2014: The year's biggest Hotel Management Network stories

Marriott International revealed plans to reach more than 150 hotels across 16 African countries between 2014 and 2020, while Hilton Worldwide began operations at the new Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center. Hotelmanagement-network.com wraps- up the key headlines from 2014.


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Marriott aims to take Africa hotel tally to over 150 by 2020

Marriott International revealed plans to operate more than 150 hotels across 16 African countries between 2014 and 2020.

Prior to the company's acquisition of South Africa's Protea Hotel Group in April, Marriott International had a base of 14 hotels and 10,000 employees in Africa.

The acquisition added 116 managed and franchised hotels to Marriott's portfolio.

Hilton opens Istanbul's largest hotel

hilton-1Hilton Worldwide began operations at the new Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center, which is said to be Istanbul's largest hotel to date.

The new hotel, which has 829 guest rooms and suites, as well as 12,000m² of event space, has 34 floors and is designed by GA Design of London.

Hilton Istanbul Bomonti is located beside a new shopping and entertainment destination being created at the Bomonti Beer Factory site.

Ashford acquires Sofitel Chicago Water Tower for $153m

ashford-1Ashford Hospitality signed a definitive agreement to acquire the four-star hotel Sofitel Chicago Water Tower in the US for $153m.

Situated on the Gold Coast submarket of Chicago, Illinois, the four-star hotel features 415 rooms, over 10,000ft² of meeting space and will be managed by Sofitel.

Sofitel Chicago Water Tower's 415 rooms include 32 suites and one presidential suite, all of which feature Sofitel's luxurious feathertop and duvet sleep system SoBed, while its 10,000ft² of meeting space includes a 4,592ft² ballroom, eight meeting rooms and a private dining room with an open kitchen.

Starwood Hotels to open more than 60 new hotels in Europe by 2020

starwood-1Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, an American hotel and leisure company, announced plans to expand its European hotel portfolio by nearly 40% with the opening of more than 60 new hotels by 2020.

In 2014, Starwood Hotels will open nine new hotels in Turkey, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The company has also announced the signing of a deal to open the Sheraton Istanbul Atasehir Hotel, its seventh Sheraton property in Turkey, in 2014.

Concord Hospitality sells 13 US hotels for $240m

Raleigh-based Concord Hospitality Enterprises sold a portfolio of 13 premium-branded hotels a global investment fund for $240m.

The overall portfolio is comprised of a total of 1,650 rooms representing 11 Marriott and two Hilton-branded hotels.

The all-cash transaction also includes a long-term management agreement with Concord's hotel management team to continue operating the properties.

Hard Rock International to open its first European hotel in Spain

Hard Rock International (HRI) opened its first European hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, in Spain.

The 493-room property is located on the island of Ibiza, offering amenities such as: Rock Spa, Roxity Kids Club, The Sound of Your Stay, Rock Suite Legend, Rock Star Suite, and Sublimotion.

Additional dining options include The Beach Club; Estado Puro; Sessions; 3rd Half, a sports bar and lounge; and The Ninth Sky Lounge, a rooftop sky lounge featuring panoramic views over the Mediterranean coastline.

Expedia to acquire hotel booking website Wotif for $658m

Expedia agreed to acquire Australian hotel booking website Wotif.com and its other businesses for A$703m ($658m).

Wotif Group operates online travel brands in the Asia-Pacific region including Wotif.com, lastminute.com.au, travel.com.au, LateStays.com, and GoDo.com.au.

Under the deal, Expedia Group will pay A$3.06 ($2.8) per share to acquire all of the Wotif Group as the US-based company widens its exposure to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific travel market.

Average price for hotel room up by 4% globally

The average price paid for a hotel room globally increased by 4% during the first six months of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013.

According to the latest Hotels Price Index report based on bookings made through Hotels.com, the overall economic recovery gathered greater momentum, particularly in Europe, with consumers becoming more confident in increasing their travel spending.

The global Hotel Price Index stood at 115 at the end of the first six months of 2014, 15 points higher than at its launch in 2004 and now only four points off its all-time high of 119 set in the first half of 2007.

London hotel introduces Harry Potter-theme rooms

The Georgian House Hotel in central London introduced Harry Potter-style gothic rooms based on the film franchise.

The hotel has converted two of its rooms into 'Wizard Chambers' housing 'Muggle-size' four-poster wooden beds with velvet canopies, trunks, cauldrons, spell books, potion bottles and other 'wizardly details'.

The whole package includes a tour of London around the various filming locations of the Harry Potter series. Guests can also get to the nearby Victoria Coach Station for the special Harry Potter tour bus going to the Warner Brothers Studio in Leavesden, on the fringes of Watford, where the film series was filmed. Visitors can also get to see actual costumes, props, and sets such as The Ministry of Magic, Diagon Alley and The Burrow.

Hotels to reach highest occupancy in 2015 since 1984, says PwC US

Hotel room rate gains were predicted to speed-up in 2015 as the industry reaches its highest occupancy level since 1984, according to a new lodging forecast by PwC US.

PwC US said in the first nine months of 2014 group demand outpaced the individual transient segment.

The company expects the increased momentum of group demand growth to continue in the fourth quarter of 2014, and into 2015.

Two hotel industry groups file lawsuit against city of Los Angeles

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles, arguing against an ordinance that attempts to exercise power beyond the limits of the city's authority.

Filed in the federal United States District Court for the Central District of California, the lawsuit seeks to prevent the city from enforcing its provisions on the grounds that it disrupts the relationship between labour and employers established by US Congress.

AH&LA president and CEO Katherine Lugar said: "Our workers are the backbone of every hotel. We are proud of the opportunities we provide to the hard-working men and women in the hotel sector that enable countless individuals to climb the ladder of opportunity and build life-long careers.