Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


Tolga Lacin Leaving Marriott To Become Regional Ennismore COO

8 months ago

One of the most prominent general managers in Dubai, Tolga Lacin, is leaving his post. The Marriott leader is moving on for a role in Ennismore.

Lacin led some of Marriott’s flagship destinations in the emirate, including The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, the long-standing Le Meridien Dubai by the airport, and the newest W Dubai. He has been Marriott’s area general manager in Dubai since 2020 and its complex GM before that since 2019.

He will now become COO for Ennismore’s lifestyle brands in UAE and Turkey. In the UAE, Ennismore has 25hours, SLS, Hyde and a new SO in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi, it will open a Mondrian hotel. In Turkey, the operator is expected to open the Hyde Bodrum resort next year.

In total, he leads 14 hotels either in development or operational. Ennismore has eight pipelined hotels in the region, including a Delano in Dubai.

Lacin shared: “I’ve long admired what Ennismore has been doing in both the UAE and globally, and I’m delighted to be joining the team at such a pivotal moment in their growth. I look forward to working across such varied and iconic global brands such as SLS, 25hours, and SO/, and supporting our general managers and hotel teams to continue to deliver outstanding service and experience to our guests.”

Before becoming Marriott’s area GM, Lacin was a Starwood man. He has been with the original Westin and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi cluster in the city since 2009.

He will leave Marriott for his new role with Ennismore in early 2024.


MGM Expects $50M-$75M Incremental Revenues in 2024 With Marriott Partnership

8 months ago

Even though the big MGM-Marriott loyalty & booking partnership that was announced earlier this year with much fanfare has been delayed until early 2024 — ostensibly due to MGM’s cybersecurity threat which derailed much of its business over weeks — MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle is very bullish about it.

In its Q3 earnings call earlier this week, Hornbuckle said that the company will begin to see the benefits of the partnership pretty quickly in 2024 soon after it launches. In response to an analyst question of whether this delay in launch means that MGM won’t see the incremental revenues in 2024 and whether the gains would be pushed to 2025, he said:

“No, I think it’s ’24 because I think the booking cycle for Las Vegas, even with this group [of Marriott Bonvoy users] because we’ve seen it obviously mirrored Cosmopolitan [which MGM now owns and has been part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection] is pretty much in line with everything else. They go a little earlier because they want to make sure they can use their points, et cetera. But there’s a clear window over the next couple of months. So once we launch it, we think it ramps fairly quickly.

And I think by the third and fourth quarter of next year, this time next year, we ought to be — have a real good feel for what it’s going to provide. The group activity that will be part of it is a little different discussion and we’ll take more time given the obvious nature and cycle of that business. And remember, I think the first year, we’re looking for $50 million to $75 million in incremental [revenues].

And there’s nothing to believe even despite the delay candidly, there’s nothing to believe we won’t recognize or realize that.”


Marriott Unveils Four Points Express by Sheraton Brand in Europe and Turkey

10 months ago

Marriott International on Wednesday debuted Four Points Express by Sheraton, a midscale hotel brand aimed at Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The brand aims to target the “midscale” segment of affordable lodging. Marriott estimates that about a half-million independent or locally-branded hotels are in this segment — many of which may be ripe for conversion to a global brand.

The first hotel will be a 52-room property opening later this year in Lara, a district of Antalya in Turkey. Next year, another property in Turkey is likely to open. So is a 201-guestroom property in London near the Euston rail station.

Other hotel groups are also focusing on midscale brands, such as IHG’s Garner,
Hilton’s Spark brand and an upcoming (as-yet-unnamed) extended-stay brand, and Hyatt’s Hyatt Studios extended-stay brand.


Marriott to Install More Electric Vehicle Chargers at its Hotels

10 months ago

Marriott International said it was streamlining its ongoing process of installing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at its properties by signing a deal with the vendor EV Connect as its preferred EV charging provider for its properties in the U.S. and Canada.

Marriott has already installed roughly 2,400 chargers and charging stations for electric vehicles, and this first preferred vendor approach may help speed up adoption.

“With EV Connect, we can offer properties an end-to-end turnkey service, simplifying the planning, installation, and maintenance processes while simultaneously delivering high-quality service our guests expect,” said Andrew Bodziak, senior vice president of global operations at Marriott.

Owners and franchisees can choose among suppliers. Some Marriott hotels have also installed Tesla Superchargers, for instance. Others provide discounts off the use of ChargePoint charging stations.

