Virgin Trains is best in class again » Railway News

Virgin Trains is best in class again » Railway News

Virgin Trains has once again topped the performance league among companies operating long-distance rail franchises.

The rail watchdog Passenger Focus carries out large-scale independent research across the industry twice a year. For the fifth successive survey, Virgin Trains was ranked top of long-distance franchised operators, with 89% of passengers ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the overall service they received.

Virgin Trains leads the franchised long-distance operators in many categories - out of 33 categories judged by customers, Virgin Trains is ahead of its sector average in 27.

Virgin Trains significantly outscores average scores of long-distance operators in the following areas - frequency of trains; value for money; train cleanliness; ease of getting on/off trains; dealing with delays; and connections with other forms of public transport. In addition, customers have given a massive thumbs-up to a major investment programme in car parks, in partnership with the Department for Transport and Network Rail, with a 13 percentage point increase in satisfaction with car parking facilities

Virgin Trains’ Chief Executive Officer, Tony Collins said: “We recently achieved record numbers of customers, with more than 30million people travelling with us last year, double the number of six years ago. But the key to retaining those customers - and attracting more - is making sure they are satisfied. These figures show that we continue to lead in most areas of our business, by focussing on customer service and offering a service that is second to none among the long-distance franchise operators.

“However, we are certainly not complacent and there is still work to do to improve some scores. Satisfaction about punctuality has dipped, following a series of infrastructure problems during the summer and autumn and we have made clear to Network Rail that these need improvement.”

The Office of Rail Regulation has issued Network Rail an enforcement notice to bring improvements in punctuality on long-distance services, including on Virgin Trains’ services.

Centara opens first stand-alone Spa Cenvaree in Goa » Spa News

Centara opens first stand-alone Spa Cenvaree in Goa » Spa News

Centara Hotels&Resorts of Thailand will open its first stand-alone Spa Cenvaree during the first quarter of 2012, to be located at the Arcon Arcade in Goa, India.

Spa Cenvaree, a Centara brand, is to be found at Centara hotels and resorts throughout Thailand, and at overseas properties that include the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Maldives.

“Spa Cenvaree has been enormously successful in all of its in-hotel locations, and we are convinced this is the right time to introduce an independent branch,” said Suthikiati Chirathivat, Chairman of the Executive Board of Central Plaza Hotel Public Co Ltd., “Goa presents us with the perfect opportunity.”

Located at the beach resort of Candolim, in northern Goa, the new Spa Cenvaree is set within the lifestyle and shopping complex of Arcon Arcade.

The spa features 13 spacious treatment rooms and a couple spa suites with private en-suite facilities, including a sunken Jacuzzi, a nail and hair salon, a Zen garden with tranquil relaxation lounges, and a wide array of water facilities including Vichy rain shower, steam bath, and hot air sauna.

As the premier spa in the region, the menu treatments place great emphasis on the innate wisdom of the body and blending the finest elements of native herbs with massage to provide guests a unique Thai spa experience.

Among the range of experiences is the Spa Cenvaree Signature massage, which brings together a blend of Ayurvedic, Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu, and reflexology techniques paired with medicinal heat compress, resulting in a ritual that harmonizes the body’s energies.

Other treatments on offer include Ayurveda healing, traditional Thai massage, hot-stone therapy, and foot reflexology. For a more contemplative experience, guests may choose the multi-day spa retreats, focusing on detox, de-stress, and emotional balance.

Couples may share their experience in complete privacy with programs personalized for him and for her.

Seasonal therapies such as the Winter Recharge and Summer Best packages are created to counter the effects of seasonal change on the body, mind, and spirit.

As a post-treatment experience, guests are invited to relax in the Zen garden to sample a collection of fine Indian tea, brewed freshly with the finishing touch of local spices.

Established in year 2000, SPA Cenvaree is a member of Centara Hotels and Resorts, a leading group of first-class hotels and resorts in Thailand. Recognized as an innovative spa operator in the Asia Pacific region, the SPA Cenvaree experience can be found through an elite network of 27 outlets, and will expand its presence to new destinations including Mauritius, China, Sri Lanka, and Bali by 2012, bringing its portfolio of spas to 40 across 9 counties.

SPA Cenvaree philosophy is simple, it believes life force is enhanced through the balance of body, mind, and soul, which is achieved through making time for a calm moment and allowing your body to rest and rejuvenate.

Serving as the cornerstone of the SPA Cenvaree lifestyle concept, each spa experience is created with respect to the balance of mother nature, placing great emphasis on the innate wisdom of the body and blending the finest elements of native herbs with massage therapies. Every spa is a destination in itself, offering guests their own distinct signature journeys inspired by local culture, surroundings, and healing traditions. Guests will enjoy the same high-quality spa standards across, with treatments administered by a team of skilled, customer-focused therapists.

Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors meet in Tanzania » Tourism News

Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors meet in Tanzania » Tourism News

Melton Ernesta, based in Jamaica, and Maryvonne Pool, who is based in Tanzania, met this week in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, to strategize together plans for supporting actions by the island’s Tourism Ambassadors based in the four corners of the world.

Maryvonne Pool, who is also the Seychelles Consul in Tanzania, took that opportunity to share her production of SUVs wheels covers with Melton Ernesta. One hundred such dedicated wheel covers has now been sent to Jamaica for promoting Seychelles. The wheels covers were sponsored by Maryvonne Pool personally to help Melton Ernesta in his drive to promote Seychelles in Jamaica.

The Tourism Ambassadors program was launched by Seychelles just over one-and-half years ago to rally Seychellois sationals from the four corners of the world to work alongside the Seychelles Tourism Board in spreading the name of Seychelles across the world.

“You can take a Seychellois out of Seychelles, but you cannot take Seychelles out of the Seychellois,” Alain St.Ange, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, said at the launch of that program. “Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors are our foot soldiers in our mission to make Seychelles as visible as possible,” Alain St.Ange said.

The Seychelles were innovative when they launched that program, which has now been adopted by different Tourism Boards. Seychelles wanted to recognize the presence of its nationals now settled in the four corners of the world and to keep them well informed on the happenings of their island of birth. The island’s Tourism Ambassadors all receive their very own monthly Seychelles Tourism Ambassadors dedicated newsletter.

More rail apprentices wanted in Wales » Railway News

More rail apprentices wanted in Wales » Railway News

The railway in Wales needs more skilled engineers to support its continuing growth, says Network Rail Wales today as it announces its latest advanced apprenticeship scheme for 2012.

Network Rail Wales is looking to increase its intake of apprentices, particularly to be trained in electrical engineering skills, in order to be ready for the forthcoming electrification of parts of the railway in south Wales. The company will also be actively promoting its apprenticeship scheme outside the major cities in a bid to encourage more applicants from rural areas.

Mark Langman, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “The railway in Wales is growing and we have big plans, including the £200m re-signalling and enhancement project in Cardiff and main line electrification. We need talented and ambitious young people to join us and be part of a 1,300 strong team in Wales helping millions of people get to their destinations safely and reliably.

“We have six depots across Wales generating potential employment opportunities to prospective applicants from across the region, including those from rural areas. Beyond their apprenticeships, employees have the opportunity to undertake a higher national certificate, a foundation degree and then a full degree in engineering. They can earn while they learn and go as far as their aptitude, attitude and ambition can take them.”

Applications officially open on Monday 6 February, when the company launches a new Facebook page - - with videos, profiles and content run by current apprentices who can respond directly to any enquiries and showcase the opportunities on offer.

The apprentices will spend a year training alongside the Royal Navy at Europe’s largest engineering training facility at HMS Sultan in Hampshire. Here they will learn both the technical skills required to work on the railway and develop leadership and teamwork behaviours, which will make them more effective in their roles.

During that training, there could also be opportunities to work on site for a week to gain practical experience. Since last year, Network Rail has been partnering with the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways to assist with renewing the infrastructure on the heritage railway by providing its first year track apprentices over a period of five weeks.

They will then continue their training for two further years on-the-job at depots across Wales before returning to HMS Sultan for additional courses.

Adam Sargeant, a second year Network Rail electrification and plant apprentice from Newport, said: “I applied to Network Rail to seek a career in electrical engineering. I researched the scheme and it ticked all the right boxes offering me the opportunity to be involved in developing Britain’s railways. With so much investment and vision for the railways there was no better time to apply.”

New all natural treatments at The Spa At The Setai » Spa News

New all natural treatments at The Spa At The Setai » Spa News

The Spa at The Setai, Miami South Beach debuts three all-natural product lines and corresponding treatments designed to provide lasting wellness. With the purest ingredients available, the three new eco-inspired product lines, VOYA, Ila, and SpaRitual, stay true to The Spa’s organic and holistic philosophy of reviving the body, mind and soul.

Each product line was chosen for its commitment to quality, sustainability, and the natural healing traits of ingredients. VOYA produces organic hand-harvested seaweed based products that harness the therapeutic properties of the sea; Ila works directly with local growers in India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Himalayas, and the Amazon Rainforest to create exotic blends of oils used to stimulate the body’s healing energy; and SpaRitual, a company dedicated to creating eco-friendly products and packaging, uses Vegan ingredients from around the world to provide an all-natural plant based alternative.

