BENCHMARK® Adds Hilton University of Florida Conference Center at Gainesville to Benchmark Resorts & Hotels

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, March 2019 … BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, has added the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center at Gainesville to the company’s prestigious Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® brand portfolio. The recently renovated, 248-guest room property is located on the University of Florida campus, close to Gainesville’s Central Business District. The property serves a growing market of visiting alumni, parents and students, academics, and guests affiliated with the university. Its IACC-approved conference center, with 25,000 square feet of meeting space, attracts a significant number of meetings and events. The Hilton University of Florida Conference Center at Gainesville is Benchmark’s tenth property in Florida, and the third hotel located on a major college campus within the United States. 

“We are honored to be chosen by Hilton Hotels & Resorts to manage this exceptional property,” says Benchmark CEO Alex Cabañas. “We are also delighted to again expand our presence in Florida, where both our Gemstone Collection and Benchmark Resorts & Hotels brands are represented throughout the Sunshine State,” he said.  Benchmark recently added two hotels in St. Pete Beach to its portfolio, expanding its presence to Southwest Florida.

Mr. Cabañas also noted the growing importance of conference center hotels to a university. “These hotels serve as a campus ‘guest house’, providing an authentic, on-campus experience while sharing ideas and resources,” he said. 

The non-smoking, pet-friendly hotel includes 248 guest rooms and suites featuring HDTV, desks for work/study-related activities, and complimentary WiFi. Guests can enjoy the property’s outdoor pool and whirlpool and a 24-hour fitness center. 

The Hilton University of Florida Conference Center offers more than 25,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, including a 6,860-square-foot ballroom. The conference center hosts up to 700 attendees for a meeting and offers well-appointed boardrooms for up to 25 guests. The property provides a business center, and offers experienced conference planners. It is a member of IACC, formerly known as the International Association of Conference Centres, and meets the organization’s exacting standards that ensure the highest level of facilities and service. Meeting planners and guests can take advantage of the various rewards and incentive programs offered by Hilton including Hilton Honors. The hotel is also a popular venue for weddings and receptions.

Guests of the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center can choose from three dining options. Shula’s American Steakhouse is ideal for a hearty breakfast and perfectly-prepared, top-quality steaks and Florida-fresh seafood, paired with an award-winning wine list. Lunch, light bites, cocktails and dinner are served in the comfortable and contemporary No Name Lounge that overlooks a stylish outdoor dining patio and swimming pool. In-Room Dining is available from 6 am to 11 pm daily.

The University of Florida is a prominent research university, set on 2,000 acres in Gainesville, in North Central Florida. It offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in law, medicine, business and engineering.

The University of Florida campus offers an array of services and attractions, including an art museum, concerts, lectures, theater, libraries and sports events. Guests can enjoy collegiate football at the nearby Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, home of the Florida Gators. Other local attractions include the Butterfly Rainforest, the Florida Museum of Natural History and the Gainesville Raceway. The surrounding region offers opportunities for biking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming and wildlife viewing at one of seven nearby Florida State parks.

The Hilton University of Florida Conference Center at Gainesville is easily reached via I-75. The Gainesville Regional Airport is just eight minutes away via a free shuttle from the hotel and offers connections to such major gateways as Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Miami via Delta and American Eagle. Jacksonville International Airport is approximately a one-hour and 45-minute drive.

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Why You Are a Difficult Hospitality Employee

By Don Kermath

It’s true, you are someone’s difficult person. As hospitality workers we find some guests to be exceptionally difficult. However, guests are the reason we exist. Guests deserve the best possible service, but so do your fellow employees. They are your customers as well – your internal customers. if your guests deserve the very best service and they are your customer, don’t your colleagues deserve your very best service too?

A new study by ALICE (a hotel operations platform), shows 62% of guests say that rude staff made their stay frustrating.  Any employee who is rude to guests is also likely to be rude to employees. Your top performers don’t want to work with rude employees. As a consequence your top performers are likely to be dissatisfied and eventually leave. Being easy to work with is not just a matter of improving guest satisfaction, it’s also about improving employee engagement. 

