V AUSTRALIA’S FLIGHTS FROM BRISBANE AND SYDNEY TO LOS ANGELES ARE PROVING TO BE A WINDFALL FOR HOTELIERS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE PACIFIC, WITH NEW SERVICES BOOSTING GUEST ARRIVALS – AND OPTIMISM.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN LOS ANGELES
At the Australian-operated Ramada Plaza West Hollywood, guest numbers are climbing as seat numbers across the Pacific continue to increase, as a result of both V Australia’s new flights and Qantas’ launch of A380 services.
Hoteliers International Corporation President and CEO, Alan Johnson, said since Virgin Blue’s sister airline launched flights in late February guest numbers have continued to improve from Australia at the company’s Ramada Plaza West Hollywood property.
“The Australian market continues to be a strong market for Los Angeles and West Hollywood and in fact, it is our second largest international market, only behind the UK,” he said.
“Ramada Plaza is extremely popular with Aussies and the addition of V Australia flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles has helped ensure that the Australian market has remained strong for us.
“We are also noticing a new trend with the increase in the number of younger leisure travellers coming to stay and we look for this trend to continue with V Australia, as they typically attract the younger generation-X travellers,” he said.
The property, which in late-August received the Ramada Worldwide President’s Award for being the ‘best of the best’ in service and quality from at the chain’s international conference, recently underwent a full-refurbishment.
“We’ve received a huge amount of positive feedback regarding our recently completed hotel renovation – which included new 42”-HDTVs and complete re-modelling of the existing décor and furniture,” Johnson said.
“All rooms also now offer complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, new beds and linen, in-room safes and bathroom amenity packages,” he said.
Highlighting the hotel are contemporary two-level loft suites, which Johnson said are “particularly popular with the corporate market and for leisure travelers who visit for weekend stays”.
He said the conference and incentive market ex-Australia was also on the increase, following the drop in airfares on the trans-Pacific route, the excellent value of the dollar at present and the changes at the hotel.
“With the addition of our new meeting space at Ramada Plaza the meeting market has shown positive results for the hotel and we expect this trend to continue throughout the year and into 2010,” he said.
Although the global financial downturn continues to affect the hotel industry in the United States to a large degree, Johnson said he was optimistic about the remainder of 2009 and early 2010.
“There is no question these are unprecedented times for the hospitality industry in America and while we’ve been impacted as well, our occupancy continues to remain strong and consistent,” he said.
“The current challenge is to maintain rate integrity… the hotel industry is currently offering some of the most aggressive pricing, incentives, package deals that have ever been seen,” he said.
V Australia flies from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to Los Angeles using three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The author recommends flying in International Business Class, which features flatbed seats, an onboard bar and hundreds of hours of entertainment on demand. For bookings, visit www.vaustralia.com.au