News Briefs, Week of Sept. 9, 2013

DOT fines bank in charter case

The Transportation Department (DOT) assessed a civil penalty on New Jersey-based Valley National Bank for allegedly making improper payments from the escrow accounts of two charter operators, EZjet and the defunct Direct Air, which went bankrupt last year when its charter program collapsed. The DOT alleged that the bank made payments from escrow without the required documentation and imposed a $125,000 penalty, half of which will be forgiven if the bank refrains from repeat violations for one year. The bank settled to avoid litigation but denied that its payments lacked proper documentation.

TSA Pre-Check to expand again
The Transportation Security Administration disclosed plans to expand the Pre-Check program to 60 additional airports by year-end, up from 40 today. The program allows preapproved travelers to use expedited security lines and generally avoid removing their shoes or opening their laptops. More than 15 million passengers are enrolled, mostly members of certain frequent flyer or government-sanctioned trusted traveler programs. A general enrollment drive is slated to launch in the fall, with an anticipated fee of $85.

Montego Bay Oasis sets Nov. 1 opening
Sunset Resorts Jamaica will debut the all-inclusive Oasis at Sunset, Montego Bay on Nov. 1. The 124-room boutique property adjoins the existing 306-room Sunset Beach Resort & Waterpark. The hotel features four room categories, upgraded furnishings and a private beach with a clothing-optional section for Oasis guests.

Rosewood to exit from Caneel Bay
Caneel Bay Resort on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is ending its relationship with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Rosewood had managed the 166-room resort since 1993, but the 20-year contract has come to an end, and the owner, CBI Acquisitions, intends to operate it as an independent hotel when it reopens under the Caneel Bay Resort name on Nov. 1. It also plans to renovate all guestrooms in phases over the next two to three years, beginning in 2014. The 170-acre property and seven beaches are within the grounds of Virgin Islands National Park, which occupies two-thirds of St. John.

Viking boosts order to 14 ships in 2014
Viking Cruises added two more Longships to its 2014 order book, putting the line on track to take delivery of 14 new vessels in 2014. Ten new Longships entered service last March. "We are working hard to match supply with demand," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises.

Hertz Firefly Brand arriving in U.S.
Hertz will debut its European brand Firefly in the U.S. on Sept. 15, in a move to regain some of the budget-sector business it lost when it sold Advantage Rent-A-Car earlier this year. Hertz will open its first U.S. Firefly outlet in Orlando, followed by San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The company, which debuted Firefly in Europe in March, expects to have 20 Firefly locations in the U.S. by year-end. Hertz sold Advantage to gain regulatory approval of its acquisition of Dollar Thrifty.

Friends & Colleagues
Former Continental Airlines CEO Larry Kellner has been named nonexecutive chairman of the board of Sabre Holdings. Kellner retired from Continental in 2009 and is currently president of Emerald Creek Group, a Houston-based private equity firm focused on real estate. Kellner replaces Sam Gilliland, who was succeeded by Tom Klein as president and CEO last month. The transition plan from Gilliland to Klein included separating the chairman position from the CEO and naming a new chairman. Gilliland remains on Sabre's board. • • • Melia Hotels International named Darius Deavours director of group sales for its global collection of hotels and resorts, including Gran Melia, Melia, ME by Melia, Paradisus, Innsie, Tryp and Sol. Deavours formerly was group sales manager for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the Atlanta metro market. • • • The St. Lucia Tourist Board appointed Tracey Warner-Arnold as vice president of marketing and sales. Warner-Arnold, formerly deputy director of tourism, succeeds Nerdin St. Rose. • • • Marriott International appointed Dennis Whitelaw to the position of country manager responsible for all managed properties in Costa Rica and also named him general manager of the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose. Whitelaw previously served as general manager of the Marriott Casa Magna Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and the Marriott Guatemala City.


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