Mauna Kea Hotel Closed

*Sold: Sabre Goes Private
*Fairmont Deal

Prince Resorts Hawaii has closed the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to employees and guests for an indefinite period of time, as of Dec. 2. The decision to close came after a report by engineering consultants identified new structural damage resulting from the Big Island’s Oct. 15 earthquake.

Following the 6.7 magnitude quake, immediate damage was visible in the collapse of a precast concrete trellis at the south end of the Beach Front Wing, and to the top (8th) floor of the Main Building. The hotel remained operational but more than 140 rooms were removed from service as a precaution while engineering observations continued.

Upon further inspection, engineers discovered damage to the lateral bracing system in sections of the roof. Their report described the condition as a significant safety hazard that should be addressed as soon as possible. “There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our guests and employees and after reviewing our consultant’s report, we immediately decided to close the hotel,” said Donn Takahashi, president of Prince Resorts Hawaii. Takahashi added: “Our initial assessment is that it will take many months to repair and restore Mauna Kea Beach Hotel to its original luster and prominence.” Mauna Kea Beach Hotel will not accept any new reservations. Guests holding future bookings are being contacted and every effort is being made to find them alternate hotel accommodations.

Most of the hotel’s 420 hourly and salaried employees with the exception of those deemed essential to the hotel will be laid off early in 2007. Tourism officials from the Big Island note, however, that the displaced workers are readily being absorbed by neighboring hotels, including the Mauna Kea’s sister property, Hapuna Beach Hotel, which remains open.

Another bit of good news: The Mauna Kea Golf Course and Tennis Club, as well as oceanfront Luau and Clambake are open and available.

Sold: Sabre Goes Private

Publicly traded Sabre Holdings Corp., has agreed to a $5 billion deal that will take it private. Under the agreement announced Dec. 12 between Sabre and private equity groups Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group, the latter will pay $32.75 per share of Sabre, in a total cash purchase of about $4.45 billion. Silver Lake and Texas Pacific will also assume approximately $550 billion of Sabre’s debt.

Texas Pacific has previously invested in the airline industry and other travel-related concerns. Silver Lake has primarily invested in technology companies. “After a thorough assessment, we concluded that this transaction represents a compelling outcome for our shareholders, customers and employees,” said Sabre’s chairman and CEO, Sam Gilliland.

In addition to its GDS operations through the Sabre Travel Network, Sabre also owns and Sabre Airline Solutions.

Free Nights at Fairmont

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ new promotion will help agents quickly earn free nights at Fairmont properties. With the “Refer-A-Colleague” incentive, Fairmont Famous agents refer as many colleagues as they choose by Dec. 31, and for each colleague who successfully enrolls, the referring agent will earn 10 bonus credits toward free hotel nights. Agents who are not currently enrolled can join Fairmont Famous now, and then refer colleagues once they complete their registration process.

Fairmont Famous is Fairmont’s travel agent recognition and education program. Revamped in late 2005, it is a fully accredited education program whose members can earn free nights faster, as well as benefit from exclusive savings. 800-441-1414