Tag: Hit

Layoffs hit Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s nonprofit partner

The nonprofit that supports the Golden Gate National Recreation Area says it will lay off more than a quarter of its staff, or about 108 employees, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Like much of the tourism sector, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has been forced to scale back operations, which include running tours and visitor centers at such popular spots as Alcatraz, Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands. The reductions have cut deep into the organization’s budget.

As a result, the organization is facing hard decisions about what programs, from education to ecological restoration to facility improvements, it can afford to continue across the recreation area’s 84,000 acres of Bay Area lands. About a third of the staff was temporarily cut over the summer, and now the conservancy says many of those furloughs will become permanent, effective Dec. 31.

“This year has been tough for everyone, there’s no way around it,” Christine Lehnertz, the organization’s president and CEO, said in an emailed statement to The Chronicle.

The 400-person conservancy been a partner with the National Park Service since 1981. Last year alone, the group estimates that it rallied thousands of volunteers and contributed $47 million worth of services to GGNRA.

The recreation area, which consists of a constellation of park sites from San Mateo County to Marin County, is one of the busiest properties in the National Park Service. In 2019, the area counted 15 million visits.

The conservancy operates the GGNRA’s visitor centers and shops, and conducts a wide range of programs in the park, from building trails in the Presidio to bringing school groups to Hawk Hill to restoring habitat for coho salmon in Muir Woods.

One of the group’s most lucrative services is providing self-guided audio tours at Alcatraz, which have ceased since the cellhouse closed with the pandemic. Along with sales of merchandise, the tours account for nearly 60% of the conservancy’s revenues.

The organization estimates that its annual operating budget of about $55 million will be less than half that next fiscal year.

The Presidio Trust, which manages most of the GGNRA’s Presidio, has also been hit hard by the pandemic. Earlier this year, the agency laid off about 20% of its 350 employees. The trust is financially dependent on leases with housing and businesses in the Presidio, including restaurants and inns, which have struggled this year.

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @kurtisalexander

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What to Do About the Data Leak That Hit Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com

An improperly-secured Amazon Web Services (AWS) server left over 10 million hotel reservations logs from numerous Cloud Hospitality websites openly exposed, potentially putting millions of guests at risk. The server is now secured and there’s no evidence the data is being misused (yet), but the information is sensitive enough that anyone who has used one of the following hotel websites since 2013 should be extra vigilant about their data going forward:

  • Agoda
  • Amadeus
  • Booking.com
  • Expedia
  • Hotels.com
  • Hotelbeds
  • Omnibees
  • Sabre

The AWC server held over 10 millions logs, though Website Planet’s security team says the number of impacted guests could be even higher since some logs include multiple people. These logs contain:

  • Guests’ names, email addresses, personal ID numbers (such as passport number or driver’s license number), and phone numbers.
  • Guests’ payment methods and billing information, including all credit card data (card number, CVV, expiration date, etc.)
  • Guests’ reservation details, including the number of nights, prices, and any special requests made as part of their stays.

What you need to do to keep your data safe

The affected Cloud Hospitality server held information on millions of guests from all over the world, but there’s no evidence as of yet this information was ever accessed by malicious groups. There’s also no evidence of scams or identity theft attempts against any of the individuals impacted by the leak.

Still, this leak needs to be taken seriously.

The usual concerns apply, including the potential for increased vulnerability to phishing scams, malware and ransomware attacks, financial fraud, and identity theft. Non-traditional scams like manipulating or canceling active reservations are possible as well. Here’s what to do to keep yourself safe:

  • Change your passwords and start using an encrypted password manager (some can even keep your payment info safe in case of leaks like this one). Though it doesn’t appear any password data was leaked via this insecure server, it never hurts to be extra-cautious.
  • Tighten account security with two-factor authentication
  • Monitor your credit card statements for unusual activity over the next few months. Set up fraud alerts, if possible, to ensure you don’t miss any strange charges.
  • Be mindful of phishing scams and malware links in your email inbox, especially if they’re related to your hotel stays (or the use of any websites affected by this breach). The best solution is to never click unknown links or download email attachments.
  • Check for any sudden, unexpected changes to your upcoming hotel reservations or unauthorized use of your hotel rewards.
  • If you’re contacted by unknown “travel agencies” offering special offers, avoid these entirely. Similarly, never confirm or give out financial information to anyone who calls you or emails you in relation to a potential scam or service interruption; call them, instead, to verify that the request is legitimate.

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Armed Robbers Hit Bay Park Gas Station, Mission Valley Hotel

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San Diego Police cruiser
A San Diego Police cruiser. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Robbery detectives were investigating two armed robberies Tuesday morning, one at a Bay Park gas station and another at a Mission Valley hotel.

