News Briefs, Week of Feb. 23, 2009

Southwest to add Boston this year
Southwest, continuing a trend of growing into airports that it formerly shunned, disclosed plans to serve Boston's Logan this fall. No specific routes or service plans were disclosed, but the carrier said it would start with a "conservative" operation using two gates. For years the carrier has served the region through Manchester, N.H.; Providence, R.I.; and Burlington, Vt., studiously avoiding Boston. More recently, it expanded to San Francisco and is planning new service at Minneapolis and New York LaGuardia.

JAL hotels to open Nikko in Vietnam
JAL Hotels is planning to bring its Nikko brand to Ho Chi Minh City. The 335-room Hotel Nikko Saigon is expected to open in October 2011 in a new commercial complex, the Royal Center Project.

CityCenter hotel sets opening date
The Aria Resort & Casino being developed as part of Las Vegas' massive CityCenter starts taking reservations Feb. 23 for arrivals on or after Dec. 17. The 4,000-room, steel-and-glass hotel is the centerpiece of the $9 billion CityCenter being built by MGM Mirage and Dubai World.

JetBlue will allow refunds for job loss
Hoping travelers will "book with confidence," JetBlue is offering refunds to customers who "experience involuntary full-time job loss" prior to their trip. The offer is valid for travelers who book between Feb. 1 and June 1 and lose their job on or after Feb. 17. Refunds must be requested 14 days prior to departure.

Omni gets nod for Dallas hotel
The Dallas City Council picked Omni Hotels to operate a 1,000- room, city-owned hotel that is scheduled to open in 2011. The planned hotel will be connected to the Dallas Convention Center, which has several hotels nearby but none adjacent. The $346 million development project calls for a hotel with a 720-space parking garage and some 150,000 square feet of meeting and function space.

Allegiant Air to feature LAX
Allegiant Air said it would add Los Angeles as its sixth featured destination in May with service from a dozen smaller origin points such as Medford, Ore., Billings, Mont., Springfield, Mo., and Fargo, N.D. The leisure travel specialist also offers flights and travel packages from such points to Las Vegas, Phoenix and three Florida points: Fort Lauderdale, St. Petersburg and Orlando Sanford.

W brand to open in Paris in 2011
France is getting its first W Hotel.Starwood signed a deal with the Barcelona-based Meridia Capital to open the 90-room W Paris-Opera in 2011 in a 19th century building close to the Galeries Lafayette and Place Vendome.

Small cruise line to relaunch in '09
The assets of American Safari Cruises were acquired by InnerSea Discoveries, a new company formed by the line's former chief, Dan Blanchard, who intends to operate American Safari-branded yacht cruises beginning with the 2009 Alaska season. Information is online at  

Friends & Colleagues

Less than two years after Tim MacDonald took the helm of Classic Vacations, he's returning to the technology sector of parent company Expedia Inc., where he is now general manager of Expedia U.S. Greg Bernd, vice president of sales at Classic, and David Hu, CFO and vice president of business operations, were named co-presidents of Classic Vacations. Bernd has been with Classic for 25 years, and Hu has held his position since 2006. Bernd will continue to focus on customer and agency relations, and Hu will oversee internal operations. • • • Darren Law has been appointed president and CEO of Palmera de Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, a 138-suite, five-star beach resort and spa in Cabarete that is slated to open in late 2011. Law brings 20 years of experience in hotel operations, development and asset management to the position. Most recently, he was the managing director of the Hartling Group, responsible for overseeing new projects and the performance of existing operations for the company's three Turks and Caicos hotels: the Regent Palms, the Shore Club on Long Bay Beach and the Sands at Grace Bay Resort. • • • Patrick Blangy has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Taj Boston, a luxury hotel overlooking the city's Public Garden. Blangy's experience includes stints with Orient-Express, the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa on Maui and Renaissance Hotels International. • • • Peter Kacheris has been named managing director of the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and the adjoining Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, which are scheduled to open Oct. 1. A 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Kacheris most recently served as general manger of Starwood's 2,265-room Swan and Dolphin Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.


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