March 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline

newsline.gif (8042 bytes)INTERNATIONAL FOCUS
The Australian Tourist Commission recently launched a new Web site for meeting planners at

Not far from Ayers Rock in Australia’s heartland, the US$5 million Alice Springs Convention Centre opens this month. The facility accommodates up to 1,200 for receptions and 780 for banquets. The surrounding area offers 800 hotel rooms. The 69-room Lasseters Hotel Casino, which manages the convention center, will soon add 75 rooms.

Golf legend Arnold Palmer is teaming up with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to build a new US$500 million property, the 292-room Sheraton Grande St. Michaels All Presidential Suite Golf & Spa Resort. Just north of Brisbane, on the border of the Gold and Tweed coasts, the resort will feature Australia’s only privately owned grass tennis stadium. Groundbreaking is set for this month, with opening scheduled for April 2003.

The Adelaide Convention Centre expansion, which officially opened last September, added 70,000 square feet of exhibit space for a total of about 100,000 square feet. Banquets for up to 6,300 people are now accommodated.

The city of Perth in Western Australia will build a convention center by early 2003. Plans call for a 2,500-seat hall, 22,000 square feet of exhibit space and a banquet hall for 2,500 people. In addition, the city of Darwin, in the Northern Territory, is planning its own center.

French Polynesia
The tony 60-unit Pearl Beach Resort à Tahaa will open in July on the Tahitian island of Tahaa, near the enchanted isle of Bora-Bora. Forty-eight of the resort’s bungalows have glass floors, providing a window to the ocean below. Three restaurants, a pool, a spa and several tennis courts are on-site; kayaks and snorkeling gear are provided. If necessary, light business services can be arranged.

Opening in July in Bora- Bora is the 120-suite Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, which contains 84 suites perched over water. Managed by Sheraton, the retreat is on an islet with a 1,800-foot sand beach. Three restaurants are on hand, along with a pool.

The South Pacific Expo Center opened last June on the U.S.-governed Pacific island of Guam. Three miles from Tumon Bay, Guam’s main tourist spot, the center features 22,000 square feet of exhibit space. Nearby, the Micronesia Mall Exposition Hall opened last October with 36,000 square feet of exhibit space.

New Zealand
The US$8 million Te Pania Hotel will welcome its first guests in January 2003. In Napier, on the east coast of North Island, the 114-room property derives its name from the legend of a woman lured into adjacent Hawke’s Bay by the siren song of mermaids and mermen. The hotel is run by Scenic Circle Hotels, which also plans to open a new 100-room property in October in the South Island city of Dunedin.

The 66-room Mercure Hotel Windsor House opened in Auckland, on the country’s North Island, in February. In converted office space, the 10-story hotel offers three meeting rooms, as well as a well-stocked bar and a restaurant.

Wellington, where the epic movie “Lord of the Rings” was filmed, saw the opening of the new 232-room Inter-Continental Wellington last July. Formerly the ParkRoyal Wellington, the hotel and its eight meeting rooms have been fully renovated. Two club floors will open later this year.

Compiled by Terence Baker

The Ayers Rock Resort, part of Voyages Hotels & Resorts and a stone’s throw from Australia’s most famous natural outcrop, is finishing up a US$30 million transformation. Among the changes are 58 additional rooms at the resort’s Desert Gardens Hotel and 99 rooms and a pool at its new Lost Camel Hotel. (61) 2-9339-1040;

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