Travel Unpacked: New hotels to open in Tokyo, The Red Sea and Seychelles

The National rounds up the most interesting tourism news you might have missed

The St Regis Red Sea Resort will be the first island destination to open in The Red Sea. Photo: St Regis
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The exclusive Aman Resorts is launching a new hotel brand in Tokyo, while other resorts are set to open in The Red Sea and the Seychelles.

Meanwhile, in France, the Notre-Dame cathedral is on schedule for reopening and, in Saudi Arabia, the latest Diriyah Season cultural calendar has been revealed.

Here's a round-up of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

Aman to unveil new hotel brand next year

Janu Tokyo is set to open in March as the first of 12 properties under the new sister hospitality brand to the renowned Aman Resorts.

Chairman and chief executive Vlad Doronin said: “The arrival of Janu Tokyo signifies a pivotal moment in Aman Group's progression – not only introducing the energetic spirit of Janu for the very first time, but also representing the evolution and enduring strength of Aman.”

Janu Tokyo is connected to the Azabudai Hills project and is the only hotel in the development. It will feature 122 rooms and suites, eight dining venues, two boutiques and a 4,000-square-metre wellness centre that's home to one of the city's largest gyms.

It's now open for bookings, with stays starting in March and prices from $944 per night.

Notre-Dame to reopen next December

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Friday that the reopening of Paris's fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral will remain on schedule.

Part of the landmark was destroyed in a fire in April 2019 and reconstruction has been continuing ever since. It will reopen for religious services and to the public on December 8, 2024 with the damaged spire reconstructed in identical fashion.

“Deadlines will be met,” Macron said. “It is a formidable image of hope and of a France that has rebuilt itself.”

Cheval Blanc to open Seychelles property next autumn

The sixth Cheval Blanc Maison is scheduled to open in autumn next year on the southwestern coast of Mahe Island in the Seychelles.

Cheval Blanc Seychelles has been designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy as an ode to Creole traditions, while paying homage to its natural surroundings. It will feature 52 villas, spanning 220 to 1,950 square metres. Each villa will feature a private swimming pool and views of either the beachfront, hillside or tropical jungle. The property will also include the Spa Cheval Blanc, a pool, fitness room, surf simulator and two tennis and padel courts.

Dining outlets will include Mizumi, an Asian restaurant by the lake; Vivamento, a pool-facing Italian spot; Mediterranean beach club Sula; and Le 1947, the brand's signature French gastronomic venue.

New calendar for Diriyah Season is unveiled

Diriyah Season, a three-month cultural festival, begins on Tuesday in the birthplace of Saudi Arabia with a raft of events and experiences on the programme.

This season's activities are spread across various locations in the area, including Unesco World Heritage Site At-Turaif, dining destination Bujairi Terrace and Diriyah's parks and wadis.

Events include a series of concerts from Saudi musicians such as Rabeh Saqer and Ayed, who will kick off the season. A custom-built escape room called Journey to the Future will challenge visitors, while showcases of contemporary art, cuisine, dance, poetry and theatre will also take place.

One exhibition will focus on the colourful engraved doors of Diriyah and Najd regions, while At Turaif Retrospective brings together stories and memories of the area through a multimedia installation.

The St Regis to be Red Sea's first island destination

Scheduled to open in the new year, The St Regis Red Sea Resort will be the first island destination to launch within Saudi Arabia's regenerative tourism project, The Red Sea.

The resort, which features 90 beachfront and overwater villas, is located on Ummahat Island, which is surrounded by abundant wildlife, marine ecosystems and preserved coral reefs. Guests can snorkel or scuba dive amid wrecks and discovery sites, including the Blue Hole, a large natural marine cavern near the resort. Other activities include various water sports and excursions to nearby dormant volcanoes, heritage sites and desert dunes.

On-site there will be five restaurants, two outdoor pools, a fitness centre, signature spa and children's club.

Sustainability is at the heart of this island resort, as it will offer a plastic-free environment and will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy generated by solar power and a nearby battery storage facility.

Bookings are now open, with nightly rates starting from $1,333.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi marks inaugural Colombo flight

The capital's first low-cost carrier on Friday launched a direct service to Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will connect to the Sri Lankan capital three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

This takes the airline's network up to 28 destinations, which it serves with a fleet of 10 Airbus A320s from Abu Dhabi's new Terminal A.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 10:06 AM