July 02, 2008

Hilton Hotels Corp. will add another 300 hotels in Asia over the next 10 years. Within the next five years, 75 properties will be opened in the major cities of India, a new destination for the company, with an emphasis on its Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hilton Hotels brands. Also in the plans are another 18 high-end hotels in China, expanding the Waldorf=Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts luxury brands. Hilton currently operates 47 hotels in Asia.

A $200 million Waldorf=Astoria development has been announced for Montreal. The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel & Residences Montreal, on which ground already has been broken, will include 250 guest rooms, 76 private residences, a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, meeting rooms, restaurants and a full-service luxury spa. The property will open in 2011.

In a rare mid-year adjustment, the Internal Revenue Service, which usually sets mileage reimbursement rates in fall, has increased the rate business travelers can claim by eight cents, to 58.5 cents per mile, effective yesterday.

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International is now being run under the auspices of Coulter Nonprofit Management, an association management firm based in McLean, Va. Previously, the Association Management Group, also in McLean, provided administrative support for HSMAI. Robert Gilbert, president and CEO of HSMAI, said his staff remains the same and the only recognizable difference under Coulter is the association's street address. Also, beginning in 2009, the association no longer will outsource the running of its three Affordable Meetings conventions, which had been managed by George Little Management. GLM terminated its contract for the shows two weeks ago, citing "current market conditions." Gilbert said the association had been preparing to take control of its shows for some time, and new staff members will be hired to handle the planning and execution of the meetings. The next Affordable Meetings show will be held Sept. 10-11, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., and will feature the inaugural Event Technology Expo, a show-within-a-show focusing on all aspects of technology for planners.

Wal-Mart has decided to move its 2009 convention from Kansas City, Mo., to Orlando, citing a lack of hotel rooms near the Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Facilities. The annual corporate meeting for about 8,000 people had been held in Kansas City since 1997 and consistently was one of the city's largest meetings. The switch will cost Kansas City an estimated $8 million, according to the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association. Earlier this year, SkillsUSA, an organization of career and technical education students, said it would relocate its National Leadership and Skills Conference from Kansas City to Louisville, Ky., beginning in 2015, for similar reasons.

ExCeL London, the British capital's largest exhibition facility, will get an additional 378,000-square-foot of event space by April 2010. The project was launched by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions, which purchased the facility from a Malaysian business consortium in early June. The new section will include a 5,000-seat arena. When completed, ExCeL will offer more than 1 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

Expedia Corporate Travel is changing its name to Egencia, an Expedia Inc. Company. The new name comes from a European travel management company acquired by Expedia in 2004. In other news, Expedia's Canadian wing, now known as Egencia Canada, has agreed to acquire Synergi Global Travel Management, an Ontario-based TMC, to expand the company's Canadian presence.

A $1 billion racetrack, casino and hotel development planned for New York state's Catskills region is on track for a 2011 opening, thanks to an agreement between New York Gov. David Patterson and the state's legislature to lower tax rate revenues on video lottery terminals at the raceway. Empire Resorts will invest $1 billion in the resort in exchange for putting $38 million a year toward state education and the creation of 2,000 jobs. Demolition of the site, formerly occupied by the Concord Hotel, already has begun, and the legislature dictates that the development must be completed by Jan. 31, 2011. Revised plans for the development include a 750-room hotel and convention center; a 7,500-seat events center; 3,000 video-gaming machines; a boutique hotel and spa; at least 15 food-and-beverage options; a new harness race track, and two golf courses.

The 800-room Water Club, A Signature Hotel by Borgata, opened in Atlantic City last Friday. The 43-story, $400 million development offers no gaming options, but is attached to its sister property, the 2,000-room Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Notable features at The Water Club include the two-story, 36,000-square-foot Element Spa; 18,000 square feet of meeting space; a collection of upscale boutiques; the Sunroom lobby lounge, and five pools. All guest rooms offer 40-inch TVs, iHome stereo systems and L'Occitane bath products. Though the property lacks a restaurant, in-room dining is overseen by Geoffrey Zakarian, owner and chef of Town and Country in Manhattan.