Δευτέρα, 30 Ιουνίου 2014

W Hotels Worldwide reveals multi-million dollar reimagining of W Chicago - Lakeshore

CHICAGO - W Hotels Worldwide and Chesapeake Lodging Trust unveiled the full-scale, $38 million renovation of W Chicago – Lakeshore, which combines the energy of the ‘Windy City’ with the glittering waters of Lake Michigan. The only hotel located on iconic Lake Shore Drive in the heart of the city, W Chicago – Lakeshore has transformed all 520 guestrooms and its signature Living Room experience; expanded its 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space to include three new outdoor spaces; and introduced a new signature restaurant, CURRENT, with Executive Chef Gregory Elliott at the helm.

“W Chicago – Lakeshore has been reimagined to reflect iconic architecture and vibrancy of Chicago, pulling inspiration from the 24/7 energy of the W brand DNA,” said Anthony Ingham, Vice President, North America Global Brand Management, W Hotels. “With new cutting-edge designs and reinvigorated bar, restaurant and event spaces throughout, the reveal of W Chicago – Lakeshore is a true milestone in our strategy to ensure W Hotels around the country deliver a dynamic lifestyle experience for both guests and locals alike.”

“We are very proud of our transformation of this incredible hotel,” said Jim Francis, President and CEO of Chesapeake. “The project’s end result captures all the design and energy elements we had hoped for and so much more.”

The transformation of W Chicago – Lakeshore is a key project in the second wave of renovation projects, part of the W brand’s plan to reinvigorate its iconic North American portfolio. The aggressive strategy includes a significant investment by the W brand and its ownership groups with cutting-edge updates to public spaces, new signature bar and restaurant concepts, and stylish guestroom refreshes in key markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Mexico City and Washington DC.

Cutting-edge Designs Combine with Premier Lake Views
New York-based interior design and architecture firm Meyer Davis Design and Starwood's award-winning design team collaborated to redesign W Chicago – Lakeshore to reflect the incredible views of the hotel, combining the shimmering beauty of Lake Michigan with the urban environment of the city. The guestrooms draw the eye to the lake’s reflections and the illumination of Chicago with each window featuring a seamless window frame. The color palate is a blend of soft tones, which allow for the views to pop and serve as the focal point of the room. Additionally, the light fixtures were changed to chandeliers to reflect and amplify the light and views, and mirrors were added to the walls for yet another reflective design element.

The decor in the public spaces reflect the W brand’s urban New York City roots, merged with the vibrancy of Chicago. The Living Room has undergone a bold transformation, including a completely revamped layout to increase the space flow and energy. A spray can mural acts as an accent behind the Welcome Desk, a historical nod to the aerosol can, which originated in Chicago and is now used in modern day street art. The Living Room was broken into smaller circular lounges that have the opportunity to create social gathering spaces. A central point to the lounge is a circular DJ booth, that creates a dynamic energy to the space as guests enjoy activities of the restaurant, bar and Living Room.

The hotel also expanded its 14,000 square feet of meeting space to include an additional venue on the two top floor spaces; Altitude and Skyline. Altitude offers 360 degree views of the lake and city with floor to ceiling windows, and Skyline, a new adjacent space for even more flexibility with meetings and social events.

“Meyer Davis is excited to present the redesign of W Chicago – Lakeshore, which utilizes the textural and light qualities distinct to its Lakeshore Drive location,” said Patrick Martin, project designer at Meyer Davis. “Our concept showcases the confluence of a vibrant world class city meeting the serene edge of Lake Michigan.”

CURRENT – A Social, Italian-Inspired Restaurant
As part of the renovation, W Chicago - Lakeshore has debuted CURRENT (also designed by Meyer Davis), a fresh, modern take on seasonal Italian cuisine showcasing Chef Gregory Elliott’s simple and soulful ingredient-driven dishes. Full of seasonal, Italian-influenced flavors with a modern twist, highlights from the menu include house-made Stracci pasta with wild mushrooms, pecorino and oregano; Sea Urchin Risotto with scallops and tarragon; and Grilled Slagel Family Farm Pork Chop, a 15 oz. bone-in ribeye with lardo-rosemary pesto.

“Having worked in this location leading up to the opening of CURRENT, we really developed our menus with our guests in mind,” explained Chef Elliott, who has worked at some of the most renowned kitchens in the country, including Brannan's Grill in Napa Valley, one sixtyblue, Ambria and Lockwood restaurants in Chicago. “Pair our made-in-house pastas, pizza and salumi with our hand-crafted Italian cocktails, boutique wine list and array of local microbrews, and you can’t go wrong.”

In 2012, 85% of trips abroad by EU residents were in Europe

In 2012, EU28 residents made 1.2 billion trips of one night or more. Almost half of these trips (48%) were for holidays and leisure, 35% for visits to relatives and friends, 13% for business and 4% for other reasons. The average trip length was 5.2 nights. The most common means of transport for trips was private or rented cars (65%), followed by air planes (15%), trains (12%), buses (6%) and water vessels (2%).

