Fairmont Hotels Offers New Services for Chinese Travellers

Canada-based luxury hotel brand, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, is offering new service options specially designed to cater for Chinese travellers.

Around 77 million Chinese travellers are expected to take a trip overseas in 2012, so the company is offering a new Chinese Menu Programme at its 60 luxury hotels located worldwide. The new programme will be initialised in 2012, and will be offering customisable service and cuisine options for Chinese guests.

Jean Michel Offe, the company vice-president for food and beverage, said, ‘Personalisation has and always will be a hallmark of the Fairmont experience, so to that end we’ve taken the proactive step of expanding our food and beverage programming with authentic touches that will help make our Chinese guests feel more comfortable and welcome. The new programme is testament to our promise of anticipating the needs of our guests and delivering an experience that is both memorable and distinctive.’

The programme will be including a range of authentic Chinese dishes offered on the hotels’ restaurant menus globally, as well as new service delivery elements, that include hot and cold towels, chopsticks, and food served in a family-styled ambience.

The Fairmont brand is currently operating the Fairmont Beijing, Fairmont Yangcheng Lake, and Fairmont Peace Hotel, in China, and has plans to open new hotels in the Chinese cities of Nanjing, Taiyuan, and Chengdu.

The hotel company is also offering a new website for Chinese travellers with web content offered in Simplified Chinese, at fairmont.cn.

Europcar Announces Communications Campaign for Tour de France 2012

Europcar Groupe SA, a France-based car rental company, will be offering a new communications campaign for the Tour de France 2012 cycling event, starting on June 30, 2012.

The company is accompanying nine riders in Team Europcar and tour organisers, Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), for the second year in the tournament, as the official car hire company.

Team Europcar riders have already lodged 22 wins and numerous podium places in the 2011 season, and the company is to provide communication across several media segments for audiences and sports lovers interested in following the tour and receiving instant information about Team Europcar. The communications campaign will be providing coverage of the event in eight countries, through social networks, public relations and commercial offers

Marine Boulot, the communication director for Europcar Group, said, ‘After an exceptional season in our first year as main sponsor, we would like to consolidate the brand’s visibility whilst enabling all our audiences to show their passion and love for Team Europcar. We have developed an ambitious communications programme. Customers, staff, fans, everyone will be able to live Team Europcar’s adventure during the Tour de France to the full.’

As part of its partnership with Tour de France, Europcar is also offering cars for ASO, and pavilions at the Village Depart, while Europcar Belgium is participating with a stand at the pre-Tour in Liege.

Europcar France will be hosting an online contest from June 30 to October 14, 2012, at www.europcar.com, offering its customers the opportunity to win a car rental for a week at €29 per day.

Women Suffer Disproportionately More Searches at Gatwick Airport

In a recently published inspection report by the independent chief inspector of Borders and Immigration, UK, it has been highlighted that passenger searches at Gatwick Airport North Terminal are unfavourable to certain groups of travellers, especially women.

John Vine CBE QPM, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, has reported that while immigration is working hard to only refuse entry to the UK based on sound logic, it is matter of concern that 71 percent of passenger searches are unjustified and disproportionate. The searches have also resulted in the arrest of some persons, even though the initial searches had not provided any justifiable reason.

The report also highlighted that certain officers often use negative stereotypes in deciding to stop passengers and search for illicit goods, and are often negatively prejudiced against certain segments of people, especially women of African-American origins.

John Vine, in his report, as independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said, ‘Gatwick is the UK’s second largest airport dealing with over 30 million passenger journeys a year. At the time of inspection, a number of things were working well such as soundly based decisions to refuse entry to the UK, 100% passport swiping against the Home Office Warnings Index and good joint working with stakeholders.

I am, however, concerned about the use of search of person powers in detecting illicit goods. Searches were found to be neither justified nor proportionate in a high percentage of the cases sampled; in some instances passengers were also arrested even though searches hadn’t revealed any illicit goods and some searches were conducted without appropriate authorisation.

I was also very concerned to learn of discriminatory practice in the conduct of detection activity. The extent of any discriminatory practices should be investigated, and action taken, to ensure officers understand and comply with the Agency’s duties under the Equality Act 2010.’

Sonesta International Announces New Hotels

The new Sonesta ES Suites Schaumburg opens in Schaumburg, US, in place of an earlier extended stay hotel, Staybridge Suites Schaumburg, on August 16, 2012.

Sonesta International Hotels, a US-based hospitality company with properties in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and owners of the new 112-room hotel, has announced that the hotel is offering one and two bedroom suite accommodation, each with a work area, a kitchen, and complimentary high speed wireless internet access.

The hotel is also offering an outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour exercise room, a sports court, a seasonal BBQ grille, a guest laundry, around 1,400 square feet of meeting space, and a 24-hour business centre, as well as daily complimentary breakfast for its guests.

The company has also announced that it is taking over management of the 445-room Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia, in downtown Philadelphia, US.

The Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia offers 445 guest rooms, a 24-hour fitness centre, a roof top swimming pool, and 16,000 square feet of meeting space, in a downtown location, neighbouring a local business district and close to Philadelphia (PHL) International Airport. The hotel also features a swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness centre and a 24-hour business centre.

The Sonesta Collection, which is an established company brand, consists of upmarket hotels, resorts and cruises which are currently located in Baltimore, Boston, Hilton Head Island, Miami, and New Orleans, in the US; Saint Maarten, in the Caribbean; and other properties in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in South America, and Egypt in the Middle East.

