News Briefs, Week of Aug. 27, 2007

Hotel suit continues in Louisville, Ky. 

A federal judge in Louisville, Ky., refused to dismiss claims against Internet-based hotel consolidators, including, that are defendants in a federal lawsuit over allegedly unpaid hotel taxes to municipalities.

The defendants had sought to dismiss claims by the plaintiffs, the Louisville/Jefferson County municipal governments, because they claimed they were not specifically described in local ordinances as responsible for hotel taxes. The suit is one of a number of similar legal actions around the country

US Airways to OK PayPal purchases

US Airways will soon begin accepting PayPal for online ticket purchases, perhaps by the end of this month. That will make it the third carrier to offer the option after Northwest, which began accepting it June 28, and Southwest, which started July 9.

PayPal is a preferred payment system for some Internet users that also saves airlines money on credit card merchant fees. PayPal, which has 100 million account members worldwide, enables anyone with an e-mail address to send and receive payments online using a bank account, credit card or stored balance.

AA to add another Buenos Aires route

American Airlines will begin daily, nonstop service from its Chicago O'Hare hub to Buenos Aires on Dec. 13. The airline was able to launch the service after a new aviation agreement was struck between Argentina and the U.S.

American already flies to Buenos Aires from Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and New York's Kennedy Airport. The airline will fly 221-seat Boeing 767-300 aircraft in a two-class configuration on the route.

Companies up use of economy hotels

Many corporations are staying in economy hotels more often to control lodging costs, according to a recent survey of travel managers completed by Runzheimer International. Although high-end hotels continue to be used most often by business travelers, economy hotel use is up 31% from the previous four years, said Runzheimer.

"Since nearly all hotel types offer free, high-speed Internet connection and continental breakfasts as the norm, companies are saving money by putting travelers in lower-cost hotels, without sacrificing service and traveler satisfaction," said Phyllis Schumann, Runzheimer's product manager of travel management services.

Budgetel is set to make its return

The Budgetel brand will make its reappearance on the U.S. hotel scene in early October, when a former Shoney's Inn in Bossier City, La., a suburb of Shreveport, is due to open after renovations of the 114-room hotel are done.

The Budgetel brand was retired by then-owner La Quinta in 1998, when all hotels were reflagged as Baymont Inns & Suites. In March of this year, an investment group led by Mike and R.C. Patel bought the Budgetel brand from The Blackstone Group.

Air China launches shuttle service

Air China launched Air Express, a service for passengers flying between Beijing and Shanghai. Air China offers 20 daily shuttle flights between the cities.

The airline has designated check-in counters, baggage service, security inspection and boarding channels for Air Express.

Doubletree opens in San Diego

The Doubletree Hotel San Diego Downtown opened. The 333-room hotel was formerly a Radisson, converting to a Doubletree after an $11 million renovation.

Carlson Wagonlit buys $80M agency

Carlson Wagonlit Travel acquired Preferred Travel, a corporate agency in the Boston area that does $80 million a year in air volume. The purchase brings approximately 85 new employees to CWT.

Liz Hatch, president of Preferred Travel, will work with CWT on the integration process, and then will leave the company.

After three years, LaSource to reopen

Grenada's LaSource resort on Pink Gin Beach, closed for three years since Hurricane Ivan destroyed it in 2004, plans to reopen on or about Dec. 15.

The 100-room, all-inclusive resort had grappled with insurance adjustors for more than two years, which delayed the start of reconstruction.

Hyatt Regency to open in Trinidad

The Hyatt Regency Trinidad will open in Port of Spain in December. According to Hyatt, the property will be the first full-service hotel to open on Trinidad since 1962. The 428-room hotel, which will cater to business and convention travelers, will be located in the Port of Spain International Waterfront Center, the financial epicenter of the city.

Aloft, Element show their colors

Starwood Hotels & Resorts unveiled the final proto-types of its two newest brands: Aloft (W's less expensive cousin) and Element (an extended-stay spin-off of Westin).

Aloft has an urban-influenced design, with loft-inspired rooms and large lobbies that include a bar, game tables and seating areas.

Element rooms and lobbies have a modern design that emphasizes open, flowing layouts.

Both feature grab-and-go snacks and light meals, and self-serve kiosks for check-in and checkout.

Friends & Colleagues

Isramworld has promoted three vice presidents to senior vice presidents. Ilana Apelboim is now senior vice president, chief operations officer worldwide; Eileen Lowe Hart is senior vice president, marketing and product development; andBetty Van Dyke is senior vice president, research, development and special projects. " " " Miraval Holding, a spa resort company, promoted Tracey Anne Latkovic to vice president of sales and named Travis Brady vice president of branding. Brady was director of consumer and customer marketing for Levi Strauss & Co.'s Dockers brand. " " " Travel Counsellors named Kim Sherrett manager of recruitment, responsible for the expansion of the home-based ranks in the U.S. Prior to joining Travel Counsellors, Sherrett was director of agent relations for Travel Planners International. " " " Island Outpost named Nick Simmonds director of operations for the company's boutique Jamaica resorts. He will continue in his job as managing director of the Goldeneye development in Oracabessa, Jamaica. " " " Destination Hotels & Resorts hired Ron Sandvig as director of sales for the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, Calif., a 582-room property slated to open in 2009. Sandvig most recently spent 10 years with Starwood Hotels & Resorts. " " " Wayne Cummings, general manager of Sandals Negril Beach Resort & Spa, was elected president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association for the 2007-2008 administrative year.


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