May 21, 2008

The resort casino being built as part of the CityCenter development in Las Vegas (a joint venture between MGM Mirage and Dubai World) will be named Aria. Opening in late 2009, the 4,004-room Aria Resort & Casino will feature two curving glass towers and incorporate natural elements such as lush foliage, wood and stone. The spa will be enormous, with 62 treatment rooms; the casino will span 150,000 square feet, and the 300,000 square feet of meeting and convention space will include four ballrooms.

The Dallas City Council voted 11-2 last week to spend $42 million on land for a convention center hotel. The council also has authorized the city manager to negotiate with hotel developers and operators for the construction and management of a 1,200-room property that will be owned by the city. A spokesperson for the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau added, depending on developer recommendations, the project might need just four or five acres of the eight-acre site, allowing for some ancillary development. The hotel likely will open in 2012.

Orange County (Fla.) commissioners have started planning a $1 billion entertainment district to be connected to the Orange County Convention Center. According to a local news report, the district would be at the north side of the center and include shopping, dining and luxury hotels. The area, to be completed by 2011, will be connected to the convention center via pedestrian bridges. A spokesperson for the OCCC said a planning committee of local hotel owners and convention center officials will finalize a plan to be presented to county commissioners for approval in August or September.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives concluded its global education conference last night in Washington, D.C. A record 1,300 people attended from 33 countries, 35 percent of whom were corporate travel buyers. Among key announcements, the association unveiled the beta version of ACTE Connect, which will serve as a clearinghouse of industry white papers and educational material from many sectors of the business travel and meetings markets. The site, which is free and accessible to anyone viaæ, debuted with 480 papers available, all vetted to eliminate promotional or commercial content, according to ACTE president Richard Crum.

The 551-room Omni Parker House in Boston has completed a $30 million renovation, which upgraded the meeting room d}cor and added a new 24-hour fitness center. All the guest rooms have been refurbished with new amenities, soft goods and furniture. The historical property, which opened in 1855, has 18 meeting rooms totaling 23,000 square feet, including a 3,500-square-foot rooftop ballroom.

A natural gas explosion Monday at the 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, which is under construction next to the convention center, injured 14 construction workers and damaged four floors of the structure's lower level. The convention center property was on track for a Dec. 3 opening; a statement from the builder said the incident will not affect that schedule. The cause of the explosion has not yet been confirmed by the San Diego Fire Department, and the extent of damages to the structure still are being assessed.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii, managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, will close June 1 for seven months to undergo a $110 million renovation. Changes to the property will include the addition of swimming pools and spa suites, and the renovation of the lobby and guest rooms. Hotel management intends to relocate meetings scheduled during the closure to other Starwood properties on the island. The property has 12,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 66,000 square feet of outdoor event space.