Δευτέρα, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

MCI India wins Best Large Scale Conference Award

MCI India has received the “Best Large Scale Conference” award from the Asian Conference Awards for COP 11 (the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity), a high-profile United Nations event held in Hyderabad in 2012 on the theme of biological diversity and protection. 

Bringing together 11,500 delegates from 172 countries to discuss, debate and network over the 19-day event, MCI India’s responsibilities as full PCO (professional conference organizer) spanned from accommodation and venue management to Audio Visual (AV) management and from public relations to sustainability.

Established in 2012, the Asian Conference Awards aim to recognise excellence and best practice in conference companies and their suppliers throughout Asia and the Middle East.

Sian Jones, from the Asian Conference Awards said, “The organisers of COP 11 should be commended for their successful event creation, marketing and hosting. To handle a mega conference of over 10,000 delegates in India was a challenge, and the magnitude, complexity and the duration of this conference tell their own story. Considering the scale, complexity and challenges involved, I believe this was a tremendous project to have been executed successfully. The organisers achieved so much over a very short timeframe and did a great job in mobilising their resources and equipment from overseas.”

“This award is testament to MCI India’s hard work and commitment to building a sustainable business in the region,” said Sumaira Isaacs, COO, MCI IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa). “We have been growing from strength to strength in Asia since MCI’s Singapore debut in 2006, increasing both our association conferences and corporate events business, as well as expanding destination management services. MCI now has 430 staff in 15 offices in the region and has made significant investment this year in staff and client services.”

UK to attract more tourists from UAE, Oman and Qatar

Reed Travel Exhibitions organizes the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 5-8 May 2014. 

Reed Travel Exhibitions anticipates a surge of exhibition enquiries from UK based travel and hospitality companies following the recent lifting of visa requirements for UAE, Oman and Qatar nationals travelling to the UK.

Effective Q1 2014, citizens from the aforementioned three Gulf states visiting the UK, will be able to obtain a free electronic visa waiver 48 hours prior to their planned departure, which replaces the current visa application process. The waiver is also set to be extended to Kuwaiti nationals later next year.

“London is a perennial favourite among GCC travellers who flock to the capital in the summer months in search of cooler temperatures as well as to take advantage of the fantastic shopping, entertainment options and luxury hotel accommodation. VisitBritain’s (The British government-backed national tourism agency) 2020 forecast increase of up to 40% more UAE tourists choosing to spend time in the city, is great news for UK tourism,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of ATM 2014.

“Following the announcement we have already received a number of enquiries from UK-based companies eager to capitalise on the opportunity with first-time presence at ATM 2014, and we expect increased participation from a diverse cross-section of tourism and hospitality companies representing the UK as well,” added Walsh.

According to John Calthorpe, Managing Director, Pavilion Expo Limited, the organiser of the UK Pavillion at ATM, UK representation at the show will be buoyed by the news, “The 37% increase in visitors that VisitBritian announced from last year, has the possibility of being dwarfed by this visa waiver programme, with the initiative encouraging more frequent short breaks from the region.”

The UK Pavilion is also increasing year on year in terms of size and exhibitors. 

“ATM 2014 will see the biggest and most popular UK Pavilion to date - 144 square metres and 34 exhibiting companies. London and Scotland are two of most active participants but we are hoping add other UK cities,” said Calthorpe.

Information published on www.gov.uk reveals that visa applications from UAE, Oman and Qatar are growing year-on-year led by Kuwaiti visitors who accounted for more than 63,000 applications in 2012, followed by the UAE (30,148), Qatar (20,490) and Oman (12,596).

VisitBritain reports a record 530,000 visitors from the GCC landed on British shores in 2012, representing a 6% increase on 2011. Boosted by global interest in the London Olympics, the UK enjoyed a record year for tourism last year with US$30.46 billion injected into the economy from overseas visitors, of which US$1.97 billion came from the GCC countries. 

Visitors from the GCC are also among the highest spenders, with an average of US$3,417 per person per visit and the UK is second most visited destination by UAE residents with the number of visits doubling in the last decade.

“The UK and the UAE share very close ties and London has always been a popular destination for UAE citizens, as well as visitors from Oman and Qatar. Lifting the visa requirements will allow for increased travel opportunities benefiting numerous sectors such as travel, hospitality, retail and entertainment,” commented Debrah Dhugga, General Manager of the five-star Mayfair situated boutique hotel, DUKES London.

According to Walsh, outbound travel agencies and specialist tour operators in the UAE, as well as the country’s carriers, Emirates and Etihad Airways, are also expected to place increased emphasis and marketing spend on UK travel and routes once the new system is officially up-and-running.

The new visa waiver applies for short-term visits only with a six-month validity period, however those applying to study in the UK or enter for business, will still need to apply for a visa.

ECM announces a stronger partnership with IMEX

IMEX and ECM sealed their close cooperation with the signature of a new partnership agreement last month. 

ECM also reaffirms its whole support to the sector, handing over 20 declarations signed by Politicians backing up the Meetings Industry during ECM CEO Meeting of Capital and major cities in Amsterdam on December 8-9. 

Under the deal, both organizations will focus on trends and inspirations that are crucial in this ever changing industry ; each year IMEX comes up with new innovations and business opportunities and benefit in return from ECM knowledge on latest trends.

“ECM also advocates the value of the Meetings Industry and gives once again full support to the IMEX Politicians Forum via an active participation in shaping up the programme”, explains Heike Mahmoud, Vice-President for the Meetings Industry. The next edition will take place on May 20, 2014 in conjunction with the IMEX trade exhibition in Frankfurt.

Regarding educational opportunities, the IMEX Group is part of the selected ECM Summer School Faculty, bringing intelligence regarding how to maximize CVB’s presence at a trade shows and social media trends. The ECM Summer School is the only opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills required for a successful career in conference, meeting and event management. It sets the background and context to this most lucrative sector of tourism, illustrating its subject with up-to-date and cutting edge examples of European best practice. Course content is both relevant and practical, and at the same time is incisive and cutting edge.

