InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced its latest signing with OUE Group for a new 243-room extension to Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.The management agreement increases the business hotel’s room count by more than 75 percent and propels IHG’s development pipeline in the country past the 1,000-room mark, cementing its position as one of the largest international hotel operators in Singapore.With the completion of the airport’s new runway, the new wing will complement Changi Airport’s growth as a key regional transit hub and lifestyle destination over the coming years. The new 10-storey wing will be located adjacent to the existing Crowne Plaza Changi Airport and will total the hotels room number to 563 rooms.IHG senior vice president, development, Asia, Middle East and Africa, Clarence Tan, said that since the hotel opened there has been strong growth coming from Changi Airport.“Since it opened six years ago, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport has seen strong demand from a mix of passengers in transit and both short- and- long-stay business and leisure travellers. Its proximity to Changi Airport and the neighbouring business park make it the ideal choice for visitors,” Mr Tan said.“With the government’s plans to increase the airport’s infrastructure and surrounding amenities, the extension to the hotel is a welcome development. We are delighted to be extending our partnership with the OUE Group and look forward to delivering greater guest experiences with our valued partners when the new wing opens in 2016.”The hotel also has a business centre and business services accessible round the clock to ensure guests travelling on business are completely connected with everything they need for a productive stay. Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
Cox & Kings recently launched its first Holiday Club store in Mumbai to cater to the increasing demand for holiday products. The store located at Dadar will cater to the discerning clientele located in the region through innovative offers and customised solutions, both domestic and international. This is the fourth Holiday Club store in India. The other three stores are located in New Delhi.Karan Anand, Head-Relationships, Cox & Kings said, “Central Mumbai is now the hub of retail activity and our Holiday Club store is perfectly positioned to engage with customers on a one-on-one basis, as they seek personal engagement in making sure they have a memorable holiday.’’Also, in keeping with recent travel trends, the company has forayed into niche segments such as Enable Travel for the physically challenged, Trip 360 for adventure enthusiasts and Getaway Goddess for the women-only travel segment. The store will market and sell these packages as well.
Attorneys & Title Companies Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Dodd-Frank Lenders & Servicers Processing Regulation Service Providers 2012-04-24 Ryan Schuette in Government, Origination, Servicing CFPB Goes Live With Inquiry Into Dispute Arbitration Clauses April 24, 2012 445 Views The “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) went live with an inquiry Tuesday that it said will help it determine whether to move on new rules for dispute arbitration clauses.[IMAGE]As with many comment periods for new rules, the inquiry is open to the general public and financial services companies.The CFPB said that it wanted to look for answers to questions about the prevalence of arbitration clauses in contracts for financial products, the kinds of claims consumers bring against financial services companies, and how arbitration clauses impact consumers.The bureau referenced stipulations under the Dodd-Frank Act that obligate it to examine issues brought [COLUMN_BREAK]forward by pre-dispute arbitration clauses and the like.The CFPB nodded at the issue of whether arbitration fast-tracks the dispute resolution process or gives consumers a bad hand by waiving the rights to trial.””Arbitration clauses are found in many contracts for consumer financial products,”” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “”We want to learn how arbitration clauses affect consumers, and how effective arbitration is in resolving consumers’ issues. This inquiry will help the Bureau assess whether rules are needed to protect consumers.””The comment period will last until June this summer.The inquiry into dispute arbitration clauses marks the latest move by the CFPB as it rolls out the authority granted it by Cordray’s recess appointment in January. The bureau more recently signaled that it plans to look into new rules for servicers that some say could amount to a formal set of national servicing standards.In a recent interview with “”_DS News_””:http://www.dsnews.com/, our sister publication, Joseph Smith, newly appointed monitor of the $25 billion servicer settlement, said that “”ultimately… we’ll have national standards ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and we ought to.””_[Editor’s note: To view the full, exclusive interview with Joseph Smith, “”subscribe””:http://thefivestar.com/dssubscribe/template.php to_ DS News _and request the May issue of the magazine.]_ Share
GFI Moves to Dismiss DOJ Fair Lending Suit Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-06-04 Tory Barringer June 4, 2012 455 Views Share in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing “”GFI Mortgage Bankers””:http://gfimortgage.com/ filed a motion Friday to dismiss a suit from the “”Justice Department””:http://www.justice.gov/ that alleged discrimination in GFI’s lending practices.[IMAGE]GFI’s motion asserts that the disparate impact discrimination statutes cited by the Justice Department in its suit-the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)-do not contain language that permits anti-discrimination claims. The company also argues that the practice of allowing employees discretion when pricing loans is standard policy and widely accepted in the industry.The federal suit, filed in April, alleges that GFI has violated fair lending laws by charging African-American and Hispanic [COLUMN_BREAK]borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home mortgage loans because of race or national origin. In an April statement, the Justice Department alleged that white borrowers in similar credit situations paid thousands of dollars less.Furthermore, the release alleged that GFI loan officers received a percentage of the profits generated on each loan, creating incentive for employees to charge fees in a way that was unrelated to credit risk or loan characteristics. GFI also neglected to train or supervise its loan officers to ensure that loan pricing was fair, the agency said.””Charging people more for home loans simply because of their race or national origin – as we have alleged in our complaint against GFI – is illegal. The Justice Department will act aggressively to ensure that all people have equal access to credit and a level playing field,”” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “”For that reason, vigorous enforcement of fair lending laws remains a top priority.””GFI defended its practices, saying the lawsuit is unmerited and potentially sets a dangerous precedent. “”This lawsuit advances very aggressive and untested enforcement theories,”” said Andrew L. Sandler, lead defense counsel for GFI. “”We look forward to the opportunity to challenge the Justice Department’s flawed legal theories and factual allegations in a courtroom, rather than continuing to see the agency’s advance these theories on an uncontested basis solely through settlements and press releases,”” he added.
