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Worldwide briefing

20 January 2006

Fairmont moves to Turks and Caicos
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has joined forces with The Wight group to open a luxury resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2009. The luxury development, a 150-room resort and 150-room condo hotel will also include several Fairmont residential developments, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, marina and spa. Michael Misick, the chief minister of North Caicos said: "We are very pleased that this prestigious team will be investing in our Islands, and we expect significant economic impact for the region."

Rezidor opens in Azerbaijan Rezidor SAS Hospitality has opened its first hotel in the Azerbaijan capital, Baku. The 248-bedroom complex with a restaurant, coffee shop, business centre and car park opened its doors on 24 December last year. The Park Inn hotel in CIS will join its sister hotel the Radisson SAS in Baku. Marko Hyoten, area vice-president, Rezidor SAS said: "The company plans to expand very fast in Russia and CIS and open 50 hotels under various brands, including Radisson SAS, Park Inn and our latest addition - Missoni hotels."

Zleep expands further
Zleep hotels, the budget hotel brand has announced expansion plans and is due to open a fourth Danish hotel in 2007. The Zleep Hotel in Aalborg will be built near the motorway E45 with access to the city and major industrial area. It will have 80 rooms and a lounge area.
Peter Haaber, managing director of Zleep Hotels said: "Zleep Hotel Aalborg will be one of three openings in 2007 and we hope to speed up the opening process for the chain in a combination of management contracts and leases."

Gulf expansion imminent
Hotel rooms in the Gulf region are set to grow by 25,000 by 2008 as international brands add 80 new hotels to cope with the increasing flow of business and leisure travellers. A market review by Kuwait-based Global Investment House, The Gulf Today said 28 chains representing 43 hotel brands are due to open their doors within the next three years. The interest follows excellent performance in the sector.

Water park for New York
New York's Franchise and Concession Review Committee has voted to build a 26-acre water park on Randall's island, just off Manhattan. The £94.4m park will be paid for by a private developer, the Aquatic Development Group (ADG) under a 35-year lease with the city. Proposed facilities include a seven-acre indoor beach and 19 acres of outdoor water slides and rides.

Starwood facing charges
Starwood Hotels and Resorts is facing potential damages of more than $35m (£20m) from a lawsuit brought against the company by Asia Hotel Investments. Asia Hotel (AH) sued Starwood in 2001 over problems with the Grand Pacific Hotel in Bangkok. AH is seeking damages for Starwood's breach of confidentiality and non-circumvention agreement, including Asia Hotel's lost profits. In the Court of Appeal in Singapore, judges ruled that Starwood was guilty of breach of the agreement.

Hotels pricing change
Worldhotels decided to change its pricing for all mainland China properties, abandoning a previous policy of offering rates in US dollars. All hotels will use RMB for payment, reflecting the appreciating value of the RMB against the US dollar. The conversion was proposed to general managers of Worldhotels at a meeting in Guangzhou, China and unanimously accepted.

Hotel prices hit all-time high
New York hotels just keep on getting pricier, according to industry analysts PKF Consulting. The average price of a room in the city hit $292 (£166) in November, more than its previous record yearly average of $237 (£135), set in 2000. An estimated 22 million nights were sold at city hotels in 2005, surpassing the 21.4 million sold in 2004. Even the $14, 000 (£7,964) per night presidential suite at the Mandarin Oriental is occupied 75% of the time.

Hotel group for Vietnam
The tourist influx from neighbouring China is said to be part of the catalyst for the creation of Vietnam's first hotel management group. Celadon International Hotels hopes to elevate the standard of its hotels to an international level. It offers three brands, the luxury brand "Celadon", the budget brand "Waves" and the highly themed brand "Exotica". The new group is headed by Vietnamese hotelier Paul Stoll, former general manager at Furama esort Danang.

$1.6b joint venture for Baha Mar Harrah's Entertainment, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and Baha Mar Resort, have announced a joint investment venture for Baha Mar, located in Nassau in the Bahamas. The plans for the 1,000 acre site include six hotels, a 95,000sq ft casino and a championship golf course. A total of $1.6 billion (£900m) will be invested in the initial phase. The joint venture structure consists of 56.9% Baha mar Resorts, 33.3% Harrah's and 10% Starwood.

By Victoria Heath

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