April 25, 2007

There is no end in sight for the hotel boom in Asia, according to research released last week by Lodging Econometrics. Nearly 140,000 hotel rooms are expected to open there by the end of 2008. At the moment, 962 hotel projects are in the pipeline, representing nearly 260,000 new guest rooms, two-thirds of which are being built in China. India has 181 hotels in the pipeline, the most of any Asian country other than China. Of all Western hotel chains, InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are investing the most in Asia, in terms of the number of properties in development.

American Real Estate Properties Corp., a subsidiary of Carl Icahn's American Real Estate Partners, is selling several gaming properties, including the 2,444-room Stratosphere Las Vegas, to an affiliate of Goldman Sachs for $1.3 billion. The sale includes 17 acres of prime real estate surrounding the Stratosphere at the top of the Las Vegas Strip, fueling speculation that yet another major development will be announced for the gaming mecca.

The John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston will undergo an $18 million renovation. Plans call for an upgrade to the center's technology infrastructure, as well as the addition of more efficient lighting, air and water systems. Plans also call for the conversion of 30,000 square feet of empty corridors and office space into retail and restaurant outlets. Massachusetts Convention Center Authority officials hope the new shops and dining options will generate enough revenue to allow the center to break even on operations costs or turn a profit within five years. Just last December, a special legislative commission in Boston determined that the Hynes should remain open and is economically viable alongside the newer, larger Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Vienna, Paris and Singapore were the top cities for international association gatherings in 2006, hosting 147, 130 and 127 meetings, respectively, according to the International Congress & Convention Association. The United States (414 meetings) and Germany (334) were the top countries for the third straight year. Boston, the 44th-ranked city overall, was the top U.S. city for international association meetings, hosting 27 events, and the only U.S. city in the top 50. Brazil became the first South American nation to be represented on the country list, grabbing seventh place. Prague, Copenhagen and Lisbon all appeared in the top 10 cities list for the first time. ICCA reported that 5,838 international association meetings were held in 2006, an increase of nearly 10 percent over 2005 figures. To view the complete lists, visit www.iccaworld.com.

The Leading Hotels of the World has launched the Leading Green Initiative, a carbon-neutral program through Sustainable Travel International that directly offsets the costs of guests' energy consumption at its 440 hotels. LHW will make a 50-cent donation through STI for every night of a guest's stay, when the reservation at a member hotel is made through www.lhgreen.com, or when the guest mentions "Leading Green" when reserving a room by phone. According to Paul M. McManus, president and CEO of LHW, "The investment per guest represents 29.3 kilowatt-hours of electricity supplied by new wind and solar power, which equates to 33.7 pounds of greenhouse gas emission reductions."

The Sheraton Waikiki has completed its $55 million guest-room renovation, which outfitted all of its 1,481 rooms with new furnishings, beds, 32-inch LCD flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet access and electronic safes large enough to store a laptop. The hotel includes a 26,000-square-foot ballroom and breakout space for groups of 10 to 2,500.