5 things to know: 8 March 2017
5 things to know: 8 March 2017
08 MARCH 2017 10:16 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • New report rebukes Airbnb deals with cities as unfair
  • Marriott’s 2020 plan eyes Europe expansion
  • Yotel plots growth, starting with three openings in 2017
  • Hilton touts milestone of 100,000-plus rooms in Europe, MEA
  • Waldorf interior, in midst of renovation, declared landmark

New report rebukes Airbnb deals with cities as unfair: Agreements that Airbnb has signed with 12 local governments in cities across the U.S. are raising questions, reports Fortune, based on a report underwritten by the American Hotel and Lodging Association that claims they give the sharing-economy provider an unfair advantage.

The 12 agreements studied in the AH&LA report are among hundreds that Airbnb is looking to sign with cities this year, according to the Fortune article.

The report, authored by former Montana state tax official Dan Bucks, claims that the deals “shield commercial hosts from audits and back tax obligations,” the article states.

Bucks also criticizes the deals as too secretive, and writes that they amount to “back-door policy making that can undermine the democratic process, and provide special treatment to Airbnb and its commercial allies,” Fortune reports.

Airbnb declined to comment on the specifics of the arrangements for the Fortune article, but provided a statement stating that “the company pays its taxes,” and “criticizing the hotel industry for undercutting Airbnb’s work with tax authorities,” according to the article.

Marriott’s 2020 plan eyes Europe expansion: Marriott International’s plans to grow its portfolio in Europe includes 4,000 opened or signed rooms for its Delta Hotels by Marriott brand and a tripling of the number of signed deals for the W Hotels brand by 2020, according to a news release.

The “planned expansion in Europe is the first development vision announced for the continent since the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in September 2016,” the release states.

The plan is to build on the success of 2016, in which the company “added 40,000 rooms in Europe with the Starwood acquisition alone, and achieved our long-term goal to triple in size, from 40,000 open rooms in 2010 to 134,000 open or signed rooms,” said Amy McPherson, president and managing director, Marriott International, Europe.

Yotel plots growth, starting with three openings in 2017: Midscale hotel brand Yotel, which has five open properties, is looking to diversify as it expands globally to major city centers, company executives told Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker.

Yotel’s growth plan starts with three property openings in 2017—in Boston, San Francisco and Singapore—which will add a total of 1,138 rooms to its portfolio.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us,” Yotel CEO Hubert Viriot said. “It is a year in which we’re completing the platform, building the team, recruiting management, introducing (standard operating procedures) and making sure budgets are met. We’ll have new eyes around the world, which will attract further investment.”

Hilton touts milestone of 100,000-plus rooms in Europe, MEA: During the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin this week, Hilton announced that it had surpassed 100,000 rooms across Europe, Middle East and Africa, according to a company news release.

In what the company touted as “a period of unprecedented global growth,” Hilton saw net unit growth in the region of more than 20,000 rooms over three years. It’s a trend that is expected to continue as the company looks to add nearly 40,000 rooms currently under construction by 2020, the release states.

For more out of IHIF, click here for a Day Two recap from HNN’s Jeff Higley and Terence Baker.

Waldorf interior, in midst of renovation, declared landmark: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee voted to declare several interior spaces inside the under-renovation Waldorf Astoria hotel as landmarks, according to a story by The Associated Press carried by The New York Times.

The Waldorf is currently closed for a major makeover by owner Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company that bought the hotel from Hilton for nearly $2 billion in 2015. The work will include converting hundreds of guestrooms into condominiums.

But landmark status assigned to two dozen interior spaces—parts of the first three floors of the 47-story building, including the grand ballroom and balconies—will mean any changes there must first be approved by the landmarks commission, according to the article.

Anbang praised the commission’s decision in a statement, saying the company “knows the Waldorf Astoria’s history is a large part of what makes the hotel unforgettable.”

The exterior of the hotel was given landmark status in 1993.

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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