Κυριακή, 31 Αυγούστου 2014

In Brief

Marriott International has partnered with the AH&LA Educational Institute and Nankai University to launch a hotel education and training program in China. The Marriott Apprentice Program consists of a five-year program that includes 18 months of on-campus learning and more than three years of internships at Marriott hotels combined with online classes. HotelsMag.com (free registration)

The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is reportedly being sold to Maxfine International for $93.24 million. The deal is expected to close in June 2016. The Trump Hotel Collection has also said it is looking to expand its global portfolio to 30 hotels in six years and is studying Indian markets for potential management deals. Hotel Management online 

Demand raises travel employment by 1.9% in 2013 
The Commerce Department reports that jobs in the travel and tourism sector numbered 7.6 million in 2013, up 1.9% from the previous year. A 4% rise in industry-related spending last year, which reached $1.5 trillion, helped raise employment as the industry's 3.5% growth outpaced national economic growth. Skift 

Hotel robots, coming your way 
Starwood's Aloft Hotels and cruise company Royal Caribbean recently announced plans to introduce robot helpers to their staff lineup, and it's possible other hospitality companies follow suit. The Starwood robot, "Boltr," helps out at the check-in desk, while the Royal Caribbean robot mixes drinks. "This is just another example of how hoteliers explore and experiment with new ways to meet our guests' needs," says an American Hotel & Lodging Industry spokesperson. Skift

Hotels can boost customer service by first anticipating what their guests will want -- and doing that takes good internal communications and sharp data analytics, writes Larry Mogelonsky, president and founder of LMA Communications. "While the front-end of many new devices or hotel software kits focus on improving the guest experience, the back-end strategy of capturing more data will inevitably help towards developing relationships with prospective guests," he writes. Hotel Interactive

AH&LA SmartBrief 

airBaltic converted loss to profit in H1 of 2014

airBaltic has turned around the Jan-Jun 2013 loss of EUR -12 million, converting it into a net profit of EUR +14 million for the same period in 2014, despite new challenges in the eastern markets.
Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic: “The geopolitical turbulence in the East creates a very challenging market environment for airBaltic, where we see our transfer passenger numbers going down. Despite this, we have achieved significant cost savings through capacity management, cost controls, and efficiency gains as we now enjoy the benefits of our modernised, more uniform fleet of two aircraft types. In addition to our operational improvements, we have managed to restructure our past obligations towards Latvijas Krājbanka. The positive result we have achieved will help us adapt further to the market conditions, and improve our point-to-point product for the winter season.”
Due to declining demand, airBaltic reduced capacity and discontinued flights to Odessa, Simferopol and Kaliningrad in the first half of 2014. airBaltic also recorded lower yields caused by a double digit decline in transfer yields, while point-to-point yields demonstrated an upward trend. The share of point-to-point passengers improved and now stands at 52%, compared to 50% in the Jan-Jun period of 2013.
airBaltic serves sixty destinations from its home base in Riga, Latvia. airBaltic offers convenient connections via Riga to its network which spans Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, the CIS, and the Middle East. For summer 2014, airBaltic has introduced six new destinations - Burgas and Varna (Bulgaria), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Bucharest (Romania), Gothenburg (Sweden), and Aberdeen (Scotland, within the UK).

DOT Hazardous Materials Rule Fix is victory for agents and consumers

ALEXANDRIA, VA – ASTA applauds the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for taking a common sense approach to the way travel sellers communicate information about hazardous materials to the flying public.

Imbedded within a large Hazardous Materials Harmonization Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on Aug. 25, PHMSA has proposed revising its hazardous materials rule [49 CFR 175.25(b)] for telephone and in-person reservations that requires travel sellers, effective Jan. 1, 2015, to (a) verbally recite the hazardous materials notice and (b) obtain the purchaser’s acknowledgement that they understand the rules before being allowed to purchase a ticket. PHMSA’s revised rule for telephone and in-person transactions eliminates the acknowledgement requirement, and permits, as an option, the disclosure to be fulfilled by including a notice on the e-ticket confirmation. 

“Over the past three years ASTA has argued, and the government has now agreed, that this rule makes no sense with over-the-phone and in-person transactions. The public interest will continue to be served, as travelers will be given the notice with their ticket, and again at check-in, which they must affirmatively agree to understand before their boarding pass is issued,” said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. “Removing the verbal pre-ticketing disclosure and acknowledgement burden is a huge victory for the travel agency industry, and is good for the traveling public. According to our economic impact analysis, this rule change will save the travel agency industry more than $58 million in initial training and programming costs and $26 million per year in ongoing compliance costs.” 

PHMSA’s new rule is consistent with ASTA’s March 25 petition requesting that DOT rescind or modify the existing telephone and in-person requirements. In its petition, ASTA asked DOT, as an alternative, to model the disclosure requirement after its baggage fee disclosure rule, which is fulfilled when an e-ticket confirmation is produced and distributed to the purchaser.

While ASTA is pleased with this outcome, there is still work to be done. ASTA, as a member of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee responsible for producing the industry guidance document -an Advisory Circular (AC)- will work with PHMSA to ensure a smooth adoption of the new rule. Issues that need to be addressed include: drafting compliance instructions and disclosure language for ticket confirmations; consulting with Global Distribution System (GDS) partners to determine how they can assist with ensuring the disclosure notice is provided with all passenger e-ticket receipts; clearly defining what “another equally suitable method” for compliance means; and setting a reasonable adoption date.

