Revel, a $2.4-billion sprawling beachfront resort, marks its “preview opening” Monday, providing hope that Atlantic City can become more of a Las Vegas-type destination and overcome challenges from nearby gaming venues that have diminished the city’s tourism and revenue prospects, writes HotelNewsNow.com contributor Harvey Chipkin.
Revel will hold its grand opening 25 May, with the first performance by Beyoncé since her first child was born earlier this year. All of the hotel’s 1,898 rooms and many of its facilities are available Monday, but more restaurants and other facilities will open during the next eight weeks.
Joe Lupo, senior VP of operations for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which raised the luxury bar in Atlantic City when it opened in 2003, said Revel will speed Atlantic City’s goal to shift from a gaming town to a destination resort town. “The Las Vegas-style approach of the 1990s and early 2000s, which we helped bring from Las Vegas, has shown that Atlantic City can be a resort destination. The city used to be 90% to 10% gaming revenues to non-gaming revenues; that has come down to 80% to 20% and we want to get to 65% to 35%.”
Visa account holders from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil continued to increase spend on international travel-related purchases from 2010 to 2011, building momentum toward pre-recession levels, according to VisaVue Travel data:
U.S.: Visa account holders from Brazil increased spend on travel to the U.S. by 41%, from $1.9 billion in 2010 to $2.7 billion in 2011, edging out the United Kingdom as the second highest total contributor to U.S. tourism revenue. Visa account holders from China increased travel spend within the U.S. by 61%.
Canada: While Visa account holders from the U.S. ($3.5 billion), France ($351 million) and the U.K. ($348 million) remained the top three contributors to Canadian tourism, Visa account holders from China had one of the most significant increases with a 41% increase year over year, from $229 million in 2010 to $321 million in 2011.
Mexico: Visa account holders increased spending in Mexico by 6% in 2011. While Russian account holders increased travel spending in Mexico by 73%, travelers from South America also showed more interest in Mexico with Argentina (+58%), Brazil (+56%), Peru (+30%) and Colombia (+30%) following Russia with the greatest increases in travel spend to Mexico in 2011.
Brazil: While the U.S. remains the top destination of choice for Visa account holders from Brazil, most European nations recognized double-digit increases in travel spend by Brazilian Visa account holders in 2011. Spending by Brazilian Visa account holders increased by 30% in France, 44% in Italy and 41% in the U.K.
Expedia on Friday accused Google of breaching European Union rules with a formal complaint to EU antitrust regulators as it joined a dozen other firms that have taken their case to the European Commission in the last two years, according to a Reuters report.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said earlier this week that he would decide after Easter whether to formally charge Google or drop the investigation. Expedia said it had details of specific business and search practices by Google that violated EU competition and consumer protection laws.
"The complaint offers evidence of how Google's conduct harms not only competition, but consumers," Brent Thompson, senior VP of government affairs, said in a statement.
"Expedia believes that strong action is needed by the European Commission to restore a fair and competitive marketplace in online search that respects consumers' rights," he said.
The downward trend continues in France, according to Deloitte’s February “French Hotel Industry Performances” report.
In regional France, the impact of the recession on hotels was evident in the relatively low occupancy rates recorded (less than 50% for midscale to luxury hotels). In the luxury segment, the significant drops in occupancy strongly affected rooms revenue (-7%). Revenue-per-available-room declines were less pronounced in the budget and super-budget categories, given solid average rates.
Paris was the exception, since a drop in demand was not experienced in the budget to upscale categories. However, the capital’s luxury hotels, which got off to a flying start at the beginning of the year, began to lose steam in February, recording a combined drop in occupancy and average rates.
The age of fixed hotel leases is over, said Claus-Dieter Jandel. And he couldn’t be happier, reports HotelNewsNow.com’s Patrick Mayock.
“The fixed lease contracts in the past were not fair, in our opinion,” he said, speaking on behalf of Steigenberger Hotel Group, at which he serves as executive VP and chief development officer.
Executives at Accor shared a similar opinion. “We will not do fixed leases,” said Renaud Jezequel, the company’s senior VP of mergers and acquisitions and real-estate transactions.
Jezequel and Dieter were two of four panelists who discussed the ins and outs of fair lease contracts during last month’s International Hotel Investment Forum.
Compiled by Stephanie Wharton.