Labor Day travel demand up: Travel demand in the U.S. for the Labor Day holiday weekend is likely to return to pre-pandemic figures and set new records in some cases, according to travel companies. Travel demand across the country has stayed high for the last summer holiday weekend as many are trying to add in one more trip, despite increased airfares and ongoing disruptions to flights. As per travel booking app Hopper, the Labor Day weekend may be tied with Memorial Day weekend as the busiest travel weekend of summer with flight bookings expected to match the May holiday bookings, helping it to exceed travel volumes during the Fourth of July weekend. Domestic flight fares are slated to be 20% higher than in the same period in 2019 and 2021. As per Adobe Analytics, travel spending during the Labor Day holiday rose 17% compared with 2019 levels. The total number of nights booked on short-term rental platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb increased by more than 16% and touched 1.76 million nights this Labor Day weekend as against pre-COVID levels. Average price for a domestic hotel also increased 32% compared with 2019 and rose 6% compared to 2021 levels.
Jupiter Hotels grows in Scotland: Thai-based S Hotels and Resorts, owner of Jupiter Hotels, has completed the acquisition of the long leasehold on the 76-room Mercure Perth Hotel in Perth, Scotland, off a guide price of £2.25 million (US$2.62 million) from an undisclosed seller, according to Savills. The property has an unexpired long leasehold term of 46 years. Jupiter Hotels will now refurbish the guest rooms and public areas.
US$235M loan for Stanly Ranch: Newmark, on behalf of Mandrake Capital Partners and Nichols Partnership, has arranged the US$235 million financing of Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, a flagship luxury resort in Napa Valley, California, with 135 cottage-style suites. Mack provided the loan. The financing also capitalized on constructing 40 for-sale residential villas.
Hilton grows luxury in Asia Pac: With the signing of Waldorf Astoria Xi’an, Waldorf Astoria Shanghai Qiantan, Waldorf Astoria Kuala Lumpur, Waldorf Astoria Sydney, Conrad Nagoya and an LXR Hotels & Resorts property in Bali, Hilton’s pipeline of luxury hotels in the region increases to 20. When these hotels open in the coming years, the luxury portfolio will reach more than 50 hotels across Asia Pacific. The signings of Waldorf Astoria in Xi’an and Shanghai Qiantan put the brand on track to double its portfolio in China to eight.
South Korea to scrap pre-travel testing norms: Aligning with many more countries lifting the COVID testing requirement, South Korea will scrap its existing pre-travel COVID-19 testing mandate for inbound travelers from next week. Effective September 3, nationals or foreigners entering the country by plane or ship need not show proof of a negative PCR test. However, as a “minimum measure” to curb the inflow and spread of variants from other countries, travelers will still be required to take a PCR test within the first 24 months of their arrival in South Korea. Inbound travelers are currently required to submit a negative test result within 48 hours of their PCR tests or within 24 hours of their rapid antigen tests.
UK market update: Hotel performance in the U.K. continues to grow at a continuous pace of ADR mostly influenced by the rising inflation but also driven by strong pent-up demand, enabling hoteliers to increase rates further, according to the latest report by Horwath HTL. High-end leisure has been significant in boosting 12-month ADR, while the return of large-scale events has also helped recovery in urban locations. The leisure market is projected to remain strong this year, with corporate travel also picking up fueled by a return to the office. London saw an impressive recovery in occupancy and recorded the highest occupancy levels in recent months, with occupancy in July surpassing the 80% mark. Flights to and from New York and Dubai to London Heathrow were the two busiest, indicating the return of the major long-haul source markets. However, growth has been erratic across the submarkets as London’s surrounding areas rebounded quicker than central London. The year began with strong transactional volumes, with European Q1 touching €3.54 billion (US$4.13 billion) of which 47% took place in the U.K. market. In the U.K., 75% of all the transactions took place in regional U.K., highlighting perceived value outside London and confidence in the domestic market.