July 04, 2007

On July 3, the board of directors of Hilton Hotels Corp. agreed to the acquisition of the company by The Blackstone Group for an estimated $26 billion. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter of this year. In a news release, Blackstone officials said no significant divestitures will result from the deal, and the company plans to invest in the Hilton properties and brands globally. The acquisition adds more than 2,800 Hilton properties to Blackstone's portfolio, which is made up of more than 100,000 hotel rooms, including LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels.

An agreement has been reached between the Associated Hotels & Motels of Greater New York, a group of 30 small properties, and their union workers. Represented by the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, the workers were able to secure a new six-year contract providing approximately 1,000 employees with a 22.5 percent raise over the length of the contract, an additional sick day and a new medical plan. The hotel group includes the 192-room Helmsley Middletowne Hotel.

The 357-room Hilton San Diego has completed a $13 million renovation to its guest rooms, public areas, pool and garden area. An additional $5 million is being spent on the property's 7,500-square-foot spa, which will feature nine treatment rooms, a fitness center and a private sundeck. The property also offers 34,000 square feet of meeting space, a bayside restaurant, five tennis courts and a private dock area.

The new 86-room Orchard Garden Hotel in downtown San Francisco has been awarded LEED Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The $25 million property is San Francisco's first hotel to earn the certification. Meeting space includes a 500-square-foot rooftop terrace and 500 square feet of outdoor function space.

Morgans Hotel Group will develop a Mondrian hotel in SoHo, Manhattan. The property is expected to have more than 270 rooms, as well as a restaurant, a bar, a ballroom, meeting rooms, a fitness center and a street-courtyard area to serve as the hotel's entryway.

On Sunday, a ban on smoking in public places in England went into effect. The measure includes pubs, restaurants, offices, factories and shopping malls, but allows smoking in designated hotel rooms. Similar bans already are in place in Wales and Scotland.

Carnival Cruise Lines will operate its first South America itineraries in 2009 on its newest ship, the 1,425-stateroom Carnival Splendor. The ship will sail three itineraries to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay beginning in January 2009.

Ground will be broken July 9 on a $14 million project at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale (Ariz.) at Troon North. New furnishings and soft goods will be installed in the 210 guest rooms, and they will receive a technology upgrade with wireless Internet access, flat-screen TVs and MP3 docking stations. The lobby, lobby lounge and Acacia steakhouse also will be upgraded.

The Fort Shelby Hotel, a once-opulent destination in downtown Detroit that has been mostly vacant for the last 35 years, will be reborn late next year as the $82 million, 204-room Fort Shelby Doubletree Suites. Two blocks from the Cobo Center, the hotel will include a conference center with 38,000 square feet of meeting space; developers will seek certification for the facility from the International Association of Conference Centers.