Construction on Brightline’s trains advances

The shell of the first passenger train coach car that will carry passengers on All Aboard Florida’s Brightline rail service has been completed at Siemens’ manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., the company announced Tuesday.

Shell of the first Brightline train. Photo provided by Brigtline
Shell of the first Brightline train.
Photo provided by Brightline

More than 70 employees at the facility have worked on the 85-foot-long coach car, using more than 50,000 welds to fuse it together, according to a news release issued by Brightline. The shell will now go through a finishing process, preparing it for final assembly, the company said.

» PHOTOS: See more images of Brightline’s first passenger car

“With the completion of the first coach car shell, we are bringing our vision for a truly unique train service that will transform travel in Florida one step closer to fruition,” said Mike Reininger, Brightline’s president. “The Siemens team has been working diligently and we are thrilled to mark this milestone as the finishing of this car progresses and the manufacture of additional cars continues.”

Initially, the company will have five four-car trains, each capable of carrying 240 passengers. By June 2018, Brightline will have 10 trains with seven cars each. Those trains will be able to carry 356 passengers.

Last week, All Aboard Florida began vertical construction on a rail repair facility in West Palm Beach that will service its Brightline trains when they begin shuttling passengers between South Florida and Orlando next year.

The facility, just north of downtown West Palm Beach, will be used to repair, maintain, clean and store Brightline’s trains, company officials have said. About 50 people will work at the 12-acre site at 601 15th St., which is also expected to serve as an office for the company’s conductors, engineers, and onboard service staff.

 

 

More than a dozen PBC hotels win AAA’s Four Diamond award

More than a dozen Palm Beach County hotels and bed and breakfasts have earned AAA’s Four Diamond award.

The coveted ratings are among highest honors from the travel group.

Three local hotels – Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan, the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, and The Breakers in Palm Beach – received AAA Five Diamond rating.

Fourteen others earned AAA Four Diamond award.

Eau Palm Beach (provided)
Eau Palm Beach (provided)

“This area is known as the best way to experience Florida, so it’s no surprise that multiple hotels in The Palm Beaches have received the prestigious AAA Five Diamond and Four Diamond Ratings,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO for Discover The Palm Beaches, the official tourism marketing corporation for Palm Beach County. “Our hotels consistently provide guests with truly exceptional experiences.”

Every year AAA reviews more than 28,000 hotels including resorts, historic inns, B&Bs and other hotels.

Of the 118 hotels that received Five Diamond awards, 12 are in Florida.

Roughly 1,500 hotels earned Four Diamond awards. Of those, 136 are in Florida.

“These unparalleled properties offer the best possible way to vacation,” Pesquera said. “Genuine hospitality is truly a way of life for us. It is wonderful to see our hotels attain this level of recognition.”

Here is the list of local Four Diamond winners:

Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria ResortBoca Raton

Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria ResortBoca Raton

Waterstone Resort & Marina: A DoubleTree by HiltonBoca Raton

Delray Beach MarriottDelray Beach

Jupiter Beach Resort & SpaJupiter

Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside PlaceJupiter

Sabal Palm House Bed and Breakfast InnLake Worth

The Brazilian Court HotelPalm Beach

The Chesterfield Palm BeachPalm Beach

The Colony Palm BeachPalm Beach

Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa – Palm Beach, a Kimpton HotelPalm Beach

PGA National Resort & SpaPalm Beach Gardens

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & SpaRiviera Beach

Casa Grandview Historic Luxury Inn Cottages and SuitesWest Palm Beach

 

 

 

October hotel bookings grow in Palm Beach County

The hotel occupancy rate in Palm Beach County grew slightly in October, while the cost of a nightly hotel stay continued to climb.

Travellers dining and shopping at PBIA
Travellers dining and shopping at PBIA

In October, there were 499,255 nightly bookings available in the county’s hotels and motels, according to the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council. Roughly 345,500 of those nightly bookings were sold to out-of-town visitors and other guests.

The bookings mark a 2.9 percent increase over Oct. 2014, according to the council.

The cost of a nightly hotel stay in October was $132.27, up 5.6 percent from Oct. 2014.

Meanwhile, the countywide hotel occupancy rate stood at 69.2 percent in October, up just under a percent from Oct. 2014.

WestJet starts new service at PBIA

WestJet touched down at Palm Beach International Airport on Friday, offering twice a week service to Toronto. WestJet plane at PBI 2

The low-cost carrier’s inaugural flight between Palm Beach County and Toronto Pearson International Airport arrived at about 10:30 a.m. with 96 passengers on board. The Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 series aircraft was one of WestJet’s two “Magic Planes” which feature custom paint jobs displaying Disney characters.

Canada is the county’s largest international tourism market, with visitors from the north making up about 46 percent of the international tourists who come to Palm Beach County.

This year, airlines are expected to offer roughly 49,500 seats between Canadian cities and PBIA. That number is expected to grow to nearly 60,000 next year, according to Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization.

WestJet plane at PBIOn a weekly basis, airlines offer more than 3,500 seats into PBIA from Canada. Between Jan. 30 and April, charter flights are expected to offered nearly 6,000 seats from Canada.

“We are hopeful that this will be a successful flight and will generate additional service into the airport from Canada,” Bruce Pelly, the director of Palm Beach County’s Department of Airports, said of WestJet’s new service.

Robert Palmer, WestJet’s manager of public relations, said Florida is a key destination for Canadian snowbirds and tourists. WestJet offers 105 weekly flights from 12 Canadian cities to 6 destinations in Florida.

But Palmer, who flew to PBIA on the inaugural flight,  said the airline hopes the new service will also bring Palm Beach County residents to Canada.

“We are looking forward to not only bringing Canadians back home, but to bringing some of you to Toronto and beyond,” Palmer said Friday.

WestJet will operate twice weekly — Monday and Friday — between PBIA and Toronto  The seasonal service runs through April 29. Palmer said bookings on the flights “look strong.”

Palm Beach County tourism leaders heralded the new flight.

“We’re thrilled that WestJet is providing another easy and convenient direct flight option for our Canadian visitors,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches. “The highest percentage of our destination’s international tourists are traveling from Canada, because we truly offer what Canadians are specifically seeking in a vacation. We’re confident that with our significantly increased marketing and sales investment in the Toronto market, this additional direct flight option will result in increased Canadian visitation. This WestJet route will encourage even more Canadians to discover what makes The Palm Beaches the best way to experience Florida.”