Archive | September, 2011

Marriott Closer To Feature 300 LEED Hotels

30 Sep

Marriott International, Inc. is closer to reaching its goal of 300 LEED-certified hotels by 2015 —now that three of its brands — Courtyard, TownePlace Suites and Residence Inn – have all earned LEED Volume pre-certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The Courtyard Scottsdale Pima in Arizona, scheduled to open in early 2012, and the TownePlace Suites Frederick in Maryland, will be the first of their brand categories to be built using Marriott’s LEED Volume pre-certification. Residence Inn projects are under development.

“We live in a world where concerns about the environment and about sustainable development are a necessary and growing consideration for everyone,” says Karim Khalifa, senior vice president of architecture and construction. “Sustainability is an important part of Marriott’s global expansion and our commitment to grow responsibly. The LEED Volume Program plays a vital role in that.”

Source: Marriott

Kurt Ritter celebrates his 35th anniversary with The Rezidor Hotel Group

30 Sep

The Swiss hotelier Kurt Ritter celebrates his 35th anniversary with Rezidor. In 1976, he joined the company as General Manager of the SAS Luleå Hotel in Sweden and since 1989, he heads Rezidor as the President & CEO. He is probably the longest serving Chief Executive Officer of the hospitality industry. Rezidor’s Board of Directors recently extended Ritter’s contract until 2015.

“I look back on 35 fantastic and incredibly diversified years – and forward to more than 3 equally exciting years. I still love what I’m doing and feel that I can still move things” said Kurt Ritter.

Under his management and leadership, Rezidor has developed from a small Scandinavian group to a global player and to one of the fastest growing hotel companies of the world. The group currently has 35,000 employees, features 3 distinct brands (Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson, Hotel Missoni) and more than 400 hotels with 90,000 rooms in operation and under development in 64 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Ritter is the man behind Radisson Blu’s success as Europe’s largest upper upscale, design-conscious brand, behind the impressive growth story of Park Inn by Radisson which jumped from 0 to more than 140 hotels in seven years, and behind the stylish partnership between Rezidor and the iconic Italian fashion house Missoni.

Kurt Ritter will further focus on revenue generation, and on Rezidor’s profitable growth in emerging markets like Russia/CIS and Africa. “We were pioneers in these regions and are today among the leading international players – a position which we want to keep and extend”, comments Ritter. “On the worldwide market, we aim to globally align our brands together with Carlson, owner of the Radisson- and Park Inn brands and our majority shareholder”, adds Ritter.

Source – Rezidor

Etihad to provide onboard wireless internet.

30 Sep

Etihad Airways has announced that it will provide onboard wireless internet on selected routes to Europe before the end of 2011.

Speaking at the World Broadband Forum in Paris, Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan said: “I can tell you that Etihad will have two aircraft with operational onboard internet by December this year, and five aircraft by March, 2012.

“Three of those five aircraft will be Airbus A330-300s, which will operate between Abu Dhabi and cities like Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Munich and Paris.He added that airlines around the world now face pressure from customers to make broadband internet access standard on all flights, but cautioned the industry to invest wisely in wireless innovation.

“Annually, airlines invest billions in aircraft and millions in in-flight entertainment and other trappings, years before the aircraft enter service.

Star Alliance FareFinder App Goes Android

30 Sep

The Star Alliance FareFinder app is now also available for Android™, enabling users of more than 500 different mobile devices to access fare information for the 27 member airline alliance.

The FareFinder app allows fare searches for either one-way or return flights between any two airports on the Star Alliance network. In order to best match the information to the customers’ requirements, the app allows for additional search criteria like number of passengers, arrival or departure times, class of service, number of stops, transfer airports and point of sale. The app also displays availability so the customers can then select the airline(s) they wish to travel on. Guided by the FareFinder app, customers can then book via the appropriate airline call centre or website.

The FareFinder app is available as a free download in English from www.staralliance.com or from Android Market™ at market.android.com.

