The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau will be forced to make
about $570,000 in spending cuts this year because low hotel
occupancy has reduced the amount of hotel taxes available for the
bureau's operating expenses. About half the amount will come from
reductions in salaries as well as cuts in advertising, programming
and other areas. Most of the bureau's funding comes from the hotel
taxes. "We are not planning on discontinuing any services to our
customers," Mark Vaughan, the bureau's executive vice president and
chief sales and marketing officer, told M&C. "Hiring freeze,
furlough of staff are the big ticket items that will get us
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority got the go-ahead from
the state legislature last week to begin construction of 20,000
square feet of new restaurant space at the John B. Hynes Veterans
Memorial Convention Center in Boston, part of a previously announced
$18 million renovation of the facility. Work will begin immediately,
according to an MCCA spokesperson, who said the job should be
complete in January. The MCCA does not expect the construction to
interrupt or have negative impact on any events at the center. The
renovations also will upgrade the venue's security system,
technology offerings (including improved wireless Internet and
cell-phone service), and its heating, cooling, electrical and
The long-awaited $301 million Hilton Baltimore Convention Center
Hotel now is open for business. One block from Camden Yards and
connected to the Baltimore Convention Center by enclosed sky bridge,
the 757-room hotel features 60,000 square feet of meeting space,
including two ballrooms of 25,000 and 15,000 square feet,
respectively, several full-service restaurants and 550 parking
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has announced a
decision to split the $890 million renovation of the Las Vegas
Convention Center into three phases, and to change the order of the
work involved. "After reviewing the project and the current economic
conditions, we decided this was more fiscally responsible," said an
authority spokesperson. In the first quarter of 2009, the LVCVA will
begin work on utility relocation, renovations to the north and
central halls, and the addition of bathrooms to the central hall.
Construction of the metro police station and Clark County fire
station also will begin at that time. The LVCVA estimates this first
phase will take two years and cost approximately $395 million. The
second phase will include renovations to the south hall, and the
third will entail the construction of the new grand concourse and
lobby. The LVCVA will continue to monitor the economy to determine
when the second and third phases will begin. Previously, the entire
renovation package had been scheduled for completion in 2011.
The U.S. General Services administration has announced the 2009
federal per diem rates for federal travelers, which take effect Oct.
1, and run through Sept. 30, 2009. Several cities have seen
significant increases over their 2008 rates. For example, Los
Angeles is up $10, to $128; Baltimore ranges from $157 to $172 (up
$17); Philadelphia, $155-$166 (up $17); Washington, D.C., $165-$233
(up $32); and New York City, $259-$360 (up $49). For more
information, visit www.gsa.gov/perdiem.
As of last Saturday, the Transportation Security Administration is
allowing laptop computers to remain in new "checkpoint friendly"
bags while going through X-ray security screening for carry-on
luggage. The bags were created by independent luggage manufacturers
in conjunction with the TSA and include several different styles of
bags -- butterfly, trifold and sleeve style. Passengers should look
for the words "checkpoint friendly" when purchasing a bag. For more,
Dolce International, known as a manager and owner of many conference
center properties, has changed its name to Dolce Hotels and Resorts
to reflect the services and amenities that it will offer soon. Along
with a new name and logo, the company also has announced several
expansions, renovations and operational changes. Dolce Hotels and
Resorts has segmented its portfolio of 24 properties into two
divisions: hotels and resorts, and conference hotels. About $100
million is being spent on capital improvements at several
properties, including Dolce Valley Forge in King of Prussia, Pa.;
Dolce Basking Ridge (N.J.); Dolce Chantilly (France); Dolce FrŽgate
in Provence, France; and The H Hotel in Midland, Mich. A new spa is
being added at Dolce La Hulpe in Brussels, Belgium, and the spa at
Dolce Sitges, outside of Barcelona, is being expanded.
Ft Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, work begins this week on
a $33.8 million underground, in-line baggage system at Terminal A,
according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The new system is
scheduled to be running by January 2010. All other terminals at the
airport already have modern baggage systems.
Effective Sept. 2, three carriers operating out of Mineta San Jose
(Calif.) International Airport will cut flights. JetBlue Airways
will drop its direct flight to Boston, and Continental Airlines will
cancel service to Newark, N.J. United Airlines will discontinue its
Washington/Dulles flight, followed by its flight to Chicago, which
will be dropped in November. According to a spokesperson for the
airport, by November airline capacity will decrease by 13 percent in
comparison to the previous year.
According to Travel Weekly, M&C's sister publication, effective
Sept. 1, Hawaiian Airlines will discontinue its daily route from San
Diego to Maui. Service will continue from San Diego to Honolulu,
with inter-island connections to Maui.
The American Society for Association Executives and The Center for
Association Leadership's annual meeting wrapped up Tuesday night in
San Diego with a total attendance of 6,138. This is lower than last
year's figure from Chicago (7,000), but higher than total attendance
in Boston in 2006. At a press conference on Monday, ASAE president
and CEO John H. Graham IV was asked about the timeline for a
decision on the makeup of the boards of ASAE and The Center;
potential outcomes could be one board for both organizations, two
boards populated by the same people or two totally separate boards.
Graham said the matter should be settled by next April, though
perhaps by as early as November. Next year's annual meeting for ASAE
and The Center will be held Aug. 15-18 in Toronto.
The International Association of Conference Centers holds its first
European annual conference Aug. 28-31 at Warwick University in
Coventry, England. About 100 people, primarily from the Denmark,
Sweden and U.K. chapters, are expected to attend.
