Drury Hotels Announces New Protocols and Partnership With Ecolab

WHY IT RATES: Drury Hotels has enhanced sanitization initiatives so travelers can have peace of mind during their stays. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Drury Hotels Company is partnering with Ecolab Inc. – a global leader in hygiene and infection prevention solutions for the hospitality industry – to keep its guests and team members safe. In this collaborative effort, Drury will use Ecolab products as part of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures in its more than 150 hotels nationwide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened people’s awareness of the spread of germs and the need for increased sanitization,” said Alison Casler, chief human resources officer of Drury Hotels. “Our Travel Happy® Again, Clean + Safe initiatives, solidified by our partnership with Ecolab, have allowed us to confidently deliver a higher level of cleanliness and safety for our guests and team members.”

In addition to partnering with Ecolab, Drury has updated its check-in procedure to reduce contact, implemented visual cues for social distancing and modified the service for its free hot breakfast and evening reception.

Drury has continued to serve the communities where the company has hotels by keeping all of its hotels open to provide lodging to traditional guests as well as to first responders and essential frontline workers.

“For more than 45 years, Drury Hotels has focused on providing clean rooms and exceptional service,” said Chuck Drury, president and CEO of Drury Hotels. “This is particularly important today as we adjust to living with COVID-19. The enhancements being made throughout our hotels will help ensure a clean, safe environment, so our guests can feel comfortable and confident while staying with us.”

More information about Drury Hotels’ ongoing efforts to keep guests and team members safe can be found on the company’s Travel Happy Again, Clean + Safe website.

Drury Hotels has been family-owned and operated since 1973. For a complete listing of all Drury hotels or for reservations, visit www.druryhotels.com or call 1-800-DRURYINN.

SOURCE: Drury Hotels press release.

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SeaDream Yacht Club to Resume Sailing in Norway on June 20

SeaDream Yacht Club, which paused operations in March, plans to start sailing again June 20 in Norway.

The nine new Norwegian voyages on SeaDream I through September include destinations hand-picked by SeaDream’s Norwegian founder and owner, Atle Brynestad.

The Norway program includes seven-day voyages between Oslo and Bergen and a 12-day voyage from Oslo to Tromsø and back – with three days in Lofoten, one of Norway’s premier destinations. SeaDream will offer new Yachting Land Adventures so guests can fully experience each port.

As the Covid-19 pandemic developed, SeaDream was able to avoid contamination but decided to pause operations because of the resulting travel restrictions. The yachts moved to Lisbon where the crew chose to stay on board and have been kept busy doing maintenance and upgrades.

They’re also having some fun – a basketball hoop was installed on the pool deck – and keeping calm and in shape with yoga and other activities. The chefs are designing new dishes, and the deck crew has painted, replaced the teak deck, and performed other maintenance tasks.

SeaDream continues to closely monitor the global health and travel restrictions and can adapt itineraries as needed.

“It has been very apparent from our frequent video calls with the onboard teams that without our guests, the yachts are simply not the same and that the crew genuinely miss serving our loyal guests,” said SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad.

While SeaDream usually operates in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, the yachts have been to Norway before. But this time they are going north of the Arctic Circle so that guests can experience the midnight sun, the Lofoten Fjords, and Tromsø.

The SeaDream experience is known for its personalized service, five-star cuisine, intimate ports and onboard features such as the Balinese Dream Beds to sleep under the stars and the watersports marina with water toys. For additional details, click here.

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Ocean Key Resort & Spa Set to Reopen June 1

WHY IT RATES: The resort is committed to putting the safety and security of all guests and associates as its first priority. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Ocean Key Resort & Spa, a luxurious oceanfront property located in the heart of Key West – managed by Noble House Hotels & Resorts – humbly announces its plans to reopen on June 1, 2020, including resumed operations of its restaurants, pool and SpaTerre, following guidance from state and local health authorities.

