News Briefs, Week of May 28, 2007

Celebrity orders a fourth Solstice

Celebrity ordered a fourth 2,850-passenger, Solstice-class ship from German shipbuilder Meyer Werft, for delivery in the fall of 2011, even though the first in the series won't debut until next year. The Equinox and Eclipse follow in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Celebrity estimated the all-in cost to be about $798 million, based on current exchange rates.

Hawaii Superferry delays launch date

The Hawaii Superferry delayed its scheduled launch from July 1 to "late summer" because of a "delay in hand-over procedures at the shipyard," said a company spokeswoman. The vessel is still at the shipyard in Mobile, Ala., where it was built, awaiting Coast Guard inspection.

A spokeswoman for shipbuilder Austal USA said, "This is not uncommon. The Coast Guard physically inspects the vessel, item by item, everything from life vests to flashlight batteries, just as though there were passengers onboard." 

NCL signs up for recruiting program

NCL Corp. will give priority hiring status on its U.S.-flagged NCL America ships to veterans in an army employment program.

The line signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command to participate in the U.S. Army's Partnership for Youth Success program. Army recruits in the program will sign a statement of intent to interview for one of approximately 50 positions on NCL America ships upon completion of their term of service, NCL said. Some 500 U.S. corporations and public-sector agencies are part of the program.

Mandarin Oriental in Beijing project

Mandarin Oriental signed a deal to manage its first hotel in Beijing. The 241-room Mandarin Oriental, Beijing is scheduled to open in mid-2008 in a contemporary downtown complex that will include the headquarters of China Central Television. Aside from Hong Kong and Macau, the company has two other projects in development in China. A hotel will open on Hainan Island this year, and one will open in Guangzhou in 2010.

Marriott reflags hotel in Paris

Marriott has reflagged the former PLM Saint Jacques hotel in Paris. It is now the Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center. According to Marriott, which acquired the Left Bank property last year, it is the largest hotel convention site in Paris, with 757 rooms and 48,883 square feet of conference space.

Vladivostok Air seeks U.S. routes

Vladivostok Air filed a Department of Transportation application for rights to operate scheduled flights from Vladivostok and other Russian points to Anchorage and Seattle, beginning April 1. 

New York weighs sex tourism bill

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders reached agreement on a bill to combat trafficking in human beings. The measure includes language that declares it is a felony to knowingly sell travel services that facilitate prostitution. The parties said the proposal clarified existing law as it related to the business they called "prostitution tourism."

Frontier, Spirit tout Latin America plans

Frontier won final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to extend its route system to San Jose, Costa Rica, and began taking reservations for the new service, which will begin Nov. 30, operating four times a week from Denver with Airbus A319 aircraft. Frontier already serves Canada and Mexico, but this is the carrier's first route to Central America.

Spirit Airlines, meanwhile, continued its buildup of service in the region, disclosing plans for service between Fort Lauderdale and Managua, Nicaragua, beginning Aug. 2. Spirit is already in San Jose and Guatemala City and is planning service to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Lima, Peru.

Hurricane forecast: A to L, maybe more

The National Hurricane Center's annual forecast for the six-month Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1, calls for 13 to 17 named storms that could swell into seven to 10 hurricanes, three of which could be "intense," with winds above 110 mph.

The 2007 season already produced subtropical storm Andrea on May 9. (Weather systems become named storms when winds reach 39 mph; storms become hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph.) Last year's season was below average, but it followed the record-breaking 2005 season that produced Katrina, among others.

Radisson Edwardian plans London hotel

Radisson Edwardian Hotels set Sept. 10 as the opening date for what will be its 12th hotel in London, the Radisson Edwardian New Providence Wharf, a 169-room, four-star property in London's Docklands.

The location is said to be close to Canary Wharf, Excel (site of the annual World Travel Market) and Greenwich Park, an expected venue for some Olympic events when London hosts the Summer Games in 2012.

Friends & Colleagues

Hilton Hotels Corp. announced that Matthew Hart, the company's president and COO, will assume the role of president and CEO, effective Jan. 1. Hart, who also is a board member, will replace Stephen Bollenbach as CEO.   " " " ResortQuest Hawaii appointed Dana Washofski, director of marketing for the company's 26 properties on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii. She previously was the marketing communications manager for Marriott International Hawaii. ResortQuest also named Wendi Vasconcellos group sales manager. She had been leisure sales manager for Castle Resorts and Hotels.

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