June 04, 2008

The 413-room Empire Hotel in New York City put the finishing touches on a $47 million renovation this week. Improvements include a new lobby bar on the ground floor, a redesign of all rooms and suites, and the addition of the 13th-floor pool deck with several cabanas, which will accommodate 150 guests. The hotel offers 2,100 square feet of  meeting space divisible into three separate rooms.

About $25 million will be spent to renovate the suites at the 1,338-room Caribe Royale Orlando All-Suites Hotel and Convention Center, and the 279-room Buena Vista Suites Hotel. Enhancements at both properties will include new soft goods, wall coverings, flooring and bathroom surfaces; 42-inch flat-screen TVs for the living rooms and 37-inch flat-screen TVs for the bedrooms, and new closets and safes. Both properties will start renovations in August; work at the Buena Vista will finish by the end of 2008 and at the Caribe Royale by May 2009.

InterContinental Hotels Group will open a second Hotel Indigo in San Antonio at the north end of the River Walk. The 149-suite property, opening in early 2009, is a conversion of a Hawthorn Suites. The hotel will have two small meeting rooms. Its sister property, the 91-room Hotel Indigo San Antonio, opens in the fall.

The 288-room Embassy Suites Philadelphia has completed a $10 million renovation, which included upgrades to guest rooms, the fitness center and the property's 4,000 square feet of meeting space. The Center City hotel also added a business center and redesigned a number of public spaces, including the lobby bar.

RockResorts terminated its marketing license and service agreements with the Lake Tahoe Development Co., which had been developing the Chateau at Heavenly Village, a hotel/convention center project in South Lake Tahoe. The developer recently put the project on hold due to financing issues. Plans had called for RockResorts to operate the property's condo-hotel.

The 120-room L'Auberge Del Mar, approximately 20 minutes north of San Diego, will reopen Friday following a $25 million propertywide renovation. New features include an open-air lobby; a pool deck; the Bleu Bar; a 2,000-square-foot outdoor terrace, and luxe amenities in guest rooms, such as custom-designed furniture, iPod docking stations and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Additionally, the hotel's 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space has been completely redesigned. A new signature restaurant is slated to open in September, followed by a new 4,500-square-foot spa in December.

The 76-room Fairmont Zimbali Lodge has opened in South Africa. The property, in a coastal forest reserve on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal, has three function rooms, a spa and a Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course. Next year, Fairmont will open the 157-room Fairmont Zimbali resort, which will have a signature Gary Player golf course, Willow Stream Spa and meeting facilities.

The 209-room Radisson Hotel Addis Ababa will open in EthiopiaÕs capital city in late 2009. The hotel will have a restaurant, meeting facilities and a fitness center.

The 103-room Capella Castlemartyr in County Cork, Ireland, will debut its Capel Suite, a 3,500-square-foot event space, this month. The resort property has four additional meeting rooms.

InterContinental Hotel Group announced this week that the first hotel to carry the new Holiday Inn sign, which is part of that chain's $1 billion introduction of the new logo, will be the 226-room Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Avenue, which opens June 12. By year-end, 1,000 of Holiday Inn's 3,200 hotels around the world will be rebranded, with the remaining properties done by 2010. IHG said the relaunch strategy, which included a remodeling of public spaces and new service standards, was aimed at giving Holiday Inns a more contemporary lifestyle image.

In an effort to gain an international presence and penetrate new markets, Loews Hotels has launched a new sales effort. The new international sales strategy will be supported by a dedicated website,, which features the chain's entire portfolio, rates through 2010, as well as downloadable high-resolution images. In addition, a new staff position, executive director of international wholesale accounts, has been created to support the reach into international markets.