May 14, 2008

Alec Sanguinetti, director general and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Association, said last week that "the recent downturn in the U.S. economy is not impacting interest in the Caribbean." He was speaking at the 12th annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference, a joint venture of the hotel association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization, held May 6-8 at the new 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain. The goals of the conference were to attract tourism investment to the region and publicize development opportunities. More than 520 delegates attended, a 30 percent increase compared with last year's numbers. Other speakers included Jan Freitag, vice president of global development for Smith Travel Research, and the Honorable Patrick Manning, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Construction has begun on a W hotel in Austin, Texas. The W Austin Hotel & Residences will open in early 2011 with 252 guest rooms, 9,300 square feet of meeting space, an 8,000-square-foot spa, several restaurants and lounges, and about 165 residences. The property is part of a $295 million mixed-use development that will include a 2,480-seat theater and music venue, which will be the new home of PBS's long-running concert series, Austin City Limits.

The Ritz-Carlton, Denver, opened its 6,800-square-foot spa on Thursday. The facility offers eight treatment rooms, including a VIP suite, and separate ladies' and men's whirlpools and relaxation lounges. The downtown property has 202 rooms and 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

A 142-room Hotel Indigo will open in spring 2009 in College Park, Ga., next to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and one mile from the Georgia International Convention Center. The hotel will offer a restaurant, a business center, a pool and 1,500 square feet of meeting space.
Hilton is planning to build two new hotels near the Pittsburgh Airport, to open in autumn 2010, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A 128-room Hilton Garden Suites and a 101-room Homewood Suites are both slated for a 22-acre complex called Scott Station.

Hilton Cartagena unveiled a US$5 million, 53-room executive tower. The Colombian property now offers 341 rooms overall. The new tower, which features seven suites and an executive lounge, is in the property's north wing, adjacent to the convention center. The hotel opened a new spa at the end of last year.

Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts announced plans to build a 140-room and 132-residence Nikki Beach Hotel in Saraya Aqaba, Jordan, to open in 2009. The resort, along the Gulf of Aqaba's beachfront, will have restaurants, shops, a pool, a spa and fitness center, and a business center. The hotel will have an undetermined amount of meeting space.