3 OCTOBER 2022


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Article from BTNews 3 OCTOBER 2022

ON TOUR: High FIVE - It's a hotel operator but an airline too!

What kind of hotel group orders a first-of-its-kind long-range business jet to fly guests to its hotels from all around the world?  Alison Chambers flew to Dubai to find out.

See also London City and the A220

My introduction to FIVE Hotels and Resorts coincided with November’s Dubai Air Show. Liz Moscrop (Gearup Media) and I were guests at First Collection, Jumeirah Village – well placed for Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), with good amenities, but no spa.  Fighting off jet lag and in need of invigoration we booked into FIVE’s exceptional ReFIVE Urban Spa retreat, across the street.  Impressed with its laid-back vibe and restaurants, we returned for a casual supper at its signature Soul Street eatery.  It serves street food favourites from around the world (Tandoori Lamp Chops, Nasi Goreng, Sizzling Fajitas and Kofta Kababs).  

We were impressed at how good the offering was – unaware that FIVE has become a firm foodie favourite.   We requested the bill, only to be told a resident guest had already settled it.  He’d been entertained by our conversation about business jets and what we expected from the show.  We thanked him profusely and the young man briefly joined our table. Dressed in designer labels, he was in bitcoin, which was proving successful for him.  Would we follow him? - please?  (On Instagram).  Yes.  He thanked us and left – for a party.  

Early into the Show, Airbus’ Benoit de Forge, Airbus Corporate Jets’ Managing Director, invited us to an evening customer announcement – at FIVE.   We were disappointed to miss it learning the hotel we had just experienced had been revealed as the TwoTwenty’s first customer.  The TwoTwenty is the newest long-range corporate jet from Airbus based on the A220-100 (former C Series) with a 5,650m range / 12 hours’ flying time.

FIVE was acquiring the jet from The Comlux Group in Switzerland, also appointed (by Airbus) to prepare the jet’s interior at its Indianapolis (USA) completion facility.  FIVE also selected Comlux Aviation to commercially operate the aircraft under an exclusive charter agreement.  The TwoTwenty will operate on Comlux’s Maltese Air Operator Certificate (AOC), registered 9H-FIVE, pronounced “Nine-Hotel-FIVE.”  No wonder Richard Gaona, Executive Chairman and CEO of Comlux, Airbus’ biggest customer, was beaming.

When FIVE’s TwoTwenty boards in 2023, it will be transporting its hotel guests in enviable style and comfort, with a variety of entertainment options and fine dining.  FIVE has selected the Avant-Garde clean lines’ ambiance design, akin, says Airbus, to a stay in a Loft apartment on Fifth Avenue.   The Pratt & Whitney-powered ‘dare-to-be-different’ jet will feature 19 seats; a dining table for eight passengers, a Master Suite with King-sized bed and shower, electro-chromatic window shades and full LED lighting, a fully-equipped kitchen, non-stop streaming from high-speed connectivity and two ultra-large 55-inch screens.

As with the FIVE properties on the ground, it will be inviting its guests on the aircraft to experience a fresh new in-flight entertainment experience in the air.  Passengers can dine, entertain and invigorate in the most opulent and private environment.

Enhanced with additional fuel tanks, the ACJ TwoTwenty offers excellent short field performance rendering London City Airport capability.  Being evolved from an airliner too brings a host of other operational benefits – including the ability to carry up to 100 bags in the hold.

Prestigious luxury hotels acquiring jets to fly guests isn’t new.  The Four Seasons originally ran a B757 for its world tour programme, operating under TAG Aviation’s AOC, prior to upgrading to a custom-outfitted A321LRneo flown by the UK’s Titan Airways.   Sandals, the couples-only resort, has its own branded jet flying around the Caribbean for its guests.  Trump Hotels had an aging B757. But FIVE’s project is ground-breaking.  Here’s a young, disruptive, luxury hotelier stealing a march over its peers with a value-added offering for its well-heeled global client base.  