Of the number of total trips, 76% were made within the country of residence (domestic trips), while 24% were made outside (outbound trips). For these outbound trips, the main destination for EU28 residents was clearly Europe (85.4%), then followed Asia (4.5%), Africa (4.1%), North America (3.8%), Central and South America (1.9%) and Oceania (0.4%). More specifically, the top 3 destinations for outbound trips for residents of the EU28 were Spain, France and Italy. 

These figures come from an online publication2, Tourism trips of Europeans, from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. This publication has six chapters: characteristics of tourism trips, participation in tourism, top destinations, seasonality, expenditure and intra-EU tourism flows.

Highest share of domestic trips for residents of Romania, Spain and Greece
The highest shares of trips of EU residents within their country (domestic trips) were observed in Romania (95%), Spain and Greece (both 92%), Portugal (90%) and France (89%). On the other hand, the largest proportions of trips abroad (outbound trips) were registered by residents of Luxembourg (97%), Belgium (78%), Malta (60%) and Slovenia (55%).

The average length of stay varied from more than seven nights for residents of Greece (7.5 nights), Cyprus (7.2) and Belgium (7.1) to less than four nights for residents of Latvia (3.1), Finland (3.4), Denmark (3.6) and Hungary (3.7).

Residents of eleven Member States have Spain in their top three outbound destination
In all EU28 Member States, the top destination of outbound trips made by residents in 2012 was a neighboring or nearby country, except for residents of Romania (Italy was the top destination) and the United Kingdom (Spain).

Among the top three outbound destinations of trips, Spain was among the top three for residents of eleven Member States, Germany of ten Member States, Italy of nine, France of eight, the United Kingdom of seven and Croatia of four.

Cars are the most common way of travelling for all Member States with shares ranging from 38% for residents of Romania to 84% for Slovenia

Cars were the main means of transport for trips in 2012 for all Member States except for Malta3, with the highest shares for residents of Slovenia (84% of all trips), Portugal (80%), Spain (78%), the Czech Republic (75%), France (73%) and Hungary (71%). For air transport, the highest proportions were observed for residents of Malta (57%), Cyprus (45%), Ireland (42%), Luxembourg (36%) and the United Kingdom (28%), and for rail Romania (17%), France (16%), Germany and the United Kingdom (both 14%). For buses, the largest shares were registered for residents of Romania (38%), Bulgaria (23%) and Estonia (21%), and for water transport Malta (43%), Greece (14%) and Estonia (13%).

United Airlines' Automated Passport Control Kiosks reduce customs wait times for New York travelers

NEWARK, N.J. - United Airlines customers returning to the United States through Newark Liberty International Airport may now enjoy a faster, more flyer-friendly customs experience. The airline has installed 20 Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks by BorderXpress in the Terminal C customs hall at its Newark Liberty hub – the New York area's premier international gateway.

United's new APC kiosks expedite the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) entry process by enabling United customers to scan their passport and complete their customs declaration before proceeding to a CBP officer. The kiosks significantly reduce customs wait times, accelerating the screening process by an average of 89 percent according to Vancouver Airport Authority, which manufactures the units.

"This technology will offer our customers shorter wait times, less congestion and faster flight connections," said Don Wright, the airline's vice president at Newark Liberty. "We're pleased to bring Automated Passport Control to our New York-area hub, and we will continue to invest in services that provide more choice, control and convenience to our global customers."

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection places a significant value on our public-private partnerships, and we continue to collaborate on innovations to improve the international arrivals process," said Robert E. Perez, director of CBP's New York Field Operations. "The Automated Passport Control kiosks are a prime example of our efforts to deploy a solution that is mutually beneficial for CBP, airline carriers, airport authorities and international air travelers."

United customers who use the kiosks follow a set of simple on-screen instructions to obtain a receipt confirming their identity and flight information. Passengers then bring the receipt and their passport to a CBP officer for final processing.

United has rolled out APC kiosks at its hubs in Chicago and Houston over the past year and plans to deploy an additional 10 units at Newark Liberty in the coming weeks. The service is free to all international travelers with a U.S. or Canadian passport and does not require pre-registration.

The faster processing for these travelers results in more efficient processing for all United customers arriving on international flights at Newark Liberty.

"We are proud to partner with United Airlines, the largest carrier at Newark Liberty International Airport, to launch Automated Passport Control technology," said Craig Richmond, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority. "BorderXpress kiosks will help expedite the border clearance process, cutting wait times in half and lowering operating costs, while improving the customs experience for travelers and airport personnel alike."

United in New York / New Jersey
United and United Express offer more flights and more seats from the New York area to more cities around the world than any other airline. This summer, United and United Express will operate nearly 500 daily departures from the three major New York-area airports to more than 150 destinations – the most in North America, the most across the Atlantic, the most across the Pacific and the most to and from Latin America.

United also offers the most flat-bed seats and extra-legroom economy-class seating from the New York area. The airline offers frequent daily service from the New York-area airports to top business travel markets including Chicago, Houston, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

US hotels experience healthy growth in both bookings and rate

NEW YORK – The transient segment, which consists of individual business and leisure travelers, continues to be the driver of significant growth in the hotel market this summer season according to data from the June 2014 TravelClick North American Hospitality Review (NAHR). However, the transient segment isn’t the only driver as the group segment (blocks of hotel rooms) is displaying slow but steady growth.

