DirectoriesAdd Your Business
News Archive Search
News in brief
Peachtree Hotel Group posts record growth goals with 16 acquisitions in 2013, 2014
Officials of Peachtree Hotel Group have announced that it significantly exceeded its projections for 2013, adding 16 hotel assets and three third-party management contracts. The company remains equally optimistic for 2014, projecting it will add 12-14 hotel assets, both acquisitions and new-builds, and up to six, third-party management contracts by year's end. Already this year, the company has three hotel assets under contract for a total of 483 rooms.
"All metrics point towards 2014 being another strong year for the hospitality industry, and we plan to aggressively pursue projects where we believe we can provide the best service and add value as either an owner and/or operator," said Greg Friedman, Peachtree CEO. "Additionally, we are selectively considering certain development opportunities and expect to execute on two to four new builds this year."
"We are pursuing sites that have high barriers to entry with multiple demand generators and long-term growth opportunities," said Jatin Desai, Peachtree CIO. "Given the cyclicality of the hotel industry, we are disciplined in our development process so that our projects can generate risk-adjusted returns in all phases of the real estate cycle."
Peachtree acquired 16 assets in 2013 totaling 2,015 rooms. Additionally, the company disposed of 10 assets in 2013. The company also became an approved 3rd party operator for the Marriott CFRST brands and already has added two properties to its third-party management portfolio. Peachtree will invest in excess of $20 million during 2014 to upgrade its owned hotel portfolio.
With acquisition and investment capabilities and seasoned, third-party management expertise, Peachtree focuses on premium-branded, select-service and limited-service hotels. While the company has experience in all markets nationwide, its portfolio centers primarily on the Southern and Midwestern U.S.
"Between operating performance and acquisition opportunities, we forecast another strong year for Peachtree and the hospitality industry overall," said Mitul Patel, Peachtree COO. "We expect that the majority of our portfolio will experience moderate RevPAR growth and that the cost of capital will remain historically inexpensive over the coming 12 months. All of these factors will contribute to a fertile transaction market for 2014."
To facilitate its fast-paced growth, Peachtree has continuously expanded its operation, acquisition and investment management teams, adding eight people over the past six months. "As we expand, we have trigger points to add additional bench strength to help manage our ever growing portfolio," Patel added.
Peachtree Hotel Group invests, operates and develops premium-branded, select- and limited-service and extended-stay hotel assets under the Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Choice and InterContinental Hotels Group flags. Since its inception, Peachtree has acquired or developed more than $300 million of hotel properties and first mortgage notes. Peachtree currently owns, operates and invests in 40 hotel assets totaling 3,984 rooms, comprised of 23 real estate assets and 17 notes. The company has an additional four hotels totaling 363 rooms under third party management
Carnival Cruise Lines reports record sales; sets all-time high for number of guests booked in a single month
Carnival Cruise Lines set a one-month reservations record, taking net bookings (new reservations minus cancellations) for more than 565,000 guests between January 1 and January 31, 2014. The record number of reservations was 17 percent higher than the same one-month period a year ago. Additionally, traffic to the cruise line's web site www.carnival.com also reached an all-time high with 13 million visits during the one-month period.
Bookings were at unprecedented levels across the line's 24-ship fleet, which operates three- to 23-day voyages from a wide range of convenient North American homeports as well as cruises from Australia.
Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill attributed the record booking activity to a number of factors, including continued product enhancements and innovations being introduced across the Carnival fleet, very attractive promotions in the marketplace, strong support from travel agent partners, and a new "Moments that Matter" advertising campaign launched last fall, which is currently in heavy rotation in broadcast and digital channels.
"Now is the time of year when many people focus on their upcoming vacation plans and the cruise industry typically sees an escalation in booking activity. We are definitely observing a strong uptick in reservations with bookings coming in at unprecedented levels," said Cahill. "We are seeing heavy sales growth in all channels, particularly via our travel agent partners, and we would like to express our tremendous appreciation for their support," he added.
