Πέμπτη, 31 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

St. Regis hotels and resorts debuts in Dubai with world class amenities


St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc., announces the debut of the St. Regis brand in Dubai with the opening of The St. Regis Dubai. Owned by Al Habtoor Group, the hotel introduces uncompromising experiences with its luxurious bespoke hospitality, eight exceptional culinary venues, the first Iridium Spa in Dubai, a fleet of Bentleys as well as the first Bentley Suite in the Middle East which will be unveiled in early 2016.


The St. Regis Dubai is located within the highly anticipated Al Habtoor City, the Emirate’s first fully-integrated urban resort. As the newest address on Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Habtoor City will feature two other Starwood hotels under the distinct W Hotels and Westin brands, three residential towers, and a spectacular water-themed show by Dragone, the world’s leading cultural creation company, located along the upcoming Dubai Water Canal. The landmark development is minutes away from attractions such as Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, a 20-minute drive to Dubai International Airport and 40-minute drive to Al Maktoum International Airport.


“We are proud to partner with Al Habtoor Group and to launch Starwood’s largest hospitality project in the region as we open the first of three hotels in this prestigious development,” said Michael Wale, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “The entry of our ultra-luxury St. Regis brand in this important market strengthens Starwood’s presence in the United Arab Emirates as we remain on track to double our portfolio in the region by 2019.”


“The unveiling of The St. Regis Dubai marks an important milestone for the brand as we rapidly grow our profile in the Middle East,” said Jim Petrus, Global Brand Leader for St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. “This important debut represents our fourth property in the region since the opening of The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi almost four years ago, and with The St. Regis Dubai, we are thrilled to be able to offer the renowned St. Regis experience to the region’s luxury travelers.”


New World Address in the Heart of Dubai
The French beaux-arts architecture and neo-classical interiors of The St. Regis Dubai pay homage The St. Regis New York, the brand’s original hotel which opened in 1904 at the best address in New York on the corner of 55th Street and Fifth Avenue.


Guests entering The St. Regis Dubai are welcomed by the dazzling sight of a chandelier comprising 1,200 pieces of hand-cut crystals, illuminating the majestic grand staircase. St. Regis’ commitment to art and design is brought to life with outstanding artwork throughout the hotel, including a vintage Bentley inspired mural in the St. Regis Bar.
The St. Regis Dubai features 234 guestrooms, including 52 suites, each offering a bright, airy ambience with impeccable details such as chandeliers, marble bathrooms and signature St. Regis beds. Spanning 913sqm, the three-bedroom, two-story Royal Suite is located in the central dome of the building, featuring a rooftop plunge pool, vast living room with an elegant dining room, study, lounge area and spacious majlis.


The hotel’s custom-designed one-bedroom Bentley Suite, inspired by the bespoke craftsmanship of the Bentley Mulsanne, is the first of its kind in the Middle East. Offering the ultimate expression of luxury, the leather finishes, colors, patterns and wood veneers combine the glamour of Bentley with the impeccable elegance of the St. Regis brand. All guests at The St. Regis Dubai will experience renowned hallmarks of the St. Regis brand, including signature St. Regis Butler Service, providing anticipatory service and customization at each stay according to specific guest tastes and preferences.


Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman Al Habtoor Group, said, “We are delighted to partner with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to open The St. Regis Dubai, the first hotel within Al Habtoor City. It is the beginning of a new era on this historic site. The St. Regis name, renowned for its rich heritage and traditions, will undoubtedly complement the traditions and modernity of Dubai. We look forward to welcoming our first guests, and seeing the city buzzing with activity.”

Distinctive Culinary Journey
The St. Regis Dubai extends culinary excellence across its eight dining venues. Brasserie Quartier is a modern interpretation of a French brasserie serving redefined French favorites. J&G Steakhouse offers a sophisticated collection of steakhouse classics as reimagined by the ‘greatest hits’ of cuisine inspired by Michelin-starred chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Set amongst lush gardens, The Roof Gardens is an intimate outdoor venue with stylish cabanas for in-house guests. Cafe Fleuri is reminiscent of a 1930s Parisien cafe while Le Patio evokes idyllic moments in a rustic courtyard cafe surrounded by olive trees.


Following the tradition of the Bloody Mary cocktail, which was first created at The St. Regis New York, the St. Regis Bar offers the Golden Mary, a sweet and savory cocktail made with yellow tomato juice with gold leaf accents. In The Champagne Lounge, sommeliers perform the St. Regis evening ritual of champagne sabering. Guests can enjoy the signature St. Regis afternoon tea at Sidra alongside uninterupted views of landscaped gardens.


Luxurious Facilities and Exceptional Events
Offering complete relaxation, Iridium Spa consists of six treatment rooms (three male, three female), two hammams and separate female and male wet areas with steam room and sauna. The St. Regis Dubai also features a 24-hour fitness center, two rooftop swimming pools and a private helipad.