Source: Star Alliance

Aviation biofuels: a big opportunity for Asian business and governments

29 Sep

Last year, the world’s airlines spent $140 billion on jet fuel. Now, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) representing parties from across the aviation industry, says that governments across Asia could be getting a slice of that by kick-starting development of a new source of energy for flights. In July, the global standards agency ASTM International gave approval for airlines to start flying on biofuels made using the Hydrotreated Renewable Jet (HRJ) process. This followed approval for fuels using Biomass-to-Liquid (BtL) in their production. It opens the door for airlines to fly commercial flights using up to 50% biofuels and a number of airlines have started to do so.

Speaking at the Greener Skies 2011 conference in Hong Kong, ATAG Executive Director Paul Steele said, “The progress has been amazing. Just a few years ago, biofuels for aviation were not even on the radar. Since the ASTM approval came through in July, we have had six airlines running passenger services using biofuels.

“While a lot of the technical work has been done, we need to continue to work on three important aspects:

•    Further research into new production techniques and feedstocks
•    ensuring that we can commercialise the biofuels opportunity and bring the right quantities of biofuels to airlines at the right price
•    and committing to robust sustainability standards worldwide that will mean biofuels for aviation don’t have negative consequences for vulnerable communities”.

Currently, airlines are paying a price premium for using biofuels, but the industry expects that this will drop as more production capacity comes on stream and supply ramps up. Steele added “But as the price of oil continues to rise and we work on new sources of biofuel, we can expect the two energy sources to reach parity. How quickly that happens depends on attracting the necessary investment and governments putting in place the right policy framework.”

“Asian governments and industry have a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of sustainable aviation biofuels. Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest-growing aviation regions in the world and became the largest aviation market in 2009. The region will be using the mobility and connectivity that air travel brings to help drive economic growth. That growth can be achieved in a more sustainable way if Asian airlines take advantage of reducing their carbon footprint by up to 80% using biofuels.”

“Governments should also be taking advantage of this potential boost to the green economy with home-grown jet fuel a possibility. The potential to use algae for aviation biofuel needs to be explored in Asia and the exciting prospect of using municipal waste to produce biofuel will solve a landfill issue and provide airlines with a new stream of clean energy.”

Projects to use municipal waste to produce jet fuel are being developed in London, Northern California, Sydney and Rome. US-based company Solena is working with local airlines to build plants capable of turning 500,000 tonnes of normal organic urban waste into 16 million gallons of jet biofuel each year. The mega-cities of Asia could potentially supply millions of tonnes of organic waste material to convert into aviation biofuels.

Globally, aviation uses only 10% of the liquid fuels used for transport. It is also distributed through smaller and more tightly-controlled system than other transport fuels: 1,600 airports worldwide fuel 95% of the world’s flights. This compares to over 161,000 gas stations in the United States alone. “We have a greater opportunity to de-carbonise air transport faster through biofuels than other sectors. Furthermore, other forms of transport have alternatives such as electricity, which we believe means that biofuels should be prioritsed for use in aviation and other ‘heavy’ forms of transport.”

“It may also provide the oil giants with food for thought. They have for too long delayed getting into sustainable aviation biofuels. It is now time for them to get serious about the needs of their customers and of the world – provide us with low-carbon, cost-effective, sustainably-sourced fuel or we’ll just end up doing it ourselves.”

Source – Air Transport Action Group

Qantas added A330's for Rugby World Cup and NRL fans

29 Sep

Qantas announced four additional flights have been added to cater for Rugby World Cup and NRL fans ahead of Grand Finals this Sunday.

Qantas will operate an additional four wide-body Airbus A330 services as follows:

– 1 October 2011 QF175 departing Sydney at 1230 and arriving in Auckland at 1825
– 1 October 2011 QF176 departing Auckland at 1950 and arriving in Sydney at 2025
– 3 October 2011 QF175 departing Sydney at 1245 and arriving in Auckland at 1740
– 3 October 2011 QF176 departing Auckland at 1910 and arriving in Sydney at 2045
Qantas acting Regional General Manager New Zealand and Pacific Islands, Shirley Field, said Qantas has now added a total of eight flights to cater for demand.
Ms Field said “we have injected over 1700 seats into the market and received an overwhelming response”.
“We will continue to monitor demand and assess where further capacity is required.”

