Direct Travel makes two acquisitions
Direct Travel disclosed two acquisitions: Caldwell Travel of Brentwood, Tenn., and Travel Destinations Management Group (TDMG) of Owings Mills, Md. Terms were not disclosed. Caldwell, founded in 1977, reports annual air volume of about $50 million and serves Nashville-area clients with a focus on the healthcare sector. TDMG, established in 1970, is a $100 million agency with a focus on Baltimore-area clients in the pharmaceutical sector. Direct Travel was No. 21 on Travel Weekly's 2013 Power List, with annual volume of $575 million.
Virgin Hotels picks Nashville for 3rd site
Virgin Hotels, the lodging venture of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, plans to open a 240-room hotel in Nashville in 2016. The property, to be built in the Music Row area of the city, will have a recording studio. The first Virgin hotel is slated to open in the landmark Dearborn Bank Building in the Chicago Loop in September, followed by New York in 2016.
Boeing's 8,000th 737 delivered to United
Boeing delivered the 8,000th 737 aircraft, a next-generation 737-900ER (extended range) model, to United. The 737 is the only commercial aircraft in history to reach that milestone. Boeing, which has some 3,700 737s on order, delivered the first versions to Lufthansa and United in 1967.
Fiji Airways, Etihad agree to link networks
Etihad and Fiji Airways inked an interline and codeshare deal that will facilitate reciprocal sales in selected markets worldwide and add Fiji as a new destination in Etihad's global network.
MGM forms venture with Hakkasan Group
MGM formed a joint venture with the Hakkasan Group, a unit of Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, to continue the company's plan for developing and managing nongaming hotels. MGM in 2007 formed MGM Hospitality for the purpose of developing MGM Grand, Bellagio and Skylofts hotels around the world, but only one has opened so far, the MGM Grand Sanya on China's Hainan Island. Hakkasan, noted for restaurant and nightlife operations, including its restaurant and nightclub at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, will contribute existing projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to the joint venture.
Krystal to rebrand Hyatt Regency Cancun
The Hyatt Regency Cancun will be rebranded as the Krystal Grand Punta Cancun on May 1. Due to the change in management and brand, Hyatt Gold Passport members will not receive program benefits after April 30 except for redemptions requested and confirmed prior to March 14, which will be honored as booked. Hyatt retains the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, which opened in November as an adults-only, all-inclusive resort. The rebranding gives Krystal two resorts in Cancun, in addition to properties in Acapulco, Ixtapa, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Puerto Vallarta.
Hilton's Waldorf brand opens in Jerusalem
Hilton opened the 226-room Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem on the site of the former Palace Hotel, retaining part of the 80-year-old facade. Opening next year are indoor lap pools, fitness center, wet and dry sauna rooms and a spa. The hotel also features nine meetings and events rooms, including a 7,800-square-foot ballroom.
Friends & Colleagues
Pacific Delight Tours President Larry Kwan retired last week and was succeeded by Eric Oborski, former president and founder of InConTra. Kwan had served as president of Pacific Delight since 2009. He joined the company as senior vice president in 1973, having worked with the tour operator's late founder, Francis Luk. Oborski started his career in 1969 as a travel consultant and outbound travel manager for Joe Grace's Travel Center of Japan in Tokyo. He moved to New York in 1971 to become sales and operations manager, and later general manager, at Orient Paradise Tours. In 1991, Oborski founded InConTra as a joint venture with Jalpak, a Japan Airlines subsidiary. Oborski joined Pacific Delight in 2013 as an executive consultant on global destinations. • • • Classic Travel Service has named Barbara Gallay its vice president of online hotel partnerships. She will oversee, negotiate and coordinate agency/hotel agreements and relationships for its online platform. Previously, Gallay was the owner and president of Linden Travel. In 2009, she sold Linden to Frosch Travel and remained as president of the New York office for the next three years. • • • Ian Schrager Co. has tapped former Denihan Hospitality Group executive Danette Opaczewski as its new COO. Opaczewski will help lead the boutique hotelier's efforts, which include the Public brand and a partnership with Marriott International on the Edition badge. Opaczewski previously served as executive vice president of operations and technology for Denihan, which oversees the James and Affinia hotel brands. Prior to Denihan, she served as vice president of finance and operations at Morgans Hotel Group, which Schrager founded in 1984. Schrager sold his stake in 2005. • • • Island Air appointed Edward Davidson COO, taking over for interim COO Tim Rainey. Davidson worked most recently as vice president of flight operations at Porter Airlines, Canada's third-largest air carrier. Davidson also served as the senior vice president for Emirates Airline and Group in Dubai.