August 29, 2007

InterContinental Hotels Group announced this week that it has adopted technology provider Passkey to provide automated group reservation capabilities for meeting planners. According to IHG, the service, which allows planners to make and manage their group's reservations, as well as track their block pickup, will be implemented during 2008 throughout its InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Crowne Plaza brands, as well as at some Holiday Inn hotels in the United States and Canada.

The 114-year-old Fairmont New Orleans, still closed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has been purchased by a four-group joint venture headed by Dimension Development Co. for $17 million and will be reopened as a Waldorf=Astoria, the luxury hotel brand owned by the Hilton Hotel Corp. The prospective opening date for the hotel is February 2009.

The Grosvenor Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando will become the Regal Sun Resort on Sept. 1. The property has begun a $25 million renovation that will remodel all 626 guest rooms and 19,000 square feet of meeting space. New additions include a restaurant, a Bermuda-themed lobby and bar, an expanded pool area and a children's recreation zone. Renovations to the guest rooms and meeting space will be completed by mid-September, and enhancements to the pool will be done in November.

The 210-suite Embassy Suites Montreal, the hotel chain's first property in the city and second in Canada, has opened directly across from the Palais des Congrès de Montreal, the city's convention center. Among the hotel's features are 3,300 square feet of meeting space, a 24-hour complimentary business center and a nightly two-hour manager's reception.

The 738-room Hilton Caracas in Venezuela will no longer operate under Hilton's name or management after this month. According to the Hilton Hotels Corp., the Centro Simon Bolivar, the property's owner, has decided to terminate the lease contract. Beginning Sept. 1, the hotel will be managed by Desarrollos Gran Caracas, C.A. The decision to end the lease "was made solely by the property's ownership group," according to a statement released by Hilton.

The Radisson Edwardian Canary Wharf in East London will open Sept. 10. The property has 169 guest rooms, 17 suites, seven meeting rooms, a business center, a health club, a spa with six treatment rooms, a restaurant, a bar and an outdoor café.

Beginning next month, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts will manage Paramount Hotel's 20 properties in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland and Wales). This is Barcelo's first move into the U.K. hotel market.

The buildings that comprise the historic Chicago Athletic Association, across from Millennium Park, have been purchased for $31 million and will be transformed into a $125 million Omni hotel with approximately 300 rooms, according to Songy Partners, one of the project's developers. The property, on the corner of Madison Street and South Michigan Avenue, will likely contain between 16,000 and 18,000 square feet of meeting space, a spokesperson for Songy said.