“The ECM meeting of Chief Executives of Capital and major cities held in December each year also enables a continuous contact between IMEX and the key players in the main European cities. We are keen on sharing key messages and developments in the Meetings Industry.” adds Tom Hulton, director of International relations, IMEX Group.

The last CEO meeting of capital and major cities in Amsterdam, last December 8-9 was the appropriate time chosen by ECM to hand over 20 declarations of Support of the Meetings Industry to Tom Hulton, Director of International Relations, invited there as a special guest. In front of 21 leading European Cities, Tom Hulton demonstrated the economic impact of the Meetings Industry through concrete examples of congresses and through specific studies. 

In response, Dieter Hardt-Stremayr handed over the declarations of Support signed by Politicians of 20 European cities. The declaration is intended to act as a public roll-call of politicians who understand the full economic impact of the meetings and events industry on their communities. It also highlights the industry’s role in building and sustaining local knowledge economies, creating employment, encouraging regeneration and stimulating infrastructure investment.

“Getting in total more than 100 declarations of support shows the importance of ongoing political advocacy in our industry and reminds us of the full economic power of meetings and events, and their role in building knowledge economies." declares Ray Bloom, Chairman, IMEX Group.

“Our relation with IMEX has always been one of great professionalism. We are very proud of this new milestone and want to congratulate IMEX on their achievements and their valuable contribution to the international Meetings Industry as a whole” comments Ignasi de Delàs, ECM President.

Four Seasons Hotel Milano Unveils Its Newly Designed Fashion and Royal Suites

Four Seasons Hotel Milano unveils a beautiful new look for its celebrated Fashion and Royal Suites. 

Refurbished in collaboration with interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, both suites were designed with the idea to create unique luxury spaces, characterized by a defined look and feel. The suites are located in the Hotel’s casa ringhiera wing, arranged around open balconies that overlook a glass-covered atrium.

Positioned as the Hotel’s most prestigious luxury suite, the Royal Suite occupies the entire fifth floor of Four Seasons Hotel Milano. Opening up the design of luxury apartment style private sanctum, Pierre-Yves Rochon has instilled an airy and timeless look.

“We tried to give a intimate residential feeling to the Royal Suite by adding a library and marrying together different styles of furniture like people do in private apartments,” Rochon said.

Resplendent in light beige, silvery and white tones, the suite’s apartment-style layout flows fluidly from one zone to another. An elegant white leather partition discreetly divides the bedroom area from a cozy lounge space. The bed is now positioned to face the suite’s step-out balcony that offers sweeping spectacular views across the neoclassical rooftops of Milan. Elegant bright floral fabrics decorate the suite’s sitting and reading room with a fireplace that overlooks a private terrace and garden manicured with iconic Mediterranean plants. The sleek kitchenette is equipped with temperature-controlled wine refrigerators and modern tools for cuisine preparation. Accessible by a dedicated lift, the Royal Suite can be connected via a private internal staircase to a Premium Room and an Executive Suite on the floor below to become either a two or three bedroom residence.

Showcasing a decidedly contemporary look, the Fashion Suite (Suite 444) on the fourth floor of the Hotel is a study in striking design and colour. Rochon selected a bright kelly green with black and white accents for the suite’s palette.

“When I chose the furniture for the Fashion Suite I wanted to remain in the spirit of the 50s and 60s with pieces by Saarinen with strong lines and an intense green colour,” Rochon said.

Providing a stylish contrast, an enveloping green armchair and pouf is positioned on a graphic black and white rug, joined by lacquered black furniture and small grey veined marble tulip tables. Large french doors open up onto a long terrace bordered with hedges and a Knoll table and chairs fitted with cushions upholstered in a chic herringbone fabric.

Both the Royal Suite and the Fashion Suite were restyled as part of the Hotel’s ongoing room refurbishment project.

Get a Free Rocket Ferry with Merlin Attraction Ticke

Captain Cook Cruises have partnered with Merlin Entertainments to offer a free return Rocket Ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour with the purchase of a full price entry ticket to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo or Madame Tussauds Sydney. 

The offer is valid until 31 March 2014.

“Captain Cook Cruises continues its growing partnership with Merlin Entertainments Group. They are a fantastic brand to be associated with and both our companies deliver the best possible product to our passengers and visitors”. Explains Richard Doyle, Head of Sales and Marketing Captain Cook Cruises.

“This offer is a great way for tourists and locals to discover Sydney Harbour and visit its attractions by land and sea”. Continues Mr Doyle.

Sydney Harbour rocket ferries are the most fun way to travel to work, school or play. Each day Captain Cook Cruises red and white ferry fleet zooms along the `harbour highway' between Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Watsons Bay, Fort Denison, Shark Island and Luna Park.

A Rocket Ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour takes approximately 15 minutes and travels under the harbour bridge and past the Opera House. Ferries depart daily every 45 minutes from Circular Quay and Darling Harbour.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium features unique freshwater and marine aquatic environments where visitors can discover 13,000 animals from 700 different species, explore 14 new themed zones including a Bay of Rays, Discovery Rockpool and the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef display. Face your fears on Shark Walk and journey into the depths of Shark Valley, home to the largest variety of sharks and rays. 

Visitors will find themselves on an amazing animal adventure as they journey into Australia's most famous locations at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Walk through iconic Aussie habitats and encounter some of the most loved and feared animals that call Australia home.

At Madame Tussauds Sydney, experience the glittering world of fame and be wowed as visitors mingle and interact with their favourite celebrities. The journey starts on the red carpet and enters into the world of television. Come face to face with the biggest stars from all genres of Television, help your favourite sports stars prepare for the next big match and hop on stage with your idols from Rock & Pop! 

