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A Twitter campaign thought up by Maldives tourism chiefs to try to boost the popularity of the country as a holiday destination has been hijacked by users tweeting abut police burtality, political coups and social unrest.
The Maldives tourism authorities urged the islands' tourism businesses to help make #SunnySideofLife a global trend, but activists used the hashtag to tell the world about the darker side of life in the Maldives. While @myvisitmaldives boasted: "Maldives has been awarded as the Most Romantic Destination in the World #SunnySideofLife", Ali Adil tweeted: "#SunnySideOfLife: Pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear lagoons filled with blood of its citizens who are fighting for democracy". And there have been hundreds of other tweets echoing Adil. "#SunnySideOfLife: A place where a chicken is not allowed to cross a road without being intimidated by Police," tweeted @gaanagaa. Others posted pictures of alleged victims of police brutality. In fact, of the hundreds of tweets using the #SunnySideofLife tag, the majority have been negative. Many of the tweets are aimed at the government, installed after the ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed in February. Nasheed claims he was forced to resign at gunpoint. Amnesty International has accused the current government of using excessive force against supporters of the former president and his Maldivian Democratic party (MDP). Last month, Amnesty said it was "deeply concerned at the Maldives government's continued repression of protestors, including beatings, pepper-spraying, and arrests. Those attacked include peaceful demonstrators, members of parliament, journalists and bystanders".
Following the news that Wizz Air is to charge passengers for carrying a large piece of hand luggage, a poll conducted by Skyscanner, Europe’s leading flight booking site reveals a massive 88% of travellers would choose to fly with another airline rather than pay for their hand luggage.
From August 1, Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air will begin a trial on its route between Luton and Katowice that will require customers to pay an additional fee to take larger hand-carried items such as wheeled bags on board, even if they fit in the overhead lockers. The poll revealed that travellers’ appear very unhappy with this latest move, with 64% deeming this new charge ‘unfair’. Skyscanner’s Sam Poullain comments: “Travellers now accept that some airlines charge for hold luggage. However an additional charge for hand baggage is a step too far for some. Other airlines will be very interested to see if passengers do vote with their feet or if they’ll learn to accept this too.”
In support of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ 5th annual associate fundraising campaign named ‘Road to Awareness’, associates at the company’s seven London hotels and corporate office took part in the ‘Starwood London 2012 Challenge’ on 12th May 2012 raising £15,525 for UNICEF.
A total of 196 associates from the company’s seven London hotels including W London – Leicester Square, Le Méridien Piccadilly and Sheraton Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Knightsbridge, took part in the event either running, walking or cycling a half or full marathon. Further associate fundraising initiatives including bake sales, a tug of war and an online auction also took place throughout April and May. The Starwood London 2012 Challenge is just one element of the Road to Awareness campaign, which includes local fundraising initiatives across hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME). In addition, a three day bike ride takes place annually in August which sees a group of senior Starwood leaders and other hotel representatives from across EAME tackle some of the toughest climbs on the route of the Tour de France. This year the bike ride will start in Chamonix and follow the 570 kilometre route to Monte Carlo, during which participants will climb 170 kilometres and a gradient of 9,000 metres. All money raised during Starwood’s Road to Awareness campaign will go to UNICEF’s Early Childhood Care and Education programme in Ethiopia. The aim of the project is to provide the most disadvantaged children in rural communities with pre-primary education so that they are better prepared to start going to school. In Ethiopia, over 80 per cent of the population live in rural communities and many children have to survive on less than US$1 a day. A lack of education and no access to pre-school is seen as one of the key barriers to a child not being able to reach their full potential and escape a life of poverty. Starwood’s support will contribute to the construction of 10 pre-schools, provide pre-school education to up to 50,000 children aged six and enable UNICEF to train 10,000 young instructors to aide their learning.