On the road again: A look at how consumers take road trips

WASHINGTON - Who can forget the Griswold's famous cross-country station wagon trip in "National Lampoon's Vacation"? While the 31-year-old movie was made long before the days of in-car movies, and the only "portable electronics" available were cumbersome cassette players people carried around, it seems that – interestingly enough – some things have stayed the same.   

The Auto Alliance's latest Auto Index consumer survey found Americans still mostly pass the time on long road trips by looking out the window and taking in the scenery, much like they did in their childhood. In fact, 41 percent of respondents said that's how they spent the road trips of their youth. Today, 40 percent of the public report watching the scenery as their favorite way to pass the time on car trips.

While in the past playing games and singing songs was the preferred method for whiling away the hours for one-third of passengers, that figure has dropped to 21 percent today, giving way to increasing use of in-vehicle entertainment systems and portable electronic devices (15 percent).

And what was the best part about that trip in the family truckster? As it turns out, it may be just like what Clark Griswold said decades ago: "Half the fun is getting there!" When asked to look back on family road trips, 40 percent of respondents said spending time with loved ones was their favorite part of the trip, while 35 percent cited stopping at roadside attractions.

"It seems the old fashioned road trip, with everyone piled into the car on the way to a summer destination, remains a memorable experience for the entire family," said Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Auto Alliance.  

Turning to the decision on choosing their mode of transportation, 47 percent of respondents cited cost as their main factor – only 3 percent cited distance. In fact, one half of Americans said they'd be willing to travel up to 1,000 miles on vacation by car. Almost 20 percent of those in their 30s said they would "drive any distance."

"Packing for fun seems to be a big priority for people traveling by car, with 70 percent of survey respondents stating it was important to be able to carry recreational gear like bikes, skis and golf clubs when headed out on vacation," said Bainwol.  

Other findings included:

  • 20 percent of women said fighting with siblings was their favorite memory of family road trips.
  • Men can't accuse women of over packing! Both men and women equally cite the ability to carry extra luggage as an important factor when deciding to fly or drive - 58 percent and 59 percent respectively.
  • As fall approaches, Americans will continue to look forward to utilizing their vehicles for recreational activities. During the fall months, 43 percent of respondents said their favorite car activity was "tailgating" at events, 30 percent said hunting, and 12 percent said viewing fall foliage.

This survey was conducted July 21 – August 17, 2014, by Pulse Opinion Research among 4,660 adult vehicle owners in the United States.  The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. 

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 12 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Prestige Holidays adds properties in Malta, Crete, Morocco, Mallorca, Sicily, Turkey and the Algarve

 Amirandes Resort
Luxury tour operator, Prestige Holidays is offering a wider choice of holidays across 19 destinations for 2015 with the addition of properties in Malta, Crete, Morocco, Mallorca, Sicily, Turkey and the Algarve.

John Dixon, Chairman and Managing Director, Prestige Holidays, comments: “We are delighted to have added to our Malta portfolio for the first time in quite a few years. Malta is an undersold island. The standard of hotels is high, there is year round sun, a rich history and fabulous food. Also the wide choice of flights makes it ideal for a short break as well as main holiday destination.

“Destinations has launched ahead of our specialist brochures to enable agents to sell our core product early.”

New in Malta is the Cavalieri Art Hotel and the Golden Tulip Vivaldi both are within walking distance of St Julian’s shops, bars and many restaurants and offer indoor and outdoor pools and a choice of bars.

Making an entrance in Crete is the exclusive Amirandes Resort with its own private beach near Heraklion and the family friendly Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas located on a hillside near Aghios Nikolaos.

In Morocco Prestige is featuring the rural Kasbah Angour and the luxury Sofitel Essaouira Mogadir for the first time. Kasbah Angour, in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, is perfect for independent travellers. A Berber castle perched on a hilltop with just 25 rooms it offers an idyllic getaway where as, the Sofitel is in the heart of the Mogador resort close to the Medina and the port of Essaouira.

On Mallorca, home to the Tramuntana Mountains, Prestige has added the Gran Melia Victoria Hotel and the Hotel Costa Azul. Both are situated in an enviable position right on the Paseo Maritimo and the seafront in Palma close to the historic centre and the nightlife, shops, bars and restaurants.

On the beautiful south-west coast of Sicily Prestige has added the stylish Verdura Golf & Spa Resort. Set on 570 acres and boasting sea views from every angle the hotel features an array of facilities including: golf courses, tennis courts, a football pitch and a choice of restaurants.

New in Turkey is the Hillside Beach Club in the popular resort of Fethiye surrounded by pine woods and D-Resort Grand Azur a large resort hotel on the beachfront in Marmaris. A week at the D-Resort Grand Azur starts from just £499 with accommodation, flights and transfers, including an early booking offer saving.

In the Algarve Prestige has introduced holidays in the contemporary Conrad hotel in the exclusive resort of Quinta do Lago and the Dona Filipa, an old favourite currently undergoing a major refurbishment.

