The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) will bestow lifetime achievement awards on Charles Ahlers of the Anaheim Convention & Visitors Bureau, Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt Associates, and Debra Rosencrance of American Academy of Opthamology, during its annual black-tie dinner on April 2, 2008.
Christopher Nassetta was named president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced two promotions: Gina LaBarre was named vice president, brand management, for Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts; and Robert Radomski was appointed vice president, brand management, for Extended-Stay Brands. Tom Seddon became IHG’s chief marketing officer.
Ralph Colunga, Oracle senior director of travel, meetings, sourcing, data and card services, was named the 2007 International Travel Manager of the Year by Business Travel News for spearheading an effort to consolidate and reorganize multinational spending, getting the organization on track to reduce travel operating expenses by 40 percent and for ongoing outreach to travel buyer peers.
NYLO hotels announced several new hires: Bhavesh J. Patel was named development manager; Bona K. Allen was named corporate controller, Stephen Taylor was named construction director, and Amanda K. Emmo was brought on as a design associate.
George Odom became senior director of business development for Advito Global Meetings Consulting Practice, a global meetings management consulting service to help clients control and quantify meetings management programs through benchmarking, spend and savings opportunity analysis. Advito, based in Dallas, is the consulting arm of BCD Travel, a global corporate travel management company.
Mark LeBlanc became president of the National Speakers Association.
Andrew Stegan was promoted to general manager of the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix.
Mark Oswald was named director of golf for the Hilton Tucson [Ariz.] El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort & Country Club.
Ron Moler became executive chef of the Sedona [Ariz.] Rouge Hotel & Spa; Christopher Smith was promoted to chef de cuisine.
Bradley Pirman became chief information officer in charge of business and product development for California-based Elite Meetings International.
Jason Morgan was promoted to chef de cuisine of 30 Degree Blue, the signature restaurant of the Bay Point Marriott Resort in Panama City, Fla.
Jay Leonard was named general manager of Walt Disney World Resort’s Regal Sun Resort (formerly The Grosvenor) in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Nicki Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale [Fla.] Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), was inducted into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame for her positive contributions and impact on the state’s tourism industry.
Also at the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, John Webb officially became senior vice president after serving as acting senior vice president, and Christine Tascione became director of convention and group sales.
Shan Kanagasingham became general manager for the Kor Hotel Group’s flagship property in Miami, The Tides South Beach.
Bruce Johnson became director of sales and marketing of the Atlanta-based Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center.
Charlotte Gregory Brothers joined the Athens [Ga.] Convention & Visitors Bureau as a convention sales coordinator.
Steve Richer has stepped down from his role as executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau to do consulting work for the National Tour Association.
Alison Fraser became a sales manager at the Reno-Sparks [Nev.] Convention & Visitors Authority, covering meeting and convention groups east of the Mississippi.
Bonnie Miller was promoted to national sales manager of the Albuquerque [N.M.] Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Chef Tarver King of the Woodlands in Summerville, S.C., was named a “Chef to Watch” in the November 2007 issue of Esquire Magazine.
The Kiawah Island [S.C.] Golf Resort announced several new hires: Michael Baumuller was named director of Southeast sales; Jami VanSant was appointed director of national sales; Spencer Hux became director of Carolina sales; and Michael Graham was named group sales manager for groups occupying 25 rooms and less.
Greg Ortale will assume leadership of the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau as its president and CEO on Dec. 3.
Linda Howell DiMario, president and CEO of the Arlington [Texas] CVB, resigned; her last day will be Dec. 31, 2007. The CVB board hopes to announce a new president before she steps down.
Chef Wiley Bates III became food and beverage director of NYLO Hotels’ inaugural property, NYLO Plano at Legacy, which is to open next month in Texas.
Kristen Alderson was named general manager of the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel and Spa, opening in mid-2008; Shannon Hopper was named director of sales and marketing.
Lon Yaeger became general manager of The Garrett Creek Ranch Conference Center in Paradise, Texas.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is relaunching the Holiday Inn brand. New amenities will include a redesigned welcome experience, signature bedding and bathroom products, to be implemented brandwide by the end of 2010. The first revamped property will open in spring 2008.