An older 2017 Gallup survey concluded over 50% of employees quit to get away from their boss. Combine rude employees with difficult bosses and you have a serious problem – losing employees due to difficult coworkers.  It’s possible that dealing with difficult people is the single largest hospitality industry human resource problem. Solve this problem and you positively impact the problems of employee turnover and bad online reviews.

Here’s the rub. You can’t change someone else’s character – you know, the thing that determines whether they are difficult or not. You have two practical choices when it comes to dealing with difficult people. First, set free the difficult employees. I prefer to use the term “set free” instead of “fire.” Your top performers will thank you and become productive again. Second, recognize your own unconscious behaviors, the ones that might make you a difficult boss or employee.

Here is a short list of annoying behaviors that can make you difficult to deal with:

  1. You don’t show up to work early. That’s right, if you are not showing up early you are late. Your colleagues, if your not the boss, want to know you are going to show up for work. You stress them out by coming in at the last moment or just after your shift starts. They have lives outside of work and want to clock out. If you are the boss, you’re not setting the best example; you are telling your staff you are casual about clocking in on time.
  2. You don’t stay after your shift ends. Crazy, I know. Your colleagues want to know you have their back. If the workload is heavy and you check out right at the moment your shift ends without seeing if you can be of assistance then you are letting your coworkers down. If you are the boss – well, you should find other employment. No one wants to work for a boss who doesn’t roll up her sleeves.
  3. You don’t say please and thank you. Do I really have to explain this one? Okay, say please because honey catches more flies than vinegar. Sorry for the cliche, but you made me explain this. One of the largest complaints of employees is that they are not recognized for their efforts. What says, “I appreciate your effort,” better than a simple “thank you?” This one applies to employees and bosses.
  4. You whine, complain, and gripe about the company, your colleagues, or your life. No one wants to work with a Debbie Downer. If all you have are complaints and no solutions, then you are just more noise in a noisy environment. Go through the proper channels if you have a legitimate complaint. Always do so in private.
  5. You say yes to everyone and everything and then don’t do the work. Keep your agreements and clean up any broken agreement immediately. Learn to say “no” occasionally for Pete’s sake. By setting boundaries you let your colleagues know where they can and cannot count on you. Everyone is happier.

You can’t change other people. You can change yourself. Once you recognize you are someone’s difficult person, you can begin to become self aware. Self awareness leads to humility and positive change.  As Michael Jackson said, “Start with the man in the mirror.” 

Now that you are self aware, what changes do you plan to make?

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Joint venture to create 124-room hotel in Glasgow

Drum Property Group and Stamford Property Investments have announced a joint venture to develop a mixed-use development site in Glasgow which will see the creation of a 124-room hotel.

Following the successful acquisition of the site at the city centre’s Merchant City, the regeneration is set to see almost 850,000 sq. ft of 1,200 flats and students rooms, additional retail space and the hotel built.

The development will be situated on the site bounded by Trongate, Wilson Street, Brunswick Street, Hutcheson Street and Candleriggs.

Graeme Bone, group managing director of Drum Property Group said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Stamford to acquire such an exciting and significant site. Securing Candleriggs Quarter provides an exciting opportunity to transform this neglected part of the city centre and complete the regeneration of Merchant City.

“We are looking forward to preparing proposals for a sensitive mixed-use development that will have a variety of high-quality residential accommodation and amenities at its heart.”

Uri Goldberg, managing director of Stamford Property Investments added: “Following previous successful developments in Scotland, we are delighted to have joined forces with Drum Property Group to transform this important city centre site. Candleriggs Quarter offers an unprecedented regeneration opportunity and we are excited to deliver a high quality mixed use development.”