Each treatment is performed in The Setai’s exclusive spa suites where guests can enjoy ocean and pool views as well as a private bath and steam room. Newly added rituals include:

VOYA Organic Seaweed Leaf Envelopment for Detoxification (120 minutes) - This treatment incorporates the purest seaweed, hand harvested to ensure that the highest content of bio-actives is preserved. The treatment begins with a body and facial exfoliation of seaweed and spiny bamboo blended with seaweed oil. Next, the body is cocooned in whole seaweed leaves for toning and firming while special leaves are used on the face. Whilst the envelopment and face masque are processing, a conditioning hair masque is massaged into the scalp. After twenty minutes, the seaweed leaves are removed and the excess seaweed gel is massaged into the skin. The treatment concludes with the application of seaweed face cream, eye serum and body moisturizer.

Ila Rainforest Rejuvenation Facial (60 minutes) - This rejuvenating facial helps skin cells regenerate at a deep level. Careful preparation of the skin is essential to facilitate penetration of the skin. Deep lymphatic drainage and warm herbal compress massage and stimulate the flow of lymph for a toning and firming effect. An Amazonian rainforest mud masque rich in key botanicals for anti-ageing completes this unique facial

Ila Kundalini Back Massage (60 minutes) - A powerful massage therapy, aimed at balancing the nervous system. A synergistic blend of essential oils including cardamom, jasmine and patchouli in a base of pure organic Argan oil is applied using ancient massage techniques. The energetic combination of botanical essences and marma point massage opens the flow of subtle healing energy through the chakras for increased vitality.

In a paradise of pools, palms and Zen-like peace, The Spa brings healing spirits and traditions from the East, offering numerous unique treatments and amenities to its guests. From shiatsu, massage and aromatherapy to ancient Balinese healing therapies using exotic herbs, oils and spices proven to relax, restore and rejuvenate, there is something to feed everyone’s soul.

First guests check in to new Centra Taum Seminyak Bali » Hotel News

First guests check in to new Centra Taum Seminyak Bali » Hotel News

Centra Taum Seminyak Bali is located at Seminyak, one of Bali’s best-known leisure and nightlife areas, and is within five minutes’ stroll of the beach.

The resort has a total of 90 Studios, Duplex Suites, Family Suites, and Pool Suites, with several units offering private plunge pools. Each room features spacious balcony with double day-bed, and all units include a kitchenette with electric hob.

There is a swimming pool with children’s pool and sundeck, a Wellness Spa that includes tranquil treatment rooms and a relaxation area, and a fully-equipped fitness center.

The Centra brand, as the contraction of the Centara name indicates, offers affordable hotels and resorts that provide a quality experience designed to exceed expectations but not over-deliver to the point not required by guests. Centra properties, therefore, offer spacious accommodation with quality furnishing and fittings, at least one restaurant, a swimming pool, and a fitness center. All are located in a convenient setting, with restaurants and shops nearby, and those in a seaside location are within an easy walk of the beach.

Hawaii Tourism Association appoints Ambassador from Russia » Tourism News

Hawaii Tourism Association appoints Ambassador from Russia » Tourism News

When Russians travel, they like to spend a lot of money, they like to stay in luxury accommodation, and they stay for awhile – generally 2 to 3 weeks at a stretch. Basically, they want to be pampered and enjoy themselves and are not afraid to pay in order to meet those ends.

Russia may seem as far away and different from Hawaii as could be possible, but that is where the visionary efforts of the Hawaii Tourism Association sees this dichotomy as pure opportunity. Why wouldn’t Russians want to travel from their mostly cold weather environs to warmth of the islands that have been seen in movies and television for decades?

This is why the Hawaii Tourism Association (HiTA) has been exhibiting at a Russian trade show for two years running. While at the latest show, HiTA President Juergen T. Steinmetz observed the efforts and Alexey Kats, exhibiting for World Tourism Services.

Mr. Steinmetz said, “I was impressed with Alexeys organization, and learned that his company had been working with one of our ICTP [International Council of Tourism Partners] founding members in Bali for 10 years. Mr. Kats is a pioneer for helping Russians traveling to Bali.”

In speaking with Alexey Kats, he indicates that interest in travel to the Aloha State is definitely there. “Due to the fact that interest of Russian tourists to the United States is growing every year, I believe it is important and necessary to offer to potential customers a new direction for the ultimate high-quality recreation,” said Alexey Kats of World Tourism Services.

This is how HiTA came to appoint Mr. Kats as an Ambassador for the Hawaii Tourism Association. Mr. Steinmetz said, “Knowing that Hawaii should be on the forefront of this travel trend, and forming an alliance with Mr. Kats and World Tourism Services, it was a natural that we ask him to join our efforts. We are so pleased that he agreed to become a member of HiTA’s Ambassador team.”

Amadeus creates world’s first interline EMD link » Technology News

Amadeus creates world’s first interline EMD link » Technology News

Amadeus, a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, has announced the creation of the world’s first interline Electronic Miscellaneous Document (EMD) link. The application of EMD to interline partnerships means that participating airlines can now facilitate payment for and delivery of ancillary services across their partnerships and alliances.

Amadeus estimates that up to 20% of air bookings made through its system are the result of interline partnerships, representing a huge opportunity for airlines to increase revenues through the sale of ancillary services via their partner carriers. In addition, EMDs remove the need for paper documents to account for the sale of ancillary services, which IATA believes will save the industry 0.9 USD billion annually.

Interline EMD processing between Finnair and Egypt Air means the carriers’ customers can now buy ancillary services across interline flights, safe in the knowledge that the operating airline will know the service has been purchased. Previously, the only way the operating airline would know a customer had purchased an ancillary service, such as extra baggage allowance, was through a paper document provided by the traveller at the airport.

Julia Sattel, VP Airline IT, Amadeus commented: “Our research estimates ancillary services were worth over $35 billion to airlines in 2011, with ancillary services contributing upwards of 20% of total revenues for some carriers. A well implemented ancillary services strategy is now the difference between reaching profitability and incurring a loss for a large number of airlines. We are naturally absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Finnair and Egyptair to be our launch partner airlines for what is the world’s first interline EMD link”.

Petteri Skaffari, Head of Customer Experience and Sales Applications, Finnair commented: “Our commercial strategy means we always aim to be at the forefront when it comes to new developments. With this in mind, we’re incredibly pleased that Amadeus has given us the opportunity to be a launch airline on Interline EMD. Ancillary services are clearly always critical to airline profitability. To maintain our focus on service excellence we must ensure that when we sell ancillary services they are delivered in the way the customer expects. That’s especially true when our interline partner airlines deliver services sold under the Finnair brand. That’s where EMDs will make a big difference for our customer experience”.

Mr. Yasser EL Ramly, VP Commercial, Egypt Air said: “We are proud to be a pioneering airline which is putting into production a true interline EMD. This is clearly a landmark achievement for the industry, and we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to both Amadeus and Finnair for working together with us to make this happen. Our customers will absolutely notice the difference - the improved efficiency and more convenient service are principal and tangible benefits, whilst the EMD will also save on time. It is clear also that we are far ahead of the IATA target date of 2013 for full application of EMD across the industry.”

56 airlines have contracted Amadeus’ EMD Server to enable the provision of EMDs in order to facilitate the sale of ancillary services. To date, 22 carriers have implemented Amadeus’s EMD Server resulting in 4,098,842 EMDs processed during 2011 and IATA states that 47 are currently EMD compliant.

Passengers rate East Midlands trains highly in independent survey » Railway News

Passengers rate East Midlands trains highly in independent survey » Railway News

East Midlands Trains passengers continue to be very satisfied with their service, according to the latest independent survey released 26 January 2012 by national transport watchdog, Passenger Focus.

The survey, carried out in Autumn 2011, shows that an impressive 87% of passengers are satisfied with their service.

Satisfaction is also up across 24 different categories with notable increases in East Midlands Trains’ stations and trains, representing the ongoing £40 million investment programme to improve services for passengers.

The highest increases in passenger satisfaction are with East Midlands Trains’ fleet of trains. Satisfaction with the upkeep and repair of the train increased to 85%, representing a 9%year on year increase. The amount of space provided for luggage on train has also been rated by passengers, with another 9% year on year increase.

Ratings for on train facilities such as toilets and comfort of seats have also improved, with the year on year scores increasing by 5% and 4% respectively.

Cleanliness of stations and trains have both received the thumbs up from passengers. Satisfaction with the cleanliness of stations has increased by 6% to 82%, and by 5% for train cleanliness.

Other areas which have scored highly are the availability of station staff, which has increased by 5% year on year and ticket buying facilities, which has increased by 3% to 79%

David Horne, Managing Director for East MidlandsTrains, said: “We’re really pleased with the latest set of satisfaction scores, which are a clear demonstration that our investment to improve our stations and trains is continuing to make a difference to passengers.

“However, we remain focused on delivering further improvements to the service we offer to ensure that satisfaction amongst our passengers continues to grow.”

