News Briefs, Week of March 24, 2008

Hyatt builds resort on China Beach 
Hyatt broke ground on a $100 million resort slated to open in 2010 on Vietnam's famed China Beach in Danang. The 226-room Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa on China Beach, funded by Indochina Capital, will the first internationally branded hotel on the beach and joins the Park Hyatt in Ho Chi Minh City as the second Hyatt property in Vietnam.

JetBlue adds space ... for an extra fee 
JetBlue reconfigured its A320 aircraft to increase the seat pitch to 38 inches in rows two through five and in two exit rows, and, effective for travel April 1, is adding a fare premium of $10 or more for those seats, depending on the length of the flight. Other rows were standardized at 34 inches (some had been 36). The seats are bookable by phone or online but not through the GDSs.

AirOne gets OK for first U.S. routes 
Italian low-fare airline Air One received Transportation Department approval to serve Boston and Chicago nonstop from Milan. The carrier plans to start service on June 14, with connections to additional U.S. points via United (via Chicago) and US Airways (via Boston).

Aloft opens books for first 5 hotels 
Starwood began accepting consumer and agency bookings for its first five Aloft hotels, its new loft-style lifestyle brand that was developed as the W brand's more affordable sibling. 
The hotels are in Rogers-Bentonville, Ark.; Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (both opening Aug. 14); Lexington, Mass. (Sept. 1); Charleston, S.C. (Sept. 4); and Philadelphia (Oct. 8).   

Dubai to launch low-fare airline 
Dubai is setting up a new airline to offer low-fare service throughout the Middle East, Asia and North Africa. As yet unnamed, the new airline will be initially supported by Emirates during the start-up phase but will not  be part of the Emirates Group, according to a spokesman for Emirates in the U.S. Ghaith Al Ghaith, Emirates' executive vice president, commercial operations worldwide, was named CEO of the new company.

New Quark ship will nuke the ice 
Quark Expeditions added a nuclear-powered icebreaker to its fleet, the Russian-built 50 Years of Victory, said to be the largest icebreaker ever built and capable of breaking through ice up to 9.2 feet thick. The 128-passenger vessel will debut on June 23 with a maiden voyage from its home port of Murmansk to -- where else? -- the North Pole.

Disney goes long in Canaveral deal
Disney Cruise Line will homeport its ships in Florida's Port Canaveral through 2023, including its two upcoming newbuilds.  
To accommodate the larger ships, expected in 2011 and 2012, the port will extend the dock, enlarge and enhance Disney's terminal building and add a multilevel parking structure. Disney said the facility would have several "Disney touches" for kids.

DeNiro to star in hotel opening
Actor and hotel developer Robert DeNiro is slated to be on hand for the April 1 opening of The Greenwich hotel in New York's Tribeca neighborhood. The hotel has 88 rooms, of which no two are alike. 

ARC MarketPlace adds CarTrawler
ARC and CarTrawler, a Dublin-based car rental distribution system, have partnered to bring a car rental booking capability to the ARC MarketPlace, an online shopping area for nonair products. The commission is 35% on the deposit only; the size of deposits varies by car company and other factors. CEO Greg Turley said the agency distribution deal was CarTrawler's first in North America.

Skybus adding, dropping routes 
Skybus, the low-fare airline in Columbus, Ohio, is launching several routes on June 1, including service to St. Augustine, Fla., from Chicopee, Mass., and Richmond, Va., and from New York's Stewart Airport to Portsmouth, N.H. The carrier is also reducing capacity in some markets in April and dropping service April 15 between Columbus and Chattanooga, Tenn., and between Greensboro/Winston-Salem, N.C., and Gulfport/Biloxi, Miss.

Court dismisses wrongful death suit
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court dismissed a suit against GWV International in which a Massachusetts couple was seeking damages after the death of their diabetic daughter during a GWV trip to the Dominican Republic. The state's top court said the case must be pursued in the Dominican Republic because a primary issue is the standard of medical care provided at the destination.



Friends & Colleagues

Trafalgar Tours announced the appointment of Adam Leavitt to the position of vice president of marketing. Leavitt's travel industry experience includes 10 years at Crystal Cruises, where he held various positions, including senior vice president of marketing, and Royal Cruise Line, where he served as director of marketing. Most recently, Leavitt was brand strategist at One Eighteen Advertising. • • • Ross Stevenson has been named general manager of Cap Maison, St. Lucia's first residential-style boutique property. It opens in July. Stevenson formerly was general manager at Cobbler's Cove on Barbados. • • • Aqua Hotels & Resorts promoted William Farnsworth Jr. to vice president of finance. He had been Aqua's director of finance. Before joining Aqua, Farnsworth spent many years with Rockresorts at their five-star destination properties in the Caribbean, New England, Wyoming and Hawaii. • • • Signature announced the addition of Michael von Wittenau as vice president of strategic business development. A 23-year veteran of the travel industry, von Wittenau has spent the past 10 years with Crystal Cruises, most recently as director of business development and group sales. • • • Arthur Coffey, president and CEO of Red Lion Hotels, has retired. He has been replaced by CFO Anupam Narayan. Coffey had been with Red Lion for 27 years and was named president and CEO in April 2003.

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