“As we get further into the summer, average daily rates (ADR) and occupancy continue to look strong across all travel segments,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management of TravelClick. “Compared to this time last year, the hotel industry is really feeling the benefits of a stronger economy, and there’s a renewed desire for people to take advantage of the summer weather and travel.”

12 Month Outlook (June 2014 – May 2015)
For the next 12 months (June 2014 – May 2015), overall committed occupancy is up 3.2 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 3.6 percent based on reservations currently on the books.

Transient bookings are up 4.2 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.1 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 3.8 percent and ADR gains of 5.9 percent. The transient business (negotiated and retail) segment is up 4.4 percent with an ADR increase of 4.2 percent. Group segment occupancy is ahead by 2.8 percent and ADR is flat (up 0.2 percent), compared to the same time last year.

Hach continued, “Typically the third quarter is very strong for transient leisure travel and weaker for group travel, as people take their vacations during these summer months and are less likely to travel for large meetings and conventions. However, the group segment is seeing healthy gains in both ADR and occupancy, signifying the strength of the overall market.”

The June NAHR looks at group sales commitments and individual reservations in the 25 major North American markets for hotel stays that are booked by June 1, 2014 from the period of June to 2014 to May 2015.

Committed Occupancy – Transient rooms reserved + group rooms committed)/capacity
Reserved Occupancy – Total number of rooms reserved/capacity

The Second quarter combines historical (April – June) and the Third quarter combines forward looking data (July – September)

London sees property boom with hotel sector set to grow further, says HVS

London is in the midst of a property boom and looks set to become one of the world?s leading hotel markets, as strong growth in leisure demand turns the capital city into an increasingly popular tourist destination.

This was the conclusion of an HVS London Update breakfast seminar held last week at the Charlotte Street Hotel, attended by over 70 hotel operators, analysts and investors. The event was part of a series of market briefings organised globally by HVS.

Charles Human managing director of property specialist HVS Hodges Ward Elliott presented a positive outlook for the capital, prompted by a population increase that is currently higher than that of either New York or Paris.

Tourism in the capital will be further boosted from increased Chinese demand as an improved visa procedure is implemented for Chinese visitors.

"London has a shortage of hotel stock on the market, which pushes both demand and prices higher and means that development costs are lower than acquisition costs. The capital also has a high proportion of poor quality hotels which needs replacing - either as hotels, or residential units," said Human.

"London has enjoyed a strong return since the financial crisis and, with the exception of Paris, is the only European gateway city outperforming its peak pre-crisis RevPAR (revenue per available rooms) levels. In 2013 London was the most invested city in the world in terms of commercial real estate."

The audience heard how lending for hotel development had become easier to access with more competition amongst established lenders. However, most of the key deals in London hotels had been secured on an all-cash basis with the intention of future refinancing when the time is right.

As London itself spreads - with expansion towards the East and the South, hotel development is shifting towards new areas, particularly those with high corporate and residential growth such as the East and North.

In a discussion chaired by HVS chairman Russell Kett involving senior executives from Starwood Capital, Precis Holdings, citizenM and London & Regional Properties, the panel debated how it is leisure rather than corporate demand that is currently of more interest to hoteliers, as corporate rates have been relatively static over recent years.

This, the audience heard, was an advantage to the sector as leisure demand is easier to yield than corporate rates, which have little flexibility due to last-room availability and fixed contracts.

Passport crisis provides boost for staycation tourism in the UK

The passport crisis is providing an unexpected boost to the domestic tourism industry as more people are looking at staycation style alternatives, according to outdoor accommodation specialist Pitchup.com.

Founder Dan Yates says the 5,000 UK outdoor sites listed on Pitchup.com have seen a surge in demand as families look to stay closer to home rather than risk cancellation and disappointment. This is in the wake of stats produced by the Office of National Statistics, in its International Passenger Survey, concluding that foreign holiday trips in 2013 were down 17% from their 2008 peak. Holiday trips are down a further 3% this year, compared to 2013.

“There is already such a huge backlog of passport applications that many realising their holiday overseas might be at risk are looking at the UK – which is great news for the economy and rural businesses,” says Yates.

“There is so much going on this summer – from family festivals to great sporting events like the Commonwealth Games and Tour de France. People are looking to explore the UK and enjoy all it has to offer.”

Yates also said campsites on Pitchup.com that offer free cancellation are seeing a boost in bookings, suggesting some holidaymakers might be hedging their bets and taking out their own form of holiday insurance should the passports fail to arrive in time.

“Many of our accommodation providers don’t charge cancellation fees and this is great news for the consumer,” said Yates.

“The accommodation available around the UK is a world away from the sites I visited as a kid, with amazing facilities and great glamping getaways.

“I think 2014 could be a landmark year for the industry as more people rediscover the pleasures of the Great British countryside.”