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With Flip.to, Adventures on the Gorge Primed for Season Ahead After Inspiring New Audience of More Than 160K in 6 Months

Advocacy marketing platform builds momentum year round with help of their guests

March 19, 2019 — Orlando, FL — Adventures on the Gorge—premier West Virginia adventure destination on the rim of the New River Gorge—has tapped the Flip.to advocacy marketing platform to drive growth by opening up an entirely new channel of travelers for their vacation resort.


Launched in August of 2018, the property has sparked conversations with travelers worldwide, since reaching a new audience of over 160,000. This is in addition to converting thousands of unique site visitors and warm leads who are being nurtured down the path to becoming a future guest with the help of the Flip.to platform.

By tapping into Flip.to, Adventures at the Gorge is turning their travelers into storytellers who go on to share the highlight of their stays to friends and family around the globe. In turn, Adventures on the Gorge is reaching wide, new audiences who are the perfect demographic for their unique experience.

Trust is a critical piece of the success of the platform. As Nielson, Google, Expedia and other sources have continuously shown over time, recommendations from friends & family weigh heavily on travel decisions being made today. This is especially true at the point of inspiration—to the tune of ⅔ of all travelers, according to Expedia’s research for their 2016 American, British, and Canadian travelers’ paths to purchase.

With these impacts, the platform has opened up a new marketing channel to drive direct revenue for Adventures on the Gorge.


A pioneer in the adventure resort industry, Adventures on the Gorge has over 40 years of experience bringing unique, adrenaline-fueled adventures to those traveling to the New River Gorge. Their peak visitation runs from mid-spring to the end of summer, edged with shoulder seasons and closing in the winter to prepare for the next peak.

For their marketing team, this meant the ability to continue reaching new audiences over the shoulder and closed seasons was critical to maintain growth.

The advocacy platform presented a unique solution to not only drive more business into their shoulder seasons, but also to continue to nurture and grow an audience of potential future bookers heading into next spring, setting up for the following year.

In fact, even during the months they’ve been closed, travelers have continued sharing stories to friends and family worldwide. This has added up to 60K+ in reach since December alone, raising awareness to hundreds of potential visitors each and every day, all who are being introduced in the most authentic way possible.

The platform goes on to help convert this pool of prospects, previously out of reach, into warm leads who are now in unique, personal conversations—each being nurtured to a future stay for the the next season.


Beyond building an entirely new audience and growing relationships with their guests, the platform has helped amplify their efforts with a storytelling approach to marketing, letting guests share unique perspectives that only they can provide—more authentic than any ad.

With Flip.to, Adventures on the Gorge is netting a library of authentic, legally-owned content to highlight the travel experiences their guests are sharing, with the resort at the center of the story.

These candid adventures from their travelers have built a strong narrative that’s true to their brand and inspires travel, infusing a level of authenticity into all of their efforts.

Stories and experiences shared by recent travelers to Adventures on the Gorge
See more at:


Drawn to the rim of the New River Gorge by world-class whitewater, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking, the founders of Adventures on the Gorge were driven to create a resort that could live up to the natural wonders that surrounded it. To see the authentic experiences being shared firsthand, visit, http://adventuresonthegorge.stories.travel/gallery or reserve your stay today at https://adventuresonthegorge.com/.

To get started with Flip.to for hotels, the advocacy platform for that reaches, converts and inspires and entirely new global audience every day, take a tour, or see other hotels shining on the platform, here: https://www.flip.to/customers/hotels.

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Hotel Refurbishments: St Michaels Hotel – Falmouth

What prompted the refurbishment in the first place?

We had the opportunity to acquire the site that was previously occupied by a 120-bedroom Falmouth beach hotel next door, that mostly burned down in 2012. We created a large five acre plot and developed a resort masterplan, encompassing the development of the new St Michaels Hotel and Spa – plus the additional development of new hotel rooms, spas and lodges.

Did the hotel remain open during the refurbishment?

Yes, we remained open all the way through the refurbishment, which was quite challenging when we had over 120 builders on-site. But the cost of closure would have been prohibitive, so we had to get on and manage the work as cleverly as we could to minimise guest disruption.