Advancing its safety protocols and best practices, Ocean Key Resort & Spa has implemented enhanced precautions including, but not limited to, enforcing social distance guidelines, increased staff training and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — based on roles and responsibilities, delivering individual PPE for guests — upon request, regular sanitization of the property and its high touch areas, providing touchless hand sanitizer dispensers in all entrances and contact areas, exercising strict housekeeping guidelines and more.

“As we prepare to reopen, we are committed to providing the same level of exceptional, personalized service to our guests, with their safety — and the wellbeing of our associates — being the utmost priority,” said Bill Foster, regional director of marketing at Noble House Hotels & Resorts. “We look forward to our community returning to a state of normalcy, so that our guests can rediscover our beautiful island.”

In honor of the reopening, Ocean Key Resort & Spa is offering a “Safe Harbor” package, with rates ranging from $399-$899 per night, for travel beginning June 1, 2020 through Dec. 17, 2020. The offer includes luxury accommodations, daily breakfast for two on a private balcony, unlimited in-room movies and a complimentary bottle of Papa’s Pilar Rum.

Nestled between Key West Harbor and Mallory Square, where historic Duval Street begins the old town experience is Ocean Key Resort & Spa. Overlooking the pristine waters where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean, the intimate resort embodies the charm, energy and eclectic vibe of Key West, while offering the perfect balance of excitement, relaxation and luxury with just 100 deluxe rooms and suites, warms breezes and breathtaking views that inspire and energize.

Beyond the sun and sand, the resort offers a taste of island living, complete with spacious outdoor dining at the vibrant Sunset Pier, ‘conch-fusion’ flavor with fresh, local seafood at Hot Tin Roof – a AAA Four-Diamond Award restaurant – and rejuvenating treatments at SpaTerre.

To book a reservation at Ocean Key Resort & Spa, call (800) 328-9815 or visit www.oceankey.com. To learn more about the resort’s safety protocols, visit www.oceankey.com/stay-safe-start-living/.

SOURCE: Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd. press release.

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Aggressor Adventures Charts New Waters on the Client Engagement Front

Aggressor Adventures has taken a deep dive into ramping up its client engagements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most notably, the tour operator, which specializes in liveaboard scuba diving itineraries, has partnered with dive suppliers and manufacturers to offer incentives for customers to buy their products—thus keeping them engaged and ready to use those products once the coronavirus is suppressed.

“We have had a great response from their customers sending us receipts showing the proof of purchase so they can receive a voucher for future use with us,” said Aggressor Adventures CEO Wayne Brown. “We have also had other suppliers hear about the program and ask if we can partner with them.”

Although Aggressor doesn’t receive a portion of those sales, “we see the access to their customers for potential future sales with us as more than ample compensation and hope it has helped their sales as well,” he said.

The company is also engaging its clients in a variety of other ways, as well. “We have a very extensive list, that continues to grow, of customer engagement initiatives. Our first was to ensure all the destination staff follow our ‘Clean, Sanitize & Refresh’ program for deep cleaning and sanitizing, as well as refreshing linens, painting and repairs,” Brown said. “They then send us weekly photos and videos that we post to our social media, as well as create video montages to post.”

Additionally, Aggressor has featured its chefs around the world to create three- to five-minute videos for its “Cooking with Chef” series, with a focus on favorite local dishes. “These are shared on Facebook, as well as our aggressor.tv site,” he said.

The company is conducting twice-weekly Zoom sessions, some of which are hosted by celebrities. Sessions include talks with Les Stroud, creator and star of “Survivorman,” who shares his past and upcoming adventures with Richard Wiese, Explorer Club president and host of the “Born To Explore” television show.

The Zoom sessions also feature yacht captions who provide details on their destinations.

“An upcoming [session will focus] on how we will keep our guests as safe a possible once operations resume with all the updated procedures and sanitizing efforts,” Brown said. “We will be announcing in an upcoming eNews letter to our guests about June Ocean Clean Up Month, asking them to help with local waters, whether that be salt or fresh water, and to send us pictures and videos of them cleaning up for us to share.”