5 Reason To Stay In The UK In 2014
  • Great Events – From Glastonbury to Glasgow, this summer the UK will be home to world-class music, sporting and cultural events.
  • No Passport Required – Forget cancelled holidays and crying kids, just Pitchup at any of 5,000 fabulous UK campsites, glampsites and holiday parks.
  • The Weather – 2014 looks like being another great year for getting outdoors.
  • Take The Pets – More than 65% of the sites listed on Pitchup.com allow dogs, so you save on expensive kennel costs and take the whole family along.
  • No Limits – Want to take the kitchen sink? No problem. You won’t pay extra for your baggage or only have room for the basics when touring around Britain.

TripAdvisor reveals America's top value destinations for summer vacation rental stays

NEWTON, MASS. - TripAdvisor announced the results of its TripIndex Vacation Rentals, revealing that Palm Springs, California and Orlando, Florida are the most affordable U.S. spots for vacation rental getaways this summer.

The TripIndex Vacation Rentals compares the price of a summer trip for a family of four in 15 popular vacation rental destinations throughout the U.S., including the combined average costs of a weeklong stay in a two-bedroom vacation rental property, a one-day bike rental, basic groceries, and dinner at a restaurant.

"For those traveling with family or a group, vacation rentals can be a great way to cut down on accommodation costs while enjoying some of the creature comforts of home," said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. "With sizzling summer temperatures in Palm Springs, the TripIndex reveals that travelers can discover cool prices in the desert for budget-friendly vacation rental stays."

Head South to Save This Summer  
Palm Springs is the most affordable destination on the list with a total TripIndex cost of $1,256, but has a slightly more expensive weekly vacation rental rate ($1,035) than Orlando, the second most affordable spot (weekly rental, $1,022).
Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach and Sanibel Island round out the top five most affordable U.S. spots for vacation rentals, coming in with TripIndex totals of $1,399, $1,434, and $1,486 respectively.
Four of the five least expensive destinations are located in the sunbaked Southeast and collectively feature an average price that is 27 percent below the TripIndex average.

Ritzy Rentals
At a total cost of $3,661, Martha's Vineyard is the most expensive destination on the TripIndex; the famous island is nearly three times pricier than Palm Springs, the most affordable spot on the list.
Nearly one-third cheaper than Martha's Vineyard, La Jolla is the second most expensive spot with a total TripIndex price tag of $2,497.
Miami Beach, Maui and Chatham round out the top five priciest places for a summer rental respite, coming in at $2,465, $2,278 and $2,120, respectively.

Hotwire survey reveals that Americans spend nearly $18b. on "Obli-cations"

SAN FRANCISCO - Hotwire.com revealed more results from its third annual American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Poll in October 2013 among over 2,000 U.S. adults. According to the survey, American adults spent nearly $185 billion1 on trips they felt obliged to take2 during the last 12 months. With so much money allocated to obligatory travel, travelers may be thinking about putting off the fun trips they want to take. Fortunately, the travel experts at Hotwire have compiled a list of 10 fantastic destinations that offer the most affordable hotel options during the latter half of summer—all of which are showing average nightly rates of less than $100 a night.

"Every year, many Americans set aside travel budgets only to find that obligatory events like weddings, birthdays and even holidays often hinder their leisure trip plans," said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire Group. "That's where we come in; Hotwire is a great resource for making either 'obli-cations' or vacations more affordable, and late summer looks like the perfect time to take the latter, with an array of popular destinations offering some stellar deals."

A further breakdown on how much money American adults spent on obligation travel in the past 12 months includes:

  • Spent an average of $32 billion3 on obligation trips for birthdays
  • Spent an average of $20 billion4 on obligation trips to weddings of family and friends
  • Spent an average of $11 billion5 on obligation trips for reunions
  • Spent an average of $7 billion6 on obligation trips for baby/wedding showers.

No matter what type of trip they've had to take, obligatory travelers will be delighted to hear that mid-to late-summer discounts are deep enough for them to fit the "just for fun" trip they've been desiring (and deserve) into their budget. Of the 25 most popular destinations during mid- to late-summer, here are the top 10 most affordable, based on average nightly rates for hotels:  

TripAdvisor TripIndex Vacation Rentals 
        DestinationAvg. Hotel Price on Hotwire*
  1. Orlando, Florida
  1. Reno – Tahoe
  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
  1. Prague, Czech Republic
  1. Atlanta, Georgia
  1. Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas
  1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  1. St. Louis, Missouri

* The 10 destinations and average prices for mid- to late-summer are based on hotel bookings made on Hotwire.com from 5/1- 6/11/14 for travel between 8/1-9/30/14 compared to bookings made on Hotwire from 5/1 - 6/11/13 for travel between 8/1-9/30/13.

Κυριακή, 29 Ιουνίου 2014

New York MICE industry flourishing with innovative products

With rising delegate numbers and hotel and venue development continuing at a rapid pace, NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization provides an update on New York City news that is relevant to the meeting and events industries.