Can you give me an example of how you over the challenges of staying open during that time?

How we managed guests came down to good communication, understanding and involvement. Fortunately, we had a lot of guests who hadn’t been before and were very excited about what was happening, and were seeing this one visit as journey as opposed to a fixed point in time. It was about doing an awful lot of work with the builders to be sensitive to guests needs like not having the radio on to minimise the impact.

The other challenges included creating and having the vision for the masterplan, and then getting that approved and agreed by stakeholders, planners, local residents and the town council.

Fortunately, we ran between 77-89% occupancy over the whole of that time, and we still kept all our staff on and made a profit – albeit a reduced profit. Now it’s all open every one is really excited and pleased with the result.

Could you give me an overview of what exactly has been refurbished?

Thus far, we have created a new beach house wing of 32 premium bedrooms, all with a lot of luxury facilities including six foot wide luxury pocket-sprung beds, rainforest deluge showers, air conditioning, balconies and sofas. A lot of attention to detail has gone into the creation of these bedrooms. Something I am particularly pleased with and proud of is the creation of our dressing tables, which instead of the ubiquitous work surface or corporate desk, we have gone all out and provided a great space with lots of well lit mirrors for makeup, hair ect.

A lot of hotels just provide a desk, and don’t provide well lit mirrors with convenient plug spaces and usb ports to charge your phone. It was also great for me, having spent a lot of my 10 years as owner of St Michaels, seeing the end result of the refurbishment – it was great to do some new build rooms as well for the first time  as well.

Could you tell me a bit more about the £50m investment  from CBRE and Acorn Group and the BH Group?

The total investment for the resort required three different types of investors in order to fund  this very large scale project – it’s closer to £70m actually. This sort of investment and this sort of facility is quite unusual in terms of that spend level in Cornwall. So it needed three different types of companies to be involved.

CBRE Global Investors have acquired the freehold of the hotel side for one of their bluechip pension funds, BH Group have invested into the business and Acorn are a proven developer in the south-west and one of the top providers of premium seaside apartments. The Acorn Group is also undertaking the development of 53 south-facing, seaview apartments, all with balconies and plate glass windows. Assembling that deal arrangement, as well as creating the vision for the resort in the first place, was all a key part in terms of making this all happen.

Has all construction work been completed?

All of construction for the hotel has largely been completed. We have four garden spa lodges which we are putting in by this Easter, which will be quite exciting and allow guests to have premium free access to the spa throughout their stay.

During winter 2018 we also created a new access road from the beach, so guests will arrive directly opposite the sea – which I feel will be a much nicer sense of arrival. That will complete the hotel and central resort side of things, but work has now started on the 53 apartments. That will take about 18 months, and that’s all fenced off on a seperate site so it will certainly be less impactful than the work which took place at the main hotel.

What is your favourite aspect of the project?

I suppose we are particularly proud of the spa. The 21 station hydro therapy pool is certainly exceptional as far as the south west is concerned. Together with that we have also put in some fairly unique thermal facilities like the very first Cornish sea salt steam room, using salt that has been taken out of the sea only 20 miles from the resort. We also have different types of steam rooms, saunas with sea views, a hot tub and a Finish bio-sauna as well. There are a lot of facilities in the spa that have been very much appreciated and have created a really amazing wow factor.

Tell me about what has been done to the kitchens and restaurants?

We have basically transformed our main restaurant and conference and banqueting space into a new brasserie called Brasserie on the Bay, which has a particular focus on fresh fish and seafood. We have also created a brand new eatery called the Garden Kitchen, which is situated above the spa and has a wood fire oven. That’s an entirely new venue and is a very casual, drinking, eating and socialising place that’s gone down incredibly well with guests.

Could you tell me a bit more about the Liner?

The Liner is the brand name given to the 53 sea-facing apartments that are currently being started on site now. They will be sold to owners, but the resort will offer a full management and marketing service in order to give future owners a good return on investment, as well as private usage during the year.