The hotel is the best address for special occasions including extravagant weddings and executive roundtable meetings, including the prestigious 800-square-meter Astor Ballroom, six meeting rooms and beautiful landscaped gardens perfect for al fresco events.

World Travel Awards hails success of Grand Tour 2015


World Travel Awards (WTA) is celebrating the successful conclusion of the Grand Tour 2015, having once again completed its mission to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry.

Each year WTA covers the globe with a series of regional Gala Ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective successes within each geographical region.
This year the World Travel Awards Grand Tour began in the United Arab Emirates, with the Middle East Ceremony, hosted at Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach. The event, being one of the largest on the WTA calendar, welcomed over 600 industry leaders to the luxury resort.

Next WTA headed to Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Baie Lazare, for the Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony, before Forte Village Resort in Sardinia, Italy, played host to the Europe Gala Ceremony.
In Latin America, World Travel Awards visited Colombia for the first time, with Teatro Colón in capital Bogotá awarded hosting rights for the Gala Ceremony.

Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas welcomed the Caribbean & North America Gala Ceremony in October, before World Travel Awards rounded off its biggest ever Grand Tour at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hotel in Hong Kong with the Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony.
Each Gala Ceremony offered unrivalled networking opportunities to members of the travel and tourism industry, with the ceremonies welcoming government and industry leaders as well as international print and broadcast media.

With more than half a million votes cast, the winners from each regional Gala Ceremony were welcomed to Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco to compete in the Grand Final 2015. With a host of industry luminaires, government officials, international media and celebrities in attendance, the ceremony was an industry highlight.
Globally recognised as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with WTA winners have once again set the benchmark to which all others aspire.

Take a look at all the WTA winners from around the world here.
Looking ahead into 2016, World Travel Awards will start its journey in Zanzibar at Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est for the Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony. Also on the agenda for the organisation’s 23rd anniversary, are visits to Turkey, Vietnam and the Caribbean, with all the latest information on the official website.

2016 UK Tourism forecast

2016 forecast
VisitBritain reveals how will be 2016 for the tourism industry. VisitBritain said that it has been a record-breaking year to date for inbound tourism numbers and spend to the UK and growth looks set to continue in 2016.
In spite of the strength of sterling, spending by overseas visitors is predicted to reach almost £23bn in 2016, a 4.2% increase on spending this year which is expected to top out at £22bn, a 0.7% increase on 2014.
The number of overseas visitors to the UK is expected to rise next year to 36.7million visits, up 3.8% on 2015 which is likely to see about 35.4 million visits by year end.
The forecast puts VisitBritain on track to realise its ambition for growing international visits to Britain by more than 20% over the next five years to 42 million visits by 2020, which could see an additional £4.5 billion in visitor spend.
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: "Everything we do is motivated by the goal to add value to the tourism industry by building our competitive tourism offer and driving economic growth and jobs across all our nations and regions, so that the benefits of tourism are felt across the whole of Britain.
"We are competing in a tough international environment and these results highlight  how strongly the tourism sector, one of the UK's fastest growing export industries, has performed and how the Government's tourism strategy, supported by the GREAT campaign, is producing results."
VisitBritain's campaigns have continued to produce results and generated an extra £2.5 billion in international visitor spend in Britain during the last four years. This means that every £1 invested in VisitBritain's activities has resulted in an overseas visitor spending £21 in Britain. And to this can be added the £630 million delivered by VisitBritain, thanks to its continuing role as a partner in the cross-UK Government GREAT campaign.
A focus for VisitBritain this year has been to raise awareness of the beauty of Britain's countryside through its global Countryside is GREAT campaign to showcase the rural landscape. International perceptions of the UK's ‘natural beauty' - a traditionally less lauded attribute - reached new heights this year, coming inside the top 20 global ranking for the first time, taking 18th spot out of 50 nations in the 2015 Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index survey published in November.

Armenia attracts more than 16 thousand foreign visitors in 2015


The number of foreign tourists visiting Nagorno-Karabakh in the first 11 months of 2015 rose from 14,375 to 16,366, according to Deputy Economy Minister Sergey Shahverdyan, adding that these figures do not include residents of Armenia.

Shahverdyan said that the official number of non-Armenian tourists visiting Nagorno-Karabakh stood at about 5,000 in 2007. It grew steadily in the following years until falling by 11 percent in 2014.

Shahverdyan said in order to create a favorable environment and promote tourism, Karabakh authorities showcased its tourism industry in a series of tourism fairs, festivals and forums held in Armenia.

The Karabakh authorities also organized a meeting with Russian travel agencies during the Days of Artsakh event in Moscow, Russia, to present their tourism attractions.

In addition, there were extensive stories about Karabakh’s tourism potential in the European press. Stories were specifically published in the “Italian Corriera Dela Serra”, the “German Die Welt”and the “British Wanderlust”.

