News Briefs, Week of May 12, 2014

D.C. gets Travel and Tourism Week rolling

U.S. Travel Association and Destination DC staffers, along with meteorologist Ginger Zee of ABC's "Good Morning America," filmed a segment May 6 on the National Mall to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, an annual event designed to remind the public and policymakers of the economic importance of the travel industry. The front row, from left: Zee, on Segway; Kate Gibbs of Destination DC; and Jamie Morris, Sylvia Kindlain, Cait Douglas, Cathy Keefe and Roger Dow of U.S. Travel. George Washington, one of the Racing Presidents of the Washington Nationals baseball team, also made an appearance.

Amtrak moves into St. Paul's Union Depot
Amtrak moved its Twin Cities service into the restored St. Paul Union Depot and closed the former Midway Station between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Union Depot lost its intercity service on the eve of Amtrak's launch in 1971, when the railroad substituted Minneapolis for St. Paul. Opened in 1923 and renovated in 2012, the downtown Beaux Arts landmark also serves as a hub for intercity bus, local transit and upcoming light rail service.

TripAdvisor signs up Choice for booking app
TripAdvisor signed up Choice Hotels as its first hotel partner for an Instant Booking app that enables mobile users to book a hotel without leaving the TripAdvisor interface. Previously, users were redirected to the Choice website. The functionality is being tested, and the app is expected to launch later this year, Choice said.

Sheraton to manage hotel in Rwanda
Starwood plans to open a Sheraton hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2018. It will be Starwood's first in the country and its 50th in Africa. The 136-room hotel is expected to offer 62 serviced apartments for extended stays plus 9,700 square feet of meetings and function space.

Nashville center attracts Westin brand
Starwood said construction will start this summer on the 430-room Westin Nashville, across the street from Music City Center, the new convention center. The hotel, opening in 2017, will have 430 rooms plus a business center and nearly 26,000 square feet of meetings and function space.

Royal Caribbean puts another ship in Asia
Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas will cruise to Asia and Australia during the 2015-2016 season. The Legend will operate from Singapore to ports in Southeast Asia in the summer of 2015, shifting to Brisbane, Australia, in November for cruises to Australia and the South Pacific. Positioning cruises will take the ship from Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal to San Diego; from Ensenada, Mexico, to Honolulu; then to Sydney via French Polynesia, Fiji and New Caledonia; and finally from Sydney to Singapore. The Mariner of the Seas will also operate seasonally from Singapore while three other Royal ships, the Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, will be deployed in Australia in addition to the Legend.

Shangri-La opens in London skyscraper
Shangri-La opened its first hotel in London and third in Europe, the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard. The Shard is the 1,016-foot, multiuse skyscraper in London Bridge Quarter, designed by master architect Renzo Piano, that claimed the title of Western Europe's tallest building. The 202-room hotel occupies floors 34 to 52 of the 87-story building, offering unobstructed views.

AMResorts to reflag Cancun beach resort
AMResorts will reflag Cancun's Grand Oasis Viva under its Dreams brand in September, following an extensive renovation of the property. The hotel will be closed during renovations. The Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa, which will be the second Dreams resort in Cancun, will have 441 guestrooms and 14 restaurants, bars and lounges. The property, located on 650 feet of beachfront, also will have a kids' club.

Friends & Colleagues
Amanresorts founder Adrian Zecha has stepped down as chairman and CEO of the company he founded 24 years ago. Zecha leaves the company less than three months after it was announced that the resort operator was acquired from India-based DLF Ltd. by a joint venture that included Zecha and Peak Hotels. Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of sporting-goods company Head NV, will become chairman of Amanresorts' new parent Aman Group. Vladislav Doronin, chairman of Russia-based developer Capital Group, will become CEO of Aman Group. Zecha founded Amanresorts in 1988 and sold his stake to DLF in 2007 for about $400 million. Zecha co-founded Regent Hotels in 1972 and sold his share of that company in 1986. • • • Vicente Neto has been named president of Embratur, Brazil's tourism board. He replaces Flavio Dino, who held the post from 2011 to 2014 and who stepped down to campaign for the governorship of the state of Maranhao in Brazil. Neto served as a special adviser to the president of Embratur in 2013. Previously, he served as the national secretary of sports, education, leisure and social inclusion in the Ministry of Sport, after occupying the post of chief of staff for the same ministry. • • • MLT Vacations has tapped Loredana Costantino to serve as regional sales director for the Northeast. Costantino most recently worked in New York for Air France/KLM as director of marketing and e-commerce for the U.S. Joining Costantino's team as business development managers for the New York metropolitan and tristate region are Deborah Macellara and Lisa Orlando. Macellara joins MLT from parent company Delta Air Lines, where she most recently served as a senior national sales account executive. Orlando most recently worked as an outside sales associate.


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