The Essence of FIVE

Returning to Dubai earlier this spring I wanted to learn more about this expanding hotel group. My experience started at WDC with a guest pick-up in a sleek black Tesla with folding roof doors.  I’m a Baby Boomer – outside the usual demographic for FIVE – but even so, I’m impressed.  A personalised silk cushion and robe awaited my arrival in a very comfortable junior suite with outside jacuzzi, two massive tv screens set on FIVE Music.  That is the group’s own music label and it showcases the ‘Sound of FIVE’ from a myriad of entertainment offerings.   

FIVE’s clientele is mainly 25 to 40 years young, but as I quickly learned, whatever your age, attentiveness in customer care greets every guest.  There was a wedding party, a baby’s naming ceremony, hen do, executives with laptops, poolside, a fashion shoot – FIVE accommodates them all.  There’s nothing shy about this hotel.  It’s an Instagrammer’s paradise – even before check-in guests can ‘pose for photos’ by the inspirational neon signs.  FIVE effortlessly garners attention.  It loves content creators who showcase the unique and inimitable ‘Vibe at FIVE’ on their burgeoning social media accounts. The results speak for themselves.  FIVE’s Jumeirah Village is the most reviewed hotel on Booking.com – with over 35,000 reviews.

At the hotel’s heart in Jumeirah Village is a large social pool, where guests receive a steady roster of entertainment from visiting DJs.  It’s a chic penthouse lifestyle with 269 pools! and Jacuzzis, lush green terraces and a diverse culinary scene. Guests are also given access to Beach by FIVE at the famed FIVE Palm Jumeirah hotel.  

FIVE is a luxury lifestyle brand with culinary flair.  Every restaurant including its ground floor café is outstanding, an ethos that has been mirrored in FIVE Zurich which opened this July and will follow to FIVE LUXE, Jumeirah Beach Resort (JBR) – its third Dubai property coming in 2023.
Its Founder and Chairman, Indian-born Kabir Mulchandani, has been lauded for electrifying Dubai’s luxury hotel market.  He has created an inclusive, immersive luxury leisure experience for discerning world travellers.  In a recent interview with Arabian Business he suggested that savings and long-term financial planning are “not the dominant mindset of millennials, who prefer to spend more (on experiences) and enjoy the moment, owing to the unpredictability of the current global scenario”.

A revered magnate and philanthropist, one of Mulchandani’s personal core values is giving back to those in need.  FIVE is closely involved with youth programme Project Udaan.  It also partners with various organisations like The Diya Foundation, Sir Gangaram Hospital, and New Face Charitable Trust, helping make a positive impact in society. To date it has supported 342 life-saving heart surgeries and 23 life-enhancing face surgeries.

When the world experienced a Force Majeure moment in history, FIVE responded with an agile and proactive approach, bolstered by an unwavering belief that the hospitality sector, the UAE, global travel – and FIVE ultimately – would rebound and thrive. Testimony to its hard-working team, FIVE managed to retain 70% occupancy at FIVE Palm Jumeirah and 83% occupancy at FIVE Jumeirah Village throughout 2020.  By December 2020 that increased to 93%.

During the global pandemic, The Comlux Group, Airbus’ biggest customer and completion house on ACJ and BBJ aircraft, took resilient action too.  “It was bold to sign an order for the brand new ACJ TwoTwenty at the time, but it actually turned out well”, recalls Richard Gaona.  Airlines were grounded because of the pandemic.  A resultant strong surge in private charter ensued and we started targeting potential hotel customers.  “We settled on Dubai – perfect location, wealth, with a lot of prestigious hotels focused on leisure and diverse business activity.  FIVE saw that vision”, he said.

The ACJ TwoTwenty will be a big part of FIVE’s vacation experience, mirroring the hotel group’s style signature philosophy of exceptional customer service in FIVE-style – introducing clients to their hotels even before they arrive.  

“Knowing how creative FIVE are, this jet is going to be a great ambassador for their brand”, forecasts Richard Gaona.

This is FIVE Zurich


FIVE Zurich is a new luxury lifestyle hotel boasting 87 luxe suites and rooms with glittering skyline city views or lush forest views. It overlooks the city center from Zurich’s stunning Uetliberg plateau and is within a 10-minute drive to the city centre and main attractions, a 20-minute drive to Zurich Airport and two minutes’ walk to public transport.



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