This Week in Travel News

Security Tightened St Some European Airports, Borders
Reuters reports several countries have tightened or reviewed airport security following the twin explosions at Brussels Airport. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks in the departure hall of Zaventem airport, and a rush-hour metro train which killed at least 30 people. Security was tighter at airports around Asia on Wednesday, with South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and India saying that they were deploying additional resources at the major hubs. New measures included increased checks on those who were entering terminals and additional patrols within the terminal buildings, said officials from around the region.

Marriott Will Open 4,400 Rooms in Europe in 2016

Central and Eastern Europe will account for 70 percent of the 4,400 rooms Marriott International will open in Europe this year. A few highlights: Marriott’s Autograph Collection will open four hotels in Europe in 2016; AC Hotels will enter the United Kingdom in May with a property in each Manchester and Birmingham; Moxy Hotels will open five hotels by the end of 2016 and nine more in 2017; and the Marriott brand will open five across Germany, Belarus, Macedonia and Russia. The company will double its presence in Europe once it completes its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, reaching 123,000 opened or signed rooms: Marriott’s 61,000 open rooms, Starwood’s 40,500 open rooms and their combined pipeline of 21,500 rooms.

Starwood Hotels Signs First US-Cuba Hotel Deal In Nearly 60 Years
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide signed on three new hotels in Cuba Saturday, the first U.S. hotel company to sign a deal with Cuba since the 1959 revolution. The announcement came just a day before US President Barack Obama was due to visit Havana. The deal, previously prohibited under the US economic embargo of Cuba received the go-ahead from the US Treasury Department last week as the Obama administration pulled down restrictions on travel, Cuba’s access to the international banking system and other trade barriers. In a statement, Starwood said it will manage and market two properties in Havana and has signed a letter of intent to operate a third. Starwood said it would invest millions to renovate and rebrand the Quinta Avenida, Santa Isabel and Inglaterra hotels, train and hire new staff, and reopen the hotels by the end of the year. On Friday, China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. signed a deal to buy Starwood Hotels, the world’s seventh-largest hotel company in $13 billion dollar deal, brushing of a rival offer from U.S.-based Marriott International.

London Launches First All-Electric, Long-Range Double-Decker Bus into service
Transport for London (TfL) has introduced the world’s first zero-emission, long-range, all-electric BYD Double-Decker buses into revenue service routes. TfL celebrated the historic decision to deploy its first all-electric double decker buses with a special ceremony at London city hall last week. The five buses scheduled for deployment are more than 33 feet long and feature air conditioning, seats for 54 passengers with space for 27 standing passengers (81 total). The buses are equipped with BYD-designed and built Iron-Phosphate batteries, delivering 345 kWh of power that come with a Industry-benchmark 12 year battery warranty, the longest electric battery warranty available. The batteries can power the bus for over 24 hours and up to 190 miles of typical urban driving on the service routes with a single daily recharging requiring only four hours. TfL plans to charge the buses overnight using low-cost, off-peak electricity to provide additional cost savings.

Alaska Airlines Offers Frequent Fliers Option To Redeem Miles For TSA Precheck
Alaska Airlines is offering its frequent fliers a new way to redeem miles and save time at the airport. Beginning yesterday through the end of April, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can redeem 10,000 miles to waive the $85 application fee for five years of hassle-free travel with TSA Precheck. TSA Precheck members traveling through airport security checkpoints do not need to remove their shoes, light jacket or belt, and can leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.

Cuba Opens Door To Fathom’s History-Making Cruises From The US

Carnival Corp. is poised to operate the first cruise from the United States to Cuba in more than 50 years. The company’s Fathom brand got the green light from Cuban authorities to sail Adonia into Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba in May. The ship will operate round-trip PortMiami. The first cruise will leave PortMiami on May 1 and is not yet sold out. Carnival Corp. will be working with Cuba on port and tourism infrastructure to facilitate more ships. Carnival had been working diligently to try to secure the go-ahead from Cuba over many months, and with the announcement of President Obama’s trip, the cruise line increased its efforts. Fares for the 704-passenger Adonia start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses. Several on-ground activities are included. Prices will vary by season.

Chinese Firm To Invest $150 Million In New Hotel West Of Havana

Suntine International-Economic Trading Company of China and Cuba’s Cubanacan hotel group are partners in a project to build a new Hemingway Hotel at the Hemingway Marina just west of Havana. The state-run Chinese investor will have a 49% ownership and will provide $150 million for the project. Cubanacan, with 51% ownership, is providing the land and other resources. According to an announcement last year, the final project will include a 600-room luxury hotel. Citic Construction, the main contractor for the Beijing Olympic Games, and the Cuban Construction Ministry will build the proposed Hemingway hotel. Three major US corporations are preparing to complete deals to do business in Cuba during Obama’s upcoming trip to Cuba.

Royal Caribbean’s New Miami Cruise Terminal To Be A Work Of Art

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is reviewing submissions from five internationally recognized architects competing to design its new terminal at the Port of Miami. The 170,000-square-foot space will be radically different from what most cruise terminals look like. The designs are highly unusual for RCCL, which like most cruise companies prioritizes function and economy in terminals, which are typically designed by engineering firms, not architects. The company is taking a different approach on this terminal because the project has several additional benefits. Situated at the start of the cruise ship row, it will be the first port building anyone sees as a vessel enters the harbor. RCCL plans to move a 5,200-passenger Oasis-class ship from its current base at Port Everglades to Miami to occupy the terminal, so there were functional criteria the designers had to meet in terms of drop-off areas, traffic circulation, luggage lay-down and check-in times. RCCL is working under a memorandum of understanding to develop the terminal, which would be owned and operated by RCCL on land leased from Miami-Dade County. The process is expected to conclude in a couple of months with a single design that would go to the county for approval. Miami has typically been the world’s busiest cruise port. In 2014, it handled nearly 4.9 million passengers. The new terminal should be completed in 2018.

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