Landmark Decision by Arbitration Panel on Aviara Resort


By David M. Brudney, ISHC, April 2010

I wonder if . . . an arbitration panel’s ruling to remove Four Seasons and place Hyatt as operator of the luxurious Aviara Resort will send a message to all luxury and high-end lodging owners and lenders that management contracts can be terminated without proving breach of the management agreement or an operator’s fiduciary duties to an owner - - the panel ruled that Four Seasons had not, but that both parties had contributed to the demise of their business relationship and that the management agreement should be terminated, according to a joint statement released by Four Seasons and Broadreach Capital Partners.  The Carlsbad, CA property will become known as the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort as of June 21st. 

I wonder if . . . Best Western’s new descriptors - - Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier - - will have the same experience Ramada had two decades ago when it introduced Ramada Renaissance and Ramada Plaza.  Renaissance was supposed to be Ramada’s entry into the higher-end market and Plaza was to be positioned as one notch above the standard Ramada Inn. 

I wonder if . . . the hotel industry will take a page from some Silicon Valley employers who offer extraordinary perks to keep expensive-to-replace employees happy and retained.  The Los Angeles Times reports that online social-games maker Zynga Game Network Inc. provides its employees with a company masseuse or reflexologist, gym membership, twice-weekly yoga lessons and upgraded health plans - - Zynga even throws in free snacks (vegan cookies and coconut water). 

Social media helping stimulate retail sales . . .  teenagers are back at the malls and buying again, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Andrea Chang’s article of March 28, 2010.  Retailers and marketers are carefully monitoring teen shopping patterns because youth-oriented retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale, and Zumiez reported strong sales for Q1 2010.  Part of what’s driving sales is pent-up demand by a market that finds a lot of pleasure along with a sense of identity from material purchases, according to industry analysts.  Tech-savvy teens are posting on Twitter and Facebook what they’re thinking of buying while they are at the mall and even shoot and upload photos of merchandise.  Young shoppers are using YouTube to post personal videos showing off their latest purchases - - all the more reason why smart marketers are embracing social media. 

San Francisco Bay Area café owner bans laptops.  The owner of a North Oakland café is asking customers to leave their laptops at home and actually speak to each other, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“When we opened this place we wanted to create a community.  Instead it’s just been a room full of laptops,” said Sal Bednarz, who opened Actual Café in January.  “I don’t have anything against technology, but it’s not the same as looking someone in the eye and pressing the flesh.”

Weekends only patrons (so far) who flip open their laptops will be asked to unplug, sign off and log out.  They’ll be encouraged to sit at communal tables and chat.  Customers, when pried away from their computer screens Friday afternoon, said they were thrilled at the idea.  They said they’re tired of their laptops, iPods and cell phones, too.  How is this bold initiative working out?  Here are some random comments from customers: 

“When I get away from the computer, it’s a relief.”

“(A patron without a computer) I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow café denizens.”

“Laptops cut people off.  I think it forms a social divide.  Technology’s great, but there’s a serious social impact.”

“Chatting is now starting to overcome the keystrokes (says the manager at nearby Nomad).  It’s really changed the feeling of the place.  It’s really nice.”

The owner of Nomad Café - - a neighborhood competitor that opened in 2003 - - became so disenchanted with laptops that he reduced the number of electrical outlets to one.

Perhaps the most compelling reason of all behind the Actual Café taking this step might be to discourage patrons from buying a two dollar cup of coffee and spending all day using a table that could be taken by a customer purchasing lunch, visiting with friends or otherwise spending money and then leaving.

In an effort to boost tourism for the struggling Southern California harbor community of Santa Catalina Island, a new zipline attraction was due to open this month.   Officials of the nearly 3,000 populated island destination less than 30 miles off the Los Angeles coast, say the near-4,000-foot-long attraction is designed to transport 300 customers a day - - each paying $89 a ride.  Catalina hopes that the zipline will broaden the island’s appeal to a younger crowd including families and baby boomers. 

Mount Airy, NC leverages its claim to the nickname Mayberry, the fictional town in the 1960s sitcom, “The Andy Griffith Show”, by hosting a Mayberry Days festival annually the last weekend in September.  Mount Airy is the home town in which Andy Griffith grew up and his home is now a bed-and-breakfast.  Tourists from all over stroll through a near-replica set that includes “Floyd’s” barber shop, Wally’s Filling Station, and Aunt Bee’s Barbeque - - and drawing the biggest crowds is a statue of Andy and his son Opie heading for that celebrated “fishin’ hole.”

Look for Cuba to take a bite out of the U.S. leisure traveler market if and when Congress lifts the 47-year ban on travel to the Communist island, according to BusinessWeek.  Cuba has been busy gearing up for the anticipated one million American tourists with groundbreaking for at least nine hotels in 2010.  Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said that nearly 200,000 rooms may be added in the “medium to long-term” and that Cuba is also seeking investment partners for 10 golf courses and luxury hotels aimed at Americans. 

© Copyright 2010

David M. Brudney, ISHC, is a veteran hospitality sales and marketing professional concluding his fourth decade of service to the hospitality industry.  Brudney advises lodging owners, lenders, asset managers and operators on hotel sales and marketing “best practices” and conducts reviews of hospitality (as well as other industry) sales and marketing operations throughout the U.S. and overseas.  The principal of David Brudney & Associates of Carlsbad, CA, a sales and marketing consulting firm specializing in the hospitality industry since 1979, Brudney is a frequent lecturer, instructor and speaker.  He is a charter member of International Society of Hospitality Consultants.  Previously, Brudney held hospitality sales and marketing positions with Hyatt, Westin and Marriott.


David M. Brudney, ISHC, Principal 
David Brudney & Associates 
Carlsbad, CA 
760-476-0830 Fax 760-476-0860 
(c) 760-994-9266

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