In recent new hotels and guesthouses were opened both in the capital Stepanakert and Shushi.

Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton Give the Gift of Stress-Free Travel


MCLEAN, Va. - Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by HiltonHilton Worldwide's (NYSE: HLT) award-winning all-suite, extended-stay hotel brands, distributed 1,000 "suite travel" kits and tickets to the Thanksgiving Day Parade to travelers departing from or arriving to LaGuardia Airport on the day before Thanksgiving.  The stress-relieving surprises are a result of a survey announced by the extended-stay hotel brands last month which revealed what turns travelers into a "Scrooge" during holiday travel and their stress-relieving response to make the season merry.

Each "suite travel" kit, given to those departing out of Terminal B, included the essential items that survey respondents claimed would make their trips more delightful - snacks, a voucher for free Wi-Fi and a wireless mobile battery charger. The kit also included ear buds, given that the number one response to counteracting stress while traveling was listening to music. Big surprises were also in store for those staying in the Big Apple for the holiday as travelers in LaGuardia's baggage claim area participated in a competitive matching game in which five winners received tickets to the Thanksgiving Day Parade where Homewood Suites' mascot Lewis the Duck and his family have their own float.
Sally Maxey, a teacher from Graham, Texas, reacts as she wins free tickets to the Thanksgiving Day Parade courtesy of Homewood Suites by Hilton as she leaves New York's LaGuardia Airport (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Homewood Suites by Hilton)

"Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton are focused on providing welcoming service, and we want to do our part to ensure Thanksgiving travelers arrive to their destination stress-free and ready to celebrate with family," said Bill Duncan, global head of brand management, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton. "As revealed by our study, we want travelers to avoid their previous bad behavior and instead focus on the positive benefits of travel."  
Travelers departing LaGuardia Airport received "Suite Travel" kits to help make holiday travel a little less stressful this holiday. Each kit included the essential items that travelers surveyed said would make their trips more delightful - snacks, a voucher for free Wi-Fi and a wireless mobile battery charger (Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Homewood Suites by Hilton)
Conducted by Wakefield Research*, survey results revealed that 44 percent of respondents lost their tempers, one-third have yelled at a stranger during past trips, and nearly one-quarter cancelled travel all together to avoid stress. However, the survey didn't just focus on the moment when travel stress began, but also what could be done once the traveler reaches their destination. For instance, hotels such as Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites by Hilton are ideal for families as they provide the top-rated amenities travelers claimed would make them feel most comfortable: reliable Wi-Fi, free breakfast and spacious rooms.

You can find more key survey findings and download the corresponding infographic at news.homewoodsuites.com or news.home2suites.com. Book your holiday travel and learn more about Homewood Suites by Hilton atwww.homewoodsuites.com and Home2 Suites by Hilton atwww.home2suites.com.

* Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults who have traveled by plane at least once in the past year. The survey was conducted between September 17 and September 24, 2015, using an email invitation and online survey, with an overall margin of error of three percent.

ATL airport breaks world record



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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport reached a major milestone with the arrival of a Delta flight from Gulfport-Biloxi on Sunday, and both local and national media took notice. Under a water cannon salute provided by Atlanta Fire and Rescue vehicles, and in front of hundreds of guests, dignitaries and fellow passengers, Flight 1256 made history.
The Delta Air Lines flight from Gulfport, Mississippi carried ATL’s 100 millionth passenger in 2015, marking the first time ever an airport served more than 100 million passengers in a single year. “I’m happy I could be part of it,” said 35 year-old Larry Kendrick, 24 hours after he was tabbed as ATL’s 100 millionth passenger. “I’m still surprised. I’ve flown in and out of Atlanta quite often, and I enjoy it.”
“Today, we are making aviation history,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told the crowd moments before the flight arrived. “As we move into 2016, it is our commitment to maintain our position as the world’s most travelled airport, the most efficient, and soon we will start competing to be the most sustainable.”
“What a year it has been,” ATL General Manager Miguel Southwell said. He cited both the growth of Atlanta as a destination and a strong partnership between ATL and Delta Air Lines as the main explanation for the five percent increase in traffic over the previous year. Officials projected a two percent increase at the start of 2015. “Without Delta,” he added, “we simply would not be standing here today.”
As part of the celebration, Mr. Kendrick was given a 2015 Nissan Altima from Nissan of Union City; two Delta One round-trip tickets good for any destination in the world; a $500 Thanks Again gift card; and a set of wireless headphones from InMotion Entertainment group.
Mr. Kendrick, an industrial construction worker traveling from his home in Biloxi to a job in Iowa, was thrilled. “My past two vehicles have been Nissans, I like them,” he said, adding that his Delta tickets may be used for an overseas flight. “I’ve seen a lot of the United States, so Australia is definitely in the mix. Dubai does sound pretty good, too. I don’t know – it’s up in the air,” he said, laughing.
ATL officials created an algorithm based on actual passenger numbers from January through November, and projected passenger numbers in December. Accounting firm KPMG validated the algorithm and had representatives attend the event early Sunday morning.