Candlewood Suites, another IHG brand, has a new prototype design reflecting a residential look and feel with an expanded living room-style lobby and environmentally friendly amenities, such as low-flow shower heads and toilets.
Staybridge Suites is introducing an herbal bath collection, Simply Be Well, that will be available in all guest suites by mid-2008.
Four new properties are scheduled to open soon in Hoover, adding 500 rooms to suburban Birmingham’s inventory: Hampton Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, Microtel and Embassy Suites.
A 150-room Hyatt Place Hotel is scheduled to open in Birmingham’s Southside in 2009. The $27 million property will have a 6,000-sq. ft. full-service restaurant and be geared to business travelers.
The Hilton Birmingham at Perimeter Park will undergo a $5.5 million renovation of its 205 guest rooms, 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, and restaurant.
The Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort opened an on-site golf training academy.
Three new Arizona hotels achieved AAA four- and five-diamond status: the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician Resort (five diamonds), the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs (four diamonds) and the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort (four diamonds).
The NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee launched a “Fan Housing” program, an online reservation service with real-time availability of Valley hotel rooms. The Superbowl will take place on Feb. 3, 2008 in Phoenix.
In Scottsdale, nearly $3 billion has been invested downtown. Projects nearing completion include the Scottsdale Waterfront retail and residential development, which features restaurants such as P.F. Chang’s, Olive & Ivy Restaurant & Marketplace, and Wildfish Seafood Grill. The first phase of SouthBridge, a $41 million urban development, is to open in January 2008 with 30,000 square feet of high-end retail and seven planned restaurants with no chain stores or eateries. Other new dining/retail includes Fine’s Cellar, a combination wine bar and retail store.
The W Scottsdale, scheduled to open in February 2008, will have 224 guest rooms, a spa, a restaurant and two bars, a 3,500-sq. ft. ballroom, a 2,000-sq. ft. outdoor terrace, a Bliss spa and three meeting rooms.
The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is undergoing a $14 million renovation of its casita guest rooms and suites, lobby and outdoor areas, to be complete in January 2008.
Bella Palazzo added a new property to its list of private estate homes available for group functions. The Majestic Sedona sleeps six and accommodates 100 for seated dinners. Amenities include indoor/outdoor function space, a pool and landscaped gardens.
The 250-room Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain golf and spa resort is scheduled to open in late 2009 northwest of Tucson in Marana. Amenities will include a 17,000-sq. ft. spa and fitness center, 27 holes of championship golf (opening in 2008) and two ballrooms (9,000 and 4,800 square feet).
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver opened a new, 27,000-sq. ft. facility designed by London architect David Adjaye in LoDo at the corner of 15th and Delgany streets.
District of Columbia
Crowne Plaza Tysons Corner (formerly the Holiday Inn Tysons Corner) completed renovations of its 316 rooms and suites, exterior, ballroom, restaurants and public areas. Amenities include 10,000 square feet of meeting space, 24-hour business and fitness centers, complimentary high-speed WiFi Internet access in public areas and an Olympic-size indoor pool. It is the fifth Crowne Plaza to open in less than two years in the Washington, D.C., market.
Construction on the new Panama City-Bay County Airport and Industrial District at West Bay is underway. The airport is to open in 2009.
New hotels planned for Pensacola Beach include an Embassy Suites Hotel and convention facility to break ground in July 2008 next to the Hilton Pensacola Beach. Also planned for the area is a luxury hotel to be built on the site of the former Holiday Inn.
The Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village in St. Augustine is to complete a $10 million renovation in January 2008. Improvements include a complete remodeling of all 301 guest rooms and suites, lobby area and meeting spaces. The resort adjoins the St. Johns County Convention Center and the World Golf Hall of Fame, and has 86,000 square feet of meeting and event space, making it the largest conference center hotel between Atlanta and Orlando. Other amenities include a 26,000-sq. ft. ballroom, two golf courses, an oceanfront beach club, a full-service spa and close proximity to historic St. Augustine.
Tampa Bay & Company (formerly the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau) has launched a redesigned Web site VisitTampaBay.com, which features photo tours of partner listings and an online booking engine.
