by Allen J. Sheinman | January 01, 2016

 In Florida, the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, has completed a revamp of all 266 guest rooms,along with full updates of all 26,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, including the 12,000-square-foot ballroom.

 The 363-room InterContinental Los Angeles Century City at Beverly Hills has unveiled the new flexible 1,500-square-foot Grand Chateau Ballroom with an outdoor terrace, to add to its 4,000-square-foot Grand Salon and overall 16,650 square feet of function space.

 The 348-room Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta in Mexico's Riviera Nayarit has cut the ribbon on its new 12,900-square-foot Sanctuary Convention Center, giving the hotel a total of nearly 20,000 square feet for meetings and events.

• The 527-room Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, is an amalgam of older structures, the main component of which is the 1908 Maison Blanche building. But two other early 20th-century buildings that help comprise the property have just completed a $2 million restoration of their beautiful terra cotta facades, adding fresh luster to the site on the edge of the historic French Quarter. Next up, a refresh of the hotel's 35,000 square feet of meeting spaces 

• Some of the 2,995-rooms at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas are brand new, such as 46 high-end suites featuring dynamic artwork curated by Artspace, a major online marketplace. The new accommodations include 15 executive suites, each spanning 760 square feet and featuring a six-seat conference table, two bathrooms and a king-size bedroom. The 31 new city studios measure 630 square feet and include oversized living rooms with sweeping views of the Strip and the mountains beyond. 

• An $8.8 million renovation has been completed at the 130-year-old Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas. All 189 guest rooms were redesigned and now sport modern guest amenities with vintage 1920s finishes. The Driskill Grill also was redone, and the menu was revamped. The upscale dining room now focuses on serving steaks from the hotel's dry-aging room and fresh seafood accompanied by local produce. In addition, the lobby received new décor, furniture and lighting; the Wi-Fi in the guest rooms, public spaces and meeting rooms was significantly upgraded, and energy-efficiency improvements were made throughout the hotel. The property has more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

• The Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, has unveiled 80 new oversized suites on the top floors of the property, giving it more than 350 suites in all and a grand total of 4,001 guest rooms. As an example, the new Terrace Suite measures 2,600 square feet inside, with a 1,184-square-foot terrace without. While the "grand master bedroom" offers a king-sized Signature Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, the suite's media room has its own Queen-size sofa bed, for lolling off in front of a huge HD screen. Planners will have to make do with 150,694 square feet of meeting space spread around the property.

read more

Shop and stay. The 314-room JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America is now open on the site of America's biggest shopping center. The hotel features the Cedar+Stone, Urban Table restaurant from famed chef Everton Clarke, plus 20,000 square feet of event space, including a ballroom that accommodates more than 1,700 people.

More Debuts
 The Hyatt Regency Houston Galleria has opened as part of the growing Galleria Plaza retail, residential and office development. The hotel has 325 guest rooms, including 20 suites, each with a 55-inch flat-screen TV and plug-and-play capabilities from personal devices. Other amenities include an outdoor heated pool and a StayFit gym. The property offers 11,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space spread among 10 meeting rooms, plus 7,800 square feet of lobby and other gathering space.  

 In North Carolina, the 134-room Aloft Durham Downtown has debuted in the heart of town, near the Durham Performing Arts Center and Duke University, among other local landmarks. The hotel has an outdoor pool, a 24-hour business center, free Wi-Fi in public areas and guest rooms, the Re:fuel by Aloft grab-and-go food shop and the 1,575-square-foot Tactic meeting room, which can host up to 80 people for a banquet or 46 in a classroom setting.

 The 22-story, 323-room DoubleTree by Hilton London Ontario has debuted in the city's downtown district, a short drive from London International Airport. The property offers more than 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including 18 meeting rooms and a ballroom that can host up to 1,200 people. If that's not enough, the hotel is connected by heated skywalk to the London Convention Centre, which features a 33,000-square-foot ballroom and a wide array of boardrooms, breakout rooms and more.

• The 194-room Hyatt House New Orleans/Downtown has opened on seven floors within a 24-story office building and connects to the adjacent 1,193-room Hyatt Regency New Orleans via a second-floor skybridge. The new hotel has free Wi-Fi throughout, complimentary breakfast, the 24/7 Guest Market, a 24-hour workout room and meeting space for up to 60 attendees. Nearby are the city's famed districts devoted to business, arts and entertainment.

• In the heart of the U.K., the 121-room DoubleTree by Hilton at the Ricoh Arena-Coventry has debuted within its namesake arena, home of the popular Aviva Premiership Rugby Wasps. The surrounding complex offers 80 flexible meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 7,000 delegates, including a nearly 65,000-square-foot conference and exhibition hall. Birmingham Airport in minutes away, and three nearby train stations offer access to everywhere. 

• In Rio Bueno, Jamaica, the Meliá Braco Village has opened with 226 guest rooms (including 61 suites), a choice of five restaurants, three bars, two swimming pools and the signature Yhi Spa. For meetings, the hotel can accommodate groups of up to 100 people divided among two rooms. 

• Someone's incentive dream come true could conceivably take place at the newly opened 36-room Hotel Husafell in Husafell, Iceland. About 90 minutes from Reykjavik on the edge of the uninhabited interior wildlands, the four-star resort-style property runs on 100 percent renewable energy, has a clutch of outdoor thermal pools and hot tubs, and access to a nine-hole golf course offering Midnight Sun tee times in summer. The on-site gourmet restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Lengjokull and Eiriksjokull glaciers.