Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: Aug. 2, 2004

STARWOOD'S W HOTELS brand will debut in China with a 383-room waterfront hotel in Hong Kong. The property is scheduled to open in early 2008. The company also signed a letter of agreement to develop a W hotel in Shanghai. The W brand is Starwood's fastest-growing flag. Starwood has announced six new W hotels this year, including hotels in Barcelona; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Hoboken, N.J., and the Maldives.

UNITED will launch San Francisco-Ho Chi Minh City service via Hong Kong Dec. 9, marking the first scheduled service to Vietnam by a U.S. carrier in nearly three decades. The start of the service is contingent upon completion of the application process with Vietnam. The first flight will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 10, 2004, the third anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement.

MALAYSIA AIRLINES said it will begin service to Kuala Lumpur from Newark via Stockholm, effective Nov. 4. Currently, the airline flies to Kuala Lumpur from Newark via Dubai three times per week. The new Stockholm route will replace that service, maintaining three flights per week. Passengers can lay over in Stockholm or continue on the same day for the 12-hour 15-minute flight to Kuala Lumpur. The flights will be operated aboard a 777-200 Super Ranger aircraft with 12 first class, 33 business class and 233 economy class seats.

ACCOR launched the Sofitel Privilege card in the Asia market. The card offers cardholders benefits at Sofitel properties worldwide. With the rollout, Accor said it is trying to build a database of 50,000 high-frequency customers and VIPs in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 18 months. Accor said it is targeting customers in Thailand, Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea and Australia. The launch of the card in Asia coincides with the opening of two Sofitel properties in the Asia-Pacific region, the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney and the Sofitel Seminyak Bali.

TOURISM VICTORIA (Melbourne, Australia) appointed Leigh Arredondo to the position of regional manager, North America, effective Aug. 2. In his new post, Arredondo will drive North American marketing and development strategies. In addition, he will be responsible for managing regional distribution strategies and training programs for the North American market. Arredondo will be based in Tourism Victoria's Los Angeles office.

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