Marriott’s move, detailed here, comes at a time of growing interest in the space. Hilton earlier this month said it intended to install roughly 20,000 Tesla vehicle chargers at 2,000 hotels in North America through next year.


Marriott’s Giga-Resort in Saudi Arabia Banking on Cash-Rich Locals

10 months ago

The next generation of Saudi Arabian hotels is coming, marked by the opening of the Kingdom’s multi-billion-dollar giga-projects. Marriott is showing what is possible at these spare-no-expense properties: Asking for the highest room rates in the country.

Skift’s Josh Corder reports:

Just two hotel operators are entrusted to introduce Saudi Arabia’s “untouched” Maldives-rivaling Red Sea to international guests: Marriott and IHG. Three of the planned 50 hotels at the $50 billion giga-project open this year, a St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton Reserve from Marriott and a Six Senses from IHG.

For Marriott, it’s familiar territory. The group operates the ultra-exclusive and somewhat secretive Bulgari Resort in Dubai, a vast St. Regis Resort on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, and another St. Regis on Qatar’s Marsa Arabia island.

Much like these fellow five-star island properties, Marriott’s St. Regis Red Sea Resort appears to be positioning itself a cut above other hotels in the country. Currently, the property is bookable for stays from February 1, 2024 (the official word is that it will open before the end of 2023). Priced at about $1,600 a night (6,037 Saudi Arabian riyals) a night, it is comfortably one of the country’s most expensive hotels — comparable only to IHG’s Six Senses nearby.

Six Senses The Southern Dunes, The Red Sea takes bookings from November 1, and, with an imposed two-night minimum stay, rates start from about $1,700 a night (6,618 riyals) a night.

Bookings for the ‘Nujuma’ Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort have not yet opened.

The St. Regis will have just 90 keys, all of which will be villas.

While the hotels are said to open this year, they won’t see international guests until 2024. The project’s Red Sea International Airport — also developed by the same company, Red Sea Global — will operate domestic flights this year and international next year. Dubai will be the first overseas destination connected to the new airport.

Made For Mocktails

For this domestic crowd, which will fly in from Jeddah and Riyadh, pricing remains a barrier. In Knight Frank’s Saudi Report 2023, cost was a reason why respondent Saudi travelers would not stay in a hotel in their own country. The survey found that 28% of 25–35-year-olds put it as their biggest barrier, 41% of those up to 45 years old said the same, and 54% of those over 45.

For young Saudis, the thing that put them off most from staying at domestic hotels was restrictions. Alcohol, for example, remains prohibited.

Speaking with the FII Institute earlier this year, Red Sea Global group CEO John Pagano assured that his post-card tourism project “doesn’t need alcohol.”

“Alcohol is not on the agenda,” Pagano said. “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. There’s a new industry evolving. The no/low alcohol industry, it’s booming.”

The St. Regis Red Sea Resort will have its own St. Regis Bar, complete with oysters and caviar, live music, and mocktails.

More broadly, Pagano said visitors will discover a changing Saudi Arabia.

“I’ve seen so much change in the five years I’ve been here — it’s incredible,” Pagano said. “Western attire will be perfectly acceptable within the destination. Obviously, if you wander into some of the local towns, we expect people to respect the customs and cultures. Within the resorts, you can wear bikinis without any issue.”

Story by Josh Corder


Ritz-Carlton Ultra-Luxury Cruise Brand Seeks up to $400 Million to Add Ships: Report

10 months ago

The Marriott-controlled ultra-luxury superyacht brand The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection would like to raise as much as $400 million to add two superyachts to its current three, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

The operator is backed by investors such as Oaktree Capital Management. Its first ship, the 298-guest Evrima, set sail in October 2022, with the Ilma debuting this year and a third vessel, Luminara, in the works for 2025.

Fares start around $3,100 per person per night for sailings starting at four-night itineraries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Central America, and elsewhere. Onboard dining venues include Michelin-starred chefs. (See Bloomberg’s review of the Evrima for more.)

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection Targets $400 Million Fundraise


Marriott’s India Operator Samhi Hotels Refiles Draft Papers, Cuts IPO Size

1 year ago

India-based hotel ownership and asset management platform Samhi Hotels has refiled draft papers with the Indian stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to raise an initial public offering (IPO) of around $120 million.

