September 26, 2007

Construction has begun on an expansion to the 745-room Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa in Anaheim, Calif. Upon completion in late 2009, the property will feature 200 additional guest rooms for a total of 945, 50 Disney Vacation Club villas and a new swimming pool.

The 337-room Coeur d'Alene (Idaho) Golf & Spa Resort and the 398-room Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica, are the newest members of Associated Luxury Hotels International. The Coeur d'Alene offers 24,000 square feet of meeting space, a newly renovated 30,000-square-foot spa and a top-rated resort golf course. Half moon has 26,000 square feet of meeting space, a two-mile private beach, 51 swimming pools, an equestrian center and a golf course.

A new Embassy Suites is planned near Discovery Green, a new downtown park in Houston. Construction is scheduled to begin on the 250-room hotel next summer, aiming for an opening in the beginning of 2010. The property will have 6,000 square feet of meeting space. The deal still is subject to final franchise approval from Hilton Hotels Corp.

Now open is the 119-room Embassy Suites Tucson-Paloma Village in Arizona. Part of a mixed-use development that features a steak house, retailers, art galleries and more, the property is close to the University of Arizona, Sabino Canyon and Catalina State Park. The hotel offers 5,400 square feet of meeting space.

InterContinental Hotels Group will begin building a 100-room Hotel Indigo in downtown Asheville, N.C., in the first quarter of 2008. The 100-room property will feature elements such as murals, artwork, duvet covers, rugs and more that will be changed seasonally. The hotel, scheduled to open in the summer of 2009, will have 465 square feet of meeting space.

In Morrisville, N.C., adjacent to Raleigh-Durham International Airport, ground was broken last week on a 103-room, all-suite Cambria Suites. The property, which opens in May 2008, will offer more than 1,000 square feet for meetings.

Wichita LodgeWorks is launching a new boutique brand, Avia, and upgrading its Sierra Suites chain. The company, which owns eight Sierra Suites, plans to take the brand upscale, rename it Hotel Sierra and add another eight properties by 2009. New touches will include upscale food and beverage options, a coffee bar, high-tech amenities and a complimentary social hour every evening. The Avia brand will feature upscale hotels with around 150 rooms each, located in niche markets such as Napa and Long Beach, Calif.; Houston; and Savannah, Ga. Ground will be broken on the first Avia this month in Savannah; the hotel is scheduled to open in December 2008.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group will manage a new hotel in Milan, Italy. The 104-room Mandarin Oriental Milan will be housed in three renovated 19th-century buildings and will feature a 100-seat ballroom, two meeting rooms, a full-service spa and fitness center. The property is scheduled to open in 2010.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will open the 235-room Fairmont Beijing next summer. The property will feature a Willow Stream Spa, restaurants and bars, and an undisclosed amount of meeting space. Fairmont recently announced plans for additional hotel projects in Shanghai and Macau.

The 293-room Brown Hotel in Lexington, Ky., will add 5,000 square feet of meeting space, to be completed in December, bringing the total meeting space to 21,000 square feet. The addition will be on the first floor of the hotel and will include a 2,600-square-foot conference room.
The Bentley Beach Hotel in Miami, will be converted to the Hilton Bentley South Beach Hotel. The 107-room property offers 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 1,000-room Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando has launched an $8.5 million room renovation. The rooms will get new bedding, carpeting, wall coverings and flat-screen televisions. Wireless Internet access will be added by the end of the year.

Grupo Posadas has opened the 208-room Fiesta Americana Grand Guadalajara (Mexico) Country Club. The new property is in Colonia Providencia, a modern corporate and residential district in the northwest of the city. The hotel accommodates meetings for up to 420 people and offers a contemporary Mexican restaurant and a 19th-floor lounge.