MSC delays private island opening to '18


The opening of MSC Cruises' upcoming Bahamian private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will be pushed back 10 months, from December 2017 to October 2018. MSC passengers scheduled to visit the island on calls starting late next year will visit Nassau instead. A groundbreaking ceremony for the island is scheduled for Oct. 6.

Fathom sends two D.R. cruises to Cuba
Citing strong demand for Cuba, Fathom canceled two Dominican Republic cruises, Oct. 9 and Nov. 6, and will instead operate to Cuba. Fathom alternates cruises between the two destinations weekly, but Cuba cruises start at $1,599 while the Dominican sailings have priced as low as $199. Passengers on the changed cruises can get a full refund, rebook another D.R. cruise or transfer to a Cuba cruise for no charge.

Red Lion acquires Vantage Hospitality
Red Lion Hotels Corp. will acquire Vantage Hospitality Group, increasing its hotel portfolio from 113 to more than 1,100, for $23 million cash and 690 shares of the company's stock. Red Lion said the acquisition will turn it into a "national brand." Vantage owns seven hotel brands.

Nexion agents can pay ASTA dues monthly
Nexion agents have the ability to join ASTA by paying dues on a monthly basis toward ASTA's $199 annual membership for independent contractors. Nexion's agreement with ASTA is the first of its kind for a host agency and will be valid for the next two years.

Concur acquiring Hipmunk search site
Concur, provider of corporate travel technology and services, will acquire travel search site Hipmunk. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Concur said Hipmunk would further its "strategy to deliver consumer-grade products to corporate customers." Concur is owned by SAP, the German multinational software corporation.

Hurtigruten orders electric hybrid ships
Hurtigruten ordered two 530-passenger ships able to run on electric power for up to 30 minutes. The line said the capability was being developed for environmentally sensitive polar areas and enables the ship to sail more quietly. The first ship is due for delivery in 2018, and the second, due in 2019, will have a hybrid engine that can power the ship electrically for longer periods.

Sandals Montego Bay adds overwater digs
The Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is building 12 more overwater bungalows. The resort's first five will open on Nov. 15, and the 12 additional ones are available for arrivals beginning Feb. 1. Each bungalow has hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, a sun deck, an outdoor shower and butler service.

Hyatt, SBE recommit to Baha Mar hotels
Hyatt and SBE Entertainment Group have recommitted to Baha Mar and are slated to operate Grand Hyatt and SLS hotels, respectively, when the Bahamas megaresort opens, according to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Baha Mar construction will resume within the next 10 days, the ministry said.

Friends & Colleagues
Philippe Chereque has been promoted to president of American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). For the past two years, Chereque has served as chief commercial and technology officer at GBT, No. 3 on Travel Weekly's 2016 Power List. He has held several other executive roles with GBT and prior to that was one of the founders of Amadeus Global Travel Distribution. • • • Silversea Cruises named Roberto Martinoli CEO, succeeding Enzo Visone, effective Sept. 19. Martinoli, a board member since 2013, is chairman of Grandi Navi Veloci, a Mediterranean ferry company. He will continue in that role, Silversea said. Martinoli had been president and COO of Norwegian Cruise Line (2009-10), executive vice president of operations at Carnival Cruise Line (2000-08) and a senior vice president at Costa Crociere (1997-2000). • • • Greg Marsh, CEO and co-founder of high-end accommodations service Onefinestay, has stepped down in order "to move on to new opportunities," the company said. Marsh will be succeeded by Evan Frank, Onefinestay's vice president of the Americas and also a company co-founder. Marsh did not cite Onefinestay's acquisition by AccorHotels this spring as a reason for his departure, calling the company a "natural partner and a strong advocate." • • • Belmond has appointed Arnaud Champenois senior vice president, marketing and brand, effective immediately. Champenois has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications in the luxury goods and services sector. He joins Belmond from Starwood Hotels and Resorts where he was vice president, brand director for Asia Pacific, since 2011. Prior to that, he served as a regional brand director for such companies as Biotherm, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent at L'Oreal Luxury Products Division.

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