Continental Dream: New Zealand route
Continental disclosed plans to launch nonstops to Auckland, New Zealand, from its Houston hub on Nov. 16, 2011, using Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Continental, which is slated to take delivery of the first of 25 Dreamliners in August 2011, said it's the first carrier to lay out firm plans for the new aircraft on a specific route. Assuming the plan survives the proposed merger with United, the move also suggests an enhanced future role for Houston as an intercontinental connecting hub for the Star Alliance, which includes Air New Zealand.
Hilton inks deal for Dead Sea resort
Hilton signed a deal with Dead Sea Resorts to manage the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center on Jordan's Dead Sea coast, and to manage a 285-room adjacent hotel that will open in the fourth quarter of 2013 as the Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa. The complex is part of an integrated community with residences, leisure activities and retail.
Spirit plans more Colombia service
Spirit plans to add a Fort Lauderdale-Barranquilla route on July 29, giving it five destinations in Colombia. The carrier already serves Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin and Armenia.
Priceline guarantee covers 'Your' price
Priceline rolled out a price guarantee for its "Name Your Own Price" feature, advising users that if they find a lower rate up to the day before check-in, Priceline will match it and put a $25 refund on their credit card. The offer covers hotels of at least two stars.
Celebrity Mercury goes to TUI venture
The Celebrity Mercury will transfer to TUI Cruises following its scheduled departures through Feb. 14. The 1,898-passenger Mercury will be the second Celebrity ship to join the German line. TUI Cruises, a joint venture of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Germany's TUI AG, was launched in May 2009 with the Celebrity Galaxy, now the Mein Schiff. The Mercury will be Mein Schiff 2.
Deilmann ship to return June 7
Peter Deilmann Cruises said its Deutschland will return to service for a June 7 Baltic cruise from Hamburg, Germany. The ship was disabled by an engine room fire in Norway that forced the evacuation of 607 passengers and crew. The ship was being towed to Germany for repairs.
Boutique operator adds historical inn
Luxury boutique hotelier US Hotels took over management of Maine's Asticou Inn. The 48-room property is a 19th century landmark on Mount Desert Island, near Acadia National Park. US Hotels manages a small collection of hotels and restaurants, including the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, and Vermont's Windham Hill Inn.
Delaware North grows in Montana
Delaware North acquired two more hotels in West Yellowstone, Mont., the 66-room Yellowstone Park Hotel and the 103-room Gray Wolf Inn & Suites. The company, which acquired the 123-room Holiday Inn West Yellowstone last year, also operates retail concessions in the park for the National Park Service.
Friends & Colleagues
Dave Herbert resigned this month as managing director of African Travel, the company he founded in 1976. The company is a subsidiary of the Travel Corporation. Herbert said he would stay on to assist with the transition as TravCorp searches for a successor. Herbert, a native South African, set up a travel company in South Africa in 1971. He established African Travel in Chicago in 1976. In 1999, Herbert sold the company to Far & Wide. Four years later, the conglomerate went bankrupt, taking African Travel into bankruptcy with it. "I went to the auction to buy the company back," Herbert recalled, but TravCorp put in a higher bid. Herbert returned to South Africa to serve as a director for African Travel. In 2006, he was appointed the company's managing director.
This column appeared in the May 31 issue of Travel Weekly.