Status Update: Altura Credit Union net income soars; Marriott TownePlace Suites opens

By Fielding Buck | [email protected] | The Press-EnterpriseFebruary 19, 2018 at 5:49 am Balloon Glow at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival at Lake Skinner Park on Friday, June 2, 2017Christopher Thornberg, Director, Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, speaks about the U.S. and California forecast during the 7th Annual Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference on Thursday, Sept 29, 2016 at the Riverside Convention Center. (Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)Show Caption of Expand Gains for Altura Altura Credit Union has posted some impressive numbers for 2017. The Riverside-based organization reported net income of $10.23 million for 2017, an increase of 30.1 percent over the end of 2016, according to a news release. Altura reported total assets of $1.279 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, a 4.89 percent increase over the prior year. In the release, president and chief executive officer Jennifer Binkley said the credit union will focus on membership retention and growth in 2018. Binkley succeeded Altura’s longtime leader Mark Hawkins less than a year ago. Altura has 357,000 “member-owners,” the most in the Inland Empire, and is nearing its record high of 376,000 in 2008. It gained almost 16,000 members over the past year, according to the Third Quarter Credit Union Trends Report for the Inland Empire. Information: Corona industrial deal Newport Beach-based Alere Property Group has bought an 81,000-square-foot industrial building in Corona for $12.1 million, according to CBRE. The 4.32-acre site at 200 River Road is near the 91/15 freeway interchange.CBRE also recently announced the sale of a 227-unit apartment complex at 13400 Elsworth St., Moreno Valley, for $27.9 million. Citizens’ net earnings Citizens Financial Corp. and subsidiary Citizens Business Bank reported net earnings of $17.9 million, or 16 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2017. Full-year net earnings Continue Reading

Marriott devalues Rewards points at many hotels

It's going to take more points to get that "free" room Chris McGinnis Updated 2:34 pm, Thursday, February 8, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-3', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 3', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Image 1of/3 CaptionClose Image 1 of 3 A Marriott Rewards free stay at the Renaissance Paris la Defense will cost an extra 5,000 points this year. (Image: Marriott) A Marriott Rewards free stay at the Renaissance Paris la Defense will cost an extra 5,000 points this year. (Image: Marriott) Image 2 of 3 The Shanghai Marriott City Center also got bumped up to a higher award category. (Image: Marriott) The Shanghai Marriott City Center also got bumped up to a higher award category. (Image: Marriott) Image 3 of 3 Marriott devalues Rewards points at many hotels 1 / 3 Back to Gallery Are you a member of the giant Marriott Rewards loyalty program? If so, you might need more points than you thought for free stays at many Marriott properties this year. Every year, Marriott reviews the point categories that its properties fall into for award redemptions, and this year it is making a lot of them more expensive for free stays. It's not just Marriott that's doing this... nearly all hotel programs have been devaluing points for years. When I search "hotel points devalued" on Google, I get 112,000 results. The travel blog Frequent Miler – which tracks travel loyalty programs – says the changes represent “a huge devaluation of the Marriott Rewards scheme.” You might also like: Now Playing: Fatima Mostaine gets one thousand euros a month to pay all her family expenses. As she has done over the past five years. Her three kids are growing up now….and she says she wants to be more independent and earn her own money. So Continue Reading

San Diego hotels raise $300,000 for convention center initiative

Some of San Diego’s highest profile hotels raised close to $300,000 last year in preparation for launching an initiative that would hike the hotel tax to underwrite a convention center expansion, homeless services and road repairs. That’s according to a campaign contribution report filed Tuesday by a coalition of tourism, business and labor interests that have come together to back the measure. The report by the group calling itself Yes! For a Better San Diego comes just as leaders of the effort plan to start their signature-gathering drive this week in hopes of qualifying the measure for the November ballot. As of Dec. 31 of last year, just $72,000 of the $299,897 in contributions had been spent, with the bulk of the money going for legal and political consultants, as well as polling, the report shows. More money will likely have to be raised to finance the signature-gathering effort, which will require collecting more than 100,000 signatures of eligible voters within the city of San Diego. It could potentially cost as much as $1 million, depending on how many other initiatives, both statewide and local, are currently competing for signatures. The group has set a deadline of early June for turning in signed petitions. Among the hotels contributing the largest dollar amounts were those downtown properties benefiting the most from convention center business. They are the San Diego Marriott on the embarcadero, at $67,800; Manchester Grand Hyatt, $81,250; the Omni, $51,500; and the San Diego Bayfront Hilton, $59,500. The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, on Harbor Island, wrote a check for $26,325, while Evans Hotels’ properties, located on Mission Bay and in La Jolla, contributed a cumulative $9,087. Hotels closest to the convention center would have the most to gain if the bayfront facility were enlarged to accommodate more and larger trade group meetings. Hoteliers and tourism officials have long argued that San Diego is losing out on millions Continue Reading

