December 12, 2007

The Teton Springs Lodge & Spa in Victor, Idaho, which debuts Dec. 14, is the newest member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection. The lodge will open in two phases, starting with its 52 rooms and suites, on-site fishing, a wine and cafe bar, 2,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 5,000-square foot Teton Springs Lodge Spa. Phase two, to be completed next year, will feature 55 more rooms and bistro-style dining at the Headwaters Grille. The first-phase meeting space will be converted into a retail complex when the Headwaters Club and Conference Center opens next year with 3,000 square feet of meeting space. The Headwaters Golf Club already is open, offering a championship golf course designed by Byron Nelson, Steve Jones and Gary Stephenson, and a nine-hole executive golf course and practice facility.

The 448-room Hyatt Regency Austin will close from Dec. 22 through Jan. 3 to begin a $17 million renovation. The lobby will be demolished to make way for a new reception area with numerous check-in kiosks, and a new cafe will be available in the lobby by next summer. The business center will be moved closer to the conference areas, and a new 24-hour gym will be added. More than 400 of the rooms already have been remodeled; the rest will be completed soon. The property offers 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

Beginning next summer, the boutique Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, Ariz., will close for a $44 million remodeling that will add 14 rooms, for a total of 49, to be completed by fall 2009. The notable Lon's restaurant will remain open during the work. The property offers three meeting rooms and a wine cellar for intimate dinners.

The first NYLO Hotel opens Dec. 18 in Plano, Texas, with 176 loft-style rooms, including eight suites. Forty-five of the rooms are "pure" rooms for people with allergies. The Dallas-area property offers 1,800 square feet of meeting space and a 6,000-square-foot courtyard for events.

The Chef's Room formal restaurant at the 143-room Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas opened yesterday, joining The Restaurant, which opened in October. Both venues serve menus created by chef John Tesar. Seating 20, the new space features Revolta Italian linen, Raynaud china, Riedel Sommelier Series stemware and Ercuis silverware. The rooms, suites and public areas will undergo renovations beginning early next year. The luxury property offers 6,037 square feet of meeting space.

Opening Dec. 15 is the 200-room Vail Plaza Hotel & Club in the heart of Colorado's Vail Village. The property features a 7,000-square-foot conference center and the Sorrento Spa with five treatment rooms. The slopes are so close by, skiers can walk to the lifts.

The Hyatt Regency brand will return to Hong Kong in 2009. The New York Development Co. will open the 384-room Hyatt Regency Hong Kong with 7,000 square feet of meeting space in a mixed-use development overlooking Victoria Harbor. The previous Hyatt Regency closed in January 2006.

A 150-room Crowne Plaza will open at Fort Lauderdale International Airport in mid-2009. The property will offer a comprehensive meetings package including a two-hour response guarantee and a meetings director, as well as 6,000 square feet of meeting space and an outdoor sundeck available for events. Other amenities will include wireless Internet access, a pool, and fitness and business centers.
The 118-room Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa is the first Key West, Fla., hotel to be inducted into the Florida Green Lodging Program. The property recently underwent an $11 million renovation, installing reclaimed wood for decking; implementing recycling programs; installing low-flow faucets, toilets and showerheads; and purchasing 5 percent of its energy from "green" sources. 

The 151-room Hyatt Place Orlando/Universal opened last Wednesday. The hotel offers one meeting room, free wireless Internet access and a free shuttle to Universal Studios Orlando.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will build a 308-room Aloft hotel in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Construction on the property, which will be within the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, is scheduled to begin next year and be completed toward the end of 2009.

After decades with no hotel development on Bermuda, Scout Real Estate Capital, with political support from the island's premier, Dr. the Honorable Ewart F. Brown, has launched an initiative to build a 150-room, five-star property called the Southampton Beach Resort, on the site of the existing Wyndham, which is being demolished. The hotel, set to open in 2010, will have a spa, a gym, restaurants, shops and more.

Hyatt will manage a new 500-room hotel being built next to Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Ground will be broken on the project in 2008 and the property will open in 2010. The project will include office and retail space, as well as convention facilities. The Hyatt Regency Toronto Airport is the final element in the airport's $4.4 billion redevelopment.

The Indian Hotels Co., owner of Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, recently sent a 13D filing -- an SEC requirement when a group acquires more than 5 percent of any class of a company's stock -- to Orient-Express Hotels, advising its executives that the Indian hotel company now own more than 11 percent of Orient-Express stock. IHC included an earlier letter to Orient-Express' president and CEO, Paul White, proposing a business collaboration between the two hotel companies, an offer Orient rejected several months ago. In a sternly worded response dated Dec. 10, 2007, White responded by outlining precisely why Orient-Express still is not interested in overtures from IHC. In part, White wrote, "We do not believe that there is a strategic fit between your predominantly domestic Indian hotel chain and our global portfolio of luxury hotels and unique travel experiences, and we do not wish to be involved in an attempt to improve the performance of your non-Indian properties. We believe that any association of our luxury brands and properties with your brands and properties would result in a reduction in the value of our brands and our business and would likely lead to erosion in the RevPar premiums currently achieved by our properties."

Capella Hotels and Resorts, the new luxury brand led by CEO Horst Schulze, will open the 59-suite Capella Ixtapa next summer. Together with developers Promotora Turistica Punta Arrecife, Capella is designing the Mexican Pacific Coast property as a secluded hideaway, with a private entrance into a hillside-village setting. On-site amenities will include a 6,000-square-foot indoor spa with various outdoor treatment facilities, three restaurants and two bars. Each suite will feature an ocean view, private terrace and plunge pool. Capella Ixtapa, 140 miles northwest of Acapulco, is the third Mexican Capella property to be announced. Capella Pedregal is slated for a 2008 opening in Cabo San Lucas, and Capella Bahia Maroma will debut in the Riviera Maya next winter.
MTR Gaming Group expects its sale of Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in Las Vegas to be approved in February. MTR announced in June its intention to sell the property to TLC Casino Enterprises, but approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission still is needed. MTR intends to concentrate on its core properties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the company. Full-scale casino operations are slated to debut on Dec. 20 at MTR's 359-room Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Chester, W.Va. That property offers 27,900 square feet of meeting space.

Construction has begun on the Riu Palace Pacifico, a 484-suite hotel slated to open in October 2008 just outside Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The all-inclusive beachfront property will be Riu Hotels & Resorts' third in the Vallarta region and the first Riu Palace, its most upscale brand.