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March 25, 2016

The Top Meetings Industry Stories of the Week

It's been a busy week for the MICE industry, with some big news from Starwood and Marriott and the terrorist attacks in Brussels dominating the headlines. Here's a look at our most-read stories. 

Starwood and Marriott Hotels Are Headed to Cuba

In big news for Caribbean hotels, both Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International announced plans this week to open hotels in Cuba. The two companies made their respective announcements as part of President Obama's visit to the country, the first by a sitting U.S. president in more than 80 years. 

While there was no word yet on potential brands from Marriott, Starwood said that the Hotel Inglaterra in Havana will join The Luxury Collection, and that the Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. Both hotels will undergo renovations before raising their new brand flags later in 2016. Starwood has also signed a Letter of Intent to convert the Hotel Santa Isabel into a member of The Luxury Collection.

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Starwood Accepts New Bid From Marriott Over Anbang

Cuba wasn't the only big story from Starwood and Marriott this week. Their ongoing merger saga -- which took a turn last week after Chinese insurance company Anbang launched its own unsolicited bid for Starwood -- changed again as Starwood accepted a new bid from Marriott, topping the one from Anbang. 

The transaction is subject to approval by stockholders of both companies, and each company has agreed to convene their respective stockholder meetings to consider the deal March 28, and to immediately adjourn such meeting until April 8. Additionally, the break-up fee Starwood would have to pay to Marriott under certain circumstances in which the merger does not occur has increased to $450 million, from $400 million. 

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Europe Travel Alert Following Brussels Attacks

In a more somber turn of events this week, the State Department issued a travel alert for Europe in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in Brussels, which struck the city's international airport and a subway station near offices of the European Union

The State Department warns that terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation. This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.

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southeast asia

One-on-One: IHG to Double Southeast Asia Hotels

In other hotel news, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced plans for a big expansion, particularly in Southeast Asia, where it plans to double its presence. 

Our partner publication, Hotel Management, caught up with Leanne Harwood, vice-president of operations for Southeast Asia and Korea at IHG, for a talk on the company's plans. 

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Marriott CEO Talks More on Starwood Merger

In more merger talk, this week Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson also offered some more insights into the company's plans for if the Starwood merger goes through during a 45-minute call with investors while he was visiting Cuba with President Obama. 

On the call Sorenson spoke about the fate of the Marriott Reward and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programs, what's next for the 30 combined hotel brands, and more. 

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Keep visiting www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest MICE industry news, trends and updates. 

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About the Author: Adam Leposa





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