5 things to know: 5 January 2017
5 things to know: 5 January 2017
05 JANUARY 2017 10:02 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • UK economy rose to 17-month high in December
  • Hoteliers see growth in Europe/MEA currency wobbles
  • Loews Don CeSar gets new owner, manager
  • UK household debt passes pre-crash high for first time
  • Waldorf goes down for renovations 1 March

U.K. economy rose to 17-month high in December: The Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply Purchasing Managers’ Index for the United Kingdom's services sector rose to a 17-month high of 56.2 in December, according to a news release. It is the fifth month in a row, the report said, in which the index had been above 50%.

Chris Williamson, IHS Markit’s chief business economist, said “collectively, the PMI surveys point to the (U.K.) economy growing by 0.5% in the fourth quarter, even though companies faced some of the fastest-rising costs of the past five years.” The report added that due to those fast-rising costs, “service providers raised their own charges at the fastest rate since April 2011.”

Hoteliers see growth in Europe/MEA currency wobbles: Despite wobbles in China’s economy and the shock that was Brexit in the U.K. and European Union, those in the European and Middle Eastern hotel industry are not overly worried by currency fluctuations and other monetary forces at place, according to comments made in a Hotel News Now roundtable.

An increasingly globalized hotel industry allows hotel companies to weather the storm in any one market by the success in others, and there seems to be no end in terms of travelers’ desires to travel, according to the experts. Philip Wooller, area director, Middle East and Africa, at STR, HNN’s parent company, underlined the general mood of optimism, saying “Brexit will probably displace some of the demand in MEA to lower cost options, but it won’t make the world stop.”

New owner, manager for Loews Don CeSar Hotel: Host Hotels & Resorts purchased the Loews Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, Florida, from majority owner Prudential Insurance for an undisclosed price, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Davidson Hotels & Resorts will take over management of the historic 277-room property from Loews Hotels, which had managed it under Prudential Insurance’s ownership and held a 20-percent ownership stake. Prudential and Loews acquired the hotel in 2003.

U.K. household debt passes pre-crash high for first time: Statistics from the Bank of England show that household debt in the U.K. has for the first time risen above that seen before the financial crash, according to a Bank of England news release.

U.K. debt, which obviously affects the amount of discretionary spending available for hotels, increased by 10.8% year over year in November to £192.2 billion ($236.7 billion), which is the highest it has been since December 2008, or a little more than $3,000 ($3,695) per person based on a total population of approximately 64 million.

Waldorf goes down for renovations beginning 1 March: This March, New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria New York will finally shut down for at least two years of renovations, prompted in part by the hotel’s 2014 sale from Hilton Worldwide Holdings to Chinese insurance company Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. This week, USA Today is sharing photos of the iconic property before it closes for renovations.

When the property emerges on the other side, it may look very different, in addition to the necessary technology enhancements. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Anbang would convert most of the hotel’s 1,400-plus guestrooms into luxury condominiums, leaving as few as 300 hotel rooms.

Compiled by Terence Baker.

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