The life of a hotel reviewer: Hang out in lobbies and bars, sleep in king-size beds

Andrea Sachs, The Washington Post Published 10:29 am, Thursday, September 28, 2017 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-7', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 7', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Photo By Edmund D. Fountain For The Washington Post. Image 1of/7 CaptionClose Image 1 of 7 New Orleans's Cornstalk Hotel, a 200-year-old manor in the French Quarter; the wrought-iron gate decorated with cornstalks was a gift from the original owner to his wife. New Orleans's Cornstalk Hotel, a 200-year-old manor in the French Quarter; the wrought-iron gate decorated with cornstalks was a gift from the original owner to his wife. Photo: Photo By Edmund D. Fountain For The Washington Post. Image 2 of 7 Fodor's Travel reviewer Cameron Todd takes notes while touring the Cornstalk Hotel with housekeeper Mellene Dilbert, right. Todd is responsible for all of New Orleans, which means inspecting nearly 90 hotels. Fodor's Travel reviewer Cameron Todd takes notes while touring the Cornstalk Hotel with housekeeper Mellene Dilbert, right. Todd is responsible for all of New Orleans, which means inspecting nearly 90 hotels. Photo: Photo By Edmund D. Fountain For The Washington Post. Image 3 of 7 Fodor's reviewer Cameron Todd takes notes and snaps photos during property tours. Among her priorities are cleanliness, spaciousness of rooms and value. Fodor's reviewer Cameron Todd takes notes and Continue Reading

Start packing (or dreaming): Top vacation destinations for 2017

For those of us with unceasing wanderlust, it's never too early to start thinking about next year's vacation(s).Fortunately, it's that time of year when travel magazines, guidebooks and websites trot out their "best of'' and "where to go next'' features.First up: Conde Nast Traveler is out with its annual Readers' Choice Awards, based on online voting by more than 300,000 travelers on thousands of hotels, resorts, cities, cruise ships, islands and more. The magazine says the winners, 1,402 in all, represent the "best travel experiences in the world."The complete list is online and in the magazine's November issue. There's a category for every region and travel business imaginable. At a minimum, scroll through the drool-worthy photos of hotels and resorts. They made me want to book a return trip to Santorini, Greece.Here's a sampling of the winners to inspire your next trip, whether that's a bucket-list getaway, a family reunion or next summer's bargain backyard resort stay.Top U.S. resorts:The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, a luxury dude ranch in Saratoga, Wyo.; L'Horizon Resort & Spa, Palm Springs; and Gateway Canyons Resort, Gateway, Colo.Top resorts in the world:Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Richard Branson's luxury safari lodge in Sabi Sand, South Africa; Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, on Baa Atoll, Maldives; and The Brando, on Marlon Brando's private island in Tetiaroa, French Polynesia.Top U.S. hotels:Virgin Hotels Chicago, Thompson Chicago and Hotel Emma, San Antonio.Top U.S. cities: New York City is the top-ranked big city; Charleston, S.C., is the No. 1 small city.Top U.S. airlines:Virgin America, JetBlue Airways and Hawaiian Airlines. Southwest, a dominant carrier in Phoenix, ranked No. 5.Top world airline:Singapore Airlines.Top hotels and resorts in Arizona:Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson is the star of this year's ratings, coming in No. 8 among resorts Continue Reading

