Friday Briefing: Sbe’s Big Hospitality Acquisition, New Relief Fund for Tennessee Fires

SLS Beverly Hills

A big hospitality acquisition for sbe, a new relief fund for the Tennessee wildfires, Princess Cruises’ pollution fine and an earthquake in Peru are the travel industry headlines to watch today. 

Sbe Completes Acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group

In hotel news today, lifestyle hospitality brand sbe has closed on the acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group, expanding sbe's international footprint and more than doubling the number of hotels in sbe's portfolio. 

The deal brings Morgan’s Delano and Mondrian brands, as well as 13 domestic and international hotel management and franchise/licensing agreements, under the sbe umbrella. Sbe’s existing hotel brands include SLS hotels, The Redbury hotels, and Hyde hotels, and its restaurant brands include The Bazaar by José Andrés, Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz, Katsuya, Cleo, Umami Burger and Hyde Lounge. The deal also sees sbe taking direct ownership of the 194-room Delano Hotel in South Beach, the 878-room Hudson Hotel in New York City and the 372-room Clift Hotel in San Francisco.

Luxury Travel Advisor’s ULTRA Summit

May 21-23, 2019 | Reunion | Kissimmee, FL

This exclusive, invite-only event focused on the luxury travel market brings together world-class travel agency owners and managers with the most opulent, luxury suppliers to cultivate collaboration, share insights, and help carve a path into the future of luxury travel.

Looking ahead, sbe said it plans to open four more hotels in 2017: Mondrian Doha, Qatar; SLS Park Avenue New York; SLS Seattle; and Hyde Hotel and Residences, South Florida, with an additional nine hotels slated to open over the next two years. 

Gatlinburg Sets Up Relief Fund for TN Wildfires

In the wake of this week’s wildfires in Tennessee, 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 here or at

The death toll from the fires, which hit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the tourist towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, has risen to at least 11, according to ABC News

The Castle, a home overlooking Gatlinburg, as well as several churches and Cupid’s Chapel of Love wedding venue, are almost completely gone. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa is also likely entirely destroyed, although Dollywood, the theme park by country music star Dolly Parton, escaped significant damage and is scheduled to reopen today. 

How else to donate: 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

The American Red Cross is accepting donations at 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. 

Carnival Corp., Princess Fined $40 Million for Pollution

In cruise news, Carnival Corporation and Princess Cruises have been fined $40 million by the U.S. government for illegal dumping oily water into the ocean off the coast of England in 2013, The Miami Herald reports. Investigators also found that the incident was likely one of several in which the ship dumped polluted water, including off the shores of Texas, south Florida and the Eastern Seaboard

In a statement provided to Travel Agent yesterday, the cruise line said, “These and other actions, by some of our employees, not only broke our company policies, it violated environmental law.”

“The settlement agreement involves Princess Cruises paying a substantial fine and Carnival Corporation, our parent company, agreeing to have all ships from all brands participate in a mandatory Environmental Compliance Program, the details of which are included in the court filing documents,” Princess said. “We are extremely disappointed about the inexcusable actions of our employees. This settlement clearly shows that we fell short on our commitment to the environment, and for this we are very sorry and we take full responsibility.”


Earthquake Hits Peru

In South America, a strong, shallow earthquake struck Peru in the southern Andes Mountains near Lake Titicaca Thursday, ABC News reports. The earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, reportedly caused no injuries or serious damage. 

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