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Hotel Industry News In Brief
Some current conversation starters…
Mexico predicts record tourist visits this year. But it's not because of a surge in U.S. visitors.
Don't get Mexico wrong. U.S. tourists still represent the lion's share of foreign visitors, and Mexico welcomes them and their green dollar bills. But Mexico is reaching out to visitors from countries such as Russia, Brazil, Peru and Colombia after fears of drug violence and the recession reduced U.S. visitor numbers. The effort seems to be paying off. Based on rising tourism numbers in the first half of the year, Mexican tourism officials predict the country will host 24.7 million foreign visitors in 2012, surpassing last year's record of 23.4 million. The growth is good news for Mexico because tourism represents nearly 10% of the nation's gross domestic product and the country has been living under the specter of a drug war that has killed thousands of citizens. "Despite one of the worst financial crises in years, a flu outbreak and security challenges, we are seeing the highest tourism numbers ever," Mexico's secretary of tourism, Gloria Guevara, said in an interview. In the first half of the year, Mexico saw a 77% increase in Russian visitors, a 61% jump in tourists from Brazil and a 38% bump in visitors from Venezuela, according to Mexican tourism officials. Meanwhile, the number of travellers from the U.S. dropped 1%.
Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas’ four Maldives resorts have joined the group’s Anantara Golden Triangle resort in Thailand in offering Black Ivory Coffee, coffee that is extracted from — wait for it — elephant excrement.
Black Ivory Coffee is created from a process whereby select Thai Arabica coffee beans are digested and “naturally refined” by Thai elephants. During digestion, elephant enzymes break down coffee protein, resulting in a less bitter brew. After elephants “deposit” the beans, they are handpicked by mahouts (elephant trainers) and dried in the sun. The “refinement” takes place at Anantara’s Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Thailand, which has rescued 30 street elephants along with their mahouts and families to date. The coffee, which boasts a retail price of approximately US$1,100 per kg, is ground by hand at the table and brewed using technology dating back to 1840.
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
Caesars Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ: CZR ) announced today that Hong Kong native Lily Ng has been named President of Caesars Global Living Asia, the company's non-gaming luxury hotel-management division. Prior to joining Caesars Global Living, Ng was Executive Vice President at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, China, and led one of its fastest-growing advisory practices. Under her leadership, the practice was voted Best Consulting Organization by World Hotel Association (2008 & 2011) and Best Hospitality Service Institution of Asia by AHF Hotel International Hotel Investment Summit (2011). Her career spans hotel operations, advisory roles, investment assessments and underwriting for principal investors. She has held positions in Fortune 500 companies including Hilton Hotels Corporation, Security Capital Group (later acquired by GE Capital) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (Hong Kong). She has been involved in more than USD 300 billion worth of hotel assets throughout China, Asia and the United States and serviced a wide spectrum of hotel investors and owners. In China alone, she has assessed more than 300 projects in over 60 cities across the country.
Kevin Speidel has been named area managing director for Hilton Worldwide Hotels & Resorts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to Ted Ratcliff, senior vice president, operations US Eastern region for Hilton Worldwide. A 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Speidel most recently served as managing director for two of the Waldorf Astoria brands historic resorts, Casa Marina and The Reach, in Key West, Florida. In his new position, Speidel will directly manage the day-to-day operations of the 598-guest room Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina as well as coordinate hotel operations between five management properties in the area, which include Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina; Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort; GALLERYone, a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton; Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, a DoubleTree by Hilton and Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale. Speidel began his career in 1987 at the Somerset Marriott as an intern, before he was promoted to assistant housekeeper at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. In 1991, Speidel started his journey south as director of front office and services at the Marriott at Sawgrass before his first tour of duty at the Casa Marina and The Reach in 1993 as resident manager, a position he held until 1995. From 1996 to 2003, he worked for Interstate Hotels Corporate where he held key management positions in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Pittsburgh and Miami before beginning his area director post at Casa Marina and The Reach in 2003.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
The Gettysburg Hotel is about to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation with completion slated for early spring. Established in 1797 and owned by Gettysburg College, the Gettysburg Hotel’s renovations aim to strengthen the hotel’s position as an upscale hotel, while maintaining the historic integrity of the property. The Gettysburg Hotel will remain open during renovations. Renovations of the 119-room hotel will link the property to its historical past, while allowing it to remain relevant and competitive today. It is anticipated that this renovation will elevate the overall guest experience and reposition the Gettysburg Hotel to an independent hotel with the premier location on Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg. The renovation will touch all areas of the hotel including the guest rooms, meeting and banquet space, lobby, and the restaurant. Architectural changes will introduce a more open and exciting lobby space with a fireplace, communal table, televisions and added technology that will serve as both a living room to Lincoln Square and a gathering space for guests. The existing tavern space will be expanded and a new dining experience introduced to hotel guests, visitors to the city, and the local community. Additionally, fully renovated guestrooms will enhance the visitor experience.
Wyndham Hotel Group today signed deals for 16 hotels throughout India and Indonesia and announced the launch of the extended stay Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham® brand in India. Asia-Pacific (APAC) is now the second largest region for Wyndham Hotel Group, with over 540 hotels currently open and operating. From June 2005 to June 2012, Wyndham Hotel Group’s portfolio in the region grew rapidly from 57 hotels to 541 hotels. The region has seen more than 110 properties open over the past 12 months and the Company plans to continue its aggressive APAC expansion. Of the 16 hotels announced today, 12 will be opened in India under the Days Inn®, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Howard Johnson® and Ramada® brands and four will be opened in Indonesia under the Howard Johnson and Ramada brands.
International luxury hotel operator Langham Hospitality Group expands its foot prints in China by announcing two properties - Langham Place and Eaton Luxe, Rio Carnival, Qingdao, marking the addition of its 18th and 19th hotels in the country. Set amidst of the dynamic Rio Carnival - a new hub for luxury accommodation, dining, shopping and entertainment, Langham Place exemplifies the epitome of stimulating hospitality and Eaton Luxe offers the experience of a balanced lifestyle to discerning travellers. The two hotels will feature a total of 700 elegantly appointed guestrooms, duplex villas and lofts in the twin towers; Michelin starred Chinese restaurants Ming Court and Yat Tung Heen; and the hotel group’s signature spa brand – Chuan Spa that offers exclusive spa experiences that are based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Each hotel will house two ballrooms and a host of function rooms with state-of-the-art facilities.
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