by Martha Cooke | February 01, 2004

Fort Lauderdale
High-Stakes Venues

The Donald is making a move in this former spring break capital with long-term plans for a combined condo hotel project in the works, currently dubbed the Trump International Beach Club. And Trump’s not the only one taking a gamble these days: The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in nearby Hollywood opens in May with 500 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

Size Selection
McCormick Place, already the largest convention facility in the country, unveiled plans to add 470,000 square feet of exhibition space, bringing the convention center’s total to 2.6 million square feet. Ground will be broken on the new West Building this spring. For smaller functions, a new boutique hotel opens in January. The tony Amalfi Hotel Chicago makes its debut with 215 guest rooms stocked with goodies like DVD players and Aveda brand toiletries and 1,653 square feet of meeting space.

read more

AZ, Scottsdale
The Phoenician recently wrapped up a $2 million renovation to its 65,000 square feet of meeting space. An additional $2 million was spent in late 2003 to renovate the resort’s 654 guest rooms.

FL, Aventura
In January, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts assumed management of the Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. The property has been reflagged the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, Miami, Florida. The 392-room property in this Miami suburb offers 45,000 square feet of meeting space, a 25,000-square-foot spa and two golf courses.

FL, Lake Buena VIsta
Walt Disney World opened the first phase of Disney’s Pop Century Resort in December, debuting 2,880 guest rooms with a pop-culture theme. A second 2,880-room phase will open at an as-yet-undetermined date. The hotel has no meeting space but can be used for group overflow.

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND. Manhattan welcomed a new luxury hotel at the end of 2003: the 251-room Mandarin Oriental New York. Set in tony midtown at the southwest corner of picturesque Central Park, the new Mandarin has 7,000 square feet of chicly appointed meeting space for groups. For post-meeting relaxation or to recover from sightseeing in the Big Apple, travelers can check out the hotel’s spa, a 14,500-square-foot island of zen-infused calm on an island that’s anything but. (212) 805 8800;

HI, Kauai
In the third quarter of 2004, the Coconut Beach Resort at Waipouli, Kauai, will be rebranded the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai, following a renovation of all 312 guest rooms. The property will have 5,000 square feet of refurbished meeting space.

KY, Louisville
As of December 2003, the Brown Hotel offers guests the complimentary use of laptops during their stay. This initiative follows the property’s addition of high-speed wireless Internet access in all 293 guest rooms. The hotel has more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space.

PA, Hershey
In December the Hershey Hotel began a substantial expansion to its spa. When completed in late 2004, the addition will bring the spa to a total of 30,000 square feet, including 53 treatment rooms. The hotel has 234 guest rooms and 23,500 square feet of meeting space.

SC, Myrtle Beach
The Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes opened in late 2003. The 400-room property offers 45,500 square feet of meeting space, an outdoor courtyard for events or parties, and an 18-hole golf course.

TX, Grapevine
Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment announced a name change to its under-construction Texas hotel project. The $515 million property, scheduled to open in April with 1,511 guest rooms and 400,000 square feet of meeting space, is now called the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Lake Grapevine.