May 14, 2013 391 Views Share bubble,Trulia: Price Rebound Still Short of ‘Bubble’ Territory Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Home Values Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers Trulia 2013-05-14 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing While home prices are rising today nearly as fast as they did during the peak bubble years of 2005 and 2006, “”Trulia””:http://www.trulia.com/ reassures “”bubble-phobes”” that they can rest easy in its latest report.[IMAGE]The company tossed its two cents into the bubble debate with the release of Trulia Bubble Watch, a report that compares various price indexes (including Trulia’s own Price Monitor) to per-capita income and rent data obtained from government releases.According to Trulia’s findings, home prices are still 7 percent undervalued nationally, having come down from a peak of 39 percent overvalued in 2006. After the bubble burst, prices fell to being 15 percent undervalued at the end of 2011.[COLUMN_BREAK]With prices still undervalued relative to fundamentals, Trulia insists that today’s rapid improvements still qualify as a rebound, not a new bubble.””Home prices fell so much after the last bubble burst that they still remain below normal levels even as prices rise sharply today,”” explained Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko. “”Several forces are waiting in the wings that should slow down today’s rapid price gains before they rise into bubble territory again. More inventory, higher mortgage rates, and fading investor activity would each take home-price gains down a notch.””That said, it’s still important to remain cautious. According to the report, eight of the country’s 100 largest metros are showing evidence of overvalued prices, including four in California (including Orange County, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco) and three in Texas (Austin, San Antonio, and Houston).””Although we’re far from bubble territory today, there’ll be another home-price bubble someday, somewhere,”” said Kolko said. “”The history of American real estate is full of speculation, bubbles, and busts. Even now, most people expect home prices to get back to the peak of the previous bubble again in the next 10 years. Prices may be far from bubble levels today, but we need to stay on guard for signs of the next bubble.””
Appraisals Platinum Data Solutions 2014-10-21 Tory Barringer October 21, 2014 502 Views Share in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Report: 17% of Appraisals Come In Under Contract Price Close to one out of every five appraisals on home purchase transactions come up short of the home’s contract price, according to a new study.According to Platinum Data Solutions, a collateral valuation technology provider, more than 17 percent of appraisals on purchase transactions report a value less than that of the contract price.Platinum Data CEO Phil Huff said the findings point to two possibilities.”[I]t could mean that buyers are paying more than a property is actually worth, possibly because the market is starting to stabilize,” he said. “On the other hand, it could indicate that appraisers are being more conservative in valuing properties, which—given the regulations they’re facing—would be understandable.”Whatever the cause, returned appraisals can be a burden for both lenders and appraisers, who are forced to correct or clarify errors in their reports. The company says the process involved can cause long delays and reduce profitability for everyone involved.”Lenders and investors would be wise to keep their eyes on trends like this,” Huff said. “If frequent lower appraised values are reflective of a stabilizing or declining market, that could present a major impediment to the quality of loans they’re transacting, selling and buying.”Platinum Data’s statistics are based on data collected from FreeAppraisalReview.com, the company’s Web-based automated appraisal quality technology.
Bank of America HOUSING mortgage Women in Housing 2017-08-30 Nicole Casperson BofA Spotlights Women in Business Bank of America is taking notice as women entrepreneurs are at the frontline of business.A recent report from BofA titled 2017 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, suggests that being a woman in the workforce is no longer a setback as progress is being made in management roles.The report goes on to say that women are seeing significant strides in the workforce, with 61 percent of women believing that wages will be equal to or greater than wages for men over the next two decades.According to Sharon Miller, Managing Director and Head of Small Business for BofA, women entrepreneurs have articulated an inspiring vision, one of equal pay, leadership opportunities, and greater support for those with families.The bank is no stranger to diversity and inclusion efforts, especially when it comes to promoting women executives. Kathy Cummings, SVP of Homeownership Solutions and Affordable Housing Programs for BofA, represents an example of how women continue to show resilience.In MReport’s September 2017 issue, Cummings will be featured as one of the magazines Women in Housing Power Players, where she said that it is important for women to support each other in order to achieve greater inclusion.“I surprised my new manager by telling him one of my favorite TV shows is American Ninja Warrior because I love the competition,” Cummings said. “But more, I love that after they are done competing, the women stand on the sideline and cheer each other on and inspire each other to do better. And that’s how I think we should be, as an organization and as women.”Cummings was recently named as co-chair to the American Mortgage Diversity Council (AMDC), joining its mission to create a diverse and inclusive mortgage industry. She will also be speaking at the Five Star Conference and Expo.MReport’s Women in Housing is a special issue published annually in union with the Five Star Institute’s Women in Housing Leadership Forum, where honorees will also be announced. The forum will be held on Wednesday, September 20th at 2 p.m. at the Five Star Conference in Dallas, Texas.The AMDC will be meeting at the 14th annual Five Star Conference and Expo at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas, September 18-20. For more information on the conference, including how to register, click here.For more information on AMDC, click here. in Daily Dose, Featured, News Share August 30, 2017 560 Views
in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Headlines, News Share Community Bank Regulations Dodd-Frank 2017-09-29 Joey Pizzolato New Bill Could Change Dodd-Frank Regulations for Community Banks September 29, 2017 579 Views A new bipartisan bill was introduced recently that would allow the Federal Reserve to exempt smaller banks from standard bank oversight restrictions.The bill was introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia), and aims to make “’commonsense fixes’ to financial rules, providing regulatory relief to small regional banks subject to unnecessarily overly-burdensome regulations put in place by the “Dodd-Frank” financial reform bill—rules that were never intended for banks that primarily engage in ordinary consumer banking practices,” according to Sen. McCaskill’s official press release. The bill would reduce regulations on regional banks with more than $50 billion in assets that would also have no global financial risk in the event of another market collapse.The bill rides on the coattails of Senator Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (D-Missouri) similar bill passed last year.“When even some of the architects of ‘Dodd-Frank’ agree the law is unnecessarily burdensome on regional banks, you know we’ve got a problem on our hands,” McCaskill said. “This is a commonsense fix that’ll untie the hands of our small regional banks and return to them the flexibility to lend to Missouri customers who want to buy a house, or start a business. I’m glad to join Congressman Luetkemeyer’s efforts to help get this bill across the finish line in the Senate.”Purdue stresses the importance of regional bank’s contribution to local economies.“Regional banks offer a lifeline to small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to create jobs,” Perdue said. “Dodd-Frank overregulated these banks by placing them into the same category as huge banks with a global reach. This sent these banks’ compliance costs through the roof and limited their ability to do what they do best—support their communities. This legislation would actually test banks for systemic risk rather than forcing banks to comply with an arbitrary figure.”Currently, under Dodd-Frank, all banks with assets over $50 billion are subject to the same regulations. The newly introduced bill aims to change that regulation.
