by By the M&C Staff | November 04, 2009

Carlson Companies has entered an agreement to sell Carlson Marketing, one of the largest global incentive, meeting and event firms, to Groupe Aeroplan, a Canadian loyalty marketing firm, for US$175.3 million. According to a statement released by Carlson on Tuesday, the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and standard antitrust approvals in the United States and Canada. Carlson Companies is a private firm; Groupe Aeroplan, which primarily operates consumer loyalty programs including Air Canada's frequent-flyer program, is publicly held and is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, according to a spokesperson for Carlson. The sale is expected to go through by early December.

Amtrak Five-Year Plan Includes Adding Wi-Fi

Last Thursday, Amtrak released its new strategic guidance and five-year financial plan to take the rail company through 2014. In a statement, Amtrak chairman Thomas Carper said ridership had increased steadily from 21.6 million passengers in 2002 to 27.2 million passengers in fiscal year 2009. New goals aim for train travel to be safer, greener and healthier, while improving Amtrak's financial performance, customer service and ability to meet national needs. Also, by early 2010, Wi-Fi will be installed on all Acela Express trains, which travel the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. The service initially will be offered free of charge with the possibility of a fee structure in the future.

US Airways to Realign Operations
US Airways is realigning its operations to focus on its hub airports in Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National; and shuttle service between Boston, New York LaGuardia and Reagan National. By the end of 2010, these routes will represent 99 percent of the airline's available seat miles, up from 93 percent at present. To accomplish this shift, US Airways will reduce flights from Las Vegas from 64 daily to 36 by February 2010, citing high fuel prices and continued weak demand for service to Nevada. The airline also will close its outposts in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Wichita, Kan., and will suspend plans to add a flight from Philadelphia to Beijing.

New York's Museum of Modern Art Expands With Hotel Rooms
Last week the New York City Council approved the Museum of Modern Art's proposal for a new 85-story tower to be built adjacent to the museum.
The plan includes a 1,000-foot tall, mixed-use tower on West 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which will add 40,000 square feet of new gallery space, 150 residential apartments and 100 hotel rooms. Architect Jean Nouvel has designed the tower. No timeline has been announced.

Airline Industry
JetBlue to Increase Boston Service Next Summer
JetBlue will increase daily departures from Boston Logan International Airport by 30 percent by next summer. The airline will add daily flights from Boston to Chicago O'Hare; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Baltimore/Washington, D.C.; Washington Dulles; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver; Fort Lauderdale; San Diego, and San Francisco, as well as extra weekly flights to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Site Reveals 2009 Crystal Award Winners

Site announced the winners of its annual Crystal Awards, which honor the best motivational events in the industry. The full list of winners is available here.

Cruise Lines
Disney to Launch New Cruise Ship in 2011
Disney Cruise Line will launch the Disney Dream, a 4,000-passenger ship, in January 2011. The vessel will feature a four-deck-high water slide/roller coaster, the AquaDuck; "enchanted art" throughout the ship that will animate when passengers approach, and "virtual portholes" on inside cabins.  The ship will have a private event space and a meeting room.

New Ballroom Debuts in Boston
About $24 million was spent turning a restaurant at the 201-room Millennium Bostonian Hotel into the Seasons ballroom. The 3,300-square-foot space now has bay windows and a glass ceiling and seats up to 160. The property now offers about 7,084 square feet of meeting space. Also new is the dining area, called North 26 Restaurant and Bar, serving contemporary New England cuisine.

Singapore Resort to Feature Six Celebrity Restaurants
The Marina Bay Sands Singapore, a massive casino resort that will open early next year in the city-state, will incorporate six celebrity-chef restaurants, including big names such as Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck. When the triple-tower hotel is complete, it will have 2,500 luxury rooms and suites. The resort also will have a convention center with nearly 1.3 million square feet of meeting space, including 250 breakout rooms, plus an exhibition hall accommodating up to 2,000 booths, and an 86,000-square-foot ballroom.

Employees Sue Boston Hotel
According to the Boston Globe, seven employees of Moroccan descent are suing the Fairmont Copley Plaza, alleging that the hotel's management created and tolerated a hostile work environment following Sept. 11. In a statement sent to the Globe, Fairmont responded, "The Fairmont Copley Plaza is fortunate to have more than 35 nationalities represented among our colleagues, and this diversity creates a dynamic work environment. We are in the process of working through these allegations and reviewing this suit with our legal team and hope to come to a fair and appropriate resolution."

Refurbishment Finished at Orlando Doubletree
The 1,094-room Doubletree Resort Orlando-International Drive, formerly the International Plaza Resort and Spa, has completed a $35 million transformation. Decor, guest rooms, meeting space and restaurants were all upgraded. Features of the hotel include three pools, three eateries, an upscale bar, 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a fitness center and a business center. Guest rooms offer 32-inch LCD TVs, wireless Internet and MP3 player hookups.

Iowa City Hotel Completes Renovation
The 234-room Sheraton Iowa City completed a multimillion-dollar renovation last week of its guest rooms, public spaces and meeting space. The hotel offers approximately 12,000 square feet of meeting space in addition to the adjacent 15,000-square-foot Vetro Conference Center. A new restaurant, the Share, Wine Lounge and Small Plate Bistro, was added as well.

Meeting Space Project Completed at Newport Marriott
All 24,800 square feet of meeting space has been updated at the 317-room Newport (R.I.) Marriott. A 4,500-square-foot spa opened at the property in May.

Lauderdale Luxe Collection Unveiled
Last week, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled the Lauderdale Luxe Collection, a group of 13 luxury properties of at least four-star or four-diamond caliber. All properties, including the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, offer a full-service restaurant and spa facilities. The complete list of hotels can be viewed at