May 09, 2007

The 235-room Raffles Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland, has been rebranded as the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. The Lake Geneva resort features five restaurants, two bars, a Willow Stream Spa, a fitness center and 12 meeting rooms.

The 215-room Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa will undergo a $30 million renovation. Detailed plans for the refurbishment have not yet been revealed.

Hyatt Place continues its aggressive expansion policy with four ground-breaking ceremonies for new-build properties in key destinations. The 127-room Hyatt Place, Jacksonville, Fla.; the 127-room Hyatt Place, Reno, Nev.; the 117-room Hyatt Place, South Bend/Mishawaka, Ind.; and the 115-room Hyatt Place, Chesapeake, Va., all are slated to open in spring 2008. There are 120 Hyatt Place hotels scheduled to open by the end of this year.

The 214-room Westin Minneapolis opened last Thursday in the historic Farmers & Mechanics Bank building downtown. The hotel has seven meeting rooms and four boardrooms, totaling more than 7,800 square feet, and is connected to the city's seven-mile skywalk system that runs through most of downtown, including the Minneapolis Convention Center.

A Shangri-La hotel might be on the way for New York City. The Slatin Report, a digital newsletter covering commercial real estate, reported that a 207-room Shangri-La will be constructed as part of a mixed-use development at Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street in midtown Manhattan. A spokesperson for Shangri-La declined to comment, saying: "We do not have anything to announce at this time."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans last week to revitalize the Willets Point peninsula in the borough of Queens with a mixed-use development that could include a convention center and hotel. The area beyond Shea Stadium and the USTA National Tennis Center would receive 5,500 residential units and 1 million square feet of retail space, plus parks, playgrounds and a cultural center in addition to "a state-of-the-art convention center and hotel," according to the mayor's master plan. If the project moves forward, completion would be years away. A statement from the mayor's office said land acquisition could begin next year, with environmental remediation to follow in 2010.

The bulk of a $25 million renovation is now complete at the 287-room Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, including guest room upgrades and the addition of a conference center with a 10,160-square-foot ballroom and 6,700 square feet of prefunction space. The final component of the project is a remodeling of The Spa at Rancho Bernardo, which should wrap up in late June or early July.

JHM Hotels has opened the rebranded, 340-room Charleston Marriott in Charleston, S.C., upon completion of a multimillion-dollar renovation to all guest rooms, public spaces, restaurant and lounge. The 14-story property, which used to be a Courtyard by Marriott, includes more than 14,000 square feet of conference space, including nine meeting rooms and a rooftop lounge that offers expansive views of the Ashley River.

The Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel has been acquired by Interstate Hotels & Resorts from affiliates of the Blackstone Group for $74 million. Interstate plans to spend $18 million to renovate the property's guest rooms and common areas. The 495-room hotel features a full-service restaurant, a lounge, an indoor/outdoor pool and 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

Embassy Suites plans to open its first hotel in Quebec this July. The 210-room property, across from the Palais de Congres de Montreal Convention Center, will feature two-room suites with two televisions, high-speed Internet access and a wet bar.