The Goldman Sachs-backed company that operates hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt and IHG in India, had earlier filed a draft red herring prospectus with SEBI in September 2019 to raise around $238 million.

Samhi had obtained the markets regulator approval in November 2019, to float the initial share-sale, but the company at that time did not go ahead with the launch.

Last week, while reporting the Yatra earnings, Skift had talked about the subdued sentiments in the Indian stock market, as a result of which many companies wanting to launch their IPOs were said to be in a “wait-and-watch” mode.

Hospitality platform Oyo too disclosed last week that it is reducing the size of its proposed initial public offering to between $400-$600 million, a steep reduction from its earlier plan of $1.1 billion.

The company would be using net proceeds from the IPO towards the repayment of debt of the firm and its subsidiaries, payment of interest and other general corporate purposes.

As of February 2023, Samhi Hotels has the third-largest inventory of operational keys (owned and leased) in India. The company has a portfolio of 3,839 keys across 25 operating hotels in 12 cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, National Capital Region, Pune, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

The company is also the largest owner of the Fairfield by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express brands in India. For the financial year ended March 2022, the company reported an increase of 90 percent in revenue to $40 million, as against $21 million in the previous fiscal.

Online Travel Became Major League Baseball’s Official Online Travel Partner

1 year ago, which has marketing relationships with the International Cricket Council and the Union of European Football Associations, is playing ball with Major League Baseball.

Pictured is a Spring Airlines A320 bedecked as as seen on July 7, 2018. Source: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong

The company will officially announce today that it has become Major League Baseball’s official online travel partner. Among travel-related services, the league also counts MGM Resorts and Capital One, which offers Capital One Travel, as official sponsors. Marriott has also been a partner. declined to release financial details of the marketing partnership, but said fans will begin to see branding in baseball stadiums across the U.S., and there will be a new media campaign getting under way in several weeks.

With the launch, the official schedule pages of Major League Baseball teams will feature icons that direct people to search and book accommodations near stadiums.

A recent survey found that 49 percent of U.S. baseball fans plan to travel to at least one game in 2023, and 61 percent would be open to traveling as far as 500 miles to see teams play., based in Amsterdam, has been making significant inroads in the U.S. market, trying to challenge Washington-based Expedia as the market leader.


Australia’s Webjet Launches Tool to Weed Out Rogue Hotel Rates

1 year ago

With hotels seeing a big bounce in bookings, so too can they expect to see more so-called rogue rates creeping back. These are rates that they’ve not authorized, and are a common complaint. Now one of the major bedbank players has developed a platform to help hotels fix any rogue rates they spot.

WebBeds, the accommodation marketplace owned by Australia’s Webjet, has launched a tool called Parity Monitor. It will first act as a hub where hotels can submit parity discrepancies to WebBeds, which connects accommodation providers to a network of 44,000 offline and online travel buyers.

It’s just the first phase of a program, as later it will let its hotel partners track, monitor, report back and eventually resolve rate discrepancies. WebBeds also said it had set up a centralised team dedicated to resolving parity issues.

“WebBeds is very aware of the frustrations that our hotel partners experience when there are rate parity discrepancies in the market,” said WebBeds CEO Daryl Lee.

Expedia Group and Marriott International have already partnered to curb the practice, and last year said they’d reduced the unauthorized distribution of wholesale hotel rates across metasearch websites by 80 percent.


Marriott Gives Finance Chief Leeny Oberg Oversight of Global Development

1 year ago

Marriott International said on Friday that its chief financial officer, Leeny Oberg, will now also lead the company’s global development organization, responsible for the strategic growth at the world’s largest hotel operator.

As executive vice president for development, Oberg will advocate for the Bethesda, Maryland-based company’s portfolio of 31 brands as the company aims to woo investors and developers to pick its offerings.

In related news, CEO Anthony Capuano on Friday became president, not just top boss. Capuano added the title after Stephanie Linnartz, the previous president, left Marriott to become CEO of Under Armour.

Marriott also said on Friday that it had appointed veteran Tina Edmundson president of luxury, and long-time leader Peggy Fang Roe as executive vice president and chief customer officer.

Leeny Oberg has long had an intimate fluency with the group’s strategic plan — regularly on display in analyst calls with investors and public presentations. She spoke on-stage in New York as Marriott International’s chief financial officer at Skift Global Forum 2019. Video, here: