NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 13, 2013) - Premier Traveler magazine (PT) held its annual red-carpet event celebrating award-winning travel companies from around the world at the spectacular Sofitel L.A. on December 5. The opulent occasion introduced the winners of PT's Best of 2013 Awards (chosen solely by the magazine's travel-savvy readers) and debuted the publication's latest issue (December 2013/January 2014), which features an in-depth report on the intensive reader survey. Representatives from the best of the best in the travel industry showed up in record numbers to receive the recognition in person, many of them having traversed the globe in order to attend the glittering gala.
PT readers chose South African Airways (SAA) for highest honors in Africa this year, dubbing the carrier both the Best Airline to Africa and the Best Airline in Africa. SAA came out on top by continually focusing on the expansion of amenities and services, with a focus on excellence. The carrier has begun offering meals created by celebrated South African chefs, has forged new code-shares with US Airways (soon to be part of the new American Airlines) and Air Canada; and will be teaming up with Airlink next year, bringing travelers to the heart of the awe-inspiring Kruger National Park.
Proudly stating that SAA was "exceptionally pleased" to be honored by the readers of PT, Marc Cavaliere, executive VP, North America and alliances, attributed the double win to SAA's "laser focus on continuing to offer outstanding service, convenient schedules, the most service from the U.S. to South Africa and the most extensive network in Southern Africa." And even further changes are in the wind: "Next year, we'll debut our list of elite South African wines that have been chosen in our annual wine selection process," he noted, adding, "and we will continue to work hard to earn the Best Airline in Africa honor from the readers of Premier Traveler magazine."
Pegged for excellence in the Asian skies was Hainan Airlines, dubbed the Best Airline in China for the second year in a row. With new aircraft (including the Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner) the carrier is flying high, adding enhanced amenities and services and increasing routes regionally and internationally.
"We at Hainan Airlines continuously enhance our service, both to keep our regular customers coming back and to attract new ones," said Joel Chusid, Hainan's executive director, USA. "We spend a lot of time developing our in-flight product -- whether it be our gourmet dining and beverage offerings served on custom-made fine china and crystal glassware -- but also our ground services, from our complimentary private limo service to our luxurious premium passenger lounge in Beijing."
Turkish Airlines was also doubly rewarded by PT readers, who called the carrier the Best Airline in Europe for its attention to detail and focus on excellence in continental travel. But more than that, the airline's award-winning Flying Chef program (offering gourmet cuisine in the skies that rivals the best on the ground) also garnered gold for the carrier as the purveyor of the Best Airline Cuisine.
"Turkish Airlines is honored to be recognized by the readers of Premier Traveler," said Ihsan Baytan, general manager, New York. "The chefs behind our award-winning cuisine provide unparalleled service through our evolving Flying Chef program, and we strive to provide the best travel experience to our passengers through our comfort and unique amenities offered." The airline is making changes across the board, developing new ways "to make our passengers' experience with Turkish Airlines unforgettable," he added with enthusiasm.
For luxurious stays around the globe, the Hyatt name rang the winning bell, sweeping many of the major categories.
PT readers anointed the Park Hyatt a clear-cut winner, naming the company the Best Hotel Chain in the World and the Hotel Chain with the Best Overall Customer Service (each for the second year in a row) not only for attending to guests' needs for sumptuous surroundings and customer care, but for creating personalized experiences that enhance travel excursions in exciting ways.
"We are extremely appreciative that the readers of Premier Traveler have given us this honorable distinction," said Katherine Melchior-Ray, Park Hyatt VP of luxury brands. "At the core of Park Hyatt stand our associates, who take great pride in personalizing our guests' stays with unique opportunities for learning and enrichment [through] rare and intimate experiences that create lifelong memories. We are grateful that PT readers recognize this effort and thank our Park Hyatt team members for their unyielding dedication."