The operator also launched the Aggressor Addicts Facebook group for guests who have traveled with the company at least once; it is running fun weekly contests, enabling group members to win gifts and vouchers.

Looking to expand beyond the dive market, Aggressor began adding river cruising and safari lodges to its portfolio several years ago. “Moving into river cruises was an easy transition. Adding safari lodges in places with unique cultures and environments was the next step to further expand the adventures a guest can participate in with us,” Brown said. “I have adhered to our small group bespoke offerings with these new adventures also. Having only 16 to 22 guests allows us to connect personally with each guest and ensure they get the most out of their time with us.”

More than half us Aggressor’s reservations come from travel advisors, Brown said. “We have always heavily supported them with free advertising and marketing materials, and even offer them a commission should one of their past customers start booking directly with us.”

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How to visit Lisbon without leaving home

A sun-licked city on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, it’s little wonder that Lisbon has long tempted visitors into a weekend getaway.

One of the oldest capitals in Europe, the tangle of skinny, storied streets that make up Old Town Lisbon promise history, culture and lived-in beauty at almost every turn.

While life in the time of coronavirus means Portugal’s capital is temporarily out of bounds, you can still pore over the city’s greatest assets through your computer screen.

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Here’s how to immerse yourself in all things Lisboa from the comfort of your own sofa:

What to do

Go for a tram ride

Wind through Lisbon from aboard its iconic mustard yellow trams: a feature of the cityscape since the early 1900s. This three-minute virtual tour, produced by the Portuguese tourism board, plants web surfers in the plum spot of the driver’s seat on vintage “elétrico” 28.

You’ll rattle around the cobbled streets of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama; trundle past candy-coloured buildings that cascade down the city’s eight hills; traverse wide praças (squares); and peer out across a sliver of the river Tagus, glimmering in the distance. It’s a remarkably soothing and immersive ride.

See the city’s sights close up

For more in-depth coverage of the city’s biggest scene-stealers turn to this interactive guided tour, by Sygic Travel. Just pull the mouse across the screen for 360-degree views, accompanied by full commentary.

You’ll cop a close-up of the towering wrought-iron neo-gothic Santa Justa Lift, enjoy panoramic views of the city from its highest hill, Graça, gaze up at 16th-century Belém Tower, and look down the bustling pedestrianised shopping street, Rua Augusta.

Head for the museums

Now that you’ve got a feel for the city, get to the real guts of it with a tour around the most venerated cultural establishments.

Of the more niche local institutions, there’s the National Coach Museum. Featuring opulent vehicles from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that once belonged to the Portuguese monarchy, it is, apparently, the most visited museum in Portugal, and represents the largest and most valuable collection of its type in the world.

From simple sedan chairs to wildly ornate gilded wooden carriages inlaid with ivory, upholstered with silks and festooned with sculptures of Greek gods, you can size up the stagecoaches, literally: there’s a measurement mode on the virtual 4D tour that allows you to check each vehicle’s vital stats. Find further detail on the items exhibited at Google’s Arts and Culture hub.

There’s also a glut of alternatives available on the very same hub – 25 to be precise.

Explore the National Azulejo Museum, Jeronimos Monastery, the National Archaeology Museum and more. There are numerous online exhibits too, named “stories”, which document everything from bold street art in the coastal capital, to puppetry.

Art aficionados should turn to the 360-degree virtual tour on offer at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – home to one of the largest private collections of art in the world.

Works in the permanent Founder’s Collection have been plucked from across the globe, and span from classical antiquity to the mid-20th century. Expect to spot pieces by Rembrandt, Renoir and Rodin, among others. Works in the permanent Modern Collection – considered to be the most complete collection of modern Portuguese art in the world – date from the end of the 20th century to the present.

