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THE BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 19-30, 2013
By Joe Brancatelli
· Stay Away: The Politicians Descend on New York
· New Global Nonstop Routes You Didn't Expect
· JetBlue Airways Adds Savannah, Trinidad Flights
· Phase One of New Bradley Terminal Opens at LAX
· SPG Loses Rome Hotel, HHonors Returns to Paris
· Hyatt Opens Hotel on Delaware's Rehoboth Beach
· Continental OnePass Miles Expiring September 30
The Politicians Are Coming! The Politicians Are Coming!
It happens every autumn: The world's leading politicians--presidents, prime ministers, dictators--descend on New York to babble at the United Nations. This year's speechifying is next week and will attract everyone from President Obama to Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani. Streets will be clogged, traffic diverted and, worse, there will be no room at most of the inns. Many of the best hotels in town are already sold out and those with available rooms are charging insane rates. A few nightly samples: $2,995 at the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, $1,100 at the Andaz Fifth Avenue and $890 at the Westin Times Square. Even limited-service properties are charging mind-boggling rates. An example: The Hilton Garden Inn on West 35th Street. I paid $104 for a room there earlier this month, but next week's rate is $600 a night. Bottom line: Avoid the New York Metropolitan area next week because even airport hotels and lodgings in the surrounding suburbs are charging two or three times their normal rates.
New Global Routes You Didn't Expect and a New Edition in London
These are the times that try the route manager's soul--or something like that. How else to explain this week's new international routes? After all, would you expect a Las Vegas-Zurich route? It'll be launched twice a week starting May 5 by Edelweiss Air, a division of Swiss International, which itself is owned by Lufthansa. Across the Pacific, Air China will start a Honolulu-Beijing run beginning January 14. That'll put it in direct competition with Hawaiian Airlines, which previously announced plans to begin Honolulu-Beijing service starting next April. ... The old Berners Park Hotel in London's Fitzrovia neighborhood has been transformed into a 173-room Edition Hotel. If that brand sounds familiar, it's probably because it is the bastard stepchild of the troublesome partnership between Marriott and trendy-hotel impresario Ian Schrager. Announced with ludicrous fanfare in 2007, only two other Edition properties have opened and one of them left the brand after a fight over management fees. ... Two more American-branded hotels for the United Arab Emirates. Hilton's Conrad chain has opened a 555-room property in Dubai and Starwood's St. Regis brand has opened a 283-room hotel in Abu Dhabi. There's already a St. Regis on Saadiyat Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
JetBlue Airways Adds Savannah and Trinidad to Its Route Map
Other carriers have been trimming their route networks, but JetBlue Airways continues to expand--with special emphasis on warmer-weather destinations. Effective February 13, JetBlue will add two daily flights from its New York/JFK hub to Savannah. The airline will use its 100-seat EMB-190s on the route. A few days later, JetBlue will launch a daily flight between Kennedy and Port of Spain, Trinidad. That route will be served with an Airbus A320. On May 1, JetBlue will then double down on the Trinidad run by adding a daily EMB-190 flight from Fort Lauderdale, which the carrier is developing as a focus city.
SPG Loses a Roman Hotel, HHonors May Be Back in Central Paris
Starwood Preferred Guest travelers take note: The Hotel Eden in Rome, most recently trading as a Le Meridien, is off the board for award travel. The 121-room hotel was purchased by the Dorchester Group this week and it immediately began managing the property. SPG still has two hotels in Rome's centro storico (The Westin and the St. Regis) and two Sheraton properties outside the city's core. ... Hilton HHonors lost its only hotel in central Paris last year, but may soon be back in business. The Blackstone Group, which owns Hilton, this week purchased the Concorde Opera Hotel in the 9th Arrondissement for about $200 million. The property is expected to be converted to the Hilton brand before the end of the year. Hilton's existing Paris properties are either in the isolated La Defense district or at the airports. ... Former Continental OnePass members take note: If you haven't had any activity in your account since the program was folded into United MileagePlus, your miles are at risk. If you don't do something--claim an award, earn some points--your miles will expire on September 30. ... Kimpton InTouch members now get up to $15 in credits to spend at the hotel bar. It's an expansion of the perk that allows members to use those credits for items in guestroom minibars.
The First Phase of LAX' Bradley Terminal Renovation Opens
The first phase of the long, long, long overdue renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles opened this week. There are nine new gates and some interesting public space and art installations. Although none of the three club lounges--one for each alliance--has opened, there are a few retail outlets and restaurants operating. ... Pittsburgh International has been in a tailspin ever since US Airways closed its hub about a decade ago. But it's rebounding now. Ten gates at Concourse A, which has been out of service for years, have been reopened. United Airlines has shifted its flights to Concourse A from Concourse C. ... Avianca has launched new flights between Chicago/O'Hare and San Salvador, El Salvador. ... Japan Airlines closes its first-class lounge at Tokyo/Haneda for construction beginning on September 30. First-class JAL passengers will be redirected to the existing Sakura Lounge.
Hyatt Opens a Hotel on Delaware's Rehoboth Beach
It's a little late in the season, but Hyatt has opened a 100-room Hyatt Place hotel in Dewey Beach, Delaware. The property is situated on Route 1, just south of the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. Hyatt has also opened a 131-room Hyatt Place on East 53rd Street next to the campus of the University of Chicago. ... Marriott has opened a 92-room Courtyard in the Philadelphia suburb of Springfield. ... Hilton has opened a 105-room Home2 Suites in Southaven. Mississippi, located about 20 minutes down the Interstate from Memphis. ... Carlson has opened a 100-room Country Inns & Suites in Dearborn, Michigan. ... The Prince Sakura Tower in Tokyo has joined the Marriott Autograph Collection.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Boingo, the wireless aggregation service, has acquired Advanced Wireless Group, the second-largest airport WiFi provider. It means Boingo will operate the public WiFi at about 60 percent of the top 50 North American airports and 40 percent of the world's 50 busiest airports. ... Speaking of WiFi, Gogo Inflight, the leading purveyor of in-flight Internet access, closed at just over $18 a share today (September 19). It is the first time since the company went public in June that Gogo has matched or exceeded its IPO price of $17. Gogo has almost doubled in value since last month, when it closed below $10 a share. ... Delta Air Lines is now selling an optional product called Travel Pack. For $199, you get free checked bags, priority boarding, seat selection and Economy Comfort discounts until January 5.
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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 © 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2013 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.