United Airlines MileagePlus voted best frequent-flyer program for twelfth consecutive year by Global Traveler


CHICAGO - Readers of Global Traveler voted United's MileagePlus loyalty program the Best Overall Frequent-Flyer Program in the world for 2015, marking the twelfth consecutive year that MileagePlus has received the award. Global Traveler readers who participated in the 2015 GT Tested Reader Survey bestowed United with the honor, affirming MileagePlus' position as the industry's leading loyalty program.

Global Traveler readers also selected United as the Best Trans-Pacific Airline and, for the second straight year, named MileagePlus the Best Frequent-Flyer Bonus Program. Thomas F. O'Toole, United's senior vice president, chief marketing officer and president of MileagePlus, accepted the honors at the annual Global Traveler awards dinner in Beverly Hills, California, earlier this month.

"The 2015 Global Traveler awards, voted on by savvy travelers worldwide, recognize our ongoing commitment to advancing United's service to our customers," said O'Toole. "We are particularly gratified that readers voted MileagePlus as the Best Overall Frequent-Flyer Program in the world for the twelfth consecutive year, which attests to our continued development of the industry's top loyalty program."

"Congratulations to our friends at United Airlines on their recent wins in our GT Tested Reader Survey awards. Twelve consecutive years as Best Frequent-Flyer Program is quite an accomplishment," said Francis X. Gallagher, publisher and CEO, Global Traveler. "United is not just a favorite of our readers, but also a favorite of our staff, and we can see why the carrier continues to win accolades year after year."

MileagePlus
MileagePlus is United's industry-leading loyalty program. With a wide network of partners through which members may earn and redeem miles, MileagePlus offers the most "Saver" award-seat availability among the largest U.S. global airlines, according to the sixth annual Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey published by IdeaWorksCompany in May 2015. MileagePlus members earn award miles by flying United, United Express, Star Alliance airlines or other airline partners, and by purchasing products or services from partners around the globe. Members enjoy a host of options for using those award miles, including to pay for travel, hotel stays, car rentals and merchandise.

McArthurGlen offers Chinese New Year special seasonal promotions

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Europe’s leading outlet operator McArthurGlen offers special seasonal promotions at its 14 most prestigious centers to enjoy the festive atmosphere of Chinese New Year. From 30 January to 28 February, Chinese visitors who come with an electronic or printed version of the Chinese New Year voucher at the information desk can claim a series of discounts and gifts when visiting participating McArthurGlen centers.
Download the voucher here: YEAR OF THE MONKEY VOUCHER
Gifts include a Fashion Passport enabling shoppers to benefit from an extra 10 percent off the discounted price in many stores. Chinese customers can also receive a specially designed envelope with further center specific offers, additional discounts or gifts from highlighted brands at each center. A limited edition specially designed Tote bag (while stocks last) will also be given to shoppers visiting any of McArthurGlen’s Italian centers or those who spend over CAD 500/EUR 300/GBP 250 in one day in Vancouver or in any other European centers.
The McArthurGlen centres participating in the promotion include:
Austria: Parndorf and Salzburg (Vienna)
Germany: Berlin and Neumünster (Hamburg)
Italy: Barberino (Florence), Castel Romano (Rome), La Reggia (Napoli), Noventa di Piave (Venice) and Serravalle (Milan)
Netherlands: Roermond (Düsseldorf)
UK: Cheshire Oaks (Manchester) and York
Greece: Athens
Canada: Vancouver
During the promotion period, McArthurGlen will be in the middle of its winter sale across all 22 of its Designer Outlets. The centres will be geared up to expect and welcome a large number of visitors from the China region for the New Year holidays. On top of the usual 30-70 percent discounts available in the stores year-round, a number of brand stores will also offer additional seasonal discounts

Princess Orders New “Royal Princess” Class Ship


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Princess Cruises has a fourth “Royal Princess” class ship on the books. Carnival Corp. announced that it has signed a memo of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in 2016. Two of the four new ships will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, and one will be built each for P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises.

Details

Princess Cruises’ new 143,700-ton ship will carry 3,560 passengers and will be its fourth “Royal Princess” class vessel, featuring the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess scheduled for delivery in 2017. Each of the four new ships will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and guests it will serve, and support the company’s overall goal of providing exceptional vacation experiences for its guests.
The new Princess Cruises ship will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; Movies Under the Stars outdoor cinema experience, and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ship will also include some brand-new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.
With the new agreement, Carnival Corporation has 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.
Princess has not announced an official launch date for the new ship.

Las Vegas breaks tourism record with more than 42 million visitors in 2015


LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas continued its historic visitation growth, setting another new record by surpassing 42 million visitors for the first time. This breaks last year's record of 41.1 million, which was the first time the destination had ever topped 40 million.