The entry price to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds Sydney is adults $38, concession $31.50, child $24 and family $120 (2ad+2ch). Combo deals for entry into all three attractions are also available.

To get a free return Rocket Ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, passengers must book their Merlin attraction entry tickets through Captain Cook Cruises on Ph. +61-2-9206 1111 or online at www.captaincook.com.au

Air Austral to launch direct flights between La Reunion and Seychelles

Inter Island air connectivity in the spirit of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands takes a new dimension with the announcement by Air Austral. 

The announcement made in the presence of Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture and President Didier Robert, the Regional Council of La Reunion at a Press Conference that was held at the Head Quarters of Air Austral at Roland Garros Airport, St.Denis in La Reunion.

Air Austral, the French airline of Indian Ocean, has announced its return on the Seychelles route after a one year break. The new La Reunion - Seychelles flight operations will be on a Boeing 737-800, two times a week from 3rd. June 2014.

The two flights are scheduled to depart La Reunion every Monday and Wednesday at 7.20 pm to arrive in Seychelles at 10pm, and return to La Reunion the following day at 9.55am. A code share agreement is currently under discussion with Air Seychelles.

“This good news will reinforce the links between the two islands and it will enhance the economic development” said Didier Robert, the President of the Regional Council of La Reunion. Minister Alain St.Ange, the Minister of Tourism and Culture of the Seychelles on his part said that this announcement will be well received by the People of Seychelles. "Our island's tourism industry will benefit from this opportunity and we have given our commitment to work with Air Austral to develop the route for the benefit of the airline and for the consolidation for the Seychelles Tourism Industry" Minister St.Ange said.

The announcement follows discussions that had taken place in Seychelles during the island's Festival Kreol last October between President James Michel of the Seychelles and President Didier Robert of La Reunion. These discussions were again followed this week by Minister St.Ange as he was in La Reunion for the Festival Liberté Métisse, the Vanilla Islands Event that was being staged on La Reunion Island.

Abu Dhabi Airports to Host Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2014

Following the success of Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2013, which was held at Al Bateen Executive Airport earlier this year, Abu Dhabi Airports will be hosting the general aviation exhibition for the third consecutive year between 25th-27th February 2014 at its dedicated business airport. 

To date, 70% of the exhibitor space for Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2014 is already booked and all of last year’s exhibitors have rebooked, with many of them booking spaces larger than what they had reserved in previous years. In addition to this, participation has also risen by more than 20%.

Leading manufacturers, including Cessna, Dassault Aviation, Embraer Executive Jets, Bombardier, Gulfstream, and Daher Socata, have already committed to the Air Expo with many requesting to upgrade the size of their stand, and to increase the number of their aircraft in the static display. The organisers anticipate a display of over 100 aircraft that will feature a range of models from ultra light to heavy business jets, including the VIP AirBus corporate jet, to the fastest single engine in the world, the TBM 850.

The total value of sales at this year’s Air Expo reached in excess of AED five billion. The successful show also saw a 30% increase in attendance compared to the previous Air Expo, with 13,000 visitors and 160 exhibitors from local, regional and international companies participating.

Yousif Hassan Al Hammadi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for Abu Dhabi Air Expo, General Manager of Al Bateen Executive Airport, said:

“Abu Dhabi Airports is proud to be hosting Abu Dhabi Air Expo at Al Bateen Executive Airport for the third year in a row. The size of the event this year compared with last year demonstrates the significant growth in the general aviation industry in Abu Dhabi. This year’s success is also a testament to Abu Dhabi’s position as an international aviation hub. Al Bateen Executive Airport looks forward to providing a platform for global aviation leaders to grow their businesses and engage with potential partners.”

General aviation refers to all flights other than military and scheduled airlines and regular cargo flights, both private and commercial.

For more information, please visit www.adairexpo.com.

IHG Opens Two New Hotels in India

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a management agreement with Eros Resorts and Hotels Ltd. to manage its two hotels in Delhi’s emerging business district of Mayur Vihar. 

Under the agreement, the hotels will be rebranded to IHG’s Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands respectively. 

The hotels are located just off the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway connecting expressway and will provide an ideal option for travellers with business interests in east Delhi and Noida district of the National Capital Region (NCR).

Crowne Plaza New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida offers 160 modern and spacious guest rooms. The hotel features Infiniti, an all-day dining restaurant serving Italian, Continental and Indian cuisine, as well as a lobby lounge and bar. Leisure facilities at the hotel include a fully-equipped health club, a spa and an outdoor pool. There are also a variety of meeting facilities to meet the needs of business travellers.

With 193 guest rooms, including suites, Holiday Inn New Delhi Mayur Vihar Noida offers to its guests a variety of food and beverage options. Café On 3 is an all-day dining restaurant and Roadhouse Bar and Grill is an American food speciality restaurant that is well-known for its grills, international cocktails and live entertainment. The hotel is equipped with a business centre and 7500 sq. ft of event space for corporate meetings or social functions for up to 650 guests. To help hotel guests relax and recharge, there is also a fully-equipped health club and an outdoor pool. 

IHG currently operates four brands across ten cities in India: InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts and Holiday Inn Express. 

To explore the new hotels and to make a booking, visit www.crowneplaza.com and www.holidayinn.com.

Starwood Hotels’ Eco-Wise Element Brand Set to Launch in Fargo, North Dakota

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced plans to introduce its trailblazing, eco-wise Element brand to Fargo, North Dakota. Element Fargo is scheduled to open in November 2015 in the bustling Veterans Boulevard Corridor. 

Owned by StaySharpe Hotels, the new Element hotel is built green from the ground up, offering a smart, new lodging option for travelers with 130 bright, stylish rooms and an atmosphere designed to fuel a life in balance and on the move. 