Affordability closed sales Inventory New York State Association of Realtors NYSAR Skinny Housing Market Report 2017-11-22 Dean Terrell The New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR) released its Skinny Housing Market Report focusing on closed home sales and price data for October 2017. The report takes data from several listing systems throughout New York and highlights many key metrics to provide a clear picture of notable market changes. These metrics include new listings, pending sales, the amount of days home are on the market, average sales price, the percentage of the list price received, housing affordability, the inventory of homes for sale, and the months supply of inventory.The report mentions the national unemployment rate registered at 4.1 percent in October this year, meaning joblessness has not been this low since December 2000. With mortgage rates consistently holding at 3.9 percent, the NYSAR believes this combination of factors helps “keep the pool of potential buyers full, even during the so-called off season of home sales.” The NYSAR also notes that historically, mortgage rates have averaged around 6 percent.In October 2017, pending sales measured at 11,823, a 10.4 percent increase compared to the same time last year. Closed sales measured at 12,178 and increased 3.7 percent compared to October 2016, showing the market to be active according to the NYSAR.Homes for sale were down in October compared to the same time last year, showing a 6.6 percent decrease and landing at 69,321 units. It’s worth mentioning that the NYSAR believes there is reason to remain positive even with lower inventory. “There are several signs of impending inventory recovery as sellers become more confident and builders embark upon projects designed to meet demand,” the report stated. The median sales price last month went up compared to last year, with the average sale price being $249,900, a 9.1 percent increase from $229,000 last year. The months supply of inventory was down 9 percent compared to October 2016, which the NYSAR believes will continue to be the case next year and possibly for all of 2018. The percent of list price received at sale rose 0.5 percent, from 96.5 percent last year to 97 percent in October 2017.To view the full report, click here. Share November 22, 2017 547 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, journal, News Building and Listing Activity Give Homeowners Reason for Positive Attitude
October 24, 2018 562 Views On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner, Brian Montgomery, shared his vision for the FHA, touching upon initiatives that the agency is undertaking to fulfill its mission of providing affordable housing for low- to middle-income buyers, minorities, and other vulnerable population in America.He was speaking at the seventh annual AEI-CRN conference on housing markets and finance, where experts from a variety of backgrounds shared lessons learned from their efforts to objectively measure housing risk and apply it to today’s market conditions. On the current priorities at the FHA, Montgomery said that his focus was on strengthening three aspects of the agency—staying true to its core mission of providing affordable housing for first-time low- to middle-income homebuyers and minorities; strengthening the agency’s capital by “sharing the integrity of our endorsements and attracting the best lender partners”; and appropriately managing risk for borrowers and partners of the taxpayers whose “hard-earned dollars are at work.”“We’re not looking at gobbling the market share of the private sector, but we are about affordable housing, we are about access to credit for first-time low- to moderate-income and minority homebuyers and we perform the heroic and counter-cyclical role in times of duress,” he said giving insights into the agency’s focus areas and why the FHA’s stewardship “cannot and should not be taken for granted.”In an upcoming interview on his second coming as FHA Commissioner with DS News, out on November 1, Montgomery had estimated that 70 percent of new homebuyers will be minorities in 20 years, with Latinos leading the pack in terms of FHA purchases. “Because of its unique ability to serve these cohorts— particularly minorities—the FHA is going to be of growing importance in the coming years,” he said.At the conference, he touched upon the FHA’s role as a mortgage insurer saying that the agency was the largest mortgage insurer in the U.S. a single-family portfolio that exceeds $1.2 trillion. Adding its commercial insurance portfolio and healthcare facilities the portfolio’s value rose to $1.3 trillion.As a comparison, when Montgomery took over the job for the first time in 2005, the portfolio was at $375 billion. “The current $1.3 trillion book means that we have a huge fiduciary responsibility to the public,” he said. “Ultimately we must operate programs that are sustainable for borrowers, renters, taxpayers, and all our stakeholders.”Highlighting some of the housing trends the FHA has seen, Montgomery said that over the first three quarters of 2018 the agency had seen a rise in risk indicators like rising home prices and though their increase had certainly seen some benefit such as rising home equity that has resulted in real equity returns for homeowners, the rising home prices could also lead to “imbalances in the housing market, especially when there’s a severe discrepancy between the supply and demand for housing.”Additionally, he said that though interest rates remained relatively historically low, they moderated the impact on the affordability of housing. Touching upon FHA’s recent changes to its reverse mortgage program called Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) Program, Montgomery said that last fall the FHA had made important adjustments to this program which had drained $14.5 billion during the year from the mutual mortgage insurance fund and continues to be heavily subsidized. The FHA is working to improve the viability of the program to ensure that taxpayers don’t have to bail it out in future. Montgomery said that after a careful analysis the team had found that inflated appraisal values on HECM properties were “more common than we initially thought. So beginning October 1, we put measures in place to try and correct these biases. We will be looking at all HECM appraisals submitted and we may require a