"Las Vegas couldn't have reached this achievement without the support of our resort partners and the dedicated workers who make the Las Vegas experience what it is," said Rossi Ralenkotter, president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). "Whether a first-time visitor or a returning Las Vegas enthusiast, the destination continues to astonish travelers from all over the world with luxury resort experiences, world-class dining and exciting entertainment."

Boosted by several new non-stop flights, increased convention attendance throughout the year, and several other factors, Las Vegas will surpass 42 million visitors by the end of the year. The previous record was set in 2014 with 41.1 million visitors. Official visitation numbers will be announced in early 2016.

Tourism is the lifeblood of the Southern Nevada economy and the Las Vegas Valley generating more than $50 billion annually and supporting 366,000 local jobs, which represents 43 percent of employment within Clark County.

Tweet It: How many reasons does @vegas have to be grateful this holiday season? One for every visitor in 2015. #Vegas thanks you!

Elewana to open a new luxury tented camp in the Loisaba Conservancy


BANGKOK - The Elewana Collection has been chosen by Loisaba Conservancy with support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to partner with it in the development and management of its primary tourism assets, a relationship that starts with the opening of a new luxury tented camp on the site of the former Loisaba Lodge. Opening in March 2016, Loisaba Tented Camp will comprise four stylish and extremely spacious double rooms, one even more spacious deluxe tented suite and two family tents, each made up of two double en-suite tents with shared verandas. An exclusive family residence will offer three en-suite rooms complemented with a shared private lounge, dining tent and private pool.
 
In addition to its bar and restaurant facilities, the property will boast a second infinity swimming pool (additional to the private pool), with spectacular views across the Laikipia Plains to Mount Kenya; views that are shared by each of the property’s rooms. The camp will deliver first class hospitality, exceptional guiding and an array of other exciting activity options. Not least of all, the property will reflect Elewana and TNC’s commitment to the environment by limiting its ecological footprint wherever possible.



The new Loisaba Conservancy is the result of substantial support by The Nature Conservancy and the consequential transition in the ownership of the 56,000-acre wildlife conservancy and wilderness to the Loisaba Community Trust. TNC’s move to help secure the land ensures that the conservancy delivers vital benefits and support for neighbouring communities, the wildlife, and all Kenyans for the foreseeable future. It also ensures that Loisaba’s role as a critical sanctuary and corridor for elephants and other wildlife long into the future, as well as providing refuge for one of Kenya’s most stable lion populations and an abundance of other wildlife including Grévy's zebra, wild dogs, leopard and cheetah.

Loisaba represents the single largest conservation investment in East Africa in 2014/15 and was born from a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, Space for Giants and The Northern Rangelands Trust. In recognition that responsible tourism is vital to long-term conservation, a third of the investment will contribute to tourism infrastructure. 

Commenting on the partnership, Karim Wissanji, Elewana’s CEO, said “The partnership with The Nature Conservancy highlights Elewana's passion and commitment to conservation, one that reflects in its support (financial and otherwise) for this exciting new project; a project that sits at the very heart of TNC's community, wildlife and land conservation philosophies and their important collaboration with tourism."



Matthew Brown, Africa Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy, remarks “Tourism support helps make Loisaba a self-sustaining engine for peace, community development, and wildlife conservation. This is an innovative example of how Africa can both preserve its heritage and create economic opportunities for its people. We are excited to be working with Elewana.”

The Elewana Collection is also now managing the famous Loisaba Star Beds. June 2015 saw the completion of a US$150,000 refurbishment of the Kiboko Star Beds. The upgraded Star Beds now consist of four accommodation platforms (previously there were three), including one family skybed and a new dining area with a stunning stargazing platform. Three further platforms are available at the Koija star beds.

The Loisaba Conservancy provides a critical and secure 56,000 acre sanctuary for over 700 elephants (resident and non-resident) that have been individually identified (and named) by Daniel Lentipo, the conservancy’s resident researcher provided by Space for Giants work that is critically important to the survival of Africa’s elephant population.

GPS tracking data has proven that Loisaba is a key corridor, enabling elephants to migrate from Laikipia (dry season range) to Samburu (wet season range), helping to maintain one of the longest elephant migrations recorded in Africa.

Carnival Corporation to build four cruise ships as part of Memo of Agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A.


MIAMI - Carnival Corporation & plc announced that it has signed a Μemo of Αgreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in 2016. Two of the four new ships will be built for Costa Asia for deployment in China, and one will be built each for P&O Cruises Australia and Princess Cruises. With the new agreement, Carnival Corporation has 17 new ships scheduled to be delivered between 2016 and 2020.

The four new ships will be built by one of the world's largest cruise ship building companies, Fincantieri, at the company's shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020. The two new 135,500-ton ships for Costa Asia and one new ship for P&O Cruises Australia will carry 4,200 passengers.




