Industry News 2-2-2007

*Classic Vacations Expands to Australia and New Zealand
*Fairmont's Award-Winning Rates

Classic Vacations has announced a new Classic Australia and New Zealand product offering. The new programs include a 21-day Australia and New Zealand experience, a cultural 13-day Australia itinerary, as well as the opportunity to stay at the area’s most inviting resorts and participate in a diverse array of activities throughout Sydney, Melbourne, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Cairns, Queensland, Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, Christchurch and more.

“Australia and New Zealand are a natural fit for us, as these destinations have become increasingly appealing to travelers striving to create truly individualized, extraordinary getaways,” said Ron Letterman, chairman of Classic Vacations.

Travelers who book a Classic trip to Australia and New Zealand can participate in activities ranging from snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef to enjoying a candlelit dinner in the rainforest to riding a camel to a wine tasting all while staying at preeminent hotels and resorts.

Classic is offering agents who book a Classic Vacations trip to Australia or New Zealand a bonus of 50 Classic STAR (Special Travel Agent Rewards) points, which can be used toward cash or familiarization trips to a number of luxurious destinations. With the Classic STAR program, agents can earn one point for every $100 in sales on all qualified bookings. The new promotion awards agents 50 extra STAR points when they book any Classic Australia or New Zealand package. Each qualified trip must be booked by June 30 for travel by Dec. 31 and must include the Classic Travel Smart Plan program. A brochure featuring Classic Vacations’ current offerings to Australia and New Zealand is currently being shipped to travel agents.

Starwood To Overhaul Waikiki Properties

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has announced that it will overhaul its Waikiki properties. The plans include a June 1 rebranding of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider into a Westin property. The classic hotel will also undergo renovations to guestrooms and the lobby. The hotel’s Surfrider Tower will feature a full-service spa. A Westin Kids Club will also be added to the property.

Renovations to the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel will include relocating its entrance to accommodate an expanded Royal Gardens. A new porte cochere will also be added. Starwood is presently contemplating a renovation of the hotel’s pool and beach area and to the Surf Room Restaurant, Mai Tai Bar and Monarch Room.

The Sheraton Waikiki is also undergoing an upgrade to the porte cochere, lobby and front desk area. The hotel’s food and beverage venues will be upgraded, as well. Starwood is also working on designs for a pool and recreation center for the area between the Sheraton Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Renovations to the Princess Kaiulani are still in the planning stages.

Award-Winning Rates

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is offering a little taste of Tinseltown in honor of the 79th Annual Academy Awards. Clients can live like stars with great rates through February at properties that include London’s Savoy; the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a favorite of the Hollywood elite; The Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, which recently finished a $100 million renovation as well as hosted three-time Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson; and A-list favorite the Fairmont Chateau Whislter. Agents enrolled in the Fairmont FAmous program can also take advantage of exclusive savings on their own star-studded vacation.

New Mandarin Oriental for Downtown L.A.

The Grand Avenue development in downtown Los Angeles will feature a Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The hotel will occupy the first 20 floors of a 48-story tower designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. The 275-room hotel is expected to open in Summer 2010. One of its most dramatic features will be a soaring entrance lobby that will take full advantage of its location opposite Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

The Grand Avenue development will also include a broad array of retail venues, including a 50,000-square-foot specialty food market, a major bookstore, a food hall, a 35,000-square-foot premier health club, a 25,000-square-foot event facility, signature retailers and specialty apparel shops.

Travel Trade’s Joel Abels Passes Away

Joel Abels, the longtime editor and publisher of Travel Trade, passed away on Jan. 26 at the age of 80. Abels, and his wife, Lenore, edited and published Travel Trade for nearly half a century.

Abels was known as a pioneer and a visionary in the travel industry. He was an outspoken advocate for travel agents and their role in the travel distribution system. His efforts on behalf of the industry included testifying before Congress.

Abels was the recipient of numerous accolades, including an induction into the ASTA Hall of Fame and the Cruise Line International Association industry Hall of Fame.

Funeral arrangements were pending as of press time.