July 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline

newsline.gif (8042 bytes)INTERNATIONAL FOCUS
ITALY Florence
Amid the rolling hills and Etruscan ruins of Tuscany, the Villa San Michele finished a major renovation this past spring. The 41-room property, a 15th-century former Franciscan monastery, sits on the outskirts of Florence, in the hilltop town of Fiesole. Like so many buildings in the area, the villa is architecturally significant, as its facade was designed by Michelangelo. All guest rooms and The Cappellina, a 17th-century building that was used by monks as a meditative center, have been refurbished.

The Mercure Napoli Garibaldi opened in May in this southern Italian city. The 88-room property is part of the growing Accor hotel chain and joins other Mercure hotels in the country, including the Mercure Rimini la Gradisca, Mercure Modena and the Mercure Milano Corso Geneva.

Hilton Hotels Corp. has spent $15 million on renovating one of the gems of its brand. The Rome Cavalieri Hilton finished work this past spring on a three-year project that redecorated and reconfigured guest rooms into junior suite setups, with larger sitting areas both in the rooms and on the balconies. In addition, a club room was added to the executive floors, and public space was renovated, including the reception and concierge areas and Le Belle Arti, a function room in the property’s 71,644-square-foot convention center.

The Westin Excelsior Rome, built in 1906, has completed a major renovation. A top-to-bottom refurbishment of public spaces and all 316 guest rooms where the latest technology and Westin’s “Heavenly Beds” were installed was completed this past spring. A gym and spa are among the new additions; a pool and the renovation of meeting rooms should be finished by early autumn.

November 2001 saw the wrap-up of an $8 million renovation of the Sofitel Roma. The project reduced the number of guest rooms from 125 to 113. One floor was redesigned with four suites that feature private terraces and share a garden. The property has a rich history that includes a former life as a Roman palazzo. It was converted into a hotel in the late 19th century.

April 21, the mythical date of Rome’s founding, marked the long-awaited opening of the Parco della Musica. Seven years in the making, the venue offers three auditoriums, each acoustically designed to house specific kinds of performances. The 700-seat theater is for chamber music, plays and operas; a 1,200-seat venue is designed for ballets and rock concerts; and a 2,800-seat theater will host orchestral and choir concerts.

Hilton Hotels Corp. took over management of a hotel on the Bay of Naples, now called the Hilton Sorrento Palace. The property, Hilton’s fourth in Italy, is the largest in the area, perched in the hills with fantastic views of the rugged Amalfi hillside and, on clear days, views of Mount Vesuvius. On-site is a conference facility with a 1,700-seat theater and 24,380 square feet of exhibit space. Renovations included the addition of a club lounge on the executive floor.

Once the Sofitel Venezia in Isola opens on Feb. 1, 2003, visitors will be able to avoid the crowds of tourists in this city of canals, as the hotel will be on its own private island. A 12-minute boat ride from St. Mark’s Square, the 312-room property will be equipped with considerable meeting space, including a conference center with 10 meeting rooms and an assembly hall seating 440.

Compiled by Carla Benini

The swanky 88-room Hotel Cipriani welcomed spring with improvements that will please its upper-crust clientele. The new Palladio Suite is a sprawling ode to Italian elegance, replete with Murano glass lamps, hand-painted furniture and views of a lagoon. The hotel also acquired the Granary, a cluster of 19th-century brick buildings available for events. (011) 041-520-77-44;

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