by Hunter R. Slaton | October 01, 2009

Local Update
The St. Regis Atlanta opened in April in the posh Buckhead district. The 151-room property offers 16,800 square feet of meeting space, a Remède Spa, four restaurants, and the 40,000 square-foot Pool Piazza with an outdoor swimming pool, a Jacuzzi and a poolside bar.

The 291-room W Atlanta–Buckhead opened this past January with 8,000 square feet of meeting space, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Market restaurant and the Whiskey Blue rooftop bar.

The 444-room Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta,
completed a $20 million renovation of all guest rooms, public areas, ballrooms and the lobby in June. The property has more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms and two meeting rooms.

The 304-room Hotel Palomar Atlanta, a Kimpton property, opened in May. Highlights include 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center, free morning coffee and tea service, and a nightly complimentary wine hour.

An $11 million renovation of the 307-room Georgian Terrace Hotel was completed in April. Flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet and new beds were added to the rooms, and upgrades were made to the lobby, all 5,000 square feet of meeting space and five dining/bar areas.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority has launched a "zero-waste zone" including downtown area hotels, attractions and restaurants. Members will reuse spent cooking grease to produce biofuel, and compost or donate food to decrease the amount of landfill waste, among other green actions.

The Hyatt Regency Atlanta finished a $15 million renovation in December 2008. A new pedestrian bridge connects the 1,260-room hotel to the neighboring Marriott, and all 333 International Tower rooms have been revamped. Four breakout rooms were added to the hotel's 40,000-square-foot Grand Hall.

The 1,068-room Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, whose glass exterior was damaged by a tornado in March 2008, will have all 6,350 windows replaced by Skansa USA Building. The $22 million project is scheduled for completion toward the end of next year. The property features 80,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 1.1 million-square-foot Gateway Center, a mixed-use development next to the Georgia International Convention Center, is set to open in 2010. It will include a 403-room Marriott hotel with 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a 147-room Springhill Suites property, and office and retail space. Both hotels expect to be LEED-certified.

Later this fall, an elevated "automated people mover," the ATL SkyTrain, will begin operating from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the Georgia Internation­al Conference Center. The free ride will take two minutes.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights
is building a new $125 million headquarters in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola museum. The 100,000-square-foot center will open in 2010 and will have 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, a meeting facility for 500 people and a 300-seat auditorium.

Dan Graveline, executive director of Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center Authority for more than 30 years, will retire on Dec. 31. The GWCCA is responsible for management of its namesake facility as well as the Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park. A committee has been appointed to conduct a search for Graveline's successor.

William Pate
became the new president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau at the start of 2009, replacing Spurgeon Richardson, who retired after 17 years with the CVB.

Meeting Hotels:
Among downtown properties are the 1,663-room Atlanta Marriott Marquis; 1,260-room Hyatt Regency Atlanta; 1,242-room Hilton Atlanta; 1,068-room Westin Peachtree Plaza; 444-room Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta; 312-room Atlanta Marriott Downtown, and 260-room Holiday Inn Atlanta Downtown.

In Midtown, properties include the 435-room W Atlanta–Midtown, 254-suite Atlanta Marriott Suites Mid­town, 252-room Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center, and 191-room Wyndham Midtown Atlanta.

In Buckhead, properties include the 553-room Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead; 438-room Grand Hyatt Atlanta; 422-room InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta; 367-room JW Marriott Hotel Buckhead Atlanta, and 151-room St. Regis Atlanta.

Perimeter Center hotels include the 495-room Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 400-room Marriott Perimeter Center and 106-room Sheraton Atlanta Perimeter North.

Hotels near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and College Park include the 638-room Atlanta Airport Marriott, 395-room Sheraton Gateway Hotel–Atlanta Airport, 387-room Re­naissance Concourse Hotel and 377-room Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel.

Convention Centers:
Geor­gia World Congress Center; exhibit space, 1.4 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 106; (404) 223-4200;

AmericasMart Atlanta; exhibit space, 800,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 41; (404) 220-2686;

Georgia International Convention Center; exhibit space, 150,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 10; (770) 997-3566;

Airport Transit:
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, eight miles south of downtown. Transfer cost by taxi to downtown, $30; by shuttle, $16.50; by MARTA rail, $1.75 (plus a 50¢ surcharge if purchasing a new fare ticket)

Room tax, 7%; sales tax, 8%; total tax on hotel rooms, 15%

Group Venues:
Atlanta is the home of CNN, whose headquarters offers a variety of event spaces. The Globe and Theater together can host up to 45 people for a reception, presentation or screening. On the seventh floor, the indoor CNN Terrace can host 75 guests for a reception or 50 for a seated dinner, with the Globe serving as a prefunction area. CNN's largest space is its Center Atrium, which can hold up to 400 people for cocktails or 200 for dinner. (877) 4CNN-TOUR;

Among the displays at the Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta are outfits worn by the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. Groups can use the main café, which holds 200 for a seated meal or 800 for a reception, while the Velvet Underground room can fit 140 seated and 200 standing. (404) 688-ROCK;  

CVB Services:
Atlanta Con­vention and Visitors Bureau, (800) ATLANTA;