NEW YORK -- Marilyn
Carlson Nelson, chairwoman and CEO of Carlson Cos., made it
official last week: She waved a wand (literally) and named the
firms cruise business Regent Seven Seas Cruises, leaving behind the
previous name, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.
Carlson is merging
two upscale businesses, the cruise operation and Regent
International Hotels, under a common brand. The company said it
chose a name most suggestive of luxury.
Radisson Seven Seas
has been pondering a name change for several years. One might ask
why the new name and the merger hadnt happened sooner. We earned
our way into this, Nelson said.
Picking up her
thought, Jay Witzel, CEO of Carlson Hotels and Carlson Cruises,
said that by building a luxury cruise business from the ground up,
Carlson proved to itself that it should bring together the brands
under the Regent name. Carlson has operated the five-star Regent
hotel chain since 1997.
It has been a
journey, Witzel said.
Mark Conroy, newly
named president of the Regent business on land as well as at sea,
said the cruise line is in a position to help in the development
and growth of the hotel business, which has eight properties but
will open nine more in the next two years.
In its early
phases, by contrast, the fledgling cruise line benefitted from its
association with the Radisson hotel business, said Conroy, who was
president and CEO of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.
In conjunction with
the realignment, Carlson announced a fleetwide upgrade to the
Regent ships and stepped up the firms commitment to the global
Over the next 18
months, Witzel said, travel agents and customers will see enhanced
suite design, decor, amenities and technology. Regent also will
roll out or expand products and services on its four
described as a multimillion-dollar investment, will include
upgrades to all soft goods in guest suites and public spaces. New
technology will encompass flat-screen TVs, DVD players, clocks and,
in top-category suites, iPod music systems.
wireless Internet access and cell phone service will be available
on the ships. Work will begin first on the Seven Seas Mariner on
The cruise line had
previously rolled out, in a soft launch last year, its Regent
Travel Concierge program, designed to help passengers customize
their experiences. Guests can choose from a variety of Concierge
Collection land trips, but they may also arrange -- in advance of
travel -- tour and hotel arrangements or dinner reservations.
The line also had
previously launched its Circles of Interest program, which enables
cruisers, on select departures, to join small circles of travelers
who share a common interest. The group shares workshops, classes,
lectures and customized tours led by experts on the featured
Carlson said the
Circles concept will be expanded with 10 themes in 2006: antiques,
jewelry and shopping; art design and museums; the environment and
marine life; exploration and wellness; families and friends; food
and wine; history, archaeology and literature; the performing arts;
photography; and romance.
Nelson said the
company is committed to the growing global luxury market, and I
think of it as redefining luxury.
For Regent, Nelson
said, the meaning of luxury comes down to three things: choice
(offering the broadest possible range of options), access (often on
an exclusive basis to atypical attractions) and intimacy (a
To contact the
reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].