East Midlands Trains continues to be one of the most punctual train operators in the country, according to the latest performance figures issued by Network Rail. The performance figures,which cover the four-week period ending 7 January 2012, show that trains operated by East Midlands Trains recorded a punctuality figure of 92.5%. The latest figures also signify a further improvement on East MidlandsTrains’ moving annual average (MAA), which is now 93.2%. This represents the best ever MAA figure for East Midlands Trains, and it is significantly higher than the national moving annual average figure of 91.6%.

The improvements in performance have also been recognised in the latest National Passenger Survey. 88% of passengers are satisfied with the punctuality and reliability of their train service,marking a 1% year on year improvement.

One million more Brits to travel in 2012 » Travel News

One million more Brits to travel in 2012 » Travel News

More people will travel, but will spend less on their holidays than in 2011

When it comes to taking that all-important holiday, it seems more Brits plan to book trips this year despite the turbulent economic situation in the UK. But while doing so, they will be looking for ways to save on their travel needs. According to research commissioned by®, nearly one million (955,092) more Brits plan to take trips in 2012 versus last year (75% of the adult population compared to 73% in 2011), but will spend on average slightly less than they did last year.

75% of those surveyed were not put off by the grim economic outlook for the year and commented that they intend to continue travelling. In fact, nearly one in five of Brits spending more on travel this year (18%) watched their spending in 2011 and saved money in order to holiday in 2012. However, the average spending of UK holidaymakers will be 4% lower, dropping from GBP 2,009 to GBP 1,920 (per household).

To enjoy those additional trips on a tighter budget, 30% of Brits will look for travel deals more than they did in the past, 18% plan to base their decision on price rather than the travel brand and 14% will travel in the UK rather than abroad.

“The results of the survey show that Brits are determined to get away this year, but will be watching their spending more closely,” said Fulvia Montresor, senior director at “With the four day bank holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics, there are lots of events that Brits may want to travel to or escape. With our Secret Hot Rates, we are giving everyone an opportunity to take those extra trips without the worry of spending more than they need to. At Hotwire, we want everyone to be able to travel as much as they want in 2012, and that’s why we work hard to offer 4-star and 5-star hotels at up to 50% off the lowest published room rates*.”

The research also showed that the older generation continues to splash out the most on breaks away from home, with the over 55 holidaymakers spending an average of GBP 2,123 compared to an average spend of GBP 1,864 amongst 34-54 age range and GBP 1,739 for 18-34 year olds (spending per household). Londoners who are planning holidays in 2012 will spend the most on escapes (GBP 2,243 per household), almost GBP 500 more than consumers in the North (GBP 1,702 per household).

Costa Cruises details Costa Concordia guest reimbursement » Cruise News

Costa Cruises details Costa Concordia guest reimbursement » Cruise News

Costa Crociere wishes to again express its profound condolences to the families of the victims, continued sympathy to the families of the missing and deep regret and sorrow for the damages and hardship the Costa Concordia accident caused to all its guests.

Costa Crociere announced a compensation proposal for guests who have returned home after the Jan. 13 tragic Costa Concordia accident. This proposal is the result of negotiations between Costa Crociere and consumer associations protecting guests’ interests, with the support of multiple tourism and travel industry associations. In Italy, the company has already reached an agreement with the National Council of Consumers and Users, a national organization.

The families of the deceased and guests who were injured and required medical treatment on site will be covered under a separate proposal that will take into account their individual circumstances.

The compensation package for Costa Concordia guests who have returned home includes:
• A lump sum of 11,000 euros (US$14,458.07 at today’s exchange rate)
per person as indemnification, covering all patrimonial and nonpatrimonial damages, including loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise vacation;
• Reimbursement of the value of the cruise, including harbor taxes;
• Reimbursement of air and bus transfers included in the cruise
• Full reimbursement of travel expenses to reach the port of
embarkation and return home;
• Reimbursement of any medical expenses resulting from the cruise;
• Reimbursement of expenses incurred on board during the cruise.

This compensation package is higher than the current indemnification limits provided for in international conventions and laws currently in force. The 11,000 euro lump-sum payment is offered to all Costa Concordia passengers, including nonpaying children, regardless of their age. Costa also has pledged not to deduct from this sum any amount paid by any insurance policy stipulated by guests. In addition, the company will return all goods stored in cabin safes, where retrieval is possible.

Costa Crociere also has pledged to provide a program for psychological assistance to any guests that request it. The company has further agreed to offer customers the ability to cancel any upcoming cruise booked before Jan. 13, on any of its routes, without penalty through Feb. 7, 2012. Dedicated operation units will handle claims to ensure timely resolution.

Payments will be credited by the company within seven days of receipt of the acceptance of the proposal. Guests should e-mail or call 954-266-5693 for assistance.

Seychelles and La Reunion’s Carnival moves into gear with countdown » Travel Event News

Seychelles and La Reunion’s Carnival moves into gear with countdown » Travel Event News

The 2012 carnival of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands that is staged in Seychelles annually by Seychelles and La Reunion, moved into gear this week with an official countdown that took place at the International Conference Center (ICCS) in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles.

In the presence of the French Ambassador, Mr. Philippe Delacroix ; the Chairman of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Mr. Barry Faure; members of the tourism trade and of the Seychelles business community; and Alain St.Ange, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board said that the countdown to the 2012 carnival was but a teaser to what was coming to Seychelles on March 2-4.

Addressing the countdown Alain St.Ange said: “On the 2nd to the 4th of March, Seychelles and La Reunion will stage an event that will bring visibility to our islands.”

“It is important to say that the “Carnaval International de Victoria” 2012 is not just funded by the Tourism Board. Most of the cash needed comes from sponsorship deals and some of the important players in the Seychelles economy. Those committed to the consolidation of the country’s tourism industry, have joined with us to ensure Seychelles has this celebration.

“On March 2, when the Seychelles and La Reunion carnival will be declared open, and when Seychelles will witness the opening ceremony of this carnival, the world will be following the start of this unique event, known as the “carnival of carnivals,” because for the first time, three radio stations will be broadcasting live from Seychelles for the three days of the carnival. They will be from Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa.

“Seychelles will be hosting for these three days the largest contingent of press ever, landing at the same time on our shores. Yes, it is now confirmed that over 50 press from all over the world will be in Seychelles to cover the carnival 2012. When we say 50 press, it means 50 magazines, newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. All together, we shall have 78 individual press personality and their technicians here.

“Why are we doing all this trouble? one could ask.

“The question is simple, and everyone involved in the tourism industry, everyone who understands the tourism industry, will appreciate that so many press will mean a blitz on and about Seychelles & La Reunion in the four corners of the world.

“The Tourism Boards of Seychelles and La Reunion are mandated to promote Seychelles and La Reunion as tourism destinations, and in increasing the visibility of our islands, we are doing just that, promoting Seychelles and promoting La Reunion.

“And this we are doing through our culture, through our people, and through our joie de vive.

“The opening ceremony will be beautifully choreographed with a show in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles. It will have artists from different parts of the world perform alongside our very own Seychellois artists and artists coming from La Reunion.

“At this opening ceremony, Mr. Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO Secretary General, who is flying to Seychelles for this carnival, will present to [Seychelles] President James Michel and President Didier Robert of La Reunion, the Tourism Leadership Document. This in itself will be unique, as it will be the first time that two heads of governments receive the document at the same time.

“Both political leaders of the two islands are this year joint organizers of the 2012 Carnival. La Reunion accepted to join in with us in a show of solidarity and of regional cooperation.

“We can say that this year we have taken note of comments and suggestions aired after the 2011 event. Music and show will be at the opening ceremony and afterwards in Victoria, and this well into the night.

“The Saturday carnival procession is the climax of a vast organizational effort, which began mid-March last year, as soon as the 2011 carnival had closed. Marymonde Matatiken and her team worked with foreign partners to get overseas carnival delegations here, but also with sponsors, without whom we could never stage such an event, and one on this magnitude here in Seychelles.

“This is why today, on behalf of the Tourism Board, we want to say a BIG thank you to all those helping us make this event the event our country needs and deserves.

“Here, we need to acknowledge that Emirates is this year the partner airline and flying the biggest number of our press to Seychelles.

“Kempinski Hotel has volunteered to accommodate the press when they get to Seychelles - two big chunks of expenses taken care of by two companies. As we say thank you to Emirates and to Kempinski , we need to acknowledge that they are not alone, and here, we want to use today to launch our the countdown for the carnival 2012 to appeal to everyone.

“It is a carnival that Seychelles and that La Reunion, and the people of our two islands are staging for the world, for the Community of Nations. Let us rally behind this event, the event set to remain the biggest annual celebration of our region, and the event that will keep Seychelles and La Reunion visible in all our tourist markets all over the world.

“Let us rally members of the business community, help by decorating Victoria, the heart of our carnival. Decorate your shops and buildings, bring about the party spirit.

“PUC, help us. Here, we appeal to Mr. Philip Morin, the new CEO. Help make Victoria come alive. We will bring the entertainment, you make us see the light. Let us see the Office of the Mayor of Victoria move to show the best façade of Victoria to all the world.”