Greek Holidays on Rise In Spite Of Euro Crisis

Greek holiday bookings are on the rise, says Holiday Hypermarket, a UK based holiday comparison company.

The company has reported that British travellers seem unfazed by the Euro crisis in Greece, with holiday bookings to the country seeing a rise for the summer of 2012. Zakynthos International Airport in Zante, Greece, has been consistently rated in the Top 10 for the company’s customers, from January to May 2012, especially for those passengers flying in from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports in the UK.

Calum MacDonald, the marketing manager at Holiday Hypermarket, said, ‘It’s incredibly affordable to travel in the Eurozone at the moment, and that includes prime destinations such as Corfu, Rhodes and Crete that are not directly affected by trouble in Athens.

While the financial and political situation in Greece is changing, its holiday appeal has not, making it a prime destination for people to enjoy a summer trip.’

The current results match a recent survey with Travelex, a US-based business-to-business payment solution company, which highlighted that all-inclusive holidays have increased by around 30 percent in May 2012, compared to the same period in 2011, partly due to the Pound gaining against the Euro. In May 2012, foreign exchange outlets were selling Euros at a rate of around €1.20 to the Pound, a price that is the highest in three-and-a-half years.

Around half of the travellers, who responded to the survey, said, that they would not be changing their travel plans in spite of recent economic upheavals in Greece, although around 2 percent of travellers had cancelled their pre-booked trips to Greece.

Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe Hotel Opens in Mexico City

Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe Hotel, a property from UK-based hotel group, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has opened in Mexico City, Mexico.

The 111-room luxury hotel includes 26 suites; six meeting rooms; an art gallery; seven stories of office facilities; and six restaurants. The hotel represents an investment of around $35 million, and should provide an additional 350 new jobs to the local economy.

Kirk Kinsell, the company president for IHG, the Americas, said, ‘The Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe is IHG’s second InterContinental hotel in Mexico City and the 12th IHG-branded hotel with Grupo Presidente, which are a reflection of the strength of our long-standing relationship that dates back to 1994. With its ideal location, rich amenities and the famed personalised service of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, the Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe is in a prime position to attract both international and domestic business and leisure travellers.’

The Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe offers panoramic views of the Santa Fe area, the Valley of Mexico and the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes. The hotel amenities include a gym, a boutique, a spa and beauty salon operated under the L’Occitane brand, a terrace bar, the InterContinental Club Lounge and valet parking service.

Grupo Presidente is operating the new hotel under a license agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group.

IHG currently operates nine hotel brands, including InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, and others.

Cable Car Ride over Thames Set To Open in London Next Week

Emirates Air Line, a transport company operating a cable car link across the River Thames in London, will be opening the route on June 28, 2012, ahead of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The £60 million network has been constructed in sponsorship with the UAE-based airline company, Emirates Airline.

Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG) technology will be used to run the 1km long cable car line, which crosses the Thames River from the Greenwich Peninsula, and goes to the Royal Docks. The operation will be run by 34 cable cars, ferrying 2,500 passengers per hour.

The cable car will accommodate pedestrians, people with restricted mobility, as well as cyclists on the five-minute journey across the river. A single fare, which is available on an Oyster card, is priced at £3.20. For those without an Oyster Card, a single adult journey costs £4.30, and a Frequent Flyer ticket for the cable car is priced at £16.

Earlier, mayor Boris Johnson, said, ‘Gliding serenely through the air across the Thames will provide a truly sublime, bird’s eye view of our wonderful city.

This innovative airborne travel link will be a vital component in the ongoing renaissance of a vibrant easterly quarter of the Capital, providing a much-needed river crossing.’

The cable car will provide a panoramic view of the Thames River to its passengers and will be an added attraction the additional 500,000 tourists who will be visiting from international destinations for the 2012 London Games commencing at the end of July this year.

Happy Vacations Begin with a Free Hotel Room

A recent survey conducted by Howard Johnson hotel brand, in collaboration with UK-based market research agency, Redshift Research, says that the happiest vacations commence with travellers receiving complimentary stays.

For a truly happy vacation, around 64 percent of respondents to the survey want their vacations to last for a week or more, and the majority of respondents wish to have family and friends along with them on vacation. Around 22 percent of people surveyed believe that to be able to disconnect from work makes them most happy on a vacation.

The Howard Johnson hotel brand has said that it will be offer complimentary hotel stays to guests, at random, at its 50 hotels.

Kevin McCabe, the senior director of marketing for Howard Johnson, said, ‘It’s always our goal to keep guests smiling and in good spirits whenever they’re able to stay with us-after all, that’s what vacation is all about. But on this, the happiest day of the year, we wanted to do something extra special. Travellers told us they want free rooms, so that’s what they’ll get.’

The survey also highlighted that getting sick on a holiday remains the biggest fear for travellers, followed by the stalling of travel plans due to bad weather and having to experience a bad hotel. Reinforcing the strong desire to disconnect from normal home life, of least concern is getting a call from the office.

Around 44 percent of respondents said that their favourite indulgence whilst on vacation is spending more money on food and holiday activities. Most holidaymakers felt that vacation starts on reaching the vacation destination, while some respondents, cited pulling out of their driveway at home, or even packing for a holiday, as when they consider their vacation to have begun.