May 02, 2007

The Limosa program, a Belgian law that went into effect April 1 requiring nonresident business travelers who plan to stay in the country five consecutive days to register with the Belgian government, is causing confusion in the meeting and business travel industries. According to the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, the program, designed to reduce illegal employment in Belgium, requires corporations to declare the nature of an individual's business in the country, the origin of the business and personal information including the person's home address and a Social Security number. Companies that don't comply might face stiff fines. A spokesperson at the Belgium Tourist Office in New York said the organization was still investigating whether Limosa affected meetings or incentives and was awaiting clarification from the Belgian government.

Unionized hotel workers in Boston last week approved new contracts at four Starwood Hotels & Resorts properties -- the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, the Sheraton Boston, the Westin Boston Waterfront and the Westin Copley Place -- ending the threat of a strike. Fifteen other union hotels in Boston had signed "me-too" agreements and now are expected to ink new deals with their employees using the terms negotiated by Starwood. UNITE HERE Local 26 represents approximately 5,000 hotel workers in Boston. The new contract, retroactive to last December, will expire on Feb. 28, 2013. Wages will increase an average of $3.26 an hour, or 20 percent, for union workers over the life of the contract, and benefits will increase by an average of 35 percent.

Las Vegas hosted 45 of the largest 200 trade shows in North America in 2006, again topping the Tradeshow Week 200 list, an annual ranking. Orlando ranked second, edging out Chicago for the second straight year. International CES, the annual trade show of the Consumer Electronics Association, was the largest show held in 2006, based on net square footage. Overall, the trade-show industry's growth slowed slightly in 2006 compared with 2005. Net square footage increased approximately 2 percent in 2006 and attendance was up 3 percent, whereas both metrics grew by more than 3 percent in 2005. Nielsen Business Media handled 11 of the top 200 shows, the most of any management company. Freeman was the most popular general-service contractor, working with half of the top 200 shows.

Solid plans finally have been announced for a Four Seasons hotel in Denver, after months of speculation. The 230-room Four Seasons Hotel Denver will occupy the bottom 16 floors of a 45-story Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences. The property, to open in early 2009 two blocks from the Colorado Convention Center, will offer a restaurant, a fitness center, a full-service spa, a rooftop pool and about 16,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Loews Miami Beach Hotel has completed a $21 million capital improvement project with the opening of its new 18,000-square-foot Elemis Spa. Enhancements to the 790 guest rooms, the lobby, Preston's Restaurant, the Hemisphere Lounge and approximately 65,000 square feet of meeting space also were part of the yearlong upgrade.

The 166-room St. Regis Resort, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.), officially opened for business yesterday. Offering more than 24,000 square feet of meeting space, the resort also features a 29,000-square-foot pool deck that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, a wine room with a 5,000-bottle collection, and an 8,500-square-foot spa with 10 treatment rooms.

Steven Paganelli will leave his position as president and CEO of the Greater New Haven (Conn.) Convention and Visitors Bureau on May 18 to become vice president of DMO (destination marketing organization) sales for TIG Global, an interactive marketing company for the hospitality industry. Ginny Kozlowski, vice president and COO of the New Haven bureau, will serve as interim president at least until June, at which time the CVB's board could choose to make her appointment permanent or begin searching for a replacement, Paganelli said.