by By the M&C Staff | June 10, 2009

Maritz Inc. of Fenton, Mo., is among the top 20 companies to which bankrupt GM owes money. The meeting and incentive firm was listed as a creditor in the bankruptcy petition filed last week in New York. According to the filing, the amount owed is $25.6 million for services including customer satisfaction surveys and dealer training, as well as meetings, events and incentives. A spokesperson for Maritz told the St. Louis Business Journal, "Maritz leadership has been in close contact with GM throughout its reorganization planning process. We believe the relationship will continue." The firm verified that Chrysler, which filed for bankruptcy in April, also is a client. The automaker "continues to make payments to Maritz," according to a spokesperson who added that the company is glad to learn that the deal between Fiat and Chrysler will go through.

Starwood Capital Puts Paris' Hôtel de Crillon on the Block
According to The Times of London, the luxurious Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, has been put up for sale by owner Starwood Capital for US$420 million. The property, originally a government building commissioned by Louis XV, has been owned by Starwood since 2005, as part of its acquisition of the Taittinger hotel and champagne empire. The landmark hotel has 103 guest rooms, 44 suites and eight meeting rooms. For more on the story, click here.  

Fontainebleau Las Vegas files for Chapter 11
The Fontainebleau Las Vegas filed for Chapter 11 on Tuesday. For details, read the hotel’s statement here.

PCMA Survey Examines Meetings Numbers for 2009-'10
According to a survey of 516 meeting planners conducted by Ypartnership for the Professional Convention Management Association, the PCMA Education Foundation and American Express, 47 percent of planners expect to see no change in the number of off-site meetings they will book in 2009 and 2010 over the previous 12 months, and 9 percent of the respondents will plan more meetings. Forty-four percent of those surveyed expect to book fewer off-site meetings in 2009-'10 vs. the previous 12 months. Nearly all of those who expected to plan fewer meetings agreed on the cause: 90 percent said meetings budgets were being reduced "due to general economic conditions." Also cited by 35 percent of those who expected a decrease were "image/publicity/public policy considerations." PCMA president and CEO Deborah Sexton said, "The insights revealed in this survey confirm what most in the industry have assumed to be true in recent months: The economy is the primary culprit for the challenges now facing the industry. But professional planners are clearly concerned about the image issues and negative rhetoric associated with hosting meetings as well." In a press conference, Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, said, "As soon as the economy takes that turn and improves, I think the industry will be the beneficiary of that and pretty quickly. But it's likely that will be 2011 and beyond." Respondents were drawn from PCMA's database of association planners and American Express's list of corporate planners. To view more results from the survey, click here.

Heart Association Accuses Firm of Poaching
The American Heart Association is accusing a New York City-based meeting planning firm of improperly offering housing services to prospective attendees of the association's annual meeting in Orlando in the fall. MEC, Meetings Events Communication, has sent e-mails with the subject line "AHA American Heart Association 2009 Orlando, FL," stating: "We are happy to offer rooms over the Annual Meeting of the American Heart Association." When forwarded the MEC e-mail by M&C, Leigh Ann Stockard, vice president of meetings for AHA, said, "Travel Planners is our official housing company. This company is indeed poaching, and we will be in contact with them." Elaina Doytchinov, vice president for MEC, defended the offer of housing services. "We never said we officially represented the convention. We are accommodating people interested in attending that event," she said. The International Association of Exhibitions and Events has taken a strong stance against this practice and last year terminated the membership of one supplier that had been involved in similar activity.

ASAE Study Confirms Expected Declines in Association Revenue
An ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership study confirms that association executives believe the economy will take a serious toll on membership and nondues revenue. Executives at nearly 1,100 associations participated in the study, which was conducted in March. The largest drop in nondues revenue will stem from declining meeting and event revenues and charitable giving, according to the survey. Overall, executives predict revenues will fall more than 15 percent between March 2009 and March 2010. ASAE plans to conduct a follow-up study this month and unveil the results at its annual meeting in Toronto in August.

