As of Tuesday, new rules require all
airline passengers -- including U.S. citizens -- to present
passports upon entering or re-entering the United States from
Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and
Bermuda. The requirement, known as the Western Hemisphere Travel
Initiative, has caused fears of a drop in international travel in
the region, as only about one quarter of U.S. citizens now possess
a valid passport. The Travel Industry Association recently set up a
website -- www.getapassportnow.com -- to help U.S., Canadian and
Mexican citizens obtain the document.
On Thursday, Silverjet, a new
business-class airline that promises its operations will be
carbon-neutral, begins daily service between New York and London.
Aside from the practice of environmental responsibility,
innovations by Silverjet include a private terminal in London;
seat-side check-in and security clearance guaranteed in 30 minutes;
and a women-only restroom onboard. The British-owned airline will
operate flights between Newark Liberty Airport and London Luton
Airport using a Boeing 767 fitted with 100 lie-flat seats.
On Jan. 19, Gary C. Sain was named the
new president of the Orlando/Orange County Convention &
Visitors Bureau. He replaces longtime president Bill Peeper, who
retired at the end of 2006. Sain previously was the chief marketing
officer at Orlando-based public relations company Yesawich,
Pepperdine, Brown and Russell. He has also held executive positions
at GES Exposition Services, Premier Cruise Line and Hyatt Hotels
Corp. Sain begins his new role on Feb. 12.
The Hyatt Regency New Orleans, which has been closed since
Hurricane Katrina hit the city in August 2005, will reopen by the
end of the year. The hotel is the final major property in the city
to remain closed. The 1,076-room property will undergo a $120
million renovation, including all 115,000 square feet of meeting
Accor Hotels, which previously owned a
34 percent stake in Dorint Hotels & Resorts, has acquired
control of 52 upscale and midscale hotels in Germany that were part
of Dorint's 93-property portfolio. Eight of the properties
previously were operated under the Dorint Sofitel brand, 17 under
the Dorint Novotel brand and 27 under the Mercure brand. In the
first half of 2007, the Dorint name will be dropped from all 52
A 120-room Waldorf=Astoria hotel is in
the works for Beverly Hills, Calif., part of a previously announced
$500 million redevelopment project at the 570-room Beverly Hilton.
In addition, 120 luxury residences will be built on the 9-acre
property, and the Beverly Hilton, which recently emerged from an
$80 million renovation, eventually will be reconfigured to offer
402 guest rooms and a conference center certified by the
International Association of Conference Centers. The revitalized
Beverly Hilton will be designed to meet Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design standards. A spokesperson for Oasis West
Realty, owner of the Beverly Hilton, said the earliest that designs
could be finalized for the Waldorf=Astoria Beverly Hills would be
spring of 2008.
The 317-room Westin St. Maarten Dawn
Beach Resort & Spa held its grand opening on Monday. The
Caribbean resort offers a 10,000-square-foot spa, a casino, a
10,000-square-foot ballroom and 99 residences, some of which will
be in the rental pool when owners are absent. Columbia Sussex,
which owns and manages the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa Grand
Cayman, is the franchisee of the new property.
The Convention Industry Council
announced last week the new leaders of the APEX Commission,
replacing those who had served for the past six years. Theresa
"Terri" Breining, CMP, CMM, president, Concepts Worldwide, became
the chairperson, as previously announced. Gregg Talley, CAE,
president of Talley Management Group, now represents the Convention
and Meeting Management sector. Mike McCool, director of technology
services at The Freeman Companies, is head of the Service
Contractors sector. Shawn Pierce, director of infrastructure for
Hanley Wood Exhibitions, heads up the Exhibition Management sector.
Ty Helms, senior vice president of sales at Hyatt Corporation, now
oversees the Housing sector. Lastly, Leslie DeVries, regional vice
president of Aramark, represents the Food and Beverage sector.