5 things to know: 9 July 2019
5 things to know: 9 July 2019
09 JULY 2019 9:22 AM

From the desks of the Hotel News Now editorial staff:

  • Marriott pushes back on UK data breach fine
  • $460m Ritz project announced in Portland
  • Tips on managing condo-hotels
  • JSN, Elegant clash over Antigua resort management
  • US, China reopening trade talks

Marriott pushes back on U.K. data breach fine: Officials with Marriott International have issued a statement noting the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office intends to levy a £99.2 million ($123.6 million) fine on the company related to the breach of the Starwood reservations database. According to the news release, Marriott officials intend to “respond and vigorously defend its position.”

“We are disappointed with this notice of intent from the ICO, which we will contest,” President and CEO Arne Sorenson said in the release. “Marriott has been cooperating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database.

“We deeply regret this incident happened. We take the privacy and security of guest information very seriously and continue to work hard to meet the standard of excellence that our guests expect from Marriott.”

The Starwood data breach was ongoing for years, Marriott officials have said, but was discovered and announced in 2018.

$460m Ritz project announced in Portland: BPM Real Estate Group has announced plans for a 1.1-million-square foot development in downtown Portland, Oregon, which includes $460 million in funding and plans for the city’s first Ritz-Carlton, according to a news release from George Smith Partners.

The development project, called Block 216, “will encompass a full city block, located at the intersection of the Central Business and Pearl districts in the heart of downtown Portland.” The Ritz-Carlton property will have 251 hotel rooms and 138 branded residences.

Oregon Live reports the development site had long been the host of “the city’s largest collection of food carts,” which have vacated in anticipation of the development.

Tips on managing condo-hotels: Some traditional hotel managers have made the jump to working in condo-hotels, and HNN contributor Alicia Hoisington highlights why and how more are working in that space.

There is necessarily a higher level of complexity in the space, especially since condos mean various individual owners on property, but there’s a payoff for wading into the world of condo-hotels, sources said.

“Simply put, there are few groups that manage condo-hotels. It gives us an opportunity to create a niche in the market because there isn’t a lot of competition,” said Michael Tall, president and COO of Charlestowne Hotels. “And there is a lot of opportunity out there because there are so many mismanaged condo-hotels.”

JSN, Elegant clash over Antigua resort management: JSN Development Group Limited has announced in a news release that the company has “severed its relationship with Elegant Hotels Group PLC” in relation to the operations of the Hodges Bay Resort & Spa in Antigua, but a statement from Elegant indicates officials with that company believe JSN’s move is improper.

The JSN news release notes the company “terminated its agreement today with their lawyers, CANDEY, alleging repudiatory breach of contract, accounting failures and financial negligence,” without going into detail on any of those allegations.

But in a statement from Elegant also issued Tuesday morning, company officials dispute “the validity of this termination notice” and note they intend “to take all action necessary to preserve shareholder value.”

“Hodges Bay, which was originally due to open in July 2017, remains incomplete due to ongoing issues with the construction of the property, which are outside of Elegant Hotels’ control,” the statement reads. “However, Hodges Bay was being operated by Elegant Hotels on a partially open basis. The company confirms that, although the operating term of the management contract has not commenced, it has now received a termination notice in relation to the management contract.”

U.S., China reopening trade talks: Not much has changed since the last round of trade talks between the U.S. and China crumbled two months ago, but the two sides have announced plans to return to the negotiations table, Reuters reports.

The news agency said the new round of talks was sparked by a late June meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in which Trump suspended plans for $300 billion in tariffs for goods imported from China.

But while talks will resume this week, experts believe the high level summit “did little to clear the path for top negotiators to resolve an impasse that caused trade deal talks to break down in early May.”

Compiled by Sean McCracken.

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