etihad, Air Berlin, and Alitalia.

Click here for a seat map of Iberia’s A330-300.

Business Class Seat and The Best Seat To Choose

The Business Class seat features a generous pitch of 78 inch (198 cm) and width of 26 inch (66 cm). In front of the seat, below the large entertainment screen , is an ottoman, which becomes part of the flat-bed (when the seat is reclined) and which allows you to extend your legs as much as you like to. The seat itself has an adjustable back and shoulder pillow with massage function. At the push of a button, the seat can be reclined into a fully and very comfortable flatbed of 78 inch (200 cm), including the footrest.

The seat’s side features the seat and inflight entertainment controls, the power supply and some cabinets to store your smaller items. The tray table is attached to the back of the seat in front of you; the table can also be moved out-of-the-way to enable you to get up, without disturbing the contents.

What are the best Business Class seats on Iberia’s A330-300?

Solo travellers should choose the window seats which are A & L seats. You will feel very exposed in the C & J seats, which are more located along the aisle than the window. Couples and good friends should go for one of the so-called ‘honeymoon’ middle seats (seat E and G on rows 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8).

The seats in the smaller Business Class cabin (rows 7 and 8) enjoy a more intimate ambience.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Iberia’s A330-300?

Seats in row 1 and 7 may suffer from some noise from the galley and toilet. I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, row 8, which is in front of the Premium Economy bassinet seats.If you are traveling solo, you don’t want to be seated in one of the honeymoon seats, since here, you are right by the passenger beside you. In case you end up here, there is a divider that you can raise for added privacy.

The C & J windows seats face into the aisle and are not as private as the A & L window seats.

Amenity Kit

Stylish amenity kits are handed out by the cabin crew to Business Class passengers when boarding is completed. They are well stocked for Business Class: socks, ear plugs, eyeshades, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, a couple of hairbands, L’Occitane en Provence Spa products, and a shoebag. Each seat also comes with a comfortable blanket, a decently sized pillow, and noise cancelling headphones. I have outlined which airlines have the best amenity kits separately.

In-Flight Meals

The Business Class food was great during the flight, in both the service and presentation. The dinner menu read as follows:

Starter:
Warm bread and extra virgin oil.
Consommé.
Fresh shoot salad with feta cheese brunoise and semi-dried tomatoes.
Balsamic vinegar of PEdro Ximenz vinaigrette.
Foie-gras terrine with curly endive, pomegranate and fig jam.
Tronchon sheep’s cheese with Santa Terese quince jelly and grapes.

Main course:
Salmon and spinach in puff pastry with creamy dill sauce.

Dessert:
Triple chocolate cake.

Iberia Breakfast:
Plain omelette.
Smoked boiled ham and chicken cold nut.
Toasts and extra-virgin olive oil.
Orange juice.
Seasonal fresh fruit.
Yoghurt.
Croissant, butter, jam.
Coffee and herbal teas.

Entertainment

Iberia’s inflight entertainment system is substantial with more than 60 films in different languages, covering a variety of genres from comedy, drama and cartoons through to action and suspense, as well as Spanish cinema. There are also up to 98 options including TV series (Spanish and international), documentaries and sports, technology and travel programmes.. There are also over 200 music options. Iberia’s new A330 long-haul aircraft are also equipped with WiFi and GSM network, so you can stay connected by satellite with your personal device. Business Class passengers get a voucher for a complimentary 4MB of data.

Iberia Bar

After dinner, a small walk-up bar is set up in the galley between the two Business Class cabins. It features wrapped sandwiches, chocolates, fruits, drinks, and bottles of water.

Conclusion

Iberia recently introduced this new Business class product on their longhaul fleet, which offers excellent food, seat and inflight entertainment. Of course, the Middle East Airlines; Emirates, Etihad and Qatar offer a better Business Class product, but they only offer routes to South Africa via their hubs in the Middle East, see my review of Emirates Dubai to Cape Town.. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also fly to South Africa from the UK.

Iberia

The Ultimate Valentines Gift – Photos Of The NASA Moon Landing

Is this the ultimate Valentines gift? Photos of the NASA moon landing are due to be auctioned in New York on February 14 2017 at Swann Auction Galleries in New York.

Space lovers will be able to bid on a selection of remarkable images of outer space, taken from NASA’s archives.

