Plan Your Meetings (PYM) announced several new hires. New sales and marketing executives include Amy O’Neill (West Atlanta, Northwest Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee); Jan Dunlap (East Atlanta, Coastal Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina); and J.J. Kempler in Texas. Erica Ploof, formerly corporate sales executive with Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee, has joined PYM as marketing and sales development director of products and services, a new position created specifically for PYM’s new online resource dirctory; she also will be promoting and developing event and online sponsorship opportunities.
Gaylord Hotels announced several hires in its national sales office; new territory sales representatives include April Anderson (Southeast region), Danielle Baarman (Mid-Atlantic region), Pia Carpenter (Northeast region) and Sarah Opple (Midwest region).
Kevin Kamenzind was named the new senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Phoenix CVB, effective May 1.
Tina Sampson was named vice president of sales and marketing of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, currently under construction in Washington, D.C.
Elisha Nahir Pena was promoted to the position of executive meetings manager of The TradeWinds Island Resort’s Island Grand Resort & Sandpiper Suites in St. Pete Beach, Fla.; Kimberly Ross recently became national sales manager for specialty markets, including social, sports and group travel.
Tom Tittle was named general manager of the Doubletree Castle Hotel in Orlando.
Rosen Hotels & Resorts hired three new chefs for its Orlando-based properties. Michael Rumplik was named head chef of the Rosen Centre; Jorge Oliveira was named executive chef of Rosen Shingle Creek; and Michael McMullen was named executive chef of Rosen Plaza.
Katie Reeder was named public relations manager of the Alpharetta CVB.
Kathleen Bertrand was promoted to senior vice president of the Atlanta CVB.
Marijean Pernice was named senior sales manager of the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta.
Laurene Miller was named national convention sales manager, Southeast territory, of the Reno-Sparks [Nev.] Convention & Visitors Authority.
Frances “Mikie” Wall was named vice president of sales and services of the Cape Fear Coast [N.C.] Convention & Visitors Bureau.
William Heubel was named executive chef of the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C.
Jeffrey Quasha was named chef de cuisine at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.
In May, ExpressJet Airlines is scheduled to add 12 new nonstop daily flights to six U.S. cities from New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport (Birmingham, Ala.; Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Raleigh/Durham, N.C.), bringing the airport up to 75 percent of its pre-Katrina flights and 66 percent of its pre-Katrina seats. Between April 30 and June 12, the airline is scheduled to add twice-daily, nonstop service to six cities from San Antonio (including Raleigh/Durham, N.C., and Albuquerque and Tucson, N.M.) with one-stop service to Los Angels/Ontario and Sacramento, Calif. New nonstop destinations to and from Louisville, Ky., include Raleigh/Durham and Kansas City.
AirTran Airways is scheduled to begin nonstop service between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Charleston International Airport on May 25, 2007.
Delta Connection began daily, nonstop, roundtrip service between Atlanta and Florida Keys Marathon Airport.
A smoking ban at all Comfort Suites hotels is scheduled to go into effect May 1.
A planned $505 million expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) to add a 1.25 million-sq. ft., 40,000-seat arena with 167,000 square feet of exhibit space is pending approval by the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Commission.
Plans for a two-block entertainment district with retail, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs adjacent to the BJCC have been approved.
Scheduled to open in Birmingham are the 79-room Holiday Inn Express (March), the 130-room Hilton Garden Inn-Liberty Park (April), the 110-room Hilton Inn Lakeshore Drive (July 2008), the 85-room Hampton Inn & Suites-Irondale (May 2008), and the 208-room Embassy Suites-Hoover (2009).
Six Birmingham hotels and restaurants received AAA Four-Diamond recognition: The Wynfrey Hotel, Bottega Restaurant, Highlands Bar & Grill, Café DuPont and Ocean.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, near Birmingham, competed a $600 million expansion of its visitors center, museum and assembly plant, and has resumed group tours.
The 160-room Radisson Phoenix City Center (formerly the Sunshine Hotel & Suites) completed an $8 million renovation. Amenities include 16 new cabana suites with private rooftop pools, a full-service bar with patio seating, on-site dining, two waterfall pools, a ballroom, breakout rooms, a 200-seat outdoor amphitheater and pre-function space.