The Seychelles Tourism Board then announced the list of confirmed delegations coming from the four corners of the world and also of navy ships making the stop in Seychelles as a show of solidarity in the continued fight against piracy.

Marie France MacGregor launched the 2012 Carnival Lottery and the new Carnival Song entitled “Sa Karnaval,” sung by Jean Marc Volcy, with the support of known artists Jany De Letourdie, Brian Matombe, Antoinette Dodin, and Michelle Marengo, was launched through a live performance by all the five artists and supported by the island’s reputed choreographed dancers.

Angelica, the young and upcoming artist also sung her new song entitled “Carnival Party,” which she presented as a gift to the Seychelles Tourism Board before the very popular group of young artists Chicco, Michael, Sandra, Dean, Ruben, and Martin presented their very own popular carnival song.

Porter Airlines increases New York service to 13 daily flights » Airline News

Porter Airlines increases New York service to 13 daily flights » Airline News

Porter Airlines is enhancing its New York service with two additional daily flights and a more convenient schedule. This increases daily roundtrip departures between Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport to
as many as 13 flights, and provides a wider range of morning, afternoon and evening departures for passengers.

"Demand for our Toronto-New York route continues to increase and we are responding with additional flights," said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. "Porter offers the only service between downtown Toronto and New York, which is one of the reasons we've become a top choice for business and leisure travellers between the two markets."

With the fastest available travel time between downtown Toronto and downtown Manhattan, Porter's service from Toronto City Airport to Newark also provides the most convenient access to New York's financial district.

The first new flight starts March 26, with a second flight beginning on April 16, and additional weekend options as of March 25.

Porter also launched a new non-stop service between Newark and Mt. Tremblant, Que., this winter, a popular skiing destination, making it easier than ever to enjoy a season on the slopes.

AC Hotels By Marriott Announce First Hotel in France » Hotel News

AC Hotels By Marriott Announce First Hotel in France » Hotel News

Marriott International, Inc. today announced plans to open the first new hotel to join the AC Hotels by Marriott portfolio since the launch of the joint venture and new co-brand last year. Joining over 80 existing AC Hotels by Marriott throughout Spain, Italy and Portugal, the 143-room Elysee Palace Hotel in Nice will be rebranded AC Hotel Nice following an extensive renovation.

The hotel is expected to open in early 2013 under a management agreement with SNC Hoche Promotion.

Nestled along the south-west coast of France in the world-renowned Cote d’Azur region, the picturesque city of Nice attracts visitors from around the world in search of relaxation and inspiration. With a superb location in the city center of Nice, the AC Hotel Nice will be situated within a stone’s throw of the old town and a mere 50 meters from the magnificent blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

“We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our AC Hotels by Marriott brand in to France” said Amy McPherson, president and managing director for Marriott International in Europe. “We see tremendous opportunity for the brand here and are aggressively pursuing numerous development opportunities for AC throughout Europe and Latin America.”

“We are very proud to announce the first AC Hotels by Marriott in France; the first new hotel to be added since the joint venture,” said Antonio Catalan, president and founder of AC Hotels by Marriott. “We are looking forward to continuing to expand in to new markets and adding new hotels to our portfolio.”

The AC Hotel Nice will offer 143 guestrooms boasting contemporary design, plush bedding, gleaming hardwood floors and complimentary mini-bar. With a lively rooftop terrace featuring an outdoor swimming pool and restaurant offering panoramic views of Nice and the Mediterranean, the hotel is set to become one of the most stylish addresses in the city.

AC Hotels by Marriott reflect the modern urban lifestyle with hotels featuring a unique blend of quality, comfort, design and technology. All AC Hotels by Marriott welcome guests with their signature AC Lounge, offering complimentary Wi-Fi, it is a great place to relax, work or unwind with a drink or snack. Guestrooms in AC Hotels by Marriott feature a contemporary look and feel with crisp white bedding, gleaming hardwood floors, modern bathrooms and free mini-bar.

AC Hotels by Marriott is part of Marriott Rewards, one of the world’s largest hospitality loyalty programs with 33 million members.

DeafNation media team visits Guam » Tourism News

DeafNation media team visits Guam » Tourism News

DeafNation’s Joel Barish arrived on Guam Wednesday as part of an around-the-world tour. This is his third. Barish traveled from Austin, Texas, to Sweden, India, Bhutan, Bali, and the Philippines. Guam and Hawaii are his last stops on the 21-day journey.

Joel and his camera man are visiting Guam to create video footage for the “No Barriers with Joel Barish” program on the DeafNation website. The Guam Association of the Deaf greeted the men at the airport. Barish visited local deaf-owned businesses and conducted interviews to be aired on his online media channel. During his visit, Barish experienced the ethereal underwater world of Guam’s pristine Tumon Bay via the Atlantis submersible, as well as a dive with Seawalker Tours. The deaf media mogul also visited Lina’la’ Chamorro Cultural Park and Zorb, Guam’s newest thrill ride. Barish hosted a meet-and-greet yesterday at the Hilton Guam Resort.

“It’s an honor to welcome to Guam DeafNation founder, Joel Barish,” said GVB General Manager Joann Camacho, “GVB supports industry pioneers like Joel and Jed who have a social and cultural world view.”

Brothers Joel and Jed Barish, who are both deaf, founded DeafNation, Inc. in 2003. DeafNation, Inc. is the international leader in video content, news coverage, social networking, and special events for the greater deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Their portfolio includes the DeafNation Expo, a travel exposition for deaf businesses and the DeafNation World Expo, a bi-annual exposition that attracts more than 20,000 deaf people from 73 countries., an online media center consisting of channels like No Barriers, Through Jed’s Eyes, and Missy’s View, receives close to 2 million hits each month. In addition, the media powerhouse has over 39,450 Facebook fans and 12,710 Twitter followers.

Axel Marschall to Head up Sales at DB Schenker Rail » Railway News

Axel Marschall to Head up Sales at DB Schenker Rail » Railway News

Axel Marschall will be assuming management responsibility for Sales at the European DB Schenker Rail Group and will become the Member of the Board of Management of DB Schenker Rail Deutschland AG responsible for Sales as of February 1, 2012. Marschall (46) has performed this function on a provisional basis since the departure of Karsten Sachsenröder in November of last year. Marschall was previously the head of the Automotive Industry Sector in rail freight and has been the CEO of DB Schenker Rail Automotive GmbH since 2009.

“Axel Marschall and his colleagues transformed the Automotive Industry Sector at DB Schenker Rail into the largest and most powerful automobile logistics services provider in rail transport in Europe and developed successful international solutions together with customers. He has the expertise we need for the expansion of our European sales,” said Dr. Karl-Friedrich Rausch, Member of the Board of Management of DB Mobility Logistics AG responsible for Transportation and Logistics and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DB Schenker Rail GmbH.

Marschall joined Deutsche Bahn in 1999 and has held various management positions ever since. In 2005 Marschall was appointed Head of Strategy in the Transportation and Logistics Division; he switched to the Automotive Industry Sector in 2009.

IHG announces opening of Crowne Plaza Semarang » Hotel News

IHG announces opening of Crowne Plaza Semarang » Hotel News

IHG announced that the new 270-room Crowne Plaza Semarang will open its doors on 22 January 2012. Owned by the Golden Flower Group, the hotel will be managed by IHG.

The first Crowne Plaza hotel in Central Java is strategically located at Semarang’s central business district, near government and regional corporate offices, major banks and popular shopping malls. The hotel is also just a 15-minute drive from Ahmad Yani Airport.

“Being the first Crowne Plaza-branded hotel in Central Java – and the second in Indonesia following Jakarta – Crowne Plaza Semarang will add to the thriving tourism and economic activities in this part of the region,” said Ian Reid, General Manager of Crowne Plaza Semarang. “As one of the country’s busiest hubs, Semarang is an ideal gateway connecting both business and leisure guests who travel domestically and internationally.”

All of its 270 rooms and suites – including four Junior, 20 Executive, and one Presidential suites – are well-equipped with state-of-the-art amenities for guests to stay connected, such as docking stations, wired and wireless internet access.

Guests of the Club rooms and suites have access to the Club Lounge and a personalised check-in /check-out area. For extended-stay travellers, the hotel has four suite units that each comes with 2-3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, laundry facilities and entertainment systems.

Designed with optimal guest satisfaction and convenience in mind, Crowne Plaza Semarang includes restaurants offering popular local and international cuisines, a business centre, a fully-facilitated health club, an outdoor pool, and a sauna. It also features the largest pillar-less hotel ballroom in Central Java that can accommodate more than 2,000 people, complete with a wedding chapel and gallery.

PATA: Asia-Pacific tourism poised to record 6 percent growth for 2011 » Tourism News

PATA: Asia-Pacific tourism poised to record 6 percent growth for 2011 » Tourism News

Preliminary results released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) show a collective increase of 6 percent year-on-year for international arrivals into Asia/Pacific destinations during each of the months of October and November 2011.