The Tampa Airport Marriott opened a kosher kitchen, the first and only such hotel kitchen in the city. Other hotel amenities include 296 guest rooms, 15 meeting rooms and 18,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 28-acre International Plaza Resort & Spa opened by the Orange County Convention Center and SeaWorld in Orlando. Amenities include more than 60,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, a full-service spa and more than 1,000 deluxe guest rooms. Its Oceans Conference Center has a nearly 12,000-sq. ft. ballroom, a covered patio and reception areas; the Lakes Conference Center has a 10,000-sq. ft. ballroom, breakout rooms, an outdoor patio and pre-function space.
The Regal Sun Resort (formerly The Grosvenor) completed a $25 million renovation that remodeled all 626 guest rooms and suites, meeting space, pool area and public areas. The Walt Disney World Resort property has 19,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Holiday Inn Main Gate East completed a $10 million renovation of its 444 guest rooms and more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space. New amenities include WiFi Internet and a new fitness center.
The Orlando Sun Resort and Convention Center by Lexington (formerly the Hyatt Orlando) opened with 922 guest rooms, four pools, a 13,550-sq. ft. ballroom, a 20,000-sq. ft. exhibit hall and 22 meeting rooms.
The Villas of Grand Cypress is undergoing a $600,000 renovation of its 28,000-sq. ft. clubhouse that will add a restaurant.
The Venturella Resort and Spa (formerly the Riu Hotel) in Orlando is undergoing a $22 million renovation and will re-open in 2008 under the management of Marcus Hotels and Resorts. The 155-room hotel will have two restaurants, a lounge, a spa, 7,000 square feet of meeting space, a lake with a beach and new landscaping.
Starwood Hotels plans to construct Element Orlando Convention Center/International Drive. The upscale extended-stay brand will have 2,218 square feet of meeting space, a technology center and a library, and 137 guest rooms with kitchenettes, Westin Heavenly Beds and multi-purpose, modular furniture.
Other new properties planned for Orlando include the $520 million Ravallo Resort & Conference Center (to open in 2010), which will have 140,000 square feet of meeting space, and the Vista Royale, a Wyndham Resort with 11,000 square feet of meeting space, scheduled to open in 2009.
The 25-story Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort opened with 373 studios and suites, a 25,000-sq. ft. terrace with a zero-entry pool and cabanas, beach and grocery concierge service, golfing and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach opened with 311 guest rooms overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, a 140-seat restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining, a marina and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
Projects under construction in Fort Lauderdale include Il Lugano, an $80 million, 14-story luxury hotel with one-bedroom and studio suites, an upscale lounge, a business center, boat slips and a spa, to open in January 2008. The $205 million W Fort Lauderdale is to open in June 2008 with 346 rooms, a Bliss Spa and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale is to open in 2009 with a spa, 301 luxury one- and two-bedroom suites and a fine dining restaurant. Other hotel projects include the 225-room boutique Hollywood Grande Resort (spring 2009); the Marriott Ocean Village and Resort conference, retail and hotel complex, which breaks ground this year; and the Fairmont Pompano Beach luxury condo-hotel (opening 2011).
Properties undergoing renovations in Fort Lauderdale include the Fort Lauderdale Grade Hotel & Yacht Club ($60 million) and the Holiday Inn ($20 million). The Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort & Spa and Hyatt Place recently completed renovations to guest rooms and public areas. Other recently renovated properties include the 261-room Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach, Gallery One Fort Lauderdale, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites (formerly the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Sunrise) and the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center & Spa (formerly the Bonaventure Resort & Conference Center).
The Tides South Beach is to re-open this month in Miami as the flagship property for Kor Hotel Group. The hotel will have 45 oceanview suites ranging in size from 550 to 2,600 square feet, penthouse meeting space, boardrooms, outdoor event space and complimentary Internet access.
Beachside Resort & Conference Center opened in Key West on Oct. 19. Amenities include two restaurants helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef norman Van Aken, 24-hour concierge service, 222 rooms, a 6,000-sq. ft. ballroom, private poolside cabanas and a conference center built to withstand 205-mph winds (category-5 hurricane wind speed averages 155 mph).
Georgia Aquarium completed an expansion that added 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
A Hard Rock Hotel is scheduled to break ground in Atlanta in mid-2008 and open by late 2010 near the Georgia Aquarium. Amenities will include 270 guest rooms and retail, entertainment and meeting space.
