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IHG Explorer: A branded Boeing 787 Dreamliner with bespoke business class dining options

IHG Hotels & Resorts has unveiled a dynamic partnership with Hainan Airlines that offers a richly integrated travel experience across both air and land. The partnership brings to life the ‘IHG Explorer’, a branded aircraft featuring bespoke business class dining options, amplified member benefits and a creative co-branded safety video.

IHG is one of the first international hotel companies to enter the Chinese market and it remains committed to an ‘in China, for China’ business approach, prioritising the development of the Chinese market with a focus on providing a localised ‘True Hospitality for Good’, building hotel brands beloved by guests, and delivering outstanding returns for owners and shareholders. Together, IHG and Hainan Airlines are reimagining travel by incorporating diverse cultural elements into guests’ journeys, while driving the development of tourism through personalised experiences.

The two-year collaboration between IHG and Hainan Airlines brings together the strengths and resources of both companies, with a partnership that aims to create exceptional ‘in-flight travel experiences’ while enriching travel for those venturing between Hainan Free Trade Port and other major cities.

Redefining air travel with surprises and innovation

The partnership has seen the debut of the ‘IHG Explorer’ aircraft, which represents the ongoing commitment of both companies to deliver delightful travel experiences that are full of surprises for passengers. The fuselage of the ‘IHG Explorer’ is painted with IHG’s iconic deep blue colour, marking the first time that Hainan Airlines has launched a fully themed aircraft with a hotel group. The cabin’s overhead luggage compartment is decked with custom decals visible throughout whilst the business class section is adorned with tailored lumbar pillows co-created by the HUALUXE brand and Chinese artist Chen Jiu – immersing travellers in charming Chinese aesthetics as they enjoy the comfort of 180-degree reclining seats.

Before take-off, passengers will watch a creative co-branded safety video that blends IHG’s extensive and varied brand portfolio into essential flight safety instructions. The video highlights a myriad of captivating destinations of the group in China, heightening guests’ excitement for an exceptional journey.

Enjoy the flavour of the seasons in-flight

Amidst a thriving culinary tourism market, guests are increasingly drawn to unique dining experiences and cultural immersions. With its deep understanding of traditional Chinese culture and innovative culinary concepts, IHG is introducing food from its sophisticated Chinese restaurant brand, Cai Feng Lou, aboard business class dining services. Through a seasonally inspired array of exquisite Chinese cuisine, the menu paints a vibrant picture of regional delicacies. The inaugural seasonal menu, ‘Cloud Banquet: Springtime Island Delights’, seamlessly blends classic Cantonese dishes with the local flavours of Hainan, capturing the richness of Chinese culinary heritage. Additionally, HUALUXE Hotels & Resorts has collaborated with Hainan Airlines to offer a co-branded signature tea, ‘HUALUXE Cloud Aroma’, elevating the airborne experience with a touch of the ‘Chinese aesthetics lifestyle’.

A shared journey of seamless hospitality

IHG and Hainan Airlines will gradually introduce more diverse member benefits during the second quarter of this year, offering IHG One Rewards and Fortune Wings Club members a range of exciting experiences – providing rich member benefits from ground to sky.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. It never ceases to amaze me how superb food can be served at 32,000 feet whilst seafood restaurants at lower altitude can’t even cook the vegetables properly.

  2. It’s amazing what a difference these little extras and luxuries make on a long flight. They can be a great morale booster.

  3. Having a focus on the seasons as a theme for the food should be a grounding experience. It’s a very slick piece of marketing.

    When you’re travelling all over the world for business, jetting from one hemisphere to the next, it’s all too easy to lose track of the seasons. It helps to remind you what season it is where you are.

  4. To be absolutely honest I’ve never heard of Hainan Airlines. Though they certainly seem determined to make a name for themselves. Now I know to look out for them.

  5. I’m sure there are technical reasons for it and all sort of design features contributing. Whatever, I like the 787 Dreamliners, they take the exertion out of flying.

    Whenever. I take a Dreamliner 787 flight, I seem to arrive more rested than with other planes.

  6. If IHG Hotels & Resorts are putting their considerable clout behind this investment they must be optimistic about the growth of the Chinese hospitality industry.

    Let’s hope that they know more about the state of Chinese / Taiwan relations and they are betting on continuing peace, even if there is a lot of sabre rustling, than I do.

  7. I probably shouldn’t be writing this on a luxury travel blog. I’ve always found flying long distances so tedious, especially as there was a time when I was flying about once a month for work. In fact, I haven’t flown since before COVID, anything that makes flying less cattle class and more human has to be applauded. I might even be tempted to fly again.

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