Element Fargo will be ideally located across the street from the site of the new $500 million Sanford Fargo Medical Center now under development, and just ten minutes from Microsoft Corporation’s second largest campus in North America. The hotel will also be convenient to Fargodome, home of the two-time defending FCS championship team, the North Dakota State Bison. Situated on the southeast corner of North Dakota, Fargo is part of the Fargo/Moorhead metropolitan area, which is experiencing rapid growth driven by the financial, software and energy sectors. 

"Element Fargo will offer a fresh new option for travelers who want to maintain a balanced lifestyle when away from home whether for a few days or a few weeks and help meet the demand for high-caliber lodging in this fast-growing area," said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President of Specialty Select Brands for Starwood. "Popular among both business and leisure travelers, the Element brand offers guests a bright, energizing environment that's conducive to both work and play." 

Element Fargo will boast light-filled studios as well as one bedroom suites featuring a fluid design of modular furniture, swiveling flat-screen televisions, large desks with open shelving and custom-designed closets. Bathrooms will be spa-inspired, with an invigorating rain shower and dual-flush toilet. Rooms will also offer fully equipped kitchens and the signature Heavenly® Bed. Other brand signatures will include a state-of-the-art, 24-hour fitness center, an indoor saline swimming pool, and a 453 square-foot meeting room with modular furnishings, a flexible layout and state-of-the-art technology that can be customized to meet any business or social needs. 

“Element Hotels is attracting a loyal following of travelers who share the brand’s passion for modern design and sustainable living,” said Allison Reid, Senior Vice President of North America Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “The brand, which pioneered smart, eco-friendly design and has reimagined the extended stay guest experience, is poised for continued growth.” 

Element Fargo offers additional ways for guests to live healthfully on the road like complimentary signature RISE breakfast and RELAX evening receptions featuring savory food and beverage pairings, plus bikes to borrow and backyard BBQs. 

Element is the first major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for high-performance buildings. It’s recognized as an industry leader in the eco-space, and offers travelers a fresh, reimagined interpretation of the extended stay hotel experience. Every aspect of the brand is designed to fuel a life in balance and on the move.

Thraki Palace Thalasso Spa Hotel organizes B2B event in Istanbul

Thraki Palace Thalasso Spa Hotel & Conference Center located in Alexandrapoli, Greece organizes a B2B meeting in Istanbul on 9 and 10 January 2014 in order to explore the possibilities of cooperation with local travel agents. 

The meeting will be held at the Dosso Dossi Hotel in Sultanahmet, Istanbul at the Tulip Meeting Room on January 9 between 11.00am and 7.00pm and on January 10 from 10.00am to 6.00pm.

For more information about Thraki Palace Thalasso Spa Hotel & Conference Center visitwww.thrakipalace.gr

Colombia hopes to welcome more U.S. and Canadian visitors than ever in 2014

MIAMI - Seasonal increases in the number of flights between North America and Colombia will allow more visitors than ever to experience that Colombia Is Magical Realism, Proexport Colombia announced. Proexport, the government agency charged with promoting tourism, foreign investment and trade with Colombia, is eager to share its exciting calendar of events with international travelers and to welcome visitors to the country by air and sea.

As of December 15, JetBlue increased its New York-Cartagena weekly flight frequencies from three flights to five, allowing for a total of 750 more passengers to escape the winter weather during the 2013-2014 tourism season. In just five hours, U.S. and Canadian travelers leaving from and connecting through New York City can be on the sunny beaches of one of Colombia's top coastal cities.

In addition to a number of other U.S. nonstop flights, American Airlines began direct Dallas-Bogota service in November. Canadians can reach Bogota via five weekly direct flights from Toronto on Air Canada, and via connecting flights on Avianca, Copa and others.

"According to Colombia's Immigration Department, the year-end season is when the majority of Americans and Canadians travel to Colombia," said the president of Proexport, Maria Claudia Lacouture. "We hope that demand for the increased frequency will remain high, leading to additional permanent flights to our vibrant country."

Colombia expects 2014 to be a busy year for tourism. In January, Cartagena will host the International Music Festival, welcoming classical artists and opera singers from all over the world. In February, more than 600 international buyers from the leisure, meetings and tourism industries will convene in Bogota for Colombia Travel Mart, the country's most important tourism industry event. Later, in March, thousands of international visitors will travel to Baranquilla for the city's famous Carnaval festival.

These events represent just a fraction of the exciting opportunities available for international travelers. Proexport Colombia launched its "Colombia Is Magical Realism" tourism campaign earlier this year to showcase all of its different, magical, unique and inspiring vacation destinations, from beaches to mountains, deserts, cities and jungles. With more than 800 direct flights from 20 different countries and 27 cruise lines stopping in three major ports of call, there are many ways for visitors to experience the country.

Colombia welcomed more than 864,000 foreign visitors in the first half of 2013, with the largest number visiting from the U.S. and the tenth largest visiting from Canada.

IHG opens Holiday Inn Express Hotel Mountain View close to South Palo Alto

ATLANTA - InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announces the opening of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel Mountain View – S Palo Alto. The three-story 46-room hotel adds to the IHG portfolio in the Mountain View and Palo Alto areas and is opening after significant investments of over $1 million in renovations by the ownership.

"Holiday Inn Express hotels are designed to be the smart choice for value-conscious business and leisure travelers," said Heather Balsley, SVP, Americas Holiday Inn brand family. "With more than 2,200 properties worldwide and 450 more in the pipeline, the Holiday Inn Express portfolio continues to provide our guests with an enhanced-stay experience at a great value.”

The renovated hotel is designed with the Holiday Inn brand family’s $1 billion global brand relaunch in mind, the largest project of its kind in hospitality history. The relaunch continues to drive increased quality and consistency across the global portfolio. The hotel features a contemporary image with emphasis on arrival and welcome services, guestroom and guest bath comfort and a redesigned logo and signage.

“We are very excited to join the Holiday Inn brand family,” said Roshan Patel, general manager. “Our hotel is in close proximity to the many technology companies in the Mountain View and Palo Alto areas and very convenient for business travelers to the area.”

The hotel is located just a mile and a half from numerous prominent technology companies. Nearby attractions also include the Levi’s Stadium – the new home of the San Francisco 49ers – and the aptly-named Computer History Museum, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

All rooms at the hotel are equipped with refrigerators and microwave ovens. The new hotel offers guests a comfortable, yet affordable, stay with innovative, preferred guest upgrades to ensure a pleasurable experience with amenities that include a 24-hour fitness center, swimming pool, complimentary high-speed Internet access and a business center with PC computers. Business travelers will find large desks with ergonomic chairs, free local phone and toll free, phones with private voicemail and complimentary USA TODAY newspapers.

The Holiday Inn Express Mountain View – S Palo Alto, owned and managed by RPK Investment is franchised by an affiliate of IHG. The scale and diversity of the IHG family of brands means that our hotels can meet our guests’ needs whatever the occasion. Holiday Inn Express hotels participate in IHG’s guest loyalty program IHG Rewards Club which is the industry’s first and largest guest loyalty program with more than 76 million members. 

Hotel rates in Florida rise strongly for New Year's Eve

MIAMI - End-of-year revelers who are looking for a hotel room at one of Florida's top beaches for New Year's Eve can expect to pay sharply more than usual. That's according to a new survey from MiamiHotels.org, which compared hotel rates for 20 popular destinations in the Sunshine State. The time period of December 30, 2013 through January 2, 2014 served as the basis of comparison.

The most expensive Floridian destination, by far, is Key West. There hotel guests will have to spend $472 per night for the most affordable double room. That figure represents 161% more than they would regularly have to pay. In the other Florida Keys, the increase is more moderate, only 69%; however, travelers will still have to spend $270 per night.

Coming in second and third most expensive according to the survey are Miami Beach and Sanibel Island. At these popular destinations, the most affordable room will cost New Year's celebrators $309 and $287, respectively. Miami Beach also happens to be the destination with the biggest percentage rate increase for New Year's Eve: +178%.

Rates have also risen sharply in Fort Myers Beach (+157%) while they have gone up a bit more moderately in Fort Lauderdale Beach (+79%) and St. Pete Beach (+84%). Among the cities considered by this survey, rates in Orlando around Disney World have more than doubled (+114%), while in Tallahassee, Tampa and Jacksonville they have actually decreased. In these latter cities, New Year's Eve revelers can find rooms that are –35%, –15% and –30%, respectively, less than usual.

The following table shows the 10 Florida destinations with the highest hotel rates over New Year's Eve, as well as a comparison with regular rates. The rates indicated reflect the nightly price for the most affordable double room (minimum: 3-star hotel) for the New Year's period spanning December 30 through January 2. 
Key West $472 (+161%)
Miami Beach $309 (+178%)
Sanibel Island $287 (+88%)
Florida Keys $270 (+69%)
Longboat Key $259 (+72%)
Fort Myers Beach $252 (+157%)
Miami Downtown $242 (+92%)
Anna Maria Island $229 (+62%)
St. Augustine $179 (+50%)
Fort Lauderdale Beach $178 (+79%).

Excitement over European cruises continues to grow on the high seas and in river cruising

MINNEAPOLIS - Excitement over river cruising is adding to Europe's overall allure for those taking cruise vacations in 2014; combined with European deep water cruises, the continent's cruise destinations rank second only to the Caribbean among Cruise Holidays clientele. Furthermore, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Budapest, Hungary, are emerging as river cruising's top destinations. Additionally, cruisers will eagerly wait 11 more months until the most anticipated ship of 2014 begins welcoming cruise passengers. These are just some of the highlights of Cruise Holidays International's 2014 Cruise Trends survey. Cruise Holidays is a network of cruise-specialty travel agencies based in North America, and its cruise experts across the United States and Canada participated in the survey.

Top 10 Cruise Destinations
With its diverse itineraries, the Caribbean continues to hold the top spot in cruise bookings for the year ahead, by a wide margin. Thanks to its nearly year-round sunny weather and convenient access from the southern and eastern United States, the Caribbean drives the majority of all cruise bookings. Here is the full list of the Top 10 cruise destinations being booked by Cruise Holidays professionals across North America:

1. Caribbean (includes Bahamas): 54.8%
2. European Deep Water Cruises (includes Mediterranean, Baltic, Scandinavia and Greek Isles): 10.4%
3. Alaska: 9.1%
4. European Rivers: 5.7%
5. Bermuda: 3.5%
6. Panama Canal: 2.6%
7. Trans-Atlantic: 2.5%
8. Hawaiian Islands: 2.1%
9. South Pacific (includes Australia/New Zealand): 1.8%
10. Canada/New England: 1.2%

Overall, there is little change in the list of top 10 destinations year over year. However, it should be noted that this is the first time "European Rivers" have been broken out as their own category in Cruise Holidays' report. Had it been a separate category, European Rivers would have ranked fifth last year, just behind Bermuda. This year, they edge out Bermuda as the fourth most popular cruise destination. In the Caribbean, Western Caribbean sailings are most popular, followed by Eastern Caribbean and Southern Caribbean, respectively.

"The enthusiasm over river cruising, particularly in Europe, continues to add a new dynamic to the vacation market. Even travelers who have never cruised before seem particularly drawn to river cruises as an attractive alternative to a land tour," said Kevin Weisner, Senior Vice President, Cruise Holidays International.

