News Briefs, Week of June 20, 2016

Disney opens doors at Shanghai theme park

Shanghai Disneyland, Walt Disney Co.'s first resort in mainland China, opened on June 16. The 963-acre theme park in Shanghai's Pudong district attracted tens of thousands of visitors on its first day. Shanghai Disneyland has six themed lands (Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove and Fantasyland), all of which surround the Enchanted Storybook Castle. It also has a pair of hotels: the 800-room Toy Story Hotel and 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. The $5.5 billion project is Disney's largest outside the U.S.

Windstar's Pride gets a $4.5M makeover
Windstar Cruises' Star Pride is back in service with refurbished public spaces and staterooms, including a complete renovation of two owner's suites. The suites have a new indoor-outdoor floor plan, with an extended private deck area affording views over the bow. Windstar parent Xanterra Parks & Resorts spent $4.5 million on the renovation, which also included the expansion of the Star Deck by four feet on each side, making space for additional deck chairs, and the expansion of Veranda, the aft deck restaurant, to include a new courtyard area. The Star Pride is sailing the Mediterranean this summer and will cross the Atlantic in October for a series of Caribbean cruises.

A third Amazon ship in the works for Aqua
Luxury river cruise line Aqua Expeditions will start construction in December on a third vessel to sail on Peru's Amazon River. The all-suite Aqua Amazon, scheduled to launch in December 2017, will feature 20 suites at 320 square feet each, a spa, a gym, a pool and a fleet of four tender boats for daily exploration.

Fla. bank issues first credit card for Cuba
Stonegate Bank of Pompano Beach, Fla., issued MasterCard credit cards for use in Cuba, the first bank in the U.S. to do so. The card will permit travelers to make charges at state-run businesses and private ones equipped with point-of-sale devices. U.S. visitors have only been able to bring cash and exchange it for Cuban currency at state institutions that impose a 10% fee. That move also allows Cuba tour operators to pay for client visas by check or credit card rather than in cash.

Singapore Air to fly nonstops to San Fran
Singapore Airlines will begin nonstop San Francisco-Singapore service on Oct. 23. The announcement came just two weeks after United launched its service between San Francisco and Singapore. The launch of the flight marks a resumption of nonstop U.S.-Singapore flights for the Asian carrier. Singapore used to fly from Changi to Los Angeles and Newark but suspended those routes in 2013 amid rising fuel costs.

Wellness rooms added at six Marriott hotels
Six Marriott International hotels have added Delos' Stay Well room improvements that target wellness-seeking guests. Rooms were upgraded to the Stay Well standards at the Charlotte Marriott City Center, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Richmond (Va.) Marriott Short Pump, Residence Inn Orlando Lake Nona, Courtyard Orlando Lake Nona and Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. Among the Stay Well amenities are air-purification and water-filtering systems, circadian-rhythm lighting, a memory foam mattress derived from plant extracts, healthy menu items and guided meditations narrated by Deepak Chopra.

Friends & Colleagues
Jill Jefferis has accepted the title of director of global engagement for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE). Jefferis, who succeeds Amber Kelleher, will assume responsibility for the association's global education and member engagement programs. A 20-year business travel industry vet, Jefferis most recently served as director of API management for Carey International. She began her career with Rosenbluth International in 1996. • • • Tom Garzilli has been named chief marketing officer of Brand USA. Garzilli has been with the organization since 2013. Prior to that he was managing partner of Custom Marketing Group, a destination, marketing and custom publishing company he co-founded in 1992. He got his start in the business at his family's wholesale travel company, Flyfaire Vacations, from 1978 to 1989, before moving on to American Express Vacations. • • • Experient, a Maritz Global Events Company, has hired veteran sales executive Jamie Murdock as its vice president of sales. Murdock has spent more than two decades in sales. Prior to joining Experient, he led the national sales team for Disney Destinations: Walt Disney World, Disneyland and the Aulani resort. He has also held sales executive leadership roles at Zentila, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Gaylord Hotels. • • • Following recent elections and a change of party rule in St. Lucia, Dominic Fedee was named minister of tourism, information and broadcasting by newly elected prime minister Allen Chastanet, who held the tourism post from 2006 to 2011. Fedee replaces Lorne Theophilus, who served as tourism minister from 2011 to 2016. Fedee formerly was a member of Parliament and earlier served as a regional public relations manager for Sandals Resorts.


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