Fontainebleau Las Vegas, the unfinished $3 billion, 3,889-room resort planned for the Las Vegas Strip, is canceling many meetings scheduled for the first half of 2010. In Miami bankruptcy court filings, the company states it is canceling events scheduled between Jan. 1, 2010, and June 29, 2010. The property, which was to open this fall, had its funding pulled several months ago by lenders. Fontainebleau responded by filing a lawsuit against the banks and, last month, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Tighter Security Promised After Attacks on Jakarta Hotels
Marriott executives have pledged to step up what they call "rigorous" existing security policies following the apparent suicide bombings that killed nine people and injured dozens more at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta, Indonesia, last Friday. In a blog post after the incident, Bill Marriott, chairman and CEO of Marriott International, expressed sympathy to the victims and their families, and also noted that the hotels did not suffer structural damage and should reopen soon. "It is a sad truth in today's world that, if someone is willing to sacrifice his or her own life in an attack, there are no guarantees of safety," Marriott wrote. "Nonetheless, we remain committed to do our best to implement tough and effective security procedures working with our associates, outside security experts and the authorities." No reopening date for the hotels has been announced.
D.C. Approves Financing for New Headquarters Hotel
Last week, the Washington, D.C., city council approved $206 million in public financing for a planned $537 million, 1,167-room Marriott Marquis headquarters hotel at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The remaining $331 million will be provided by private developers. After the financing bill is signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty, which could happen as early as next week, construction on the hotel could begin by this fall and the property would open in late 2012. Elliott Ferguson, the new president and CEO of Destination D.C., the District's tourism marketing organization, told M&C that the new hotel "will allow us to book more business in our convention center, which at this point we're somewhat limited by, based on the fact that we have only one ballroom and 66 breakout rooms." The Marriott will add 100,000 square feet of meeting space. This, coupled with the addition of a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn that Ferguson says might be built on the same campus, will allow two groups booking up to 3,000 peak room nights to hold simultaneous meetings. "We could not do that now," said Ferguson.
Maritz and Freeman Form Strategic Alliance
Maritz, the meetings and incentives company, and Freeman, an exhibition and event services company, announced a partnership last week that will give clients of one access to the services and expertise of the other. The agreement gives Maritz clients preferred supplier access to Freeman A/V services, as well as ProActive, the multimedia production division of Freeman. Freeman customers will have access to Maritz Live, a variety of virtual meeting services, and the Maritz Meeting Effectiveness consulting program.
Greenbrier to Add a Casino
Last Thursday, Jim Justice, the new owner of West Virginia's 721-room Greenbrier resort, announced plans to build a casino on the property. Justice hopes to break ground soon on the new casino, which will cost $25 million and be built underground, below the hotel's entrance. The permanent casino structure could open as early as April 2010. In the meantime, Greenbrier's 38°80 lounge will open on Sept. 15 as a temporary casino with slot machines and table games.
Marriott Profits Plummet
Marriott International released second-quarter financial results on Thursday, revealing a 76 percent drop in reported income. Reported income from continuing operations was $37 million in the second quarter, compared with $153 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue per available room fell 26.1 percent for Marriott's worldwide company-operated properties.
IACC Revamps Annual Meeting
The annual conference of the International Association of Conference Centers North America will be replaced next year by the 2010 Summit, to be held March 24-26 at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Ill. The new schedule is shorter by half a day, starting Wednesday and ending with lunch on Friday. In other news, a report on conference centers from PKF Consulting that was released last week predicts the facilities will see smaller declines in revenue than the 16 percent average that has been forecasted for the overall lodging industry by PKF Hospitality Research.
Boston-area Expo Center to Reopen Under New Management
The Bayside Exposition Center in Dorchester, Mass., will reopen under new management this fall. After struggling to compete with the larger and publicly subsidized Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the center closed earlier this year when it underwent foreclosure. New owners LNR Massachusetts Partners have stepped in, and events at the BEC now will be handled by the Ballantine Management Group, which also owns and operates the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center in Virginia, as well as a portfolio of more than 20 consumer trade shows. The facility has approximately 235,000 square feet of exhibit space and 11 meeting rooms.
Ritz-Carlton Rolls Out "Meetings within Reach"
As part of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.'s new campaign, "It's not extravagant, if it produces results," the hotel chain this week rolled out a "Meetings Within Reach" promotion. Groups booking 10 or more room nights at a Ritz-Carlton receive daily continental breakfast, a general session meeting room, high-speed Internet access in one meeting room, a 20 percent discount on A/V requirements and select suite upgrades. Meetings must be booked by Sept. 30 and held by Dec. 31.
Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Joe Terzi New Head of San Diego CVB
The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau (ConVis) announced last Thursday that Joe Terzi, interim president and CEO, has been given the position permanently by the bureau's board of directors, effective immediately. Before taking on the interim role, Terzi was a senior vice president for Starwood Hotels & Resorts and served on the ConVis board for 12 years. He replaces David Peckinpaugh, who declined to renew his three-year contract, which expired June 30.
Business as Usual at St. Regis Monarch Beach
Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced this week that the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, which originally was scheduled to be auctioned off earlier this month after defaulting on a $70 million loan, now is owned by Citigroup Global Markets Realty Group, the property's lender. The St. Regis brand will continue to manage the hotel, and business will operate as usual. The property came under fire last fall when it hosted the now infamous event held by AIG soon after the insurer received government bailout funds.
Boutique Hotel Coming to Manhattan's SoHo
Brack Capital Real Estate will develop a 114-room boutique hotel in Manhattan's SoHo district. The 16-story property, to be called the 27 Grand Street Hotel, will open in 2010. Features include restaurants and a rooftop pool and bar. The amount of meeting space is to be determined.
Courtyard by Marriott Planned Near Pittsburgh
Plans for the 124-room Courtyard by Marriott Meadow Lands in Washington, Pa., are officially under way, as developers Concord Hospitality Enterprises have secured a $10.8 million loan for the property. The hotel, just off I-79 south of Pittsburgh, will open in fall 2010.
EIBTM Puts Out Call for Awards
The European Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition has put out its annual call for awards, open to any planner or event creator. New to this year's awards is the Sustainable Initiative of the Year. Other categories include Best Destination Marketing Campaign, Best Special Event, Best Conference for less than 250 participants, Best Conference for more than 250 participants, Best Product Launch and Best Incentive Program. The deadline for entries is Sept. 18, and awards will be presented at EIBTM in Barcelona, Spain, on Dec. 3. Additional information and entry forms may be found at eibtm.com/awards.
New Hard Rock Cafe Opens in Dallas
The Hard Rock Cafe Dallas opened last week at the south end of the Victory Park development, a few blocks from the American Airlines Center. The 8,900-square-foot venue replaces the original Dallas Hard Rock, which closed in March 2007 after 20 years, when its building was sold.