March 28, 2007

Wyndham Worldwide has purchased part-ownership of the 600-room Westin Rio Mar Beach Golf Resort & Spa in northeastern Puerto Rico, with plans to manage the resort as a Wyndham beginning May 10. The Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa, A Wyndham Grand Resort will be renovated, and Wyndham Vacation Ownership units will be developed on an adjacent tract. According to Peter Strebel, president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the property, a prototype of what a Wyndham Grand Resort will offer, will continue to focus on meetings. The resort, whose other owner is Tishman Realty Corp., has 48,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. is launching a new hotel brand called The Reserve, aimed at the upscale leisure traveler. The first, the 125-room Reserve Molasses Reef, opens in 2008 on West Caicos in the Turks & Caicos. It will feature two restaurants and a full-service spa. The new chain will not offer meeting space and will be in out-of-the way locations with significant destination appeal.

The 401-room Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio, a waterpark resort that opened in December, has added a 40,000-square-foot full-service conference center, which includes a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and eight meeting rooms. The meeting facility offers complimentary wireless Internet access and an on-site catering team.

Mohegan Sun, a 1,200-room casino resort in Uncasville, Conn., announced this week that a $13.8 million guest-room refurbishment is under way and should be complete by June. The work is not considered part of "Project Horizon," a $740 million expansion announced last fall. The cornerstone of the expansion is a 1,000-room hotel tower, roughly one-third of which will be branded as a House of Blues hotel.

The exhibition industry grew 4.8 percent in 2006 compared with 2005, according to the fourth annual CEIR Index issued by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The index, released at the Society of Independent Show Organizers CEO Summit in Miami this week, collected data from 300 trade shows. Overall industry revenue grew 9.7 percent in 2006 compared with the previous year. Attendance was up 4.6 percent, and the number of exhibitors rose 1.3 percent. Net square footage of shows increased 3.8 percent industrywide.