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Finally, an Asian airline is flying non-stop to Latin America

Flying colours Over the past decade, quite a few airlines have marked a notable corporate anniversary by decking out an aircraft in a historical livery. Continental Airlines, British Airways, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Qantas and others have given at least one of their planes the retro treatment, mostly with designs from the 1950s and ’60s. The latest carrier to do this is New York-based JetBlue, which, despite having begun flying only in February 2000, has this month unveiled a ’60s-inspired design.

The “reverse engineered” white, blue and orange design (perhaps more redolent of South African Airways in the ’90s than anything else) is intended, says JetBlue, “to celebrate this iconic era of aviation and what JetBlue may have looked like when it would have been introducing humanity to air travel”. (The intended definition of “humanity” here is unclear.) Just one Airbus A320 has been repainted and it will be operating between New York’s JFK and Palm Springs, California, a desert resort destination chosen by JetBlue for its mid-century modern architecture and style.

With several attractive old liveries to choose from, Cathay Pacific should be a suitable candidate for a retrojet of its own. Of course, the appearance of the British flag on the tail of every Cathay Pacific plane flown from 1946 to the early ’90s (when they were quietly removed) will probably prevent that idea from ever getting off the ground.

Transpacific trivia You might be surprised to learn that no Asian airline has ever operated a non-stop scheduled service from this continent to Latin America. Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Japan Airlines and Air China have all made their
way there, but always via the United States, Canada or Europe. From February 15, however, All Nippon Airways (ANA) will be making history with daily non-stop flights from Tokyo (Narita) to Mexico City using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft (for which, you might remember, ANA was the launch customer five years ago).

Bliss out at Mexico’s Banyan Tree Mayakoba resort, a fusion of Thai and Mayan cultures

This will be the airline’s longest flight, taking just over 12 hours to reach Mexico City and closer to 15 hours to get back. Mexican flag carrier AeroMéxico, it should be noted, has been operating the same non-stop route since the beginning of this year, also with a Dreamliner. Reservations for the new service are not yet open at www.ana.co.jp but should be soon.

Visit Cuba, before the American hordes arrive

If you’d like to plan a trip in the meantime, DK, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet have all published new editions of their guidebooks to Mexico this year.

Overnight successor The Hotel G Singapore has just opened in a building that, until very recently, contained the Big Hotel, on the corner of Middle Road and the once crusty backpacker haunt Bencoolen Street. The change in branding happened literally overnight, between November 16 and 17, and consequently several of the 308-room Hotel G’s new facilities, including two restaurants and a fitness centre, will not be open for a few weeks.

During this soft-opening period, the hotel’s website is offering room discounts of 40 per cent, with discounted rates starting from about HK$480 per night. Some might be discouraged by talk of a “quirky design aesthetic”, but guest rooms and public areas look unusually homely for a mid-range hotel, at least in photos. For reservations and a look at which areas are open already, visit www.hotelgsingapore.com.

Singapore’s Raffles Hotel to get 18-month facelift

Deal of the week Charlotte Travel’s two-night Koh Samui package has some good resorts on offer between now and the end of March, including the Anantara Lawana Resort Spa, on Chaweng Beach, from HK$4,850 per person (twin share). Its sister property, the Anantara Bophut, just across the headland on the north coast, is available from the same price.

The Couple’s Guide to Koh Samui

One of the most expensive offerings is the Banyan Tree Samui, where Deluxe Pool Villas start from HK$8,390. Note that these and most other resorts offered with this package apply significant surcharges between December 22 and January 10 and charge from around one to several thousand dollars for a New Year’s Eve “gala” event whether you attend or not.

Direct flights with Bangkok Airways (twice daily, morning and afternoon), round-trip airport transfers and daily breakfast are all included. For a much longer list of resorts (with “festive” surcharge details), and to make reservations, scroll right down to International Packages at Charlotte Travel.