Hong Kong Welcomes Disney

*Harrah's Buys Imperial Palace
*Sandals Splits With Apple

When Disney opened its theme park this month in Hong Kong, the debut was much different from the 1992 opening of Euro Disney outside Paris, The Associated Press reported.

While French officials and critics shunned the opening of Euro Disney, believing it to be an assault on French culture, Hong Kong and Chinese officials welcomed the new attraction.

During the opening ceremony, Chinese vice president Zeng Qinghong declared the park Hong Kong’s “eternal carnival,” according to reports, and despite the heat, hundreds of people lined up outside the gates.

While a French government agency filed complaints regarding Euro Disney’s policies and employee dress codes, Hong Kong’s government is the biggest investor in the new $3.5 billion park, the AP reported. Officials hope the attraction will boost Asia’s presence as a family holiday destination. Disney officials said the Hong Kong park employs 5,000 people and will draw more than 5 million visitors in its first year.


Harrah's New Vegas Palace

Harrah’s Entertainment recently confirmed a $370 million deal to purchase Imperial Palace Las Vegas, the Business Press reported. The deal will give Harrah’s an additional 2,640 hotel rooms along with a slew of gaming facilities. But perhaps more importantly, Harrah’s will boost its presence by gaining nearly 19 acres of strategic real estate along the Strip.

Sin City continues to consolidate after a series of mergers, including Harrah’s recent acquisition of Caesars Entertainment Inc. and the MGM Mirage buyout of the Mandalay Resort Group in February.


MLT Partners With Alaska Airlines

MLT Vacations recently announced a new partnership with Alaska Airlines, adding more than 45 origins and destinations to NWA WorldVacations’ West Coast itinerary, including Seattle to Los Angeles and Portland to San Francisco. Nevada and Mexico destinations will be added later this year.

NWA WorldVacations will combine Alaska Airlines-operated flights with hotels and optional activities to create vacation packages in California, Nevada and Mexico.

Alaska Airlines will offer vacation packages to Hawaii under the brand name Alaska Airlines Hawaii Vacations. Flights operated by Northwest Airlines from Pacific Northwest cities to Hawaii will be paired with MLT Vacations hotels and optional activities to create vacation packages on six Hawaiian Islands.


Sandals Splits With Apple Vacations

Sandals recently decided to end its relationship with Apple Vacations to pursue better marketing relationships with other wholesalers.

“We don’t wish Apple Vacations any ill will,” said Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations, the sales agent for Sandals and Beaches. “Quite frankly, we didn’t have the best marketing relationship with them.”

Several weeks ago, Sandals notified Apple Vacations they would pull their product, and as of this month, Sandals is no longer available through Apple Vacations.

“It’s true that Sandals and Beaches Resorts are no longer available through Apple Vacations, however, we have a host of luxurious vacation options for couples and families throughout the Caribbean,” Tim Mullen, senior vice president at Apple Vacations, said in a statement.

Sandals will honor vacation packages previously sold through Apple Vacations. Sandals is still sold through other wholesalers, including Travel Impressions and Mark Travel.


SunTrips Offers Senior Discounts

SunTrips recently announced a new senior discount program. Travelers 55 and older will receive greater savings on SunTrips’ vacation packages and air-only to Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Azores.

“We know how active today’s seniors are and wanted to help them enjoy life even more by providing quality value vacations at a terrific price,” said Ed Wegel, CEO of SunTrips. “For 28 years SunTrips has been committed to our clients, and we hope our new senior discount will be well received by the 55-plus community.”