12 APRIL 2010

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African airlines refute European Union ban

THE AFRICAN AIRLINES ASSOCIATION (AFRAA), based in Nairobi (Kenya), has expressed concern about the EU's latest list of airlines proscribed from the European airspace due to safety concerns.  In a very strongly worded statement it hints that commercial interests by European airlines may be behind the ban.  “Air safety is AFRAA’s number one priority and we are the first to admit that Africa needs to improve its air safety record.  However, while the EU list may be well-intended its main achievement has been to undermine international confidence in the African airline industry,” said Nick Fadugba, Secretary General of AFRAA.  The statement points out the majority of the African airlines on the list have never operated scheduled flights to Europe, nor plan to do so.  The list includes many airlines that only exist on paper and are not operational.  AFRAA contrasts the position taken by the EU and that by the USA who introduced the “Safe Skies for Africa” initiative aimed at upgrading capacity, developing skills and providing infrastructure to improve safety.  All this is being done at a time when only a few US carriers are operating to Africa. www.afraa.org

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Aviation and the Olympics

OLYMPIC night flights into Heathrow are to stay at the status quo.  Whilst the Department for Transport says that there are provisions under “exceptional circumstances” for the agreed limits to be broken the criteria specifically excludes “sporting celebrities.”  From a practical point of view it is highly unlikely that any well run airline would have sufficient capacity or slot availability at the other end to add flights in what is normally a very busy two months that cover the Olympics and Paralympics.  The Department has commissioned detailed research into the likely demand for air travel associated with the Games.  An enormous increase of private aircraft movements is expected from the Continent during this period and there will also be VIP traffic to deal with.  London has always suffered from a lack of heliports but this problem will probably be overcome by smart landowners using unlicensed landing areas. www.london2012.org.uk

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Belfast delay

BELFAST CITY AIRPORT’S runway extension has been delayed by at least 18 months following the Northern Ireland government’s decision to order a public enquiry.  Never one to miss an opportunity for publicity Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has been in Belfast talking figures hard to substantiate.  Just how five new possible routes can realise 500 jobs is hard to justify.  The airport wants to extend the north-east end of the runway by 590m while retracting 120m from the south-west.  Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “Because of the significant issues at stake, I have instructed my officials to ask the Planning Appeals Commission to hold a public enquiry and to request that the enquiry is given a high priority."  A very interested party will be the Spanish-owned Belfast International, set to lose business if the expansion goes ahead. www.belfastcityairport.com

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Charleston Airport hotel

HYATT PLACE CHARLESTON AIRPORT/CONVENTION CENTRE has opened in South Carolina, close by the new Boeing 787 assembly plant.  The hotel is the 150th Hyatt Place mid-market property to open since 2006 when the brand was launched.  The Charleston Airport hotel is less than two miles from the airport.  It has 127 rooms with complimentary wi-fi access throughout the hotel.  Signature features of Hyatt Place include The Gallery, which offers a coffee and wine bar, a 24 hours a day, seven days a week guest kitchen with freshly prepared snacks and entrees, and daily complimentary continental breakfast.  Wireless is also gratis.  Hyatt Place guests are business travellers as well as families. www.hyattplace.com

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Lufthansa strike latest

LUFTHANSA’S pilots have again called off a four-day strike planned for this week.  This is the second time this year a walk-out by the flight deck crew has been averted.  The airline and the pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit, have again agreed to go to arbitration although quite clearly if the discussions do not succeed there is every chance of action.  Lufthansa, as with every other airline, is trying to push through cost-cutting measures in the face of reduced travelling numbers, particularly in the premium classes, fuel cost hikes and ever increasing competition from the low cost sector. www.lufthansa.com

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Nyras and Planely Spoken

NYRAS, the City of London air transport advisory and investment company, has been joined by David Huttneris, formerly a Virgin Blue Director, and in more recent times known for Planely Spoken, the Brussels-based aviation and tourism consultancy.  David, an American, was also with Virgin Express.  Nyras is headed by Richard Davey, the former Head of Global Aviation for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.  Chief Executive is Derek Stevens, previously CFO at British Airways; Chairman is Larry Stanley who held the same position at Aer Lingus.  In 2008 Nyras brokered the £103.5m acquisition of GB Airways by easyJet. www.nyras.co.uk

