by Allen J. Sheinman | September 01, 2015
Capital improvement. In the Texas state capital, the 366-room Westin Austin Downtown has opened, paying homage to the city's musical roots with guitar themes throughout (like in the lobby, pictured). Also on tap: a rooftop pool and bar, eclectic Southern cuisine at Stella San Jac and more than 13,500 square feet for meetings.


More Debuts
 The Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino has opened along the island's white-sand Palm Beach. The 355 Wi-Fi-equipped guest rooms have a tropical décor and large balconies; five dining options include the signature Sunset Grille, while some 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space await. And just try to find a prettier setting for a pool (above) in the entire Caribbean.

 In Northern Italy, the 104-room Mandarin Oriental, Milan, has opened within four redeveloped 18th-century buildings on the central Via Andegari, just steps from the fashionable Via Manzoni and Montenapoleone district. The hotel features a spa with six treatment rooms and a dedicated Thai massage room, along with an indoor heated pool and fitness center. Fine dining takes place at Seta, offering contemporary dishes combining French, Asian and Tuscan influences, while bistro-style fare is available at the Mandarin Bar in a courtyard setting. Hold functions in the Oriental Room, for 70 people seated or 90 for cocktails, or the Taipei Room, where the count is 50 and 70, as per above.

 The 64-room Hotel Vandivort has opened in the heart of downtown Springfield, Mo. What's billed as the city's "first boutique lodging property" has two high-tech meeting rooms able to accommodate a total of up to 200 people, along with a ballroom on the top floor that can host 160. The building began life in 1906 as the Masonic Temple and retains many of its original ornate architectural elements.

• The 130-room Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor, the first in the Hotel RL brand from the Red Lion Hotel Corp., has opened within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. The property is the result of a conversion of the former Keyser Building, a 10-story historic landmark with a cut-stone facade. For meetings, the hotel offers about 2,400 square feet of space.

• On lower Park Avenue in Manhattan, the 128-room Marmara Park Avenue has debuted as the new U.S. flagship of the Istanbul, Turkey-based Marmara Collection hotel group. Within steps of the Empire State Building, the hotel has 1,375 square feet of event space and a wellness center where guests can unwind in a lap pool and a steam bath, or feel the burn in the fully-equipped fitness center. Forty guest rooms sport terraces overlooking the iconic Midtown landscape.

• The 78-room Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Georgetown/Austin North has opened in Texas near the San Gabriel River and Hill Country, home to a plethora of events ranging from the Annual Poppy Seed Festival to the Formula One Grand Prix motor race. The hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi throughout, a 24-hour business center and a 900-square-foot meeting room that can accommodate up to 50 people.