For the first 11 months of the year, South Asia was the star growth performer, followed by Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and the Pacific, all of which saw tourism demand improve, albeit at different rates of growth. This momentum is expected to continue for the rest of the year and paves the way for an expected full-year arrivals gain of 5-6 percent in 2011, above the global growth figure of 4 percent. The overall international visitor arrivals count to the wider Asia Pacific region – which includes North America - is expected to reach around 430 million for 2011.

Travel demand to South Asia was particularly strong with growth of 15 percent for the month of October (year-on-year), however, this momentum stalled a little in November when the aggregate gain fell to 9 percent. With the exception of India, all reporting destinations within this sub-region showed outstanding results with double-digit growth during the month of November. A number of destinations in the region set new records for monthly foreign visitor volumes including the Maldives (+22 percent) and Nepal (+17 percent) in October, and Sri Lanka (+26 percent) in November. Growth into the sub-region was supported by a strong performance out of Europe backed up with continued strong expansion out of China and India. Not surprisingly, this sub-region is poised to emerge as the fastest growing in the Asia/Pacific region with a full-year gain expectation of around 11 percent-12 percent for 2011.

Southeast Asia recorded a relatively slower close on the year with growth of 7 percent and 3 percent in October and November 2011, respectively. A number of factors were responsible for this result, most particularly the flooding that occurred across many destinations. Thailand, although partially impacted by flooding - and a negative perception of the extent of the flooding - realized a gain of 8 percent and a loss of 18 percent in foreign arrivals during October and November 2011, respectively, compared to the corresponding periods in 2010. This negative effect also continued through December but at a reduced rate. Thanks to sustained travel demand out of China in particular, many reporting destinations managed to show double-digit growth in November ranging from 43 percent for Vietnam, 26 percent for Myanmar, 20 percent for the Philippine,s to 13 percent for Indonesia. Overall, growth in international arrivals to Southeast Asia for calendar year 2011 is expected to be around 11 percent.

Growth in international arrivals into Northeast Asia saw gains of 5 percent in October and 8 percent in November - the strongest monthly growth recorded during the first eleven months of 2011. In particular, this trend reflects the slow recovery of foreign arrivals to Japan, which has been gradually improving from a low of 296,000 in April to 616,000 visitors in October and an expected 551,900 in November. That would bring the reduction in foreign inbound arrivals for Japan to just over 29 percent year-to-date. China reported gains of 1 percent and 3 percent for October and November, respectively, and growth remains strong for other destinations in the sub-region ranging between +9 percent and +20 percent during these latest two months. Intra-regional flows within Northeast Asia coupled with traffic from Southeast Asia continue to play a vital role in generating growth into this sub-region. A full-year growth performance of around 4-5 percent is expected for this sub-region for 2011.

The Pacific posted a 3 percent increase during October 2011 as the lingering impact of the Rugby World Cup helped drive foreign arrivals to New Zealand, which registered close on a 17 percent increase during that month. During November, travel demand growth into Australia (+1 percent) and New Zealand (+2 percent) was back to the average levels seen during the past months of 2011. Most reporting Pacific islands also recorded weak performances in November with only Palau showing double-digit growth. The Pacific had a sluggish year with expected year-on-year growth in arrivals expected to be largely flat for calendar year 2011.

Regency Group redefines hospitality in the Middle East » Travel News

Regency Group redefines hospitality in the Middle East » Travel News

Qatar-based Regency Group is one of the largest business entities in the Middle East, encompassing several divisions across a spectrum of industries.

Through re-investment of profits, recruitment of talented professionals and a number on joint ventures with leading global enterprises, Regency offers diverse services to overseas companies with interests in Qatar and across the Arabian Gulf States.

The group boasts a substantial turn over and its varied commercial activities have resulted in its recognition as a successful and dynamic regional corporation.

Regency Group chairman, Ibrahim Hassan Al Asmakh, has led the organisation to unprecedented success

However, it is the hospitality sector where Regency has perhaps had its greatest successes.

Regency Tours

Regency Travel & Tours was launched with a small staff and a modest office in Doha.

Today, over two decades later, it is the most revered travel service in Qatar.

Over the years, Regency Travel & Tours has added on a number of services unmatched by any other in the business.

These include 24x7 services at head office, a dedicated round-the-clock call centre, over 60 desks manned by multilingual staff, visa assistance and international driving licenses, travel insurance and car rentals, meet-and-greet services and help with hotel bookings.

This consistent drive to improve has seen the operator recognised as the World’s Leading Travel Agency at the World Travel Awards for the past five years.

Also part of the group, Regency Holidays has become a household name for travel in Qatar.

The brand is the only Qatari wholesale and retail travel management company to provide a full portfolio of holiday services to local consumers, all easily accessible through state of art B2B and B2C online booking portals.

Finally, Regency Fleets – a car rental brand - was recently set up to offer automobile leasing service to clients as an alternative to owning and maintaining vehicles.

Regency Group redefines hospitality in the Middle East » Travel News
World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke presents the award to Tareq Abdullatif Taha, chief executive, Regency Travel & Tours

Regency Hospitality

Away from Regency Tours, the group also operates four hotels, including the Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel in Doha.

Here Victorian grandeur comes together with the latest conveniences – including the luxurious Angsana Spa and a variety of meeting room spaces – to make a modern hotel.

The 251 rooms and suites are well appointed with all the conveniences that add up to five-star care. The hotel itself indulges the guest in manner that is so luxurious, yet so classy that it really ascends prosaic definition.

Just across town, in the heart of the Business Bay District, at the Moevenpick Tower & Suites Regency offers a unique urban surrounding.

The upscale five-star hotel has 350 modern rooms and 40 suites located over 26 floors and presents the traditional values of Swiss hospitality to Middle Eastern clientele.

Ramada Encore Doha is a daringly different hotel in the heart of the Qatari capital.

Designed for the connected traveller looking for a hip, innovative, modern hotel with passionate service at a reasonable price, the hotel is a contemporary urban oasis with vibrant spaces, cool ambiance, and cutting edge technology.

Finally, Ramada Encore Hotel Regency Halls was set up in 2001 as the perfect venue for weddings, receptions and corporate gatherings.

Two banquet rooms – Al Hamra and Andalusia - can accommodate up to 1,000 quests each, while the venue offers a one-stop-shop concept to bring wedding consultants, Arabic and international catering, a lights and audio extravaganza, photography, videography, and aesthetic decorations to the party.

Regency also welcomed the George V Spa to Doha in 2011.

Regency Group redefines hospitality in the Middle East » Travel News
Regency operates a world-class portfolio of hotels across Qatar

Regency chairman, Ibrahim Hassan Al Asmakh, explains the secret of the group’s success: “Driven by our entrepreneurial spirit, the regency’s group approach to sustainability is holistic and practical, extending to recognising promising business ventures in under developed countries with practical advice and funding to help them expand and flourish.

“We have a proud history of success but we know that the world is becoming more competitive every day.

“Our current capabilities are a sound platform for growth and expansion for us and our partners as strive to deliver only the highest standards of excellence in Hotels and real estate development,” Hassan Al Asmakh concludes.

JetBlue announces 2011 annual profit » Airline News

JetBlue announces 2011 annual profit » Airline News

JetBlue Airways Corporation today reported its results for the fourth quarter and full year 2011:

Pre-tax income of $40 million in the fourth quarter. This compares to pre-tax income of $13 million in the year-ago period.

For the full year 2011, JetBlue reported pre-tax income of $145 million. This compares to a pre-tax income of $161 million for the full year 2010.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $23 million, or $0.08 per diluted share. This compares to JetBlue’s fourth quarter 2010 net income of $8 million, or $0.03 per diluted share.

For the full year 2011, JetBlue reported net income of $86 million, or $0.28 per diluted share. This compares to net income of $97 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, for the full year 2010.

JetBlue ended the year with $1.2 billion in cash and short term investments.

“JetBlue’s solid fourth quarter results capped a very good year for JetBlue,” said Dave Barger, JetBlue’s CEO. “Throughout 2011, we executed on our network strategy in key markets such as Boston and the Caribbean, resulting in record revenue performance. At the same time, we maintained our focus on cost control while running an efficient operation, which helped mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices.”

Operational Performance

JetBlue reported record fourth quarter operating revenues of $1.15 billion. For the full year, operating revenues totaled $4.50 billion, representing an increase of 19.2% over operating revenues of $3.78 billion for the full year 2010.

For the fourth quarter, revenue passenger miles increased 11.0% year-over-year to 7.75 billion on a capacity increase of 10.5%, resulting in a fourth quarter load factor of 82.2%, an increase of 0.3 points year over year.

Yield per passenger mile in the fourth quarter was 13.44 cents, up 11.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) for the fourth quarter 2011 increased 11.8% year over year to 11.05 cents and operating revenue per available seat mile (RASM) increased 10.5% year over year to 12.16 cents.

“A strong year of double-digit increases in unit revenue is a testament to the hard work of our outstanding crewmembers who deliver the JetBlue Experience every day,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Operating expenses for the quarter increased 20.4%, or $180 million, over the prior year period, of which $128 million was due to higher fuel costs. JetBlue’s operating expense per available seat mile (CASM) for the fourth quarter increased 9.0% year over year to 11.27 cents. Excluding fuel, CASM decreased 1.5% to 6.85 cents.

