News in brief:
avid hotels confirmed as the new IHG hotel brand
Back in June IHG announced plans for a new midscale brand. It has now confirmed the name and concept, although it doesn’t seem as if they will be in Europe for a few years.
With the motto ‘Fresh, Frank and Fair’ avid hotels are focusing on ‘the basics done exceptionally well’.
The hotels will offer a free breakfast and free wi-fi with a price tag promised to be $10 – $15 cheaper than a Holiday Inn Express. My best guess is that this will be something like Marriott’s MOXY concept which is now open at London Excel and Aberdeen. (Rob will be discussing the MOXY at Vienna Airport tomorrow.)
Like other midscale hotel brands like element, ibis Styles and Hampton by Hilton, avid hotels will have open communal spaces in the lobby area where guests can work, eat and “connect”.
Pleasingly IHG seems to be bucking the “no desk” trend by promising that avid hotels will contain a large desk, as well as an entertainment system which lets guest connect their smartphones and watch content on the TV screen.
The first avid hotels will open in the US in early 2019 which means we won’t be seeing the end product for another year and a half, but looking at the images it promises to be interesting. The avid hotels website is here.
How to save £68 tax on Avios flights to Cape Town
There is a little-known arbitrage you can use to save £68 of tax when booking British Airways Avios redemption flights to Cape Town. I thought it was worth mentioning this again today.
Whilst Cape Town does have a direct British Airways service, it is often tricky to find Avios reward seats. Most people end up travelling via Johannesburg and changing to a Comair connection. Comair is a BA franchise and its planes have the usual British Airways livery. They can be booked using Avios via ba.com.
This is how it works, assuming that you can’t find direct flights to Cape Town:
If you book London to Cape Town via a connection in Jo’burg, the cost (economy return) is 45,500 Avios off-peak plus £456 tax
If you book London to Jo’burg on one ticket and Jo’burg to Cape Town on a separate ticket, the individual costs are 32,500 plus £332 for the long-haul, off-peak, and 13,000 Avios plus £56 for the connection. The total is 45,500 Avios plus £388.
That is a saving of £68.
There is a trade off. Comair and BA are also not technically liable to look after you if you miss one flight because the other is delayed. In reality, I would not be worried about this as Comair and BA effectively operate as one airline and will ensure you are OK.
As per the comments below (and I have edited the article to reflect this), you need to collect your bags at Johannesburg irrespective of how you book. Even if both flights are on the same ticket you will still need to clear customs and check them in again.
If you are looking to keep your costs down, it is worth considering.
This trick also works for Club World flights, where the saving is a little smaller – £677 versus £553 + £64, for a saving of £60.
Note that as you cannot use a British Airways American Express voucher on Comair, you may be forced to split your trip into two separate tickets anyway if you have a voucher to use.