Hilton, Hyatt & Sheraton news, Economy Plus deactivated, car rental profits, another celeb disses American & idiot of the week

In other hotel and travel industry news last week…

  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts completed renovations of the former International JFK Airport Hotel and officially opened its doors last week as the Hilton New York JFK Airport. This marks the chain’s sixth property in the New York metro area (excluding New Jersey). The JFK hotel features a total of 356 rooms, which includes 64 Executive Level rooms and 11 suites. Separately, Hilton will reportedly open 500 new restaurants at its properties during the next three years. Included among the options being considered is Ruth’s Chris Steak House at hotels where it would make sense based on guest demographics. Yes, please!
  • Still more than two years from opening, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts released a rendering of their planned Park Hyatt property in Bangkok. Shaped like a coil, it will mark the chain’s third property in Thailand and feature 222 rooms with a top-floor restaurant and lounge, along with more than 15,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to open 20 new properties this year through a combination of conversions and new construction. Twelve of the new hotels will be located in China, all of the Sheraton brand. According to Starwood’s President of Global Development, Simon Turner, “Sheraton’s impressive global pipeline is being fueled by phenomenal demand in China and India as well as by a surge in high-quality conversions in developed markets.” Eight new Sheraton Resorts will also open this year.
  • On the car rental front, both Hertz and Dollar-Thrifty reported impressive fourth quarter results for 2011. Hertz enjoyed a $52.1 million net income for the period versus a $23.6 million net loss the year prior, and Dollar-Thrifty reported a $33.9 million net profit for the period this year. Dollar’s CEO, Scott Thompson, feels optimistic about the first quarter in 2012 mentioning he expects the “rental rate environment to improve in the first quarter of 2012 versus the fourth quarter of 2011.”
  • As widely reported and blogged, United’s switch to the Shares GDS is right around the corner and it was reported last week that the conversion will temporarily deactivate the ability to book United’s Economy Plus seats for users of Sabre and Travelport. This is actually a pretty big deal given the volume of corporate agencies that subscribe to the impacted GDSs. There is no ETA for when this critical ancillary and loyalty mechanism will be restored.
  • It was reported another ’30 Rock’ star had an issue while flying American Airlines a week ago. Katrina Bowden tweeted on February 21, “Flight attendant on American just refused to give me more water because ‘I had enough already’ what the what?! These people are the worst!” While I’ve never been refused water, I have in the past noticed a bit of attitude when asking for more. This is total speculation, but I think many FAs like to bring “extra” full bottles of water with them from the galleys on their layovers and tend to horde them near the end of longer flights. This might have been what happened to Katrina.
  • And finally, the airline-traveling idiot of the week goes to a Saudi teenager who refused to turn off his e-cigarette when a flight attendant advised him to do so. The Continental Airlines flight from Portland to Houston turned around and the man was arrested upon landing in Portland. The disruptive passenger also allegedly took a swing at one of the attendants and “sang of bin Laden.” Eek!

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