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Hotel News In Brief
Some current conversation starters…
Last month, Kurt Ritter stepped down after serving as Rezidor's CEO since 1989—one of the longest tenures in the hospitality industry. Under Ritter's leadership, Rezidor's portfolio has grown to include some 436 hotels, with more than 95,000 rooms in operation and under development in 70 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Just before leaving, he spoke with Arabian Business magazine about his goals for the brand, noting that he never got to accomplish one of them: creating a solid two-star hotel brand for the Middle East. But, he added, the project may yet come to fruition. "We have a concept that is 80 or 90 percent ready," he told the magazine, adding that there is "still a lack of mid-market products" in the region, and that guests coming to attend sporting events might not want to stay in a Ritz-Carlton. The reason Ritter says he did not pursue this aim was because he believes he made the mistake of taking on too many lease options at a time when the economy was struggling. On the one hand, owners were demanding payment and on the other, the hotels were suffering from low occupancy levels. But with conditions improving, the plan may yet go ahead. According to Hotelier Middle East, the timeline for the implementation of the plan will be left to Ritter's successor, Wolfgang Neumann, who told Arabian Business in October that he is aiming to develop the group’s presence in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and is also looking at the possibility of opening a Missoni-branded hotel in the UAE. Ritter believes the region would be a good fit to premiere the new two-star brand. “It takes a lot of time and work to start up a brand but I would start it up and I told [Neumann] I would start it up in the Middle East,” he said in an interview in Qatar. "The Middle East is a key region for us and it is an emerging market where we want to continue the growth we have had over the last couple of years...Our core brands are Radisson Blu and Park Inn and that is where the main growth is… We have fantastic traction in the Middle East. We opened 14 hotels in the last three years. We have firm openings on the horizon with a focus on the UAE and Saudi Arabia."
Global market research company Euromonitor International has released its Top 100 Cities Destination ranking, a list of the world's top cities in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2011.
The rebound in global economic growth in 2011 contributed to stronger tourism demand, positively impacting results for the top 100 cities, with arrivals increasing 7%. Emerging city destinations located in Asia Pacific performed well thanks to a strong economic environment and intra-regional demand. Hong Kong topped the ranking with more than 20 million arrivals in 2011, a nine percent increase over 2010. Hong Kong remains largely dependent on arrivals from China, but new themed events organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board helped draw in visitors from other Asian countries. Singapore and London kept their 2010 positions as number two and three on the list, recording nearly 20 million arrivals and 15 million arrivals, respectively. Kuala Lumpur was in fourth spot (13.3m arrivals), followed by Macau (12.9m) and Bangkok (12.3m). "While many cities maintained their previous rankings, Vietnam showed a particularly strong performance with Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi experiencing over 40% growth for the second consecutive year," said Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research at Euromonitor International. Other placings: 13, Dubai (7.7m), 14, Shanghai (6.9), 17, Pattaya (6m), 24, Phuket (4.8m), 33, Ho Chi Minh (3.5m), 46, Seoul (2.8m), 48, Tokyo (2.7m), 51, Sydney (2.6m), 52, Denpasar (2.5m), 84, Christchurch (1.7m), 88, Melbourne (1.6m)
Hotel and hospitality companies are taking advantage of Apple's new Passbook app, which stores a user's membership cards, tickets coupons and reservations on iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
ZDirect, for one, is developing new integration that links directly from a hotel's property-management system to the Apple iOS 6 Passbook digital wallet. Using the ZMail electronic communication platform, a guest's hotel confirmation becomes a mobile "pass" that is sent to an iPhone or iPod Touch and added to the mobile Passbook file. Since Passbook is time and location based, hotel confirmations automatically appear on the lock screen when and where the information is needed. As travellers get close to the hotel, their confirmations pop up for easy viewing. ZDirect is a hospitality provider of electronic customer-relationship management services. Via ZMail , hotels send personalized emails and text messages to guests before, during and after their stay to improve hotel-to-guest communications, build customer loyalty and increase onsite spending. Today more than 2,000 hotels spanning six continents are using ZMail to better connect with guests.