As a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Meetings Mean Business Coalition, NYC & Company promotes meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) industry travel to New York City, emphasizing the importance of face-to-face meetings and events throughout the five boroughs.

New York City Sees Rise in Delegates

The number of meetings and convention delegates traveling to New York City has increased, with preliminary research showing that delegate visitation is up 5.9 million in 2013—from 5.6 million in 2012—and delegate spending estimated at $5.0 billion—up from $4.7 billion in 2012. These figures are made up of domestic visitors traveling 50 miles or more and spending at least one night in the City, plus international delegates. China, the UK, Japan, France, Germany, Colombia and Brazil are among the top international markets for delegate travel to New York City.

Delegates visited New York City to attend events at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Piers 92 and 94, major hotels and other venues across the five boroughs.

“New York City is breaking visitation records year over year, and we are on track to receive more than 55 million visitors to the five boroughs during 2014,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company“Meeting and convention delegates are incredibly important contributors to this ongoing success, and New York City continues to develop MICE product to accommodate these growing numbers.”

“We believe New York City is the best place in the world to do business and are committed to driving further increases by showcasing the City’s variety, flexibility, value and vibrancy when you Make it NYC,” added Jerry Cito, senior vice president for Convention Development at NYC & Company. “Face-to-face meetings are key to form successful business relationships, and New York City offers a variety of settings throughout the five boroughs to do so.”

New York City Venue Update

From ultramodern skyscrapers to historic houses, New York City has a wide range of venues across all five boroughs available to suit any group size, budget and style of event. Some recent and upcoming openings are listed below.

  • Above, Staten Island’s only rooftop ballroom, opened in summer 2012 at the borough’s Hilton Garden Inn. With 20-foot floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views, the rooftop space also features an outdoor terrace, cabanas, lounge seating, fire pits and more. The 6,500-square-foot rooftop ballroom accommodates 325 guests for dining and dancing.

  • BRIC Arts / Media House opened its new 40,000-square-foot multi-disciplinary facility in the former Strand Theatre at 647 Fulton Street in Brooklyn in October 2013. BRIC House offers a variety of venues for events ranging up to 440 people, including the BRIC House Ballroom, Artist Studio & Workspace, and Gallery, Cafe & Stoop.

  • Convene opened its fourth New York City conference space, 101 Park Avenue, in the Grand Central Terminal vicinity, in January 2014. The new location can serve groups from two to 160 and includes seven specialized meeting rooms designed to meet various needs.

  • One World Observatory will open at One World Trade Centre in spring of 2015. The Observatory will occupy floors 100–102, approximately 1,250 feet above street level, offering 360-degree views of New York City and the surrounding area. The venue’s website, www.oneworldobservatory.com, will be developed in phases throughout 2015; however, inquiries for private events for 10 to 450 guests are already being accepted.

  • Pier a Harbour House, located where Battery Park meets the Hudson River, is due to open in the summer of 2014. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated New York City landmark. The third floor offers views of the Lower Manhattan waterfront and the Financial District skyline and is dedicated for special-event use.

  • Queens Museum reopened in November 2013 in Flushing Meadows Corona Park after an extensive refurbishment, which doubled its size to 100,000 square feet. The museum’s collection includes a famous panorama of the City of New York and The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, along with permanent exhibitions on the two World’s Fairs held in the park 50 and 75 years ago. Events marking the anniversaries of these two major fairs are being held all summer long in Queens.

  • The Rainbow Room, an iconic New York City venue, is scheduled to reopen at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the fall of 2014—80 years after the venue original opened in 1934. Known as a hangout for high society and A-list names, the Rainbow Room is situated on the 65th floor. Its signature design elements, including the famed crystal chandelier and revolving dance floor, have been preserved. The venue can accommodate private events for up to 300 guests.

  • Tavern on the Green, the landmark restaurant in Central Park, reopened at the end of April 2014 following a two-year refurbishment. Housed in a historic building constructed in 1870, the restaurant is available for private and corporate events for 10 to 1,000 guests.

  • Wave Hill House, part of Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural centre overlooking the Hudson River in the Bronx, reopened in the summer of 2013 after undergoing transformative improvements to restore major portions of the historic mansion and provide state-of-the-art amenities for conferences and celebrations. The original house was built in 1843 in the style of an English country residence.

New York City Hotel Update

New York City ended 2013 with more than 500 hotels and more than 96,000 rooms as the City continued to expand its room inventory. This year has already seen a number of new openings adding an additional 1,000 rooms. There are 34 new properties currently scheduled to open later in 2014, which will take the City to approximately 104,500 rooms by year-end. Hotel development is planned for all five boroughs. Growing visitor figures kept hotel occupancy at over 87% during 2013—the highest in the nation.

Hotel openings in 2014 include Be Hotel NYCThe Broome NYCCitizenMCrowne Plaza JFKHilton Garden Inn Central Park SouthThe Paper Factory HotelThe Parc Hotel, The William Hotel and Wyndham New Yorker.