Local Flavours

Portuguese cuisine may not be as widely acclaimed as that of neighbouring Spain, but the local culinary canon is surprisingly vast.

From hole-in-the-wall pastelarias (pastry shops) turning out creamy, charred, palm-sized pastéis de nata, to cosy tasquinha (small taverns) dishing up hearty plates of home-cooked classics such as smoky grilled sardines and flame-licked frango (chicken), this city is host to countless food experiences.

Yet fear not: you can still bring Lisbon’s food to life at home with the following cookbooks.

One of the most well-known advocates of Portuguese food, Lisbon native Nuno Mendes has helmed a bevy of kitchens across London over the last decade. In his delightfully nostalgic ode to Portuguese cookery, Lisboeta: A Cookbook from Portugal’s City of Light, recipes are interspersed with memories of Mendes’ childhood in Lisbon, as well as beautifully stark photography that transports you straight into the heart of the city.

Whip up a smorgasbord of comforting salgados (savoury fried snacks), such as minced prawn turnovers, or try your hand at the satisfying one-pot recipes, such as Portuguese fish stew, or Caldeirada. Mendes even dedicates a whole chapter to the humble Portuguese sandwich.

Those hungry for more of a haute-cuisine take on Iberian classics should dip into My Portugal: Recipes and Stories, from Nuno’s contemporary across the pond, George Mendes.

A chef who partakes, largely, in new spins on old Portuguese classics, many of the recipes demand a well-stocked larder (think quail, foie gras and sea urchin), and a degree of culinary prowess (hello baby goat with beets, cinnamon-clove yoghurt and charred bread emulsion).

For a less technical introduction, try Lisbon: Recipes from the Heart of Portugal, by journalist Rebecca Seal. A colourful, chatty and accessible tome that invites readers into the capital’s bustling bars and restaurants and serves up deliciously simple dishes, such as fresh sardines on toast and piri piri chicken.

Setting the scene

There is surely no soundtrack more evocative of Lisbon than fado – a melancholic folk music born here in the 1820s. The musical genre has, in fact, become so entangled with Lisbon’s identity that it was inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.

Leaf through the digital sound archive of the Fado Museum of Lisbon, which includes thousands of fado recordings from the beginning of the 20th century.

For a taste of the capital’s crumbling charm on paper, try Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, or Requiem: A Hallucination, by Antonio Tabucchi.

The former is a thriller that interweaves life under Salazar’s dictatorship with a modern-day mystery and has since been transformed into a film starring Jeremy Irons. The latter is a reflective literary novel, with a full cast of colourful local characters, which takes place over just one hot summer’s day in the city and pays homage to the country’s most celebrated author, Fernando Pessoa.

Bring it home

Stock up your pantry with all kinds of Portuguese staples from A Portuguese Love Affair: purveyors of tinned sardines bathing in all kinds of oils and sauces, plus traditionally made black pudding (morcela), artisanal goat’s cheese, and plenty more.

No self-respecting virtual tourist should leave virtual Lisbon without clutching some fanciful take on azulejos – the glazed ceramic tiles, often painted in azure and white, that adorn chapels, courtyards, palaces and kitchens across the city.

Artsy online emporium A Vida Portuguesa offers azulejos in the most practical form of coasters or pot stands, as well as embroidered tableware, locally made soaps and quaint silver pendants, all by homegrown designers.

Before diving into any recipes, it’s only right to start with an appetite-stoking aperitif.

The porto tonico, or P&T, if you like, is a Portuguese classic that requires little in the way of ingredients. It’s a simple two-to-one ratio of tonic water to white port, garnished with a wedge of citrus, or a ribbon of cucumber.

Other local failsafes include a bottle of zippy vinho verde (which you can buy from Portuguese wine specialist Bar Douro’s online bottle shop) or an ice-cold Sagres – just a few sips and you’ll be virtually basking in the sunshine in one of Lisbon’s rooftop bars, the breeze toying with your hair.

