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January 11, 2013 8:02 pm
France In a bid to fight back against the growth of the low-cost airlines, Air France has launched a new fare structure on flights to 58 short- and medium-haul destinations. Beginning on February 6, the flights will offer a choice of MiNi fare – from €49 one-way – or the more expensive Classic. The MiNi comes with no checked baggage allowance, no frequent flyer miles, no seat reservation and it is non-changeable or refundable. The airline says its research shows that only 40 per cent of passengers choose an airline based on the quality of service; for 60 per cent the determining factor is price. EasyJet has grown rapidly in recent years to become France’s second-biggest airline. Meanwhile, Lufthansa is pursuing a similar strategy in Germany. Beginning this month, all short-haul flights not operating from its Frankfurt or Munich hubs are being transferred to its low-cost brand Germanwings, which, as of July 1, will offer a choice of Basic, Smart and Best fares. www.airfrance.com; www.lufthansa.com
Norway The transformation of Oslo’s once infamous Tjuvholmen district into a new centre for art and design reached a milestone last week, with the opening of its first luxury hotel. The Thief sits on the waterfront, next door to the new Renzo Piano-designed Astrup Fearnley art museum. Each of the 119 rooms features contemporary art chosen by Sune Nordgren, the former director of Norway’s National Museum. Some suites, for example, have original collages by Sir Peter Blake, other rooms have photographs by Bryan Ferry, and the lifts feature animations by Julian Opie. The hotel’s name reflects the former inhabitants of the area – Tjuvholmen means “thief islet”. Doubles from NKr2,090 (£233); www.thethief.com
St Barths The hotel Eden Rock-St Barths has launched an extravagant package for aspiring musicians, including the chance to produce their own tracks using the studio console on which John Lennon recorded “Imagine”. The hotel’s Villa Rockstar, launched in 2009, has four suites, a gym, cinema, pool, whisky bar and butler. It also has a private recording studio, and the hotel has arranged for musicians, engineers and producers to be on hand to help guests record their own music, at a cost of €1,600 per song. For €4,500 (per song), a plantinum-selling producer based in LA, New York, Nashville or London will remotely assist using interactive software. Villa from €15,000 per night; www.edenrockhotel.com
UK Bear Grylls, the television adventurer, has launched a survival course aimed at families. During the 24-hour experience, parents and children aged 10-17 will learn fire-building, night navigation, knife techniques and how to forage for grubs and rodents, cross rivers and build a shelter, in which they will then spend the night. The course, “designed” by Grylls but not taught by him personally, takes place in woods near Brook, Surrey. It costs £398 for two (one adult, one child); www.beargryllssurvivalacademy.com
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