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
As construction of the first GHM-managed hotel in China nears completion, general manager Giulio D’Alberto is putting the finishing touches on his first move overseas. The 47-year-old Italian, who has worked exclusively in Italy since 1999, began unpacking his suitcase 27 June after being hired to lead The Chedi Club Suzhou into market. While D’Alberto’s surroundings are different, his employer is familiar; in 2007, the economics expert (indeed, he has a PhD in the subject) was appointed director of finance for the property formerly known as The Chedi Milan, which was then managed by GHM. D’Alberto comes to Suzhou at a time when the foundation is being laid — figuratively, at least — for a hotel unlike any other in GHM’s ever-expanding portfolio. When open in early 2013, the 36-room Chedi Club Suzhou will occupy three floors of the city’s tallest complex — the all-glass Global 188 towers — and feature a destination rooftop restaurant, a health club and a spa replete with 12 treatment rooms, including a reflexology salon. To create an urban retreat whose interiors embrace both contemporary and traditional design philosophies, GHM is working with Jaya Ibrahim to blend cool tones and local flourishes in a way that “is going to be striking,” said D’Alberto. Global 188 is located in downtown Suzhou with panoramic views of the central business district and water features — Jin Ji Lake, the Yangtze River and various canals — that make it the ‘Venice of the East.’
International luxury hotel operator, Langham Hospitality Group has appointed Floria Wun as the Director of Public Relations (International). In her new capacity, Floria Wun will oversee public relations for the group in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Wun will play a pivotal role in developing and driving public relations strategy to strengthen Langham as a luxury hospitality brand in the international arena, and continue to enhance the profiles of the group’s portfolio of brands. Wun came from strong luxury hospitality background with experiences in Hong Kong and China in the past 10 years. Prior to joining Langham, Wun was Director of Public Relations with a luxury hotel brand based in Beijing and held a regional position with another international luxury hotel brand on the onset of her career.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
The Los Angeles-based SBE revealed on Tuesday that it is bringing its SLS Hotels brand to New York City. The 190-room SLS Hotel New York, located at 444 Park Avenue South in Manhattan, is set to open in the second quarter of 2013. SBE and Moin Development Corp., New York City, are jointly purchasing for US$45 million and renovating the property for US$40 million, with Moin owning 90% of the property. The former office building, built in 1920, will be renovated and have five floors added to it with Philippe Starck working on the design. Five floors will be added to the 444 Park Avenue South building, built in 1920. “For us, this really finalizes the triangle between New York, Los Angeles and Miami,” Sam Nazarian, SBE founder, chairman and CEO told The Wall Street Journal. “New York is really going to be big for us across our platform.” The hotel will feature a rooftop nightlife concept and a mixology lounge in the lobby.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts has opened the Hilton London Wembley. The 361-room property is located across from Wembley Stadium. The hotel's design is indicative of Wembley Stadium, as well as Britain itself. The hotel has a two-floor feature wall depicting some of the greatest events in Wembley Stadium's history and a custom-made art installation featuring a sequence of hand-painted porcelain plates following and illustrating the River Thames' route. Playing off the British theme, Union Jack motif rugs are featured in the ground floor lobby. Wembley City is one of the U.K.'s largest redevelopment plans. Over one million square feet of construction is underway in the area. Quintain Estates & Development PLC is in charge of the regeneration, transforming 85 acres of former exhibition lands around Wembley Stadium, set to include a new 280,000 sq. ft. retail location known as The London Designer Outlet.
StayWell Hospitality recently opened an office in the UK and is now working together with its partner, Seven Capital, to identify suitable hotel development opportunities in the market. StayWell’s first UK hotel will be the Park Regis Birmingham for which StayWell has secured a 30-year long term management agreement. Due to open in 2014, Park Regis Birmingham, currently under construction, overlooks the Five Ways roundabout and is in close proximity to The Bullring, The ICC, Brindleyplace, The Mailbox and a number of restaurants and bars. The Park Regis Birmingham will be a 4-star hotel with extensive facilities including 272 guest rooms, lobby lounge and bar, rooftop restaurant and cocktail bar, library, gymnasium, spa and business centre. StayWell is also currently negotiating a management agreement for an upmarket hotel being developed in London as well as exploring other potential opportunities in the UK including development sites and existing properties in Manchester and Edinburgh.
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