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United Airlines

UNITED AIRLINES has introduced two North Atlantic routes, Brussels to Chicago and Madrid to Washington.  Both are daily but whilst the Belgium services use United’s very successful flat bed cabin re-vamp of the Boeing 767, for the Spanish operation Aer Lingus has wet leased an Airbus A330 (see AERBT 11 January 2010) to the Chicago-based carrier.  Both of these new services are beneficiaries of the 2009 USA – Europe “Open Skies” agreement. www.united.com

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MOTORING UPDATE by Ted Wilkinson

SAAB 9-3 Saloon 1.9 TTiD Aero

 

Plenty of Punch with a Soft Touch

Without doubt and with a good degree of justification Saab has been making strong inroads into the UK premium market sector, relying on a proven policy of maintaining a generic character and image across its product range.

Of course, the association with Sweden’s aircraft industry may no longer be evident in the cars produced under General Motors’ direction and the acquisition by the Dutch super car maker Spyker is early days though I am convinced that the intention will be to further strengthen the image of an individualistic motor brand.

If this is the case then it is good news for the many enthusiastic Saab owners (and there is a goodly number of them) and for those buyers shopping in a hotly contended premium brand market sector.

Since my last appraisal of Saab’s smallest model, the 9-3 saloon (also available in Sport Wagon form) some three years ago, a lot of water has flowed under that bridge.

My recent drive of a 1.9-litre turbo diesel version was clear evidence of one of the most important developments, the upgrading of the power unit from 149 bhp to 178 bhp while maintaining excellent flexibility and reasonable carbon foot print.

Importantly this has not been a simple quest for raw power, rather a serious advance in overall efficiency with a marked gain in fuel economy – I suggested a consumption of around 38 mpg with that previous car, I don’t think anyone should be hard pushed to see 45 mpg with this one.  Where legal the top speed is10 mph faster at 140 mph and it is a second quicker 0 to 60 mph.

As before, the engine is a smooth power provider but certainly lets you know when it is working hard by higher than average noise levels both in the cabin and through the twin sports exhausts.

One can mitigate this situation to a good degree by diligent use of the much improved 6-speed manual gearbox that provides positive acting/light changing and well is ratioed to permit the driver to optimise the inherent flexibility of the power unit at relatively low revs.

Driven in this sympathetic manner I found the performance impressively satisfying and worthy of the claimed power output.

So there’s a degree of driver enjoyment that can be achieved in a sure-footed well controlled and safe manner – ventilated disc brakes are standard front and rear and are supported by ‘full house’ handling/braking aides.

It is evident to me, that this particular Saab model is not intended to challenge the serious driver products from Germany and Italy, certainly not with this front wheel drive product despite being equipped with sports suspension, and its real appeal is for those seeking a good all rounder offering respectable outright performance, satisfying economy and very easy driving characteristics.

An all wheel driver version of the 9-3 should prove a more serious attraction
for driving enthusiasts.

This car has a soft touch, nice and light on the controls, is easy to park with good visibility (pity the rear window can’t have a wiper to clear the morning dew), excellent driver comfort provided by well contoured leather trimmed seats and plenty of seat/steering wheel adjustment potential to achieve very acceptable ergonomics for variable driver physiques.

Perhaps the well organised but conventional fascia has no suggestion of that earlier aircraft heritage but it is yet one of the factors that made me feel immediately at home in the car.

For interior space and luggage capacity the Saab 9-3 is in the junior executive class with a cabin that is most comfortable with four adults on board, a fifth occupant likely to get his business suit crumpled while luggage capacity is more generous than appearances suggest.  I would say a practical car for the intended purpose.   If not consider the Sport Wagon version.

The build quality and finish is to a sufficiently high standard to relate well with other premium grade products.  The standard equipment package t includes alloy wheels, heated front seats, leather steering wheel, BiXenon headlights with pressure washers, dual stage airbags front and rear and performance braking system is what is at least expected in this price range.

