5 things to know: 21 April 2017
5 things to know: 21 April 2017
21 APRIL 2017 9:40 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Baha Mar celebrates opening of phase one
  • US Customs cracks down on Global Entry program
  • Developer transforms brownfield into eco-friendly hotel
  • Paris shootings could have effect on French election
  • US hotel performance for week ending 15 April, Q1 2017

Baha Mar celebrates opening of phase one: Officials were set to cut the ribbon this morning on phase one of the Baha Mar resort complex in Nassau, Bahamas, marking an end to years of delays for the project, which broke ground in February 2011. The Bahamas Weekly reports that opening-week celebrations were to culminate today with a spectacle including a dramatic fountain display. 

The first phase of the opening includes, according to Travel Weekly, “the 1,800-room Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, its 100,000-square-foot casino, its arcade of high-end retailers and a handful of the 40 restaurants and bars that is serving the estimated 800 people Baha Mar was hosting on Thursday.”

The birth of the $4.2-billion development of Baha Mar began in the early 2000s and has been billed as an economic driver for the Bahamas, with anticipation that the country’s gross domestic product could increase by 12%. However, these expectations have gone substantially unfilled as the resort missed multiple opening dates. For more on the resort’s troubled development trek, see Hotel News Now’s Baha Mar timeline.

During celebrations Thursday, Graeme Davis, president of Baha Mar, said, “It’s important to take a moment to celebrate the hard, passionate work and determination the entire Baha Mar team has dedicated to (the opening’s) success.”

U.S. Customs cracks down on Global Entry program: U.S. Customs and Border Protection has revoked the enrollment of people into the Global Entry program, as part of President Donald Trump’s imposed travel ban, according to a Bloomberg report.

Dozens of complaints from those who were removed from “trust traveler” memberships “were U.S. citizens originally from countries not included in the bans: India, Lebanon and Pakistan … And some had their Global Entry Status revoked before the bans were announced,” Bloomberg reports.

Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he was “fairly certain” the government decided to revoke the status of already enrolled members based on their “Muslim-sounding” names. Customs and Border Protection stated that allegation was “completely false.” Ayoub’s group filed a lawsuit 18 April, claiming the CBP has not yet provided requested records, the agency said.

Developer transforms brownfield into eco-friendly hotel: As Hotel News Now celebrates Earth Day a day early, reporter Danielle Hess writes on the process in which some hotels are built on Environmental Protection Agency-certified brownfields, which are pieces of land that have contaminated soils.

Bruce Collins, director of Development at OTO Development—the company that developed the Residence Inn Gainesville I-75 in Gainesville, Florida, on a brownfield—said that particular project faced challenges.

“Prior use of the property—as a thermometer manufacturing facility and an automotive repair facility—contributed to its designation as a brownfield,” Collins said. “When contaminated soils are discovered and must be disturbed, the local environmental agency is tasked with establishing the specific procedures for disposal. You cannot simply take the dirt away for someone to use elsewhere; it must be disposed of at a regulated facility that can mitigate the contamination.”

Paris shooting could have effect on French election: U.S. President Donald Trump anticipates that the Thursday night shooting on Paris’ Champs Elysées, which killed one police officer and injured two others, “will have a big effect on (the) presidential election” in France, for which voting will begin on Sunday, according to a Politico report.

Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to write, “Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!”

Emmanuel Macron, a center-left candidate, said after the shooting that “to preside is to protect.” Macron is one of three front-runners for the French presidency, along with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and conservative candidate François Fillon.

U.S. hotel performance for week ending 15 April: The U.S. hotel industry reported negative performance during the week of 9-15 April, according to STR, Hotel News Now’s parent company. Occupancy dropped 4.6% to 64.3%, average daily rate decreased 0.2% to $123.41 and revenue per available room also sank 4.8% to $79.33.

Among the top 25 markets, New Orleans reported the largest dip in ADR (-21.2% to $132.49), and six other markets reported a double-digit drop ADR.

STR also reported U.S. hotel performance for the first quarter of 2017. Occupancy increased 0.9% to 61.1%, ADR rose 2.5% to $124.27 and RevPAR was up 3.4% to $75.92.

“This was the strongest first quarter on record in each of the performance metrics, but it is important to note that results were boosted by a favorable Easter calendar shift (March 2016 to April 2017) as well as the Presidential Inauguration and Women’s March in January,” said Bobby Bowers, STR’s senior VP of operations.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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