April 04, 2007

Steven Heyer, CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, has resigned. In a company statement, Stephen Quazzo, chairman of the hotel chain's governance and nominating committee, said, "While the board appreciates the good work Steve Heyer has done to position Starwood for the future, issues with regard to his management style have led us to lose confidence in his leadership." Chairman Bruce Duncan will serve as interim chief executive while the board conducts a search for a replacement. Heyer became Starwood's CEO in October 2004.

Robert Hodge, director of the Austin Convention Center, was fired this week for violating city policy, according to city manager Toby Futrell. Her statement indicated the action had nothing to do with an investigation into financial improprieties that currently is being conducted by the Travis County district attorney's office. Assistant director Hymie Gonzales has been named acting director, and a national search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately. While the direction of the district attorney's investigation has not been made public, according to three unnamed sources in an Austin American-Statesman article, the D.A.'s office became involved following allegations that Hodge was guilty of financial mismanagement.

The Greenbrier Resort, which closed Jan. 2 for a top-down $50 million renovation, reopened April 2. All of the resort's 721 guest rooms were completely redone; a new restaurant, Hemisphere, is scheduled to open this summer. The property offers 85,000 square feet of meeting space.

JetBlue has launched CompanyBlue Meetings, its first corporate meetings product. The program, which is applicable to corporate meetings of at least 15 flyers to the same destination whose travel is arranged by "designated corporate meeting planners with a single company billing source," offers discounts, benefits and restrictions similar to the meetings programs of its competitors. The CompanyBlue Meetings program can be accessed online at www.jetblue.com/companybluemeetings or by calling the dedicated toll-free number 1-888-JETBLUE.

The Netherlands Antilles, which includes the islands of Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, signed the U.S. Tax Information Exchange Agreement, making the cost of conventions, business meetings and seminars on those islands a tax-deductable business expense for U.S. taxpayers. Other countries in the region that have signed the TIEA include Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

The 1,572-room Hilton Anaheim (Calif.) Hotel, adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center, has been purchased by Makar Properties and will undergo a major renovation of all guest rooms, meeting rooms and public spaces. The hotel, which has 107,000 square feet of meeting space, will continue to operate as a Hilton. A spokesperson for the new owners said a timeline for renovations has not yet been determined.

A W hotel is being constructed in downtown Manhattan, just south of where the World Trade Center towers used to stand. To open in 2008, the W New York-Downtown Hotel & Residences will feature 217 guest rooms and 222 residential units.