Do you have any future plans for more refurbishment work later on?

You can never say you’re done or finished when it comes to physical investment in your property. It’s something that needs to be ongoing and permanent. For example, we have also started to upgrade some of the existing rooms, and that whole process of renovation, renewal and refreshment will continue on a yearly basis.

Was there a main inspiration in terms of the design of the renovation?

In terms of the actual philosophy behind the resort, the refurbishment very much embraced international trends of the very best resorts worldwide. It was about creating a wonderful nucleus of facilities at the heart of the resort. That core to the resort is important, but then the big trend internationally is also to offer customers a range of different accommodation types. Whether that is apartments, real estate, eco-lodges, suites, bedrooms ect.

Our interior design and used materials was also all about amplifying Cornwall, Falmouth and giving guests the best possible experience of the area through all of its manifestations, whether that’s food, drink, art or coastal interiors.

How has the response been?

It’s been incredible, absolutely amazing. We’ve had a lot of jaws dropping in terms of the quality and breadth of the spa and people love the new arrival lounge. Our guests also love the fact that our resort is rooted in the local community.

Is there anything you prefer from the old design?

Well we have retained certain elements. A lot of the strategies and principles have followed through, they have just been interpreted in a more contemporary way.

Who handled the actual construction work?

We had a project management team, and a construction manager that I employed. On top of that we had a main contractor which was PC Chapman, which were the main builders. And then a whole range of specialist suppliers, whilst also doing all of the procurements ourselves in terms of fit outs. Every piece of fabric, material, furniture and beds was carefully selected and tested by myself and the team before buying. It was very personal.

What’s your view for the next five years for the hotel?

It’s now about building a growing reputation, ensuring all of the facilities we have created deliver a high standard of service and building the business to show a return on investment that we have put into the resort.

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Hilton Brands to Recycle 1 Million Bars of Soap by Global Handwashing Day

Partnering with Clean the World, Hilton’s participating brands will recycle soap and donate to communities in need around the world

MCLEAN, Va. – March 18, 2019 – Hilton’s (NYSE: HLT) Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton and All Suites brands are launching the Clean the World Challenge in partnership with Clean the World, a global health leader dedicated to sustainability and water, sanitization and health. Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton will challenge hotel owners and Team Members to collect bars of soap left behind by guests to be recycled into 1 million bars of new soap by Global Handwashing Day (October 15) for Clean the World to distribute to communities in need. 

“As one of the world’s most hospitable companies, we are always looking for ways to have a positive impact in the communities where we develop and serve millions of guests each year,” said Bill Duncan, global head, All Suites and Focused Service category, Hilton. “Our hotels were among the first in the industry to participate in soap recycling and have remained leaders in the global hygiene revolution, making the world a more hospitable place by empowering our Team Members and guests to eradicate preventable hygiene-related illnesses.”

Clean the World’s mission aligns with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose initiative, the company’s corporate responsibility strategy. By 2030, Hilton commits to cut its environmental footprint in half to help protect the planet and double its social impact investment to drive positive change in communities. As part of these goals, Hilton has committed to send zero soap to landfill in addition to Hilton’s brand standards for Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton brands across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“Hilton understands the urgent need for recycled soap donation and hygiene education in communities all over the world, and they have been a great partner of ours for many years,” said Shawn Seipler, founder and chief executive officer, Clean the World. “As many as 2.3 billion people around the world lack basic sanitation and more than 3,500 children die from preventable hygiene-related illnesses every day. This challenge will make a meaningful difference for countless people in need.”

Through its soap recycling partnership with Clean the World, Hilton has contributed to the distribution of more than 7.6 million bars of recycled soap, resulting in more than 2 million pounds of soap and amenity bottles being diverted from landfills. The discarded soap is crushed, sanitized and cut into new soap bars. Bathroom amenity bottles are repurposed for hygiene kits or recycled. By recycling these products, Clean the World provides soap to those in need, ultimately preventing diseases and reducing mortality rates around the world.

