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5 things to know: 14 December 2011
December 14 2011

• Sorenson named Marriott’s CEO;
• Italy’s tourism code misses the mark;
• euro hovering near 2011 low;
• big changes at Schulze’s West Paces; and
• demand on the rise for Brazil’s resorts.

Call it the end of an era. J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., will cede his role as CEO of Marriott International effective 31 March 2012. Current president and COO, Arne Sorenson, will assume the title.

Marriott has logged some 60 years of service with the company his father founded. Making the announcement Tuesday, he said, “I have been so fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented people in the world over the past six decades. It’s amazing to me what we have accomplished over the years together, from a small root beer stand in Washington, D.C., to a global lodging powerhouse with operations in more than 70 countries.”

The board also appointed Robert McCarthy, currently group president for the company, as Marriott’s COO.

Italy’s Code of Tourism largely has missed the mark, according to several hoteliers and association presidents, according to a story by correspondent Elena L. Pasquini. The Code was passed this year by the country’s previous government in an effort to streamline the bureaucratic hurdles that have long plagued the hotel industry. And while the legislation does represent progress in some areas, it still contains countless laws, rules and procedures that inhibit business.

The fundamental issue is that the central state and the regional administrations can both legislate on tourism. The Code now coexists with regional laws potentially in contrast with it. If the state says one thing and then the region says another, the hotelier is in a difficult position  because he doesn’t know who to listen to, said Filippo Donati, president of hotel association Asshotel.

For an overview of the Code’s major changes and its impact on Italy’s hotel industry, read “Italy’s Code of Tourism misses mark, hoteliers say.”

The euro hovered near its lowest levels of the year on Wednesday, as an Italian bond auction showed the bloom continuing to fade from Europe’s latest crisis-summit meeting and an economic report added to growing evidence that a recession is looming, reports The New York Times.

European leaders last Friday announced measures to shore up battered market confidence in the currency, trotting out stricter rules governing public finances in the eurozone and more money for a bailout fund. But confusion on just how and when the measures will be implemented and the European Central Bank’s refusal to increase bond-buying have left sentiment close to where it was before a brief burst of hope after the meeting.  

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Big changes were announced Wednesday at Horst Schulze’s West Paces Hotel Group. The manager of 14 luxury hotels throughout the world has changed its name to the Capella Hotel Group to capitalize on the successful luxury brand it has created in Capella hotels and its expanding global operations.

Additionally, the company has formed a strategic alliance with Stoneleigh Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm whose Stoneleigh WP Partners LLC will seek to co-invest with owners of hotel and resort properties that expand the Capella and Solis brands.

Capella indicated its outlook for the luxury hotel business is strong over the next few years with Asian high net-worth travelers expected to provide great growth. “We will attract those travelers with the best hotels in the world. And because our offering has been created for the luxury traveler, we are not affected by typical economic cycles," Capella’s COO Robert Warman said.

Brazil’s rapid pace of economic growth is translating into rising demand for the country’s resorts, according to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. During the first half of 2011, occupancy rose 10% over the prior year period, signifying the highest growth recorded in Brazil’s resort sector since 2009.

 “The resort sector has faced many challenges in recent years: the bankruptcy of Brazil’s national airline in 2006; the decline of key European markets in 2009; increased competition from cruise lines; and the rising value of the local currency, making international travel more appealing for Brazilian,” Ricardo Mader, executive VP for JLLH in São Paulo, said in a news release. “Now, the sector is poised for real transformation and growth, as economic decentralization and increases in average income enable many Brazilians to stay at a resort for the first time.”

Brazil’s sustained economic growth also is leading to a significant increase in demand for corporate travel to resorts. “A general expansion in business activity and a sharp increase in the pricing of traditional urban hotels are factors causing an increased number of Brazilian associations to hold annual meetings and conventions at resort hotels, providing a considerable lift to the segment. To accommodate this growing demand, we’re seeing existing resorts expanding their meeting space or room count,” Mader added.

Compiled by Patrick Mayock.


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