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The first robbery was reported around 2:40 a.m. at the Shell gas station on the corner of Clairemont Drive and Denver Street, San Diego Police Officer John Buttle said.

A gas station employee had just returned from taking out the trash when he turned to lock the front doors, but two men walked up and pulled open the doors before he could lock them, Buttle said.

Both men had handguns and demanded money from the employee, the officer said. When the employee told them he didn’t have any money, one of the men pistol whipped him in the head.

The pair then fled the store and were last seen heading northbound on Denver Street.

Both suspects were described as Black men in their 40s. They were both wearing dark clothing, masks and baseball hats.

Shortly before 3:05 a.m. a robbery was reported at a hotel on Hotel Circle Place, off Hotel Circle North west of Fashion Valley Road, Buttle said.

Two armed men entered a hotel lobby, then left with a cash register, he said.

The suspects from that robbery were described as two Black men wearing masks and dark hoodies.

— City News Service

Armed Robbers Hit Bay Park Gas Station, Mission Valley Hotel was last modified: November 3rd, 2020 by Chris Jennewein

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Oil show cancellation is latest hit for hotel industry

Every other year in October, hotels in Midland and Odessa are fully booked during the week of the Permian Basin International Oil Show. But this year, as was the case with most major events, the oil show was canceled, adding to the “double whammy” hotels were already facing from the pandemic and lower oil prices.

That combination has led to hotels in the Permian Basin faring “substantially worse” than hotels across Texas, where there’s been a statewide revenue drop of 64 percent, according to Keith Dial, partner and regional sales director at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Midland Plaza.

By the time the oil show’s executive committee announced in July that the show would be postponed until October 2021, hotels had already been suffering from four months of cancellations and losses. News of another cancellation didn’t come as a shock, Dial said.

But while the oil show is one of the biggest events of the year for hotels, Dial said it doesn’t usually make or break the entire year in the way many people think.

“In a boom year, it’s kind of like just a flutter, because we’re busy all the time in a boom year,” he said. “But in a year like this, it would have substantially helped in the month of October.”

Hotels earn about a third more revenue during the week of the oil show compared to the rest of the year, according to Dial. However, what has hurt hotels in Midland more than the cancellation of any one large event is the cancellation of conferences, weddings and other smaller events that has been occurring since March, he said.

And more than any events being canceled, what has devastated Midland’s hotel industry is the loss of the “Monday through Thursday” crowd who fly in from Houston, Dallas or other energy centers to work in Midland for a couple days.

“Everyone’s bread and butter is that day-to-day — one or two nights or three nights from an individual or company business that comes in very steadily over the course of a year,” Dial said. “That’s where you survive in this economy.”

Dial said events such as the oil show are “gravy” on top of steady bookings throughout the year during a good year, and that stability is what’s missing as oil prices remain low and less activity in the oil field translates to fewer people traveling for work.

He estimated that about a third of the staff at the Midland DoubleTree has been furloughed, and those who have returned to work have reduced hours because there’s not enough to do.

“We’d love to see them back being able to work full-time and take care of their families, and hopefully, we’ll get there,” he said. “I really hope we get there before the end of the year but you’ve just got to look at that realistically, and it doesn’t look like that – not until this vaccine comes along and gets some distribution and people start traveling again.”


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Hotel Hit Squad: Once the haunt of royal guest from Hampton Court, The Mitre is truly thrilling

This is, frankly, thrilling. We are still caught in the worst crisis that British hospitality has faced and here I am in a new hotel that brims with optimism and a bright future. Covid be gone. The Mitre is here.

If you know the elegant Lutyens bridge that straddles the Thames between London and Surrey at Hampton, you may have glanced at The Mitre and inwardly sighed: a fine landmark gone to seed, the sort of clapped-out place you hurry past.

In fact, it has always been a hostelry, built in 1665 to accommodate the courtiers of King Charles II when he occupied Hampton Court Palace, which stands opposite. It had a moment in the 1960s, when Shirley Bassey would pop in for lobster thermidor, but after that its fortunes dipped.

Enter Hector Ross, formerly in charge of the Bel & the Dragon pub chain and Beaverbrook hotel. He is young yet, but he knows what he’s doing.

The hotel had a moment in the 1960s but after that its fortunes dipped – until now

Supported by a couple of backers and a substantial bank loan, Ross bought The Mitre shortly before the beginning of lockdown and opened it soon after the end. He and a trusted team of builders (“my brothers”) moved in and spent those lockdown months on a top-to-toe refurbishment, creating a new open-to-view kitchen and implementing his friend Nicola Harding’s gorgeous, country-meets-town interiors, with original art, oak floors, tongue and groove panelling, soft velvet fabrics, Ottoline and de Gournay wallpapers and many subtle shades of paint.

