Monday Briefing: Grand Princess Damaged, Marriott’s Post-Merger Luxury Plans

Today in the travel industry the damage to the Grand Princess, Marriott’s post-merger plans for its luxury brands and some major hotel updates in the Caribbean are the headlines to watch. 

Grand Princess Damaged, Modifies Itinerary

In cruise news, Cruise Critic reports that the Grand Princess has sustained damage to its hull due to a faulty tender platform, forcing the ship to end its cruise early for repairs. No injuries from the incident were reported. 

The ship was at sea after departing Maui, Hawaii, according to the Cruise Critic report, when a tender platform on the starboard side of the ship opened for reasons that are not yet known. Passengers onboard will receive a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare and an equal amount in future cruise credit. Additionally, Princess will fly passengers back to San Francisco, the itinerary’s original ending point, and provide overnight accommodations and transfers. The line also said it will protect travel agent commission. 

Update: The ship is scheduled to arrive back in Honolulu the afternoon of December 5, according to a statement from the line. The ship had been on day 10 of a 15 day cruise that left San Francisco on November 23. Following this cruise, Grand Princess will go into an already scheduled dry dock.

After Starwood Merger, What’s Next for Marriott’s Luxury Brands

At this year’s International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Cannes, Marriott International provided an update on what’s next for the company’s luxury brands following its merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts

The Marriott International Luxury Brands group now includes the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels brands, as well as The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, EDITION and JW Marriott. Looking ahead, Marriott International is scheduled to open nearly 30 luxury hotels in 2017 and has a total of 180 luxury hotels in its development pipeline, representing 20 new countries, from Iceland and Nepal to Cuba, the company said at this year’s event. 

“With luxury travel up nearly 50 percent over the past five years, we see a long runway for growth at the high-end,” said Tina Edmundson, global brand officer, Marriott International, in a written statement. 

For 2017, The Ritz-Carlton will have four scheduled debuts, including The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi and The Ritz-Carlton, Astana. St. Regis opened the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in early November and is slated to make debuts in five destinations in 2017, including Shanghai, Changsha and Cairo.

W Hotels recently opened the W Punta de Mita and W Las Vegas, while the W Goa is set to make its debut on December 12. All told, the brand has 33 hotels in the pipeline, with six anticipated openings in 2017, ranging from Tel Aviv and Panama City to Shanghai.

EDITION most recently premiered The Sanya EDITION on Hainan Island in Southern China, the brand's first hotel in Asia, and will debut additional properties in Bangkok and Barcelona by the end of 2017.

For The Luxury Collection, 2017 will see the opening of Hotel Inglaterra in Havana, Cuba, which will join the brand after a complete renovation. The Luxury Collection is set to debut in nine destinations next year, including California's Napa Valley, Singapore and Panama City.  

Finally, JW Marriott recently opened the JW Marriott Venice and JW Marriott Los Cabos, while 2017 will see the brand debut in Vietnam with the opening of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa. Additionally, JW Marriott will open JW Marriott parq Vancouver by the end of next year.

Two Exclusive Updates in the Caribbean

In other hotel news, over the weekend Travel Agent got two exclusive updates from the Caribbean. 

Bob Curley reports that, with the Over-the-Water Suites at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica, now open, Sandals Resorts International is looking to expand its Over-the-Water Suites to four new resorts. Plans call for the new suites to debut at three other Jamaica resorts and the Sandals Grande St. Lucian, starting with the Sandals Whitehouse next year. 

Travel Agent’s Senior Editor Joe Pike reports that Bonaire is about to get its first-ever U.S. branded hotel in the form of the Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire, a 140-room property that will be located less than a quarter mile from the island’s airport and five minutes from Downtown Kralendijk

Tennessee’s Eight Gables Inn Destroyed by Wildfire

Finally, Beachtree Properties, a nationwide collective of inns and small hotels across the United States, has announced that the eastern Tennessee wildfires have completely destroyed the Eight Gables Inn

During the weekend after Thanksgiving, strong winds suddenly pushed burning wildfires from the Great Smoky Mountains into Gatlinburg and nearby Pigeon Forge, destroying over 700 buildings in the area and leading to the evacuation of over 14,000 residents and visitors. Among the buildings destroyed was Eight Gables Inn, which was built in 1991 and was known as the longest running AAA Four-Diamond property in Tennessee, Beachtree Properties said in a written statement. 

For those looking to donate to relief efforts, 

the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce Foundation has established the Gatlinburg Relief Fund, which will directly benefit the families impacted by the fires.

The relief fund is being managed by SmartBank, an East Tennessee-based community bank with multiple branches in Sevier County. Anyone who would like to contribute to this fund may either drop off a monetary donation at a SmartBank location or by mailing the donation to PO Box 1910, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, 37868-1910. Checks should be made payable to “Gatlinburg Relief Fund.”

Additionally, the foundation is accepting online gifts at www.smartbank.com.

Dolly Parton has announced she is establishing a fund to help victims of the fire, the My People Fund, which will provide a $1,000 monthly payment to families in Sevier County who lost their homes. Donations to the My People Fund are being accepted at dollywoodfoundation.org.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations at redcross.org/donate. Donations can also be submitted by mail by printing the form here and mailing it to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, Iowa 50037-0839. Kroger supermarkets in eastern and middle Tennessee, northern Alabama and southern Kentucky have also partnered with the Red Cross to collect money and aid. 

Have a tip on major travel industry news, or an inspiring story you’d like to share? Reach out at [email protected]

And keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel industry news, trends and updates. 

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