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Category: Hotels

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Red Roof Inn launches redesign based on guest suggestions

Complete Renovation_Dark Scheme 1_slant_websize

If you could redesign your hotel room, what would you include?

Red Roof Inn, one of the nation’s largest budget hotel chains, has launched a $90-million redesign effort this month for its nearly 350 hotels across the country based on the comments of thousands of guests in Texas, Georgia and Ohio.

The data was collected from email surveys taken over the last 12 to 18 months.

The top request by guests was for more electrical outlets in each room to power all of those smartphones, e-readers and other mobile electronic devices. The chain said it will add a minimum of four extra outlets per room as part of the redesign project.

The second most requested change was to install flat-screen TVs. The hotel chain plans to put 32- and 37-inch flat screen TVs in every hotel room nationwide by the end of 2012.

Other changes that are coming as a result of the guest survey are new wood-like flooring instead of carpeting, more powerful shower heads and more bathroom counter space.

“When someone is traveling, they want to feel at home, or better,” Red Roof President Andrew Alexander said in a statement.

The Red Roof Miami Airport hotel will be the first to get the upgrade. The chain’s 12 hotels in California should get the redesign work completed by the end of 2014.


Hollywood hotel project back on track with new operator

Forecast for tourism in Southern California is positive

Nevada casinos see big drop in gambling revenue

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: A rendering of a renovated Red Roof Inn room. Credit: Red Roof Inn

Ask Laz: Can your boss put your vacation requests on hold? [Video]

OK, worker bee, an island getaway is calling your name, but your boss won't let you answer. Is that kosher? 

KTLA viewer Veronica is asking. Her mom works for a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. When she puts in for time off, hotel management tells her whether she can get the break depends on how many guests they have at the time.   

She wants to know whether they can legally do that.

Laz's reply? Well, that depends.

Click the video to find out more. 




You can catch David Lazarus on KTLA-TV Channel 5 weekday mornings and during the 1 p.m. newscast. 

If you have a question, write or send a video to You might just get the answer on KTLA. 



Women a century away from breaking California glass ceiling, study says

Most companies plan on having holiday parties: report 

60% of workplaces surveyed block online shopping at the office



-- Michelle Maltais


Hollywood hotel project back on track with new operator

Selma hotel

Long-standing plans to build a $45-million hotel in Hollywood have been revived, the developers said, with new financing and a new operator.

The nine-story hotel at Selma Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard formerly to be known as the Selma was approved by city officials in 2008, but funding for real estate development grew hard to come by as lenders tightened their purse strings in the economic downturn.

“We fought hard to find conventional financing,” developer Richard Heyman said. “But conventional doesn’t exist anymore, so we turned to finding alternative sources of capital.”

The solution, he said, was the federal EB-5 program, which provides green cards to immigrant investors who put up a minimum investment of $500,000 for development in targeted areas. The project, expected to create more than 900 jobs, received federal approval last month to participate in EB-5 financing.

Construction on the 148-room hotel will begin in the spring and it will open in fall 2013, according to Heyman and his partner Grant King. It will be operated by Hampshire Hotels & Resorts under the New York company’s hip Dream Hotel brand.

The design by Los Angeles firm Killefer Flammang Architects includes a swimming pool, restaurant and lounge to be built atop an existing parking garage.

Heyman’s company, Five Chairs, developed Milk Studios in Hollywood and transformed the former Frederick’s of Hollywood building on Hollywood Boulevard into the Kress nightclub.

Other Dream hotels are in New York, Miami Beach, Bangkok and Cochin, India. They are intended to be full-service but relaxed luxury hotels, Heyman said.


Sales of Los Angeles hotels are brisk

-- Roger Vincent

Image: Architect's rendering of the planned Dream Hotel in Hollywood. Credit: Killefer Flammang Architects



Prices for Thanksgiving travel and feast going up


If you plan on traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, the cost of your trip is likely to be higher than last year, and the financial pain could strike almost every aspect of your vacation. Even the cost of the turkey dinner.

The average airfare for travel to the top 10 most popular destinations in the U.S. for Nov. 23 to Nov. 27 has jumped 11% over last year, according to an analysis by Orbitz, one of the nation’s busiest travel websites. That means the average round-trip ticket for Thanksgiving rose to $373 from about $340.

Flights to New York for the holiday will rise the most, jumping 20% over last year, with an average round-trip price of $342, according to Orbitz. Round-trip flights to Los Angeles will increase 12% to $429, according to the travel website.