Another good friend and colleague, the very tall Ronnie Kimbugwe, formerly executive chef of Bel & the Dragon, manned a vintage Citroen food van called Polly outside the hotel that made the resurging Mitre a talking point for locals during lockdown. Add Claire Fyfe, MasterChef contestant, interior designer and landscape artist as the new-to-the-game hotel manager, and you have Ross’s dream team.

You’ve either got it or you haven’t in the hospitality game. Ross, who was brought up in St James’s Palace because his father was a senior member of the royal household, has got it. He knows that generosity is key (sensible room rates, a glass of English wine on arrival, complimentary cookies and King’s Ginger liqueur, fresh flowers, Bramley bath products in the bedrooms).

He values his overnight guests enough to give them their own private sitting room (an engaging space in the oldest part of the building with shelves of books, honesty bar and a jukebox).

‘Am I in a London hotel or a rural one? The capital is at my feet, but country pursuits are on hand’

No two bedrooms are the same and they are all lovely: homely yet vibrant, with a mix of old and new furniture (much of it came with the hotel), paperbacks chosen by Fyfe, free-standing bath tubs, charming café curtains and the prettiest of mirrors.

The Mitre is substantial. It has two restaurants, a lovely events space, the orangery,

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UPDATE 1-Hotel group Accor’s recovery hit by new curbs, slow leisure travel

 (Adds details, background)
    Oct 22 (Reuters) - Europe's biggest hotel group Accor
          reported a slump in third-quarter revenue on Thursday,
saying the downturn in leisure customers and the introduction of
new COVID-19 restrictions slowed its recovery toward the end of
the period.
     Accor, which runs high-end chains such as Raffles and
Sofitel as well as budget brands such as Ibis, reported revenue
of 329 million euros ($388.91 million) in the July to September
period, down 63.7% compared to a year earlier on a like-for-like
    Accor said it saw activity improve during the summer holiday
season, especially in Europe, though new curbs pushed the
recovery back down in September and the group expects only China
to swiftly recover to pre-crisis levels.
    The French group, which operates more than 5,000 hotels in
111 countries, said 90% of its hotels were now open, compared
with 81% in August.             
    "The worst of the crisis is now behind us, but our main
markets are still substantially affected by the measures rolled
out to combat the health crisis," Chief Executive Sebastien
Bazin said in a statement.
    A global surge in new COVID-19 infections has forced
countries to introduce new travel curbs, another hit for hotels
that have been running at a reduced capacity since lockdowns
were introduced in Europe in March.
    French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday the
government would extend a curfew already imposed in Paris and
eight other big cities to 38 more departments, starting from
Friday at midnight.             

 (Reporting by Milla Nissi and Charles Regnier in Gdansk
Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Giuliani calls NSFW Borat hotel room scene a “hit job” in retaliation for recent Biden smear

Former LifeLock spokesperson Rudy Giuliani is defending his unwitting cameo in the Borat sequel as a “hit job” in retaliation for his recent smears on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. 

In the controversial appearance, the man once called “America’s Mayor” appears to be touching himself under his pants while on a hotel bed beside an actress posing as a young journalist.

After news of the scene first broke on Wednesday, the former New York mayor called in to radio station WABC to explain that he had merely been tucking in his shirt. Giuliani suggested that the scene might have been “added, doctored, [or] manipulated” — allegations which he denies about his own dubious accusations against Biden.

“I had to take off the electronic equipment,” the former assistant U.S. attorney claimed. “And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back. And my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in. And at that point — at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored. But, in any event, I’m tucking my shirt in. I assure you that’s all I was doing.”

In the sequel to the hit mockumentary, 24-year-old actress Maria Balakova, who poses as Borat’s teenage daughter, Tutar, scores a one-on-one sit-down with Giuliani in a Manhattan hotel suite. According to Giuliani — whose work representing President Donald Trump’s personal interests in Ukraine led directly to his own client’s impeachment — he entered into what “seemed like a legitimate interview” with a “young woman.”

“At one point, she explained to me some problems she had. I actually prayed with her,” he said. “And then, I had to leave. I had my jacket on. I was fully clothed at all times.”

However, that description omitted some relevant details.

Throughout the scene, “Tutar” flirts heavily with Giuliani, and she reaches out to touch his knee several times. At one point, after Giuliani blames China for the coronavirus pandemic, he agrees to eat a bat with her.

