Royal Caribbean says goodbye, Dubai


Responding to decreased demand, Royal Caribbean will no longer base a ship in Dubai after the 2012-13 winter season. The cruise line, which began its Dubai program in January 2010, is scheduled to sail its 2,490-passenger Serenade of the Seas on a series of seven-day cruises from the emirate beginning Jan. 28. "The planned transfer of Monarch of the Seas out of the Royal Caribbean fleet next spring has made us face some difficult decisions about continuing existing programs," the line said. "The trends for Serenade of the Seas did not justify continuing to deploy her in the region."

Warwick acquires resort in Nassau
Warwick International Hotels purchased the Paradise Island Harbour Resort in Nassau. The hotel was put up for auction by Lehman Brothers Holdings and Driftwood Hospitality Management. Warwick plans to renovate and rebrand the 246-room, all-inclusive beachfront property, its second in the Caribbean; it also owns the all-suite Balaji Palace Playa Grande in Rio Grande, Dominican Republic.

RoomKey.com adds to hotel inventory
RoomKey.com, the hotel-booking site launched by some of the world's largest hoteliers, is adding La Quinta Inns & Suites, Millennium Hotels & Resorts and Leading Hotels of the World to its room inventory beginning this fall. The additions will double the rooms available on the site. Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Choice Hotels International, Wyndham Hotel Group and InterContinental Hotels Group launched Room Key in January.

Southwest union OKs overseas flying
Southwest Airlines cleared a hurdle toward international expansion when its flight attendants narrowly approved a contract change that will allow overwater flying. AirTran, which Southwest acquired in 2011, already operates overwater routes to the Caribbean and Mexico. However, contract changes are necessary before Southwest can acquire international routes or train flight attendants for overwater safety procedures, the flight attendants' union noted. Pilots already have OK'd contract changes that will enable Southwest to operate overwater flights. The airline still must clear operational and regulatory hurdles.

Ritz Grand Cayman headed to auction
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman on Seven Mile Beach will go on the auction block Oct. 31. The resort's lender, RC Cayman Holdings, filed a court order last spring for immediate payment of $234 million from owner and developer Michael Ryan. The sale will include the 365-room hotel and a number of high-end condo units but will not include the adjacent Blue Tip nine-hole golf course. Any sale would include a long-term management agreement with Ritz-Carlton.

Westin Peachtree to get $45M refit
The Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta will receive $45 million in renovations. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which owns and manages the hotel, will update all guestrooms as well as the Sun Dial restaurant. Five guestrooms will be added, bringing the hotel's total to 1,073. The hotel will stay open during the renovations, scheduled to be completed in mid-November.

Friends & Colleagues

Brand USA, the public-private entity that promotes international tourism to the U.S., has hired Chris Thompson as CEO. Thompson had been president and CEO of Visit Florida. Thompson replaces Jim Evans, who left Brand USA in June. Caroline Beteta has been serving as interim CEO. • • • Rezidor Hotel Group's longtime CEO, Kurt Ritter, will retire at the end of the year and will be replaced by Wolfgang Neumann. Neumann currently serves as Rezidor's executive vice president and COO. He joined Rezidor in 2011 and prior to that served as CEO for Arabella Hospitality Group. Before that, he spent more than 20 years with Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

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