The 194-room Mondrian Scottsdale opened with 10,000 square feet of flexible event space, including eight function rooms, and creative venues (Asia de Cuba, Red Bar, Skybar and a pool) to host up to 500 guests.
Scottsdale’s FireSky Resort & Spa (formerly the Caleo Resort & Spa) completed renovations. New features include a full-service restaurant adjacent to a lobby lounge, high-end guest room amenities, complimentary WiFi Internet access and a remodeled lobby area.
Three Scottsdale malls are undergoing renovations and expansions. Scottsdale Fashion Square is scheduled to add up to 30 retailers such as Barney’s New York and Bottega Veneta, and a two-story extension to the mall. Biltmore Fashion Park completed renovations of its exterior and pedestrian areas, and is scheduled to open new shops and add an on-site hotel. Two new shops (Steele, A Foreign Affair) opened at The Borgata, currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation; new amenities at the mall include a Friday night concert series and a weekend European food market.
Grand opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver is scheduled for April 7, opening day of the Colorado Rapids 2007 season. The state-of-the-art park will be the largest professional soccer complex in the world, and also is available for meetings, company picnics, team-building activities, sales training and private catered events.
Part of the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin is scheduled to open this spring with shops and restaurants such as Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, Aveda Salon, Brooks Brothers Country Club, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café & Emporium.
Redfish Village opened near Watercolor with 80 rental condos; additional accommodations are available at the secluded Sanctuary at Redfish. Amenities include a village plaza with restaurants and boutiques, a multi-level building inspired by historic ice houses (traditional coastal community gathering places), scenic trails and wooden boardwalks through the dunes and beside Redfish Lake, an amphitheater, a piano bar, a fitness center with a spa treatment room, virtual indoor golf, and a children’s play garden.
Hotel Saba is scheduled to open this summer in Rosemary Beach. The boutique hotel will have 56 guest rooms, a restaurant and bar, a conference center, a business center, an exercise room, an outdoor pool and underground parking.
New restaurants opening in the Beaches of South Walton area include a second location of Beach Walk (the Destin location is a DiRoNa Award-winner), Chops 30-A, B&K’s Bistro in Grayton Beach, Graffiti’s & The Funky Blues Shack in The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Cerulean’s in Watercolor, Finz in Sandestin, and the Great Southern Café in Seaside.
The Baytowne Golf Club became a U.S. Kids Golf-certified family friendly course. Amenities include new junior tee boxes and rental clubs.
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort opened a second Luau tower of Asian-inspired condominium suites.
Renovations are underway at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. The $3.4 million redesign will upgrade the resort’s 216 guest rooms.
The 155-suite Embassy Suites Hotel-Destin at Miramar Beach is undergoing a renovation of its guest rooms, restaurant, atrium, business center, exercise room and meeting space.
The seven-year Western Walton County Beach Nourishment Project is complete, restoring 26,200 feet of beach along five miles.
The 35-room New England-style Henderson Park Inn Bed & Breakfast in Destin is scheduled to reopen May 1 adjacent to the 208-acre Henderson Beach State Park.
The Staybridge Suites Tallahassee opened 15 minutes from downtown. Amenities include a 24-hour health and fitness center, a business center, outdoor grilling pavilions and 1,020 square feet of meeting space overlooking a private lake.
The TradeWinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach is constructing a $1 million, 10,000-sq. ft. pavilion, bringing total available meeting space up to more than 68,000 square feet. The climate-controlled pavilion, scheduled to open in May, will be located near the front of the property. An additional 11,000 square feet of meeting space is available at nearby sister property Sandpiper Hotel & Suites. Both properties recently were awarded Green Lodging Certification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in recognition their efforts to protect the area’s natural resources.
Aquatica, a 60-acre SeaWorld water park, is scheduled to open in Orlando in spring 2008. Features of the South Seas-themed attraction include 36 waterslides, six rivers and lagoons and more than 80,000 square feet of sandy beaches and an under-sea attraction populated with Commerson’s dolphins. Amenities include personal cabanas and beachside service.
The 2,000-room Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center completed a $200 million renovation. Amenities include the 105,000-sq. ft. Cypress Ballroom, the largest pillar-free resort ballroom in the country; more than 350,000 square feet of meeting space, including 50,000 square feet of new pre-function space; 10 restaurants and lounges; an 18-hole championship golf course; and a full-service spa and fitness center.