Additionally, Princess Cruises' new 143,700-ton ship will carry 3,560 passengers and will be its fourth "Royal Princess" class vessel, featuring the successful design platform used on Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess scheduled for delivery in 2017. Each of the four new ships will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and guests it will serve, and support the company's overall goal of providing exceptional vacation experiences for its guests.

"We will deliver on our fleet enhancement plan with the construction of these four new, exciting ships that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "These ships will be great additions to our fleet that support our goal to exceed guest expectations and create great vacation memories for each guest onboard our ships. These strategic investments in new ships that wow our guests are an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time."

"The signing of this agreement happens during a real and beyond all expectations boom of the cruise sector," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "This announcement confirms - once again - the effectiveness of our strategy: with these projects we ensure continuity and development for our company, and we also further strengthen our already consolidated partnership with the Carnival group."

The new Costa Cruises Asia ships will prominently feature the brand's "Italy's finest" experience, with the new ship design serving to enhance the overall onboard immersion Italy's unique style, hospitality, entertainment and culinary excellence. The new ship order will also strengthen Costa Asia's leadership and position in the region, as well as its commitment and confidence to continuously develop Asia Pacific and China to be one of the leading cruise markets in the world. In the past nine years, Costa Asia has created a multitude of industry firsts and has been widely recognized as the industry leader in the region, including being named as the first-ever Asia Best Cruise Line in the Asia Cruise Awards this year.

The new P&O Cruises Australia ship will join the leading cruise line's fleet that was recently expanded with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November 2015 and will reach six total with the introduction of Pacific Explorer in 2017 to meet growing demand for cruises in Australia. Australia is one of the top performing cruise markets in the world, with an average annual passenger growth rate of 20 percent over the past decade. The new 4,200-passenger ship will have the largest passenger capacity from the line, with the next largest ship, Pacific Explorer, carrying 2,250 passengers, and will continue the brand's tradition of innovative ships that reflect modern Australia.

The new Princess Cruises ship will include the signature elements that have become synonymous with the Princess guest experience such as a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues; Movies Under the Stars outdoor cinema experience, and 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies. The ship will also include some brand-new innovations to enhance the guest experience even further.

In March 2015 Carnival entered into a strategic partnership with Fincantieri under which these four ships have been developed. Specific features and amenities for the ships, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the coming months.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt to Join Hilton Worldwide Portfolio

Located less than two miles from historic downtown Pratt, the new hotel is nearby popular area attractions including Pratt Historical Museum, Lemon Park, Green Sports Complex, KDWP Nature Education Center and the B-29 All Veterans Memorial. Credit: Hampton by Hilton.

PRATT, Kan. and MCLEAN, Va. - Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt, its newest property to joinHampton by Hilton, the global brand of more than 2,000 mid-priced Hampton Inn by Hilton, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels. The 80-room hotel, located at 1705 Maple Street in Pratt, and is managed by Pride Hospitality.  
Located less than two miles from historic downtown Pratt, the new hotel is nearby popular area attractions including Pratt Historical Museum, Lemon Park, Green Sports Complex, KDWP Nature Education Center and the B-29 All Veterans Memorial.

"Our new Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt has signature Hampton amenities and services, along with a friendly staff," said Darlene Swann, general manager. "From our sports park and nature preserve nearby to the lively downtown area, we are excited to welcome guests from all over to experience our new local hotel."

Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt offers amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center with complimentary printing, a 676 square foot meeting space that can accommodate up to 52 people, a fitness center and indoor pool. The hotel also offers On the House hot breakfast daily as well as Hampton's On the RunTM Breakfast Bags, available Monday through Friday. 

The new hotel features the Perfect Mix Lobby, designed as an extension of the guestroom with a variety of seating and lighting options for both leisure and business travelers. Additionally, the hotel features TREATS, a food and beverage shop filled with snacks, toiletries, local merchandise and drinks for purchase. Guestrooms are equipped with the brand's signature Clean and fresh Hampton bed®, HDTV, microwave, fridge and coffeemaker.  

Hampton by Hilton team members proudly exhibit a unique culture described as Hamptonality. This term describes each hotel's approach to friendly customer service and anticipation of guests' needs and providing travelers with helpful suggestions about area attractions, historical facts and fun things to do around town. Additionally, hotels are infused with local photography and artwork, highlighting each property's connection and support to its own community.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only hotel loyalty program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® on the same stay and No Blackout Dates on reward stays. HHonors members always get our lowest price with our Best Price Guarantee, along with HHonors Points, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton. For more information or to make reservations, please visit Hampton Inn by Hilton Pratt 

