5 things to know: 26 February 2018
5 things to know: 26 February 2018
26 FEBRUARY 2018 10:39 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Sale of Anbang’s US hotels under consideration
  • Hotel companies caught up in #BoycottNRA campaign*
  • How luxury hotel operators preserve fine dining
  • UKHospitality launches as voice for hospitality sector
  • Fight over Trump Panama management continues

Sale of Anbang’s U.S. hotels under consideration: China’s insurance regulatory agency seized control of Anbang Insurance Group last week and is now considering offers for U.S. luxury hotels that were owned by the group, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Chinese authorities now own Anbang’s U.S. portfolio, which includes the Waldorf Astoria in New York City; the Essex House Hotel in Manhattan; Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Austin, Texas, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and InterContinental Hotels in Chicago and Miami..

The newspaper reports that Anbang plans to “hold on to the Waldorf, continuing with the insurer’s plan to convert more than 1,000 of the hotel’s 1,400 guestrooms into condominiums, according to people briefed on the matter.”

Hilton signed a 100-year management agreement for the Waldorf Astoria in 2015, and when HNN reached out for comment on how news related to Anbang affects the property,  a Hilton spokesman shared a statement that says: “Work to restore the Waldorf Astoria New York is well underway and proceeding to plan. We are confident that the hotel will return as a focal point for New York City and a premier global destination.”*

New China Life Insurance Co., which is an investor in Starwood Capital Group, was also found to be in violation of investment rules by Chinese authorities, Bloomberg reports.

The company has a month to “correct” breaches, according to Bloomberg.

Hotel companies caught up in #BoycottNRA campaign*: A social media #BoycottNRA campaign has drawn attention to two hotel companies, which officials say is misguided and misinformed.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Best Western Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Hotel Group’s loyalty program Wyndham Rewards were among companies that posted to their official Twitter accounts on Friday that they are no longer affiliated with the NRA. The newspaper tied this announcement to “outrage ... over the shooting that left 14 students and three adults dead at a Florida high school this month,” adding that savings on hotels and travel are among the benefits the NRA has pitched to prospective members.

But, according to statements provided to Hotel News Now from both hotel companies, the disaffiliation with the NRA does not coincide with recent events and is not tied to politics or any stance by the companies. 

According to the statement from Best Western, "the NRA contract expired in 2014. The decision to end our marketing affiliation with the NRA and other companies was for business and not political reasons. The fact is, during a standard business review several years ago, the brand decided to let certain marketing contracts expire.

"Best Western is a diverse global organization with over 4,000 hotels. We value the entrepreneurship, independence and freedom of our individual hotel owners and operators. As a brand, our organization is apolitical and is not a member of any political organization because we respect diversity in opinion, which ultimately strengthens our organization and our respective countries. Unfortunately, the media has misrepresented that the brand recently adopted a position as it relates to the NRA and is continuing to fuel the story and the misrepresentation," the statement said.

A statement from Wyndham noted that its relationship with the NRA ended late last year, and offered no other details.

How luxury hotel operators preserve fine dining: To keep revenue flowing in from food-and-beverage, luxury hotel operators focus on maintaining standards and bringing in non-hotel guests, Hotel News Now’s Danielle Hess reports.

Yvonne Cheung, director of restaurants at The Upper House in Hong Kong, said much of the business at the hotel’s Café Gray Deluxe comes from locals and people not staying at the hotel.

“We are in our ninth year of operation at the Café Gray Deluxe, and we are so grateful for the amazing loyalty of so many of our regulars,” she said. “Loyalty goes both ways, so we are mindful that word of mouth is always powerful. While we may not recognize first-time visitors, we want them to feel as special as our guests who have come one hundred times.”

UKHospitality launches as voice for hospitality sector: The British Hospitality Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers announced support for the creation of UKHospitalty, an organization that will serve as a voice for the U.K. hotel and hospitality sector, according to a news release.

CEO Kate Nicholls will lead UKHospitality’s board as Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, steps down after eight years with the organization.

Fight over Trump Panama management continues: Majority owner of the Trump Panama hotel, Miami-based investor Orestes Fintiklis, claims that the Trump Organization misled the staff at his hotel, CNN reports.

The news organization reports this is “the latest twist in a four-month battle” between Fintiklis and the Trump Organization to remove the brand name and end the management agreement for the property.

Fintiklis claims he was denied entry into the hotel’s administrative offices, and has said that the hotel is losing market share and has seen a decline in occupancy under the Trump flag.

Compiled by Danielle Hess.

* Clarification, 26 February 2018: This item has been edited to include statements from Best Western Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Hotel Group. 

* Clarification, 26 February 2018: This item has been edited to include a statement from a Hilton spokesman. 

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