Logical options on the test car included a £1,938 Business Pack (DVD satellite navigation with touch screen, TMC voice control and Blue Tooth) and a £1,175 Convenience Pack (dual electric seats with memory, electric folding mirrors, auto dimming interior/exterior mirrors and rain sensor wipers).

This latest re-acquaintance with one of Saab’s mainstream models convinces me that it has the credentials and qualities to attract sufficient customers looking for an alternative to the more dominant makes in this market sector.  A strong basis on which its new owners can build on!

Rivals include: BMW 3118D SE £24,970, Audi A4 2.0 TDI 170 SE £24,330, Alfa Romeo 159 1.9 JTD 16V TI £23,146, Volvo 2.0 D R-Design Sport £21,255.

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Performance 8
Handling 8
Transmission 9
Noise 8
Economy 9
Ride and Comfort 8
Accommodation 8
Styling 9
Brakes 9
Finish 9
TOTAL: 85

Price from: £29,595 on the road.

NOTES FROM TED WILKINSON‘S MOTORING DIARY

ALFA ROMEO: A celebration of the 100th anniversary of the classic Italian car make will be held at the Goodwood Festival of speed 2-4 July where a vast number of historic road and racing Alfa Romeo cars will be on view – some of them in action.

LAND ROVER reports the best ever month of sales in March 2010.  Sales were up 67% on the same month last year selling over 11,300 vehicles and recording the highest sales for any month in the company's 62 year history.  Global retail sales also rose in March by more than 43%, and 36.6% in the first quarter versus 2009. Land Rover has delivered an improvement in the majority of markets with a particularly strong performance in Europe and emerging markets. China has risen by 168% month on month with the best quarter ever up 192% on first quarter of 2009; whilst sales in Korea have risen by 149% and in Brazil sales are up by 101%.

MAZDA: Following the end of the Scrappage scheme Mazda has announced a sales incentive giving up to £2,000 discount with no trade-in required.

TOYOTA: Over half of the 90,000 cars recalled by Toyota for checks to the accelerator pedal have been seen.  The recall has been running for just over a month.

VAUXHALL: The Luton-based car maker has been voted Fleet Manufacturer of the year.  The award was achieved as a result of good customer response and the strong fleet car range that includes the EcoFLEX green models.

 

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COMMENT: British Airways and Iberia

Willie Walsh is likely to go down in business history as the man that saved British Airways – or destroyed it. 

It was announced last week that the proposed BA merger with Iberia is to move ahead, subject to certain provisions.  It came slightly as a surprise with the Iberia board seven days earlier postponing any decision.  Many had assumed that Mr Walsh, as energetic as he is, was concentrating on a little matter concerning unrest with the cabin staff.

The national newspapers and major news outlets lead with the story taking it on face value.

However the actual announcement by BA was more reserved.

“The completion of the merger is subject to regulatory approval from the relevant competition authorities including the European Commission and the approval by both British Airways and Iberia shareholders.”

“Iberia will be entitled to terminate the merger agreement if the pension recovery plan agreed between British Airways and its pension trustees is not concluded satisfactory, in Iberia’s reasonable opinion, because it would be materially detrimental to the economic premises of the proposed merger.”

The whole thing could still collapse in the unlikely event of the EU not liking the deal or the shareholders deciding against.  Perhaps that is the reason Mr Walsh has persevered with the loss making, flag waving, 32-seat New York jet.  Certainly since coming into office he has concentrated on improving the efficiency of the airline and being nice to the City, many would say to the detriment of the vital commercial world.

The merged carrier will be one of the world’s largest air transport groups with 408 aircraft flying to 200 destinations and carrying more than 58m passengers per year.  Initially there will be 60,000 staff.  It will be headquartered in London with a 14-member board, seven from each airline.

Engineering and operationally it should work, with a bit of give and take (but who will give and who will take?). 