Fuel Expense and Hedging

JetBlue continued to hedge fuel to manage price volatility. Specifically, JetBlue hedged approximately 45% of its fuel consumption during the fourth quarter, resulting in a realized fuel price of $3.15 per gallon, a 30% increase over fourth quarter 2010 realized fuel price of $2.42.

JetBlue has hedged approximately 42% of its first quarter projected fuel requirements and 27% of its 2012 projected fuel requirements using a combination of collars, crude call options, and jet fuel swaps. Based on the fuel curve as of January 20, JetBlue expects an average price per gallon of fuel, including the impact of hedges and fuel taxes, of $3.18 in the first quarter and $3.17 for the full year 2012.

Balance Sheet Update

JetBlue ended the year with approximately $1.2 billion in unrestricted cash and short term investments. During the fourth quarter, JetBlue generated approximately $114 million of operating cash flow, made debt payments of $65 million and had capital expenditures of $169 million. For the full year, JetBlue generated operating cash flow of $614 million and had capital expenditures of $524 million, resulting in free cash flow of $90 million.

“Given our focus on disciplined capital spending and sustainable growth, we are pleased to generate positive free cash flow for the third consecutive year,” said Mark Powers, JetBlue’s Treasurer and CFO.

First Quarter and Full Year Outlook

“Looking ahead into 2012, we believe our strong financial foundation, unique product offering and network strategy will result in improved margins year over year,” said Mr. Powers.

For the first quarter of 2012, CASM is expected to increase between 2.0% and 4.0% over the year-ago period. Excluding fuel, CASM in the first quarter is expected to range between a decrease of 0.5% and an increase of 1.5% year over year.

CASM for the full year is expected to increase between 1.5% and 3.5% over full year 2012. Excluding fuel, CASM in 2012 is expected to increase between 2.0% and 5.0% year over year. JetBlue expects approximately two thirds of this year over year increase to be driven by maintenance expense. “While we expect to face significant cost pressures on maintenance expense in 2012 related to the aging of our fleet, we are working diligently to reduce these cost pressures in the future,” said Mr. Powers.

Capacity is expected to increase between 9.5% and 11.5% in the first quarter and to increase between 5.5% and 7.5% for the full year.

JetBlue will conduct a conference call to discuss its quarterly earnings today, January 26, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. A live broadcast of the conference call will be available via the internet at .

Mandarin Oriental, New York hides smarter Wi-Fi in the walls » Hotel News

Mandarin Oriental, New York hides smarter Wi-Fi in the walls » Hotel News

Ruckus Wireless™ today announced that the Mandarin Oriental's flagship North America property in NYC has standardized on the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch to address explosive demand for IP-based services and wireless capacity.

One of the world's most prestigious hotels, the five-star Mandarin Oriental, New York, situated in New York's Columbus Circle overlooking Central Park, is one of the first to make a wholesale move to combine ultra high-speed wired/wireless access by integrating Wi-Fi into standard wall outlets in all 248 guest rooms. Mandarin Oriental, New York is one of seven acclaimed Mandarin Oriental hotels that have now installed Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi including Tokyo, Manila, Jakarta, Sanya, London, and Hong Kong.

Recognized as a leader in innovative technologies in the hospitality market, Mandarin Oriental, New York was one of the first hotels to deploy a converged IP network. Previously, Mandarin Oriental, New York was one of the first hotels to deploy technologies such as a distributed antenna system (DAS) to extend Wi-Fi and cellular signals, the first for IP-based voice, the first for stored and broadcast IP-video, and the first hotel to install plasma screens throughout the property.

According to the team at Mandarin Oriental, New York, the move to install Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switches in every room was driven by three growing issues: capacity, coverage, and user density.

"Given the guest demographic, the expectation for more reliable, higher speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi literally exploded when smart devices like the iPhone and the iPad hit the market," said Oscar Gomez, director of information technology at Mandarin Oriental, New York.

"The hotel's previous implementation of Wi-Fi over our in-house distributed antenna system (DAS), was originally installed to provide better cellular coverage but as time passed and technologies changed, we found that it couldn't scale to accommodate the soaring Wi-Fi usage rates and concurrent connections our guests needed. We ultimately decided that an upgrade wasn't the right tool for the time," said Gomez.

According to Mandarin Oriental, New York, another key concern was available Ethernet cabling in each room to connect a growing number of IP-based devices such as minibars, IPTV, VoIP phones, in-room environment control systems, as well as Wi-Fi-based service optimization applications used by hotel staff.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group views Wi-Fi as a strategic component to improving overall operations and guest satisfaction across the brand's hotels. Housekeepers with iTouches use the Wi-Fi network for service optimization applications such as tracking tasks and keeping guest disruptions to a minimum. And Mandarin Oriental front-of-house staff use Mtech's HotSOS application over the Wi-Fi network to address guest-related service issues.

"As a group, we really liked the idea of having a 1:1 relationship between the access point and the guest which gives us the ability to provide more wired connections in each room without disruptive cabling," said VP of Information Technology of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group David Heckaman. "We have seen it pay off for our hotels."

Since installing the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi system, Mandarin Oriental, New York has seen user capacity more than triple and wireless traffic eclipse traffic on the wired network, while customer wireless complaints have dropped by more than 85%.

"In October of 2009, we were supporting approximately 2,600 unique wireless sessions generating over 336 gigabytes of traffic," said Gomez. "In November of 2011, these figures skyrocketed to over 12,000 unique wireless sessions generating over 2 terabytes of traffic just on the Wi-Fi network. That's a dramatic shift in a very short period of time."

In addition to deploying the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch in all the guest rooms, Mandarin Oriental, New York also installed ZoneFlex dual-band 802.11n access points in the meeting and conference areas to support a higher density of concurrent users. Redundant ZoneDirector 3000 WLAN controllers provide a single point of management and control for the entire wireless infrastructure.

In the Wall Wireless With Wires
The ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi technology with wired Ethernet ports in a small-footprint (12.8cm by 8.5cm) wall jack, giving hotel and resort operators an elegant, low-cost, and inconspicuous device that allows them to leverage their existing wired infrastructure to deliver an ever expanding set of IP-based guest services over multiple virtual LANs (VLANs).

For many hoteliers, early Wi-Fi implementations are no longer able to keep up with the flood of wireless-only devices and bandwidth-demanding applications being used by guests and staff. Additionally, as many new services and hotel devices embrace IP as the preferred method of connectivity and management, the requirement for a converged wired and wireless network has quickly become a necessity. For hotels that have deployed an extensive wired Ethernet network, more ports are often required to connect new IP-enabled devices and support new multimedia services, but installing additional Ethernet switches in guest rooms can be cost prohibitive. Not only is it expensive and disruptive, but rewiring also requires more power and often involves special furniture designs to keep cables out of sight.

Deployed as a standalone device or centrally managed by any Ruckus ZoneDirector wireless LAN controller, the ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi wall switch dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of installing and managing wired and wireless network services.

The Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch is driven by a single power over Ethernet connection and provides four 10/100 Mbps Ethernet jacks and two uplink Ethernet wiring options. Additionally, the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch can provide PoE power to a device such as an IP phone and native connectivity to digital phones through a single digital PBX pass through port.

"We needed a solution to deploy in 100 percent of our guest rooms today that would solve our Wi-Fi issues, but also wanted to free up our cable plant to allow us to offer more IP connected services in the future to our guests without having to tear up walls and engage in major construction," said Heckaman. "For the hotels, the Ruckus Wi-Fi wall switch has turned out to be an ideal solution for both our wired and wireless needs."

London’s best exhibitions and museums » Travel Event News

London’s best exhibitions and museums » Travel Event News

The best thing is that many of the exhibitions on offer in the capital are entirely FREE, and sure to captivate your imagination. Explore this unforgettable capital. Following are merely a few of the displays you simply must see on a London tour:

The Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show is an exceptionally renowned event; it is one of the most celebrated gardening shows in the world, welcoming over 157,000 visitors over the course of just five days. It has also been designated ‘the Great Spring Show’, a commemoration of the very best horticulture around. Visit and your senses will undoubtedly be ensnared. Explore the exquisite show gardens designed by acclaimed names and marvel at the floral marquee centrepiece.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture

Running until 9 April 2012, you must ensure you visit this vibrant and enticing exhibition of the works of Hockney. Be awed by his paintings memorialising the Yorkshire landscape in vivid hues. Hockney’s works demand your attention: they cannot be ignored. His swimming pool paintings are instantly recognisable. Marvel at the works of this esteemed modern artisit.

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir stands as a great symbol of London’s multiculturalism. It can readily be argued that this temple in fact serves as the most significant Indian museum in the whole of the capital. Ancient Indian artefacts are on display, and encompass over 8,500 years of sacred religious history.

The Household Cavalry Museum Archive is based in Windsor

The Household Cavalry Museum opened in 2007. Visiting offers a wholly unique experience: take an enthralling and rarely-seen ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour around this museum. You will be fascinated by the work that goes into the traditional observances and functional role of the Household Cavalry Regiments.