Upcoming openings for the remainder of 2014 include The Park Hyatt New York, a new build project on 57th Street close to the recently opened The Quin and The Viceroy hotels and the long-established Le Parker MeridienThe Knickerbocker Hotel, also projected to open this summer, will join the Leading Hotels of the World following its opening in a historic property by Times Square. Starwood will open its third Aloft branded hotel in Lower Manhattan, Aloft Financial District, while Hilton has multiple properties under development.

New York City Travel and Transportation Update

The 7 Subway Line in New York City is being extended west to 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue, directly opposite the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s Far West Side. The new station will be a convenient addition for delegates attending events at NYC’s largest convention facility and signifies the future development of Manhattan’s Far West Side. New housing, restaurants and entertainment options are being planned for the area.

Millbrook Resort installs New Zealand’s first state-of-the-art GPS system for golf carts

Queenstown’s award-winning Millbrook Resort is once again leading the way in world-class guest experiences investing in a state-of-the-art GPS system for its brand new fleet of golf carts.
Cementing its position as New Zealand’s best hotel and the leading golf resort in Australasia, the significant venture makes the resort the first club in the country to use such technology.
The cloud-based Golf Pilot system, created by GPS Systems International, uses Samsung TAB devices and employs cutting-edge technology to enhance players’ golf game while also providing some nifty safety features for management.
Each of the resort’s 50 Yamaha carts is now fitted with a slick white Samsung Golf Pilot unit which is mounted to the front windscreen and links to the main computer dashboard in the resort’s Pro Shop.

Once players set-off for their round the visually striking and interactive Golf Pilot system kicks into action and starts tracking the cart’s location through the resort. It enables players to see where they are on the course, highlights course no-go areas, shows pro-tips on how best to play the hole and players can measure the distance to any point of interest including bunkers and the pin on the green. Back at the pro shop, the interactive and real-time map shows management where each of the carts are at any given time, meaning they can move slow players on and even call players back if they’re unlikely to finish before dark.

To ensure players stay on track while on course an audible warning sounds whenever a cart approaches an area where it’s not allowed to go such as greens or a nature area. Course overview maps highlight course play areas to prevent players inadvertently losing their way.
The innovative service makes a game of golf at the resort even more interactive and engaging. Other unique features include live local weather and radar maps, two-way communication and messaging between the cart and pro shop — ideal for providing information and assistance, severe weather updates and answering player’s questions or responding to an on-course emergency.
The system offers additional services for guests such as video or static adverts shown during play which highlight the resort’s additional activities like restaurants, the spa and accommodation, and can even show special offers that players can take advantage of.

Millbrook Resort head of golf Brian Spicer said the system was an “exciting development” for the resort. “There’s been a significant increase in the availability of GPS devices for golf courses over the past five years. We’re always looking at creative ways of being innovative and Golf Pilot is a great system that takes Millbrook to another level technology wise,” said Mr Spicer.
“Our members and guests expect the best when they visit and play at Millbrook so it’s imperative we deliver and maintain our reputation as one of the world’s best golf courses. We’re amazed with its scope and it’s so simple to use. Guests and members who’ve experienced it so far love it. It really adds another unique element to your game.”
At a later stage players at Millbrook Resort will be able to use the system to order food and beverage on course which can be delivered direct to the golf cart, be ready for when players come off the course or quick half-way refreshment when they cross over between nine holes.
Future enhancements will allow players to upload pictures and score cards direct to social media and the system’s built-in scorecard will be available to print over wireless WiFi rather than using old-fashioned ‘pen and paper’ cards.

In its continued investment in its business, Millbrook Resort recently upgraded its internet system to ensure faster access and now provides free WiFi across the resort for guests.
Millbrook Resort head golf professional Allan McKay said his favourite Golf Pilot feature as a player was the interactive “cross hair” target.

“This is so accurate. It’s interactive so you can drag it to your golf ball and see what the layup distance is to any target you choose and what the distance is from there to the green. It’s gold. From a manager’s point of view, the ability to know the location of every cart in the fleet is crucial and extremely important on a 500 acre resort. We can clearly see how far the last player is from finishing and if someone has taken a cart back to their room and forgotten to return it.”

Golf Pilot can operate in up to sixty different languages including Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Dutch, Spanish and French — perfect for Millbrook Resort which hosts guests and players from around the globe.

“The multi-lingual facility is a huge benefit for us. We’ve already had great feedback from international players who love the fact they can play a round and have guidance in their own language. Golf Pilot is a priceless asset and yet another unique feature of playing at Millbrook,” said Mr McKay.

Brand USA promotes ‘food tourism’ in US

With the recent release of Discover America: Great American Food Stories culinary guide, Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, is launching its culinary initiative aimed at promoting gastro-tourism and showcasing the U.S. as a top culinary destination for world travelers.
“American cuisine captures inspiration from all over the world, truly embodying the diversity and history of the United States,” said Christopher L. Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA. “We’re excited to invite travelers to experience the culinary highlights of each region of the country.”
The Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, established in 2012 in cooperation with the James Beard Foundation, collaborated with Brand USA to produce the guide, which is published in six languages. The guide features thirty-one James Beard affiliated chefs with recipes from all regions of the U.S.
Five of the chefs featured in the culinary guide will travel to five different key markets in Asia. The chefs’ travel will coincide with U.S. Independence Day celebrations at U.S missions in China, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. The participating chefs include: Rick Bayless of Chicago, IL; Tory McPhail of New Orleans, LA; Barbara Lynch of Boston, MA; Bryce Gilmore of Austin, TX; and Sam Kass of Washington, D.C. The guide will be available in other markets where Brand USA has representation.

