News Briefs, Week of Jan. 25, 2016

United to launch no-frills, basic fares


United Airlines will launch a no-frills, basic economy fare beginning in the second half of 2016. The carrier did not say what the tickets would entail, but such fares typically do not offer reserved seats and have stricter provisions on cancellations and changes than standard economy seats. The new fare class comes as ultra-low-cost carriers are expanding operations and follows Delta's 2012 rollout of Basic Economy and American's decision to launch a low-cost fare class this year.

VWP restrictions implemented by U.S.
Anyone who has been in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or after March 1, 2011, is no longer eligible to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Such individuals may apply for visas using the regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates. The Department of Homeland Security can waive the restrictions on a case-by-case basis. The VWP allows citizens of 38 countries to enter the U.S. without a visa for visits of up to 90 days. The new rules were passed by Congress in December.

Historic Yosemite hotels change names
Two Yosemite National Park hotels will change names in March because of a trademark dispute. The Ahwahnee Hotel will become the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, and the Wawona Hotel will become Big Trees Lodge. The U.S. National Park Service replaced Yosemite's primary concessionaire, Delaware North Cos., with Aramark, effective March 1, but Delaware North had trademarked the hotel names. Both hotels are on the National Register of Historic Places: the Ahwahnee was built in 1927, and the Wawona dates to the 19th century.

Scenic to expand into ocean cruising
River cruise operator Scenic will jump into ocean cruising with the launch of the Scenic Eclipse, a 228-passenger yacht, in 2018. The all-suite, all-balcony vessel's cabins will range from 344 to 2,500 square feet. The ship will have six dining options; Jacuzzis on the sun deck; several bars and lounges; and a nearly 5,000-square-foot spa. The Scenic Eclipse's maiden voyage is expected to embark Aug. 31, 2018, from Istanbul to Venice, followed by itineraries in the Americas, Antarctica, Europe,and the Arctic.

Little Dix Bay resort to shut for upgrades
The Rosewood Little Dix Bay will close in May for an 18-month renovation. The 99-room, beachfront resort on Virgin Gorda is slated to reopen in late 2017 with improvements to guestrooms, public areas, landscaping and infrastructure. Upgrades are also planned for the arrival area and for the Pavilion, Beach Grill and Sugar Mill restaurants. Rosewood wouldn't disclose how much would be spent on the property. The resort was opened in 1964 by Laurance Rockefeller, the son of John D. Rockefeller. Rosewood has overseen the property since 1993.

Tauck to enlarge cabins on Jewel ships
Tauck plans to increase the size of some cabins on its five Jewel-class river ships, which will result in a total cabin decrease from 59 to 49 on each vessel. On the second deck of each ship, some cabins will grow from 150 square feet to 225 square feet. The Swiss Emerald and Swiss Sapphire will be reconfigured next winter, while the Swiss Jewel, Treasures and Esprit will get larger cabins the year after that. The reconfiguration will eliminate the distinction between Tauck's Jewel and Inspiration ship classes.

Friends & Colleagues
Regent Seven Seas Cruises promoted Shawn Tubman to senior vice president of sales from vice president of national accounts. Shemain Grasso, senior director of national accounts, will fill Tubman's previous role. Also, in a realignment, several Regent executives were given new responsibilities. Carlos Garzon, vice president of sales operations, will lead the field sales and marketing teams, and Joseph Leon, senior director of business development and travel agency sales, will be in charge of the business development team. Barbara Staiger, vice president of key accounts, will lead the core team in Miami supporting high-producing retail agencies. • • • Travel Leaders Group has named Scott Friedman to the newly created role of vice president of business process. Friedman will lead the planning, identification and implementation of best practices for Travel Leaders Group's wholly owned travel agencies as well as oversee process improvement initiatives across the company. He joins from NEC Corp. of America, where he served as director of its business process improvement office. • • • Allegiant Air CEO Steve Harfst resigned on Jan. 15, effective immediately. Harfst had been on the job since December 2014. Allegiant did not name a replacement for Harfst, nor did the carrier say when a new CEO would be named. • • • Peter Strebel, a veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, has been named chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sales at Omni Hotels & Resorts. Strebel had been serving as the senior vice president of operations. Destination Hotels hired Andrew Arthurs as senior vice president and chief information officer for Destination Hotels and Lowe Enterprises. Arthurs joins the executive team at Destination Hotels with more than 15 years of technology experience in the hospitality industry. Most recently, he held the role of senior director of IT for Vail Resorts in Broomfield, Colo.

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