Small-ship line ready for launch
New entrant cruise line InnerSea Discoveries completed the refurbishment of two former Glacier Bay Cruiseline vessels for deployment in Alaska this summer. The 68-passenger Wilderness Discoverer and 60-passenger Wilderness Adventurer will offer one- and two-week Inside Passage "un-cruises" emphasizing nature and outdoor activities. InnerSea is a new brand created by Dan Blanchard and Tim Jacox, co-owners of American Safari Cruises.
Omni booking tool stays on Facebook
Omni Hotels launched a brand-wide Facebook reservations tool that enables users to book and confirm reservations without leaving the Omni Facebook wall. The firm called it "the first fully integrated Facebook booking tool" by a major hotel brand.
American testing streaming video
American Airlines began testing technology that will enable passengers to stream movies and TV shows from an in-flight library to their WiFi-enabled devices. Tests with the Aircell system are being conducted on two 767 aircraft and could lead to product rollout this fall.
Hyatt sets sights on Austin center
Hyatt and a franchisee, White Lodging Services, agreed on plans to build a 296-room hotel "within steps" of the convention center in Austin, Texas. Construction of the 14-story Hyatt Place Austin Downtown is expected to start in the third quarter. A 2013 opening is planned. It will be the fifth Hyatt in the Austin area.
DOT cracking down on bus safety
"Unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations" this spring and summer are part of a new Transportation Department effort to enhance bus and motorcoach safety. Inspection sites include amusement parks, national parks, casinos and sporting events, the DOT said. DOT also published a safety checklist for consumers at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
Sheraton brand eyes Punta Cana
Starwood is setting a winter 2012 opening for a 122-room Four Points by Sheraton in Punta Cana, which the company said will be the first major U.S. international brand to open in the Dominican Republic. The hotel, which will offer full-service dining, will be in the Puntacana Village shopping and dining area near the airport.
Altour to rebrand Travel Authority
New York mega-agency Altour said it will rebrand the corporate travel offices of the Travel Authority of Jeffersonville, Ind., which it acquired in 2009, beginning June 1. The Travel Authority's leisure business, which accounts for 15% of the total, will carry on as "The Travel Authority, a Leisure Division of Altour."
MGM inks deal with Avis Budget
Avis Budget Group agreed to become the exclusive car rental partner of MGM Resorts' loyalty program, M Life, and to provide on-site Avis rental cars at MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas. M Life members will get special rates and offers from Avis.
Friends & Colleagues
Kerzner International has named Paul Burke COO for its Atlantis, Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas. Burke has an extensive background in operations. Most recently, he served as executive vice president/ principal of Noble Investment Group in Atlanta, a position he held since 2006. • • • Hilton Worldwide named George Garcia general manager of the El San Juan Hotel & Casino, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in Puerto Rico. Garcia most recently served as general manager of the Harvard Hotel & Club New York. • • • Accor North America has expanded the duties of Olivier Poirot, CEO of Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. He will assume responsibility for the Novotel network in Canada and for Accor operations in Mexico in addition to continuing to lead the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands in the U.S. and Canada and provide support for Sofitel operations in North America. Poirot's additional responsibilities are the result of the pending departure of Michael Flaxman in June as COO of Accor Americas. In other Accor personnel news, Motel 6 appointed Lance Miceli as chief marketing officer for Motel 6/Studio 6. Miceli will also serve on the Accor North America Executive Committee. Miceli has more than 20 years' experience in marketing and advertising.