US Airways sets Heathrow plan

US Airways will begin daily service between Philadelphia and London Heathrow on March 29 on A330 aircraft, after buying Heathrow slots from an unidentified carrier so it could provide its first service to the airport.

Continental and Delta also recently disclosed plans for new routes to Heathrow, which will be open to all U.S. airlines next March under the U.S.-European Union open-skies deal.

Orbitz for Business goes international

Orbitz rebranded its Corporate Travel Solutions Group, which included Travelport for Business, as Orbitz for Business and launched an international variant called Orbitz for Business International. The company said it offers global fulfillment and call center support. The initial focus is on Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

Launched in 2002, Orbitz for Business said it has a client base of more than 2,000 companies.

V.Ships to manage Majestic America

Ambassadors International retained V.Ships to manage vessel operations for Majestic America Line, its river- and coastal-cruising unit.

The contract, subject to Maritime Administration approval, would cover deck, engine and hotel crew management as well as procurement and technical and hotel operations. A division of V.Group, V.Ships is based in Monaco and provides ship management services worldwide.

Separately, Ambassadors said it expected Majestic to post a fourth-quarter pretax loss in excess of $6 million prior to any potential benefit received from insurance recoveries related to 2006 and 2007 incidents.

Hyatts new brand opens for business 

The 267-room Andaz Liverpool Street hotel opened in Londons East End, marking the launch of Hyatts new five-star boutique brand. Two other Andaz hotels are being developed in New York and a fourth is set to open in Austin, Texas, in 2010.

Hyatt describes Andaz as an ecoconscious and design-driven brand that will focus on casual luxury.

SkyTeam adds 11th: China Southern 

China Southern Airlines became the 11th full member of SkyTeam, making the alliance the first to welcome a carrier from mainland China. The Oneworld alliance has already recruited Hong Kong-based Dragonair, and the Star Alliance next month is slated to add Air China and Shanghai Airlines.

Accor to diversify its Sofitel brand

Accor is relaunching its upscale Sofitel brand as an international luxury brand with two new types of properties. Historical properties will be called Sofitel Legend, and a new boutique brand will be called So by Sofitel. Sofitel properties that dont meet the new luxury standards will be integrated into another new Accor brand, Pullman.

Accor set up a separate business unit to oversee the changes. 

MSC Cruises sets $6 fuel surcharge 

MSC Cruises will levy a fuel surcharge of $6 per day on new bookings made on or after Dec. 1, for cruises departing after Feb. 1.

Spirit Airlines eyes route to Cartagena

Spirit Airlines filed at the Transportation Department for rights to launch what would be its first nonstop service from the U.S. to Cartagena, Colombia. The airline proposed to begin with two daily flights using A319 and A321 aircraft, building to daily service on or about March 9. 

Trinidad sets date for Hyatt Regency

The 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad will open for business in Port of Spains International Waterfront Center on Dec. 31 as the first full-service hotel to debut on the island since 1962s opening of the Trinidad Hilton in Port of Spain.

The property is geared to the business and convention market and already has snagged next years Caribbean Hotel & Investment Conference, May 6 to 8.

IHG to manage Mauritius resort

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts is developing its first beach resort in Africa under an agreement with Lateral Holdings to manage a $50 million luxury resort on the northwest coast of Mauritius.

Scheduled to open in late 2008, the 210-room InterContinental Mauritius Resort Balaclava Fort will be developed along the beach in the Bay of Balaclava, just north of Port Louis, the capital. 

Friends & Colleagues

John Wooley was named director of sales and marketing for the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Wooley most recently served in the same post at the New York Marriott Financial Center. Chela de Lannoy was named director of event management at the resort. Most recently, de Lannoy was the resorts sales manager. " " " Bill Henderson was named to the newly created position of vice president of development for Aqua Hotels & Resorts. He was vice president of business development for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts. " " " Simon Bell is the new director of marketing at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino. He was director of sales and marketing at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel in Queensland, Australia. " " " Michael Molema was named resident manager of the Hotel Kura Hulanda in Curacao. He had spent the last eight years at several Amsterdam properties, including the Hotel Pulitzer, the Grand Amsterdam and the Apollo Hotel. " " " Vishal Bhalla was named general manager of Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia. Bhalla had been head of food-and-beverage operations for several all-inclusive properties, including Sandals Regency Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia. " " " Big Five Tours & Expeditions hired Laura Culver as director of global product development and Ruby Jane Russell as a senior destination specialist and manager for destination training. Prior to joining Big Five, Culver developed Australia and New Zealand product for Classic Vacations. Russell most recently was an international sales consultant with Abercrombie & Kent.

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