Key Appointments in the Industry
Congratulations to these new appointments…
Twenty years after Vietnam emerged from decades of war and privation, lighting up on the radar screens of travellers worldwide, maturation of the country's hospitality industry reached a new milestone this month as La Residence Hotel & Spa appointed Phan Trong Minh as its new general manager. Minh’s journey to the top spot at La Residence began in the former Czechoslovakia, not as a hotelier but as an assembly line worker in a company that manufactured electric goods. “This was back in 1982,” said Minh. “I’d just graduated from high school, and Vietnam was still struggling to develop its economic foundation. So, like so many Vietnamese of my generation, I went to Eastern Europe.” After six years in Europe, Minh returned to Vietnam and in 1993 started work as a waiter at the Century Hotel, then one of the city’s top three hotels. Two years later, he transitioned to a job as a receptionist, and then on to work as a front office supervisor. After 12 years at the riverside hotel, Minh worked two years in management at another top Hue hotel before joining La Residence in 2007 as the front office manager. Aside from his native Vietnamese, Minh is fluent in English and speaks basic French. He is certified in small hotel management, and as a trainer for human resources and front office operations with the Vietnam Tourism Certification Board. Unlike so many general managers at the country’s top hotels, Minh was born in the city he now represents as its leading hotelier. Like many from Hue, he is passionate about his city, and the role his family has played in its heritage, and the preservation of that heritage. One of his family members is a renowned historian and an aunt is the great-granddaughter of Emperor Dong Khanh. “Minh is born of an old Hue family,” said Walter. “This adds an incredible dimension to the guest experience at La Residence.”
Ahmed Shuhan, born and brought up on an island in the southern Maldivian atoll of Addu, has taken up the position of Resort Manager overseeing guest operations at the Baros Maldives. Mr Shuhan studied in Malaysia where he obtained a Degree in Hotel Management, and joined Baros as a Human Resources Manager in 2006, at a time when the resort had undergone a major restoration. He soon advanced to Front Office Manager and later became the resort’s Executive Assistant Manager in 2012. Mr. Shuhan’s appointment as Resort Manager is in keeping with the emphasis that Baros Maldives places on creating a uniquely Maldivian approach to holiday hospitality. Having spent a number of years at Baros already, his knowledge, commitment and passion for Baros gives him a deep understanding of guest expectations and requirements for the perfect holiday.
The Latest in Hotel Openings
In Vienna the Palais Hansen is scheduled to welcome its first guests in March. The Kempinski Hotel Palais Hansen is located in a heritage-protected ancient building, which is currently being transformed. All three open space patios will be roofed by glass-sky-windows. The lobby lounge, which is located in the middle of one the patios, will be the hotel's centre point. The rooms will be sized between 40 and 45 square meters, suites will measure up to 300 square meters (presidential suite). This hotel will be Kempinski's first property in Vienna.
The Four Seasons Hotel has opened in Baku, Azerbaijan. ReardonSmith Architects, located in London, designed the 175-room property. The design style references the French Beaux-Arts style of the late 19th century, such as the bronze door and window frames, iron railings and balustrading to the guestroom balconies. The ground floor is designed on a primary and secondary axis so guests can see key public areas from the hotel lobby. A feature staircase takes guests to the first floor, which is entirely dedicated to banqueting. The ballroom is 600 sq. m. and column-free. Guestrooms either offer views of Baku or the Caspian Sea. The center of the guestroom floors features a Roman basilica under a vaulted ceiling that houses a swimming pool. The hotel also features a rooftop spa, a specialty restaurant and bar, and numerous private dining rooms.
Minor Hotel Group is expanding its presence in the United Arab Emirates with the launch of its first hotel in Dubai. The Anantara Dubai Palm Jumeirah Resort & Spa on the crescent of Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah, is scheduled to open in September 2013. Set amidst lush landscaping, the new resort and spa will offer a total of 293 guest rooms and suites clustered in units of four to eight to maximise privacy, with 130 guest rooms featuring direct access to 11,000 square metres of lagoon pools.
The Prince Hotel in Hong Kong, managed by Marco Polo Hotels, has completed its comprehensive 14-month refurbishment programme. The refurbishment programme was carried out in various phases and floor by floor, to minimise guest disturbance. All guestrooms and suites are now decorated with new carpets, curtains, wallpaper, upholstery and art pieces to create a more welcoming ambience. Some are equipped with spacious shower cubicle. The programme’s final phase was focused on transforming the guest experience of The Continental Club floors by re-imaging and upgrading the rooms, suites and The Continental Club Lounge.
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