Royal takes delivery of Harmony in France
Royal Caribbean took delivery of the Harmony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, in Saint-Nazaire, France, on May 12. The Harmony, Royal's third Oasisclass ship, spans 16 decks and has 2,747 cabins with capacity for 5,479 passengers at double occupancy. It surpasses the Oasis and Allure of the Seas, which had been the largest. The ship's first cruise, a four-day sailing, departs Southampton, England, May 22. It will spend the summer in Europe, sailing seven-day cruises from Barcelona, and will move to Port Everglades in November, where it will operate seven-day Caribbean cruises.
Airlines score 10-year high in J.D. Power poll
Customer satisfaction with U.S. and Canadian airlines is at a 10-year high, according to the latest J.D. Power study. The results come on the heels of two studies, the American Customer Satisfaction Index Travel Report and one by the trade organization Airlines for America, that showed improving satisfaction with U.S. airlines. Alaska led traditional carriers in customer satisfaction for the ninth straight year, and JetBlue led the low-cost carriers for the 11th straight year.
Choice the latest to set book-direct rates
Choice Hotels International said that beginning this summer members of its loyalty program will get a discount when booking via Choice's online and mobile channels. Choice's brands include Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Rodeway Inn, Cambria and the Ascend Collection. Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG also offer discounts to customers who book direct. Marriott, Hilton and IHG are making those lower rates available to agents in GDSs.
SBE acquires Morgans hotels for $794M cash
SBE, owner of the SLS, Redbury and Hyde brands of lifestyle hotels, will acquire New York-based Morgans Hotel Group for $794 million in cash. With the acquisition, expected to close by year's end, SBE will broaden its hotel inventory from seven to 20 properties. It will take full ownership of San Francisco's Clift, New York's Hudson and Miami's Delano hotels and will be "working with lenders" to assume the mortgages of the Hudson and Delano, which Morgans put up for sale late last year.
Half Moon resort joins Preferred Collection
Half Moon resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, will become a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX Collection, effective June 1. Half Moon and RockResorts mutually terminated a management contract in April, and the property owners have been operating the resort independently.
Car-free Sundays on Paris' Champs-Elysee
As of May 8, Paris' Champs-Elysees will be car-free on the first Sunday of each month as part of a move to cut carbon emissions. Until now the busy eight-lane, 1.2-mile boulevard leading to the Arc de Triomphe has only been closed to vehicles on special occasions such as New Year's Day.
Star orders two ships for its Chinese market
Genting Hong Kong ordered two 5,000-passenger ships for its Star Cruises brand, for delivery in 2019 and 2020. The ships are to be designed for the Chinese domestic market, but Genting said they will be the first of a new Global class of ship intended to revive Star's international market position.
Friends & Colleagues
Travis Harper and Parker Schlank have been named to vice president positions with Travel Leaders Corporate. Harper was named vice president of sales. He joins Travel Leaders Corporate from Salesforce, where he served as enterprise account executive; prior to that, he was with PR Newswire, rising to executive account director. Schlank has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president of consulting and analytics. His previous roles within Travel Leaders Corporate included controller, vice president of finance, data and strategic partnerships and vice president of growth. • • • The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism welcomed two new directors: Canika John, director of marketing, and Frances Williams-Augustin, director of visitor experience for St. Croix. John worked 10 years for the U.S.V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, serving as catering sales manager at the Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, and most recently was the conference planner at the Department of Tourism. Williams-Augustin was with American Airlines for 23 years and most recently served as the marketing manager for St. Croix. She also has worked for a travel agency, Sutherland Tours, on St. Croix. • • • Miraval Group has hired ex-Denihan Hospitality executive Thomas Botts as its chief marketing officer. Botts was chief customer officer at Denihan, whose brands include James and Affinia. Prior to that, he worked with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Expedia's Hotwire.com division and Delta Air Lines.