If the Household Cavalry Museum piques your interest, visit the Household Cavalry Museum Archive, based in Windsor. Take a Windsor tour and you are sure to become charmed by this quaint city.

Sir John Soane Museum

Sir John Soane was one of England’s supreme architects. Soane designed his own house on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. This structure is idiosyncratic; he furnished it innovatively and very creatively. Enticing and unanticipated artefacts abound in each and every room of this labyrinthine house, and the walls of the Hogarth room can even be opened up. Certainly far from the usual museum experience.

Visit London and you will not fail to be awed by the sheer number of museums and galleries worth exploring.

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth to make San Francisco maiden call » Cruise News

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth to make San Francisco maiden call » Cruise News

On 4 February, Cunard Line’s newest luxury ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth, will make her inaugural call to San Francisco, marking her only U.S. maiden call this year. Currently sailing her 107-day World Cruise, Queen Elizabeth will dock at Pier 35 along the city’s famed Embarcadero, and is scheduled to arrive between 5:30-6:00 a.m. and depart at approximately 9:00 p.m.

“We are very pleased to introduce our newest Cunarder to Bay Area residents who have historically extended a gracious welcome to our fleet of Queens,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “The city’s warm hospitality, iconic landmarks, world-class dining and culture are always a highlight for our well-travelled guests.”

Named by Her Majesty The Queen in Southampton, England in October 2010, Queen Elizabeth is the second largest Cunarder ever built, after flagship Queen Mary 2. Cunard’s longtime relationship with Great Britain’s Royal Family is reflected throughout the ship, including a specially-commissioned portrait of Her Majesty The Queen.

While this will be Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural visit to San Francisco, the city has held historical significance for Cunard ships since 1942, when the original Queen Elizabeth visited as part of her war duties, and where she also underwent a refit. Later, in 1978, Queen Elizabeth 2 made her maiden call to San Francisco, visiting a dozen times more in subsequent years. Five years ago to the day of Queen Elizabeth’s upcoming maiden call, flagship Queen Mary 2 was warmly received by hundreds who came out to welcome her during her 2007 inaugural visit; and Queen Victoria was also graciously greeted by the city during her 2010 maiden call.

Cunard continues their enduring relationship with the city by the bay and is pleased to be the Preferred Cruise Partner of the San Francisco Symphony’s 2012 Black & White Ball this June.

The best locations to view the ship’s sailaway as she departs the harbour are:
* Golden Gate Overlook: At Golden Gate National Recreation Area
* The Marina Green: Between Fort Mason and the Presidio, adjacent to San Francisco Bay
* Fort Mason: Located in the northern Marina District, alongside San Francisco Bay
* Aquatic Park: At the historic Hyde Street Pier
* PIER 39: Two-blocks east of Fisherman’s Wharf at Beach Street and The Embarcadero. Convenient parking is available across the street in the PIER 39 Garage.
* Treasure Island: Connected to Yerba Buena Island, which has exits and entrances into and out of the San Franciscoo - Oakland Bay Bridge (I-80) in both directions. Travel between Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands and the rest of San Francisco is toll-free in both directions.

From San Francisco, Queen Elizabeth will continue her World Cruise, which includes stops in Hawaii, American Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, India, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Monaco and Portugal.

Queen Elizabeth captured the world stage with her launch in 2010, quickly establishing herself among the fleet. She also has been ranked among the top three “Best Large Resort Ships” in the 2012 Berlitz Complete Guide to Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships, sharing the honour alongside her sister ships. On board, guests savour the sense of occasion, dressing up for glamourous evenings at Royal Nights themed balls, and enjoy Cunard’s signature amenities such as Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Garden Lounge, extraordinary dining experiences in the line’s renowned Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants, and in The Verandah, a French restaurant that pays tribute to the legendary Verandah Grills aboard the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.

Best Western opens Plus hotel in Russia » Hotel News

Best Western opens Plus hotel in Russia » Hotel News

Best Western International is opening its first Plus hotel in Russia, the BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel, in the country’s oldest Russian settlement in Siberia, Tyumen.

The BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel is a newly constructed hotel and features 84 rooms with mini-bar, free Wi-Fi, Interactive TV, beds with orthopedic mattress, antiallergenic pillows and blankets. The four star property, which includes 7 suites (including the Presidential Suite) , features a full service restaurant serving international cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a lobby bar with a grand fireplace. The hotel also features a business center, health club and gift shop.

Tyumen is the largest city and the administrative center of Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located on the Tura River, 2,144 kilometers (1,332 mi) east of Moscow. The city is the transportation and industrial hub of Tyumen Oblast—a vast, oil-rich region stretching from the Kazakh border to the Arctic Ocean—as well as home to many companies active in Russia’s oil and gas industry.

BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel is located in the heart of the historical centre of Tyumen on one of the main streets of the city. It is close to many of the important oil companies (including LUKOIL and TNK-BP), the administrative centre of the city, as well as the University, Sport Centre, FC Tyumen football stadium and Tyumen Dram Theatre. Roshino International Airport is 18 kilometers west ,and the main train station is 2 kilometers to the south.

“We are very excited to not only be the first Best Western hotel in Siberia but also to have qualified for the Best Western Plus descriptor ,” said Vitaly Samoilik, owners’ representative of the BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel. “As a newly built property we rely on support from the brand in areas such as customer care, quality assurance and revenue management, to help us attract both international and Russian guests to our door. We are primarily a business hotel, but with ample facilities for leisure guests, we know Best Western Rewards will play an important role in our success.”

BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel is located in the heart of the historical centre of Tyumen on one of the main streets of the city. It is close to many of the important oil companies (including LUKOIL and TNK-BP), the administrative centre of the city, as well as the University, Sport Centre, FC Tyumen football stadium and Tyumen Dram Theatre. Roshino International Airport is 18 kilometers west ,and the main train station is 2 kilometers to the south.

“We are very excited to not only be the first Best Western hotel in Siberia but also to have qualified for the Best Western Plus descriptor ,” said Vitaly Samoilik, owners’ representative of the BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel. “As a newly built property we rely on support from the brand in areas such as customer care, quality assurance and revenue management, to help us attract both international and Russian guests to our door. We are primarily a business hotel, but with ample facilities for leisure guests, we know Best Western Rewards will play an important role in our success.”

BEST WESTERN PLUS Spasskaya Hotel is the brand’s third hotel in Russia, two of which went live near Moscow within the last 6 months. The chain also opened two hotels in CIS countries Ukraine and Moldova, as part of a concerted effort to establish a footprint in this promising region.

“This hotel represents a significant move forward for our development efforts in Russia. We know that all of the international chains are talking about expansion into the secondary cities outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, but Best Western has the global recognition that is critical to success in new markets” said Best Western’s Vice President of International Operations Suzi Yoder. “We see many excellent opportunities for us to develop the brand further throughout the entire region.”

Thompson plans first London hotel » Hotel News

Thompson plans first London hotel » Hotel News

Thompson Hotels is expanding its brand to the UK with the opening of its first London Hotel on February 1st.

The group’s premier transatlantic addition, Belgraves, is located in Central London’s affluent Belgravia neighbourhood and features a bold interior architecture and design by acclaimed British designer, Tara Bernerd, and architectural design by EPR Architects.

The 85-room property features aims to blend British hospitality with an American Bohemian attitude. Co-developed with Hong Kong-based Harilela Group,
The luxurious property includes an 80-seat restaurant, an intimate library bar, and a fitness centre. The Hix Belgravia restaurant was created by U.K.-based chef and food writer Mark Hix.

Other properties in the Thompson portfolio include New York’s 60 Thompson and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Roosevelt.

In 2011 the company joined forces with Joie de Vivre Hospitality, stepping up its presence accross the US.

Spanair ceases operations as Qatar Airways halts takeover talks » Airline News

Spanair ceases operations as Qatar Airways halts takeover talks » Airline News

Spanish domestic carrier Spanair cancelled all its flights on Friday night before filing for bankruptcy, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of passengers.

The move, which resulted in the cancellation of over 200 flights affecting more than 22,000 passengers, came after Qatar Airways ceased negotiations to takeover the troubled airline and the regional Government withdrew funding.

The carrier posted a message on its website revealing it had suspended operations due to ‘exceptional circumstances’, citing “a lack of financial visibility for the coming months.”

Spanair chairman Ferran Soriano revealed “We were in a very advanced process of finding a financial partner, but we were notified by the regional government that it couldn’t finance our operations anymore and that Qatar wouldn’t invest.”

The Spanish airline, which has more than 2,000 employees
Spanair, founded in 1986, operated from 15 Spanish airports with an extensive route network including Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The airline, which carried 12.56 million passengers in 2011, employed over 2,000 staff.

Affected passengers are being told to contact a special hotline that has been set up while updates are available via Twitter. Meanwhile Iberia, Vueling Airlines SA and Air Europa are providing reduced fares to Spanair customers.

