Virgin Atlantic to drop domestic U.K. routes

Virgin Atlantic is giving up its effort to develop feeder routes in the U.K. Using Heathrow slots that it obtained when British Airways took over BMI, Virgin launched service from London Heathrow to Manchester, England, and Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2013 but failed to attract enough connecting traffic to its long-haul routes to continue the service. The Manchester service will end in March, and the Scotland routes will follow in September.

Delta finds a way to hang on at Love Field
Delta, which lost its bid for two gates at Dallas' Love Field to Virgin America last summer, will continue its Atlanta service at the airport through Jan. 6 in a gate-sharing deal with Southwest.

Another China route OK'd for American
The Transportation Department approved plans by American to offer Dallas-Beijing service. The carrier plans to launch daily nonstops May 7 with 777-200 aircraft configured for 247 passengers in a three-class configuration. The airline operates four routes to mainland China, including a Dallas-Shanghai service launched in June.

St. Louis again leads in lodging tax rates
Hotel occupancy taxes average 13.4% in the 150 largest U.S. cities, unchanged from last year, while rates in St. Louis increased to 22% from 18%, making it the city with the highest such tax for the second consecutive year, according to an annual tax report by lodging research firm HVS. Also at the high end were Anaheim, Calif. (home to Disneyland), Houston and Indianapolis, all charging 17%, and Chicago and Atlanta at 16%.

Best Western offers new brand, collection
Best Western rolled out a technology-centric urban hotel prototype to be branded Vib (pronounced "Vibe"). Hotels would feature large "interactive" lobbies with media walls, multiple power ports, LED lighting and "Zen Zones." The membership-based hotel group is also launching a "soft brand" or collection, called BW Premier, for non-member independent hotels that want to plug into Best Western's reservations system and loyalty programs. Hotels in the BW Premier Collection will be required to maintain a TripAdvisor rating of at least four dots and a AAA/CAA rating of at least three diamonds.

Extended-stay Hyatt opens in San Juan
Hyatt staged a ribbon-cutting for the Hyatt House San Juan, the brand's first property outside the Continental U.S. and Puerto Rico's first extended-stay hotel. Located in the Miramar neighborhood near the Puerto Rico Convention Center, the 126-room property offers a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom suites.

Virgin's first hotel sets opening date
The first Virgin Hotel, to occupy Chicago's historical Dearborn Bank building, pushed its opening date to Jan. 15.

Curacao resort joins Ascend Collection
The Acoya Hotel Suites & Villas on Curacao, which had a soft opening this summer, joined Choice Hotels' Ascend Collection. The property is in Willemstad, near Mambo Beach, and offers studios, suites and villas. Facilities include a pool, full-service restaurant, wellness center, kids club and, though it is not on the beach, a dive center.

Friends & Colleagues
Jim Kauffman, Marriott International's president of U.S. and Canada full-service hotels, will retire at the end of the year after 37 years of service with the company. Kauffman joined Marriott in 1977 as a sales manager and held several roles as general manager, including assignments at the former Marriott Mandalay Hotel in Dallas and the Philadelphia Marriott. Previous titles included vice president, market management for Northern California; regional vice president for Marriott's franchise division in Washington; executive vice president for the Western Region; and COO, the Americas, Western Region. • • • Pandaw River Expeditions has appointed Anthony Dupont to serve as the company's COO. Prior to joining Pandaw, Dupont held sales positions with Aman Resorts and more recently with the Sarojin hotel in Thailand. • • • Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler since 1998, will be leaving the publication as part of a broader editorial reorganization at the National Geographic Society. Executive editor Norie Quintos has been named acting editor-in-chief, effective immediately, while a search is conducted for a new editor-in-chief. • • • NYC & Company recently announced several promotions. Makiko Matsuda Healy has been named senior vice president, global tourism development. She previously served as vice president of tourism development. Reagan Stulbaum, the new vice president of tourism development, USA and Canada, most recently was senior director of tourism development, USA and Canada. Reginald Charlot was promoted to vice president, tourism development, Europe. Bernadette Carter is the new vice president, marketing, for global tourism and convention development. She most recently served as the organization's senior director, marketing, for tourism and convention development.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI