March 28, 2007

The Westin Resort Hilton Head Island will open the first Heavenly Spa by Westin in April. The 8,000-square-foot spa, which features nine treatment rooms, is the first in the continental United States and the fourth in the Westin brand.  

The contentious labor atmosphere at several hotels near Los Angeles International Airport flamed anew last week when the Los Angeles Daily News published a letter written by city council president Eric Garcetti that urged meeting planners to boycott the Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel until an ongoing labor dispute is resolved. Officials at the Hilton, which is not unionized, as well as at other hotels and city business leaders, have opposed two measures recently passed by the city council that would impose a Òliving wageÓ at the hotels for its tipped employees. In the letter, Garcetti accused officials at the Hilton of harassing, intimidating and suspending workers involved in organizing efforts, and UNITE HERE Local 11 has charged that the hotel unlawfully fired two pro-union workers. Grant Coonley, general manager of the Hilton, said the accusations and the living-wage ordinances are simply tools that the union and the city council are using to force the hotel to enter a collective bargaining agreement with Local 11. He added that the majority of his employees do not want to join the union. ÒI donÕt have a problem with unions, if the employees want it,Ó he said. Coonley also defended the suspensions and firings as saying they were precipitated by theft and, in one case, an employeeÕs assault of a security guard, not for unionizing efforts.

The 402-room Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel will be refurbished, according to its new owners, Sunstone Hotel Investors, who completed the $228 million purchase of the hotel last week. The hotel will continue as a Marriott.

A team of theme-park veterans has made an offer to purchase 200 acres of land along Las Vegas Boulevard to build the largest water park in North America. Comprised of executives with experience at Disney, Universal Studios and other parks, Las Vegas WET LLC plans to build two hotels, an indoor snow dome, an arena, a performing arts center, restaurants and retail space in addition to the water park. Further details about the resort aren't yet available, but a spokesperson for Las Vegas WET indicated more could be forthcoming within the next few weeks.

The 800-room Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago recently completed a $2 million renovation of its restaurant, replacing the old establishment with three distinct dining options: Forno, a casual, 50-seat Italian trattoria; Shor, a full-service, 210-seat Chicago-style grill; and M/X, a trendy, 160-seat bar and lounge that serves small plates of light fare.

The Equinox, a 179-room resort on 1,300 acres in Manchester Village, Vt., was purchased by HEI Hotels & Resorts last week and now will be managed by HEI. The property had been part of the RockResorts portfolio.

The Outrigger Napili Shores condominium resort in Maui announced the completion of a renovation last Friday that included an upgrade to its 96 units, which now feature new furniture, artwork, LCD TV sets and granite countertops.
SeattleÕs Alexis Hotel has begun an $8.5 million upgrade, to be completed in June. Aside from renovating the current rooms, the property will add 12 guest rooms, bringing the total to 121. The Alexis offers 2,905 square feet of meeting space.  

Ground has been broken on the 280-suite Embassy Suites Hotel Fairview, near Dallas. Adjoining the property will be an 80,000-square-foot convention center. The hotel, to open in January 2009, is part of The Village at Fairview, a mixed-use area.

The Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel opens March 30 in Salamanca, N.Y., in the southwestern part of the state. The 212-room hotel features a spa and a 68,300-square-foot casino.