April 25, 2007

The 632-room Swissotel Chicago will expand its meeting and event space to nearly 50,000 square feet by mid-2009. The price tag of the expansion, along with renovations to the hotel's guest rooms, is estimated at $47 million. The largest meeting space in the refurbished hotel will be a 15,000-square-foot ballroom.

RockResorts international has been chosen to operate the 92-room Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo. The agreement is contingent on the closing of the purchase of the property by Elysian Worldwide and Lodging Capital Partners, which is expected within 45 days. For groups, the Hotel Jerome offers 7,500 square feet of function space, including the only above-ground ballroom in Aspen.

Ground will be broken Tuesday on a $45 million renovation at the 453-room Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort & Spa. During the project, the lobby will be relocated and the rooms will be upgraded with carpets, drapes, upholstery and flat-panel televisions. In addition, the ballroom will be expanded to 20,000 square feet, bringing the total meeting space to about 45,000 square feet. Four of the property's dining outlets -- Chaparral and Navajo restaurants, Rita's Lounge and the Kokopelli Cafe -- will be closed during construction, which will finish up next March. A fifth dining spot, BLT Steak, will open at that time.

John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts will build a 250-room Marriott hotel in downtown Boise, Idaho. The property will be connected to a new 130,000-square-foot exhibition center planned for the city, which Hammons also will build. The new facilities will be within walking distance of the existing Boise Centre on the Grove, which offers a 350-seat auditorium and several meeting rooms. Construction could begin as early as next March.

Executives of the 804-room Atlantic City Hilton presented a major expansion plan to their parent company, Colony Capital, in Las Vegas on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Hilton said if the plans are approved by Colony, details of the expansion could be released in a matter of weeks. The Press of Atlantic City reported that the estimated cost of the project is $1 billion and that plans include adding a 1,000-room tower and doubling the casino floor to 120,000 square feet.

The $10 million Skokie Banquet and Conference Center, about 14 miles north of downtown Chicago, opened earlier this month. The property has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom that is divisible into eight rooms.

The Conrad hotel chain, a division of the Hilton Hotel Group, will now be known as Conrad Hotels & Resorts in order to truly establish its brand identity. The new name will be reflected in a new logo.

The 400-room Westin Washington DC City Center has opened its doors. The smoke-free property features 16,750 square feet of meeting space, a 24-hour business center and wireless Internet access throughout.

InterContinental Hotels Group begins construction on the 125-room Hotel Indigo in Durham, N.C., this summer. Expected to open in April 2008, the boutique property will feature a meditation courtyard, guest rooms with curved walls, spa-style showers, complimentary high-speed Internet access, a "Phitness" studio, an indoor pool, several dining options and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.
Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Benchmark Hospitality are developing a new "personal luxury resort" in Vero Beach, Fla. The 94-room Costa d'Este, which is expected to open in early 2008, will include guest rooms with oversized bathrooms and wireless Internet access, as well as a signature restaurant, a pool, fitness facilities, a spa and 1,170 square feet of meeting space.  
The Wyland Waikiki has reopened following a multimillion-dollar renovation. The 405-room hotel features artwork and photographs from marine life artist Wyland throughout the property. The guest rooms now have flat-panel high-definition plasma TVs and iPod-compatible alarm clocks. Also onsite are the Wy Bar lounge, several meeting rooms and two renovated pools. The signature restaurant and the fitness center are slated to open over the next few months.
The Sheraton Moana Surfrider in Waikiki on Oahu will be rebranded a Westin in June. The 793-room Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort, will include a revitalized lobby, guest rooms with new beds and furnishings and a new beachfront spa, which will open in early 2008. The property currently includes more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.   
Interval Acquisition Corp. has agreed to acquire Gaylord Entertainment's Hawaii operation, ResortQuest Hawaii, for approximately $109 million. The transaction, which involves 28 properties and more than 4,500 rental units, is expected to close during the second or third quarter of 2007.   
The Palm Beach County Commissioners have earmarked more than $100 million for the development of a new Westin hotel that would be connected to the Palm Beach County Convention Center by an enclosed walkway. Full details for the 400-room property, to open in 2010, have yet to be announced.