Worldwide, another member of the Hyatt family, Andaz Hotels, also received kudos from PT readers, who named it the Best Lifestyle Hotel Brand for initiatives such as its innovative Andaz Salon program, which employs Cultural Insiders to facilitate guests' immersion in inspiring live events.
"For every guest that walks through our doors, we are dedicated to providing experiences that reflect the local spirit and history of the places where we are located," said Sara Kearney, senior vice president, brands. Such events help to bring the Andaz experience to life, Kearney added. "As we grow and expand, including locations in Costa Rica and Tokyo, we will continue to deliver unique experiences designed to bring the best of each location to our guests."
Business travel to Asia has been steadily increasing within the past few years, and finding a special place to hang your hat means going on a quest for a certain level of comfort. PT readers found that in Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, dubbing it the Best Hotel Chain in Asia for providing luxurious customer-focused havens of style that feature the enticing local flavors of the region.
"Our guests traveling the world are looking for rich experiences, and we are dedicated to delivering ones that immerse our guests in all of our locations throughout Asia," said Carina Chorengel, Hyatt's vice president of brands, Asia Pacific. "We are honored to receive this distinction and hope that Premier Traveler guests continue to travel with us in Asia as we continue to grow in this region."
Circling the globe to the Western Hemisphere, the flagship carriers for Canada, in the north, and Colombia, to the south, earned extended applause from PT readers.
For international flights that feature luxurious amenities and priority services, PT readers doubly lauded Air Canada, labeling it not only the Best North American Airline for International Travel but the carrier with the Best Flight Attendants in North America. The airline's International Business Class is a reader favorite, and the carrier is accepting delivery of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner next year -- a fact sure to please frequent travelers who already find flying Air Canada to be among the finest in travel experiences.
"Air Canada has made customer engagement one of its key corporate priorities," said Craig Landry, VP of marketing at Air Canada. "We have invested heavily in our onboard products and we plan more enhancements next year. These awards from Premier Traveler are welcome evidence we are succeeding."
Throughout the recent global economic uncertainty, Avianca has continued to grow, keeping its focus on the international business traveler. Named the Best Airline in South America, the carrier is also popular for its LifeMiles loyalty program, which offers often incredible value in earning and redemption of travel points. This year, Avianca introduced a new look, with upscale interiors that will provide an even better time in the sky.
In thanking PT for the award, Rolando Damas, managing director, North America & Asia, noted that the airline is "investing in new airplanes, new interiors and new routes" in addition to "increasing our presence and connectivity at our hub cities."
And finally, the great ships of the air vied for the title of Best Aircraft Type, and PT respondents knighted the beautiful Boeing 777 for its luxurious cabin design and premium finishes.
"We are delighted to receive the honor of Best Aircraft Type by Premier Traveler magazine," said Elizabeth Lund, VP and general manager of the 777 program for the Boeing Company. "We work tirelessly to bring our customers' visions to life, ever focused on passenger safety, comfort and convenience. Our quest for continuous improvement never ends, and customer satisfaction remains job No. 1."
PT Executive Director Adam Rodriguez stressed the importance of the magazine's reader awards, saying, "The travel industry needs to hear from its customers, and we try to make our Best of 2013 survey fill that need. Our readers have a great deal of savoir-faire about global travel, and their opinions can be very helpful to the travel industry as a whole. We were thrilled with the response from our readership this year, and we immensely enjoyed being able to personally present the awards to representatives of the winning companies at our gala at the Sofitel L.A. We're already looking forward to next year!"
About Premier Traveler:
Premier Traveler was designed with its readers in mind: frequent travelers who are perpetually on-the-go (both domestically and abroad), who have high expectations and a taste for luxury. With a focus on excellence in writing and response to reader requests, Premier Traveler provides valuable and relevant insights in an intelligent, energetic style. The magazine is noted for responding to its readers, providing them detailed informational surveys, insider reviews and in-depth answers to issues concerning frequent travelers.