5 things to know: 1 May 2017
5 things to know: 1 May 2017
01 MAY 2017 9:39 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • US government avoids shutdown … again
  • Anbang Insurance Group under new scrutiny
  • Hilton’s Nassetta plans company growth in Middle East/Africa
  • Hospitality Investors Trust refinances loans, closes deals
  • Malaysia opens its first halal-certified hotel

U.S. government avoids shutdown … again: After concerns of another federal government shutdown, members of the U.S. Congress managed to negotiate another spending package that will keep the government running through September, The Washington Post reports.

Congress will vote this week on the $1 trillion spending package, which includes $12.5 billion for new military spending, $1.5 billion for border security as well as $100 million to fight opioid addiction and increase in funding for energy and science programs previously on the cutting block.

Anbang Insurance Group under new scrutiny: China’s Anbang Insurance Group is threatening legal action after a Chinese economics weekly published an article that questioned the company’s financial stability, the New York Times reports. The article in Caixin Weekly claimed Anbang’s success was the result of “financial sleight of hand.”

The spotlight shone on the company comes at a time when the Chinese president has been pushing China’s banks, insurers and other financial companies to reduce excessive risk. The chief regulator of Chinese insurers is under investigation by party anticorruption investigators, according to the article.

The New York Times also noted the reporting by Caixin Weekly fell in line with the Times’ previous reporting on Anbang.

Hilton’s Nassetta plans company growth in Middle East/Africa: In an email interview with Hotel News Now’s Terence Baker, Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta discussed the company’s plans for more than doubling Hilton’s footprint in the Middle East/Africa from 130 hotels to 280 hotels over the next five years.

“We’re optimistic about continued growth in the region,” Nassetta told HNN during last week’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. “Our key areas for growth are likely to be in the Gulf Cooperation Council (countries), (and) we’re delighted to have seven new hotels opening in Egypt, which will complement our existing portfolio of 18 operating properties.”

Hospitality Investors Trust refinances loans, closes deals: Hospitality Investors Trust announced it refinanced two loans for a total of $1.2 billion and completed the purchase of seven hotels from Summit Hotel Properties for $66.8 million, according to a news release.

The seven hotels comprise 651 rooms and include such brands as Courtyard by Marriott, Homewood Suites and Staybridge Suites. The hotels are located in Germantown, Tennessee, and Ridgeland, Mississippi. Following this acquisition, the real estate investment trust now has 148 hotels with 17,844 rooms.

Malaysia opens its first halal-certified hotel: To take advantage of the growing number of Muslim travelers, the PNB Perdana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has become the country’s first halal-certified hotel, CNN Money reports. More than 60% of the country’s population is Muslim.

The hotel cooks food according to halal (meaning acceptable under Islamic Sharia law) requirements, CNN Money reports, and while non-Muslim guests can eat pork and drink alcohol in their guestrooms, the hotel staff performs a special cleaning process after these guests check out to make the room halal for the next guest. Male and female guests can both work out in the fitness center, but women have a dedicated timeslot available for them in the evenings. The hotel hired a Sharia law academic to train staff and deliver daily religious talks while making sure business operations are halal.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten.

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