Plans for an 800-room Marriott hotel and a 200-room JW Marriot
in Austin, Texas, have been revised. The project now will include
just a 1,000-room Marriott convention center hotel. This is the
second time the parameters have been revised; the original plan
called for a 650-room Marriott, a 200-room Renaissance and a
150-room Springhill Suites. The Marriott will open in 2010.
In light of the political unrest that followed the Dec. 27
elections in Kenya, Fairmont Hotels Resorts will rebook all guests
(including meetings) or waive cancellation fees at its three Kenya
properties through Jan. 31. According to a spokesperson for the
chain, the policy will be revisited in February, before further
actions or extensions are announced. Of the three properties -- the
50-tent Fairmont Mara Safari Club, the 120-room Fairmont Mount
Kenya Safari Club and the 168-room Fairmont The Norfolk -- only the
latter, a business hotel in Nairobi, had been affected by
cancellations at press time. A travel warning to the country issued
by the U.S. Department of State expires Jan. 31.
With the North American International Auto Show set to welcome
the public in Detroit on Saturday, plans to expand the city's Cobo
Center have resurfaced. The latest proposal, floated by Wayne
County executive Robert Ficano, would add more than 100,000 square
feet of exhibit space to the convention center's existing 700,000
square feet; the project would be financed by extending the city's
hotel tax, which would otherwise expire. Ficano also proposes
creating a regional authority that would run the center, wresting
it from city control. Jim Townsend, executive director of the
Tourism Economic Development Council for the Detroit Metro
Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates the expansion would cost
approximately $400 million, and is primarily intended to keep the
auto show from seeking a new home. The auto show brings about $500
million in annual economic impact each year.
The 745-room Disney's Grand Californian Hotel Spa at the
Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., will add 200 new hotel rooms
and 50 two-bedroom vacation villas. The expansion also will include
a rooftop deck, a new swimming pool and a 300-unit parking garage.
The hotel currently offers a 20,000-square-foot convention center.
Completion is expected in 2009.
The 463-room Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, in Maui, Hawaii, has
reopened following a $160 million renovation and redesign. All
guest rooms now feature hardwood floors, new furnishings, LCD TVs,
iPod docking stations and wireless Internet access. Additional
amenities include a new 10,000-square-foot pool with enlarged
cabanas, a 24-hour fitness center and 14,700 square feet of
refurbished meeting space. A 17,500-square-foot spa will open in
The U.S. Department of State announced that U.S. citizens can
begin applying for the new U.S. passport card on Feb. 1 through
authorized passport centers. The card, which will have an RFID chip
for scanning, will be valid for land or sea travel between the U.S.
and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. For air travel
between the U.S. and those locations or anywhere else, a passport
booklet still will be required. The card is designed primarily for
border-area residents as a less expensive, more portable
alternative to a passport, and supports the travel requirements
necessitated by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The cards
will cost $45 for adults without a passport and $35 for children.
The passport cards will be good for 10 years for adults and five
years for children 15 and under. No information will be written to
the chip beyond a unique ID number that corresponds to a secure
MGM Mirage has filed for a coastal permit, as required by New
Jersey's Coastal Area Facility Review Act, for the MGM Grand
Atlantic City resort project. The $5 billion resort would be built
on part of 72 acres next to the Borgata Hotel Casino Spa and
consist of three towers totaling 3,000 rooms, 500,000 square feet
of retail space, the largest casino floor in Atlantic City, a spa
and a convention center. Pending approval of this and other
permits, MGM Mirage intends to begin construction this year and
open the facility in 2012.