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Windstar Cruises Plans to Resume Cruising in September 2020

Small-ship cruise operator Windstar Cruises revealed plans to resume operations in September with the Wind Spirit in Tahiti, and gradually return other ships to service through July 2021.

“We have taken extraordinary measures to operate our yachts safely,” said Xanterra and Windstar CEO Andrew Todd. “While we look forward to welcoming guests aboard again, we believe this further suspension of operations is the responsible action to take. We have laid plans for a resumption of small-ship cruising beginning in September.”

The 148-guest Wind Spirit will be the first to resume sailing after suspending operations further due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Wind Spirit’s first cruise in Tahiti is scheduled to depart Sept. 3, 2020, and will operate previously scheduled itineraries.

The rest of the fleet is scheduled to return to service in phases as follows.

— The 342-guest Wind Surf will resume cruising Nov. 29, 2020, in the Caribbean on previously scheduled itineraries before heading to the Mediterranean in April 2021.

— The 148-passenger Wind Star will restart sailing Jan. 16, 2021, with Costa Rica and Panama Canal sailings and then head to the Mediterranean in April 2021.

— The 312-guest Star Breeze: Due to shipyard delays in Italy, where the ship and its sisters are being cut in half and lengthened, cruises in Asia, New Zealand and Australia were canceled. Star Breeze will resume sailing Oct. 27, 2020, in the Mediterranean before moving to the Caribbean in December 2020 to pick up sailings from Star Legend and Star Pride. Then Star Breeze will offer a few new Caribbean itineraries until June 2021 when it heads to Alaska. A new 10-day “Alaskan Splendors” sailing was added on June 3, 2021, after which it resumes its previously scheduled Alaska itineraries.

— The 312-guest Star Legend: Due to the shipyard delays, some sailings are canceled, and others will be picked up by the Star Breeze. Star Legend begins sailing March 1, 2021, in the Mediterranean and will pick up some sailings previously scheduled for Star Pride.

— The 312-guest Star Pride: Some sailings are canceled, and others will be picked up by Star Breeze. The Star Pride will begin sailing July 5, 2021, in Northern Europe.

Guests on canceled cruises will receive a future cruise credit (FCC) valued at 125 percent of all monies paid to Windstar. Guests who prefer a refund can request their FCC be converted to a refund equal to the amount paid on the Windstar booking once they receive their FCC. Guests will have 24 months to book and embark on any available Windstar cruise using their FCC. Windstar Cruises will protect travel advisor commissions on the affected bookings following the normal policy for canceled bookings.

Windstar’s reservations team will send letters outlining details to guests with canceled cruises and to those with only a change in which Star-class ship they’ll be aboard.

Windstar’s Travel Assurance Booking Policy allows travelers to cancel their cruise up to 15 days before departure and receive a 100 percent FCC based on money paid on the booking to be used on all sailings through Dec. 31, 2021.

“During this temporary pause in operations, Windstar’s staff is reviewing and updating its health and safety practices including enhanced sanitation protocols, health screenings, additional medical staff on board, expanded dining times with outdoor dining, and crew training,” the company said.

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African Travel, Inc Introducing 2020 Webinar Series

WHY IT RATES: African Travel, Inc is providing a webinar series for travel advisors to learn more about the various destinations in order to assist in planning their clients’ dream vacations. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

Adventure is on the top of our minds these days because, like you and your clients, we’re hungry for the next one.

There are a lot of exciting adventures out there, but trying to find the right one can be daunting. African Travel is helping solve this problem with its 2020 Webinar Series as well as providing some other top picks for under-the-radar safaris.

Beyond the ‘who, where and when’ to safari, African Travel will answer what safari experiences are right for your clients. The series includes:

—We Know Botswana: Listen to recording

—We Know Tanzania: May 21, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. PST

—We Know South Africa: June 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. PST

—We Know Kenya: July 23, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. PST

—We Know Rwanda: August 20, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. PST

—What’s New for 2021: September 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. PST

Tanzania: a Traditional Safari With a New Twist

Tanzania is a great place to start in the webinar series. The country has broad appeal as it delivers quintessential safari experiences with epic backdrops of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.

