Brittania: Naming fit for a queen

Queen Elizabeth II did the honors of naming P&O Cruises' newest ship, the Brittania, with Capt. Paul Brown at her side. The Brittania, which is primarily marketed in the U.K., carries 3,600 passengers and will sail from Southampton, England, this summer. The queen named the Queen Elizabeth in 2010, the Queen Mary 2 in 2004 and launched the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1967.

Hilton expands free WiFi for loyalty club
Hilton Worldwide will extend free WiFi to all members of its loyalty program who book direct and through travel agents who use a Hilton-owned distribution channel or a GDS, starting in August. Free WiFi is already available to HHonors Diamond and Gold members who book that way; the new policy adds Blue and Silver members. Loyalty members who book through online travel agencies or other methods that don't involve a Hilton-owned channel or a GDS aren't eligible.

Former James Royal Palm joins Starwood
The James Royal Palm was sold for $278 million and is now the Royal Palm, Miami-South Beach. In June it will join Starwood Hotels & Resorts' yet-to-be named collection of independent hotels. The 393-room beachfront property will operate under Starwood's Luxury Collection brand until then.

Carnival Corp. puts shorex under one roof
Carnival Corp. consolidated its shore excursion and port functions for all nine of its cruise brands in one new office under Marie McKenzie, vice president of global destinations services and sourcing. Carnival brands now offer 20,000 shore excursions from 725 ports around the world.

Alaska Air to launch O.C.-Mexico service
Alaska Airlines will launch nonstop, year-round service from Orange County, Calif., to both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, pending government approval. Alaska currently operates 36 weekly peak-season flights to Puerto Vallarta and 50 weekly peak-season flights to Los Cabos.  

First Dollywood hotel to open in August
The first hotel at Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park is taking reservations for an Aug. 18 opening. Dollywood's DreamMore Resort will be located next to both the theme park and Dollywood's Splash Country water park in Tennessee and will include more than 300 rooms and cover 100 acres.

Lyft to use funding to finance expansion
Lyft received $530 million in funding from Japan-based e-commerce firm Rakuten. Lyft plans to use the funds to broaden its coverage in 65 U.S cities, improve technology and expand its Lyft Line product, which lets multiple customers share rides.

Starwood adds first luxury hotel in Keys
Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Luxury Collection has added its first Key West hotel, Sunset Key Cottages. Situated on the 27-acre Sunset Key island and accessible only via boat from the Key West proper, the 40-cottage property has a waterfront restaurant and a spa.  Starwood also has a Westin and a Sheraton in Key West.

Lufthansa expands premium economy
Lufthansa's first A380 with Premium Economy class seating took off last week from Frankfurt to Houston. The seating will be available on all Lufthansa A380 routes by April 22. Lufthansa's Premium Economy passengers get up to 50% more legroom, welcome drinks, meals served on china, and "high-end amenity kits." Lufthansa launched its Premium Economy service in December on its Boeing 747-8s and is gradually rolling it out to the rest of its long-haul fleet.

Friends & Colleagues
Carlson CEO Trudy Rautio will retire in May after almost 18 years with the Minnesota-based company. Upon Rautio's retirement, Carlson, the parent of Carlson Wagonlit, will be split into hospitality and travel divisions. COO David Berg will become CEO of Carlson Hospitality, while Doug Anderson, who has been Carlson Wagonlit's CEO since 2008, will retain leadership of Carlson Travel. Rautio was named Carlson's CEO in 2012. • • • Tour operator Vacation Express appointed Maggie Valz and Barbara Tautkus to the positions of senior business development managers. Valz joined Vacation Express in early 2013 as a business development manager; Tautkus has been with Vacation Express for over 20 years. In their new roles, Valz and Tautkus will focus on business development manager training and travel agency sales. • • • The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas named Carlos Blanco general manager. Blanco formerly was general manager at Jumby Bay in Antigua, a Rosewood Resort. He also served in executive posts at Viceroy Zihuatanejo and Villa La Estancia in Cabos San Lucas. • • • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel has promoted Mitch Jordan to director of sales. Jordan has been with the hotel's sales department for nine years; in 2013, he was named the property's Sales Executive of Year. • • • Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has appointed Mario Busquets as its director of sales for all its New York City hotels. Busquets has spent more than 20 years in the hospitality industry both in the U.S. and abroad. Previously, Busquets worked at the W New York as an account director and most recently the director of sales and marketing. Before that he served as senior sales manager and guest services manager for Sheraton Seattle Hotel & Towers.

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