With its first hotel debuting this summer, Starwood’s Element brand will make history as the first major hotel brand to commit to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification. The certification, which is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
The first property, Element Lexington, Mass., which is slated to open in 2008, has been designated a “working laboratory” to test the latest green constructions, products, design and operations.
Starwood plans to use what they learn from the Lexington property to create a road map for developers streamlining certification pursuits and providing a pathway to cost-effective green building.
“Leading the way in hotel innovations is part of Starwood’s DNA and fundamental to our success,” said Frits van Paasschen, Starwood’s CEO. “With the launch of Element, we’re creating a new way to build hotels and guest experiences through the lens of environmental responsibility. By testing and refining Element in our own laboratory, we are developing an economically responsible LEED-certified hotel concept that is accessible to developers and designed to be replicated, promising a more sustainable future.”
ASTA Heads to South Africa
ASTA’s fourth annual International Destination Expo (IDE) will take place in Sun City, South Africa. The six-day South African experience will take place March 8-11, 2009, where agents will spend two days exploring the province and four days networking and taking advantage of IDE’s educational programs.
According to ASTA, education will be offered at the IDE to allow attendees to benefit from the most comprehensive selection of seminars centered on marketing South Africa and the surrounding regions. Attendees can also choose from two additional two-day province packages to extend their experience.
“I think attendees will be so impressed by South Africa and all it has to offer visitors. Attending the International Destination Expo in 2009 will provide the perfect introduction to the many possibilities travelers can find there,” said Cheryl Hudak, CTC, ASTA president and CEO. “Truly, there is something for everyone.”
Two Bags Too Many
By next month, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways will be charging passengers $25 to check in a second bag. Due to a falling economy and rising fuel prices, this move by five of the six major airlines in the U.S. is an attempt to level out costs. Although airlines insist the fee will primarily affect leisure travelers, business travelers will also feel the sting.
“For people traveling with samples or trade-show materials, they’re going to find their costs are substantially higher,” said airline industry analyst Robert Mann.
Costa Maya to ReOpen
By July, the Port of Costa Maya will reopen its harbors to cruise passengers after an unexpected closure due to Category 5 Hurricane Dean in August 2007. With most of the industry’s cruise lines already committed, new and returning passengers will be pleased to find an enhanced experience in the region, offering rich history and culture, tropical jungles, unspoiled beaches and adventure excursions from ziplining to diving.
“Our primary goal is to offer new and exciting guest experiences that capture the uniqueness of Costa Maya and the surrounding region,” said Teofilo Hamui, president and CEO of Costa Maya.
Dinner Is On the House
For clients awed by the number of restaurants at Walt Disney World, the Magic Your Way Package is for them. Clients visiting Walt Disney World Resort between Aug. 24 and Sept. 20 will be treated to free dining for each night of their package. Visitors can choose from more than 100 participating Disney restaurants and enjoy one table-service meal, one quick-service meal and one select snack on the house. Packages start as low as $57 per person, per day, for a five-night, six-day package, including accommodations and theme-park tickets based on a family of four. Packages must be booked by June 22.