Middle East travel and hospitality brands win big at the Ultras

Middle East travel and hospitality brands win big at the Ultras

Airlines, airports and hotels are recognised among best in world

The Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) serves 22 million travellers a year through its hotel loyalty programme, GHA Discovery, while its annual Ultras awards recognises excellence within the luxury travel sector. 

The 14th edition of the Ultras, held at the Pan Pacific London, recognised preferred destinations, cruise lines and airlines, as well as hotels – and the Middle East scored highly. 

Not only did Emirates win Best Airline in the Middle East award, it also won Best Airline in the World. The runners-up were Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. The runners-up in the Best Airline in the Middle East category were Etihad Airways, Oman Air and Qatar Airways.

The winner of the Best Business Class offering was Qsuite by Qatar Airways and
runners-up included Emirates

The Best Hotel in Middle East/Africa award went to The Royal Livingstone by Anantara, Victoria Falls, but the GCC took the runners-up slots with Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Doha and Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi. 

The Best New Hotel award went to The David Kempinski, Tel Aviv in Israel.

The UAE was also among the runners-up in the Favourite Country for a Holiday award.

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The winners and runners-up are:

Ultratravel Collection Hotel of the Year: Capella Singapore (pictured)
Runners-up: Portrait Roma; The Westbury Dublin

Best New Hotel: The David Kempinski, Tel Aviv
Runners-up: Capella Bangkok; Pan Pacific London

Best Resort Hotel: Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, St Lucia
Runners-up: Capella Ubud; The Leela Palace Udaipur

Best City Hotel: Corinthia London
Runners-up: Çira─čan Palace Kempinski Istanbul; The Murray, Hong Kong

Best Hotel in Middle East/Africa: The Royal Livingstone by Anantara, Victoria Falls
Runners-up: Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Doha; Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi

Best Hotel in the Indian Ocean: Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
Runners-up: Niyama Private Island Maldives; The Residence Zanzibar

Sustainable Hotel of the Year: PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore
Runners-up: Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort; Castaway Island, Fiji


Favourite Country for a Holiday: Thailand
Runners-up: Italy; Maldives; UAE; USA


Best Luxury Cruise Line: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Runners-up: Celebrity Cruises; Ponant; Seabourn; Silversea


Best Airline in the World: Emirates
Runners-up: Qatar Airways; Singapore Airlines

Best Airline in the Middle East: Emirates
Runners-up: Etihad Airways; Oman Air; Qatar Airways

Best Business Class: Qsuite by Qatar Airways
Runners-up: American Airlines; British Airways; Emirates; Virgin Atlantic

Best Airline in North America: American Airlines
Runners-up: Air Canada; Delta Air Lines; Jetblue; United Airlines

Best Airline in Asia/Pacific: Singapore Airlines
Runners-up: ANA; Cathay Pacific

Best Airport in the World: Changi, Singapore
Runners-up: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; Hamad International, Doha; Dubai International


The awards are held in association with media platform Ultratravel, with which Global Hotel Alliance operates joint venture the Ultratravel Collection.

The Economist’s Daniel Franklin addressed the audience of 300-plus travel professionals at the awards and stressed that despite ongoing pandemic-related challenges and growing geopolitical and economic turmoil, there was a “luxury now or never” mentality was prevailing that could benefit the luxury travel segment.

Echoing this positive sentiment, GHA CEO Chris Hartley told the Ultras audience that travel’s rebound was in full swing, with total revenue generated by GHA Discovery members reaching US$900 million, up 68% on 2021 and reaching 84% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels on a like for like basis.

Hartley said: “We are confident this upswing will continue into 2023 as the industry returns to, or even exceeds pre-pandemic performance, and as our Ultras and Ultratravel Forum have demonstrated, the appetite for travel continues to accelerate with GHA Discovery members appreciating more than ever the aspirational luxury travel experiences our best-in-class winners and runners-up present.” 

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