Hilton seizure

The US-based Hilton hotel chain is "evaluating" the Venezuelan government's seizure of one of its hotels on the Caribbean resort island of Margarita, a spokeswoman said yesterday…

President Hugo Chavez ordered the "acquisition by force" of the landmark hotel on Tuesday, according to Venezuelan officials.

"At this time, Hilton Worldwide is evaluating how the Venezuelan government's action affects its interest in this hotel," said Karla Visconti, a Hilton Worldwide spokeswoman for the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin America.

In a brief statement Visconti said the hotel "remains a member of the Hilton system of hotels, and welcomes guests with the same level of service they have come to enjoy."

The sprawling Margarita Island complex includes 280 rooms, 210 suites, a casino, stores, restaurants, offices and meeting areas, as well as the adjoining marina.

The hotel, in Nueva Esparta state, was targeted for state takeover less than a month after it was used to host the Africa-South America Summit.

The assets will be held by the state tourism corporation Venetur, which reports to the Tourism Ministry, part of an "urgent" effort to boost "the social development side of the tourism and hotel industries in Nueva Esparta state," the Venezuela government's Official Gazette said.

Caracas earlier seized the Hotel Hilton in Caracas and re-named it the Hotel Alba, a reference to the Venezuelan-led leftist regional alliance Alianza Bolivariana para las Americas (ALBA).

In the past four years, Venezuela has implemented the nationalization of industries it sees as strategic including electrical utilities, cement, steel, oil services and banking.

Source: www.theage.com.au