Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: June 14, 2004

STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS said it will open the W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort in the Maldives in late 2005, becoming the company's first W resort. Starwood, W's parent company, said it formed a joint-venture company with Universal Enterprises to develop the resort, which will feature 80 "over-water" and beachfront villas on Fesdhu, a private island. Starwood will own 50% of the resort. Financial terms were not disclosed. The W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort will be the sole resort development on Fesdhu. Starwood said W Maldives-Fesdhu will combine Maldivian island village themes with W Hotels' contemporary designs and will feature many of the W brand's signature services, including its "whatever you want, whenever you want it" service commitment and W the Store. When it opens, W Maldives-Fesdhu Resort will be the brand's 21st property and its third in the Asia-Pacific region. The W brand was launched in the region with the opening of W Sydney in 2000. The W Seoul Walkerhill is scheduled to open in South Korea in July. Since last year, Starwood has expanded its portfolio in the Asia-Pacific region with the opening of the Sheraton Sanya Resort on Hainan Island, the Sheraton Jiuzhaigou Resort in Sichuan, the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand and the Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali, among others.

THE INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP signed contracts to manage nine properties in China. The properties include two Express by Holiday Inns, one InterContinental Hotel, three Holiday Inns and three Crowne Plazas. The re-branded, 271-room Express by Holiday Inn Zhengzhou in Henan province is open, while the others are under construction, with opening dates slated through 2006. InterContinental Hotels Group opened its first hotel, the Holiday Inn Lido, in Beijing in 1984. It now has 45 hotels in China.

HONG KONG-BASED SHANGRI-LA HOTELS AND RESORTS is getting into the spa business with the launch of a new brand, Chi, highlighting treatments based on Chinese philosophy and traditions, said Austin Frost, vp-int'l sales. The first Chi spa will open at the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok this month, and two more are slated to debut later this year, one at the group's Mactan Island Resort, Cebu, Philippines, and another at Shangri-La's Fijian Resort, Yanuca Island. Frost said the spa's name refers to good health and well-being. In traditional Chinese philosophy, "chi" is the life force that governs well-being, and to promote good health, chi must flow freely, he explained. Five more spas will come on line in 2005 at Shangri-La Maldives Resort & Spa, Villingili Island; Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Muscat, Oman; Pudong Shangri-La in Shanghai; Shangri-La's Sunny Bay Resort at Sanya and the Shangri-La Hotel & Spa at Haikou, both in China. Next up will be the property in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2006 and the property in Guilin, China, in 2007. These seven spas are debuting at the same time as the hotels, except in Shanghai, where the spa will launch at the same time as a new tower complex.

NORTHWEST AIRLINES announced dates for the start of service for its newest planes, the Airbus A330-200, between Tokyo, the U.S. West Coast and four Asia-Pacific destinations. Northwest's long-range 243-passenger A330s are equipped with 32 seats in business class and 211 seats in coach. The new planes will make their debut in the U.S. between San Francisco and Tokyo on Sept. 1, Portland and Tokyo on Oct. 1, and Seattle and Tokyo on Nov. 1. The A330 was designed to provide a high level of comfort and convenience, including 10-inch video screens, lie-flat seats in business class, and 110-volt outlets in the middle section of the coach cabin.

MARRIOTT INT'L said it will introduce its luxury Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott brands in Beijing in 2007 under a management agreement with Beijing Guohua Real Estate Co. Located on the eastern edge of the city's central business district on Changan Avenue, the 320-room Ritz-Carlton Beijing and the 591-room JW Marriott Hotel Beijing will be part of a large, mixed-use complex that will include eight residential towers, office space, retail shops, and a park and sports center. Construction on both hotels is expected to start this year. In Beijing, Marriott Int'l operates the 155-room Beijing Marriott West, the 212-room Renaissance Beijing Hotel and the 293-room New World Courtyard Beijing. In China and Hong Kong, Marriott Int'l operates 34 hotels across all of its brands.

EVA Air will introduce flights between Taipei and Sendai, a scenic coastal city in northeastern Japan, on Sept. 1 with two flights a week. Sendai will be the Taiwan-based carrier's fifth gateway in Japan and will complement service to Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sapporo. EVA will use a Boeing 767-200 on the route with room for 12 passengers in business class and 200 in coach.

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