second appraisal if our reviews showed that there was an inflated value.” He is also focusing the team’s efforts on taking the requisite care of the administration’s forward book. “We are seeing things in the book that is giving us pause and we continue to examine our single-family credit box. We are looking at the risk characteristics of some of the current policies regarding down payment assistance, cash out refinances and DTI ratios,” Montgomery told the audience. “We need to be vigilant about fraud and lending schemes and we cannot allow bad actors to populate our business.”Technology was a key area that Montgomery said he was keen to update at the FHA. “Ensuring we have the right technology to manage the risk of our portfolio I think is just good governance,” he said. “My highest priority has been to move FHA into the 21st century and beyond to ensure that we are able to serve the people who rely on us.” For this, Montgomery said that they needed not only state-of-the-art technology but also data analytics that were on par with the rest of the industry. However, he clarified that the agency didn’t plan to build a proprietary system but would seek to share systems with other agencies where possible to ensure this. Montgomery: “FHA Cannot and Should Not Be Taken for Granted” in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News American Enterprise Institute FHA Homebuyers Lending mortgage Mortgage Insurance technology 2018-10-24 Radhika Ojha Share
Bank of America Blockchain Borrowers Citizens Bank Lenders mortgage Servicing technology 2018-11-08 Radhika Ojha Share in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Technology Cryptocurrencies recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their invention. Cryptocurrencies ushered in a new way of doing business and made the world sit up and take notice of the technology it was built on—blockchain. For those who haven’t already heard about it, a blockchain uses a growing list of records called blocks which are linked using cryptography, making this technology a secure and safe way of transferring and saving data.While the technology has been around for some time, it has only been a few years since the housing and mortgage industries began to take notice of this technology as a way of streamlining and securing its operations and making it a part of the overall digital initiatives of lenders to reach and service their customers.Streamlining Processes”There are three key areas that digital should solve: efficiency of document gathering, more choice around the channel, and improved communication. We view digital as an opportunity to remove some of the friction in the mortgage process that customers have consistently voiced as areas where the customer experience could be better across the industry,” said Kathy Cummings, SVP Bank of America.”When we think about the efficiency of time, it’s not just the documentation process that digital simplifies. Digital allows us to create omnichannel experiences that allow customers to choose when, where, and how they engage with their lender so that they can select what channel is most efficient for them,” said Sonu Mittal, SVP and Head of Retail Lending at Citizens Bank.Blockchain, therefore, does play an important role in smoothening out the digital process for lenders. “One such use is for land titles,” said Shidan Gouran, CEO and President of Global Blockchain Technologies. “This does not only simplify property ownership, but it also minimizes the risks of fraud, especially in property transactions.””Digital has enabled more efficient document gathering where lenders can securely gather much of the information and documentation on a customer’s behalf. Customers no longer have to spend valuable time gathering and submitting the documents, which allows them to focus more time on other parts of the home buying process, like inspections and preparing for closing with their attorney and realtor,” Cummings said.Tech vs. TouchAccording to Gouda, while blockchain may have been around for a decade, it is only natural for the technology to take its time. “Remember how long the Internet took to evolve, and how rapidly it evolved once governments and major companies started using it? That is the phase blockchain is in now, and we are likely to see more mortgage and housing developments using it at an even more rapid pace in the next few years,” Gouran said.While blockchain may be evolving as a technology, there are many more digital options that lenders are combining with the human touch to reach out to their borrower base.”A customer who initiates an application via digital channel should be able to move seamlessly between them,” Mittal said. “The mortgage loan process takes place over a longer period of time from start to close because there are other variables with a range of timing, like closing date agreements with sellers. Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases a person makes, so we believe most customers prefer a human-digital experience that allows them to engage in a variety of ways based on their needs at the different points in the process.”Enhancing Borrower ExperienceCummings said that lenders could enhance a homebuyer’s experience when buying a home through digital channels by offering solutions that allowed consumers to simplify the mortgage process and make time for other life commitments. “Homebuyers who feel in control and empowered to take the first steps in achieving their goal of homeownership will have a better experience,” she said.Mittal agreed since digital has improved access to information to enable customers to stay informed about the progress of their loan without having to pick up the phone or email the loan officer.”Those forms of communication are still important, which is why we believe omnichannel is the right approach for the best client experience, but digital has enabled more proactive information sharing than the industry previously had. Not only can customers check on the status of the loan, but they can also track tasks to be completed and collaborate with their loan officers through these digital portals.”Want to learn more about how technology such as blockchain impacts the housing and mortgage industry? Take part in the 2019 Five Star Fintech Summit, March 13-14 in Memphis Tennessee. Click here to learn more. November 8, 2018 741 Views Block Block, Who’s There?
