U.K. agrees to sell its 40% stake in Eurostar


The U.K. government agreed to sell its 40% stake in high-speed rail service Eurostar for about $1.15 billion. The other Eurostar shareholders, SNCF and SNCB (the national railway companies of France and Belgium), have the option to acquire the stake if they offer 15% more. Danny Alexander, the U.K.'s chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Eurostar sale is part of a plan to sell commercial and financial assets worth $30 billion between 2014 and 2020.

AMResorts to open Secrets in Costa Rica
AMResorts will add a second Costa Rica property with the opening of the adults-only Secrets Papagayo Resort & Spa in the Guanacaste region on Nov. 11. The company assumed management of the former Hilton property in February and plans a six-month renovation. Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica opened late last year.

Preferred Hotels unite as single brand
The Preferred Hotel Group collection of about 650 independent properties, which formerly included brands such as Summit and Sterling, will unite under one brand: Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Its redesigned website reflects the single brand. Preferred's collection includes the Mark in New York, Hotel Nikko in San Francisco and Hotel Napoleon in Paris.

Nexion targets novices with training program
Host agency Nexion introduced the NEXstart training program for new entrants, using the Travel Leaders of Tomorrow training as its core. Students will work with members of Nexion's business development team to create business plans and receive training on marketing initiatives and travel booking tools.

Royal's Oasis to move to Port Canaveral
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas will sail Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral for the 2016-2017 season, enabling the Harmony of the Seas, an Oasis-class ship currently under construction, to take its place in Port Everglades, the Fort Lauderdale port it has sailed from since it debuted in 2009.

Viceroy in at Chicago, out of Palm Springs
Viceroy Hotel Group will open a hotel in Chicago in 2017, its first in that city, and will hand off management and branding of its Palm Springs, Calif., hotel to Proper Hospitality, a new brand headed by Viceroy founder and former CEO Brad Korzen. The hotel will be rebranded as Avalon Hotel Palm Springs.

Bill seeks exemption for Mississippi vessel
Legislation was reintroduced in Congress last week to allow the historical paddlewheeler Delta Queen to ply the Mississippi River once again. The 88-passenger ship was acquired recently by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., which plans to have the vessel sailing again by summer 2016. Built in 1926, the wooden ship cannot legally sail overnight; U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) reintroduced legislation last week to restore the vessel's 40-year exemption from certain fire safety laws.

Regent's new ship to get culinary center
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will build the line's first culinary instruction center on the Seven Seas Explorer, the 750-passenger ship expected to enter service in summer 2016. The school will offer courses including healthy cooking, food and wine pairings, grilling and classes inspired by the destinations visited by the ship.

Friends & Colleagues
The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has hired Neal Carter as convention sales manager. Prior to accepting the post, Carter worked as a group sales manager at the DoubleTree Palm Beach Gardens and Executive Meeting Center. He has also worked at the Hilton McLean Tyson's Corner in the Washington area and with Modus Hotels, D.C. • • • American Express Global Business Travel announced the appointments of Evan Konwiser as vice president, Digital Traveler, and Christophe Tcheng as vice president, core products and platform architecture. Konwiser most recently served as COO of the Lark Travel Group, which he co-founded. Tcheng joins AmEx Global Travel from the Amadeus Technology Group, most recently serving as the head of research and development services and ecosystems. • • • The Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui has appointed Richard M. Simmons general manager. Simmons has spent more than two decades in hospitality management, most recently in Asia. He was hired as the general manager at the Hyatt Regency Johor Bahru in Malaysia in 2007, moved to the Grand Hyatt Macau in 2009 and most recently was the general manager of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Casino Manila in the Philippines.

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