After Sacha Baron Cohen, in the role of Borat, interrupts the interview costumed as an audio tech to “save” his daughter, the scene cuts to Tutar inviting Giuliani to “have a drink in the bedroom.” Giuliani, whom U.S. officials reportedly warned the White House had been a target of Russian intelligence, follows her out.

The next scene appears to be captured on hidden cameras. Giuliani, the president’s former informal cybersecurity adviser, removes Tutar’s microphone, sits on the bed and asks for her address and phone number. She removes his microphone, touching his pants, and he pats her backside. Giuliani then lies back on the bed and puts his hands down his pants for longer than he suggested in his later radio interview.

At that point, Borat, dressed in pink neglige which Giuliani later described as a “pink transgender outfit,” bursts into the room. Borat screams, “Put down your chram!” — his word for penis. “She’s

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Rudy Giuliani Claims Controversy Over Borat Hotel Room Scene (Filmed in July) Is ‘Hit Job’ Payback for Hunter Biden Story (Released in October)

Rudy Giuliani et al. wearing a suit and tie

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Rudy Giuliani

Photo credit: Saul Loeb, AFP / Getty Images.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and campaign fixer, Rudy Giuliani, is now claiming that the eyebrow-raising scene from the new Borat movie where he gets very comfortable with a young actress in a hotel suite is retaliation for his role in leaking alleged emails of Hunter Biden.

The scene in the movie was filmed back in July, months before Giuliani leaked the contents of Biden’s purported laptop to New York Post last week.

According to The Daily Beast, Giuliani calls the Borat controversy a “hit job” and implied it was part of a damage control conspiracy between the Bidens and Hollywood — and not an effort to drum up publicity for a movie that is, in fact, due to be released in two days.

“Now let me tell you why I know this is a hit job that happens because, it’s not an accident that it happens that I turn in all this evidence on their prince and darling Joe Biden ,” Giuliani said to The Daily Beast. “I have the courage to say that I’m the target.”

Giuliani also addressed the fact that, in the scene in question, he is filmed putting his hand down his pants after the actress removes his microphone pack and he asks for her phone number and pats her lower back/buttocks. The movie’s eponymous lead character, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, bursts into the room moments later.

“The Borat video is a complete fabrication,” he said in a post on Twitter. “I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the record equipment.”

Giuliani noted in a subsequent tweet that he reported the incident to the police right after it occurred.

“I only later realized it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen,” Giuliani said at the time of the prank, which was more than three months before he leaked purported emails from Biden. “I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn’t get me.”

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Coronavirus Will Hit Small Towns Hard As People Leave Cities


Idaho Highway 75 outside of Sun Valley, Idaho.

The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

“Wealth is the vector.” That’s what sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom tweeted last week, in reference to the spread of COVID-19 across both the globe and the United States. Wealth is not the cause of every concentrated outbreak dotting the United States. But it’s the common denominator of so much of its spread outside of major urban areas. It’s the reason why so many of the coronavirus hot spots in the Mountain West — Sun Valley, Idaho; Gunnison County, Colorado; Summit County, Utah; Gallatin County, Montana — overlap with winter playgrounds for the wealthy. The virus travels via people, and the people who travel the most, both domestically and internationally, are rich people.

A party in the tony bedroom community of Westport, Connecticut, all the way back on March 5, became what one epidemiologist referred to as a “super-spreading event,” with infected attendees dispersing throughout Connecticut and New England, and one party-goer falling ill on a plane ride back to South Africa. In Idaho’s Blaine County, home to Sun Valley, more than half of the residential properties are second homes or rental properties, and more than 30,000 people fly into the regional airport during ski season alone. As of March 31, 187 people in the county of 22,000 have tested positive, including local emergency room physician Brent Russell. Two people have died. The town’s small hospital has two ICU beds and a single ventilator.

“People come here from all over the world,” Russell told the Idaho Statesman. “Especially this time of year. When I’m in the ER, I get people from New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle. Every week there’s people from those places. Most likely someone from an urban area or multiple people from urban areas came here and they just set it off.”

All over the United States, people are fleeing urban areas with high infection rates for the perceived safety and natural beauty of rural areas. Some of them own second homes in those areas; others are paying upwards of $10,000 a month, depending on the area, for temporary housing. The common denominator among those populations is, again, wealth — either their own or their families’. They can flee the city because their jobs can be done remotely, or they don’t work at all. They either had a vacation house already, or they can afford to fork over what amounts to a second rent, or second mortgage.

Not everyone leaving a big city because of the pandemic is heading for a vacation home; many people with mobile jobs are relocating to stay with family in suburban and rural hometowns. And many of the rural places that will eventually be hardest hit by the coronavirus are not upscale ski and beach towns, but small and

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