Share in Daily Dose, Featured, News February 8, 2019 963 Views Freddie Mac will release its Q4 2o18 and full year results on Thursday, February 14 before the markets open. The government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) said that it would hold a conference call at 9 a.m. EST to discuss the results and the call would be concurrently webcast.In Q3, the GSE, which completed 10 years under conservatorship this year, reported a comprehensive income of $2.6 billion driven primarily by “stable business revenues and strong credit quality.” This included a $0.2 billion (after-tax) net benefit from single-family legacy asset dispositions and a $0.2 billion (after-tax) benefit from reducing the write-down of the net deferred tax asset from the tax reform legislation last year.Freddie Mac said that it would also fulfill its $2.6 billion dividend requirement to the U.S. Treasury in December and that it had made cumulative payments totaling $114 billion to the Treasury to date.It also reported strong business fundamentals that helped it to grow during the quarter. Its total guarantee portfolio grew 6 percent to $2.1 trillion while its single-family total originations decreased 6 percent to $231 billion. Though its refinance volume decreased 30 percent, Freddie Mac reported a 12 percent increase in its purchase volume.Here’s what else is in store in the week ahead:CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights Report, Tuesday, 10 a.m. ESTMBA Mortgage Apps, Wednesday, 7 a.m. ESTHouse Committee Hearing: “Homeless in America: Examining the Crisis and Solutions to End Homelessness, Wednesday, 10 a.m. ESTSenate Committee Hearing on Nomination of Mark Calabria, Thursday, 10 a.m. ESTFreddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Thursday, 10 a.m. EST The Week Ahead: The Year at Freddie Mac Finances Freddie Mac mortgage Results Secondary Market 2019-02-08 Radhika Ojha
conferenceFlight CentreSouth Africa TourismSouth African Airways 120 Flight Centre Store Managers will be travelling to South Africa for their upcoming Leadership Conference in August, hosted by South African Tourism and South African Airways.The announcement was made at the Flight Centre Western Australia & Northern Territory Annual End of Financial Year Ball in front of over 1,000 guests. Many of the managers have never travelled to South Africa, despite it being an incredibly popular destination for leisure travellers.South African Tourism will host the group across three provinces to highlight the diversity of experiences that South Africa has to offer.IMAGE: Cape Town
Nobody’s suggesting the Arizona Cardinals are perfect by any stretch. To suggest that they’ll make the playoffs is a stretch.They’ve got an offensive line that looks good from afar but last year was far from good, a revamped group at running back, very little depth at the wide receiver position and too much turnover for a defense that didn’t do anything to warrant an overhaul. Oh yeah, and they play in a division featuring perhaps the two best teams in the NFC and perhaps the NFL. The problem the Cardinals don’t have, the one that is blessedly behind us all, is the quarterback controversy. Love him or don’t; Carson Palmer is an upgrade over last year’s twisted situation. So when I read stories from Buffalo that Kevin Kolb, who is competing with E.J. Manuel for the starter’s gig, “looked at times like he was trying to complete passes to the water cooler on the sideline.” I think to myself… I’m glad that’s not my team.When I read stories from New York that say Geno Smith looks like “he had done no conditioning.” I think to myself… I’m glad that’s behind us.When I read tweets that the QB’s in Jacksonville threw eight straight passes without a completion in 11-on-11 drills.#Jaguars QBs have thrown 8 straight incompletions in 11-on-11. Oyyyyy— Eugene Frenette (@GeneFrenette) July 29, 2013 Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires I think to myself… thank goodness those days are over. Truth is, quarterback controversies make for great radio in August and garbage teams the rest of the year. Last year, it was a daily mandatory mention from practice; Kolb looked sharp, Skelton has no touch, Kolb missed the guy down the field, Skelton has more arm strength, Whisenhunt prefers Kolb, the guys in the locker room want Skelton. And on and on and on. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Comments Share Top Stories On Monday, I watched Palmer throw over the middle to Larry Fitzgerald. The pass was a little behind Fitz and dropped. A year ago we would have dissected that pass like a frog in biology. This year, it is exactly what it is supposed to be: A starting quarterback and his wide receiver that need to work on their timing. Nothing more. Nothing less. That, my friends, is progress. – / 11 Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Arizona Cardinals, Drew Stanton, helping mold the EvoShield Shirts pic.twitter.com/iScxyseNnt— Pride Football (@MPHS_Football) July 21, 2016The Taylor Haugen Foundation and YESS was created in 2008 after high school receiver Taylor Haugen died following a liver injury suffered during a football game. The group provides awareness on abdominal injuries and how they can be more avoidable. Top Stories Thank you Taylor Haugen Foundation, @drewstanton and @EvoShield for outfitting our football program! #ROLLPRIDE pic.twitter.com/C5ZEDMv2FO— Pride Football (@MPHS_Football) July 21, 2016With the help from Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, the football program at Phoenix’s Mountain Pointe High School now has more protection when its players take the field this season.Joining with the Taylor Haugen Foundation and YESS (Youth Equipment for Sports Safety), Stanton was able to give the football team protective abdominal gear. Comments Share Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo The protective gear comes from EvoShield, a company that focuses on custom-molding athletic protective gear in multiple sports and is the same protection that Stanton wears when he suits up for NFL games.