Meanwhile, the average hotel rate for the nation’s top 25 destinations for Nov. 24 to Nov. 28 is expected to rise nearly 5% to $126.35 a night, according to a report by Travelclick, a New York company that provides e-commerce products and services to the hotel industry.

New York has the highest average hotel rates, $205.99 per night, an increase of 3.7% over last year, according to Travelclick. In Los Angeles, the average hotel rate will go up 4.6% to $112.42 a night.

You won’t escape the higher prices by driving: Gas prices reached the highest levels ever in the week prior to Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $3.82 a gallon last week,  66 cents higher than the same time last year.

And with food prices on the rise, the American Farm Bureau Federation is predicting that the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. will rise 13% this year, the biggest increase in two decades.


Thanksgiving travel in Southern California expected to rise

Ten years later, TSA screening still frustrates air travelers

Southern Californians to spend less on holiday travel, poll says

-- Hugo Martin

Photo credit: Reuters

Forecast for tourism in Southern California is positive

Touristson rodedrive

Southern California’s tourism and hotel industries have rebounded strongly from the recession and are expected to continue to improve next year.

That was the message issued Thursday by industry leaders attending the 2011 Southern California Visitors Industry Outlook Conference in Anaheim, an annual gathering of the region’s convention, hotel and tourism leaders.

While hotels suffered steep drops in demand and revenue in 2008 and 2009, industry leaders said Thursday that a decline in construction of new hotels and an increase in demand from business travelers and international visitors should push revenue and occupancy levels back to pre-recession levels by next year.

Hotel occupancy levels in Los Angeles County are projected to reach 77% next year, about the same rate as in 2007, according to a forecast by PKF Consulting USA.

“We don’t see another down cycle at least not before 2015,” PKF senior vice president Jeff Lugosi told the gathering at the Disneyland Hotel.

Tourism experts also predicted Southern California tourism will continue to grow thanks to the opening next year of several new attractions, including "Carsland," a new themed land at Disney’s California Adventure Park, and "Transformers: The Ride" at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Business and leisure travelers who cut back on spending during the recession are ready to spend again, industry experts said.

“People are tired of feeling bad,” said Gary Sherwin, president of Visit Newport Beach Inc., the tourism agency for Newport Beach.


Airline traffic worldwide up nearly 6% in September

International travel to the U.S. expected to boom

Christmas travel spending to increase, survey says

Hugo Martin

Photo: Tourists pose for photos on Rodeo Drive. Credit: Los Angeles Times


Nevada casinos see big drop in gambling revenue

Nevada casinos won nearly 6% less from gamblers in September than they did during the same month last year, Nevada casino regulators reported.

The report by Nevada's State Gaming Control Board on Wednesday showed casinos statewide won $864 million from gamblers, $53.8 million less than in September 2010, the Associated Press reported.

Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board, told the Associated Press that a big decline in the play of baccarat, a volatile, high-roller game favored by Asian players, was largely to blame for the decrease.

Baccarat players wagered $647.4 million in September, down $344 million, or 34.7%. Of that, casinos won $81.9 million, a decline of $46.4 million, or 36.2%, Lawton said.

Excluding baccarat, overall statewide winnings fell less than 1%, indicating the industry's main gambling revenue sources — card games, slot machines, roulette — are showing signs of recovery after years of double-digit decreases during the economic downturn.

"That core business is showing strength," Lawton told the Associated Press.

Gambling revenue on the Las Vegas Strip fell 5.7% to $490.9 million. Strip resorts generate about half of total statewide casino revenues.

Casinos in Reno won $48.9 million for a 2.6% increase over September 2010. South Lake Tahoe casinos, which have struggled with the spread of Indian casinos in California and the recession, saw revenues drop 14.3%.

Gambling-related stocks plunged Wednesday, along with the rest of the world’s markets. Shares of MGM Resorts International fell 7.3%, Wynn Resorts Ltd. dropped 4% and Las Vegas Sands Corp. was down 3.75%. BJK, an exchange-traded fund that holds dozens of gaming stocks, was down 5.1%.


MGM Resorts wants to implode unopened hotel at CityCenter

The dream dies in Las Vegas

Man arrested in $1.5 million heist at Bellagio

-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Credit: Ronda Churchill / Bloomberg


La Costa Resort's $50-million renovation complete

La Costa Resort & Spa on Monday will unveil the results of a $50-million makeover intended to update the family-oriented resort and make it more appealing to adults.

The Carlsbad inn competes with several newer resorts in north San Diego County and south Orange County and was due to be renovated, industry experts said.