Dating from 1965 to the 1980s, there are 22 large-format photographs up for grabs, documenting various space missions. Many of the photos have never been published before. The images include iconic shots of astronauts Bruce McCandless, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke, and Ed White as they travelled through space, taken during the Gemini IV, Apollo 11, Skylab 3, and STS-41-B (Space Shuttle Challenger) missions.

A range of abstract topographical views of the Earth, as witnessed from beyond its atmosphere, will also be auctioned.

These prints are the only known Cibachrome (Ilfochrome) prints made from original NASA positives. They range in size from 19.5 x 19.5 to 20 x 24 inches. All the photographs were taken between 1965 and 1984 and printed around 1985.

With the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing approaching in 2019, the images are expected to attract bids in the region of US$15,000 to US$25,000.

The auction also includes an archive of six binders containing around 280 photographs depicting Apollo Missions 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17, from launch to splashdown. Images include iconic views of the Apollo 11 mission showing Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon for the first time, the memorable images of the plastic American flag, and Armstrong’s reflection in Aldrin’s helmet visor.

There are also multiple views of Earth as seen from outer space, and various photographs of astronauts performing scientific experiments on the moon’s surface. The estimate is US$7,000-10,000.

If these prices are a little high for you, I have put together another 11 Valentines gift ideas for those who love luxury travel or take a look at our own luxury travel auction and bag yourself a weekend away somewhere gorgeous.

Swann Galleries

4,500 FREE Avios From Heathrow Rewards

Heathrow Rewards is currently offering an unusually good signup bonus. Earn 3,000 Heathrow Rewards (the Heathrow loyalty scheme) by opening an account and spending £150 in one day. If you are planning to travel through London Heathrow in 2017, you should sign up.

Spend the £150 in Heathrow in one day before the end of 2017 and you will get 3,000 points which can currently converted to 4,500 Avios with a 50% bonus. You would usually get 3,000 Avios for transferring 3,000 Heathrow Rewards to Avios. Until 1st March you get 4,500 Avios if you convert 3,000 rewards to Avios. Otherwise the 3,000 Heathrow Rewards can be converted to 3,000 Emirates Skywards, Virgin Flying Club miles, Etihad Guest miles and Lufthansa Miles & More.

To get this bonus in Avios you therefore have to travel through Heathrow before 1 March.

Alternatively you can redeem your 3,000 Heathrow rewards for £60 worth of Heathrow Parking, or £30 to spend on Heathrow Express, or spend it at Heathrow via gift vouchers or instant redemptions.

It is worth noting that there are varying bonus redemption offers which happen through the year, so if you don’t collect Avios but do collect Emirates Skywards, Virgin Flying Club miles, Etihad Guest miles or Lufthansa Miles & More, it might be worth holding onto your 3,000 Heathrow Rewards, in case there is a bonus offer for transferring your Rewards to these airline schemes.

You may also be interested in my picture review of the new Heathrow Terminal 6 and I have reviewed many of the lounges in London Heathrow in my airport lounge section.

Apply on Avios.com for the bonus points.

Review: Iberia VIP Velazquez Business Lounge At Madrid Airport

Iberia VIP Velazquez Business Lounge is the 24 hour lounge at Madrid-Barajas airport. The airport has 5 huge terminals that handle around 50 million passengers a year. Getting from one terminal to another can take up to 30 minutes, and involves a train and lots of walking.

Iberia uses terminal 4 as its main hub for intercontinental flights. Spain’s national carrier has three Business Class lounges in this terminal, but only one of them is open 24 hours a day: the Velazquez lounge. Since my flight to Johannesburg departed around midnight, the two other lounges were closed already and I was directed towards to the Velazquez lounge.

The entrance is hidden away in the duty-free shopping area, but once inside, it’s a large, airy, rectangular, and modern space, with floor-to-ceiling windows along its entire length offering nice views of the runways and airport activities.

The reception is located at the very centre of the lounge, with plenty of seating areas spreading out from there towards both ends. The layout of the lounge is mirrored and both sides feature a food station, where a decent buffet is on display with a mix of cold and hot items (e.g. smoked salmon, salads, pastas, chicken curry, etc). In addition, there are also some self-service cafés nearby, where one can grab lighter items such as sandwiches, cereals, and fresh fruits.

The lounge also has an à la carte restaurant (that seats around 20 people) and a wine bar, but I had a very short connection time, so I was not able to spend some time here. The usual lounge facilities – such as showers, business centre and free Wifi – are also available and offered for free.

