Loews to manage D.C.s Madison

Loews Hotels on April 1 will take over management of the 353-room Madison, an independent luxury hotel in the nations capital that will be renamed The Madison, a Loews Hotel.

The move marks the return of the Loews brand to the Washington market after an absence of several years.

Avis, Budget, offer automated toll tags

Avis and Budget will offer cars with electronic toll collection devices starting in April.

In the Northeast, cars with toll tags will incur a daily fee of $1.50. The charge for drivers in Texas will be $2. In either case, the actual toll charges will be added to the passengers bill.

The Cendant Car Rental Group, parent of the two brands, this year plans to offer the devices in other areas in the Northeast and Texas, and in Florida and Illinois.

Crowne Plaza flags Moscow site

InterContinental Hotels Group has signed a deal to open its first Crowne Plaza property in Russia. 

Part of Moscows World Trade Center complex, the 572-room hotel was built in 1980 for the Olympics. An extensive renovation is planned before it opens as the Crowne Plaza Moscow -- World Trade Centre in 2007.

Canadas Transat buys Thomas Cook

Transat A.T., owner of tour operations in Canada and France and Air Transat, said it will buy Canadian agency network Thomas Cook Travel Ltd. from Thomas Cook AG for close to $6.4 million.

Transat said the deal would make it the biggest travel retailer in Canada, giving it 190 additional outlets (124 franchised and 66 owned) for a total of 430 locations. Included are 96 Marlin Travel and 94 Thomas Cook agencies and 22 foreign exchange sites -- 19 of them in Cook agencies.

Transats holdings include the Exit.ca online agency plus Club Voyages and TravelPlus.

Southwest fare cap rises to $309

Southwest has raised its one-way fare cap for the first time in four years, from $299 to $309, because of rising fuel costs.

Southwest said the cap increase will affect only 2% of its passengers. Most of the March 10 fare hikes were between $2 and $4.

Ryanair founder behind new venture 

Ryanair founder Tony Ryan and members of his family have invested in Viva AeroBus, a low-fare airline in Mexico that plans to start service in September. The majority shareholder will be IAMSA, Mexicos largest bus company.

Corporate agency named BCD Travel

BCD Travel is the name that BCD Holdings picked for the new travel management group it is forming following its split from Hogg Robinson.

The name goes into effect when BCD closes on its acquisition of TUIs corporate travel businesses, expected this month.

Mike Buckman, CEO of WorldTravel BTI in the U.S., will be the CEO of BCD Travel, which will be headquartered in Amsterdam.

Louisiana launches new ad campaign

Louisiana has launched a $7 million TV and print ad campaign, featuring celebrities inviting tourists to fall in love with Louisiana all over again. TV buys will likely focus on cities in Texas, Arkansas and other nearby states. National newspaper and magazine ads are also planned.

Strategic Resorts buys site in Mexico

Strategic Hotels & Resorts has acquired a 20-acre site for the development of La Solana Hotel and Villas in Nayarit, Mexico. The plot is adjacent to its Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. Planned are 70 hillside suites, a spa, a restaurant, a pool and shops. The hotel is expected to open in 2009.

Renamed, OneLink signs agency group

Onelink4Travel, a provider of booking and settlement services for nonair suppliers, has changed its name to OneLink Corp. and signed up IT Group of Ponte Verda, Fla. as the first agency group to adopt the OneLink portal at www.ccraonelink.com. Since February, Vacation.com agencies have been beta testing OneLinks hotel booking and settlement services.



Friends & Colleagues

Vail Resorts said Ed Mace will leave his post as president of its luxury lodging unit, RockResorts, and Vail Resorts Lodging Co. on April 15. William Hall will take over as vice president of the lodging division on April 15. Hall is vice president of operations for RockResorts and Vail Resorts Lodging Co. " " " The National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents has named Alleigh Grieder director of sales and marketing. Grieder was with Globus, where she was the home-based channel manager. " " " InterContinental Hotels Group has appointed Tom Conophy to the newly created position of chief information officer. Conophy was with Starwood, where he was executive vice president and chief technology officer. " " " Crestline Hotels & Resorts has named Jeanine Korm Glendon director of sales and marketing of the Churchill Hotel in Washington. Glendon was executive director of SAS Corp., a real estate holding company in Tysons Corner, Va. " " " Dieter Huckestein has been named president and CEO of Big Sky, Montana-based Yellowstone Club World, which expects to develop a portfolio of resort properties in 10 destinations around the world. Huckestein was chairman and CEO of Conrad Hotels. " " " Wimco, a Caribbean villa-rental company, has appointed Stiles Bennett director of marketing and Bob Brown director of sales. " " " Joslyn Sylvester-Gairy has been appointed director of the Grenada Board of Tourism, replacing William Joseph. Sylvester-Gairy is a former member of the Grenada Mission to the U.N. and had been CEO for two Brooklyn, N.Y.-based travel agencies for the last 19 years. " " " Virtuoso has named Clark Collins executive vice president of marketing. Collins was senior vice president of marketing for Washington Mutual.

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