by By the M&C Staff | October 14, 2009

Last week, Continental Airlines announced new daily service from Los Angeles to Maui; four times a week from Orange County, Calif., to Honolulu; and a second daily flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. The flights will begin on March 7, 2010. In addition, Continental will begin twice-weekly service between Honolulu and Nadi, Fiji, on Dec. 18.

Sheraton Denver Completes Major Renovation
The 1,231-room Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, the city's largest property, has completed a $70 million project that redesigned the entire hotel. The redone lobby features the Link@Sheraton lounge, which offers free Wi-Fi and several computer stations. The guest rooms now include Sheraton Sweet Sleeper beds and ergonomic chairs at the workstations. The refreshed restaurant now is called 15|Fifty, and the bar has been renamed 16Mix. Also rejuvinated were the property's 133,000 square feet of meeting space.

Center for the Performing Arts Opens in Dallas
A week of free music, opera, theater and dance performances this week mark the opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas. Among the facilities are the 2,200-seat Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the 600-seat Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre and the Annette Strauss Artist Square, all equipped with free Wi-Fi.

Hilton to Manage Columbus Convention Hotel

Hilton Worldwide has been chosen by the Franklin County (Ohio) Convention Facilities Authority to manage and operate a 500-room convention center hotel in downtown Columbus, Ohio, adjacent to the Greater Columbus Convention Center and Nationwide Arena. Features include 54 suites and 30,650 square feet of meeting and banquet space. Ground will be broken on the $140 million hotel next summer, and it should open in the fall of 2012.

Hotel Palomar to Open in Philadelphia

The 230-room Hotel Palomar Philadelphia opens tomorrow in the city's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. The LEED-certified hotel is in the renovated Architects Building, an art deco landmark constructed in 1929. The hotel offers 6,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 2,750-square-foot penthouse ballroom with views of the city. Also available are three adaptable meeting rooms and a 12-person boardroom.
SmithBucklin Releases Advice for Associations
Association management firm SmithBucklin has released a report to help organizations position themselves for future growth. The free report, "Acknowledging and Overcoming Strains Resulting from the Economic Crisis," is available here.

Convention Centers
Lake Tahoe Convention Center Developer Files Chapter 11
According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Lake Tahoe Development, the developer behind the stalled convention center project in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. The $420 million project, which lost financing in late 2007, was to include a convention center, a condo-hotel and parking facilities.

Federal Grand Jury Investigating Hilton/Starwood Case
A federal grand jury is looking into whether Hilton Worldwide should face criminal charges concerning the document-theft civil suit filed last spring by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, according to a report last week in the Wall Street Journal. Following that report, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta sent a letter, obtained by USA Today, to all Hilton owners, reassuring them that Hilton is taking the matter very seriously and is cooperating with the U.S. Attorneys' Office in an effort to resolve matters. According to an unnamed source in the WSJ article, Hilton has fired or placed on leave about 30 members of its luxury brands group since Starwood filed the suit. Last month, Hilton named John Vanderslice as head of its luxury and lifestyle division.
Second U.S. Amanresort Unveiled in Utah
Amangiri, Amanresorts' second U.S. property, opens tomorrow in southern Utah. On the edge of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the luxury property offers 34 suites, four of which have private pools. The 25,000-square-foot spa features the Water Pavilion, the Floatation Pavilion and several outdoor treatment rooms.

Hyatt Launches New Meeting Tools
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts launched last week, as well as a set of related resources and tools designed to help meeting planners organize productive meetings. Among the features are an online RFP tool, dedicated meeting advisers and a more customizable catering menu. The Hyatt Meeting Promise guarantees that if any detail of a meeting doesn't meet the planner's expectations, Hyatt will make it right or refund that part of the meeting for future credit. Details and planning tips also are available at the new site.
Luxury Hotel Debuts in Colorado Casino Town
Black Hawk, Colo., which now allows bets of up to $100 at its casinos, has welcomed a new 536-room luxury hotel and spa at the Ameristar Casino Black Hawk. The rooms in the casino's $235 million expansion feature Wi-Fi Internet access and plasma TVs. The property also offers 15,000 square feet of meeting space, a 55,000-square-foot casino and six treatment rooms at the ARA spa.

Hilton Lexington/Downtown Reopens Following Renovation

The Hilton Lexington/Downtown, formerly the Lexington Downtown Hotel & Conference Center, reopened today following a $13 million propertywide renovation that included the 367 guest rooms, the restaurant, the Grand Kentucky Ballroom and additional meeting rooms. All aspects of the project are complete save upgrades to half of the guest rooms, which will be finished in 2010.

Sacramento Casino Resort Halts Expansion Plans

The Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, Calif., just west of Sacramento, has put its planned expansion on hold. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, the property's owners, had planned to add 467 rooms, 27 cottages, three swimming pools, seven restaurants and a conference center. Currently, the site offers a 200-room luxury hotel, a spa, eight restaurants and a casino. The tribe is considering "a wide range of options at this point," according to a spokesperson, who added the decision was made in response to uncertainty in the gaming industry.

Marriott International Reports Third-Quarter Results
Marriott International reported $53 million in adjusted income for the third quarter on Thursday, a 57 percent drop over a year ago. Revenue per available room, which dipped by 23.5 percent compared to last year, recorded a smaller decline than the company expected, according to chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott Jr. He added that occupancy rates for the quarter also exceeded company expectations, due largely to promotions for leisure travelers.
STR's October Forecast Holds Steady

Smith Travel Research is waiting for hotel data for October before making any adjustments to its lodging industry forecast, the company reported, noting that the next two months will heavily influence the outlook for 2010 and 2011. At present, the company maintains its prediction for a -4.2 percent RevPAR drop for 2010.

Centurion Palace Opens in Venice

The 50-suite Centurion Palace has opened in Venice. The property, in the city's Palazzo Genovese, has a fitness center and a meeting room.
Radisson Blu Hamburg Completes $71 Million Makeover

The 556-room Radisson Blu Hamburg in Germany has completed a yearlong, $71 million renovation. Enhancements include renovations of the property's two event spaces, called High End and Paris, the ballroom and nine boardrooms, plus the addition of four new boardrooms. Swedish architect Christian Lundwall redesigned the hotel's 556 guest rooms.