Turnberry, Fairmont part ways

The Aventura resort formerly known as Fairmont Turnberry Isle has dropped the “Fairmont” from its title and operations.

Turnberry Hotel Group has taken over management of the 392-room property, now known as the Turnberry Isle Hotel & Resort. Turnberry Hotel Group is a division of Turnberry Associates, which created the resort in the 1970s and reacquired it in 2006.

In a statement, Turnberry Hotel Group President C. Scott Rohm thanked the international luxury hotel chain for its efforts. “However, it is time for change at Turnberry Isle Hotel & Resort,” Rohm said. “Turnberry Hotel Group is re-emphasizing the glamour, personalized service and experiences that reflect the iconic resort’s unique history and character.”

Reservations, meetings and other events will transition without any changes, the hotel said.

The statement said that “nearly all” Turnberry Isle staffers have been invited to remain. The company would not say how many decided to stay or how many employees had been let go.

Douglas Hustad, formerly the vice president/general manager at The Inn on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. is the new managing director.

Through a spokesman, Rohm declined to answer any additional questions. A Fairmont spokeswoman would not comment beyond issuing a statement acknowledging “issues related to the Turnberry Isle and its hotel management agreement.“

The companies were involved in legal wrangling back in 2009, when Turnberry sued Fairmont claming the operator mismanaged the property. Fairmont said it was owed millions in fees, and an arbitrator eventually said Turnberry had to pay Fairmont $6 million. Neither company would address that history Monday.

Miami-Dade hotel consultant Scott Brush said shedding a brand and management company could save an owner money — but there are risks.

"The question is whether they can, without that name, generate all that business. And it’s tough,” Brush said. “Except the Turnberry does have a name all on its own.”


Tourism keeps on trucking in Florida

Numbers out this week prove what hoteliers have been saying for months: This spring was a good one for the tourist industry in Florida.

Second-quarter visitors increased by nearly 7 percent statewide, according to Visit Florida. Last year's numbers were lower than officials had hoped because of the oil disaster in the Gulf.

We talked to tourism chiefs and hoteliers in South Florida, and they all agreed: A busy spring turned into a solid summer, which is expected to lead to a strong fall and winter.

Read more in today's story here.


More areas going smokeless at sea

Cabins on major cruise lines will be smoke-free by the beginning of next year as cruise ship companies tighten their smoking policies.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that smoking in staterooms will be outlawed starting in January. Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises made similar announcements in June.

Read more here about why the cruise operators are making the changes.


Vacation renters, beware

Back in June, we wrote about a couple whose wedding plans were scuttled when the Miami Beach home they'd rented for the occasion turned out to be a scam.

Turns the vacation rental fraud victims have plenty of company. We've been tracking down information and other similar stories for the last month. In today's story, linked here, read more about vacation rental scams and how not to fall for one.

Esti and Ryan Brooks had a happy outcome: Hotel Breakwater, which was just opening on Ocean Drive, heard about the story and donated their venue for the ceremony. They're hoping the final chapter of this ordeal will involve an arrest -- and the return of their $6,300.



Morgans' South Beach hotels have solid second quarter

Morgans Hotel Group's Miami Beach hotels -- the Delano, Shore Club and Mondrian -- all posted gains in the second quarter of 2011 compared to 2010. The company itself posted a loss in the quarter, though a smaller one than the previous year.

During a call to discuss earnings Tuesday afternoon, CEO Michael Gross said the company would likely not be looking to sell the Delano despite selling off several other properties earlier this year. Morgans recently announced it had used the stylish South Beach property to secure a $100 million line of credit, which will be used to fund growth.

Read more about the company's plans for the Delano, and a new Mondrian coming to the Bahamas, here.


Norwegian Cruise Line reports higher prices, bigger spenders

Norwegian Cruise Line posted a $29 million profit in the quarter that ended June 30, a marked improvement from the previous year, when the Miami-based company reported a net loss of nearly $15 million.

The cruise operator brought in $568.6 million in total revenue, up from nearly $478 million during the same time the previous year. Net revenue was $418 million compared to $349 million during the second quarter of 2010.

Adjusted EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — increased 29 percent to $123.5 million.

Net yield, or the revenue generated per berth per day, increased 4.2 percent thanks to higher ticket prices and increased spending onboard.

President and CEO Kevin Sheehan said the company’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, performed well as it moved from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean during the second quarter. He said the rest of the fleet has shown “consistent” yield improvement.

Epic debuted in June 2010; two new ships dubbed Project Breakaway are on order. Though they aren’t scheduled for delivery until 2013 and 2014, Sheehan said the company is preparing for their arrival.

“We need to get everything ready for the Breakaway ships and make sure we’ve got the business lean and mean,” he said.


Miami-Dade looking for gay newlyweds too

We told you about Broward's efforts to lure gay honeymooners now that same-sex couples can get married in New York. Miami-Dade is making its own pitch, with an ad in last weekend's New York Times and more coming up.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is already running a "Miami Summer of Love" campaign, is tweaking that message to target the recent change in New York law that allows gay couples to wed.

Their ad shows a male couple locking lips on a park bench with the pitch: "You married for better or worse. Here's the better...Marry in New York, honeymoon in Miami."


Broward seeking gay honeymooners

Honeymoon with Pride 
Broward tourism officials are finding new ways to bring more business from two significant markets: gay travelers and New Yorkers.

In celebration New York’s legalization of gay marriage, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has launched a new marketing campaign to lure newlyweds to the destination. The bureau is running an ad in the New York Times this weekend (see above) and launching a website.

The site — www.sunny.org/honeymoonwithpride — is offering a “Honeymoon with Pride” contest with the prize being five nights at the Royal Palms Resort & Spa or three nights at the Atlantic Resort & Spa.

"Bringing an estimated one million gay travelers to Greater Fort Lauderdale last year was a remarkable achievement, and now we grow even prouder celebrating the legalization of gay marriage in New York,” said Broward tourism chief Nicki Grossman in a statement.

Three local hotels have created honeymoon packages: the Royal Palms, which is offering a six-night stay, spa treatments, a photography session and Intracoastal yacht cruise; the Atlantic, with three nights at the hotel, welcome cocktails and a discount at the spa and the Grand Resort & Spa, with a two-night stay, chocolates, and a massage or facial.


More Nikki Beach hotels in the pipeline

Nikki Beach Club is known in South Beach for its Sunday brunch party scene, famous sun lounges and iconic white teepees.

Now, the company that Jack Penrod built is hoping to be known for luxury resorts around the world.

Read more about the company's plans to expand hotel operations in locales including Qatar, Croatia, Greece and Egypt here.


Norwegian Cruise Line to offer pizza delivery on all ships

Norwegian Cruise Line is expanding its onboard pizza delivery options -- but the service will cost some extra dough.

First launched on the Norwegian Epic, 24-hour pizza delivery is being added on the cruise line's eight ships that depart from U.S. ports throughout July. The service will roll out to Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun in Europe in August.

Pies (16 inches, either cheese, pepperoni or vegetarian) can be delivered almost anywhere on the ships at any time. The cost is $5 each.

The Epic's room service menu, with more options than available on other ships, is also being expanded to the rest of the fleet. Room service will stay free between 5 a.m. and midnight, but the cruise operator is introducing a $3.95 "overnight surcharge" to orders placed between midnight and 5 a.m.