Great drinks, great atmosphere: 10 best hotel bars around Phoenix

Hotel bars are convenient places to grab a quick drink when you're traveling, whether for a business meeting or nightcap before you hit the sheets. Sometimes, though, the lobby bar isn't the most exciting place — bland decor, tired menus, you're not sure if you're in New York City or Tulsa, Okla.Lucky for us, that isn't always the case.Many hotels work to charm tourists and residents alike by injecting personality and panache in their bars. Big brands also are stepping up by offering trendy, vibrant lounges to attract Millennials and tastemakers.Marriott, for example, recently opened an AC Hotel in Tempe, emphasizing its Beverage & Food program, and not the other way around. There's a strong focus on a quality drink menu, with cocktails such as Flor de Bahia, wines on tap and Arizona craft beers.Some of the Valley's best mixologists have come from hotel bars, most notably Jade Bar at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and the Last Drop Bar at The Hermosa Inn. The latter would have made our list, but it's under renovation. The hotel is planning for an early-November reopening as Lon's Last Drop. In the meantime, guests can still order from a limited menu at Lon's grill room.Here are our picks for the top 10 hotel bars across metro Phoenix.RELATED: 10 best hotel spas around Arizona | Phoenix's first underground tiki bar | Top 10 patio bars around Phoenix | 22 wine bars around metro Phoenix | 10 best underground, speakeasy bars in Phoenix | Phoenix brewery guideInspired by the Prohibition era, this stylish bar features warm wood walls, tufted leather seating and polished white marble. Sip on a signature cocktail such as the Garden Bouquet (Belvedere grapefruit vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon, simple syrup and soda); or the Dark Knight (Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Montenegro Amaro and Aztec chocolate bitters). The food menu Continue Reading

Newshounds will sniff out N.Y. Emmys

New York's local TV community gathers tonight to honor the news reporting and commentary that emerged from some of New York's best and worst moments of 2008. The 52nd annual New York Emmy Awards will be presented in a black-tie affair at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, and they have come a long way from the first ceremony back on March 16, 1957, at the Waldorf-Astoria. Seven awards were given that first night, including two to a young newscaster named Mike Wallace. Wallace's evening show actually lost in the newscast category, but the future "60 Minutes" star was named best new personality. Tonight's ceremony will include awards in close to 100 categories, including 11 in what's called "Advanced Media" - the Internet, podcasts and other nontraditional means of delivering video content that function like television. Those nods to the future will no doubt share conversational time with celebrations of local TV news history, like Ch. 4's Chuck Scarborough marking 35 years on the air in a business where tenure is sometimes measured in dog years. The awards ceremony won't be telecast live, but an edited version can be seen over Ch. 25 on April 9 and 12. The distribution of New York Emmys is determined to some extent by the fact that some stations participate more aggressively than others. (Reporters and hosts can also nominate themselves.) So John Deutzman of Ch. 5, for example, has four of the six nominations for "investigative report, single story." The MSG network, which won the most awards last year, has the most nominations again this year, with 45. NYC-TV is second with 35 and WPIX/Ch. 11 has 31. The awards, which cover October 2007-September 2008, also provide a retrospective on the major events of that year. Several of the nominations are for stories on last May's Manhattan crane collapse, just as winners in prior years covered events like the Staten Island ferry crash or the upper East Side plane crash. Many of next year's entries, Continue Reading