The good news was that Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer warmed up.The 36-year-old needed to get the ol’ muscles going because, at one point Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, he scrambled for a 16-yard gain up the middle, the longest run of his career.How did we know Palmer warmed up?His pregame routine included a jaunt around University of Phoenix Stadium wearing a red, white and blue bodysuit — a tight one at that. The look was fitting considering it’s Veterans Day weekend. Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments Share Carson Palmer lost a little friendly competition to his backups. pic.twitter.com/FxQRrBRYBo— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 13, 2016Palmer must have lost the weekly bucket competition. But wait … what’s with the hat?Upon closer inspection and with the help of Sports Illustrated, it appears to be a Justin Bieber hat that says “Belieber.” Bieber, for what it’s worth, is Canadian.This stands as another loss for Palmer in the bucket toss challenge. He has donned a bikini, a clown suit and a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume after losing the competition in the past. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Go back to the e-newsletterSedona Hotel Yangon opened its doors 20 years ago as Yangon’s first five-star hotel and, this week, it welcomes guests to celebrate with special 20th anniversary room and dining promotions for August and September. A beacon of elegance for two decades, Sedona Hotel Yangon has recently completed extensive renovations and a major expansion, making it Yangon’s premier destination hotel and a superb base from which to enjoy the history and beauty of the region.The 20th anniversary room promotions include:Your next visit is USD $20 – book the Irrawaddy or Shin Sawbu suites at the best available rate and pay only USD $20 for the same room on your next visit (minimum two night stay; next visit voucher valid for three months from date of stay).Receive a second night for USD $20 – stay one night in a Premier Deluxe Room on the weekend and pay only USD $20 for the second night.Receive a third night for USD $20 – stay two nights during the week in a Premier Deluxe Room and receive a third night for only USD $20.Room promotions are valid in August and September and must be booked through hotel’s website or through a third party.D’Cuisine Birthday Celebration:Celebrate your birthday or anniversary at D’Cuisine Restaurant, Sedona Hotel Yangon’s newest restaurant. Located in the light-filled arcade of the new Inya Wing, D’Cuisine is an all-day buffet restaurant that offers Asian, Southeast Asian and Western cuisine. Guests are invited to enjoy the buffet at D’Cuisine for just USD $20 nett, along with a complimentary slice of birthday/anniversary cake (applicable in August and September).Go back to the e-newsletter
Go back to the enewsletterSusan Bonner, VP and MD Australia/New Zealand Royal Caribbean Cruises LimitedIt’s been a huge month for Celebrity Cruises. The delivery earlier this month of Celebrity Edge at Saint-Nazaire, France and the subsequent positioning of the “game-changing” ship to its home port of Fort Lauderdale has dominated interest globally, with the travel trade and consumers alike.This week, Susan Bonner, Vice President and Managing Director, Celebrity Cruises ANZ, has been aboard the freshly minted 2,918-passenger vessel, which will commence commercial operations on 9 December with its maiden voyage of the Western Caribbean.After teasing audiences around the world with artist impressions and renderings of the revolutionary Magic Carpet, Eden Lounge, Edge Villas and stylish Rooftop Garden, this week, the cruise line released its first batch of actual photos onboard. Accompanying the photos were comments from Bonner, who announced that Australian travellers are the third highest bookers of Celebrity Edge. Only the US and UK markets have more country-men and -women booked on this ship to date. It seems all the hype and publicity building up to this time has been worth every cent.Taking a moment from her busy schedule in Florida, LATTE queried Bonner as to why she thinks Celebrity Edge has been so popular with Australian travellers, and what has drawn them to this new ship?“Edge has been uniquely designed so her “skeleton” is on the inside of the ship; the new structure means guests can get closer to the sea than ever before with expanded views and space. With the touch of a button, guests can create an “Infinite Verandah” in their stateroom, giving them 20% more living space and allowing them to walk right out to the water’s edge. This feeling of openness is carried through all spaces on the ship, like the spectacular Rooftop Garden, boasting extensive greenery, and even to the ship’s deck chairs, which face outwards, to the sea, instead of inwards,” Bonner explained.“I think this is immensely appealing to Australians, who are renowned for their love of the ocean and the outdoors.“Our trade partners are a major reason why Australians have already become so familiar with Edge. The agents have really embraced this as a truly game-changing ship, and have been encouraging clients that have never cruised before to try her out. The response has been amazing, and we’re looking forward to welcoming a large contingent of Aussies on Edge sailings next year,” Bonner said.She said the trade has been a strong influence and have driven the majority of Edge bookings. “We’re incredibly grateful for their support, as always!”The shoulder season, in early May and from August onwards, is very popular for Aussies, Bonner said.Mediterranean sailings have proven to be the most popular for Aussies. “With ports like Bilbao in Spain, Mykonos in Greece and Naples in Italy, these itineraries offer the perfect cocktail of European highlights and hidden gems, with sea days on the most beautiful ship in the world!” Bonner boasts.“Such has been the advanced interest, that a number of Caribbean and European sailings are sold out or are close to having sold out, including an 11-night Amalfi Coast round-trip, departing Rome 25 May 2019, and calling to Sicily, Valletta, Santorini, Athens, Mykonos, Nauplion, Katakolon and Naples.“Our cutting-edge suites are doing extremely well, with only three of our two-storey Edge villas remaining for the whole of the Europe season.”Go back to the enewsletter
