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Worldwide briefing

21 July 2005

Raffles sold off
Colony Capital has bought the entire Raffles Holdings portfolio for cash and debt totalling £583m. The sale includes 41 Raffles and Swissotel properties worldwide, including the world-renowned Raffles Hotel Singapore. The hotels, which boast 12,000 rooms, had a reported turnover of £179.5m in 2004. The deal includes the assumption of £75m net debt.

Worldwide tourism keeps growing International tourist arrivals grew on average by 8% in the first four months of 2005, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Europe was estimated to have seen growth rates of 5%, The Middle East 17%, while Asia and the Pacific saw around a 9% rise. Rates are currently very similar to those seen in the second half of 2004, which demonstrated an excellent pace of growth.

Starwood expand to Hawaii and Porto Santo
The first Westin timeshare resort is being developed on Kauai, Hawaii. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas includes 179 timeshare villas and six hotel units, the first of which are scheduled to open in June 2007. Starwood have also signed a long-term management agreement with Sociedade Imobiliaria e Turistica do Campo de Baxio. They will be operating a new hotel on Porto Santo, off the North West coast of Africa. The five-star, 99-bedroom hotel and spa is expected to open in 2008.

Hilton Sydney smartens up and welcomes back guests The Hilton Sydney is scheduled to reopen on 15 July following a two-and-a-half-year revamp. The new £86m design features 577 suites and rooms, including 31 relaxation suites, a 240-seat French style brasserie, three bars and a café. The first guest to check in will be 69-year-old Ray Louis, who was the first person to dine at the hotel when it opened in 1975, and the last person to swipe his card before it closed 27 years later.

Sandals and Beaches resorts boast new spa concept
The all-inclusive Caribbean operator is launching Red Lane spas across all of its 19 resorts. The spas will use European spa traditions, but with a Caribbean twist, including using ingredients indigenous to the region. Facilities include hot and cold plunge pools, eucalyptus steam baths, saunas and some include a garden sanctuary.

Banyan Tree opens on the Tibetan border Ringha in the Chinese Yunnan province is to be the first Banyan Tree site in China. The hotel, near the Tibetan border, includes 32 Tibetan suites and lodges, made from authentic reconstructed Tibetan farmhouses. It also has a lobby, restaurant, bar lounge and library.

Distance makes the difference A franchised hotel is less likely to lose revenue if a competitor opens near by, than if a same-brand hotel opens. A study by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University found existing franchised properties lose on average 2.7% of revenue if a same-brand hotel opens within the distance of the nearest 10 to 20 hotels.

Galaxie B&Bs snapped up Budget hotel operator Galaxie has been sold to French investment firm Eurazeo for an undisclosed sum. The parent company of B&B Hotels, Galaxie owns 100 budget properties in France and is the third biggest budget chain in the country. It was sold by Duke Street, which acquired Galaxie for a reported £139m in 2003. For the year ending August 2004, Galaxie recorded turnover of £52.4m.

Centro swoop in on awards in Beijing
Centro, the bar and lounge at Shangri-La's Kerry Centre Hotel in Beijing, stole the night at the That's Beijing annual bar and club awards, scooping six out of the 13 trophies. At the ceremony on 14 July, the awards presented to Centro included Bar of the Year 2005, Best Wine Selection and Best Cocktails.

Bookings on the rise for Marriot
Marriot announced that revenue per available room (revpar) at its hotels in China increased by 23% in the second quarter. Across its hotels worldwide, the company reported an 11% rise in revpar. These figures were offset by rising expenses, which were half of operating costs at full-service hotels.

Time to revamp and rename in Newport Beach The Sutton Place hotel in Newport Beach, California, has been acquired by Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc, and will be managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. The 444-bedroom hotel will undergo a £12.6m renovation, due to be completed by early 2006 and will be re-named the Fairmont Newport Beach. It will include a full service spa and 29 suites.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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