The new brochure also features holidays in Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and Lanzarote in the Canaries as well as breaks to Southern Spain, Gozo, Croatia, La Manga, the Italian Lakes and Madeira.

Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort boosts summer packages to entice GCC tourists

EL JADIDA, MORROCCO - On the sidelines of the recent Ministerial Discussion Forum on The Future of Tourism in MENA region, His Excellency Dr. Lahcen Haddad, Minister of Tourism, Morocco said that Morocco attracted 10 million tourists in the last two years and its goal was to reach 20 million tourists by 2020.

In line with this vision, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, a tourism attraction in the country, has boosted summer packages to entice GCC guests to extend their stays.

H.E. Haddad said: “We are on track to achieve the goal of 40% of our tourism being driven by domestic tourists. However, internationally we are on a high trajectory, as we have succeeded in promoting Morocco as a hospitable and distinguished destination across the globe.”

Morocco’s tourism strategy has been highly successful in traditional markets like Spain and France as well as newer markets such as the Arab World, including the GCC countries and Eastern Europe.

Morocco has daily air connections to Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar. It also plans to launch daily flights to other counties, including Kuwait.

Stephan Killinger, President, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort said: “Other types of tourism are also contributing to a big chunk of the overall sector in Morocco. Our records show that GCC countries represent one of the highest footfall at the resort, among new markets.”

Killinger announced that Mazagan has made its summer packages more attractive, valid until the end of September. The summer package offers one free night on a 4-night package and two free nights on a 5-night package, starting from USD 110 per person. The package includes accommodation for 2 adults and 2 kids, complimentary breakfast for 2 adults and 2 kids, free meals for kids, free access to 3 kids’ clubs (Baby Club, Kids Club and Club Rush), free access to Hammam steam room, Tennis, Fitness & biking, and complimentary airport shuttle service.

Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort has 500 rooms that offer spectacular views of the ocean, lagoons and golf course, surrounded by 67 villas, landscaped gardens and a stunning swimming pool in the center. Mazagan is spread over a 250-hectare site, and includes a golf course, stretch of beach, variety of restaurants, including Morjana, a Moroccan and oriental gastronomy restaurant; Sel de Mer, a seasonal seafood creations; Olives, a Mediterranean and Italian buffet; and Market Place, a world cuisine buffet from Asia, Africa, India and Europe that has a capacity of 400 guests plus many other restaurants and clubs, each offering a different experience. 

Additionally, Mazagan is a leading exhibition and conference destination in North Africa region. The resort also offers to businessmen and their families exceptional entertaining stays where parents can have their own space, while their children enjoy their time in a three dedicated clubs - ‘Baby Club’, ‘Kids Club’ and ‘Club Rush’. The resort incorporates a stunning spa offering relaxation treatments and much more.

Amtrak Extends Michigan Summer Schedule

Amtrak will continue to operate trains on a modified schedule for the Wolverine Service and Blue Water routes through the end of September as it completes infrastructure improvements in West Michigan.
The track and signal work will result in improved reliability, a smoother ride and the future extension of 110 mph Amtrak service between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.
The modified schedules first announced in the spring primarily affect the westbound schedule of Train 365, the Blue Water, from Port Huron to Chicago, via East Lansing. Wolverine Service customers between West Michigan and Chicago will continue to benefit from an additional eastbound trip on Sundays and an additional westbound trip on Mondays during the period ending Sept. 30.
These temporary schedules also allow Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) a greater opportunity to continue their work to reduce freight train congestion that has been interfering with Amtrak trains in Northern Indiana. Both Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation have asked NS to take action to improve the daily dispatching of ten state-sponsored Amtrak trains -- and four more Amtrak national network services -- on NS tracks between Chicago and Porter, Ind.
Normal Wolverine Service and Blue Water schedules in Michigan are effective on Oct. 1. The Amtrak Pere Marquette train schedules to and from Grand Rapids are unchanged.

Foreign Visitors to Bulgaria Increase in July

Number of foreign visitors to Bulgaria grew by 4.9% in July 2014, year-on-year, according to data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI).
The total number of foreigners was 1 792 500. Of them 61.6% were from other EU countries.
Most significant rise was posted by business trips – by 54% and for other reasons – by 27.5%. The number of visits for vacation, however, dropped by 11.9%. Still, vacation was the most frequent reason for a visit – 52.2%.
Ninety percent by citizens of the Russian Federation came to Bulgaria on holiday. A little over 81% of the citizens of Macedonia came for the same reason, as well as 80.2% of the Ukrainians.
Almost 82% of the Turkish citizens came to Bulgaria for “other reasons”.
At the same time, Bulgarians' trips abroad in July 2014 rose by 1.8%, year-on-year. Most significant increase was posted by trips to the UK – by 67.7%, Germany – 36.9% and the Czech Republic – by 16.3%.
Number of trips to Italy and France decreased by 24%, to Greece – by 14.9% and to Spain – by 10.5%.
In 47.3% of the cases the Bulgarians went abroad for “other reasons” - visiting friends, attending a cultural or sports event, education - followed by vacations – 32.4%.
Source: Novinite

Qantas Customers to Enjoy Direct Flights to Taiwan

Qantas Executive Manager International Sales Stephen Thompson said Qantas was pleased to offer its customers two new non-stop travel options to another destination in Asia.
Qantas will soon offer customers direct access to Taiwan with the launch of a new codeshare agreement with China Airlines.
From 15 October*, customers will be able to travel on codeshare services operated by China Airlines from Sydney and Brisbane to Taipei, with up to ten return services per week available between Australia and Taipei during peak seasons.
The new codeshare agreement follows other recent initiatives to strengthen Qantas’ presence in growth markets, including a recent expansion of its codeshare with LAN across South America and the new codeshare agreement with Bangkok Airways to resort destinations in Thailand and Cambodia.
China Airlines services between Australia and Taipei are operated by A330 aircraft. The new codeshare services operated by China Airlines will be available for booking from 1 September, for travel from 15 October 2014.*
* Subject to regulatory approval.

Air Seychelles and Hong Kong Airlines Sign Codeshare Agreement

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, and Hong Kong Airlines, an internationally-acclaimed SKYTRAX 4-star airline, have signed a codeshare agreement to provide travellers with enhanced connections in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Under the codeshare agreement, Air Seychelles will place its ‘HM’ code on Hong Kong Airlines’ flights between Hong Kong and the capital of Thailand, Bangkok. In return, Hong Kong Airlines will place its ‘HX’ code on Air Seychelles’ flights between the Seychelles and Hong Kong, as well as between Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates#.
The agreement was signed this week by Manoj Papa, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, and Li Dianchun, Commercial Director of Hong Kong Airlines.

Sting Brings ‘The Last Ship’ to England

Famed singer Sting will perform songs from The Last Ship, the name of his latest album and also his new Broadway musical, on 24 and 25 April 2015 at the Tyneside shipyard in England to benefit the Sage Gateshead 10th Birthday Appeal.
These will be the only UK performances of their kind and are both supported by Cunard Line, which has historic links to the shipyards of the Tyne.
“The Last Ship is a musical allegory set in Wallsend, the town where I was born and raised,” said Sting. "The demise of industry – not only in shipyards like Tyneside and Gdansk, but also great manufacturing centres like Detroit – has been well documented and the effect of that demise on the identity and future of local communities particularly resonates with me. I’m very much looking forward to bringing these songs and stories home.”
Sting will be joined onstage at Sage Gateshead by many of the region’s best loved musicians, including fiddle and Northumbrian pipe player Kathryn Tickell and The Wilson Family from Billingham, Co. Durham.
This homecoming of The Last Ship has generated great excitement and support from partners, particularly relating to the North East’s shipbuilding heritage. Leading the support is Cunard Line, the world famous cruise company, with its historic links to the Swan Hunter shipyard in Wallsend.

The world’s cruise industry heads in record numbers to Barcelona, Spain

In just a few weeks, cruise industry professionals from around the world will be heading to Barcelona, Spain’s leading cruise port, for the tenth edition of the Seatrade Med Cruise Convention. This year’s event has already achieved a record number of ports, destinations and suppliers showcasing their products and services on the exhibition floor, mirroring the market growth of the cruise industry in the Mediterranean.

A highlight of the convention will be the conference programme – where leading figures will discuss and debate the issues confronting the Mediterranean’s flourishing cruise market. As well an overview of the Mediterranean cruise market, over 40 industry peers will discuss topics such as the increasing popularity of upscale cruising, logistics and ship supply, maximising overnights stays in ports, marketing and sales, the relationship between cruise lines, ports and terminals, green innovations and also the development of cruise itineraries in the region.

In addition to Pierfrancesco Vago Chairman, CLIA Europe, and Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, Kyriakos (Kerry) Anastassiadis CEO, Louis Cruises, David Dingle CEO, Carnival UK, Adam Goldstein President & COO at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Michael Thamm CEO, Costa Crociere SpA, we are pleased to announce that Jorges Vilches, President & CEO for Pullmantur Cruises, is also confirmed to join the line up of high-profile cruise line executives for the opening ‘State of the Cruise Industry in the Mediterranean’ plenary session.

A two-day travel agent training programme, provided by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) will also take place giving local travel agents the opportunity to broaden their knowledge on this lucrative market.

With record pre-registration numbers, the tenth edition, promises to to be one of the most successful events yet. Seatrade Med provides a proven business platform for participants to engage and generate business opportunities, through a high-level conference programme, showcase exhibition, travel agent training sessions and social networking events. 

ITC Infotech offers consumer helpline to answer IT problems for travellers

UK - With the summer holidays drawing to a close, hoteliers can still expect busy trade from business travellers, making it more crucial than ever for hoteliers to be able to offer reliable internet access to guests. Tourists and vacationers often use smartphones and tablets while abroad, even to access work email. It can therefore be safely assumed that internet access is the final frontier in enhancing customer satisfaction within the hospitality industry, which essentially calls for a 24-hour helpline.

Arqiva, a British telecommunications company recently reported that hospitality businesses without a communications infrastructure could be losing out on customer loyalty, especially with 87 per cent of guests claiming that they’ve accessed Wi-Fi when staying in a hotel. 75 per cent said that one week without access to the internet leaves them grumpier than one week without coffee (Iconic Displays). It is little wonder then that the ITC Infotech team have designed a system for end users, especially if hotel IT departments are not available around the clock like other in-house teams, such as the spa or reception.

The system ensures that hotel guests and staff have access to a 24/7 Internal Helpdesk Support, Guest Helpdesk Support and monitoring service from a dedicated offshore delivery centre. ITC Infotech’s rich experience in the hospitality industry and its capability to provide multi-lingual support in languages such as English, French, Mandarin and Arabic offer unmatched value for hoteliers.

Hardeep Singh Garewal, President – European Operations, ITC Infotech said: “With such a large portfolio of end users, managing IT can be challenging and complex. Our deep understanding of the hospitality domain and proven capability in infrastructure management services makes us one of the leaders in this space. We are confident that hotels will benefit from a dedicated consumer helpline as a reliable internet service is crucial in helping attracting guests.”

ITC Infotech is a niche player in the workspace transformation domain and has been helping global enterprises to blueprint their infrastructure roadmap while evaluating and adopting right fit technologies. The company designs, builds and manages scalable infrastructure and ensures 24/7 availability of all business applications. ITC Infotech’s services have delivered consistent total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction for Fortune class customers. Implemented through multiple delivery models and service-level agreement (SLA)-based services ITC Infotech guarantees optimum solutions for customers.

Beach destinations surging in popularity for last-minute Labor Day travel

DALLAS - Labor Day travel is expected to reach its highest levels in six years and more Americans are searching for last-minute deals as the holiday weekend approaches, according to Hotels.com. Hotels.com data shows that last-minute searches made from August 18 to August 24, 2014 for stays during Labor Day weekend have increased by 27% over the equivalent week last year (August 19 to August 25, 2013).

Nearly 35 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Labor Day weekend. While many of the most-searched last-minute destinations are also among the most popular domestic destinations for U.S. travelers in 2013, according to the Hotel Price Index, several beach destinations are seeing increased interest as the end of summer nears.

Amidst a rapidly changing gaming industry, Atlantic City, N.J. remains a popular Labor Day destination, attracting the most last-minute searches of any East Coast beach destination and the fifth-most among the top 20 searched destinations. Despite being the 26th most-visited U.S. city in 2013, only Las Vegas, New York, San Diego and Chicago drew more interest over the past week than Atlantic City, which saw 78% more Labor Day searches compared to the same time frame in 2013.

The only beach destination to experience more last-minute searches than Atlantic City was San Diego, which maintained strong travel interest despite California's record drought. Myrtle Beach, S.C. was the second most popular East Coast beach destination and the sixth most-searched in the last week, as it drew 66% more searches than last year. Virginia Beach, Va., Ocean City, Md. and Miami Beach, Fla. rounded out the list of beach towns among the 20 most popular last-minute destinations. Meanwhile, Houston and Chicago saw nearly double the amount of last-minute Labor Day searches compared to last year.

Most Searched Last-Minute Destinations for Labor Day
Travel (check-in August 28 - 31, 2014)
1.Las Vegas11.Virginia Beach, Va.
2.New York City12.Niagara Falls, N.Y.
3.San Diego13.Ocean City, Md.
4.Chicago14.Los Angeles
5.Atlantic City, N.J.15.New Orleans
6.Myrtle Beach, S.C.16.Washington
7.Orlando, Fla.17.Boston
8.Atlanta18.Miami Beach, Fla.
9.San Francisco19.Houston
10.San Antonio20.Austin, Texas

Ranking based on amount of searches performed on Hotels.com U.S. site from August 18 – 24, 2014 for hotel check-ins August 28 – 31, 2014.

STR reports US, Central/South America, Caribbean/Mexico hotel pipeline for July

There are 3,228 hotels totaling 388,359 rooms Under Contract in the United States, according to the July 2014 STR Pipeline Report. This represents a 12.3-percent increase in the number of rooms Under Contract compared with July 2013 and a 43.5-percent increase in rooms under construction. The rooms Under Contract data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but does not include projects in the Unconfirmed stage.

Among the Chain Scale segments, the Upper Upscale segment reported the largest year-over-year increase in rooms Under Contract (+26.9 percent) with 28,094 rooms. Two other segments reported double-digit increases in rooms Under Contract: the Upper Midscale segment (+17.8 percent to 114,277 rooms) and the Upscale segment (+10.8 percent to 104,047 rooms). The Luxury segment recorded the only decrease in rooms Under Contract, falling 5.1 percent to 7,260 rooms.

The Upscale segment (+53.1 percent to 42,014 rooms) and the Unaffiliated segment (51.9 percent to 15,259 rooms) reported the largest year-over-year growth of rooms under construction. The Luxury segment ended the month with the only decrease in rooms under construction, falling 23.8 percent to 3,572 rooms.

Central/South America pipeline
The Central/South America hotel development pipeline comprises 384 hotels totalling 62,958 rooms. The total Under Contract data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but does not include projects in the Unconfirmed stage.

Among the Chain Scale segments, three each accounted for more than 20.0 percent of rooms Under Contract: the Upscale segment (23.3 percent with 14,696 rooms); the Midscale segment (22.3 percent with 14,022 rooms); and the Upper Midscale segment (22.2 percent with 13,970 rooms).

The Upscale segment made up the largest percent of rooms under construction (29.8 percent) with 7,289 rooms. Two other segments each accounted for more than 15.0 percent of rooms under construction: the Midscale segment (19.8 percent with 4,841 rooms) and the Upper Midscale segment (19.7 percent with 4,820 rooms).

