July 11, 2007

The search committee looking for a new president and CEO for the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau has chosen Jorge Pesquera, president and COO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association, as the front-runner for the position. The search committee will reconvene today to discuss details of the potential hire, and on Thursday the CVB board will discuss final approval of the appointment. The new CEO will replace acting president Jim Stuber, who took over when former CEO Warren "Mac" McLaughlin took early retirement last November during a $1.6 million embezzlement investigation involving one of his employees.

Gaylord Entertainment no longer will serve as the main developer of the Chula Vista Bayfront project, a property in San Diego county that would have featured a 400,000-square-foot convention center and a hotel with between 1,500 and 2,000 rooms. The company cites the "unwavering, unreasonable demands" of the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council as the reason Gaylord pulled out of the project. According to Gaylord, the Trades Council insisted on limiting construction bidding to union contractors and subcontractors, which would add between $50 million and $75 million to the project and cause excessive delays.

Nearly two years after its scheduled debut was aborted by Hurricane Katrina, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, now is open. The $235 million lodging and entertainment destination offers 318 rooms, more than 1,400 slot machines, a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, an Aveda Concept Spa & Salon, and the Rise nightclub. A spokesperson for the property said meeting space at the hotel will be unveiled "soon."

The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association and the Fort Worth (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau have announced a convention sales partnership. The two cities will share two sales managers who will represent both Baltimore and Fort Worth. Ann Garvey, who is based in Maryland, already is on board and focuses on East Coast clients as well as pharmaceutical and corporate business. A search is under way for the second manager, who will focus on corporate and incentive business in the greater Midwest region.

Incisive Media, a U.K.-based publishing, events and business consulting firm, agreed last week to acquire ALM, one of the largest producers of business and legal conferences in North America, for $630 million. ALM's conference and trade show division produces 275 events annually and publishes magazines and newspapers for the legal and real estate industries. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.