Clean the World was founded in 2009 with a mission to save lives while simultaneously protecting the environment by providing recycled soap and other hygienic products to families in need. Over the last decade, the organization has contributed toward a 60 percent reduction in the death rate of children under the age of five dying due to hygiene-related illnesses. Hilton has worked with Clean the World since its launch to help overcome this epidemic in various countries, as well as in times of natural disasters.

For more information on the Clean the World Challenge, visit newsroom.hilton.com/hiltoncleanstheworld. To learn more about Hilton's Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy, visit cr.hilton.com, and for more on Clean the World, visit cleantheworld.org.

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The Abbey Hotel unveils newly renovated rooms

The Abbey Hotel, which was bought by KE Hotels just over a year ago, has unveiled a selection of newly renovated bedrooms as part of an ongoing project to modernise the hotel and increase its appeal with young professionals.

The new rooms follow a period of investment into improvements at the hotel, which also include the launch of the exclusive brasserie, Koffmann & Mr. White’s, and the redevelopment of the ArtBar, which is set to complete at the end of March.

A selection of rooms at the 63-key hotel have been given a “stylish makeover” to cover three creative themes; film, art and photography. The concept for each bedroom is based on the city’s connections to art and culture over the years. Each premium room has a modern en-suite bathroom with geometric black and white design, lighting and luxury shower facilities.

Josh Watts, general manager at the Abbey Hotel, said: “We’re really happy with how the new rooms look. This is the latest in a line of renovations to modernise the hotel and make the Abbey a thriving cultural hub for guests. The balance of the newly designed modern rooms alongside our more traditionally styled rooms, means we can cater to a variety of different guests.

“Bath is home to an array of independent galleries and festivals that promote local artistic talent – something we’re really proud of at The Abbey. The hotel has long been known for hanging work by local artists in the rooms, restaurant and bar. A quintessentially Bath hotel, The Abbey is the perfect place to stay to get the most of what our beautiful city has to offer.”

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sbe Partners With World of Wonders Real Estate Development for First SLS Property in the Middle East, SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences

NEW YORK, March 18, 2019 — sbe, a leading international hospitality group that develops, manages and operates award-winning global hospitality brands, today announced a partnership with World of Wonders Real Estate Development to continue the expansion of the SLS brand with the first SLS property in the Middle East, SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences.

The property is already more than 60% completed and is set to open in Q3 2020. The highly anticipated 75-storey tower will be comprised of 254 expertly designed hotel rooms, 371 residential units, 321 hotel apartments and will be one of the tallest hotels and residences in the region. The property will also feature sbe signature culinary concepts Fi'lia and Carna, sbe's mixology lounge in the lobby, as well as signature rooftop nightlife venue, Privilege.

"Located in the Downtown district, the property offers spectacular, unobstructed views of the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa, as well as Dubai Creek. Two magnificent infinity pools are situated atop the 75-storey tower offering an incomparable 360-degree aspect of Dubai, making the pools among the highest not just in the city, but globally."

The SLS brand is an integral part of sbe's global expansion, with plans for 25 additional locations nationally and internationally in cities including Washington D.C, Buenos Aires and Cancun.

SLS Dubai will be an essential piece of sbe's development in the Middle East that comes on the heels of successful openings of Katsuya in Kuwait City, Dubai and most recently Abu Dhabi.. This success of SLS Dubai also speaks to the monumental growth of sbe's residential platform with 1,300 branded residential units sold to-date, valued at $2 billion with another $2 billion more in the pipeline. 

In October 2018, sbe entered into a partnership with Accor, following the latter's acquisition of a 50% stake in sbe. This long-term investment will allow sbe to leverage AccorHotels' leading global hospitality platform while remaining an independent luxury lifestyle operator. sbe will continue to be led by its Founder and CEO Sam Nazarian as well as its expert management team while retaining its global headquarters in New York.

