News briefs, week of Aug. 8, 2016

Margaritaville to expand to three ships

Norwegian Cruise Line will expand Margaritaville at Sea to two more ships on its Breakaway class this fall. The popular Jimmy Buffet-inspired eatery will debut on the Norwegian Getaway Sept. 18 and on the Norwegian Breakaway Oct. 9, replacing the Flamingo Grill and Uptown Grill, respectively, in a covered area of the Deck 16 aft. There is a Margaritaville on the Norwegian Escape, which debuted late last year.

IHG says it has taken share from the OTAs
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) said its percentage of direct web bookings rose 2 points, and that OTA bookings fell by the same, since it launched the Your Rate by IHG Rewards Club, which offers discounts for loyalty members who book direct. Agents have access to the discounted rates in the GDSs.

Virtuoso launches wellness initiative
Virtuoso Wellness, which debuts this week at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, creates a community of agents and preferred partners that will share wellness-related marketing, education and networking. The programs offered by partners include healthy menus, yoga and meditation classes, full-service spas and outdoor activities.

Nashville airport to get major expansion
A $1 billion upgrade is planned for Nashville Airport. The BNA Vision project (BNA is Nashville's airport code) will add more gates and passenger parking and is designed to improve security wait times. The airport had a record 12 million visitors last year.

Silversea to put $170 million into its fleet
Silversea Cruises will spend $170 million refurbishing its fleet, the largest modernization in its history. The first three ships to benefit will be the Silver Wind, the Silver Whisper and the Silver Discoverer, with details of other upgrades to be announced later. The Silver Wind and Silver Discoverer will drydock in October, with the Silver Whisper to be ready in time for its world cruise in January.

Disney Wonder debuts 'Frozen' on stage
Disney Cruise Line will debut a stage version of the hit movie "Frozen" this November on the Disney Wonder. The ship is scheduled to sail from Galveston, Texas, on Nov. 10 with the show and a "wave of new enhancements," Disney said.

France to help Cuba modernize its airport
With commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba set to begin this month, Cuba said it will team with France to modernize Havana's Jose Marti Airport. French authority Aeroports de Paris will operate Jose Marti, and a French builder will oversee construction. Cuba did not say when the project would begin.

Trump Taj Mahal to close after 26 years
Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal will close after Labor Day, with owner Carl Icahn unable to reach an agreement with about 1,000 union workers on strike since July 1. The 2,010-room hotel casino opened in 1990; it declared bankruptcy and almost closed in 2014, when Icahn bought it.

Friends & Colleagues
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection appointed Ellen Bettridge as president and CEO. She succeeds Guy Young, who has been promoted to a new role as global brand engagement officer at The Travel Corporation, Uniworld's parent company. Bettridge joins Uniworld from Azamara Club Cruises, where she was vice president of sales and marketing. Prior to that, she worked for Unique Vacations, the marketing and sales arm for Sandals Resorts International; Silversea Cruises; and American Express. • • • Lindblad Expeditions has named Craig Felenstein CFO. He will join Lindblad on Sept. 6. Felenstein's most recent role was as senior vice president of investor relations and strategic finance at Shutterstock, a position he's held since March 2015. Prior to Shutterstock, he was at Discovery Communications, where he served in various management roles. • • • Kirk Jones has been promoted to CFO of Benchmark Hospitality. He previously served as senior vice president of finance. Jones joined Benchmark in 2015, bringing a background in international hospitality financial management at firms such as the Capella Hotel Group. He has also positions with Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites. • • • Atle Skalleberg has been named Flight Centre Travel Group's chief digital officer and will lead Flight Centre's initiative to improve its online presence and capabilities. Skalleberg most recently was the managing director of StudentUniverse, which Flight Centre bought in December. • • • Avoya Travel appointed Jeff Lavender vice president. He will help lead Avoya's corporate strategy and development initiatives. Lavender's 20 years of experience in the industry include senior leadership and business development positions at Travel Impressions and American Express Vacations,, EuropAssistance,, Travelport France, Travelocity Europe, Preview Travel and Amadeus.


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