Cruise Holidays analyzed data from across its network of agencies to see where most river cruise passengers are heading in 2014. The windmills and tulips of The Netherlands, as well as cruises along the Danube and "Grand Tour" cruises of the Rhine, Main and Danube lead the way in popularity. Below is a list of the top five river cruise cities, where voyages either begin or end. The rivers or waterways most commonly associated with these cities are listed below each port, and commonly-booked itinerary lengths are also included:

City, Country% of River Cruise Bookings
1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
"Windmills & Tulips"
Rhine (7-day), Dutch waterways (if roundtrip), some Mosel, Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)
2. Budapest, Hungary
"Grand Tour"
Danube (7-day), Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)
3. Paris, France
Seine (7-day), Rhone (8-10 day), Seine/Rhone (14-day)
4. Basel, Switzerland
"Rhine River Valley"
5. Nuremberg, Germany
5. 4

Most Anticipated Ship
While river cruising proliferates, interest in large, new ocean-going (i.e. deep water) ships is also soaring. In fact, when Cruise Holidays experts were asked which new ship they are anticipating the most in 2014, the overwhelming response was Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas.

This ship will not debut until November 2014, but it opened for booking in May 2013; bookings have been very impressive, according to Cruise Holidays. In fact, the ship accounts for nearly 20% of all Cruise Holidays cruise bookings looking into 2015, the ship's first full year in service.

Best Value in Cruising
Cruise Holidays experts were asked: "In which region do you anticipate the best value in cruising during 2014?" The Caribbean again placed first, with European deep water cruises and European river cruises following. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest sit comfortably in fourth place, followed by trans-Atlantic cruising.

On the topic of pricing, each year, Cruise Holidays experts are asked what their clients' top reasons are for booking a particular cruise. For the fourth consecutive year, itinerary is the most popular response, followed by pricing. But compared to 2013, a full 10% fewer respondents answered that price is a major factor in their cruise decision. This gap has continued to widen each year dating back to 2011.

Results are based on a survey of 133 Cruise Holidays agents from December 5 – December 22, 2013, as well as from actual booking data taken directly from more than 600 Cruise Holidays agents.

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa Debuts Spa And Golf Package

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand - While PGA Tour organizers gear up for the New Zealand Open from February 27 to March 2, 2014, Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa is sharpening its appeal to the fan base with a limited-time golf and spa package.
In the weeks leading up to and following the tournament, the resort, with 220 rooms and suites on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, will offer a special deal for a mid-week escape. Designed for couples, the package includes:
  • Champagne on arrival
  • Overnight accommodation in a Lakeview Room with buffet breakfast
  • One round of golf at Jack's Point Golf Course
  • eforea spa's signature 90-minute Full Body Repair treatment
  • 15 percent off additional spa treatments
  • Complimentary late check-out based on availability
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa is within a 15-minute drive to the two venues co-hosting the tournament. The Hills Golf Course is spread over 500 acres and marked with colossal sculptures - including 111 wolves from Chinese artist Liu Ruowang and Wellington-based Max Patte's towering cast iron horses. Even closer is Millbrook Resort, with three distinct 18- hole combinations. Both are within a 15-minute drive from the hotel.
In addition, Hilton is also the nearest accommodation to Jack's Point, another 18-hole course featuring tussock grasslands and boasting stunning views of emerald-hued Lake Wakatipu and the aptly named Remarkables mountain range. The resort is also conveniently located near Queenstown Golf Club on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. "Queenstown has long been known as an adventure capital, but there's a lot more here than just bungee jumping and jet boating," said Andrew Nisbet, general manager of HiltonQueenstown Resort & Spa. "The New Zealand Open gives us the chance to highlight the world-class courses that Queenstown offers, in some of the world's most scenic surroundings."
The Golf Escape Package is priced at NZ$695 per night and is available Monday through Thursday. Contact Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa for more details and availability buy calling +64 3 450 9400 or visiting www.queenstown.hilton.com.

A New Year’s Eve To Remember At London Hilton On Park Lane

LONDON - London Hilton on Park Lane is kicking off 2014 in style with the launch of its New Year's Eve Dinner menus. Guests can enjoy a taste of the world in the new look paradise of Trader Vic's, or choose from a delicious selection of traditional, seasonal courses at Podium Restaurant and Bar. Located in the very heart of fashionable Mayfair, London Hilton on Park Lane has everything you need for a truly memorable New Year's Eve.
PODIUM RESTAURANT AND BARWith a delicious selection of seasonal menus, Podium Restaurant and Bar has everything covered for an unforgettable New Year's Eve celebration. Guests will ring in the New Year in style with a decadent three-course feast, starting with an amuse-bouche of tempura prawns with a wasabi dressing.
Starters include smoked salmon ballotine, stuffed with pickled vegetables and a mint coriander dressing; and pan seared beef salad with marinated vegetables, enoki mushrooms and a sesame dressing. Mains include lamb rack with pancetta rolled potatoes, aubergine purée and rosemary jus; and steamed monkfish, mash potatoes with braised leek and Nantua sauce. For dessert, guests can enjoy treats such as chocolate and banana soufflé with peanut ice cream; and pink Champagne panacotta. The New Year's Eve Dinner menu is priced at £120 per person; the perfect festive treat to share with friends, family or loved ones.
TRADER VIC'SFor an exotic getaway, guests can escape to Trader Vic's to 'Taste The World®' through exotic cuisines, tropical cocktails and an unforgettable dining experience. With a celebratory Champagne welcome and a five-course Pacific Islands-inspired banquet, Trader Vic's has New Year's Eve covered, from £125 per person.
Courses include seared scallops with sorrel coulis and candied lemon; and seared loin of Angus beef with morel mushrooms, cognac cream, sprouted onion seeds and truffle vinaigrette. Guests with a sweet tooth can indulge in the Meyer lemon cheesecake with Meyer lemon curd filling and Graham cracker crust.
After dinner, diners can enjoy a celebratory drink or two, at the newly refurbished Trader Vic's Tiki bar. Home to the original Mai Tai for the past 50 years, guests can choose from a tempting array of over 80 signature cocktails.
For more information or to book, please call +44 207 208 4127 or email christmas.parklane@hilton.com

