UK airports to trial contactless borders
Surprisingly, I much prefer going through immigration in the US than I do in the UK. I have Global Entry and can enter the US within about 60 seconds or less using their facial recognition machines. No need to swipe your passport or have your fingerprints taken.
The US has had this technology for several years, but finally, the UK is making plans to catch up, albeit very slowly. This can’t come fast enough for someone whose passport gets rejected on a regular basis in the e-gates!
UK Border Force is planning to begin testing technology to allow some passengers to enter the UK without going to an eGate or Border Force officer.
I’d guess they would be UK passport holders, but you would have to undergo pre-screening and be identified at the border using, I would assume, similar technology to the US. The Home Office aims to begin pilot testing in 2024 (I’m not holding my breath given how long it takes for them just to process a passport application!).
The announcement forms part of the New Plan for Immigration: Migration and Border Control Strategy statement, in which the Home Secretary also announced plans to pilot extending the minimum age of eGates from 12 to 10 years old.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
As Home Secretary I have been focused of taking back control of our immigration system through my New Plan for Immigration.
This includes ensuring we have a border that is fit for the 21st century which allows travellers to get a visa and pass through the border easily, while maintaining national security.
I am also committed to ensuring our fantastic Border Force are given access to the most up to date automation technologies so they can use their specialised skills on protecting our border from those who seek to harm the UK.
New Hilton opens in Mallorca
Mallorca has been well served by Marriott hotels (read my review of the Castillo Son Vida Luxury Collection here). However, the island has definitely needed a Hilton for a while, and it’s finally here!
Hilton Mallorca Galatzo is now open and set on the coast of Mallorca with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and eye-catching Galatzo mountain. It’s just 20 minutes from the airport and a similar distance to the capital, Palma.
There are 50,000 square metres of tropical gardens connecting traditional Mallorcan round tower buildings, four bars and restaurants and extensive leisure facilities, making it a destination in its own right. Each of the 208 rooms features private balconies.
You can relax by one of the hotel two swimming pools or try the many activities on offer. From five clay tennis courts to a full-equipped gym, sauna and steam room as well as a spa with a tailored wellness program, there is something for most people. A kids club is also on offer for young travellers.
The four dining areas, serve up Mediterranean cuisine, with dishes inspired by the island’s historic fishing villages and local flavours. You can indulge in local specialities such as Mallorcan squid ‘a la bruta’, or sip on a Herbal Mediterranean digestive cocktail with Gin Mare, olive tonic, an old rosemary infusion and thyme to finish.
The latest Cotton Lifestyle destination, Cotton Club Mallorca will seat 180 guests in a stylish restaurant and bar area with a 70-sunbed pool deck surrounding a first-class grand pool. It will be designed and run to the standards of its clubs in Ibiza and Zakynthos, where the brand’s success has been closely tied with its ability to create laid-back luxury living with a stunning style scheme, and provide outstanding service, great food, wine, and music.
Prices start from €135 or 39,000 points. You can book and check prices here.
New Jumeirah Muscat Bay hotel in Oman details and opening offer
Jumeirah Group has unveiled a new resort in the Middle East – Jumeirah Muscat Bay. If you like Dubai or Abu Dhabi for the sunshine but find them too busy, Oman could be a great alternative with its beautiful scenery and beaches. There are not many 5* luxury hotels in Oman, so the Jumeirah is a much-needed addition.
Set within the secluded cove of Bandar Jissah between the Hajar mountains and Gulf of Oman, the hotel is just 15 minutes from the capital Muscat. This makes it ideal for a short winter sun break as well as a longer stay.
Jumeirah Muscat Bay will offer 206 spacious rooms and suites, all with ocean vistas, with connecting rooms available for family holidays. In addition, five secluded summerhouses in two- and four-bed configurations, and the exceptional Sanctuary Villa, will provide the ultimate experience, each with a private pool, dedicated butler service and access to an exclusive private beach. The hotel has a modern feel but still pays homage to local Oman architecture.
The new resort will be home to five diverse restaurants and bars including cocktails from master mixologists and Asian-style signature bites at the ANZO bar and terrace, with stunning views across the bay. Set to open in September, signature restaurant BREZZA will provide a contemporary setting with the best views in Muscat, serving sharing-style seafood and stunning culinary creations from Chef de Cuisine Cristiano Goattin, an Italian-born chef with a Michelin-star background, alongside Jumeirah’s famous mixology, available in the restaurant and at the rooftop bar.
Talise Spa will feature eight individual and two couple treatment rooms, a Hammam, sauna and steam room. World-renowned experts at Pedi: Mani: Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez provide the finishing touches as well as a wide range of spa treatments.
If you like to keep active there are numerous hikes and scenic running and biking routes through the Hajar mountains. There’s a state-of-the-art fitness centre, yoga studio and tennis court, while a PADI-certified diving & water sports centre will help with activities such as scuba diving, sailing, and snorkelling with turtles. Parents will be delighted to know there is a program of daily activities at the kids’ club too.
In celebration of its launch, the hotel is inviting guests to discover Oman with a special opening offer. Bookings made before 30th September 2022 can take advantage of up to 20% off on room stays when staying for four nights or more, complimentary stay for one child up to 11 years, staying in the same room or suite complimentary Kids Club access for junior guests and USD 100 worth of credits redeemable across the resort’s food & beverage and spa offerings.
In parallel, members of Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts’ leading rewards programme, Jumeirah One, will receive an additional 5% off their stay plus a complimentary upgrade to the next available room category when booking an Ocean Deluxe Room. It’s free to join Jumeirah One – you read more about it here.
You can find more details and prices of Jumeirah Muscat Bay here.
I’ve belonged to the US Global Entry for a few years now. It’s a brilliant system, stringent background security checks,so quick going through & very efficient so I absolutely welcome the UK version as the e-gates are embarrassingly dreadful. But agree, there’s not much hope it starting in the UK for many years yet. ????
The UK did have an enrolled scheme like GE, but it was cancelled in favour of the e-gates. No idea why they could not have been operated concurrently.
Agreed. Though Iris had some issues. Hopefully it will be more like the US system since they did mention that it would be new technology.
A couple of days ago Border Force were heavily criticised in a report and were described as urgently needing clear leadership on priorities and purpose.
For me, this manifests itself when I see some immigration officers at UK airports strutting around in bulging tactical vests, with goodness knows what hanging from belt loops.
There may be occasions away from a secure airport immigration hall where this attire is appropriate but, in my experience, the more jingle jangling going on, the more likely I am to see a power trip in play. I had far more respect for immigration officers when they were in office wear.
Unfortunately, I suspect these are also the types who will resist the introduction of this technology for fear of losing their power.
Didn’t the UK implement e-gates, like everything else this government has done on the cheap as a money saving exercise? IIRC, they don’t really work on facial recognition but on a passport officious sitting in a booth at the back looking at the images and deciding whether they match the passport on the screen – which is why sometimes there are e-gates out of action because the booth is inadequately staffed and the staff can only monitor so many gates at a time. In reality they do not work on facial recognition but on human say so.
Compare the experience to anywhere else in the known world where you can use an e-gate (ever fewer places since Brexit) and the gates are all available and the level of success is far higher at passing through first time than it ever is in the UK. I have had good experiences in Finland, Greece, Cyprus, Australia and most recently Dublin.
Introducing facial recognition would be a good thing but not the pound shop version of it again which will, like most of what the Home Office touches turn out to be sh*t and make the scheme another national disgrace which we really don’t need as we are already enough of a laughing stock on the world stage thanks to this government, Bunter, law breaking and Brexit.
Yes hopefully it will be like the US version which takes seconds to approve someone.
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