From the lounge, it was 10 minute walk to the gate for my flight on Iberia in Business Class, Madrid to Johannesburg.

Oak House No.1 Boutique Hotel – A Celebrity Hang Out In The Cotswolds

Oak House No.1 is a luxury boutique hotel in the Cotswolds packed full of intriguing objects and wonderful artworks. These unique and opulent surroundings have attracted many celebrity guests including Martin Freeman, Peter Andre, Tim Minchin, Kelly Jones and more. These rockstars and royalty are attracted by the immaculate and luxurious rooms and the casual and discreet environment.

Oak House No.1 is nestled in the heart of the picturesque, fudge-coloured Cotswolds town of Tetbury. This little town has been wealthy since the 15th-century wool trade. Today it is packed with antiques shops, boutique B&Bs and cutsey shops selling chutneys, cheeses and other local produce. Even Prince Charles has a shop named the Highgrove deli. Being located in the centre of Tetbury, all the local restaurants are just a few moments from the door of Oak House No.1, although the hotel itself is in a quiet and peaceful corner of the finest Georgian square.

In this wonderful part of the Cotswolds, you are ideally located for the Badminton Horse Trials or Polo at Cirencester Park Polo Club. More often than not you will see Prince William at close quarters playing a match, whilst Prince Charles plays at the Beaufort Polo Club just a few minutes away.

In fact, why not book in for a tea with Prince Charles? It is unlikely he will actually show his face for your tea, but you can enjoy his residence which is just a few minutes from Oak House No.1. Highgrove House and Garden Tours with a Champagne Afternoon Tea can be booked in advance and are not to be missed.

The bedrooms at Oak House No.1 have been re-designed to an exceptionally high standard. The walls are painted in bold colours, the furnishings are hugely high end and invite you to snuggle fireside under a cashmere throw. At night, sleep on the world’s finest quality Frette sheets with pillow choices from the finest Siberian goose down to hypo allergenic.

All the essentials are present along with some nice extras; free WiFi, full Sky TV package, including Sky Movies and Sky Sports Channels, an iPod dock, DVD/CD player, silver tea sets with teas, coffee and hot chocolate as well as fresh milk and bottled water.

They have thought of everything at Oak House No.1. Grab a pair of Hunter wellies and thick woolly socks (they supply these in all sizes) and wrap up for a long stroll across the fields to end by the fire of a local country pub. Isn’t what the Cotswolds is all about?

Oak House No.1

Vivosa Apulia Resort – Beach & Spa Paradise in South of Italy

Name: Vivosa Apulia Resort

In this article, I review the beautiful and all inclusive beach paradise that is Vivosa Apulia Resort. Located in the heart of Puglia (Italy’s “boot heel”), the closest airport to to the resort is Brindisi – Salento Airport (BDS / LIBR) around 120 km away and Ryanair offers direct flights from Stansted from £19.99.

Vivosa Apulia Resort Review
Nestling in a pine forest in the south of Puglia lies the fabulous all-inclusive Vivosa Apulia Resort. The hotel offers the perfect beachside retreat facing out across the Ionian Sea in the Salento region of Italy. From here you can enjoy the best of Puglia: crystal clear waters, wonderful food and wine and a fascinating ancient history at the nearby Ugento, Lecce, Gallipoli and Otranto.

Built out of local stone, this eco hotel blends in with the local environment. There are 10 buildings surrounded by pine trees, which host 333 bedrooms. The main building has a large lobby with fireplace and reading area. There are also a number of bars and restaurants, a Spa and an amphitheatre.

Pool & Beach
The central pool, composed of four basins on different levels, offers a great place to sunbathe. The white sand beach is reached by a pretty path and offers a free beach service that includes sun beds and umbrellas. The crystal clear sea with its gently sloping fine sand beach is ideal for children. There is also a great childrens pool

Spa
The hotel also offers plenty of activities including a spa to help you unwind and relax. The Spa has a sauna, hammam, biosauna, fitness centre, lounge area and treatments rooms. The resort also offers an anti-stress programme with a personal trainer and anti-stress coach together with a specialised team who will provide a programme tailored to you.

Rooms
All rooms showcase local styling and feature a balcony or terrace, private shower, air conditioning, television, safe and hairdryer, superior and family rooms are slightly larger.

