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Hotel Industry News In Brief
Some current conversation starters…
Hosting the Summer Olympic Games appears to be helping London’s hotel performance, according to new data from STR Global.
From July 27 to August 5, hoteliers across London reported 87.7% occupancy and £216.42 (US$335.18) ADR. This represents an increase of 3.2% and 87.1%, respectively compared to the same days the year prior. “Hotels across London continue to report increasing occupancy levels and average room rates during the Olympic period when compared to last year,” said Elizabeth Randall Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “We are also seeing improvement from weaker occupancy performances in June and early July so it is good to see that performance has been picking up during the Olympics. However, Heathrow and Gatwick, in the west and south of London and therefore less convenient for Olympic venues, have reported occupancy declines for the Olympic period.”
The Mexico Tourism Board’s heightened efforts to tap Asian outbound over the past three years have paid dividends, with Chinese visitor numbers growing by an average of 30 per cent per year, culminating in a 32.7 per cent surge in the market in 2011/2012.
On his first official visit to Asia covering Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, the board’s COO, Rodolfo López-Negrete, said: “We are happy with the result, but not content. We can generate more. Developing business out of Asia is crucial.” “So far, Japan remains the top market (in Asia). Apart from China, South Korea has also displayed strong growth. About 41,000 South Koreans visited Mexico in 2011, an 11 per cent (year-on-year) increase." López-Negrete said that the board was planning to launch an office in Seoul and had just hired a full-time staff based at the Mexican embassy there. “We are also exploring Shanghai as a second office (in China) after Beijing,” he said. With only 1,500 visitors per annum from Hong Kong at the moment, López-Negrete agreed that there was much potential for the market to develop. “We need to elevate the level of awareness in Hong Kong. Mexico is not well known here." He added: "While we target the luxury tier of travellers in Hong Kong, we look to target the growing middle class in China." According to López-Negrete, limited air connectivity is the main stumbling block to promoting Mexico in Hong Kong and China. “Even though longhaul connections are available from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, we don’t have a national carrier. We have held discussions with multiple carriers to launch additional routes. Cathay Pacific is a key player and is interested in (starting flights to) Mexico," he said.
Families prefer water parks and zoos to historical ruins and places of interest when it comes to holiday excursions.
A poll by sunshine.co.uk among 1,500 adults and children who have been on holiday abroad in the past year, assessed their priorities when planning days out. Water parks came top of the list, with 61% of respondents saying they had visited one in the last year. A wildlife park or zoo was second (54%); boat trip third (49%); theme park fourth (32%), followed by a 4×4 tour (17%) a city visit (12%) and water sports (9%). Bottom of the list were historical ruins or points of interest (3%). Landmarks fared marginally better (5%), while areas of natural beauty were visited by 9% of respondents.
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
Benchmark Hospitality International, a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, has appointed Norbert Relecker general manager for Eldorado Hotel & Spa, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Norbert Relecker was previously general manager of Benchmark’s Chaminade Resort & Spa, the luxury property overlooking Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz, California. During his tenure there he led a $15 million renovation and repositioning program. Mr. Relecker has held general manager positions for several other properties in the United States, including The Highlands Inn located in Carmel, California. He has served internationally in senior-level positions at hotels and resorts throughout Germany and the Philippines. Relecker launched his hospitality career working for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.
Mr. Kevin Furrer has been appointed as General Manager of Swissôtel Resort Phuket. He has been with the company since 2004 and was most recently Acting General Manager at Swissôtel Nai Lert Park, Bangkok. Not new to Asia, Kevin Furrer was Director of Food & Beverage at Swissôtel Nankai Osaka, Japan since 2010, prior to his appointment in Bangkok. In Osaka, he was responsible for seven Food & Beverage outlets as well as over 250 team members within the department. He first joined Swissôtel Le Plaza, Switzerland as an Assistant Banquet & Catering Manager and quickly rose up the ranks to Rooms Division Manager. He then became Director of Operations at Swissôtel Berlin, Germany for three years before he moved to Asia. He holds a Bachelor of Science in international Hospitality Management from the prestigious Lausanne Hotel School, Switzerland.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is open again in San Sebastian, Spain, following extensive restoration — just in time for its 100th anniversary. "As part of Starwood's strategy to strengthen our Luxury Collection brand portfolio, we are making major investments to renovate and restore some of our most iconic hotels," says Roeland Vos, Starwood Hotels & Resorts president for Europe, Africa and Middle East. It took nine months to restore the building, originally designed by French architect Charles Mewès for Queen Maria Cristina. Idom Engineering & Architecture and HBA Design took care to preserve the soft curves and feminine presence of the original space. Public spaces feature soaring ceilings, marble pillars, and a palette of champagne, mocha and copper. The 107 guestrooms and 29 suites have a pastel palette inspired by French macarons.
Europe's largest hotel group, Accor, and Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht have partnered to build three hotels in Sao Paulo state, eyeing growth in South America's biggest city and Brazil's burgeoning oil industry. The partnership will open one hotel in the city of Sao Paulo and two in coastal Santos, a hub for Brazil's offshore oil boom, in 2015 and early 2016, executives said in an interview. The hotels will be sold to investors for an estimated 258 million reais ($127 million). "There's a lack of new hotels in Sao Paulo ... We went a long time without launching anything," said Accor's head of Latin American operations, Abel Castro. Ten years have passed since the partnership opened a new hotel in the city. In that time, unprecedented macroeconomic stability and the discovery of massive deep-sea oil reserves five years ago have given the local economy a shot in the arm, driving up real estate prices. "Buying a well-located plot in Sao Paulo just to build a hotel is a difficult equation," said Paulo Melo, the regional director of Odebrecht's real estate arm. To justify the investment and overcome increasingly difficult transportation snags, he said, the new developments will combine hotels, residential towers and commercial space. "We believe in the model of compact urban development, with stores, offices and hotel in the same place," Melo said. "The idea is to balance the project mix with multiple ventures."
Global interior design leaders HBA, Hirsch Bedner Associates set out to challenge perceptions of hotel design with the styling of the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, a stunning new architectural landmark in China’s southern provincial capital and the brand’s 88th property worldwide. Remarkable for both its soaring height and tapering avant-garde design, the newly opened hotel is set to become a new benchmark for interior design in Asia. Rising 103 stories above the Pearl River, the Four Seasons Guangzhou occupies the top third of the new Guangzhou International Finance Center. The project is architecturally dramatic for its triangular tower, diagonal lattice and soaring, 30-floor-high atrium. HBA’s interior design concept is striking, developed to push the boundaries of design and challenge perceptions of the classic hotel interior. HBA won an international competition to design the hotel. “It was because we were able to beautifully communicate a visual presentation that upholds the integrity of the Four Seasons brand coupled with innovative design and sensitivity to location,” said Ian Carr, CEO of HBA in Singapore. Every detail of the hotel’s elegant yet ultramodern interior was meticulously planned and executed to ensure an exceptional guest experience. From the ground floor, guests take dedicated express elevators to the 70th floor lobby, where a dramatic three metre (ten foot) red steel sculpture by Australian artist Matthew Harding appears to float on a sea of watery glass, reflecting the astounding ceiling window 30 floors above. The incredible naturally-lit atrium, surrounded by restaurants and rooms above, is higher than the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and New York's Statue of Liberty. The intricate textured screen made of woven metal wraps around the interior of the sky-high lobby. In a subtle reference to the hotel brand, the screen is themed around the four seasons, from spring in the basement to fall in the upper reaches.
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