Κυριακή, 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Kinzie Hotel Set to Open in Chicago

CHICAGO—The Kinzie Hotel is slated to open here in February following the conversion of the Amalfi Hotel.
The design project, led by Gettys Design Group Chicago was inspired by the city’s first settler and explorer, John Kinzie. All elements, from branding to design, pay tribute to Kinzie’s historical role. Vintage imagery of 19th century Chicago maps and compasses are displayed throughout guestroom wall coverings, paying tribute to the hotel’s exploratory namesake. The navigational branding also speaks to the hotel’s tagline, “Chicago Starts Here,” encouraging guests to explore the city as John Kinzie once did in the early 1800s.

"The Kinzie Hotel is a quintessential Chicago hotel...the hotel incorporates Chicago concepts throughout the design, from intricate vintage map work in the guestrooms, to the carpeting which features a modern interpretation of the city grid,” stated Design Director Ben Nicholas of Gettys Group. “We are excited about the opening of this city-centric hotel – a place where guests can experience a little bit of Chicago with every turn.
The hotel features three intimate, concierge-style guest check-in desks as well as sofa niches along each wall. In the newly renovated 1,500-sq.-ft. lobby, there are spherical, central lighting fixtures that brighten the tone-on-tone gray palette that features metallic grey iridescent tile.
Both the lobby and common areas feature artwork commissioned by local artists, including a gallery component, displaying interpretations of Chicago’s urban landscape. Navy blue and gray colors are on the corridor walls, with deep tones on one wall side and lighter accents on the other.
Kinzie Hotel themed colors and textiles are featured throughout three renovated meeting spaces. Named after Kinzie’s close friend and colleague, Billy Caldwell aka “Sauganash,” the Sauganash Room is a fixed boardroom. A nod to Kinzie’s many pivotal moments at Fort Dearborn, the Dearborn Room is a fixed boardroom. The largest room is Wolf Point, 848 sq. ft. with its name inspired from James Kinzie, the son John Kinzie, who built a tavern by the same name on the west bank of the river at Wolf Point in 1828.

The hotel features 210 standard guestrooms and five suites displaying a color palatte of bright teal, cobalt, crimson and pumpkin. A navigational map representing Chicago in the early 1800s is blended throughout the wall covering above the bed. Adding to the room are the navy blue carpet floors, outlined with hexagonal detailing inspired by Chicago’s cobblestone streets and city grid of Kinzie’s time period. Guestroom lighting is outfitted with sconces resembling city lamp posts, situated adjacent to the king and queen beds.

The guestrooms also feature long, counter-height multipurpose desk units that serve as storage, a desk, and media piece. Renovated bathrooms have new granite countertops, fixtures and portable vanity mirrors.
The Kinzie Hotel is managed by Portfolio Hotels & Resorts

Frankfurt Airport: Lower Charges for Airlines Achieving Passenger Growth with Quieter Aircraft

Fraport AG, the Frankfurt Airport (FRA) company, will reward airlines at FRA – if they deploy modern, low-noise aircraft on international routes and achieve passenger growth of more than one percent per year – with retroactive reductions in airport charges during 2014 and 2015.  Furthermore, each subsequent year will be rewarded with an additional incentive sum, if the airline maintains the previous year’s growth in terms of the absolute number of passengers.  Fraport’s new incentive program has been approved by the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Transport and Urban Development.  Effective January 1, 2014, this program will become an official part of FRA’s Airport Charges Regulation.

“Fraport is already a global leader in establishing a greater range in airport charges based on noise categories. Quiet aircraft are charged less, while loud aircraft pay significantly more. This additional incentive program underscores how we consistently use airport charges as a way to reward airlines that deploy the quietest aircraft possible,” explained Fraport AG’s executive board chairman Dr. Stefan Schulte. Domestic traffic has been intentionally excluded from the new program, because FRA intends to strengthen European and international traffic and hence its role as an intercontinental hub.
Passenger growth is measured in each case on the basis of the previous year’s volume – with continental and intercontinental traffic treated separately.  In the respective traffic segment, an airline is required to transport at least 7,500 departing passengers and achieve at least one percent growth each year.  If these criteria are met, Fraport AG will refund at the end of 2014 and/or 2015 a certain growth-dependent amount to the airline as an incentive for each additional passenger.  Incentives are awarded on a sliding scale from 4 to 10 euros per passenger.  The higher an airline’s passenger growth increase, the higher the amount of the incentive per passenger to be paid.  Furthermore, the incentive amount is higher for intercontinental passengers than for continental passengers.

Fraport only takes into consideration the portion of passenger growth that the airline achieves using low-noise aircraft types.  For continental routes, this means aircraft types classified within noise categories 1 through 11. For intercontinental routes, this means aircraft types grouped in noise categories 1 through 12.  Frankfurt Airport has a total of 16 aircraft noise categories.  Airlines that did not fly to Frankfurt Airport during the past two consecutive timetables are considered “new entrants”.  Thus, for each new route in the FRA schedule these airlines will receive the maximum incentive for each departing passenger exceeding the minimum of 7,500 passengers in the first year.   When these “new entrants” serve an existing route, the amount of the incentive reduces by 50 percent.  Existing routes are defined as all routes that have already been served by any airline in the Summer Timetable 2013 or Winter Timetable 2013/2014.

