Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: Dec. 7, 2006

HILTON HOTELS CORP. is creating a joint venture in India with real estate developer DLF Ltd. to develop and own 75 hotels and serviced apartments during the next seven years. The joint venture must still receive approval from the Indian government. Under the agreement, DLF, one of India's largest real estate firms, will own a 74% state in the company, while Hilton would own a minority interest and manage the properties. Hilton said it would invest up to $143 million during the next five to seven years in the venture. The joint-venture hotels will include such brands as Hilton Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hilton Residences. The first 20 hotels would primarily be Hilton Garden Inn properties in locations such as Kolkata, Chennai and Chandigarh.

INDIA also is part of the growth blueprint for Accor, which announced several partnerships in India that will expand several of its brands there, including its budget Formule 1 brand, its economy Ibis hotels, its mid-market Novotel properties and its upper-end Sofitel hotels. One agreement, between Accor and Dubai-based Emaar Properties, will develop 100 Formule 1 hotels with up to 80 rooms each in city locations throughout the country, with 10 hotels scheduled to open during the next two years. This agreement will involve a joint-venture investment of $300 million in phases and will add 10,000 hotel rooms catering to the budget traveler. Meanwhile, a joint venture between Accor and local developer Naman Developers Ltd. will invest $106 million to open the 300-room Sofitel Mumbai in the Bandra Kurla Complex in 2009. A second Sofitel, and Accor's first resort property in India, will open in Goa in 2009. In addition, the 260-room Sofitel Cabo de Rama is being developed by Uniworth Resorts, a member of the JB Group of Hong Kong.

W HOTELS said it will open its first hotel in Thailand, the W Retreat & Residences-Koh Samui, in late 2008. Starwood Hotels, the parent of W, entered into a management agreement with Amburaya Hotels to manage the property. The new-build, 70-villa property will be situated on a 26-acre site on Maenam Beach, at the northern end of Koh Samui, the third-largest Thai island. The property will feature 1,700-square-foot villas with separate living rooms, a restaurant, a pool bar and a spa. This will be the third W Retreat property worldwide, following the W Maldives, which opened in September, and the W Vieques (Puerto Rico), which is scheduled to open in late 2007.

CHINA EASTERN will begin the first nonstop service between Shanghai and New York (Kennedy) on Dec. 8, a route Continental is hoping to snag if it can get DOT approval. China Eastern will offer its service from Shanghai every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from New York every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The airline will use A340 aircraft configured for three classes for the flights, which will last more than 14 hours. Four U.S. carriers are seeking DOT approval to fly nonstop to Shanghai. Continental is hoping to fly to Shanghai from its Newark, N.J. hub.

CRYSTAL CRUISES said it will offer some three dozen land programs in Asia when the luxury line returns to the region in 2007. Four cruises are scheduled for departure between March 29 and May 1 aboard the Crystal Symphony. Cruises will range from 11 to 16 days and visit 17 cities in nine countries, including a maiden call at Chan May, Vietnam. A trans-Pacific cruise from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on March 11 will kick off Crystal's Asia program. Cruise fares will start at $4,295 per person, double. For information or reservations, call (888) 799-4625 or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

Asia-Pacific Editor:

Jorge Sidron

Phone: (973) 898-0011

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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