"We couldn't be more proud to bring one of our signature brands to one of the world's luxury capitals," – said Sam Nazarian, Founder and CEO of sbe. "Dubai is not only the Middle East's biggest tourism and business hub, but it is also the epicenter for all things luxury and we are so excited to be there. It is truly an honor to partner with World of Wonders Real Estate Development, I am confident that this is just the beginning of a long lasting relationship with many more projects to come!" 

"We are delighted to be partnering with sbe – who are fellow pioneers – on this landmark project," added Mehmet Nazif Gunal, Founder and Chairman of World of Wonders Real Estate Development. "The SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences will bring a whole new concept of luxury living and boutique hospitality to Dubai. The UAE will soon witness the next level of an uber-modern and hyper-cool lifestyle destination, with sbe's unique style DNA running through all elements of design and execution. The brand's proven global track record of delivering beyond expectations exactly mirrors our own development ethos, and the new property also dovetails perfectly with Dubai'svision of world-class excellence and will be an outstanding addition to the city's iconic skyline.

sbe subsidiary Dakota Development, led by President Joe Faust, provided original concept development and design management services for the luxury project in collaboration with international architecture firm Aedas and interior design firm Bishop Design

Upon arrival, hotel guests will enter through the ground floor lobby and take an express elevator to the opulent Sky Lobby on the 71th floor, redefining luxury for the 21st century. Floor to ceiling windows dazzle with incredible panoramic views of the city, creating the perfect ambience for the property's lobby lounge and bar. In addition, the property's nightlife venue, Privilege, will be located on the rooftop featuring expansive interior lounge space that opens up directly onto the roof terraces.  

Guests can also visit the property's sbe signature Ciel Spa located on the 69th floor, which is the epitome of luxury by boasting 7 treatment rooms, dedicated male and female thermal areas that contain steam rooms, experience showers, plunge pools and relaxing rooms, a hair and nail salon, a fully equipped gym and two outdoor terraces. 

SLS Dubai will also feature sbe's acclaimed Italian restaurant concept Fi'lia, located on the 70th floor. Fi'lia will serve as the hotel's all day dining outlet and will offer active food stations and a display kitchen adding an element of entertainment to the dining experience. In addition, Carna, an sbe steakhouse concept by award-winning Italian butcher Dario Cecchoni, will be located on the 74th floor and feature a dedicated bar, private dining rooms, wine rooms and an open kitchen. 

Additional hotel facilities include an extensive ballroom and flexible event studios.

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IHG Signs With Interlink Group to Develop Holiday Inn & Suites in Wagga Wagga, Australia

IHG will open a flagship regional Holiday Inn in Wagga Wagga in early 2021, following the signing of a management agreement with Interlink Group (Australia).

With 148 rooms, Holiday Inn & Suites Wagga Wagga will be the largest hotel in the city, as well as a unique iteration of the brand. It will feature a 6-storey building of new hotel rooms that show off the best of Holiday Inn, alongside the adaptive re-use of the heritage-listed Murrumbidgee Flour Mill and Grainstore, one of Wagga’s most iconic locations. 

Holiday Inn & Suites Wagga Wagga is destined to become a dining and event destination, with an indoor restaurant and bar, spilling out to a Mediterranean-themed piazza that will allow guests to take in its distinctive surroundings. The hotel will also provide a first-class function and conference centre, capable of hosting private and corporate events of more than 300 guests. Elements of the property’s heritage will be elegantly woven into the interior décor, bringing the history of the site to life for visitors and guests.

This next phase of development for Murrumbidgee Flour Mill and Grainstore represents a $37 million investment in Wagga Wagga and is anticipated to create 120-150 jobs during construction, followed by approximately 60-80 ongoing positions once the hotel opens in 2021.

Abhijay Sandilya, IHG’s Senior Director of Development – Australasia, said: “Holiday Inn & Suites Wagga Wagga is a flagship regional signing for IHG, and is destined to be a bellwether for the city; combining history with a modern and exciting new generation of the Holiday Inn brand. The signing continues the momentum of Holiday Inn in Australia’s regional and satellite hubs such as Sydney St Marys, Geelong, and Melbourne’s Coburg, Ringwood and Werribee.”

Yu Xiao, Owner – The Mill Development, commented: “Wagga is the largest inland city in New South Wales and the hub of the Riverina region, so it’s crying out for a large scale, internationally branded hotel. IHG is a global leader with a fantastic local team, and we can’t think of a better way to bring this iconic location to life than as a Holiday Inn, the world’s largest and most recognised hotel brand family. We are confident that a globally branded hotel of this calibre will help build Wagga’s credentials as a business destination”

Located midway between Sydney and Melbourne, Wagga is an important agricultural, military and transport hub of Australia, and provides education, health and other services to the broader region. The hotel will be in the heart of the CBD at 50 Edward Street, a short walk from the train station and opposite Robertson Oval, which hosts cultural and sporting events such as cricket, rugby league and AFL. Wagga Wagga Airport is just 11km away.

Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga Councillor Greg Conkey OAM said the hotel development was a good fit with Wagga Wagga’s reputation as a progressive regional capital in New South Wales.

"Our city continues to attract large-scale events which bring 1.3 million visitors to Wagga Wagga each year. A development of this calibre is sure to support the city as a preferred destination for business and leisure events. In recent weeks Wagga Wagga has hosted events such as the NSW Touch Junior State Cup Southern Conference titles which saw accommodation booked out across the city. Wagga Wagga will again host the time-honoured Wagga Gold Cup carnival in May which coincides this year with the NRL match between Canberra Raiders and Penrith Panthers. These blue-ribbon events continue to bring visitors to the city and in the long-term as we grow and host more events of this size, we will need to accommodate the influx of visitors.”

IHG currently has 47 hotels operating under five brands in Australasia, including: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, voco,  Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, with another 27 in the pipeline, including voco, EVEN Hotels and Hotel Indigo.* 

*Numbers correct as at end 31 December 2018

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Travelodge eyes 100 new hotels as turnaround bears fruit

Travelodge has announced it is planning to open 100 new hotels in the next five years after seeing its turnaround plan lead to an 8.8% rise in revenues.

For the year ending 31 December, Travelodge delivered total revenues of £693.3m, up from £637.1m the previous year. It also reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased £9.6m to £122m.

The company also revealed that RevPAR was up 3.2% to £41.69 (2017: £40.40), average room rate was maintained  at £53.09 (2017: £53.13) and occupancy was up 2.5pts to 78.5%. During the period Travelodge also opened an additional 17 hotels.

However, commenting on its outlook, the company said the UK economic situation remaining “uncertain” and “well documented cost pressures facing the wider sector” led it to maintain a cautious short term outlook.

Peter Gowers, Travelodge chief executive, said its “strategic focus on location, price and quality” has enabled the group to deliver a “set of excellent results”, attributed to extending its network of hotels, remaining focused on delivering “attractive prices” and increasing its quality.

He said: “Once again we outperformed our competitive segment and delivered another year of strong growth, with EBITDA up £9.6m to £122m. These are uncertain times and we are not immune from the short term challenges, but beyond, we remain confident that there are more opportunities ahead.

“These results highlight Travelodge’s transformation over the last five years. Over that period, Travelodge’s sales are up by more than £250m, we’ve outperformed our competitive segment for five years in a row, opened more than 60 new hotels and more than trebled our profitability.”

He added: “We’ve invested in better quality and choice for our guests, while staying true to our budget roots. People are noticing the difference, culminating in our being recognised, for the first time, as one of the world’s top 10 global hotel chains by TripAdvisor. The long term growth opportunities for the budget sector remain strong and we expect to open 100 new hotels over the next five years, creating approximately 3,000 jobs.”

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A recent survey from hotel solutions provider HRS has found that the demand for innovative technology in hotels is on the rise


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