African Travel will share the best ways to explore Tanzania including new trends and twists on the traditional itinerary and ideas for more meaningful cultural connections.

Botswana: Adventure Minded Nature Lovers

Do you have clients wanting to disconnect and experience one of the healthiest wildlife ecosystems on earth? We can’t recommend Botswana enough.

In our recorded webinar, we navigate between the seasons, find out where to see the meerkats versus one of Africa’s largest surviving elephant populations and share a virtual safari of our own experiences.

We also share the latest on Botswana’s newest luxury lodge Xigera found in our Ultimate Botswana Luxury Safari.

Best Off-The-Beaten Patch Safari Destinations

And if you’re clients are looking for more of The Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Safari Destinations in Africa, our President Sherwin Banda recently gave his top picks to Departures magazine.

SOURCE: African Travel, Inc press release.

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New port facilities greet Puerto Vallarta visitors

Thanks in part to $16 million in private investment, Puerto Vallarta’s Cruise Port Authority has completed construction on its Los Alambiques cruise passenger welcome center and Hacienda Tequilera, a themed shopping center.

The decision to revamp Puerto Vallarta’s port, Puerto Magico, comes on the heels of Mexico’s National Development Plan 2019-2024 as well as the National Plan of Ports and Merchant Marine 2019-2024, which were put in place to develop new port and tourist businesses to create more employment for the local community. 

The project also includes developing new port facilities to increase capacity and efficiency as well as attract private investment to minimize the use of public resources. 

The new welcome center has three buildings, each drawing on designs and aesthetics from the tequila haciendas and sugar mills that have been endemic to the state of Jalisco for decades. The buildings house a duty-free shop and offices for local authorities and for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Hacienda Tequilera is an expansive shopping center that sells tequila and other regional products. The Hacienda will also be a stage for cultural productions and other entertainment. Puerto Magico has 76 stores, including a tequila museum, a chocolate museum, jewelry stores, clothing retailers and restaurants.

Shoring up

For passengers able to linger a little longer in the destination, Puerto Vallarta is showing off a few new developments for the coming tourist season. 

The Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway has unveiled the Fish Market dining concept. The sea-to-table experience takes ingredients straight from its doorstep, the Bay of Banderas. The menu features mahi-mahi, red snapper, sea bass, octopus, crab, lobster and clams. Guests can select their ingredients and style of preparation, from grilled to fried, ceviche or sashimi. 

In terms of destination highlights, Puerto Vallarta is beefing up marketing efforts to smaller towns and cities to the south, such as El Tuito and Playa Majahuitas. 

These off-the-radar hideaways highlight the regional cultural side, out of the limelight of the typical tourist attractions. These spots, along the raw and wild Costalegre, put a different lens on Puerto Vallarta, exposing the indigenous communities, local traditions and less-developed coastlines that have remained insider secrets for so long.

Visitors heading up the coast into Riviera Nayarit next year can experience the new Susurros Del Corazon hotel, an Auberge Resort. The resort in Punta Mita will open in March and will offer an elevated “beach bungalow” experience on a quiet stretch of beach. The resort will have 59 suites and 30 residences on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Banderas. Rooms will be available in Beach Casitas, Hacienda Villas, Ocean Bluff Villas and a sweeping Presidential complex that cascades down the hillside toward the ocean.

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Preferred Hotels & Resorts Welcomes 26 New Member Hotels

WHY IT RATES: Preferred Hotels & Resorts continues to grow with the addition of 26 new member hotels for agents and travelers to book.—Jessica Zickefoose, TravelPulse Associate Editor

Preferred Hotels & Resorts has welcomed 26 new member hotels across 14 destinations in the past four months, from January 1 and April 30, 2020, with the new additions ranging from the iconic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, to the soon-to-open Montage Healdsburg in Sonoma County, California.