Caribbean/Mexico hotel pipeline
The Caribbean/Mexico hotel development pipeline comprises 167 hotels totaling 28,140 rooms. This represents a 21.8-percent increase in rooms Under Contract, compared with July 2013, and a 23.2-percent increase in rooms under construction. The total rooms Under Contract include rooms in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages but do not include rooms in the Unconfirmed stage.

Among the Chain Scale segments, the Luxury segment accounted for the largest portion of rooms Under Contract (21.4 percent) with 6,028 rooms. Three other segments each accounted for more than 15.0 percent of rooms Under Contract: the Upscale segment (20.9 percent with 5,887 rooms); the Upper Midscale segment (20.4 percent with 5,746 rooms); and the Unaffiliated segment (19.5 percent with 5,480 rooms).

The Luxury segment (29.0 percent with 3,715 rooms) and the Unaffiliated segment (25.3 percent with 3,242 rooms) made up the largest portion of rooms under construction in the region. 

Accor acquires 13 properties in the UK

Accor announces that HotelInvest, the Group’s hotel owner and investor business, has purchased a portfolio of 13 hotels from Tritax for a total consideration of €89 million (£71 million).
The portfolio, which includes 12 ibis and 1 ibis budget, represents 1,194 rooms located across the UK in key regional locations: Coventry, Coventry South, Birmingham Holloway Circus, Birmingham Bordesley, Leicester City, Plymouth, Sheffield City Shude, Liverpool, Manchester Princess Street, as well as London Stratford, London Thurrock and London Barking.
As a result of the purchase 3 Accor owned F1 hotels adjacent to the properties in Liverpool, London Barking and London Thurrock will be restructured as extensions of the newly acquired ibis budget and ibis hotels to aid rationalisation of the HotelInvest asset portfolio.
The properties have been operated under variable-rent leases by Accor since 2001, and since 2005 for Tritax, a real estate investor, on behalf of individual and private owners.
The acquisition will be financed at 100% through debt. It will be immediately accretive to Accor’s EBIT and will also reduce off balance sheet debt by c.€39m (£33m) attached to minimum lease commitments. It will also increase the contribution of owned hotels to HotelInvest’s Net Operating Income by around 0.5 point, in line with the target of raising this figure from 54% in 2013 to more than 75% over the medium term.
This acquisition for HotelInvest, follows an active period for the team in the UK who have also sold and franchised back two properties, Novotel Stevenage and Novotel Nottingham, to Fairview Hotels. Fairview, a key partner in the UK since 2008 now own and operate five Accor brand hotels in the country, Mercure London Bloomsbury, Mercure Letchworth Hall, ibis Stevenage and now Novotel Nottingham & Stevenage Novotel Stevenage. Fairview will be investing significantly in both the properties to ensure the consistency and quality of the Novotel Brand is maintained.
For more information, visit Accor.com


To make the most of the school holidays, SUNLUX properties in South Africa and Zambia have created specific tailor-made activities for their guests and children to enjoy together. The animal interaction experiences at SUNLUX are not only fun and entertaining, but also enlightening.  They include:

Penguins and Seals at The Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town

Playing with Penguins

In collaboration with SANCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds), the exclusive Penguin Experience allows guests of the Table Bay Hotel to learn about the sea bird rehabilitation programme in South Africa.  A visit to the Penguin colony at Bolders Beach is an opportunity to not only see these beautiful birds in their natural environment, but also swim alongside them. Back at the hotel, kids take part in arts and crafts activities to show what they have learned and bring home a lifelong memory of their adventure.

The Seal Experience

The Table Bay Hotel has its own bronze life-size seal, known as Oscar that looks out to sea, located on the waterfront side of the hotel.  Oscar is famous in Cape Town and the dedicated seal educational activity organized by the hotel, is truly original.

Take a trip to Seal Island to watch the famous seals at work and play.  Spend a lazy afternoon on the beach with a picnic and return for a seal puppet show at the Table Bay, take part in art and craft activities that include creating sand art pictures and seal magnets – just some of the highlights of the fantastic opportunities to gain a better understanding of the habits of these sweet animals.

Cheetahs and Elephants at The Royal Livingstone, Zambia

Interaction with Cheetahs

Organised in collaboration with Mukuni Research Centre, a company specialising in the rehabilitation of the Big Five game animals in Zambia, the cheetah interaction programme offers Royal Livingstone guests the opportunity to interact with these beautiful animals, take them for a walk, watch them run and

play with them too. Mukuni Research Centre’s unique programme breeds and in time, releases Cheetahs into professionally managed Wildlife Reserves across Zambia.  This is a rare experience indeed for Royal Livingstone guests aged 8 years and above to engage with several cheetahs in close proximity.

The Elephant Experience

Elephant safaris and the accompanying elephant interaction experiences organised for Royal Livingstone guests are wonderful memories for wildlife enthusiasts.

Baby elephants abandoned by their own herds or orphaned in the wild are rescued by the Mukuni Research Centre, whose team of young, local employees become each elephant’s new family.   This is an engaging experience that allows children and adults alike to ride, feed and play with these gentle giants, rescued from planned game reserves, who are clearly loved and respond to their audiences with equal love and affection. 