Courtyard by Marriott opens in Taiwan

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Courtyard by Marriott announced the opening of Courtyard by Marriott Taipei, which is located in the center of Nangang District. The 465-room hotel is the 36th Courtyard branded hotel in Asia Pacific, and the latest addition to the growing portfolio of over 1,000 Courtyard by Marriott hotels in more than 40 countries worldwide.
The hotel itself sits on the 7th to 30th floors above CityLink Shopping Mall, a building which serves as the main Nangang Station for Taipei Metro, Taiwan High Speed Rail, and Taiwan Railway. For air travelers, Songshan Airport is just 15 minutes away while and Taoyuan Airport a merely 45-minute ride. The hotel is in close proximity to the Nangang Exhibition Center, Nangang Technology Park, Nangang Software Park, Nangang Biotechnology Centre, Neihu Technology Park and the well-known landmark Taipei 101, making it perfect for business and leisure travelers.
Designed in a refreshing and modern style, Courtyard by Marriott Taipei offers scenic views from all sides of the building. Six room types with size starting from 36 square metres provide good space for work and rest. Guests can also rejuvenate in the state-of-the-art Fitness Center.
Being the first international hotel brand in Nangang District, the Courtyard by Marriott Taipei is an ideal venue for corporate and social events. The 500-square-metre ballroom can be divided into eight function space to suit events of various sizes.

NACTA: Rock steady, poised for more growth in 2016


ALEXANDRIA, VA - The association representing independent agents - the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA)- is on a growth trajectory as it prepares to celebrate its 30th Anniversary in 2016.

"Our growth is nothing short of phenomenal," said NACTA President Ann Chamberlin (formerly Ann van Leeuwen). "NACTA represents some of the hardest-working travel consultants in the business. We added eight new chapters in 2015 for a total of 52, we had a sold out conference in Kona, Hawaii, and we have new technology in place to promote our travel specialists with consumers. But, we could not do any of this without our dedicated, volunteer chapter and regional directors."

Among its priorities for the year is continued educational opportunities. NACTA's annual conference is the main venue for learning among NACTA members. In 2016, NACTA will head to Fort Lauderdale Nov. 3-9 for a conference split between the Westin Fort Lauderdale Hotel and Celebrity's Infinity sailing to The Bahamas. "Establishing a Land & Sea conference with Starwood and Celebrity is a winning combination for us. Both companies proactively support independent travel consultants. Attending travel agents can expect many extra surprises as we celebrate our 30-year history," said Chamberlin. Another record crowd is expected for the 2016 annual conference; the annual conference in Kona this year drew 427 paid attendees.

NACTA also is announcing that the destination chosen for its 2017 Annual Convention is Anchorage, Alaska. Conference attendees will have a variety of pre- and post-show tours to choose from. NACTA is in the initial planning stages to offer a southbound Alaska cruise, a railcar experience through scenic terrain, and, weather permitting, spectacular viewing of the Aurora Borealis. "We are thrilled to continue to take NACTA members to highly rated leisure destinations. Alaska is sure to be a popular conference venue because of all the amazing pre and post experiences we will add to the conference," said Chamberlin.

The hotel selected for the conference is the famous Captain Cook Hotel, which offers spectacular views of the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. It is the only luxury hotel in Anchorage. Learning about the destination and experiencing it for themselves will allow travel consultants to better promote and sell the Alaska experience to their client groups. "At the Kona conference, when we asked how many members would be interested in traveling to Anchorage, nearly every hand in the room went up. Needless to say we are pleased to be able to offer this destination to our members in 2017," she said.

NACTA has a robust educational program planned for travel consultant members in 2016. FAM opportunities are planned for Ireland, Croatia, Hawaii and Tahiti, as well as Seminars at Sea and River Cruise programs with a variety of supplier partners. In addition, NACTA works closely with parent company ASTA in organizing in-depth FAM programs in diverse locations such as Seville, Spain and Maui, Hawaii.

In addition to educational opportunities for members, NACTA wants to educate consumers on the value of using travel professionals. It has begun actively promoting FindaTravelConsultant.com to help consumers find NACTA travel specialists. This is where consumers go to view profiles of NACTA members and select one based on their credentials, education or travel and cruise expertise.

"We look forward to celebrating our 30th Anniversary in Fort Lauderdale and on Celebrity's Infinity with our 1,800 and counting members next fall. We're expecting great things for our industry in 2016," said Chamberlin.



ABC Travel Guides for Kids names Top7 US family travel destinations for 2016

Rocky is back on top as Philadelphia is named #1 destination for Family Travel for 2016! (PRNewsFoto/ABC Travel Guides for Kids) 