The makeover taking place over the last 18 months freshened 474 guest rooms, updated meeting rooms with new technology and added amenities to the spa. The resort also got a new swimming pool and whirlpool bath area overlooking the golf course that is strictly for adults.

La Costa had a $40-million makeover in 2003 but it was time for another, said consultant Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality, who is not involved with La Costa. He recommends that hotels set aside enough income to conduct serious renovations every five to eight years.

“In order be competitive, you have to keep putting money back into a hotel,” he said. “It’s very important if you want to maintain your group business and meeting business that you keep the property up.”

About 55% of La Costa’s guests come to attend a business function, general manager Paul McCormick said. The rest are leisure travelers.

The large resort –- it includes 611 rooms, suites and villas on 400 acres -– has evolved over decades. Soon after it opened in 1965, ads in The Times suggested that children ride horseback while Dad golfed and Mom played tennis or relaxed by the pool. The resort still focuses on family activities, with a kids club, game lounge and daunting water slides at the main pool to keep youngsters entertained.

“It’s now a wonderful campus environment,” McCormick said, but it was time to spruce up some of the adult components. The golf course was improved, he said, and a sports bar was added. “The real focus has been how do we bring sexy back to La Costa.”

Other hotels are likely to follow La Costa’s lead as the hotel industry gets back on its feet after rough years during and after the recession, consultant Reay said.

“There is a tremendous amount of inventory that has not been upgraded” since the economic downturn began, he said. “You are going to see a whole wave of hotels renovating over the next two or three years.”


Spending on hotel improvements is on the rise

Downtown Los Angeles hotel Kyoto Grand sold

Legoland to begin hotel construction in October

-- Roger Vincent

Photo: A plaza at La Costa.  Credit: La Costa Resort & Spa 

Sales of Los Angeles hotels are brisk

MarriottWith the hospitality business in recovery and some financially troubled properties coming to market, sales of hotels in Los Angeles County have increased dramatically in 2011, a real estate brokerage said.

Investors have spent $550 million so far this year on such properties as the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens in downtown Los Angeles and the Sheraton Universal Hotel Los Angeles in Universal City, a 77% increase from the same 10-month period in 2010, real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report.

Los Angeles is one of the largest tourism markets in the country and second to New York as the top-ranked destination for overseas visitors, the report said. Historically, Los Angeles’ most well-known attractions have been Hollywood studios, Santa Monica beaches and Beverly Hills shopping. However, downtown Los Angeles has come into its own following a decadelong renaissance.

“The revitalization of the downtown Los Angeles market, along with an increased volume of international and overnight visitors continues to be a key driver for the economy,” said John Strauss, a managing director at Jones Lang.

Downtown Los Angeles is seeing a flood of foreign and domestic investment in major development projects. Korean Air plans to demolish the 896-room Wilshire Grand Hotel north of Staples Center and replace it with a $1-billion mixed-use complex with office, retail and residential components, along with a luxury hotel. The existing hotel is slated to close at the end of the year.

Also planned downtown near L.A. Live is a 22-story hotel to be operated as both a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Courtyard by Marriott starting in 2014. Other hotel brands and developers are shopping for sites to build new inns, real estate brokers said.

Los Angeles is projected to host more overnight visitors this year than it has in a decade — an increase bolstered by strong international tourism specifically from Australia, Britain and Japan. International visitors represent one-fifth of the city’s tourist arrivals and generate more than one-third of tourist spending. The number of foreign visitors last year increased 18%, providing a boost to the Los Angeles hotel market.

Revenue produced by L.A. County hotel rooms is expected to continue to increase next year, the report said, but sales probably will be down because the number of properties available for purchase will diminish.


Downtown Los Angeles hotel Kyoto Grand sold

Historic United Artists building sold in downtown Los Angeles

-- Roger Vincent

Photo: L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: US Presswire

Consumer Confidential: Credit cards, college costs, travel prices

Here's your walking-on-sunshine Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Your credit card knows a lot about you, and our friends at Visa and MasterCard may be using that info to sell you stuff. The Wall Street Journal says the credit card companies are currently trying to work out a system whereby purchases consumers make in a brick-and-mortar store can be used to deliver more effective ads online. A MasterCard document obtained by the Journal outlines some of the company's plans, which included linking Web users with purchases. According to document, the credit card provider said it believes "you are what you buy." The Journal said that Visa is planning a similar service, which would aggregate its customers' purchase history into segments, including location, to make ads more effective at appealing to people in a respective area.