Seychelles’ beach recognized by TripAdvisor Best Beach Award

Seychelles, renowned for its beaches that are described to be of exceptional beauty, has received an award from Trip Advisor at the 2014 Travelers' Choice (TM) Awards for Beaches.
Anse Lazio beach on Praslin Island in the Seychelles is listed at the TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers' Choice (TM) Awards for Beaches.
Other beaches that have also been listed in this Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice:- Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, Flamenco Beach, Culebra in Puerto Rico, Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa in Italy, Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island in Australia, Playa de ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain, Hawaii’s Lanikai Beach, Kailua in Oahu, Rhossili Bay in Swansea Wales and Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres Mexico.
Winners of the Travelers' Choice Beaches Award were chosen based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor gathered over a 12-month period.
Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture has welcomed the latest recognition of the island's beaches. "We are known to be a country promoting eco-tourism since the launch of our tourism industry. We intensified our conservation approach declaring over 50% of our total land are as protected National Parks and embarking on the sustainable tourism approach. Today the world at large are recognising the tenacity with which the People of Seychelles have embraced the concept of being seen to be good custodians of the natural beauty of our mid-ocean islands" said Minister St.Ange

Beer Prices Around The World: The Cheapest, Most Expensive and Most Popular Beer Brands

If you’re traveling and you enjoy a couple bottles of beer, this infographic will help you find the country where you can get really cheap “vitamin D shots”.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to Central/Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia; both regions can get you drunk really cheap. Vietnam and Ukraine are the hands-down winners with beer at fifty nine cents per bottle. Other beer-friendly countries include: Cambodia, Czech Republic, China, Serbia, and Panama.
On the other hand, if you’re a heavy drinker, better avoid the Middle East. Not because alcohol is officially banned in many countries there (you can drink in designated places), but they have the priciest beers in the world. In Iran one beer is equivalent to 13 bottles in Ukraine!

Europe to Host First-Ever International Conference on Halal Tourism

Europe is hosting the first-ever international conference on halal tourism to look at how the industry can capitalise on one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.
htc14The Halal Tourism Conference, which is being held on 22 and 23 September 2014, will bring together the global travel industry to discuss ways of tapping into this niche market.
The event, which is being hosted in Andalucia, Spain, aims to equip delegates with market intelligence, industry forecasts and trends to understand how to market to the lucrative Muslim consumer and benefit commercially.
According to the latest figures, the halal tourism sector was worth $140 billion in 2013 representing around 13% of global travel expenditures. This figure is expected to reach $192 billion by 2020.
Organiser Tasneem Mahmood, from CMM, said the conference hopes to have attendance and representation from every region of the world and presents great opportunities for countries like Turkey.
She said: “This is a groundbreaking event for halal tourism which is directly reacting to current market trends and addressing the needs of the industry. It is the first time such a global event is being staged looking at halal tourism in detail. For a country like Turkey, with a deep Islamic heritage and so much to offer, it presents a real opportunity to attract visitors.
“Every country and business needs to look at Halal tourism because it is growing so rapidly and the Muslim consumer is increasing spend on leisure holidays.
“Our research has shown there are so many countries and travel operators who can benefit from halal tourism but are currently missing out. Within Europe alone, and Gulf countries there so many Muslim travellers for Turkey to target. This conference will show the opportunities that are present and show you exactly how to grab them.
“It will be an excellent knowledge forum and an ideal platform for exchange of experience between experts in the industry and countries who are actively engaged in halal tourism.
“This conference will also be a great way to network with leisure and travel businesses from around the world to develop new partnerships.”
The two day event hopes to attract tourism boards, tour agencies, tour operators, restaurants, media, hotels, airlines and suppliers to the travel sector. The event will also feature seminars from industry experts, workshops, networking sessions and an exhibition.
A series of workshops will provide with information on what the industry needs to prepare to make the destination attractive to the Muslim market by understanding its needs and expectations.
Guest speakers at the event include tourism ministers, halal institutions, marketing experts and academics. Partners for the event include Andalucian Tourism Board, The Spanish Tourism Board, Turkish Airlines, Granada Tourism Board, El Legado Andalusi and the Halal Institute.
The Halal Tourism Conference 2014, hosted in partnership with tour operator Andalucian Routes, will take place from the 22nd to 23rd September 2014 at the Granada Conference and Exhibition Centre, Andalucia, Spain.
It will be followed by a two day tour of the region of Andalucia to provide businesses with a live case study of a region that is becoming more Muslim friendly and is actively working to meet the needs of Muslim travellers.
For more information on the event including how to attend as a delegate please visit the website www.htc2014.com