PHILADELPHIA - ABC Travel Guides for Kids is the premier producer and publisher of all-in-one alphabet, activity and souvenir guides specifically designed for kids. According to ABC Travel Guides for Kids, Philly takes the top spot, three Florida cities are featured and Detroit's comeback continues...
  • Philadelphia, PA: Time for an authentic Philly cheesesteak and a visit to the City of Brotherly Love as Franklin Square turns 10 and the National Constitution Center hosts Headed to the White House this election year. Kimpton, Omni and Loews Hotels love families. Best ice cream parlor is The Franklin Fountain.
  • Chicago, IL: The Cubs are going to win the World Series in 2016 and Chicago's Museums, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Art Institute all remain among our nation's best. Stay at Residence Inn's 700th hotel or the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.
  • Orlando, FL More than just the theme park capital of the world, Disney Springs and nearby Kennedy Space Center's Heroes and Legends attraction features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Stay at The Hard Rock Hotel.
  • St. Petersburg, FL: Take a "Bird Quest" through the areas museums, parks and hotels and let your senses go wild at the hands-on exhibits at Great Explorations, Sunken Gardens and Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club is a great choice for families.
  • Detroit, MI: Only in Motor City can you visit the largest penguin facility in the world; stop at a LEGOLAND Discovery Center and enjoy an afternoon of Beatles at The Magical History Tour at The Henry Ford. For dinner kids will love the iconic Buddy's Pizza. Hyatt Place Detroit/Auburn Hills or Hyatt Place Detroit/Utica are great options for families.
  • Miami, FL: A Miami Culinary Tour in Little Havana is life changing and GameTime Miami, Jungle Island, Coral Gables Venetian Pool and Lincoln Road provide unique experiences for everyone. The Pizza Bar and Bodega are fun. The Palms Hotel & Spa is incredible for families.
  • Hilton Head, SC: Beaches, bike trails, kayaking and water sports, horseback riding and we're just getting warmed up. Families will think they are in the Caribbean at Omni's Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort.

Τετάρτη, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

Cuba surpasses Three Million Tourists Mark

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Tour operators around the globe are reporting high demand for travel to Cuba that hotel rooms in Havana are selling out months in advance, with some agencies unable to offer availability until April 2016. Meanwhile, Cuba’s National Bureau of Statistics and Information announced that the arrivals to the island surpassed three million mark. Cuba received 3,139,764 international travelers from January to November 2015; a 17.6% increase.
According to the data, in November the island received a total of 289,195 foreign tourists.
Among all countries, Canada strengthened their position as the main tourist-sending market, after reaching 1.168,298 visitors in 11 months, an increase of 12 %.
Then Germany (154,000,718), United Kingdom (143,000,143), France (124,000,472), Italy (117,000,756) and Spain (95,000,279) were positioned in that other.
Meanwhile, in Latin America the leadership corresponded to Mexico with 93,000,727 tourists, accompanied by Venezuela (86,000,891), Argentina (78,000,926) and Chile (46,000,382).

Malta records Double Digit Growth in Inbound Tourism, November 2015

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The Malta Tourism Authority announced an impressive increase of 12.2 % in tourist expenditure in November 2015 when compared with November 2014. Malta also achieved a double digit growth rate in the total inbound visitors in November 2015. The number of inbound visitors to Malta in November 2015 reached 115,105, recording a substantial increase of 11.3% over same month last year. Total inbound tourists (excluding cruise passengers spending overnights in Malta) amounted to 113,042, increasing by 9.8% or 10,102 more tourists.
The number of nights spent by tourists reached 838,984, representing an increase of 7.7%. The average length of stay declined marginally from 7.6 nights in November 2014 to 7.4 nights in November 2015. Tourist expenditure registered the highest growth rate of 12.2%. Tourists spent €90.1 million, €9.77 million more than the previous year.
Cumulative data for the period January to November 2015 show substantial growth rates in inbound tourism performance with the number of inbound tourists increasing by 5.9% over the same period last year. The number of inbound tourists exceeded the 1.7 million mark during the period January to November 2015. The number of nights stayed by tourists reached 13.6 million, recording an increase of 5.2%. The registered growth rate of tourists staying in private accommodation (+18.2%) is considerably higher than those staying in collective accommodation (+1.7%). The tourist expenditure figure features the highest increase of 7.7%, reaching €1.59 billion, 113.1 million more over same period last year. Per capita expenditure increased from €910 in January to November 2014 to €925 in January to November 2015.
The above mentioned growth included the two international events held in Malta during the month of November. These results still reflect the constant positive growth experienced throughout the year which is expected to continue even during December.
The majority of source markets with the exception of Libya and Russia recorded increases. The United Kingdom registered the largest absolute increase of 36,595 more tourists compared to same period last year, followed by Italy with 25,738 more tourists. Furthermore double-digit growth rates in inbound tourists were recorded from USA, Belgium, Ireland and Austria.
MTA CEO Mr Paul Bugeja stated that “We are extremely pleased with the double-digit growth rates achieved in inbound tourism performance during November 2015, in particular with the sustained increases in the tourist expenditure figure which is ultimately one of the most important indicators of tourism performance.”
Mr Bugeja added that “The new record figures achieved throughout this year are the result of the hard work put in by all our stakeholders within the industry. These efforts amongst others included several marketing initiatives, better exposure in International travel fairs and increased connectivity to our Islands”