Construction on an Automated People Mover (APM) railways system and station connecting the Georgia International Convention Center with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is underway. Scheduled to open in 2009, the APM railway is part of a new complex being built around the convention center that includes a 400-room hotel, a 150-room suite hotel, stores, office space and restaurants.
The Summer House Gardens and Tranquility Spa opened at the Lake Lanier Islands Resort. Part of the Emerald Pointe Hotel & Conference Center, the gardens features a lakeside gazebo and a 300-seat tent for dinners and receptions.
New developments proposed for Jekyll Island include a 540-room hotel and conference center and a SpringHill Suites Marriott and five other new hotels designed to improve offerings to mid-sized conventions, professional and trade associations, and non-profit and church groups. The hotels are part of a $500 million redevelopment plan to revitalize the Jekyll Island Town Center that also includes plans for improved roadways and increased beach access.
The Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a new Web site at visitathensga.com.
Dawg Pedaler now offers rickshaw transportation around the Downtown Athens area.
The Fairmont New Orleans is undergoing a $100 million conversion to rebrand it a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
In New Orleans, Ghost Expeditions opened a paranormal attraction center, The Haunted Mortuary, which allows participants to conduct their own ghost hunts or paranormal investigations through the three-story property.
Carnival Cruise Lines renewed its berthing agreement with the Port of New Orleans for an additional two years, through Oct. 26, 2010.
The Grand Casino Resort Tunica will undergo a $45 million renovation and re-open as Harrah’s Casino Tunica in May 2008, with all renovations to be complete by September 2008. Other improvements include the addition of a 560-seat Paula Deen’s Buffet restaurant, and refurbishment of all guest rooms, lounges and gaming rooms.
In Las Vegas, Marriott International plans to open a 3,500-room casino-resort with 500,000 square feet of meeting space in 2011. The resort will be constructed on a 16-acre plot of land across from the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas is to open in early 2008 with world-class dining experiences, personalized services (Trump Attache) and a full-service spa. Trump Attache records individual preferences and maintains detailed guest histories; available services range from arranging transportation needs to securing in-room chefs and shopping for gifts.
The Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe has been acquired by Lowe Enterprises and will undergo a $6.2 million interior and exterior renovation in early 2008. Its 134 guest rooms were renovated earlier this year. The boutique hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting space, outdoor event plazas, a full-service SpaTerre, and is located adjacent to the historic Loretto Chapel, known for its miraculous spiral staircase.
The Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe expects to complete its $10.5 million renovation this month.
Plans for the Ellington hotel and condominium building have been approved. The 23-story, $85 million building will be the tallest in Asheville. No opening date yet has been announced.
The Fairmont Dallas is undergoing Phase Two of a $14 million renovation project to upgrade guest rooms and add a 47-room Fairmont Gold “luxury hotel within a hotel” block of rooms to floors 17, 18 and 19.
The Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa (formerly the Plaza Hotel Fort Worth) is to open in March 2008 after completing a $46 million renovation of its two 12-story towers. Amenities will include 434 guest rooms, a spa, 22,000 square feet of meeting space and close proximity to the Fort Worth Convention Center.
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel is to open in late 2008 adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center, which is undergoing a $75 million renovation and expansion project. Amenities will include 48,000 square feet of meeting space, two restaurants, two ballrooms and 608 guest rooms.
The Garrett Creek Ranch Conference Center in Paradise launched an environmental sustainability initiative in partnership with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas and Texas Christian University, with the goal of establishing a way to adapt to limited water and energy availability, becoming a model for conference center guests, who then can replicate the green initiatives after they return home.
Construction is underway at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, an 800-acre project to open in 2010.
Three Lone Star State events made the 2008 American Bus Association (ABA) Top 100 Events List. The 35th Annual Dickens on the Strand (Dec. 5-7, 2007) transforms downtown Galveston into a 19th century town with hundreds of costumed vendors and performers. GrapeFest: A Celebration of Texas Wines (Sept. 11-14, 2008) in Grapevine, is the largest wine festival in the Southwest with grape stomping, entertainment and a culinary pavilion. The Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival (April 17-20, 2008) is a four-day festival showcasing nationally recognized juried fine arts and crafts, food, live entertainment and street performers.