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THE BRIEFING FOR SEPT. 29-OCT. 13, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· Hilton Pays a Mint (Hotel) to Bulk Up in Britain
· Frontier Makes Another Big Cut in Milwaukee
· Starwood: Free Stays Count Toward Elite Status
· A Hampton Inn for Miami's High-End Hotel Ghetto
· Emirates Will Fly to Dubai From Seattle and DFW
· Southwest Removes an Actress From a Flight
· Three-Month Jail Term in London for Drunk Flyer


Hilton Pays a Mint to Bulk Up in Britain
Regular Hilton customers know that the chain has a big footprint in Britain. But big isn't necessarily good and bulking up isn't necessarily better. The chain's $950 million purchase this month of Mint Hotels, which has seven U.K. properties and a hotel in Amsterdam, will further muddy Hilton's presence in Britain. Thanks to a bewildering series of corporate maneuvers over the years, Hilton's British portfolio contains an amalgam of odd hotels: new builds and conversions; former independents; properties that once traded under the banner of the Stakis brand; hotels that were a part of the "original" Hilton International group; and even locations that were part of a chain built by Ladbrokes, the U.K chain of betting shops. The Mint properties, which were called City Inn until last year, are likely to be folded into Hilton's DoubleTree and Hilton Garden Inn chains. They are located in London, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham. If you've never heard of City Inn or Mint, do a little homework here. The current Hilton portfolio in Britain is detailed here.

Frontier Makes Another Big Cut, This Time at Milwaukee
Republic Airways Holdings, the regional carrier that tried to roar, has made a total mess of its mashup of Frontier and Midwest Airlines. The carriers that Republic bought out of bankruptcy two years ago continue to shrink toward oblivion. The latest hit to the so-called "branded flying" of Frontier Airlines comes in Milwaukee, the old hub of Midwest Airlines and its predecessor, Midwest Express. The carrier's new schedule, effective November 1, shows that Frontier will dump a third of its flights from Milwaukee. Gone will be all flights to Minneapolis; Cleveland; Des Moines; Dayton; and Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin. Frontier will also reduce flight schedules and/or switch to smaller aircraft on virtually every other Milwaukee route that remains.

Starwood Says Free Stays Will Now Count Toward Elite Status
What's bad about a free award stay? Nothing, except that you don't get credit for the stay toward your elite status next year. But now Starwood Preferred Guest is changing the rules. Effective on Saturday (October 1), any stay you complete using SPG awards and stays that combine cash and points payments will count toward SPG Gold and Platinum status. Hilton HHonors is the only other major frequency plan that counts award stays toward elite status. Southwest Rapid Rewards is playing both sides of the equation with its latest partners. You can now earn Rapid Rewards points using the SuperShuttle or ExecuCar black car service. Marriott Rewards members take note: The Bay Point Marriott Resort in Panama City, Florida, is out of the system. It reflags as a Wyndham hotel on Saturday. Hyatt Gold Passport members take note: The Hotel Victor in South Beach has been rebranded as the Thompson Ocean Drive and is no longer a Hyatt.

A Hampton in Downtown Miami, Another Hyatt for New York
Here's some hard news about important "soft openings," hotel-industry jargon for properties that have opened their doors for business but aren't completely finished and haven't had their ribbon cutting. In downtown Miami, which has become a ghetto of high-end hotels, a 221-room Hampton Inn has opened at 50 SW 12th Street, just south of Mary Brickell Village. And in New York, the oft-delayed Hyatt 48 Lex is now open on Lexington Avenue and East 48th Street. The 116-room property, which Hyatt will position as a boutique hotel, is only the second branded Hyatt in Manhattan. The chain does operate two of its Andaz hotels in New York, however. Hyatt has also opened the 343-room Hyatt Regency Jinan, located in the capital of China's Shandong province. Hilton has opened two new Hilton Garden Inn locations: a 210-room property in Istanbul and a 167-room hotel in Chiapas, Mexico. It has also opened a newly built, 100-room DoubleTree in Queretaro, Mexico. Marriott has taken over the former Hotel Palomar in Atlanta. Located at 866 W. Peachtree, the 304-room hotel has been flagged the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown.

Emirates Adds Nonstops to Dubai From Seattle and Dallas/Fort Worth
Emirates is resuming its expansion in the United States. Effective February 2, it will launch nonstops from Dallas/Fort Worth to Dubai. Less than a month later, on March 1, it'll launch nonstops from Seattle-Tacoma to Dubai. Both routes will operate with three-class Boeing 777s. Singapore Airlines says that it will put the Airbus A380 on its New York/Kennedy-Frankfurt route beginning on January 16. Here's a hotel announcement that will sound quite odd to Americans of a certain age: Crowne Plaza has opened a 535-room hotel in Danang, Vietnam. The hotel says that it is located on the "picturesque Danang Sea coastline."

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
American Airlines has closed its Admirals Club at Philadelphia Airport and moved into the British Airways Galleries lounge. The BA club is located in Terminal A-West. The former Admirals Club was located outside security and wildly inconvenient for flyers. A U.S. businessman was sentenced to three months in jail this week after he admitted to drunken behavior on a British Airways flight last month. You can read more about the case here. He also admitted to verbal abuse of the flight crew aboard the Phoenix-London flight. The actress Leisha Hailey was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight this week. She said it was because she was being publicly affectionate with her lesbian lover. Southwest claims she was booted for loudly using profanities. Hailey called for a boycott of Southwest to protest its discrimination. Southwest shot back that it's the official airline of GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.