Focusing on the elephant’s psychological, physiological and social fulfillment, the experience will allow guests aged 10 years and above to have a clear understanding of their habits and behaviors.

Lions and Crocodiles at The Palace of The Lost City, Sun City

Learning About Lions

Organised in collaboration with the Ukutula Park, only a short drive from the Palace, this is an opportunity to walk with lions and observe them in their natural environment. Bottle-feed young cubs, walk in the bush with young lions (between the ages of nine and 18 months) and understand what makes these beautiful creatures the Kings of the Jungle.

When boisterous behavior, outsized claws and growing teeth make them too rough to play with, the lions are transferred to much larger camps nearby with enormous enclosures as part of their transition plan to be released into African game reserves.

Learning About Crocodile

Kwena gardens, a large scenic crocodile sanctuary located within Sun City and home to over 7000 crocodiles including Arnold, one of the biggest captive Nile crocodiles in the world, organises an incredible educational activity for kids and grown ups who are guests of The Palace of the Lost City.

What makes a crocodile tick?  Why do they need to prove their dominance?  How does a crocodile spend its day?  Ultimately, those who participate will be encouraged to feed the resident crocodiles. There are great opportunities to walk the paths at Kwena Gardens at leisure and enjoy the sights and sounds and take some great crocodile and bird photographs!

Activities & Trips are subjected to availability and weather permitting

Fees for all activities are available on request.

Παρασκευή, 29 Αυγούστου 2014

Book Fraport airport tours conveniently from home

Soon airport fans will be able to conveniently book the popular tours at Frankfurt Airport from the comfort of their home. There is considerable demand for the tours: every year around 150,000 visitors treat themselves to a ground-level experience of what makes the airport so fascinating. Starting on September, you can reserve tickets for the offered tours in a new online shop.

It will of course also still be possible to purchase the starter tours at the tour counter in the Airport City Mall on Level 0 of Terminal 1. The tours will now only cost seven euros per person and be free for children younger than 4 and persons with a disability ID card as well as an authorized accompanying person.

The Visitors’ Terrace in Terminal 2 is closing on September 1 for remodeling work and will therefore temporarily not be included in the prices of the airport tours. The Food Plaza with McDonald’s will also remain closed until next year for major renovations that will give it a new, contemporary look. You can look forward to a big reopening event in the spring of 2015.

Sabre renews technology agreement with Sun-n-Sand Group

Sun-n-Sand Group has renewed its technology agreement with Sabre, including use of the industry’s leading distribution solution and SynXis central reservation system (CRS) with plans to use this technology to help increase bookings and revenue. Sun-n-Sand, Sabre’s first hotel chain customer in India, is a well-known hotel group in India and one of the largest regional five-star hotel chains in Maharashtra.

In addition to Sabre’s SynXis CRS, Sun-n-Sand will use Sabre’s other distribution solutions to drive more bookings via online channels and multiple global distribution systems. The hotel group also plans to drive direct bookings using Sabre’s Guest Connect web and mobile booking engine, which now offers ancillary merchandising opportunities via the new Guest Connect Upsell feature.

“Sabre has the most comprehensive set of hotel distribution and retailing solutions in the industry,” says Mr. Gulshan Arora, senior vice president, Sun-n-Sand Hotels. “We believe Sabre has the experience and solutions to support us during the growth of our business.” The revenue managers of Sun-n-Sand say the flexibility and usability of SynXis CRS and its robust tools are important features to help them accurately forecast and manage revenue. “Sabre’s SynXis supports consistent and efficient booking management for our hotel chains,” said Mr. Ameet Wagh, Corporate Head – Sales & Marketing, Sun-n-Sand Hotels. “And the Guest Connect booking engine is another proven, best-in-class product that we are happy with at both the chain and property levels because of its rich functionality.”

Sabre has solid technology, a rich history of innovation in travel and is dedicated to the global travel industry with proven success with over 18,000 hotels globally. Sabre provides a constant investment in system upgrades to ensure the best technology is available to help customers today and for what they may encounter in the future. Sun-n-Sand has a commitment to being effective in the India market by hiring local staff to provide service and support. They plan to use SynXis CRS to assist them to win future hotel management contracts as they have ambitious plans to grow their hotel portfolio in India as well as globally.

THAI Receives Three Smart Travel Asia Awards

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announced it was recently recognized by Smart Travel Asia 2014 for placement in three categories. THAI ranked the Third Best Cabin Service, Fourth Best Business Class, and Fifth Best Airline Overall Worldwide by SmartTravelAsia.com readers.

Flying Officer Suraphon Israngura Na Ayuthya (third from left), THAI Acting Executive Vice President of Commercial Department, accepted the awards on behalf of THAI from Mr.Vijay K. Verghese (fourth from left), Editor and Director of Smart Travel Asia. Present at the ceremony were Mrs. Petchpring Sarasin (second from left), THAI Vice President, Corporate Image and Communication Department, Mrs. Bhinkham Rohitasthira (fifth from left), THAI Vice President of      In-Flight Services Department, and Mrs. Busaba Sangkawibha (sixth from left), THAI Vice President of Marketing Development and Customer Services.

