June 25, 2008

According to a report released by Smith Travel Research, the average occupancy at hotels in the United States was at 63.3 percent in May, a decline of 2.5 percent over May 2007. The average daily rate, however, climbed 3.7 percent over May 2007 to $106.95.

Renovations are complete at the 248-room Doubletree Hotel Denver-Southeast in Aurora, Colo. About $6 million was spent to redo the guest rooms, meeting space, dining outlets and recreation facilities. The rooms now have Sweet Dreams by Doubletree beds, wireless Internet access, MP3-compatible clock radios and in-room coffee from Wolfgang Puck. Technology offerings in the 4,000-square-foot ballroom also have been upgraded. The property offers 14,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 334-room Crowne Plaza Houston North-Greenspoint has unveiled its completed renovations. The property now features the Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage program, adding new bedding to all rooms, plus drape clips, night-lights, sleep CDs, eye masks, ear plugs and lavender spray. Also, the guest-room desks now have built-in charging stations. Elsewhere in the hotel, the business center has been enlarged and wireless Internet access has been installed throughout. Also receiving an upgrade were the lobby and the 17,500 square feet of meeting space.

A grand opening was held last week for the 94-room Costa d'Este Beach Resort in Vero Beach, Fla., a Gloria and Emilio Estefan Personal Luxury Resort. The property includes a Cuban-fusion restaurant called Oriente, a pool, a spa, a fitness center and 1,170 square feet of function space.

The Lexington hotel at Orlando CityPlace will be converted to the 227-room Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown next month. The hotel, near the Amway Arena and the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, offers 6,500 square feet of meeting space, business and fitness centers, and a restaurant. Guest rooms will receive new bedding and soft goods.

The 169-suite Embassy Suites Anchorage has opened in Alaska, the state's first outpost of the all-suite brand. The restaurant, called Pi Kitchen + Bar, serves contemporary Alaskan fare. The property, two miles from Ted Stevens International Airport and downtown Anchorage, offers 6,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center, an indoor pool and a Precor fitness center, among other amenities.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has opened its first Aloft hotel in the United States, in Southern California's Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga. The 136-room property, approximately two miles from the Ontario Convention Center and Ontario International Airport, features signature Aloft amenities, such as the xyz bar, the re:mix lobby area, the re:charge fitness center, a 24-hour cafe called re:fuel, and splash, an outdoor pool. Rooms offer wireless Internet access, iPod and PDA hookups, and flat-screen HDTVs. A 504-square-foot meeting area dubbed Tactic is available for 12-person board meetings.

The 160-room Hollywood Holiday Inn will become the Hollywood Heights Hotel next week, following the completion of renovations to all guest rooms and public spaces. This fall, work will begin on improvements to the hotel's restaurant. The property has two meeting rooms that accommodate 63 people each.

The 364-room Wyndham Princeton Forrestal Hotel and Conference Center will unveil a $7 million renovation tomorrow. The former Merrill Lynch Conference Center now offers 49 meeting rooms, 47,000 square feet of function space and a 400-seat amphitheater. The property is in a wooded area in Plainsboro, N.J., just outside of Princeton and midway between New York City and Philadelphia.
Homewood Suites by Hilton has launched the Suite Selection Tool. Using the web-based program, prospective hotel guests can see floor plans and images of different suites and their rates before booking. Members of Hilton HHonors, the chain's loyalty program, also can check in online at the site up to 36 hours before arrival, at which point they can book a specific suite in the hotel.