by Morton D. Rosenbaum | January 01, 2005

Museums and Motors
A $2.5 billion tourism initiative will invest in projects, such as Pier Wisconsin, opening in 2006. It will house Discovery World, a science museum devoted to the Great Lakes. Renovation of the Bayshore Mall is under way, where restaurants, shops and entertainment will fill one million square feet of space, to open in October 2006. The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. plans a $60 million museum to celebrate the motorcycle’s history; phase one will open in 2006.

Hotel and Hall of Fame
The first phase of the $600 million expansion of the Phoenix Civic Plaza continues, with the new West Building adding approximately 150,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space to open in 2006. A 1,000-room Sheraton hotel will be built two blocks away, to open in 2008 when the Civic Plaza project wraps up. Arriving in downtown later this year will be a branch of Cleveland’s popular Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.

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CA, Morongo Indian Reservation
Following a soft opening in November, the $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa celebrated its grand opening last month, debuting 310 rooms, a casino floor featuring 2,000 slot machines, and Sage, an on-site luxury spa. Meeting space includes an executive boardroom and a divisible ballroom, together totaling 12,000 square feet.

CO, Boulder
The 200-room St. Julien Hotel & Spa arrives this month. Along with views of the Flatiron Mountains, guest rooms offer spacious bathrooms, each averaging 400 square feet. Meeting space totals 23,000 square feet, and the 10,000-square-foot spa provides more than a few treatments based on the state’s indigenous plant life.

HI, Honolulu
The 620-room Radisson Waikiki Prince Kuhio completed extensive renovations in November, which included redesigning the 8,000-square-foot ballroom, 3,000 square feet of meeting space and all prefunction areas with an eye toward local Hawaiian character. Also new: wireless Internet capability in all public areas.

Hyatt Regency Orange County

FRESH ORANGE. Anaheim, Calif.’s 654-room Hyatt Regency Orange County recently completed a $7.5 million renovation of its South Tower guest rooms, the final touch on a total $52 million transformation. Over the last several years, every room has been refreshed, with a new aesthetic emphasis on granite and dark oak. For meeting space, the hotel offers 65,000 square feet. (714) 750-1234;

IL, Rosemont
The former Radisson O’Hare was converted in November to the Wyndham O’Hare Airport. The 467-room hotel, a mile and a half from the airport, already offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space and awaits a $6 million refurbishment that will appoint each guest room with Wyndham brand furniture.

LA, New Orleans
The 759-room Radisson Hotel New Orleans was converted to the Park Plaza New Orleans in November, following a $12 million renovation. A brief four blocks from the famous French Quarter, the convention-friendly property offers 65,000 square feet of meeting space.

NV, Las Vegas
Last month, the 5,034-room MGM Grand added 51 VIP-ready SkyLofts, luxury upper-level suites ranging in size from 1,400 to 6,000 square feet. SkyLoft perks include personalized stationery for each guest, as well as private steam rooms. The property offers three ballrooms, the largest measuring 62,000 square feet.

TN, Chatanooga
Starwood Hotels opened the 243-room Sheraton Read House last November after a $12 million renovation of the 1871 structure. An elegant hot spot in the 1930s, the property had been vacant for decades before its current incarnation. The hotel now provides 12 meeting rooms, totaling about 19,000 square feet.