News Briefs, Week of June 29, 2015

Virgin Gorda's Biras Creek closes doors

Biras Creek, a 33-suite resort in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, ceased operations due to what it termed "a variety of business reasons" on its Facebook page. It also said it was "exploring options to relocate" existing reservations. The 140-acre resort had been operated by Victor International, a Michigan-based developer of resorts. The company signed a 10-year lease on the property in 2006.

Barcelo to take full control of Occidental
Spain-based Barcelo Corporacion Empresarial, parent company of the Barcelo Group of hotels and resorts, agreed to acquire Occidental Hotels & Resorts with the purchase of a 57.5% stake from Spanish banking group Banco Bilboa Vizcay Argentaria. In May, Barcelo acquired a 42.5% stake in Occidental. The agreement is subject to approval by Mexican authorities.

Celebrity, MGM reach loyalty club pact
Celebrity Cruises and MGM Resorts International reached an agreement to give top-level loyalty club members at each company access to the other company's products. Celebrity members will gain benefits and special access to MGM concerts, events, entertainment venues and restaurants, while MGM members will be eligible for complimentary cruises.

Norwegian Air to fly from U.S. to Caribbean
Norwegian Air on Dec. 3 will launch seasonal service from three U.S. airports to the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The airline will operate flights to the two islands from New York Kennedy, Boston and Baltimore/Washington.

Airlines set Q1 record for bag, change fees
U.S. airlines collected a record amount of fees from passengers who checked bags or made changes to their reservations during the first quarter, the Associated Press reported. In the first three months of this year, airlines took in $1.6 billion in such fees, up 7.4% from the same period last year, the highest amount for the first quarter since bag fees started in 2008.

Dedicated airport pages for TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor has added dedicated airport pages, starting with a page about Singapore's Changi Airport. The company plans to have pages for 200 global airports with links on them about amenities, food options and nearby hotels. New York Kennedy and London Heathrow Airport are among airports to be added next month.

MSC Seaside features bowling, nine eateries
The MSC Seaside, the first MSC Cruises ship that will go right from the shipyard to the U.S., will feature a bowling alley and nine restaurants, including a pizzeria, seafood house, steakhouse and Japanese teppanyaki eatery. The ship will also feature 20 bars. It is scheduled to arrive in Miami in December 2017.

JetBlue expands Mint service to Boston
JetBlue will expand its Mint premium service to Boston on daily flights to San Francisco and weekly to Barbados, beginning in March, and daily flights to Los Angles in fall 2016. JetBlue also added Nashville as its 60th destination from Boston, to begin in the spring.

Friends & Colleagues
Crystal Cruises has named Bruce G. Setloff vice president of global charter sales and special projects. Setloff brings more than 35 years of luxury customer service, sales, hotel, operations and project management expertise and will oversee the management of specialized sales, charter sales and future special projects. He most recently worked at Azamara Club Cruises. • • • Grace Bay Resorts in the Turks and Caicos promoted Thierry Grandsire to the post of executive vice president of operations. Grandsire previously served as group director of operations of Grace Bay Resorts and general manager of Grace Bay Club. He will be responsible for overall operations of Grace Bay Club as well as Grace Bay Resorts' branded properties, The Residences and Villas. • • • Travel Impressions promoted Erin McCarthy to the position of vice president, marketing. McCarthy began as a reservations specialist at Travel Impressions at the age of 20. She most recently served as senior director of marketing. Her appointment is effective immediately. • • • Three new members have been elected to the MAST Travel Network's Board of Directors: Jill Loveless of Carefree Travel, Delavan, Wis.; Rosann Corpolongo, Eclipse Travel, Homer Glen, Ill.; and Karen Daly, MK All Around Travel, Oak Lawn, Ill. Dick Fislar of Picture Perfect Travel, Rock Island, Ill., was re-elected to the board, and the board retained him as chairman and CEO. • • • Rail Europe has appointed Zine Belhonchet, CFO of Rail Europe, the overseas business unit of VSC Group, to the additional position of CEO and president of Rail Europe Inc., the legal entity of Rail Europe in North America. Belhonchet has served as the CFO for the Rail Europe global business unit since May 2014. He joined Rail Europe in 1997.


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