The biggest problem will be on the vital commercial front.  Will people want to fly on either of the two airlines?  Loss making Iberia is not the favourite carrier of many, its latest economy product getting a thumbs down and the long haul offering poor compared with the rising stars of the Middle East, and the established global operators of South East Asia.  Even to South America, where it dominates the market, it is being challenged by aggressive newcomers.

British Airways can be good, very good, but the message coming back is mixed, with the current cabin staff problems not helping.  The new First Class is staggering into service not helped by an insipid launch, Club World is often questioned, and the Premium Economy class is light years behind what Air New Zealand and Air France now offer.

Go back 15 years and the European airline scene was very different.  BA dominated, Swissair was nearly theirs, and the bets were out for KLM to cement an Anglo Dutch relationship that started 350 years ago.  Today both British Airways and Iberia are far from profitable.  Marketing and PR-wise both airlines are questionable.

Many would argue that the Spanish intrusion into the UK aviation scene has not been a success with BAA struggling as part of the Ferrovial Group and Belfast International, Cardiff and Luton airports, part of Airport Concessions Development Ltd, a company majority owned by Abertis, another Spanish infrastructure provider, hardly setting the world alight.

If the deal does go ahead we can only wish them well.  But the big question who is the real boss of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, Willie Walsh, or Antonio Vazquez, Iberia’s Chairman and Chief Executive?  Is it back to the give and take noted above?  Only time will tell.

Malcolm Ginsberg
Editor in Chief

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AirAsia X upgrades

AIRASIA X, the Malaysian long haul budget carrier, is to introduce what it calls 'flatbed Premium seats', on its services to Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, Taipei, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu, Mumbai, New Delhi and London.  The refurbishment process is expected to be completed by June 2010.  Until all aircraft are fully furnished with the new seats, the term 'flatbed' will appear next to the flight information during booking process, to inform travellers that premium seats are available on the particular flight.  The seats are standard Business Class specifications of 20" width, 60" pitch and stretch out to 77" in full recline position.  They feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen.  Premium seat guests are offered priority check-in, first boarding, extra luggage allowance and precedence, plus combo meals and a comfort kit. www.airasia.com

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Basle gains and losses

SWISS will be offering a daily non-stop service between EuroAirport Basel and Hamburg from 20 May.  The new route not only serves one of Germany’s prime tourist and business destinations; it will also provide a daily air connection between two of Europe’s major logistics and forwarding centres, which also hosts an Airbus assembly plant.   Hamburg is an important cruise port with its access to the North Sea, and via the Kiel Canal to the Baltic.  At the same time the airline is dropping its Basle to Amsterdam service.  The route is flown four times daily from Zurich. www.swiss.com

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Boeing 787 update

BOEING is making very positive noises regarding delivery by the end of November of the first 787 to ANA, who presumably plan to introduce the aircraft into service actually in 2010.  Type inspection, the first part of the certification process, is imminent following the successful completion of flutter and structural wing bending tests.  The fifth flight test aircraft and the first powered by GEnx-1B engines, is being prepared for its maiden flight, currently scheduled for 8 May.  On 12 May the Farnborough Airshow organisers are holding a press day when an announcement could be made regarding participation of that aircraft and the 747-8F.  At the Everett, Seattle, assembly facility there are now 20 ‘planes on the production line. www.boeing.com/commercial

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Cork Airport news

RYANAIR, well know for its artful use of the media, says that it will not expand services from Cork because it is one of the most expensive places in Europe to operate.  Ryanair’s Director of Route Development Ken O’Toole said the high airport costs, coupled with the Government’s €10 travel tax, are having a "hugely negative" impact on the airport.  What he failed to mention is that with 13 routes out of Ireland’s second largest city it does have most of the lucrative destinations already covered.  The good news for the airport is that a long haul route incentive scheme has been approved, Marketing Manager Kevin Cullinane saying it is not a matter of "if" but "when" Cork Airport will be offering long haul flights.  "We are meeting with a number of credible airlines about operating a long haul route from Cork," he said. www.corkairport.com