-- The cost of a college education keeps going up. Average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose an additional $631 this fall, or 8.3%, compared with a year ago, according to the College Board. Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. Throw in room and board, and the average list price for a state school now runs more than $17,000 a year. The large increase in federal grants and tax credits for students, on top of stimulus dollars that prevented greater state cuts, helped keep the average tuition and fees that families actually pay much lower: about $2,490, or just $170 more than five years ago. But the days of states and families relying on budget relief from Washington appear numbered.

-- Also heading north: Travel prices. Higher demand and a reduced number of available seats will lead to higher airline ticket prices next year, even in a slow-growing economy, according to the American Express Global Business Travel Forecast. But prices won't jump as much as they did between 2010 and 2011, the forecast said. Business-class airfares are expected to rise the most next year. AmEx predicts prices for shorter North American flights in coach will increase by about 2% to 5%, while prices for longer economy flights will rise by 0.5% to 3.5%. In business class, rates will rise as much as 7% on shorter trips and 5% for longer ones.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: MasterCard and Visa may use your purchases to sell you stuff. Credit: Jonathan Bainbridge / Reuters


Hotel industry blasts Obama ethics rule


Just as the U.S. hotel industry begins to recover from the recession, industry leaders say they are being sabotaged by the Obama administration.

This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.

The contention centers on a new rule proposed by Obama’s Office of Government Ethics that would prohibit most federal employees from accepting free admission to conferences and other gatherings hosted by businesses or organizations that lobby the government.

The American Hotel & Lodging Assn., the trade group that represents the nation’s hotels, blasted the proposed rule, saying it is unneeded and prevents federal employees from mingling with people to learn about trends and problems in the country.

On top of that, the trade groups says the rule will cut down on attendance to conventions, trade shows and other gatherings, mostly held in hotels. The group worries that the rule will hurt an industry that has just begun to rebound from one of the worst periods in decades.

“Hotels are often the sites for conferences and events that federal employees would be banned from attending, thereby creating a direct negative impact to our business,” association president Joe McInerney said in a statement. “This would have grave consequences for hotels, the economy, and the millions of workers our industry employs.”

In proposing the rule last month, the Office of Government Ethics said the agency proposed the rule because federal employees of the executive branch who get free attendance to an event, particularly a gala or a concert, receive a gift “that the employee will enjoy in the very company of the lobbyist.”
The rule would allow some exemptions, including events hosted by the media or nonprofit groups. The public has until Nov. 14 to comment on the rule by going to

Employees who violate the regulation can be demoted or fired.

[For the record, 4:03 p.m.: A previous version of this post said the proposed rule would prohibit most federal employees from attending conferences and other gatherings hosted by businesses or organizations that lobby the government. Rather, it would prohibit such employees from accepting free admission to such gatherings.]


Fired Hotel Bel-Air workers ask Occupy L.A. to join their cause

Downtown Los Angeles hotel Kyoto Grand sold

Spending on hotel improvements is on the rise

--Hugo Martin

Photo: Guests check into the Hilton Checkers Los Angeles hotel. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Fired Hotel Bel-Air workers ask Occupy L.A. to join their cause


Union workers who were laid off from the Hotel Bel-Air called on protesters from Occupy L.A. to join a protest of the famed five-star hotel.

The hotel laid off about 250 union workers when it closed for a two-year renovation project in 2009. It plans to reopen on Friday, having rehired only about a dozen former union workers.

The union representing the dismissed workers, Unite Here Local 11, claims the hotel used the renovation project to oust the union. It has called for a boycott of the hotel and plans to picket and march around the hotel Friday evening.

"We are asking everyone not to eat, sleep or meet here," Manuel Roman, an organizer for the union.

The union has invited Occupy L.A., the group that is camped out around Los Angeles City Hall to protest corporate greed, to join the demonstration at the hotel.

The union plans to send a bus to City Hall on Friday to take interested Occupy L.A. activists to the pink, Mission-styled hotel frequented by celebrities and presidents.

Occupy L.A. has no formal leader but protesters at City Hall said they recognize the situation at the hotel as another example of rich companies abusing poor workers.

"I'm going to join them," Ryan Rice, a participant at Occupy L.A. said of the protest at the Hotel Bel-Air.

Hotel officials have said they offered laid-off workers a severance package when they closed the hotel but could not promise to rehire them.


Hotel Bel-Air holds a garage sale

Hotel Bel-Air taking reservations for autumn reopening

Hotel Bel-Air to reopen without most of its old union staff

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: Laid-off Hotel Bel-Air workers talk to reporters after a news conference. Credit: Los Angeles Times


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