The 1,334-room Rosen Centre in Orlando completed a multi-million renovation of its 106,000 square feet of meeting space, including its 35,000-sq. ft. grand ballroom. Amenities include upgraded air walls, décor, granite countertops and enhanced lighting throughout meeting, pre-function and reception areas.
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando completed a $7 million renovation of its 70 guest rooms. An additional 2,000 square feet of meeting space was added, including a business center, and five meeting and banquet rooms with views of the golf course’s 9th hole.
Orlando’s 510-room Florida Hotel and Conference Center completed a $23 million renovation of its conference center, adding 20,000 square feet, and instituted a smoke-free policy. Total available meeting space is 50,000 square feet, including three new ballrooms.
Reunion Grande, an 11-story luxury condo-hotel, is scheduled to open this spring in the 2,300-acre Ginn Reunion Resort in Orlando. Amenities include 12,000 square feet of meeting space, on-site dining, a rooftop bar, and 82 one- and two-bedroom suites.
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort completed the most recent phase of its $60 million redesign project. Improvements include new lobbies and public spaces, a $500,000 contemporary art program, and upgraded meeting facilities.
Also in Orlando, the Westin Grand Bohemian became the Grand Bohemian Hotel-Orlando; the 227-room Lexington luxury hotel opened in CityPlace; and Orlando’s Shingle Creek Golf Club was recognized for having one of Golf World magazine’s Top 100 Golf Shops in the U.S. for 2007. Properties recently completing renovations include the Marriott Village at Lake Buena Vista ($5 million), the Orlando Airport Marriott ($12.5 million), the Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld ($8.7 million) and the Sheraton Orlando Downtown Hotel ($12.4 million).
A 504-unit, $300 million Wyndham-operated condo-hotel is under construction in Lake Buena Vista. Upon completion, scheduled for November 2009, the property will have 30,000 square feet of meeting space, a 7,000-sq. ft. spa, two restaurants, three bars and an 8,000-sq. ft. rooftop club.
Construction on the $800 million Ravallo Resort & Conference Center in Lake Buena Vista is scheduled to begin this fall. The 23-story property will have two “green” towers with 900 condo-hotel suites and an adjoining conference center.
The Crowne Plaza Fort Myers (formerly the Holiday Inn Select at Bell Tower Shops) reopened after completing a $5 million renovation of its guest rooms. A renovation of the property’s restaurant and meeting space is scheduled to begin this summer.
The Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Myers Beach opened Captiva Villas, a 43-unit condominium hotel. Amenities of the hotel include beachfront accommodations with kitchenettes, an al fresco restaurant, a fitness center and a children’s playground with water features.
Recently opened shopping centers in the Fort Myers area include Gulf Coast Town Center, Coconut Point and the International Design Center. Fort Myers’ Gulf Coast Town Center has 120 specialty shops and restaurants such as Bass Pro Shops and Miller’s Ale House, two hotels and a luxury spa. Coconut Point in Estero/Bonita Springs is a Mediterranean-style mixed use development with stores such as DSW Shoe Warehouse, Men’s Warehouse and Kilwin’s Chocolate, and restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris and Ted’s Montana Grill. The International Design Center, located between Naples and Fort Myers, has first-floor showrooms open to the public and two other floors targeted to design professionals. Showrooms display such items as Oriental rugs, antiques, fine art, linens, glass, tile, stone and consumer electronics; catering is available from CZ’s Bistro.
The Audubon-certified Old Corkscrew Golf Club, Southwest Florida’s only stand-alone Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, opened in Estero.
Construction on Aloft Bay Harbor, a 135-room hotel by the Bal Harbour Shops, is scheduled to begin in late 2007.
The 310-room Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, reopened after a five-month, $60 million renovation. Improvements include a new 28,000-sq. ft. full-service spa and fitness facility, a 3,000-sq. ft. terrace with dining and entertainment options, poolside cabanas/ private dining areas, and a communal-dining restaurant, Angle. New room options include spa suites with private gardens, and secluded rooms with private gardens and large terraces.
South Florida-based ME Productions received the 2007 Merit Award from the South Florida Association for Women in Communications Creative PR Olympics for its “out of the box” communications campaigns.