Melbourne counts down to AIDS 2014

After more than two years of intensive planning and preparation, Melbourne will welcome thousands of delegates in just under a month for the highly anticipated 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014).
Taking place between 20 – 25 July at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), AIDS 2014 will be the largest health and development conference ever hosted in Australia and is estimated to be worth approximately $80 million to the Victorian state economy.
Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), Karen Bolinger said that in addition to economic legacies, AIDS 2014 would also play a major role in driving the knowledge economy and put Melbourne firmly in the international spotlight.
“The International AIDS Society announced this week that Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States and Founder of the Clinton Foundation, along with artist and activist Sir Bob Geldof, will be among the high-level speakers at AIDS 2014,” Ms Bolinger said.
“The conference will also attract doctors, researchers, people living with HIV, politicians and philanthropists from across the globe, all with one goal in mind – to end the HIV epidemic.
“Securing AIDS 2014 for Melbourne in 2011 was an incredible team effort - a city, state and nation-wide collaboration - just like a mini Olympic bid.
“MCB partnered with the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine and gained significant support from MCEC; Tourism Victoria; the Victorian Department of Health; the City of Melbourne; and Local Co-Chair for AIDS 2014, Head Department of Infectious Diseases Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Co-head Centre for Biomedical Research Burnet Institute and Club Melbourne Ambassador Professor Sharon Lewin, to mount the successful bid.”
Of the international conferences MCB has secured for MCEC since the new venue opened in July 2009, 69 per cent are in the health, medical and scientific sectors.
“At AIDS 2014 there will be 17 speakers from Melbourne’s esteemed research institutes, including Club Melbourne Ambassadors Professor Lewin; Sir Gustav Nossal, Patron of the Nossal Institute for Global Health; and Peter Doherty, a Nobel Prize winner and Patron of the Peter Doherty Institute, due to open later this year.
“They are all world-leaders in immunology and they’re right here in Melbourne.”

Etihad Airways introduces new mobile boarding passes

Etihad Airways has introduced mobile boarding passes on select routes for guests using its mobile online check-in facility.
The new program offers increased check-in options, reduces paper wastage, eliminates the risk of boarding pass loss, and enables the storage of multiple boarding passes on one mobile device.
Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer Etihad Airways, said: “Our aim is to simplify and streamline the departure and boarding experience. The elimination of paper boarding passes will be more convenient for our guests and reduce our environmental footprint, which is good for the guest, the business and for the environment.”
The new mobile boarding passes will contain the same information as traditional passes including guest name, seat number, flight number, gate number and a barcode which will be scanned by an electronic reader at the departure gate.
Guests will now be able to receive their mobile boarding passes directly to their smart phone, saved using the Passbook feature on iOS operated devices, or saved and sent to an email address, thus allowing maximum flexibility.
The number of Etihad Airways airport gateways equipped with the mobile boarding pass readers will steadily increase as the airline installs the new technology across its global network.
Currently the new feature is available for guests travelling from Abu Dhabi*, London Heathrow, Manchester, Doha, Colombo, Dammam, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Minsk, Munich, and Tokyo Narita.
*Excluding flights from Abu Dhabi to the USA.

TripAdvisor Reveals Top Value Destinations for Summer Vacation Rental Stays

TripAdvisor announced the results of its TripIndex Vacation Rentals, revealing the most affordable U.S. spots for vacation rental getaways this summer.
The TripIndex Vacation Rentals compares the price of a summer trip for a family of four in 15 popular vacation rental destinations throughout the U.S., including the combined average costs of a weeklong stay in a two-bedroom vacation rental property, a one-day bike rental, basic groceries, and dinner at a restaurant.
Head South to Save This Summer

Palm Springs is the most affordable destination on the list with a total TripIndex cost of $1,256, but has a slightly more expensive weekly vacation rental rate ($1,035) than Orlando, the second most affordable spot (weekly rental, $1,022).
Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach and Sanibel Island round out the top five most affordable U.S. spots for vacation rentals, coming in with TripIndex totals of $1,399, $1,434, and $1,486 respectively.
Four of the five least expensive destinations are located in the sunbaked Southeast and collectively feature an average price that is 27 percent below the TripIndex average.
Ritzy Rentals
At a total cost of $3,661, Martha’s Vineyard is the most expensive destination on the TripIndex; the famous island is nearly three times pricier than Palm Springs, the most affordable spot on the list.
Nearly one-third cheaper than Martha’s Vineyard, La Jolla is the second most expensive spot with a total TripIndex price tag of $2,497.
Miami Beach, Maui and Chatham round out the top five priciest places for a summer rental respite, coming in at $2,465, $2,278 and $2,120, respectively.
TripAdvisor TripIndex Vacation Rentals:
Vacation Rental
Basic Groceries
Dinner Out
Bike Rental
Total Cost
Palm Springs, California
Orlando, Florida
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Sanibel Island, Florida
South Padre Island, Texas
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Cape May, New Jersey
New Orleans, Louisiana
Key West, Florida
Chatham, Massachusetts
Maui, Hawaii
Miami Beach, Florida
La Jolla, California
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts