Hotel real estate investment trust Ashford Hospitality Prime is embroiled in a proxy fight for control of its board with shareholder Sessa Capital, which owns about 8.2 percent of the trust. Sessa representatives have been vocal regarding their disapproval of Ashford Prime’s relationship with its advisory company, Ashford Inc., over governance and conflicts of interest. Ashford Prime and Ashford Inc. share much of their management, including chairman and CEO Monty Bennet. To read more, click here.
The Chinese markets might be all over the place, but the country’s GDP is still forecast to grow about 7 percent, which is on track with Beijing’s target of 6.5 percent GDP growth through 2020. While China’s full GDP report will be released at 9 p.m. today, a sure bright spot will be the tourism sector, which saw a 42 percent increase in investment (for a total of $152 billion in 2015) over the previous year, according to China’s National Tourism Administration. It estimates that tourism investment in China will surpass $455 billion in the next three years. This is good news for hotels since, according to China’s Tourism Administration, Chinese citizens made over 4 billion domestic trips and 120 million trips overseas. A new GfK study revealed that China produced 109 million outbound tourists last year, and they spent $229 billion. According to GfK, half of China’s outbound travelers are ages 15-29 years old while 37 percent fall into the 30-44 age group and 10 percent are 45-59. Read more here.
The famed Ahwahnee Hotel and other Yosemite National Park landmarks will be renamed amid a legal dispute between the National Park Service and Yosemite’s outgoing concessionaire, DNC Parks & Resorts, the Los Angeles Times reports. DNC seeks more than $50 million for the rights to the original names, the article states. In response, the National Park Service will rename several buildings and facilities within the park to eliminate potential trademark infringement issues for Aramark, which will take over operations on March 1. To read more, click here.
Through most of the economic recovery, wage growth has hovered around 2 percent annually. But in the last few months, it has started to tick up. It hit 2.5 percent in December, thanks largely to the 5 percent unemployment rate (on average 284,000 jobs were added to U.S. payrolls in the last three months of 2015). While the external factor that will continue to have the greatest influence on labor costs this year is the continuing decline in the national unemployment rate, the lodging industry for one has slowed down turnover rates and retained good labor by providing significant opportunities for upward mobility, according to a new WageWatch study published in partnership with AH&LA. The study found that people who started their careers in the lodging industry tend to stay, finding new opportunities and high job satisfaction. According to the report, half or more of corporate executives began their hotel career in hourly entry-level positions and more than half of hotel general managers did the same. Click here to read more.
After 18 years as founding group president and CEO of the Jumeirah Group, a member of Dubai Holding, Gerald Lawless will be transitioning to a new position within Dubai’s Holding Corporate Office. He will remain chancellor at the Emirites Academy of Hospitality Management. He is succeeded by Stefan Leser, who has been appointed group chief executive, effective Feb. 1. He joins the company from Swiss Travel Business Kuoni.
Here is a look at more notable comings and goings that have taken place this week:
Tim Bugas has been named director of sales and marketing for Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He has more than 25 years of leadership experience in sales and marketing.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar has welcomed Greg Garnitschnig back as director of sales and marketing after a two-year departure, during which he founded Hotel Sales Solutions, a South Florida-based sales and marketing company specializing in luxury hotels and resorts.
Pendry Hotels, the new brand established by Montage Hotels & Resorts, has appointed Michael O’Donohue as general manager of their first hotel, Pendry San Diego, set to open in late 2016.
T.G.I .Fridays, which completed a 175-location re-franchising program in October, has selected a franchising executive from Hilton Worldwide, Robert Palleschi, as its new CEO. He replaces former CEO Nick Shepherd, who resigned in October.
Destination Hotels has announced the appointment of Andrew Arthurs as senior vice president and chief information officer for Destination Hotels and Lowe Enterprises. Arthurs has more than 15 years of technology experience and the hospitality industry.
Karl Schorman has been named director of HVS Executive Search, Europe, the world’s leading hospitality consulting and services organization. He will be based in London.
InterContinental Hotels Group has named Michael Torres vice president of corporate communications, the Americas. Torres will manage internal and external corporate communications, including employee/organization, crisis/issues management, strategic messaging, marketing communications and media relations.
Diane Hardy has been named the new director of catering for Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island. She has more than 25 years of hospitality and food and beverage experience.
Mokara Hotel & Spa in San Antonio has selected Jackie Flory as spa director, where she will supervise all aspects of operations, team development, and treatment regimens.
Since the year began fewer than two weeks ago, the Royal Bank of Scotland has been ticking off item after item on their list of global marketplace red flags. Falling oil prices, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans, and deflation have the bank comparing the market to 2008—just before the collapse of Lehman brothers—and are advising clients to sell everything except high quality bonds. Read more here.