CONVENTION AND VISITOR BUREAUS
The Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau in Australia will change
its name to Business Events Sydney, effective Sept. 1, to describe
the function of the bureau better. The bureau's members also have
approved a few changes to the board of directors, adding six seats,
including two for executives of Events New South Wales, a company
established by the NSW government to market Sydney and the area to
meeting and event planners.
Carnival Cruise Lines will replace its 1,452-passenger Holiday with
the 2,056-passenger Fantasy out of Mobile, Ala., beginning in
November 2009. Fantasy will cruise to Mexico on four- and five-day
itineraries. It will feature the Carnival WaterWorks Aqua park, an
adults-only retreat area and a new resort-style pool complex, after
the ship goes into dry dock this fall. The Holiday will be
transferred to Iberocruceros, Carnival's Spain-based sister cruise
The Plaza Las Vegas project has been delayed, according to a
spokesperson for developer Elad IDB Las Vegas. Construction on the
Las Vegas Strip property now is slated to begin sometime in 2009, on
the site once occupied by the New Frontier. The project, previously
estimated at $5 billion, had been scheduled to break ground by the
end of this year. According to the spokesperson, the developers
"want to make sure all plans are complete and all bids are in before
The Boston Redevelopment Authority last week approved a $160 million
mixed-use project that will include two midscale hotels near the TD
Banknorth Garden and the city's North Station. Plans call for a
153-room Courtyard by Marriott and a 121-room TownePlace Suites by
Marriott, in addition to 10,000 square feet of street-level retail,
13,000 square feet of restaurant space and 200,000 square feet of
office space. Construction will begin next year, and the project
should be complete two years later.
On Friday, the Tulalip (Wash.) Resort Casino, a half-hour north of
Seattle, opened its $130 million, 370-room luxury hotel. The 83-acre
resort has 192,000 square feet of casino gaming space, 30,000 square
feet of meeting space, the 3,000-seat Tulalip Amphitheatre, six
restaurants and the 14,000-square-foot, "earth-inspired" T Spa.
The 168-room Lakeway Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas, a conference
resort run by Dolce Hotels and Resorts, now is offering a spin-off
of the complete meeting package offered by most conference centers.
The Complete Green Meeting Package includes the standards of the CMP
-- where the room rate covers an event's meals, breaks, A/V and
meeting space -- and adds elements to help planners conserve energy
and resources during their meetings by recycling and reusing
products, and using local and organic produce. Among the
environmental offerings, notepads will not be provided, meeting
rooms will be maintained at 72 degrees Fahrenheit and pitchers of
citrus-infused water will be put on conference tables instead of
bottles of water.
Marriott International has named Tina Edmundson, a former Starwood
Hotels & Resorts Worldwide executive, senior vice president of
lifestyle brands and Renaissance operations, effective Sept. 1.
Edmundson, most recently senior vice president of brand operations
for Starwood's luxury group, will lead Marriott's brand strategy and
operations, and give marketing oversight for the 140 hotels under
the Renaissance and Renaissance Club Sport flag, which recently
received an injection of $2 billion in capital investment from
owners and franchisees.
Hilton Hotels Corp. has announced the retirement of Steve Armitage,
senior vice president of sales, Americas. Armitage, a 30-year Hilton
employee, will be replaced by Rob Scypinski, who has been promoted
to vice president of sales, the Americas. In addition, Mark Komine,
a former executive vice president with LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels,
has joined the Hilton team as senior vice president of sales and
commercial development, Americas.
Embassy Suites Hotels, which has 192 properties worldwide, announced
this week it has the strongest development pipeline in the brand's
24-year history. Currently there are 62 hotels planned or under
construction, primarily in secondary and tertiary markets in the
United States, as well as Latin America, which will propel the
brand's total inventory to 300 by 2010.
The 240-room Mona Lisa Suite Hotel opened in Celebration, Fla., last
week. The property features the 150-seat Galerie Restaurant & Bar
and meeting space for up to 55 people. The hotel also partners with
the Stetson University Conference Center, about half a mile away, to
offer an additional 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
Marmara Hotels & Residences, a Turkish hotel chain, plans to add 40
properties over the next 10 years. Among the cities Marmara is
eyeing for the $1.5 billion expansion are Sofia, Bulgaria; Baku,
Azerbaijan; Bucharest, Romania; and St. Petersburg and Kiev in
Russia. The firm currently has nine properties -- eight in Turkey
and one in New York City.
The historic La Posada de Albuquerque Hotel, a member of the
National Register of Historic Places, will reopen later this year as
Andaluz, following a $30 million renovation. The 107-room property,
one block from the Albuquerque Convention Center, will have 7,346
square feet of meeting space.
More than 400 hotels will open in Germany by 2012, according to
tophotelprojects.com, a database for international hotel
construction projects. More than half, 270, are in the luxury or
upscale hotel segment. Among the largest is the 572-room Scandic
Hotel Berlin, to be completed by 2010.
The 180-room Westin Mount Laurel is now open in southern New Jersey,
about six miles from downtown Philadelphia. Amenities include
Westin's Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath, as well as in-room wired
and Wi-Fi Internet. The property offers 25,000 square feet of
meeting space and an Italian restaurant and steak house, Bellagio
Ristorante, which features a private dining room that seats 20.
Flamingo Las Vegas, a 3,565-room resort hotel on the Las Vegas
Strip, recently completed renovations to its 73,000 square feet of
function space. Every meeting room now has new air walls, and every
ballroom has been repainted and updated.
When Susan Sarfati, president of the Center for Association Research
and executive vice president of the American Society of Association
Executives, leaves her job at the end of this month, she will join
the American Program Bureau as executive vice president, charged
with heading up a new Washington, D.C., office for the speakers
bureau. APB's list of global speakers includes former Russian
President Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, eight Nobel
Peace Prize winners and media celebrities such as Dan Rather and