Smart Travel Asia is a dedicated travel magazine for Asia and is read by over 1,000,000 unique visitors annually and has consistently high search engine rankings. The Best in Travel Poll reflects readership perceptions and favorite travel brands. Votes were based on actual travel experience, word-of-mouth, as well as brand conceptualization determined from advertisements and public relations.

VietJet Celebrates Three Million Passengers

VietJet celebrated surpassing the three million passenger mark since the beginning of the year, resulting in a 182% increase in capacity year-on-year.
The airline which has a fleet of 15 A320 Airbus aircraft, has carried a total 7.4 million passengers across more than 18,500 flights, since the start of its operations in December 2011. These figures were released at a preliminary business review held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Opera House on 23 August 2014.
VietJet offers daily flights between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City with duration per section of 1 hour and 50 minutes. The flight departs Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 8.50am (local time) and Changi International Airport at 12.40pm (local time) daily, with VietJet looking to increase the flight frequency for this route to 14 round trip flights weekly to meet increasing demand.
VietJet has also announced plans to increase daily flights on its international route between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok effective 12 September 2014. Due to a surging demand for low cost travel between these two destinations, the route will soon operate twice daily, holding a flight capacity of 5,040 seats per week. Daily flights will depart Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at 11.05am and 2.05pm (local time), with return flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 1.50pm and 4.35pm (local time) respectively. The flight duration is approximately 90 minutes per section.
The airline recently celebrated the launch of direct flights between Vietnam and Seoul, South Korea, marking its first foray into the Korean market. VietJet operates daily flights from Hanoi and Da Nang to Seoul with a flight capacity of 5,040 seats weekly. Daily flights departs Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi at 1.45am and Da Nang International Airport at 2.00am respectively, with both return flights scheduled for departure from Incheon International Airport at 11.05am daily (local time). Each flight section is approximately five hours. SEYOU has been appointed as the General Sales Agent for ticket sales in South Korea.

A new luxury 5 Star at Sydney’s Darling Harbour

International Convention Centre Sydney Chief Executive Officer and AEG
Ogden Group Director of Convention Centres Geoff Donaghy have announced a new luxury 5 Star hotel for Sydney’s new premier business events precinct on Darling Harbour.
International and national attendees of business events will now have a new luxury 5 Star Sofitel hotel just 30 metres from the entrance to the harbour side foyer entry to the conventional centre, further adding to the great array of accommodation choices within easy walking distance of the venue.
“We look forward to exploring a range of exciting options with Accor to create the Sofitel as a genuine headquarters offering providing a seamless and integrated event experience for our mutual clients and guests,” said Mr Donaghy.

California's Sonoma Wine Country still open for business

California’s Sonoma Wine Country is open for business following the Aug. 24 earthquake that struck about 20 miles east of the town of Sonoma.
It caused minimal damage and most wineries, shops, and restaurants are open for business. There are no reports of significant injuries or structural damage in Sonoma County.
A preliminary indication from the USGS showed that it was centered 4.2 miles northwest of American Canyon in Napa County, which was harder hit.
“We are very fortunate that the quake was short lived and the damage was minimal here,” said Ken Fischang, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, the official destination marketing organization for Sonoma County.
“Sonoma County is open to receiving visitors, from the rolling vineyards to the towering redwood forests and out to the Pacific Ocean beaches,” Fischang said. “We do ask for patience as the clean up progresses. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Napa neighbors. It will only be a matter of time before all of Northern California’s famed Wine Country is fully back in business.”

New World Hotels to Manage New World Manila Bay Hotel

New World Hotels has been appointed by New Coast Hotel, Inc. to manage New World Manila Bay Hotel effective 1 January 2015.
The hotel, currently the Hyatt Regency Hotel & Casino Manila, will be the second hotel for the brand in the capital, joining New World Makati Hotel.
New World Hotels is targeting to triple in size in the next five years with eight new projects announced, including seven in mainland China, in Guiyang (2014), Shenyang (2015), Foshan (2015), Langfang (2016), Zhengzhou (2016), Qingyuan (2017) and Haikou (2019), and New World Manila Bay Hotel in the Philippines.
A renovation programme for guestrooms and public spaces will take place at New World Manila Bay Hotel following the changeover. The hotel currently features a total of 378 guestrooms, including 63 suites, with executive floors and lounge. Six dining options include a café, Chinese restaurant, a steakhouse, lobby lounge, poolside bar and pastry shop. Meeting space offers grand ballroom and four meeting rooms. Recreational options are an outdoor pool, a spa and fitness centre. The hotel is part of a complex including a 150,000-square-foot casino.  
The hotel is located in the heart of the Malate Manila district with easy access to business, government offices and the U.S. Embassy, shopping and entertainment, as well as culturally rich and well-preserved historical attractions such as Intramuros, Chinatown and the Cultural Centre of the Philippines. The city’s domestic and international airports are less than 30 minutes’ drive away and the port terminal is 10 minutes from the hotel.
New World Manila Bay Hotel will join the existing New World Makati Hotel to welcome guests and travellers to the Philippines with the brand’s signature modern Oriental hospitality.   The 595-room, extensively renovated New World Makati Hotel is located directly opposite Greenbelt, the country’s premiere lifestyle and shopping centre, in the heart of the Makati financial and commercial district.