BUILD FIFTH HOTEL
Just months after finishing construction of its Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando announced Tuesday it will build a fifth hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, to open in the summer of 2016.
The new hotel will be built around a tropical lagoon and waterfall, and its decor will have a Caribbean theme. It will have 1,000 rooms, including 77 suites, as well as a pool and water slide, children’s play area, sand beach and fire pit.
When the hotel is completed, Universal will have 5,200 rooms on-site. By comparison, Disney-owned hotels at Walt Disney World Resort have about 24,000 rooms.
DUBAI PLANNING LEGOLAND PARK
A property development company controlled by Dubai’s ruler is outlining plans for the first phase of an entertainment and resort complex in the city that promises the Middle East’s first Legoland theme park.
The project is part of a broader push by the Arab world’s commercial hub to ramp up its hotel and tourism offerings as it prepares to host the World Expo in 2020.
Meraas Holding said initial work began in February on the $2.7 billion Dubai Parks and Resorts project, and that the first phase should be done by 2016.
TRAVEL AGENTS MAKING A COMEBACK
Don’t count travel agents out just yet. Although online travel websites such as Orbitz and Travelocity are now responsible for about 70 percent of travel booking in the U.S., the folks who work out of brick-and-mortar travel agencies are reporting booming sales.
Travel agents say revenue, bookings and clients are up in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year, according to a survey by the American Society of Travel Agents, which represents nearly 6,000 travel agents across the country.
Of the agents questioned in the survey, 47 percent reported higher revenue, with 27 percent saying revenue has remained about the same as last year. Also, 45 percent reported more transactions this year, with 30 percent saying business has been about the same.
The surge in business for travel agents may be a sign that Americans, encouraged by an improved economy and higher home values, are turning to travel agents to plan more intricate vacations, according to some agents.
MEXICO CITY AIRPORT IN THE WORKS
British architect Norman Foster and Mexican colleague Fernando Romero have had their design chosen for Mexico City’s new $9.2 billion airport.
Foster is one of the world’s leading architects and designed the Beijing Terminal 3 airport. Romero is the son-in-law of Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim.
The new airport will have six runways and capacity to serve 120 million passengers per year when it is finished.