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is calling on airports across the UK to be more open with passengers about baggage charges. Research by the organisation revealed that some travellers could be at risk of being overcharged by luggage weighed on faulty scales or by inaccurate check-in staff.Its report is likely to be a wake-up call for airports and see them work towards improving their baggage charging system for customers.Passengers look set to benefit from the report, which claimed that many had been caused “distress and inconvenience” by having to pay a penalty for having heavy luggage.Frances Tuke, spokeswoman for Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), told the BBC: “Transparent pricing is very important to ABTA, its members and the credibility of the industry.”Non-optional extras have to be included in headline prices, but where other costs might be incurred, such as baggage charges, companies must do their utmost not to mislead.”Chairman of the Councillor Geoffrey Theobald added that customers could help to ensure that their bags are being weighed correctly at check-in by ensuring the scales read zero before the luggage is loaded.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map RelatedRyanair risks check-in baggage fee hikeBudget Irish airline Ryanair has taken a risk in raising check-in baggage and airport check-in fees.easyJet cabin luggage explained and how to maximise your hand baggage allowanceDon’t get caught out by easyJet hand luggage allowances; here are the latest baggage restrictions, plus a few tips on how to avoid paying cabin bag fees:Ryanair baggage and check-in fees to riseRyanair baggage and check-in fees to rise
Travel doesn’t get much more festive than this. Skyscanner scans the globe to bring you the top ten most Christmassy places on planet earth.an island ChristmasChristmas Island (Australia) – there are actually several islands in various oceans named Christmas, but probably the best known is the Australian territory located in the Indian Ocean. Over half the island is national park, but according to the CIA World Fact Book, it will soon become a site for launching space missions. Is Santa going intergalactic? Find cheap flights to Christmas Island.Turkey – though famed for its sunny beaches and warm seas, many might be surprised to hear the country also receives heavy snowfalls, boasts mountains over 4000m high and has around 10 ski resorts where you can guarantee yourself a white Christmas. Find cheap flights to Turkey.Brussels (Belgium) – forever linked with a famous Christmas side dish that causes mixed feelings at the table, the small green vegetable really is named after the Belgium capital where it’s said to have been a popular crop for more than 400 years. Find cheap flights to Brussels.Santa Cruz (California, USA) – meaning “holy cross”, Santa Cruz is a quintessential American beach town. The place where Hawaiian royalty first introduced surfing to the mainland, the city is still known for its alternative lifestyle and liberal political persuasion. Find cheap flights to San JoseRudolf Island (Russia), the northern most island of the Franz Josef Archipelago, this small, barren island that sits within the article circle, is almost completely glaciated. Despite the name, Rudolf and his reindeer buddies don’t hang out here these days – it’s just too chilly. You’ll need to join a polar expedition to get to this one. Krakow (Poland) – this city goes off with a bang in December with a cracking Christmas market held in the main square. Quaff mulled wine and browse stalls selling Baltic amber jewellery and woollen slippers from the Polish highlands. Find cheap flights to KrakowTinsel Town (Los Angeles, USA) – Hollywood’s nom de plume, the Tinsel part refers to the glittering, flashy, but superficial nature of Hollywood and the film industry. Tinsel the popular Christmas decoration was invented in Germany in 1610 and originally made of shredded silver. Find cheap flights to HollywoodCarol City (Florida, USA) – guaranteed for a balmy Christmas, temperatures here rarely dip below 20C. It seems that many of the city’s inhabitants do indeed sing for their supper; according to Wikipedia – Carol City’s most notable residents are all rappers, though Trapp Mendoza and JT Money are rarely heard waxing lyrical about baby Jesus and Rudolph the red nose reindeer. Find cheap flights to MiamiHolly (Michigan, USA) – this quiet village apparently featured in the 1993 Clint Eastwood movie – “In the Line of Fire”. It was also home to Dr Church Jr, the man who developed the Mount Rose snow sampler, a tool used to measure snow depth and water content. Find cheap flights to DetroitBethlehem (West Bank) – yes, this is a real place. Bethlehem is commonly accepted as the birth city of Jesus of Nazareth, probably the most famous person in history and the whole reason that we celebrate Christmas Day at all. Find cheap flights to Tel AvivReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Related15 Festively Themed Places: World’s Most Christmassy Destinations15 Festively Themed Places: World’s Most Christmassy Destinations5 Christmassy places to escape Christmas!Plot your festive escape to one of these fantastically festive sounding but actually un-Christmassy places.The Antichrist(mas) – 5 places to escape the festive fussDoes Christmas cheer just give you festive fear? Have your doubts over Brussels’ sprouts?