Source: Qantas

Thailand eager to host a F1 race to boost tourism

29 Sep

Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is eager to host a F1 sport event to help increase tourism.
TCEB president Akapol Sorasuchart said, “the bureau is considering calls by businesses to bring in the big events in order to enhance the country’s reputation internationally.”

Experts are required to estimate the revenue the country could receive from staging a race and the financial commitment required.

Abacus as the preferred Distribution Partner of Virgin Australia

29 Sep

Virgin Australia has signed a landmark partnership with Abacus International as its preferred distribution partner. This will allow Virgin Australia to leverage and promote Abacus as its preferred global distribution system (GDS) through joint sales and marketing activities throughout Asia.

As part of the agreement, Virgin Australia has also upgraded its connectivity with Abacus, thus tapping into Abacus’ highly productive network of travel agents to drive new revenue and higher yield. Abacus agents will now have full access to Virgin Australia’s fares and inventory so that customers can now conveniently book Virgin Australia as well as its interline and code-share partners including Singapore Airlines on Abacus channels.

“The agreement with Virgin Australia is an excellent match for Abacus, whereby we will connect our extensive Asia Pacific network with Virgin’s wide range of Australian and Pacific destinations.  We are committed to strengthen our position in the region and deliver additional value to our customers,” said Mr Ho Hoong Mau, Division Head, Airline Distribution, of Abacus International.

“Choosing the right partner for the region is instrumental to underpinning the expansion and growth plans of our growing international alliance network, and that is why we chose Abacus,” said Mr Justin Montgomery, General Manager – Sales, Virgin Australia group of airlines.

Source: Abacus International

Opening of the new Holiday Inn Red Deer South

29 Sep

IHG announces the opening of the new Holiday Inn Red Deer South on October 3, 2011.

The hotel offers a variety of amenities for business and leisure travellers like fitness centre, an open concept ballroom and 6,996 square feet of meeting space. The hotel includes 114 bedrooms, 24 of which are suites featuring one bedroom and a separate living room.

The hotel will showcase all of the elements of the recently completed $1 billion Holiday Inn global brand relaunch, the biggest ever project of its kind in the history of the hospitality industry. “We are thrilled to welcome this property to the Holiday Inn family of hotels with the brand new sign and everything it represents. Holiday Inn hotels are specifically designed for business and family oriented leisure travelers in need of a full-service lodging experience, and this property fits well within that offering,” said Gina LaBarre, senior vice president, Brand Delivery, the Americas, IHG. “Development in Alberta is important in expanding our Holiday Inn consumer base and growing an even stronger presence across the Americas.”

“We are very excited to be opening this brand new Holiday Inn,” said Shazma Charania, owner of Holiday Inn Red Deer South. “We have invested in this property with the goal of providing visitors of the area with a hotel that is convenient while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere with all the latest in comfort, and we are thrilled with the end result.”

Source – Holiday Inn

'ITB Asia Stickman' To Raise Funds For Charity

29 Sep

Attendees at ITB Asia 2011 will now be able to contribute to a good social cause while doing what they do best, travelling around the world. Messe Berlin (Singapore), organiser of ITB Asia, ‘The Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market’, has launched a special social media project to help raise funds for its adopted charity – Operation Smile Singapore.

The star of the project is known as the ‘ITB Asia Stickman’ – a smiling, bendable rubber figurine in the signature ITB orange. The ‘ITB Asia Stickman’ and 499 other custom-made fellowmen will be available for adoption at this year’s show at a donation sum of choice. All proceeds from the donation drive will go to Operation Smile Singapore.

ITB Asia will then pledge US$10 for each of the first 250 photographs uploaded, to Operation Smile, a not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organisation that provides reconstructive facial surgery to indigent children and young adults. The total sum raised will go towards funding approximately seven life-changing operations.

This idea is the brainchild of Nino Gruettke, the Executive Director of ITB Asia. “Social media has significantly enhanced the way we share our travel experiences, stories and photos. Our travel photos not only capture memorable moments, but also celebrate local cultures, communities and inspire future generations of globetrotters,” explained Gruettke.

The ‘ITB Asia Stickman’ project will take place over a year, starting from 19 October 2011 until ITB Asia 2012 – or when the target of 250 photographs has been reached.

Source: ITB Asia