June hotel roundup: The latest openings, renovations, new brands

The U.S. hotel industry continues to remain robust, with 191,832 new rooms under construction as of May. That represents a 16.4% increase compared with May 2016, according to research firm STR’s latest pipeline report.Hoteliers are also investing more in various markets, renovating hotels across the country. Here’s a roundup of some notable openings, renovations and brand announcements. Hilton’s new Tru brand debuts  Hilton has opened the first of its new midscale brand. The debut of the first Tru by Hilton Oklahoma City Airport hotel marks another milestone. It is Hilton’s 5,000th hotel. Hilton now has 14 brands.The McLean, Va. Company has 425 signed deals to create new Tru hotels. Ten properties are slated to open this year and 75 next year.Hilton says it is targeting a “value-conscious” customer. The price point will be in the $100 range, depending on the location and time of year. The Tru in Oklahoma City has a 2,880-square foot lobby with spaces for working or lounging. The front desk features a social media wall with real-time content. A 24/7 “eat. & sip.” market offers snacks and refreshments, single-serve wine and beer, and light-meal options and sundries.A complimentary “Top It” breakfast bar has 30 options for sweet and savory dishes, including bagels, donuts, yogurt, granola, hard-boiled eggs, and oatmeal.Rooms have platform beds, 55-inch TVs, eight-foot wide windows, and several outlets for powering devices. There is complimentary Wi-Fi, mobile check-in, room selection and digital key entry to rooms available through the Hilton Honors mobile app.“There are a whole bunch of customers that we haven’t been able to serve that we want to serve,” says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta about the market segment Tru is targeting. Wyndham announces a new brandWyndham Hotel Group has announced that it will start a new brand—its 19th. The Continue Reading

Vieques’ tourism struggles to bounce back

Vieques is located just eight miles from Puerto Rico’s mainland, but since Hurricane Maria hit Sept. 20, its residents have felt much farther away.The island, a top tourism destination for Puerto Rico, was decimated by the Category 5 storm. Houses have been leveled and power, food, fuel, and water are in short supply.Communicating with residents has been difficult. Even getting to the island has been a challenge as planes at the airport were destroyed and ferry service temporarily shut down.As of Friday, government officials are sending aid to the island, but experts say the road ahead could be quite difficult, especially for the tourism industry.“Puerto Rico is a very important part of the total Caribbean economy, so the faster they get their economy going, the faster the rest of the Caribbean recovers,” says Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, the former minister of tourism of The Bahamas and former CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.Rebuilding the infrastructure will be vital to that effort. Getting regular flights started, getting docks and ports operating, cleaning up and re-opening hotels, restoring power and cellphone service are all among a very large to-do list for the government.Tourism represents six percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP, according to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.“What is very important to recognize is that tourism has the biggest and broadest reach,” says Vanderpool-Wallace, who now runs the Bedford Baker Group, a travel industry consulting firm. “If you find those pockets of prospects of a rapid return for full tourism products, those are going to have an enormously vast effect on the rest of the economy.”San Juan, which was impacted greatly by the storm, is the capital city with nearly 400,000 residents, government buildings, a financial center and two fortresses.But Vieques is an island just 21 miles long that is completely dependent on tourism. It’s filled with Continue Reading

2017 FlyerTalk Awards: The top loyalty programs are …

Alaska Airlines and Qatar Airways each unseated established heavyweights to win two of the most-coveted categories in the sixth annual FlyerTalk Awards, announced Friday.Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan won the “Best Rewards Program” for carriers in the “Americas” region, ending a five-year run by American Airlines’ AAdvantage. The win for Alaska marked the first time that American did not win the FlyerTalk award for the best airline program there.“If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be shocked by Alaska’s win,” says FlyerTalk Community Manager Paul O’Brien, who notes Alaska’s rating has improved in each year of the FlyerTalk Awards.“The FlyerTalk forum sentiment seems to be that this year’s upset is not just about what American Airlines did wrong  as what Alaska has been doing right.”TODAY IN THE SKY: Virgin America name will be phased out in favor of Alaska Air, 'likely' in 2019Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club also emerged as a first-time winner. It edged out two-time defending champion Cathay Pacific and its frequent-flier program to take the title for Best Rewards Program among airlines in the "Middle East/Asia/Ocean" region. Cathay Pacific had claimed that title in four of the previous five years."Now it remains to be seen if they can hold their spot next year, or if this win was a fluke due to a poor year for perennial victor Cathay Pacific," O'Brien says about Qatar Airways' win in the 2017 awards.Elsewhere, however, incumbents reigned supreme. Repeat winners claimed all seven of the other Best Awards Program titles in 2017, which go to the best airline, hotel and rental car program in each of three regions.The other Best Rewards Program titles for the Americas went to Starwood Preferred Guest for hotels and to Hertz Gold Plus Rewards for rental cars. Rounding out the airline winners for Best Rewards Program was British Airways’ Continue Reading