The Lake Allatoona Inn Bed & Breakfast opened adjacent to the historic Allatoona Pass Battlefield and the Allatoona Landing Marine Resort in North Georgia. The 1893 inn and its 16-acre estate also are available for events of up to 50 people.
The Gateway Center, a $230 million, 1.1-million-sq. ft. development project surrounding the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC) in College Park, is scheduled to open its first phase in 2009. Phase One plans include two convention center hotels, a 400-room hotel and a 150-suite hotel. Eventually, the development will have four Class-A office buildings and more than 75,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Located a half-mile from the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the development also will be the first stop on the airport’s expanded Automated People Mover (APM) system, currently under construction. The APM also will connect the convention complex development with a consolidated car rental facility.
Aberdeen Woods Conference Center’s Executive Chef Len Elias won the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) 2007 United States Copper Skillet cooking competition, earning the title of IACC Champion Chef of the Year. Chefs from more than 200 IACC properties submitted original recipes for a Thai-inspired dish utilizing a 50-ingredient list, plus two secret ingredients supplied prior to the start of the competition.
The Echelon, a megaresort scheduled to open in Las Vegas in 2010, currently is under construction at the site of the former Stardust casino-hotel. Upon opening, the development will have 5,000 hotel rooms, a theater, a concert venue, a shopping mall and more than 1 million square feet of meeting space.
The Umstead Hotel & Spa opened in Cary, near Raleigh. Amenities of the 12-acre luxury resort include a three-acre lake, a 14,000-sq. ft. spa, 150 guestrooms, 27 suites, 16,000 square feet of flexible indoor/outdoor meeting space, a sculpture garden, on-site dining, concierge service and 24-hour room service. It is the first luxury hotel in the Greater Raleigh area.
The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh broke ground on a 127,000-sq. ft. facility scheduled to open in spring 2009. The $138 million facility will house permanent collections adjacent to the museum’s wooded art park. Features will include 65,000 square feet of exhibit space, an 11,500-sq. ft. central gallery and a 5,650-sq. ft. courtyard/entryway.
A 110-room boutique hotel is planned for downtown Durham. The hotel, which will be operated by Greenfire and Lifestyle Hospitality, will incorporate spa elements and be housed in the former Hill Building/Suntrust Bank tower. The property is one of seven new lodging properties in development and scheduled to open in Durham between 2007 and 2009.
A riverfront convention center is scheduled to open in late 2009/early 2010 in Wilmington. The convention center will have 46,725 square feet of meeting space, 11,500 square feet of pre-function space and 9,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space. The complex also will have a full-service, 254-room Marriott hotel with an additional 6,835 square feet of meeting space.
American Heritage Tours began offering African-American heritage tours in Historic Wilmington.
The North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center is scheduled to open this month with exhibits on the history of firefighting, fire safety and the evolution of firefighting equipment.
The Caravelle Resort in North Myrtle Beach completed an $8 million renovation of its guest rooms, suites and public areas. Amenities include 12 oceanfront Jacuzzi suites, a wild water pool, a lazy river, a kids club, a coffee and martini bar, indoor/outdoor pools, golf packages, on-site dining, and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.
The SeaSide Resort opened in North Myrtle Beach with one-, two- and three-bedroom condo units.
Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort on Pawleys Island completed a total refurbishment of its resort hotel suites.
The scheduled opening date of the Hotel ZaZa Houston has been pushed back to May 25. The 315-room, 12-story boutique hotel will be the only hotel in the Museum District and is housed in the historic Warwick Hotel building. Amenities include a 10,000-sq. ft. spa, on-site dining, WiFi Internet access, complimentary car service to neighborhood destinations, and a resort-style pool with poolside cabanas. Meeting and event space includes a 6,627-sq. ft. ballroom, four pre-function lounges, boardrooms and breakout space.
The 344-room Crowne Plaza Houston West (formerly the Holiday Inn Select Houston West) is undergoing a $4.4 million renovation of its Club Floor suites and public spaces, adding deluxe and Presidential suites, and updating its fitness, retail and lounge areas. Upgraded service amenities include extended room service hours, a full-time concierge, complimentary WiFi Internet access, on-site dining and car rental service, and complimentary transportation within a five-mile radius.
The Boerne Area Historical Preservation Society and the Boerne Convention and Visitors Bureau are partnering together to produce the first-annual Boerne Historic Homes Tour on May 12.