by Terence Baker | April 01, 2004

CA, Santa Barbara
The El Capitan Ranch opened in February adjacent to the verdant Los Padres National Forest, just north of Santa Barbara. The luxury campground features 100 cedar cabins, 26 canvas safari tents and panoramic views. For events, the property offers approximately 3,500 square feet of function space spread across six yurts circular canvas structures with wood floors. In addition, the ranch has a 1,500-square-foot tented lodge.

FL, Clearwater
The former Radisson Suite Resort on Sand Key was reincarnated as the Marriott Suites Clearwater Beach on Sand Key in February. The 10-story, 220-suite property features 7,500 square feet of meeting space and a pool fed by a 35-foot waterfall.

IL, Chicago
In late January, the 230-room Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown opened three additional meeting rooms, for a total of 12, in an adjacent building joined to the hotel by a skywalk. The property now offers 7,350 square feet of meeting space.

NEW VENUE. The Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center opened on April 2 on Lake Grapevine, near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The 1,511-room resort has a 400,000-square-foot convention center, which includes the 50,000-square-foot Texas Ballroom and the 32,000-square-foot Grapevine Ballroom. (866) 782-7897;

NE, Omaha
Opened on April 1, the 450-room Hilton Omaha is Nebraska’s largest hotel. The 16-story property has approximately 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, 6,800 square feet of prefunction space and 15 meeting rooms. A skywalk links the hotel with the 300,000- square-foot Omaha Convention Center, which opened last year.

PA, Allentown
The Crowne Plaza Hotel Allentown opened in February. About 50 miles north of Philadelphia, the 225-room property formerly was the Allentown Hotel but changed flags following a $10 million renovation. The nine-story hotel has 11,000 square feet of meeting space.

PA, Hershey
The 232 guest rooms of the famed Hershey Hotel became $2 million sweeter in March, following a three-month renovation. Along with its 23,500 square feet of meeting space, the property now also offers larger pillow-top mattresses and luxury linens in every room, as well as a dramatically revamped decor.

TX, Dallas
On March 15, the Renaissance Hotel Dallas North near the Galleria became the Doubletree Hotel Dallas. The 289-room property, which has 2,500 square feet of meeting space, will finish a renovation of its public areas at the end of this month. Three floors of the 10-story hotel will be renovated by August, with the rest being finished next year.