HOTEL HOT SHEET
Do We Need All These Properties? Almost half of the nation's hotel rooms are now empty, yet new properties continue to open because the big chains can't plug the development pipeline. Hilton, for example, has opened a 210-room Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Minneapolis. Meanwhile, Hyatt has opened the 346-room Grand Hyatt Seattle and a 567-room hotel in Sha Tin, in the New Territories area of Hong Kong. Also in China, Renaissance has opened a 684-room hotel in a 60-story high rise in the Cloud Nine commercial complex. The lobby is on the 25th floor. And there are two more hotels in overbuilt Arizona, too. Starwood has opened an Aloft hotel in Tempe and Radisson has opened a 154-room property in Yuma. … Meanwhile, the Don Shula Golf Club in Miami Lakes, Florida, has been reflagged as a Hotel Indigo. And Florida's Naples Grande Beach Resort (formerly the Registry Resort) has become part of Hilton's Waldorf Astoria Collection.
NEED TO KNOW
On-the-Road Intelligence to Help You Travel Smarter: Several struggling casinos in Atlantic City have teamed up with Amtrak and New Jersey Transit to launch a rail connection from New York and Newark. The ACES Train will operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between Penn Station in Manhattan, Penn Station in Newark and the Atlantic City train station. Fares currently start at $50 one-way. … Caribbean travelers take note: KLM drops its flights between Amsterdam and the Dutch territory of Aruba at the end of March. … A new version American Express card tied to the Hilton HHonors program is loaded with perks. The Surpass card offers complimentary HHonors Gold status if you spend $20,000 a year and top-level Diamond status if you charge $40,000 a year. It also awards nine HHonors points for each dollar spent at Hilton properties, six points per dollar spent on some categories of purchases and three points per dollar for all other spending.
TRAVEL TECH TALK
Better Travel Through Technology: A group of mobile-phone makers says it will standardize handsets so that they can use common AC chargers. The group includes Nokia, Motorola and Samsung and two wireless carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile. The consortium promises to introduce the standardized chargers by 2012. … A year behind its announced schedule, Southwest Airlines has launched a test of in-flight Internet service. The test will be expanded to a total of four aircraft next month.
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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.