Cahill also pointed out that Carnival did not introduce any new ships in 2013 so added capacity would not account for the stronger booking activity. "
Among the new initiatives introduced over past several months are a one-of-kind vacation guarantee that gives consumers the option of ending their voyage early and flying home at Carnival's expense if they are dissatisfied for any reason, a comprehensive revamp of the line's main dining room offerings, and a fun and exciting partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to enhance the activities programming for Carnival's youngest guests. Last month, the line announced an enhancement to its live music offerings through upgraded house bands and the Carnival LIVE concert series which features performances by many of today's top artists including Jennifer Hudson, Gavin DeGraw, Lady Antebellum, Olivia Newton-John, Daughtry, Styx, Martina McBride, Jewel and many others.
Additionally, the line has continued to roll out its $500 million Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program across the fleet, which includes a variety of hugely popular new dining, bar and entertainment upgrades. In 2014, a total of 11 Carnival ships will feature major Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements, including vessels that sail from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa, New Orleans and Galveston.
Survey finds Americans who visit Cuba supportive of ending US sanctions
A survey of 423 Americans who visited Cuba during the past two and a half years as part of U.S.-licensed cultural exchange programs (known as people-to-people programs) shows that the experience dramatically transformed their opinions of Cuba, its people, and U.S. policy toward the country.
Most striking, the survey, which was conducted upon travelers' return, reveals that 88.2 percent of those who traveled on people-to-people programs now say they are more supportive of ending sanctions, many of which date back to the 1960s. That number compares to only 10.8 percent of respondents who say that their travel experience to Cuba had no effect on their opinion. The survey was conducted during the week of Dec. 9, 2013 by Friendly Planet Travel, a people-to-people program operator that has taken thousands of travelers on these cultural programs to Cuba since 2011.
The survey finds that after these exchanges, American travelers to Cuba can now, "More easily separate politics from culture and appreciate people for who they are" (with 67 percent of respondents opting for this response when asked what impact their trip to Cuba made on them). The ability to separate politics from culture also gives these travelers a new opinion of the Cuban government. In fact, before visiting Cuba, 47.8 percent of surveyed travelers say they viewed the Cuban government as "a repressive communist regime that stifles individuality and creativity." After experiencing the culture and people of Cuba, only 19 percent of U.S. travelers surveyed still agree with that sentiment.
Interestingly, only 3.6 percent of travelers surveyed chose to visit Cuba because of a personal or family connection. Rather, 74.4 percent say they chose to travel to Cuba on a people-to-people program because they were "curious about what life was like in Cuba." The biggest surprises that many of these travelers report are the openness and friendliness of Cubans toward Americans, the entrepreneurial drive of many Cubans, and the vibrancy of the arts and cultural scene in Cuba.
An astonishing 81.3 percent of surveyed travelers say they would travel to Cuba again if given the chance, the highest intended return rate ever recorded by Friendly Planet Travel- the company with which the respondents traveled.
"The results of this survey show that the impact of people-to-people travel is undeniable and transformational in the lives of those who travel to Cuba now that restrictions are being eased," says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. "The experience draws people closer together but does not whitewash the challenges that Cuban people face. Our travelers experience the real Cuba, filled with culture, creativity, and art. They also get to see the reality of Cuban living standards, which are often difficult and impoverished. The program changes beliefs and attitudes and allows people to look past politics and into the heart and soul of a culture. In my more than 30 years in the travel industry, I have never seen a single travel experience change so many lives."
TripAdvisor Flights features in-flight insights and amenities
TripAdvisor has announced a redesign of its Flights search product - now featuring comprehensive in-flight insights, amenities information and candid traveller photos coupled with the ability to scan for the lowest prices for airlines globally.
"The in-flight experience can vary dramatically from one itinerary to the next, from cramped leg room and no seatback video on one plane to spacious seats and Wi-Fi access on another - and despite the vast differences - those flights might actually have the same fare," said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights. "The new TripAdvisor Flights experience provides transparency into the complete in-flight experience to enable flyers to make the best booking decision and arrive at their destination with a smile."
In addition to helping travellers find the lowest fares, TripAdvisor Flights now combines a number of new benefits to help travellers find the best flight:
TripAdvisor also continues to offer its Fees Estimator that dynamically calculates the cost of baggage and other amenities into the live display, so that travellers are not surprised at the gate.
The traveller photos and amenities features are available now on TripAdvisor Flights across 31 countries and in 17 languages. Travellers can try out the new features at www.TripAdvisor.com.au/CheapFlightsHome.
Visit our sponsors