Blackstone to buy La Quinta hotels

La Quinta Corp. agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of the Blackstone Group in a cash and debt transaction valued at $3.4 billion. Subject to stockholder and other approvals, the parties expect to close the deal in the first quarter.

Dallas-based La Quinta has a portfolio of some 600 hotels under the La Quinta, Baymont, Woodfield Suites and Budgetel brands, about 240 of which are franchised.

The deal is the latest in a series of hotel-related transactions for Blackstone, a private investment firm that owns Boca Resorts and Extended Stay America and which recently sold the Wyndham brand to Cendant.

Hertz to roll out Fun Collection

Hertz plans to roll out a Fun Collection, including convertibles, coupes, roadsters and unusual SUVs. Speaking at the ASTA congress in Montreal, Frank Camacho, staff vice president-marketing, said the collection wont include any four-door sedans. The Fun Collection is expected to be bookable as of Dec. 1 for rentals beginning Jan. 1.

Amtrak president Gunn fired by board

Amtraks board fired the railroads president and CEO, David Gunn, and launched a search for a replacement. Chief engineer David Hughes was named acting president and CEO.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office sharply criticized Amtrak for being slow to adopt needed reforms.

The board said it is looking for a different type of leader who will aggressively tackle the companys financial, management and operational challenges.

Hiltons Conrad arrives in Chicago

Hilton brought its Conrad brand to Chicago, reflagging the former Le Meridien Chicago as the 311-room Conrad Chicago.

The move gives Conrad three hotels in the U.S., with a fourth to open in Indianapolis next spring.

Ala. governor calls for Aruba boycott

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, along with Beth Twitty, mother of  missing teen Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba May 30, called for a nationwide travel boycott of Aruba, citing what he called the prosecutors failure to properly investigate the incident.

The move was denounced by Arubas Strategic Communications Task Force, a group of tourism, hotel and government officials set up to address issues surrounding the case.

Friends & Colleagues

Adam Stewart has been promoted to director of resort products for Sandals & Beaches Resorts. Stewart, the son of Chairman Gordon Butch Stewart, was formerly the assistant director of operations. " " " Michael Pownall was named chief executive of Sandy Lane Hotel & Golf Resort in Barbados. Pownall most recently was managing director of Keswick Estate in Charlottesville, Va. " " " Two appointments at Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino: Ruben Mannes, sales and special events manager, and Peter Shiels, national group sales manager. Mannes formerly was with Aruba-based DePalm Tours, and Shiels was with Hard Rock Hotels-South Florida. " " " Sophia Luk was promoted from senior vice president of sales and marketing to COO of Pacific Delight World Tours. The daughter of founder and president Francis Luk, Sophia Luk has worked at Pacific Delight for 26 years. Rosalyn Gershell, former president of Norwegian Coastal Voyage, will take over the leadership of the marketing effort for Pacific Delight as senior vice president of marketing. " " " BWIAs new board of directors, appointed by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, named Nelson Yew CEO, responsible for the management and operations of the carrier during its restructuring period. " " " Globus promoted four executives: Scott Nisbet, senior vice president and chief operating officer; Douglas Duncan, vice president of sales; Steve Born, vice president of marketing; and Pam Hoffee, vice president of product and operations. " " " Worldhotels named Barrymore Edwards regional sales director for the Northeast region of the U.S. Edwards was sales manager for the Muse Hotel in New York. " " " Luxury resort Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles appointed married couple Mark and Joanne Netherwood as its new joint managing directors. The Netherwoods combined hospitality experience includes shared stints at entertainment and travel mogul Richard Bransons Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa and Necker Island in the Bahamas. Fregate Island Private is represented by Sanctuare, a collection of 15 small resorts around the world, including five on private islands. " " " New Yorks Flatotel named Marco Hejazi, general manager of its two Italian eateries, Moda and Moda Outdoors. Hejazi, who will also be acting as food and beverage supervisor at the Midtown property, brings over 15 years of food and beverage managerial experience. Before joining the Moda team, Hejazi was the food and beverage director at the Paramount Bar and Library Bar at New Yorks Paramount Hotel.

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