June 20, 2007

Marriott International announced it has formed a partnership with hotel innovator Ian Schrager to create a new boutique brand that will combine Schrager's design experience with Marriott's operational expertise. Schrager stepped down as CEO of Morgans Hotel Group, the company he helped found, two years ago. Each hotel will have an average of 150 to 200 rooms, and New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Madrid, Singapore and Tokyo are among the initial target markets. The two partners expect to have five development deals signed by the end of the year and have 100 hotels open or in the pipeline by 2017. A name for the brand has yet to be determined.

Boyd Gaming broke ground yesterday on Echelon, a $4.8 billion mixed-use development to open in late 2010 on the Las Vegas Strip that will include nearly 5,000 guest rooms. Boyd also announced revised details about the resort, which will feature 107 meeting rooms for a total of 750,000 square feet of meeting space. The latest designs call for a 2,500-room Hotel Echelon, 650-room The Suites at Echelon, 353-room Shangri-La Las Vegas, a 860-room Mondrian hotel, and a 550-room Delano hotel, plus two theaters and extensive retail space.

Cunard Line has reached an agreement to sell the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner to a developer that plans to convert the 40-year-old ship into a floating luxury hotel in Dubai.  The QE2 will cease sailing in November 2008 and will be berthed at a specially constructed pier at the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai's man-made island.

The Irish meeting, incentive and destination management firm Ovation Group announced last week that it will merge with European meetings giant MCI Group. Ovation's meetings divisions in Ireland will operate under the new names of MCI Dublin and MCI Belfast, while all of MCI's destination management operations worldwide will be rebranded as Ovation International. MCI currently has 18 offices throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Trade show revenue during the first quarter of 2007 reached $2.9 billion, an increase of 5.3 percent compared with the first quarter of 2006, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research announced last week. Attendance rose 3.1 percent during the same period, while net square footage and number of exhibitors each increased less than one percent. CEIR president Doug Ducate said in a statement that he expects the growth trend to continue throughout the rest of the year.

According to a new report compiled by Smith Travel Research, 2006 was another record-breaking year for the U.S. hotel industry. Hotels generated $133.4 billion in total revenue, up 8.7 percent from 2005 figures, and total profit was $26.6 billion, an increase of 17.9 percent compared with 2005 -- both industry records. Among the report's statistics for 2006: average occupancy, 63.4 percent; average daily rate, $97.61, a 7.2 percent increase over 2005; revenue per available room, $61.88, a 7.7 percent increase over 2005. STR predicts that 2007 will mark the first year that the industry wide average daily rate breaks $100.