Along with sales, marketing, revenue optimization, and distribution services, each of these new member hotels now has access to Preferred’s global network of corporate, leisure, and group sales professionals and can tap into the turnkey benefits of I Prefer Hotel Rewards, the brand’s global points-based loyalty program for independent hotels with 3.5 million travelers currently enrolled for membership.

“We are pleased to see more owners and operators turning to Preferred Hotels & Resorts to benefit from our flexible approach, favorable pricing, and strong overall brand value,” said Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. “We are delighted to welcome these best-in-class properties to the Preferred network and eagerly await the day when we can welcome our loyal guests back to experience the exemplary hospitality each of them offers, a sentiment best expressed by our latest brand video that was released today.”

“This significant increase to our brand portfolio indicates an impending takeoff in independent hotel affiliations as part of the pandemic rebound. We continue to receive increased interest from both independent hotels and properties currently in franchise contracts that are exploring less restrictive and more valuable options,” said Jonathan Newbury, Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Preferred Hotels & Resorts.

“Preferred Hotels & Resorts continues to position itself as the brand of choice for independent hotels because we offer our member hotels the freedom to compete on their own terms—not just when it’s convenient for us—while inviting them to tap into Preferred’s global reach as a rich complement to their individual efforts.”

Since January 1, the following properties have joined Preferred Hotels & Resorts:

—Biltmore Hotel (Coral Gables, Florida, United States) – A favorite of celebrities since opening in 1926, the 271-room property offers a championship golf course, European spa, Italian dining, and Biltmore Culinary Academy Miami offering adult and children’s classes.

—Montage Healdsburg (Healdsburg, California, United States) – From November, the 258-acre resort, surrounded by Sonoma County’s sought-after wineries and restaurants, will offer 130 bungalow-style guestrooms, Montage Spa, hiking trails, and vineyard yoga.

—Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay (Fnideq, Morocco) – Located on the northwest coast, the luxury resort boasts 92 all-pool villas with Andalusian-Moorish design and views out to the Mediterranean. For wellness seekers, Banyan Tree Spa offers customizable treatments.

—The Social House (Nairobi, Kenya) – Following its February launch in the capital city, the 83-room property brings guests and locals together with four stylish bar and restaurant venues and an ever-changing line-up of cultural events, concerts, and pop-up experiences.

—La Villa Haussmann (Paris, France) – Centrally located with Arc de Triomphe views, the boutique hotel reflects the legacy of architect Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann. In addition to 43 soundproofed rooms and suites, facilities include a spa, indoor pool, lounge bar, and restaurant.

—Brenton Hotel (Newport, Rhode Island, United States)

—The Summit Hotel (Cincinnati, Ohio, United States)

—The Lake House on Cananadaigua (Canandaigua, New York, United States)

—Inns of Aurora (Aurora, New York, United States)

—Saranac Waterfront Lodge (Saranac Lake, New York, United States)

—Live Aqua Private Residences Los Cabos (Cabo del Sol, Mexico)

—HS Hotsson Smart Leon Centro Max (Leon, Mexico)

—HS Hotsson Hotel Guadalajara Country Club(Guadalajara, Mexico)

—HS Hotsson Hotel Tampico (Tampico, Mexico)

—Palmaia, The House of AiA (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

—Bluedoors York Luxury Suites (Medellin, Colombia)

—Rancho Santana (Rancho Santana, Nicaragua)

—Middle Eight (London, United Kingdom)

—Hayfield Manor (Cork, Ireland)

—Kilkea Castle (Kildare, Ireland)

—Deltapark Vitalresort (Gwatt, Switzerland)

—Pestana Douro, Riverside Hotel & Conference Centre (Porto, Portugal)

—JA Oasis Beach Tower (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

—Noku Maldives (Noonu Atoll, Maldives)

—Dusit Doha Hotel (Doha, Qatar)

—Dusit Thani Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

All 26 new member hotels are bookable via PreferredHotels.com, and travel advisors can book stays for their clients via the GDS with Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ “PH” and “PV” chain codes.