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Malaysia goes A330

MALAYSIA AIRLINES has firmed up a memorandum of understanding for 15 A330-300 passenger aircraft and an additional order for two A330-200F freighters for operation by its MASkargo unit.  These were the first firm orders for the wide-body aircraft this year.  Previously Airbus had only sold 11 of its A320 family of single-aisle aircraft.  State-controlled Malaysia Airlines is modernising its fleet to capitalise on air travel growth in Asia.  It said in December it would use the 283-seat A330s to serve the growing markets of South Asia, China, North Asia, Australia and the Middle East.  Deliveries of the new passenger aircraft will begin in the first half of 2011, with the first freighter joining the MASkargo fleet later next year. www.malaysiaairlines.com

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Ryanair hikes cabin baggage fees

RYANAIR is to further challenge passengers by increasing checked-in baggage fees for July and August to €20 per bag for new bookings.  The fee remains at €15 for passengers travelling outside of the two peak summer months.  The free cabin carry-on baggage is 10kg, although this is proving to be difficult to enforce, and easy to deal with for passengers experienced with the Ryanair rules.  This allowance is supposed to include handbags, briefcases, laptops, shop purchases, cameras, etc.  Gentlemen (and ladies) with bulging coats in the height of a summer heat wave are not subject to restriction.  Infants do not qualify for a cabin baggage allowance (although a pram/buggy will be carried free of charge). www.ryanair.com

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US airline security changes

THE US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) has begun implementing enhanced "more flexible" security procedures for inbound international flights to the US, including additional screening of passengers matching "current, intelligence-driven and threat-based characteristics."  The new procedures will supersede those put in place following the failed Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb onboard a ‘plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.  Announcing the measures, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said: "These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats."  Individuals flying to the US from international airports may notice enhanced security and screening throughout check-in and boarding, including the use of explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams or pat-downs, among other security measures. www.dhs.gov

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HAPPY TALK: Making the choice

Overheard on a recent budget airline flight with no seat reservations.
 
“Darling, this is not John Lewis. 

We don’t have all day to choose. 

I just want to sit down!”

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UK Aviation Club members are reminded that the next lunch takes place at the Institute of Directors on 28 April with Hussein Dabbas, Chief Executive, Royal Jordanian Airlines, as the Guest of Honour.  It is also the Annual General Meeting.  He is followed by Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, on 9 June and Willie Walsh, Chief Executive, British Airways, 8 July. www.aviationclub.org.uk

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American visitors increase

VISITORS TO THE UNITED STATES rose by 10% in January according to figures released by the US Department of Commerce last week.  There were 3.4m international arrivals, the fourth straight month of increase.  For this first month of 2010, 17 of the top 20 countries posted increases in visits to the United States.  From Western Europe the numbers were up by only 1%, the influence of a drop of 5% from the UK clearly seen, this put down to the impact of a massive increase in the departure tax and the state of the British economy.  However at 180,000 the passenger number still represents one-third of all European arrivals. www.tinet.ita.doc.gov

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Beijing is making its way to the top

ACI (Airport Council International) has published figures that show just how much Beijing International is growing as an airport, adding 16% passengers in 2009 whilst overall numbers worldwide were down 2.7%.  Beijing is now number three in the globe, Heathrow at number two, having dramatically overtaken Chicago O’Hare which last year lost 8.8% of its passengers.  Heathrow’s numbers are down 1.5% but the airport’s performance is still far better than Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris, all three of which lost out dramatically, and is comfortably the world’s largest international airport.  In the case of Atlanta and Beijing the great majority of passengers are domestic.  Atlanta 88m (-2.3%), Heathrow 66m (-1.5%), Beijing 65m (16.8%), O’Hare 64m (-8.8%), Tokyo-Haneda 62m (-7.2%), Paris-Charles de Gaulle 58m (-4.9%), Los Angeles 57m (-5.5%), Dallas Fort Worth 56m (1.9%), Frankfurt 51m (4,7%) and Denver 50m (-2.1%). www.aci.aero

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British Airways and the union

BRITISH AIRWAYS and Unite union officials have resumed talks aimed at averting further strikes in a long-running dispute over pay and jobs.  Unite's Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley said "serious progress" had been made since negotiations resumed after two sets of strikes by cabin crew last month.  "However, there is more work to be done, and further discussions will take place with the company over the next few days," Woodley said in a statement.  A strike during the run-up to the election on 6 May is thought unlikely.  In its monthly traffic report BA said earlier that it carried 11.4% fewer passengers in March year-on-year, but a proper comparison is impossible due to the economic situation and the date of the Easter holidays.  The airline says it operated 79% of long haul and 58% of short haul services. www.ba.com wwwunitethetnion.com

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Germany to Saudi Arabia

LUFTHANSA is to introduce a new three times per week route from Munich to Riyadh starting 26 April using a PrivatAir Boeing 737-800.  Whilst it is the same aircraft previously operated as an enhanced Business Class only service to several destinations this time around it will be kitted out with 24 semi-lie flat seats up front and 84 in Economy.  The airline already offers a daily Airbus A340 service from Frankfurt. www.lufthansa.com

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Nantes connected to London

FLYBE is to offer a year-round service flying six times a week between Gatwick and Nantes, Brittany’s most important commercial hub and the sixth largest city in France.  With the 2010 summer schedule the airline will offer more routes to and from regional France than any other carrier.  It has a total of 44 routes to France, eight of which are brand new, with a choice of up to 350 flights a week to and from 11 UK and 12 French airports.  The airline operates out of Gatwick South, the nearest terminal to the railway station. www.flybe.com

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Singapore Airport lounge

CHANGI AIRPORT SINGAPORE has a new premium class check-in lounge at Terminal 1 offering clients on participating airlines a hassle-free and simplified travel experience.  The facility has direct access to the immigration area.  This value-added service is complimentary to airlines served by SATS at Terminal 2.  Presently, participating airlines include Air India, All Nippon Airways, Etihad Airways and Korean Air; with more airlines expected to come onboard.  Passengers can relax with light refreshments while being entertained with access to international TV channels and a wide range of newspapers and periodicals as they check-in.  The opening of the lounge follows the success of the first SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Changi Airport’s Terminal 1. www.changiairport.com

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ON TOUR: Absolute Sanctuary Thailand

Your Editor-in-Chief is on his way to Bangkok even as this issue of AERBT hits cyberspace and therefore if Thailand gains exceptional visibility in the next few issues you will know why. 

One place not on the itinerary is Absolute Sanctuary, totally something different.  Nina Dabiralai, travel writer and holistic health expert, reports.

I have just turned 30 and despite the myriad of happy memories of the hectic wining/dining activities of my twenties, it feels like my unscrupulous living has taken its toll on my health and wellbeing.  Plagued with poor skin condition, bad circulation, sluggish digestion, general lethargy and dare I say it – the dreaded cellulite – I have decided I need a complete body detox.

Where better to carry out this experiment than the Thai resort of Koh Samui.  Often misconstrued as simply a party island, Koh Samui is actually home to many of Asia’s top holistic detox retreats and spas.  With over 50 spa resorts to choose from, I opt for Absolute Sanctuary after being mesmerised by its promise to “give me the gift of well-being!” 

Absolute Sanctuary’s Moroccan-style architecture is mystically uncharacteristic for a Thai retreat.  It boasts 38 rooms featuring modern amenities including free wireless internet and other facilities include a Hot Yoga Centre, a Massage Spa, and a vegetarian restaurant affectionately called the “Love Kitchen.” 

After scouring the delicious menu options and debating the Living Foods package which focuses on the health benefits of a raw food diet, I eventually opt for the “no pain, no gain” philosophy and sign up for a seven-day fast. 

Also known as the Ultimate Detox package, this is a structured fasting and colon hydrotherapy course.  This means that for seven whole days, not a morsel of food will pass my lips.  No chewing is allowed (chewing gum is banned) and certainly no alcohol.  Instead, I will be having four Detox drinks a day washed down with about 30 supplements and as much water and clear vegetable broth as I wish.

On the plus side, I will be having daily massages and will no doubt have plenty of time for a spot of sunbathing. 

