Briefs: Update on US business travel; Radisson Individuals’ first new build

US business travel revenue outlook: The hotel business travel revenue in the U.S. is projected to be 23% below the pre-pandemic levels this year, ending the year down over US$20 billion compared to 2019, according to a new report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs. The projection comes after hotels suffered a US$108 billion loss in business travel revenue during 2020 and 2021 combined. Although leisure travel is slated to return to pre-COVID levels this year, business travel — which includes corporate, group, government and other commercial categories — will take much longer to recover. The top 10 markets likely to end 2022 with the highest percentage declines are San Francisco, California; New York, New York; Washington, D.C. area; San Jose, California; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; Seattle, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

USTA on federal mask mandate decision: The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) hailed the decision of the Biden administration of not enforcing the federal mask mandate on public transportation and in transportation hubs, calling it a “step towards endemic management” of the pandemic. “The current decision to halt enforcement of the federal mask mandate effectively returns the choice of mask usage on planes and other forms of public transportation to travelers and travel industry workers, a further step toward endemic management of Covid,” the USTA said in a statement. The association also called for the immediate suspension of the pre-departure testing for vaccinated inbound international passengers, “which discourages travel and provides limited public health benefits.”

Rendering of the Cocoa Village Hotel

Radisson Individuals’ first new build: Radisson Hotel Group Americas announced the signing of The Cocoa Village Hotel, a Radisson Individuals property in Cocoa, Florida. Slated to open in 2023, this will be the brand’s first newly constructed hotel. The 107-key hotel will include a rooftop restaurant, lounge and meeting facility overlooking the Intercoastal Waterway. The hotel will also feature around 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

La Vie signs 3 Radissons in Sri Lanka: La Vie Hotels & Resorts, the Sydney-based independent hotel management company, has signed a deal with Radisson Hotel Group and Sino Lanka Group to operate three properties in Sri Lanka. The agreement will see the launch of an upper-upscale Radisson Blu resort near Galle and two upscale Radisson hotels in Colombo, one in the city center and the other in Kandy. All three properties, the 172-key Radisson Blu Resort, Galle; 158-key Radisson Hotel Colombo; and the 122-key Radisson Hotel Kandy are set to undergo refurbishments.

Island Hospitality promotes Forde: Island Hospitality Management, West Palm Beach, Florida, has promoted Gregg Forde to president and COO. In his new position, he will oversee the company’s daily operations and overall strategic vision. Forde has been associated with the group for almost two decades, joining as an area director of the company’s Silicon Valley hotels in 2003. He began his hospitality career on the front desk and in housekeeping with Marriott International.

Vici-MGM ready to close: Gaming and hotel REIT Vici Properties reported all closing conditions for its previously announced US$17.2 billion strategic acquisition of MGM Growth Properties, the listed gaming real estate investment trust, have been satisfied and is currently expected to close on before April 29.

TPG to manage Kimpton in Baltimore: TPG Hotels, Resorts & Marinas has been selected to manage the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland. The 202-key hotel includes more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space and the B&O American Brasserie Restaurant. The hotel, which opened in 2009 at a cost of around US$60 million, earlier housed the headquarters of the B&O Railroad. TPG’s current portfolio consists of more than 500 branded, independent, boutique hotels and marinas comprising over 65,000 rooms.

K2 Group grows in Niagara region: K2 Group, the Canadian privately held investment firm, has acquired Choice Hotel Canada’s Quality Inn & Suites in Niagara Falls, Ontario, marking the group’s fourth hotel in the region. The newly renovated 84-key hotel, with 1.82 acres of land, includes business and fitness centers, indoor swimming pool, four on-site restaurants and a hot tub.

Vivo Investment acquires in Baltimore: El Segundo, California-based Vivo Investment Group has acquired the 710-key dual-branded Holiday Inn and Radisson Hotel in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, with plans to convert the buildings into a multifamily community. The vacant hotel towers will be rebranded as Vivo Baltimore and will include studio, one- and two-bedroom units. Vivo plans to convert the hotel meeting space and ballrooms into co-working spaces, tenant lounge, private offices and a movie theater. Originally built in 1967 as a 23-story Statler-Hilton Hotel, the second 27-story tower was built in 1974. The hotels have operated under several brands, most recently as a Radisson and Holiday Inn. The Radisson remained closed during the pandemic, with the Holiday Inn staying partially open and finally closing this March.

Ashford announces Jeremy Walter’s departure of executive: Ashford Inc. has announced that its President and Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Welter will leave the company effective July 15. His position as COO of Ashford Hospitality Trust and Braemar Hotels & Resorts will also end on July 15.

Importance of sustainability labels: Sustainability labels, or eco badges, on products have become important for the tourism industry as travelers look for transparency from companies in terms of their environmental performance, revealed a poll by Global Data. As per the survey, about 75% of global consumers said the introduction of eco badges should be made compulsory. Around 57% of the respondents said they were ‘often’ or ‘always’ influenced by services or products that were trustworthy. As per GlobalData, these badges help tourism companies drive transparency, offer responsible alternatives to travelers and demonstrate effective environmental performance.

Olympia Hotel Management to operate in Denver: Olympia Hotel Management, a division of The Olympia Companies, will operate The Benson Hotel and Faculty Club, a new boutique hotel in the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado. The 106-room hotel developed by Denver, Colorado-based Aimco is named after Bruce Davey Benson, former president of the University of Colorado. All the rooms will feature four separate designs and the hotel will include a mix of suites and an entire floor of apartments with kitchens functioning as extended-stay units. The property is slated to open as a Preferred Hotel & Resorts hotel and will include a 100-seater restaurant and a 3,800 square-feet ballroom space. Aimco designed the hotel with Denver-based Tryba Architects and the construction is expected to be completed in 2023.