Terranea Resort Opens Friday

The 582-room Terranea Resort in Southern California's Palos Verdes opens this Friday. Accommodations include a 360-room hotel with 32 suites, 20 oceanfront bungalows, 50 casitas and 32 villas. A total of 135,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space is available, including the 18,000-square-foot Palos Verdes Grand Ballroom, the 6,600-square-foot Marineland Ballroom, the Catalina Room and 15 breakout rooms. For outdoor events, groups can use The Meadows, a 16,000-square-foot lawn with a stage, or the 13,000-square-foot Palos Verdes Terrace and Lawn. The property offers eight restaurants, a 50,000-square-foot spa and fitness facility, and a nine-hole par-three golf course.

Industry Leaders Travel in Support of Mexico
Meeting Place Mexico kicked off its fourth year in Puerto Vallarta Monday in the city's new International Convention Center. Despite fears of a reduced turnout, last year's attendance was exceeded, with 170 hosted buyers and 109 exhibitors. Among those present were Brenda Anderson, CEO of Site; John Graham, president and CEO of ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership; Bruce MacMillan, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International; and Martin Sirk, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association. Although the industry leaders all had accepted invitations more than six months ago, their presence was noteworthy at a time when Mexico's tourism industry still is reeling from fears over swine flu and drug-related violence. "We're committed to standing by you through this and making sure you come out stronger," Brenda Anderson said Monday to tourism professionals representing various regions of the country. According to Eduardo Chalillo of the Mexico Tourism Board, roughly 6 percent of all U.S. and Canadian visitors arriving by air to Mexico are meeting or convention attendees, accounting for 13 percent of the foreign visitor spend.

MPI Announces First-Ever RISE Award Winner
To celebrate the ability to use meetings and events to accomplish transformational change, Meeting Professionals International will give the Obama for America campaign the first RISE Award for Organizational Achievement during its annual World Education Congress, to be held in Salt Lake City, July 11-14. By the time Barack Obama was elected president, the campaign organization had planned 200,000 offline events, formed 35,000 groups, posted 400,000 blog entries and raised $30 million.

ASAE Creates Scholarships to Attend Its Annual Meeting
Unemployed ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership members and association executives with budgets of less than $5 million can apply for scholarships to attend the ASAE annual meeting in Toronto, Aug. 15-18. The scholarships cover registration, and winners will be offered discounted hotel rates. The deadline to apply is June 19. To apply, go here.

Convention Centers
Australia's Biggest, Greenest Convention Center Debuts
An opening ceremony for the expanded Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre complex along the Yarra River in Australia was held on June 5 and attended by John Brumby, premier of the state of Victoria. Welcoming its first group on June 22, the expansion has 323,000 square feet of exhibition space, a grand ballroom for up to 1,800 people, 32 meeting rooms and a 5,000-seat plenary hall. The new center was built using advanced environmental practices, earning what executives are touting as the world's first "six-star green star" rating for a convention center from the Green Building Council of Australia. The existing center has two theaters, a ballroom for up to 2,000 guests, and 20 meeting rooms.

Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Hornby Leaves Visit London
David Hornby, commercial director of Visit London, has resigned after six years with the city's tourism and meetings arm. He will be a consultant for both AEG Europe, which owns London's O2 venue, and for England 2018 Ltd, the organization tasked with securing the Football World Cup for the country in 2018.

W Fort Lauderdale Opens
Last Thursday the 346-room, 171-residence W Fort Lauderdale for business. A Stephen Starr restaurant, Steak 954, is featured, along with the Whiskey Blue nightclub. The property has a Bliss Spa, a Sweat workout center and two pools. A total of 12,400 square feet of event space and studios can be booked for meetings.

Newport Beach Raises Hotel Taxes
The Newport Beach (Calif.) Conference and Visitors Bureau and the City of Newport Beach have created the Newport Beach Tourism Business Improvement District, where hotels are charging higher bed taxes than the rest of the area. Since May 15, the following six properties have been assessing an additional 2 percent tax on room rates, bringing their total occupancy taxes to 12 percent: the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, the Fairmont Newport Beach, the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, the Newport Beach Marriott Bayview, the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa and the Radisson Hotel Newport Beach. Funds generated by the tax hike will be used to bolster the sales and marketing efforts of the NBCVB.