After an arduous ten-hour flight from London and a subsequent one hour internal flight, I arrive at Samui airport which appears to be a large tropical hut.  I am greeted by a silver van with “Absolute Sanctuary” emblazoned on its doors. 

On arrival, I am rewarded with a Ginger Tea in an open reception area with a modern Moroccan twist.  My room is on the top floor of the open-air establishment and I momentarily question how on earth I will have the energy to manage these never-ending stairs after not eating for several days.  My tummy is already rumbling and I am given a “Liver Flush” drink.  This has to be drunk the night before the fast and is a concoction of raw garlic, olive oil and orange juice.  As I wince in disgust, I mentally curse myself for not treating myself to a holiday consisting of exotic cocktails and tantalising food!

Day 1 of the fast is suitably bearable

Despite jet-lag, I am on-time for my 07:00 Detox drink….pineapple juice with psyllium husk and bentonite clay.  It is surprisingly filling and curbs my undeniable hunger pangs.  An hour later, I swallow six different supplements designed to detoxify my gut before a consultation with resident Health Practitioner Alister Bredee. 

An interesting fact that he told me was never to have fruit for dessert as it is hard to digest after a meal.  Bang goes my beloved Strawberries and Cream then!  Fasting can disrupt your metabolism slightly, so it is advisable to reintroduce foods slowly and avoid all carbohydrates for 56 days.  That is a painfully long duration of three months!  I question him on a subject that many people are intrigued by: “Why should people have colonic hydrotherapy?”  Alister explains that during any kind of body detox, it is imperative to expel the toxins from the body.  One way to do this is through perspiration via exercise and saunas or steam rooms. 

Colonic “flushing” is the most effective way of ridding the intestines of toxic waste.  The Detox drinks play a vital role too as the Bentonite Clay acts as a brush by scraping away toxins in the gut walls.  All of this bowel talk is making my poor tummy feel slightly quivery and my imminent Lymphatic Drainage massage is a welcome treat.  This massage aids the detox process by stimulating the lymph nodes, thus carrying the toxins to the waste-producing body organs.  It is extremely relaxing and I find myself daydreaming.  I pull myself back into reality and after my massage, I am transported into a Colonic Hydrotherapy room (there are eight of these within the Detox Centre) and an infectiously smiley Thai lady called Mai senses my apprehension.  Colonic therapy was to be a daily part of life for me and Mai and I developed a jovial friendship that I suppose is inevitable when a stranger has to wipe your 30 year old bottom every day!

Days 2 and 3 are a completely different ball-game. 

The hunger pangs are constant and my energy levels dip massively.  I have a headache and have developed horrendous acne all over my face, yet am assured these are normal side-effects of the detox process.  I even have bouts of emotional outbursts which is synonymous with a body detox – as the body clears of negativity, so does the mind. 

As the week carries on, my energy levels are optimum and on Day 6 I bounce out of bed at 07:00 to participate in a 90-minute Hot Yoga class.  Just when I think I have never sweated so much in my life, I dive straight into the Infra-red Sauna which claims to burn 600 calories in a half hour sitting – definitely my kind of exercise!  Fellow guests comment on how bright the whites of my eyes are and that my skin is glowing and I even notice a few less orange peel dimples on my legs. 

And finally day 7

By Day 7, I have lost a total of six pounds and I am feeling revitalised and seem to have more concentration and mental clarity.  I break my fast with a bowl of fresh papaya dressed with freshly squeezed lime which is salivatingly sublime.  This kind of Detox is not for the faint-hearted – you have to be motivated and focused and it is important to carry it out in a controlled environment with limited temptations and sweat-inducing activities. 

Absolute Sanctuary provides the perfect idyllic setting to regenerate and discover your new rejuvenated self.  I don’t know if I will manage 56 days with no carbs, but I feel re-educated about the vitality of food and will definitely be altering my diet and lifestyle when I return to English shores.   www.absolutesanctuary.com

Nina Dabiralai    nina@detoxity.co.uk

 

Internal flights from Bangkok to Koh Samui are available at www.bangkokair.com and www.airasia.com

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