Internova calls new lifestyle collection the 'missing segment' in hotel program

NEW YORK — Internova Travel Group CEO J.D. O’Hara and executive vice president Albert Herrera took to the stage at the Virgin Hotels New York on Monday to talk about Curated Hotels & Resorts, a new portfolio of design-driven, lifestyle hotels unveiled last week. 

O’Hara and Herrera provided details during a “fireside chat” session at Elevate, the annual conference for Global Travel Collection, Internova’s luxury-focused agency. 

“We looked at the programs that we have, and clearly there was a missing segment,” Herrera told Elevate attendees. “And looking at the hotel partners that we have around the world — whether what Accor has done with under the Ennismore brands or Marriott with their Autograph Collection — people sometimes want to stay in a more lifestyle-focused hotel.”

The list of Curated properties is currently at 300 hotels and resorts, though Herrera said the collection is expected to grow to a total of 400. 

The Curated collection is designed to be “eclectic” in nature, according to Internova.

“We’re working with the best brands to come up with unique, special hotels that are different,” said Herrera, adding that Curated properties promise to marry a “trendy” experience with high-caliber service. 

Clients of Internova advisors are eligible to receive a $100 credit when staying at participating Curated properties for two or more consecutive nights. Room upgrades are also on offer when available.

Curated joins Internova’s existing hotel collections: Select Hotels & Resorts and the Worldwide Hotel Program. Select currently has more than 1,600 four- and five-star properties, generally offering guests who book via an Internova advisor complimentary breakfast for two, room-category upgrades and $100 credits.

The Worldwide Hotel Program, meanwhile, is billed as a “price-competitive program,” designed to provide Internova advisors with the best available rates at more than 46,000 three- to five-star properties as well as access to amenities like complimentary breakfast, parking or WiFi.

Updates from Morocco, Maui and Israel

In addition to presentations from Internova executives, industry partners were invited on stage to provide updates on three destinations reeling from recent crises: Morocco, Maui and Israel.

Amal Moukhlisse, CEO of Marrakech-based agency Morocco Private Travel, told attendees that following the severe earthquake that struck Morocco in September, the destination is open and tours are operating as normal.

“I want you to know that Morocco is safe,” said Moukhlisse, adding that impact to tourism-related impact in Marrakech and other cities has been “minimal.” 

“Please come to visit and send us clients,” said Moukhlisse.

Vanessa Johnson, director of travel trade partnerships at the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau, similarly encouraged attendees to send clients to Maui, even as relief and recovery related to August’s devastating wildfires continue. 

Johnson said the disaster has resulted in significant lost tourism dollars, with Maui missing out on somewhere between $11 to $13 million per day. Around 8,000 residents in the destination are currently unemployed.

“We don’t want to compound this tragedy by [having] people that have lost their homes now losing their jobs and their businesses too,” said Johnson.

Although the hard-hit town of Lahaina remains off limits, Johnson emphasized that resort areas north of Lahaina, including Kapalua, Kaanapali and Napili, have reopened as of Oct. 8 and are welcoming guests.

“Please keep in mind that the entire island of Maui is 735 square miles, but that Lahaina is 9.3 square miles,” added Johnson. “So, Maui offers 725 square miles for your clients to explore. Responsible, respectful, compassionate travel is welcomed and encouraged now more than ever.”

Conversely, Chad Martin, director of the Northeast region for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, was unable to encourage any immediate travel to Israel, where the volatility of war has brought tourism to a standstill. Still, he encouraged advisors to remain at the ready when it comes to a travel restart. 

“Hold tight to bookings,” he implored. “If you have plans, keep them. If they’re too soon, postpone them. This isn’t the first time we’ve had a conflict. When I call partners, they say, ‘When day one happens, I have people ready to go. When Israel gets the all-clear, I have clients at the ready. And if I don’t, I’ll go get them.'”

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