D.C. Considering Bonds to Finance HQ Hotel
According to The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., is considering issuing $750 million in bonds to build a 1,167-room Marriott Marquis headquarters hotel to serve the city's Walter E. Washington Convention Center. However, the amount exceeds the district's 12 percent debt cap. The Post reported that council member Jack Evans said the city needs the hotel to prevent it from losing convention business to Maryland. In a statement provided to M&C, Gregory O'Dell, CEO and general manager of the Washington Convention Center Authority, said, "We continue to work with the mayor, city council and chief financial officer for the district to pursue financing options to bring certainty to this project as soon as possible. This project will be a centerpiece for continued economic revitalization of the historic Shaw neighborhood and will have an immediate economic impact on the District of Columbia upon its completion." The hotel will be the second largest in Washington, D.C., and would open in the fourth quarter of 2012. The next step toward issuing the bonds will be an as-yet-unscheduled vote by the Washington, D.C. city council.

Hotel Missoni Debuts in Edinburgh
The 136-room Hotel Missoni Edinburgh opened yesterday in the Scottish capital. The property, designed by creative director Rosita Missoni, one of the original founders of the iconic Italian fashion house, has three meeting rooms and a 1,076-square-foot breakout area. This is the first of Rezidor Hotel Group's Missoni-branded properties to open; a resort property in Kuwait will open this fall. The company plans to open or develop 30 Missoni-branded luxury properties over the next 10 years, with initial focus on Europe and the Middle East, followed by expansion into North America, South America and Asia.

Owners of W San Diego Forfeit Property to Lenders
The Wall Street Journal reports that San Clemente, Calif.-based Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc., owners of the 258-room W San Diego hotel, will forfeit the property to its lenders, Centerline Serving Inc., in lieu of paying its $65 million mortgage. Since 2007, the hotel has failed to generate adequate monthly income to cover both interest payments and operating costs. At the close of 2008, the hotel's occupancy was at 69 percent, with generated revenue per room at about $153.

Orient-Express Sells Lisbon Hotel
Orient-Express Hotels has sold the 109-room Lapa Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, to a private Portuguese investor for US$41.8 million. In a statement, Paul White, president and CEO of Orient-Express, said, "We have previously stated our intention to dispose of noncore assets. Lapa Palace has become one of Europe's most distinctive hotels, but we felt we had developed it and grown our business there as far as we could. While Lisbon is a key European capital city, it is not a prime leisure destination, and as such does not have sufficient appeal for our elite leisure audience. City RevPAR is constantly under pressure from the downward trend in corporate and conference business, which is not our primary market."

Wyland Waikiki Hotel Reflagged as a Courtyard by Marriott

The former Wyland Waikiki hotel on the island of Oahu has been reflagged as the Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach. The 400-room property underwent a major renovation in 2007 that refreshed all guest rooms and public areas. Amenities include an Italian eatery called Spada Bar & Restaurant, the Kimobean Hawaiian Coffee Company café, a business center, two swimming pools and a sundeck, the Spa Pure day spa and a fitness facility.

Island Hotel Newport Beach Completes Two-year Renovation

The 295-room Island Hotel Newport Beach wrapped up a two-year renovation of all guest rooms, public spaces, meeting facilities and the Palm Terrace Restaurant & Lounge. Décor was redesigned with a tropical theme; paintings of exotic birds, oversized plants and Murano glass light fixtures imported from Italy now adorn the property. The hotel offers a 4,000-square-foot spa, a fitness center and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

Two New Hotel Indigo Properties for Canada

The 120-room Hotel Indigo Toronto Airport opened last Wednesday; the property has complimentary Internet access in guest rooms and public spaces, 2,000 square feet of meeting space, a 24-hour business center, an indoor pool and a fitness studio. Another Hotel Indigo opening in Canada has been announced: the 153-room Hotel Indigo Vancouver is slated to debut in early 2010, in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Biden, Obama Aides Won't Cross Picket Line at Mayors Convention
A protest by a firefighter union at this week's U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Providence, R.I., will keep top U.S. officials away.
For the full story, click here.