February 14, 2007

Beginning tomorrow, Marriott International will roll out an English-language training program for its Spanish-speaking employees nationwide. The company conducted a pilot program at 23 properties in 2006 over a four-month period and was very happy with the results, which showed that 85 percent of employees in the program, which was designed for adults in the hospitality industry, improved their English-speaking skills.

Amanresorts will convert the coastal village of Sveti Stefan in the Republic of Montenegro into a $40 million resort. The planned hideaway will include the 40-room Villa Milocer, a former royal villa; to be demolished and completely rebuilt is the adjacent 120-room Queen's Beach Hotel, which will be managed by the General Hotel Management company. On the Adriatic Sea, Sveti Stefan is a UNESCO site, a collection of 13th- and 14th-century buildings on a small island joined to the mainland by a short causeway. The villa, which will be called Sveti Stefan Aman, will open in mid-2008; the Queen's Beach Hotel will open in 2009.

The Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof in Vienna, Austria, will open in late 2008. The 196-room property will have 10 meeting rooms and a spa.

The 270-room Radisson Hamburg (Germany) Airport Hotel will open in July 2009. The property will have approximately 7,000 square feet of conference and meeting space.

The 242-room Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing in Missouri opens today, featuring 2,000 square feet of meeting space and a full-service restaurant. The Branson Convention Center and adjacent 293-room Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, centerpieces of the $420 million Branson Landing development, are on schedule to open in August.

The 353-room House of Blues Hotel Chicago will be renamed in May as the Hotel Sax Chicago, according to the hotel's management company, Gemstone Hotels & Resorts International. The repositioning will coincide with a $17 million renovation designed to give the property a more upscale look and feel.

Marcus Hotels and Resorts will manage the 257-room Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel St. Louis, which is slated to receive a multimillion-dollar renovation later this year. The hotel has 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 144-room Carmel Valley Ranch in California, an LXR Resort, will undergo a $60 million renovation to become a luxury condominium hotel, to be completed by early 2008. The property, set on 400 acres, has 4,500 square feet of meeting space.

Kingdom Hotel Investments has acquired beachfront for its planned $65 million Raffles resort and residences project in Da Nang, Vietnam. Raffles Da Nang, set to open in 2011, will feature 150 hotel suites and 15 private residential villas.

The 486-room Paradisus Puerto Rico will be reflagged as a Gran Melia on May 1. Both hotel brands are part of the Sol Melia portfolio; essentially, the change will convert the hotel from an all-inclusive property to the European plan, and make it somewhat more upscale. The restaurants and spa will be rebranded, and an investment will be made to improve the service and d}cor.
The 70-room Hotel 373 Fifth Avenue opened last week on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 35th Street in Manhattan. With iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs and rates starting at $179, the boutique hotel is an affordable choice for overflow housing.

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Seibu Group of Japan is selling its Makena Resort for approximately $575 million to a group of investors including the Dowling Co., Trinity Investments and Morgan Stanley Real Estate. The 1,800-acre resort includes the 310-room Maui Prince Hotel and two golf courses. The deal is expected to close on March 27.