For more information about these properties, or any others represented within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio, please visit PreferredHotels.com. Hotels interested in joining Preferred Hotels & Resorts are invited to visit PreferredHotels.com/Freedom.

SOURCE: Preferred Hotels & Resorts press release

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Avalon Unveils Plans and Protocols for Future Cruises

WHY IT RATES: In order to prepare for welcoming guests back on its ships in a safe and healthy way, Avalon Waterways has created the Avalon Assurance program. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

In anticipation of setting sail on the world’s waterways once more, Avalon Waterways has developed a NEW Avalon Assurance program to safeguard the health and happiness of travelers throughout their Avalon river cruise vacation.

“The world has changed but what remains certain is our steadfast commitment to our guests’ safety, comfort and peace-of-mind,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “To that end, we have established a Global Health & Safety team dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start-to-finish.”

The river cruise operator’s new Avalon Assurance program currently features seven major categories and protocols that span across guest experience touch-points – all of which are being shared, explored, reviewed and renewed, accordingly. They include:

Welcome Aboard.

Avalon has plans to unveil new embarkation procedures that provide travelers a safe start to their journey. Among the company’s planned changes are mandatory health screenings, including touch-free temperature checks and luggage disinfection, prior to onboarding.

Fresh Air – Inside & Out.

Eighty percent of Avalon Waterways cabins are Panorama Suites, offering guests an Open-Air experience on each ship. In addition to Avalon’s Open-Air staterooms, the air in its ships is not circulated between staterooms; only within an individual stateroom and mixed with fresh, outside air.

New Technology to Ensure Cleanliness.

To further advance Avalon’s new Assurance protocols, the company is also introducing new, top-of-the-line technologies including Electrostatic cleaning systems and UV disinfecting systems.

Touching Hearts, Not Hands.

Avalon’s new assurance protocols will also ensure more risk-free and hands-free services onboard, such as more hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship (including all public areas); replacing buffet and self-serve stations with crew services and hourly disinfection (at a minimum) of all public areas.

Blending Cultural Proximity with Social Distance.

River cruising presents guests an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy the world around them, docking in the heart of destinations. Avalon will continue to deliver this, with more space for social distancing including reducing ship capacity and alternative dining venues as well as providing guests and crew masks for use, as needed or required.

Commitment to the Cleanest Ships.

Avalon has an unwavering commitment to ship cleaning procedures. Some new steps that go above-and-beyond its already stringent policies include deep-cleaning and disinfection of each stateroom during turnover – including soft goods, disinfection of all dining areas between meals and disinfection of shared items such as bicycles or umbrellas after each use.

Focus on Crew Health & Education.

Ensuring a happy, healthy Avalon crew is also a priority. Standards include required medical screenings and certificates of health, new social distancing in crew living quarters and ongoing training in PPE use and hygiene.

In addition, Avalon Waterways is reviewing excursion standards and protocols with partners across the globe.

“We will continue to review and update our Assurance initiatives as we make the pivot back to the world’s waterways. We are looking at September 1, 2020 for that,” said Hoffee. “While we place a spotlight on guest safety and well-being, we will also deliver to our travelers a wonderful vacation. An escape that invites them to take part in the joy of discovering new places, new people and new cultures – everything they already expect from an Avalon Waterways vacation.”

Avalon Waterways’ Global Health & Safety team is made-up of health and safety experts around the world, adhering to – and building upon – the standards set forth by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).

For full details, visit http://www.avalonwaterways.com/avalon-assurance/. Travel advisors can get details at https://agents.globusfamily.com/avalon-assurance/.

SOURCE: Avalon Waterways press release.

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