Kimpton announces $450m fund for buying hotels Kimpton Group Holding announced the launch of a $450m (£245m) fund to acquire, develop and redevelop boutique and lifestyle hotel properties in US cities this week. The company aims to buy hotels that are underused or in need of redevelopment, convert non-hotel buildings and develop hotels in mixed-use developments. Kimpton currently has 39 properties. Kimpton Hospitality Partners has been set up by the parent company of Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group.
First under-the-sea restaurant opens in Maldives The Hilton Maldives restaurant has opened the world's first underwater restaurant offering guests contemporary Maldivian-inspired cooking while enjoying eye-level views of the ocean. The restaurant is called Ithaa, which means "pearl" and is reached by a wooden walkway over water from the hotel. It lies five metres below the Indian Ocean and its walls and roof are encased in clear acrylic, providing 270 degrees of panoramic views of the hotel's house reef and the clear lagoon.
Middle East eyes up European property
Last year, nearly $500m (£274m) was invested by the Middle East in European real estate. Investment advisors Jones Lang LaSalle's recent report Middle Eastern Capital Flows and the Allure of Real Estate showed that while the Middle East's domestic market is still experiencing vast developments, there is still "abundant liquidity" in the system. This is being used to make substantial investments in Europe to diversify domestic investors' real estate investment portfolios.
Preferred Hotel group upgrades service The Preferred Hotel group marketing consortium has improved its service for member hotels by adding a next-generation Integrated Hotel Source technology. The system, which benefits travel agents, consumers and hotels, makes the booking process easier as it provides up to the second rates and availability as it comes directly from the group's central reservations system.
Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa joins the elite Aghadoe Heights in Killarney has become one of only four hotels in Ireland to be awarded the AA Guide's top classification of five red stars. The AA is Ireland's longest established hotel grading organisation and inspects over 700 establishments in the country. The Red star denotes outstanding quality within a classification and is only awarded to the top 5% of hotels.
Kempinski moves into Istanbul Kempinski hotels has just signed its first management contract for luxury residences in Istanbul. The Kempinski Residences Istanbul are situated in the business and commercial district of Esentepe on the European side of the city. Two towers are currently being built, which will house 108 properties. They are due to be competed by 2007.
Sandals chairman gets Lifetime Achievement Award Gordon "Butch" Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts, has been awarded the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in Barbados. The award from the Caribbean Hotel Association recognised Stewart's accomplishments in the hotel industry and his contributions to the entire Caribbean region. CHA president Berthia Parle MBE said Butch redefined all-inclusive holidaying in the Caribbean and was an "innovator and trendsetter".