Food
The all-inclusive package here includes full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) in buffet style with snacks, fruits and ice cream in the afternoon. The main restaurant called Via Appia serves a buffet style breakfast, lunch and diner whilst A’ Puteca serves à la carte menu in the evenings offering Mediterranean and regional specialities (but is not included in the all inclusive package). There are 3 bars where you can enjoy free drinks; the beachside Scirocco, the Dolce Vita pool bar and Damiano’s club lounge bar, perfect for spending your evenings outside enjoying a drink and a dance on the terrace. Soft drinks including tea & coffee are included along with alcoholic drinks, including house wines, beer, national spirits and aperifs and house cocktails, served 10am-11pm.

Other Activities
There is a jogging path through the pine forest, you can hire a bike, go horse riding, try archery and bowls as well as joining the gymnastics, aerobics, yoga and pilates classes. There are 2 tennis courts, aqua-gym, beach volleyball, a Simon Elliott Golf Academy providing beginner and advanced lessons as well as sailing, sea kayaking and windsurfing down at the beach.

Families
A mini club offers children (3 to 12 years) a playground, childrens pool with a slide, baby pool and a dedicated area in the main restaurant with buffet service and high-chairs. For the teenagers age 13 to 15 years there is an entertainment program available from July to August. Of course, the private beach is ideal for children of all ages and the evening entertainment can be enjoyed by all the family and includes live music or a show.

Vivosa Apulia Resort offers sunshine filled days on a picture-perfect beach along with all the food you can eat and wine you can drink. With a renowned anti-stress programme, an excellent spa and enough activities to keep even the most energetic active, you will return home from this hidden gem of a resort feeling completely revitalised.

Vivosa Apulia Resort

Review: Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa

Name: Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa

A newly developed resort on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, Tamuda Bay is the perfect travel destination if you’re looking for a relaxing holiday with plenty of sunshine, a beautiful beach, great shops and restaurants and maybe some watersports. The Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa Hotel is ideally located for anyone considering a break here, and with the luxury accommodation and great facilities it has on offer, you won’t need to look anywhere else. Air Arabia Maroc operates direct flights from London Heathrow to Tangier, with a flight time of just under three hours. It’s around an hour and a half’s drive from the airport to the Sofitel Tamuda Bay.

Hotel

This is a beautiful looking hotel, contemporary in design with a fresh and striking colour palette and an ambience evoking the elegance of the French Riviera. With a relaxed, youthful vibe and friendly staff, you will feel your holiday begin from the moment you step inside. The Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa also boasts a wealth of facilities to help you feel relaxed and pampered, including a wellness centre, gym, kids’ villa, restaurant, bar and of course a fabulous swimming pool and beach access.

Rooms

The fresh, vibrant colour scheme carries through to the rooms at the Sofitel Tamuda Bay. Whichever room you choose, you can be sure that you will enjoy a contemporary design, king size bed, free internet, LCD TV, Bose radio, tea and coffee making facilities, a minibar and a safe. The modern bathrooms offer both shower and bathtub, while each room also boasts a private terrace. Some rooms offer a garden or pool view, while others have a view of the sea and larger rooms incorporate a single sofa bed suitable for a child. The hotel has a wide range of suites, where you can enjoy additional space, and some of which boast panoramic Mediterranean views, kitchenettes, generous private terraces and whirlpool baths. There is even the option to stay in your own villa, with private pool and butler service, which could be a great idea if you are travelling with friends or family.

Restaurant and Bar

Le Marche des Saveurs is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a sophisticated setting with chic, contemporary décor. The cuisine is international with plenty of choice – Moroccan, French, Italian and Asian dishes all feature on the menu. The Koudiaz bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, and there are tasting plates available if you’re feeling peckish. Make sure you try one of their signature cocktails.

Pool and Activities

There is a beautiful heated pool to sunbathe beside, and of course the beach is just a stone’s throw away. Kids are well looked after with plenty of activities on offer, and there is a gym as well as a spa offering massages and traditional Hammam treatments. A marina, shops and restaurants can all be found in close proximity to the hotel.

The Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa is a beautiful hotel in one of the most desirable holiday spots in Morocco.

Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach and Spa

Review: Business Class Etihad Studio On Boeing 787 Dreamliner

In this trip report I review my flight in Business Class or “Pearl Business” on Etihad Airways 787-900 Dreamliner in the “Business Etihad Studio” from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi. The Dreamliner replaces the Airbus A300 planes that used to connect this route via a detour in Singapore.

