5 things to know: 7 November 2017
5 things to know: 7 November 2017
07 NOVEMBER 2017 10:43 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Politics may determine a hotel’s future
  • The current state of Ritz-Carlton Riyadh
  • Guest experience still drives decision-making, execs say
  • Asia/Pacific deals in Q3 led by Hong Kong
  • Watergate hotel pays homage to infamous room

Politics may determine a hotel’s future: As news swirls about the latest arrest of billionaire investor Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal over the weekend, Bloomberg reports that nowadays, politics may now be the common factor in determining the future of hotels.

In the report, Bloomberg lists six hotel companies that are currently in the mix of “shifting political winds globally,” ranging from arrests of key company players and the U.S. political landscape. Included are Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Trump Hotels and Marriott International, the report said.

“At the moment, there’s a perception around the world that the U.S. is a little less welcoming than it was in the past,” Bloomberg cites Arne Sorenson, Marriott CEO, saying in an interview last week in regards to business travelers heading to Canada in response to President Donald Trump.

The current state of Ritz-Carlton Riyadh: The six-year-old Ritz-Carlton Riyadh in Saudi Arabia had quickly become a host to billionaires, Saudi royal family members and heads of state, but now it has converted into “the world’s most luxurious prison,” reports the New York Times, after a series of arrests, including Prince Alwaleed.

The newspaper describes the hotel as a “gilded cage” with detainees allegedly being held captive on property. As of Monday, U.S. officials who are tracking the crackdown said that approximately 500 people had been “rounded up in the ongoing sweep.”

According to the New York Times, a statement from the hotel’s website said: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, the hotel’s internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected until further notice.”

Guest experience still drives decision-making, execs say: Whether it’s deciding on technology spend or homing in on demand drivers, owners and brand executives on a Lodging Conference panel agreed that it ultimately comes down to what guests want and when, writes HNN’s Stephanie Ricca.

“We are big believers in spending money if we think there’s going to be a return,” said Mike Medzigian, managing partner at Watermark Capital Partners. “This trend toward experiential travel is important and plays well to our industry over time. We’re putting more people in our lobbies. Will it be more profitable to spend more money on that? Maybe, but we have to do it or we’re going to lose customers to the Airbnbs of the world. I’m convinced we should be able to offer a better experience.”

Asia/Pacific deals in Q3 lead by Hong Kong: Hong Kong saw a number of hotel transactions during the third quarter with 11 deals executed totaling to about $1.5 billion in the third quarter, according to a JLL news release. That led the Asia/Pacific region for the quarter.

Both Japan and Thailand followed Hong Kong as the second and third-highest activity levels at $1.2 billion and $335 million in transactions. By the end of the year, the region is expected to accumulate $1.5 billion to $2 billion in deals, with a majority of that volume coming from Japan.

Watergate Hotel pays homage to infamous room: For the Watergate Hotel’s 50th anniversary this year, the hotel is transforming room 214 into the “Scandal Room,” reports Fox News. The room will reflect the fact that the room was used as a staging ground for the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Convention headquarters (which ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation) and the T.V. show “Scandal.”

Inside the room, guests can find newspaper clippings about the incident and the furniture will mimic that of what would have been in a political office in the ‘70s, such as a vintage typewriter and desk. Guests who don’t get a chance to book the room will still be able to take part in the history, Fox News reports. Key cards for the rooms will say “no need to break in,” stationary supplies in the rooms will read “I stole this from the Watergate Hotel” and guests will be able to listen to parts of Richard Nixon’s speeches. Room 214 starts at $800 per night.

Compiled by Dana Miller.

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