JetBlue to welcome Hawaiian into its home in New York » Airline News

JetBlue to welcome Hawaiian into its home in New York » Airline News

Hawaiian’s daily flights from Honolulu will arrive and depart from JFK Terminal 5, becoming the first of JetBlue’s airline partners to locate at the carrier’s acclaimed home. At Terminal 5 – JFK Airport’s newest terminal – travelers can take in a host of shopping options and unique dining experiences, enjoy the convenience of gate-side food ordering and delivery, and surf the web with free terminal-wide Wi-Fi.

Hawaiian Flight 51 will depart JFK daily at 10:00 a.m. and arrive at Honolulu International Airport at 3:00 p.m. The return Flight 50 (“Hawaiian 5-0”) will depart Honolulu daily at 3:05 p.m. and arrive in New York at 6:55 a.m. the following morning.

The new flight’s mid-morning New York departure will allow travelers in markets served by JetBlue up and down the East Coast, such as Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Raleigh/Durham, to make a seamless connection to Honolulu and arrive in time to enjoy a first afternoon on the beach, or to make another easy connection on Hawaiian to Kauai, Maui, or Hawaii Island and settle in for a beautiful island sunset.

Hawaii residents will also benefit from a new level of access from anywhere in the islands to popular East Coast destinations that are home to world-class attractions, historical sites and major sporting events, all booked on Hawaiian.

Customers may book their connecting travel by calling Hawaiian Airlines or by contacting their preferred travel agent. Both carriers plan to sell each other’s flights on their respective web sites in the near future.

Jamaica’s Sunset Resorts targets group travellers » Spa News

Jamaica’s Sunset Resorts targets group travellers » Spa News

Sunset Resorts is offering savings and rewards for groups along with their ideal accommodations catering to incentive, meetings and conventions, girl’s getaways, family reunions, destination weddings and more. For small and large groups, receive free hotel room stays, private check-in, welcome drinks and gifts, coffee breaks, cocktail hour, and discounts on spa treatments.

Book small groups at the following properties and receive the following perks:

• Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort Spa & Conference Centre in Ocho Rios: 11th Adult is FREE based upon 5 paying rooms - so if 10 paying rooms - 11th room is FREE
• Sunset Beach Resort Spa & Waterpark in Montego Bay: 16th Adult FREE based upon 7 paying rooms.
• SPECIAL OFFER! May 1 - June 15 and Sept. 1 - Oct 31 the Sixth room is Free. (Not combinable with previous offer)
• Amenities Include:
• Private check in and welcome drink for 10 rooms or more checking in simultaneously;
• Welcome amenity gift in room for group leader;
• Complimentary coffee break for meeting groups and WIFI in meeting room;
• Complimentary one hour cocktail party, with dry snacks, for groups of 10 or more rooms;
• 10% discount off spa treatments
• Ten or more paying rooms and group leader can be booked in Oceanfront room and pay any applicable lower price.

Note conditions apply: Free is based upon 50% of double rate. Blackout dates apply. This promotion is not applicable December 23 - January 2, and a three night minimum stay is required. Book up to 20 rooms through general reservations with this promotion. The Small Group Tracking Form must be completed and given to the resort ten days prior to arrival. Groups can contact their preferred travel agent or contact Sunset Resorts directly to request group reservations; A maximum of four complimentary rooms will be rewarded for groups.

Book small groups at Sunset at the Palm Resort and receive these GROUP PERKS for travel May 1 – December 22, 2012.

• Book a minimum of ten rooms and receive the 11th room FREE; except November 1 - 15. The sixteenth room is FREE November 1 – 15. Minimum four nights stay required, based on space available.
• Amenities Include:
• Private check-in and welcome drink for ten rooms or more checking in simultaneously;
• Complimentary one hour cocktail party with dry snacks, for groups of ten or more rooms, Maximum of two free rooms per group stay;
• Welcome amenity gift in-room for group leader

Seychelles says thank you to tour operators and press in London » Tourism News

Seychelles says thank you to tour operators and press in London » Tourism News 

The main tour operators and press of London have been thanked for their underlying support towards the Seychelles tourism industry and urged to continue to give their support to this tourism island destination as it bids to grow its number of visitors from that market for another year.

This was through a dedicated Seychellois Creole lunch hosted in London on Tuesday, January 24 where the Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Alain St.Ange, said that “no destination can survive alone and needs committed partners.”

The lunch, held at the Sanctum Soho Hotel in London itself, was held to thank tour operators and the press fraternity for believing in Seychelles and for making their best to promote and sell the destination.

It was also an occasion to renew discussions and get the partners to commit to another year of business with the islands. The press was called upon to continue to cover the islands and help to reach out to potential travelers all over the country.

“The Seychelles Tourism Board has always believed in, and has always found ways to work, with the press, because we know that as a small destination, which is still trying to stay at the top of every potential traveler’s mind, we need the visibility and to be constantly seen in the press,” said Mr. St.Ange.

He thanked all the press present and said the Seychelles Tourism Board, through its PR and News Bureau office in London, will always give them the support they need whether that be information for their articles or to arrange press trips. “Today I will say what I always say to the press all over the world – we need you, and we invite you to come and see for yourselves, the exceptional beauty of our tourist tropical islands, and then you can write about it and let others know that what we have is for real,” he said.

The Seychelles’ tourism head noted that the UK market enjoyed an 8 percent increase in visitor arrivals last year, and he thanked the tour operators, airlines, and hotel partners for driving the sales and creating business for the islands. “It is a business where we support each other, and we, as the ones driving the destination’s marketing, we know that we cannot exist on our own. We need you partners to receive their clients, take care of their bookings and other needs, and we need you to ensure they have the best holiday ever,” said Mr. St.Ange.

He explained that partners must feel that their efforts and devotion are being recognized and appreciated for the business they bring to the country. “The UK market was slow for a number of years, but I’m happy to say that we have pulled out of the downward trend and that we are now working hard to keep the positives. Thank you to everyone who has helped and continues to help the country,” Mr. St. Ange said.

The Air Seychelles pull-out from Europe, including UK, is just one of the challenges that the market will face during the new season, but Mr. St.Ange said that partners must find alternatives and continue to inform clients of other options. “Today we have Emirates that now serves Seychelles 14 times a week; Qatar Airways daily, Etihad Airways four times a week; Kenya Airways with their cooperation with KLM and Air France fly twice a week to Seychelles; and from April 1, Ethopian Airlines will fly to Seychelles via Addis Ababa four times a week,” Alain St.Ange said.

The lunch served included a fresh grilled bourgeois (red snapper) fish, octopus, and chicken curry among other Seychelles Creole delicacies.

HART awards design contract for Airport Section of Honolulu Rail Transit Route » Railway News

HART awards design contract for Airport Section of Honolulu Rail Transit Route » Railway News

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has awarded a $38.8 million contract with AECOM Technical Services, Inc. to design the rail transit project’s airport section of the elevated rail guideway.

AECOM is responsible for the design of the 5.2-mile portion of the rail guideway from Aloha Stadium to the Middle Street Transit Center in Kalihi. The company was given notice to proceed on the contract and is required to finish the design work by Spring 2013.

Following the scheduled completion of AECOM’s design work, a separate construction contract will be put out to bid for the airport section of the elevated guideway. Future contracts will also be awarded for the design and construction of rail stations along that particular segment of the rail route at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu International Airport, Lagoon Drive and Middle Street.

“With construction already underway along the first half of the rail route, the design contract for the airport portion of the rail guideway will keep us on schedule in building the entire rail system in a timely manner,” said Toru Hamayasu, HART’s interim executive director and CEO.

Subcontractors for the contract, including some locally-based, include KSF Inc. Structural Engineering,Wilson Okamoto Corp., Yogi Kwong Engineers LLC, Geolabs, Inc., Group 70 International Inc., PBR Hawaii & Associates Inc., Scientific Consultant Services Inc., and T.Y. Lin Associates.

The 20-mile rail transit system from East Kapolei to Ala Moana is expected to open in 2019. expanded hotel inventory offers “Real Choice” » Hotel News expanded hotel inventory offers 'Real Choice' » Hotel News doubled its online hotel inventory during 2011, adding tens of thousands of new hotels in fabulous travel destinations worldwide, offering its customers more choice than ever before.

The increase was driven by an aggressive sales push that added dozens of strategic travel suppliers and hundreds of new direct hotel contracts to’s already impressive product inventory. Chief Information Officer Olivier Dombey said: “We worked very hard in 2011 to give customers added hotel choices regardless of the destination.

“We increased the number and range of properties in current destinations across the board, while also added dozens of new countries in every continent on the planet. This is’s largest single product expansion over one year, which is even more impressive when you consider that we added Thai language and Russian language sections in addition to our new mobile website during 2011 as well.

“However, intends to add even more hotels during 2012. We will continue to push forward with the goal of offering our customers the best selection, service, and rates of any online travel agent.”

The new additions include, but are not restricted to, more hotels in New York City, Las Vegas hotels, hotels in Guam, Rio de Janeiro hotels, and hotels in Beijing.

Mr. Dombey added: “Because added hotels worldwide, it is difficult to single out one country or destination. Basically, if customers are staying in Bali or looking for a Miami hotel, intends to be the first choice for Internet consumers, regardless of where they might want to travel.”