I have published several trip reports about my recent flights with Etihad, in Business and First Class. You can read these reviews below:
Review: Etihad A330 Business Class Review Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Business Class On The A380 Abu Dhabi to London
Review: Etihad Airways A380 First Class London to Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways A330 Business Class Abu Dhabi to the Maldives
Review: Etihad Airbus A380 First Class Apartment Review London to Abu Dhabi

Advantages of travelling Business Class on Etihad include a chauffeur service to and from the airport (within a certain mileage), priority checkin and boarding.

Review: Air New Zealand Airport Lounge In Brisbane Airport

The new, stylish Air New Zealand lounge comes complete with private shower suites to freshen up before the long flight to Abu Dhabi, along with tarmac views, plenty of comfy seating and a dining area. The food offering includes a big choice of wraps and sandwiches, hot soup with rolls, mains of seasoned chicken and sweets of muffins, jaffa cakes, scones with jam and cream and profiteroles.

Business Class Cabin & Seat

Etihad’s 787-900 Dreamliner features Business Studio seats. These seating booths offer a fully-flat bed extending up to 204cm, complete with the Etihad turndown service (including a mattress, cotton pyjamas and slippers). Each seat has aisle access and there are plenty of useful tables, storage plus a useful footrest for taller travellers. Four different lighting choices create the perfect mood in your Business Studio, ranging from dimmable reading and table lights through to pretty mood lighting.

Each Pearl Business Class Seat is equipped with a personal 18.5-inch LCD screen with plug and play feature that allows passengers to upload their own games and create personalised music playlists. In-flight telephony and WiFi is also available on newer aircraft. Etihad offers more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment (so-called E-box) with a wide selection of films, tv shows, live tv channels, audio programmes and CDs.

What are the best seats on Etihad’s B787-9 Dreamliner?

See Etihad seat map. I prefer the A & K window seats which face forward and of course have aisle access. I would not choose seat 5 C & H which are facing backwards and are the seats which are closest to the toilet doors for passing traffic.

Before take-off, an amenity kit was offered to all Business Class passengers. The Etihad amenity kit features in my top 10 airline amenity kits. It comes in a small bag and contained a range of skin products including hand lotion and lip balm as well as essentials like socks, eyeshades, earplugs and dental kit.

Food On Etihad

Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice or Champagne. I also received a refreshing hot towel. Soon after take off, dinner was served. As as starter, I choose the Arabic mezze, a selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetizers served with a side of breads including pita, garlic bread and warmed rolls with butter and an olive oil/vinaigrette mix for dipping. Other options included a rare seared tuna with citrus salad, shiso leaves and ponzu dressing and a carrot and coriander soup with double cream.

For main, the choice was between:
Grass-fed fillet of beef served with morel mushroom sauce, seasonable vegetables, roast potatoes and red onion jam.
Vietnamese barramundi, sambal wrapped in banana leaf served with coconut rice and stir-fried vegetables.
Trio of Arabic koftas: beef, lamb and chicken with tomato basil sauce, sayadiah rice, asparagus spears, pumpkin and grilled peppers.
Roasted vegetable terrine with coriander pesto cream sauce and sun-dried tomato.

Dessert was a choice between
Lemon tart served warm with crème anglaise.
Citrus cheesecake with lemon-orange segments and cinnamon glaze.
Seasonal fresh fruit.
A selection of ice cream flavours.

A separate ‘all day’ menu also provides dishes that you can order at any time throughout the flight.

About 60 minutes before landing in Abu Dhabi, I requested a light breakfast: passionfruit smoothie, yoghurt with granola and stewed apple.

If Abu Dhabi is your final destination, business class passengers get access to the Etihad Airways arrivals lounge just beyond UAE passport control where you can enjoy a light breakfast, along with a shower and a straight razor shave.

Etihad Airways’ has the ultimate First Class offering on their A380’s with The Residence (featuring a private living room, separate en-suite shower room, and a bedroom with a double bed). I have written a full review of my last flight in the Etihad First Class Apartment and have taken further pictures on a second trip in Etihad First Class.

Etihad also features in my comparison of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar in Business Class and Emirates Vs Etihad First Class Suites as well as my top 10 airlines for Business Class.

Etihad Airways