TICKERS: APLE, CCL, RCL
Station Casinos - A long-planned hotel expansion to Station Casinos' Indian gaming property in Northern California began Wednesday.
- The $175 million project will add a 200-room hotel tower and other nongaming amenities to the Graton Resort and Casino, which is located in the Sonoma County city of Rohnert Park.
- Station Casino manages the resort for Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria. The project is expected to be completed late next year.
- Graton, which opened in November 2013 at cost of $800 million, currently contracts with neighboring hotels for its overnight guests. Graton is near the California wine country and adjacent to several golf courses.
- "The simple answer is that we need rooms and it's one of the expectations of our guests," GM, Joe Hasson said. "This expansion allows us to become a full-scale destination resort."
Takeaway: Pockets of growth in US gaming
APLE - Apple Hospitality REIT, announced that it has closed on the previously announced acquisition of a 245-room Courtyard by Marriott in San Diego, CA for a purchase price of $56 million, or approximately $229,000 per key.
CCL - Holland America Line tests new internet social media plans. Passengers sailing on Holland America may notice different Internet packages available for purchase. The line is testing three new plans -- including one geared toward social media -- across its fleet for an indefinite time.
RCL - RCL is testing the waters at Wollongong's Port Kembla as a possible new homeport for its Australian fleet, which is fast running out of docking options in Sydney. The operator has spent years seeking a solution to the chronic shortage of berths in Sydney Harbour, where the main cruise facility can accommodate only one ship at a time and its second terminal, in White Bay, is inaccessible to larger ships that cannot fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Port Kembla is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from downtown Sydney.
Takeaway: Could be a valid solution to Sydney's congestion issues.
Cuba Cruise Itineraries - A recent survey conducted by USA Today indicates that Cuba voyages haven't become that popular among American cruisers.
- The survey of 1,034 travel agents who book cruises by Travel Leaders Group found that just 2.9% have taken a booking for one of the recently announced Cuba voyages.
- Still, nearly 42% of travel agents queried said they've had a customer express interest in the trips.
- One factor that may be keeping some Americans from booking the trips is that they're structured as "people-to-people" exchanges that are allowed under the USA's five-decade-old embargo of Cuba. General leisure travel from the USA to Cuba including traditional cruises still is banned.
- The trips also are pricey, with fathom's new sailings starting at nearly $6,000 per couple for a week-long trip, not including taxes and port fees. That's more than triple the starting price for a typical seven-night Caribbean sailing with Carnival Corp.'s flagship Carnival brand.
Takeaway: It might take a little more time before the average cruiser is warmed up to the idea of a Cuban voyage.