5 things to know: 8 August 2018
5 things to know: 8 August 2018
08 AUGUST 2018 8:49 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Cobblestone Hotels acquires two brands
  • Natural disasters deal massive hit to tourism
  • Marriott execs head off concerns over pipeline, sales integration
  • MGM Resorts sells Illinois casino for $327.5 million
  • Asian hotels quick to adopt new tech

Cobblestone Hotels acquires two brands: Wisconsin-based Cobblestone Hotels announced in a news release it has acquired brands Key West Inns, Hotels, & Resorts and Centerstone Hotels. No price was disclosed in the deals.

With the acquisitions, Cobblestone’s portfolio grows to five brands with more than 120 properties in 25 states with more than 5,400 rooms. The company’s other brands are Cobblestone Hotels & Suites, Cobblestone Inn & Suites and Boarders Inn & Suites by Cobblestone Hotels.

According to the news release, the company now has surpassed its goal of 100 properties by the end of 2018, set by President, CEO and founder Brian Wogernese. Cobblestone has eight hotels in its construction pipeline and anticipates breaking ground on another four properties by the end of the year, the release states.

Natural disasters deal massive hit to tourism: During what is typically the busy tourist season for both, Indonesia’s resort island of Lombok and Hawaii’s Big Island have taken massive tourism hits due to natural disasters, according to news reports.

Following Sunday’s earthquake on Lombok, “any hotels still open are refusing guests out of safety concerns, while nearby restaurants and dive shops lie vacant in what is usually one of their busiest months of the year,” Reuters reports.

“We’ve had light earthquakes in the past, but never anything like this,” said Marcel De Rijk, owner of Lombok boutique hotel chain Puri Mas Resort. His beachside hotel and villas will remain closed for repairs until September.

“We’ve lost a lot of bookings, and future guests are in wait-and-see mode,” he told Reuters. “I don’t think people will choose Lombok anymore this summer.”

Meanwhile, eruptions from Kilauea Volcano could cost Hawaii $200 million in lost tourism revenue, reports the Star Advertiser.

An economic impact study by the Department of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo estimates the island drew 281,681 visitors in May and June. Based on growth trends, the study reports that number was expected to be 320,092.

Marriott execs head off concerns over pipeline, sales integration: On a call with analysts to discuss second-quarter earnings, Marriott International executives spent much of the time addressing questions about its “higher-than-normal deletion of rooms from its development pipeline and issues owners have shared regarding the sales integration of Marriott and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide,” writes Hotel News Now’s Bryan Wroten.

While opening a record 23,000 rooms during the quarter, Marriott also removed 14,000 rooms from its development pipeline, due to a lack of progress toward construction starts, President and CEO Arne Sorenson told analysts.

EVP and CFO Leeny Oberg said that though the pace of deletions (close to 2%) is higher than normal, it is expected to slow in 2019.

Sorenson also dismissed recently aired criticism from owners that the Marriott-Starwood integration has been detrimental to sales efforts at certain properties.

“You can look at a little less precise data, but you can look at RevPAR growth for the legacy Marriott hotels and the legacy Starwood hotels, because it’s interesting to note that the legacy Starwood hotels are posting RevPAR growth numbers that are comparable, if not even a little bit higher, than the legacy Marriott hotels,” he said.

“So all of that would say, there is nothing systemically that we see that would suggest the integration is sort of negatively impacting the system.”

MGM Resorts sells Illinois casino for $327.5 million: Together with its venture partner, a subsidiary of the company, MGM Resorts International has sold the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Illinois, to Eldorado Resorts for $327.5 million in cash, according to a news release. MGM Resorts’ share of the net proceeds, after transaction costs, is approximately $162 million.

According to the release, the company had acquired its 50% interest in the casino “in connection with its acquisition of Mandalay Resorts Group in 2005.”

Asian hotels quick to adopt new tech: Cutting-edge technology for which Asian hotels have been first adopters includes “self-parking slippers and furniture … able to return to their designated spots after use” in Japan, according to an article on JLL’s Real Views.

The article also calls out Malaysian hospitality firm Hatten Group for its “blockchain reward system,” which “allows members to collect tokens in exchange for hotel packages and stays.”

Part of why Asia leads the hotel industry in adoption of new tech is “in some respects, it is easier to trial and grow these concepts within Asia as new-build hotels can incorporate these products and concepts into the design at a very early stage,” said Andrew Langston, JLL’s EVP for the Asia-Pacific region.

But another big factor is that travelers in and from Asia increasingly expect and demand new tech, JLL concludes.

Compiled by Robert McCune.

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