Transaero Airlines Launches Low Cost Service

In the run-up to the New Year holidays Transaero Airlines has prepared a special present to its clients: in 2014 Transaero will offer a new low cost product called Discount Class.
Starting January 14, 2014 Transaero will offer Discount Class of travel on its flights from Moscow Domodedovo airport to a number of popular destinations including those to Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, Vilnius, Milan, Rome, Tel Aviv, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Novosibirsk, Novy Urengoy, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Stavropol, Tomsk, Ufa, Khanty-Mansiysk, Kiev, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Astana, Almaty, Karaganda, Yerevan.
Transaero will operate Boeing 737-300/400/500 aircraft on the mentioned routes.
Discount Class tickets will include from 10 to 20 kg free luggage allowance, the amount of luggage allowance will depend on the ticket fare.
The low cost services in Discount Class will be provided in accordance with the Federal Aviation Rules of the Russian Federation and will include free onboard meals and drinks which will vary depending on the flight duration (the maximal duration is up to four and half hours). In particular, on all Discount Class flights all passengers will be served refreshing drinks, tea and coffee. On flights lasting no longer than two hours passengers will be served sweet snacks in addition to drinks. On flights operating up to four hours passengers will be served cold meals. On flights with duration longer than four hours passengers will be able to choose among two options of hot meals.
As the airline will operate aircraft in standard two-class configuration, passengers with Discount Class tickets purchased at highest available airfare can enjoy air travel in the Business Class cabin or in the Economy Class cabin with a vacant seat next to his/her seat. They also will be invited to purchase a ticket to the airline’s business lounge at Domodedovo airport at discounted fare.
Discount Class ticket refunds will be made in accordance with the norms and rules set in the Air Code of the Russian Federation.
Discount Class passengers will be offered a choice of free newspapers. The airline will also offer for sale duty free goods on its international flights.
The new product by Transaero Airlines will guarantee the reasonable balance of comfort and affordable ticket prices.
Apart from Discount Class flights Transaero Airlines will continue offering full service on all of its flights operated from Moscow Vnukovo Airport including Imperial, Business, Premium, Economy and Tourist classes of service.
For more information please visit Transaero Airline’s official web-site: www.transaero.ru/en.

New passenger record in Berlin / For the first time, more than 26 million passengers

The strong growth continues: shortly before the turn of the year, the 26-millionth passenger was welcomed today at Berlin’s airports. Paola Mora was just about to fly with airberlin from Berlin Tegel to New York JFK to cele-brate her birthday and spend New Year’s Eve there when she checked in as the 26-millionth passenger. To celebrate the occasion, airberlin is giving the 25-year-old a USA flight voucher for two people. Last year’s mark of 25.3 million passengers has thus been surpassed by a clear margin. At the same time, Berlin’s airports are growing more strongly than the market for the eleventh time in succession.

“26 million passengers in Berlin is a new record. With its Schönefeld and Tegel airports, Berlin is the only major air transport location in Germany to experience passenger growth of around four per cent this year,” says Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH.

“Berlin Tegel Airport is airberlin’s home. Our first flight took off here in 1979, and we have our largest international hub here. The keen interest of passengers here in Berlin shows the appeal of this air transport location and the necessity for swift expansion of the airport infrastructure,” says Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO of airberlin.

airberlin will be continuing to increase its flight frequency to the USA in the 2014 summer flight schedule. In May 2014, the airline will offer the successful Berlin Tegel to New York JFK route ten times a week non-stop and the Berlin Tegel to Chicago connection daily non-stop

Aeroflot announces traffic statistics for November and 11M 2013

Aeroflot standalone
  • Aeroflot (the “Company”) passenger traffic reached 1.7 million passengers in November 2013, up 17.8% vs. November 2012.  This brought the Company’s total passenger traffic for 11M 2013 to 19.3 million, up 18.5% year-on-year;
  • Passenger turnover growth accelerated in November 2013, up 14.8% year-on-year to 4.7 billion revenue passenger kilometres, while growth for the 11M period of 2013 was up 19.7% compared to 11M 2012;
  • Passenger load factor in November 2013 remained in line with levels in November 2012 and amounted to 75.8%;
  • Aeroflot has added new aircraft to its fleet in 2013, including eight Airbus A320, three Airbus A321, two Boeing 737-800 and four Boeing 777, which also contributed to an increase in capacity of 14.5% in November 2013 vs. November 2012. 
Aeroflot Group:
  • Aeroflot Group’s (the “Group”) passenger traffic for November 2013 was 2.4 million passengers, up 12.6% from November 2012; the Group’s total passenger traffic for 11M 2013 reached 29.1 million, up 14.3% year-on-year;
  • The Group’s passenger turnover growth in November 2013 was 6.4% year-on-year, reaching 6.4 billion revenue passenger kilometres for the month, and passenger turnover was up 14.9% year-on-year for the 11M period;
  • Aeroflot Group’s passenger load factor declined slightly in November 2013 to 75.6%, down 0.4 pp from November 2012. This was due to capacity additions at Group subsidiaries Orenair and Rossiya outstripping growth in passenger turnover.
Other highlights:
  • Aeroflot suspended operations of its cargo plane fleet in 2013, switching to belly cargo operations.  This was the main factor driving the 22.6% decline in tonnes of cargo carried in November 2013 from November 2012;

The tables below provide key operating results for Aeroflot and Aeroflot Group.
Aeroflot standalone
11M 2013
11M 2012
Passengers carried (000s)
Revenue seat km (mln)
Available seat km (mln)
Passenger load factor
Cargo + mail carried (tonnes)
Revenue cargo ton kilometres (mln)
Available cargo ton kilometres (mln)
Revenue load factor

Aeroflot Group traffic figures
November 2013
November 2012
11M 2013
11M 2012
Passengers carried (000s)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Revenue seat km (mln)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Available seat km (mln)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Passenger load factor
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Cargo + mail carried (tonnes)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Revenue cargo ton kilometres (mln)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Available cargo tonne kilometres (mln)
     Of which international
     Of which domestic
Revenue load factor
     Of which international
     Of which domestic