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Hotel Industry News In Brief
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Spain is considering hiking tax on hotel rooms to help it meet tough public deficit targets.
Spain's current rate for value added tax is 18% but many products, including hotel rooms, are charged at a reduce rate of 8%. Some other products pay a "super-reduced" rate of only 4%. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have both recommended Spain revises its VAT levels following the country's request for a bailout for its banks of up to €100bn, and the country's finance ministry has confirmed it is considering increasing the lower rate of VAT to boost revenues. VAT increases will not take effect until next year and the government has yet to announce specific figures.
Guests staying in the 11 Grand Suites at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel in New York City, have a new amenity: palace-trained attaché staff.
Taj is bringing its “royal treatment” to its U.S. flagship in the form of a team of attachés with experience assisting heads of state, business leaders, and others from around the world. The three hand-picked attachés come to New York from the Taj Mahal in New Delhi. The attachés will offer warm, intuitive service to Grand Suite guests, from a chilled towel and signature cocktail in suite upon check-in to packing luggage with all clothing perfectly folded into tissue paper for departure. Grand Suite guests can request a Royal Dining experience, with a custom menu created by Executive Chef Ashfer Biju. The Taj Royal Attachés also oversee the Royal Bath service, with a menu of options that include organic, botanical scrubs, creams and oils; Grand Suites have deep soaking tubs. In addition, the attachés can help guests with everything from stocking the kitchen pantry prior to their arrival to overseeing all aspects of wardrobe and jewellery storage.
InterContinental Hotels Group has announced the launch of its Turkish and Russian language websites.
Building on a history of online innovations, the launch of the two new sites means IHG now supports online booking websites in 13 different languages. The launch of Russian and Turkish language booking sites are part of IHG’s strategy to meet the needs of a growing number of global consumers who are adopting online and mobile channels to research and book travel. According to Michael Menis, vice president, web and interactive marketing for IHG: “The rise in internet bookings in these countries is due to many factors, including the impact of social media, an increase in the number of young people who are more willing to shop online and the wider availability of the internet and level of web service in these areas. “The launch of these languages builds on IHG’s feeder market strategy and will further contribute to hotel growth in Russia and Turkey.”
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
Stefan Schaer has been appointed the Director of Sales and Marketing for The Alpina Gstaad, the first luxury hotel to be built in 100 years in the charming alpine village of Gstaad. A 22-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Mr. Schaer has extensive experience in sales and marketing with several of the industry’s top hotel companies as well as with promoting luxury resorts in the Swiss Alps. Mr. Schaer will be responsible for all the sales and marketing efforts for The Alpina Gstaad, a $337 million luxury development that includes private apartments within the hotel and two chalets. On schedule to open December 1, The Alpina Gstaad is a contemporary interpretation of traditional Swiss architecture incorporating authentic local materials and time-honored alpine style. The hotel will have 56 rooms and suites, three restaurants, including the first European outpost of MEGU and a traditional Swiss stübli, a 21,000-square-foot Six Senses Spa, two pools, a cigar lounge and a private cinema. Prior to joining The Alpina Gstaad, Mr. Schaer was Director of Sales and Marketing for the Radisson Blue Hotel in Zurich where he also underwent intensive training in The Business School @Rezidor. Previously, he was Resident Manager of Cresta Hotels in Davos, the largest resort in the Alps and served as Deputy Director of the Lucerne Tourist Office. Mr. Schaer began his career at the five-star Grand Hotel Quellenhof in Bad Ragaz and moved to the five-star Palace Luzern, a member of the exclusive Victoria-Jungfrau Collection, where he quickly moved up from Front Office positions to Director of Sales and Marketing.
Coworth Park, Dorchester Collection's luxury country house hotel and spa, has announced the appointment of Brian Hughson as Executive Chef, effective from Monday, July 2nd. Joining from his role as head chef at The Grill at The Dorchester, Hughson brings more than 20 years culinary experience with him to Coworth Park. Previous positions include Head Chef at Gary Rhodes' W1 restaurant, which was awarded a Michelin star during his tenure and three AA rosettes within seven months of opening. Hughson has also cooked at eminent London restaurants Pétrus, Rhodes in the Square, Frith Street, 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin), the Savoy Grill, and Mirabelle, Belvedere and Wheeler's with Marco Pierre White.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
The Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney has been purchased by Shangri-La Asia, Hong Kong, which is owned by the Kuok family. Shangri-La Asia, which has managed the hotel since 2003, paid the Government Investment Corporation of Singapore A$352 million (US$354 million) for the property and will continue to operate it under the Shangri-La brand. The 563-room hotel is located in Sydney’s “The Rocks” and overlooks Sydney Harbor. It also offers four F&B outlets, a health club and spa and extensive meeting space.
The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna will open on 27th August, 2012 with Matthias Vogt as General Manager. The first hotel of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. in Austria will feature 202 stylish guest rooms and suites, one restaurant, a lobby lounge, a hotel bar and a breathtaking rooftop terrace. The five star hotel is located in four historic palaces which date back to the 19th century and are culturally protected. Located in the heart of the city on famous Ring Boulevard, the hotel is only minutes away from major sights like Hofburg and the Imperial Apartments, the Imperial Riding School, St. Stephen’s Cathedral or baroque St. Charles’s Church. For lovers of music and culture, the Viennese State Opera, world famous Musikverein or Konzerthaus, where legendary musical performances take place as well as museums like Albertina with the world’s grandest collection of graphic art are within walking distance of The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna.
Westin Hotels & Resorts has unveiled plans to continue the global expansion of its signature spa brand. Westin will increase its robust portfolio of Heavenly Spas with 13 openings by 2014, with all but two located outside the United States. The brand's signature spa concept is currently in 28 Westin Hotels & Resorts around the world. By 2014, Heavenly Spa will make its debut at The Westin Lagunamar, The Westin Chennai Velachery, The Westin Xiamen, The Westin Changbaishan, The Westin Wenzhou and eight other properties across North America and Asia. "There is a growing demand for spa and wellness services in key global emerging markets such as Asia," said Jeremy McCarthy, Director of Global Spa Development and Operations for Starwood. "Westin's Heavenly Spa concept fulfills that demand and provides signature sensory experiences aimed at mind-body wellness and revitalization, designed specifically for the Westin guest." Each Heavenly Spa features signature treatments as well as programs that reflect local culture and customs.
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