5 things to know: 13 February 2018
5 things to know: 13 February 2018
13 FEBRUARY 2018 10:33 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Owner of Riu Hotels charged in Miami corruption scandal
  • FEMA funding for displaced Puerto Ricans ending soon
  • The markets leading room openings around the world in 2018
  • Wynn Resorts board hires new law firm to investigate allegations
  • Saudi Ritz-Carlton Hotel reopens as a hotel

CEO of Riu Hotels charged in Miami corruption scandal: Luis Riu Guell, CEO of Spain’s Riu Hotels & Resorts, surrendered to Miami authorities before being let out after posting a $20,000 bond, the Miami Herald reports. He and Regional VP Alejandro Sanchez del Arco face charges for unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation for giving away free stays at Riu properties to Miami Beach building department employees in exchange for help on a renovation at its South Beach hotel.

The building department oversaw the permitting and inspections of the Riu Plaza Hotel during its renovation from October 2013 to June 2016, according to the article. The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office believes that in exchange for the free and discounted rooms at various Riu hotels, the building department helped with the permitting process and allowed the company to skirt fines.

“We are confident that our clients have committed no crime whatsoever,” said Riu’s and Sanchez’s defense attorney, Barry Wax.

FEMA funding for displaced Puerto Ricans ending soon: Thousands of Puerto Rican families are staying in hotels across the U.S. and Puerto Rico through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s transitional sheltering assistance program, the New York Times reports, but that funding will end by 20 March—or, for some families, as soon as tomorrow. The agency has already ended funding for families after officials determined their homes in Puerto Rico were inhabitable again.

“This is a bridge to other longer-term solutions,” William Booher, a FEMA spokesman, told the New York Times, adding that “survivors are responsible for their own recovery and to actively look for permanent housing solutions.”

The markets leading room openings around the world in 2018: In an analysis of pipeline data as of 31 December 2017, Hotel News Now staff broke down the top five global markets for room openings in 2018 in the U.S., the Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and the Middle East/Africa. Mekkah, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are leading the way with the most projected room openings with 19,209 and 18,804 rooms, respectively.

In the U.S., the New York market comes in first with 9,448, followed by Dallas’ 5,894 rooms and Houston’s 4,262. Denver has a projected 3,956 openings while Nashville, Tennessee, comes in at No. 5 with 3,587 openings.

Wynn Resorts board hires new law firm to investigate allegations: A special committee of the Wynn Resorts board of directors has hired a new law firm to investigate claims of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn, who has since stepped down from his role as chairman and CEO, reports The Wall Street Journal. The firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has a number of ties to Wynn Resorts, including its general counsel, who was formerly a partner at the firm, and another partner who actively represents board members and executives in ongoing litigation.

Wynn Resorts had hired another firm to perform the investigation, but it canceled the firm’s investigation days before hiring Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Wynn has previously said the idea of him assaulting a woman was “preposterous,” the newspaper reports.

Saudi Ritz-Carlton Hotel has reopened as a hotel: After three months of acting as a prison for “members of Saudi Arabia’s business and political elite,” the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has reopened as a hotel following the release of the detainees, Reuters reports.

Descriptions by guests and limited comments from hotel staff give the impression that the daily operations at the hotel have returned to normal, according to the article.

Compiled by Bryan Wroten. 

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