January 10, 2007

In Toronto, the Professional Convention Management Association on Sunday kicked off its first "zero waste" annual meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. According to organizers, all paper products and promotional materials from meeting rooms will be recycled, all leftover food from F&B service will be donated to a local food bank or composted, and all bottles and cans will be sorted and recycled. Other materials such as badge holders will be thrown away but might be recycled at future events.

A new Westin resort will be built in Avon, Colo., just west of Vail. The complex will consist of the 235-room Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, a full-service hotel, and the 113-unit Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, a vacation-ownership property. To open in time for the 2008-'09 ski season, the hotel will have 4,700 square feet of meeting space; a retail plaza; and a high-speed, eight-person gondola to carry skiers to the Beaver Creek ski area. The first phase of the villa project is expected to open soon after the hotel.

At the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, a number of promotions have been announced to fill the shoes of retired general manager Myles McGrane. Tony Bracco, the former assistant general manager, is the new general manager. Doreen Guerin, formerly a sales manager, has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing. Jack Wayman, a specialist in convention center cleaning, was named assistant vice president for environmental and customer services.

New York's Hotel Pennsylvania, the 1,700-room property across from Penn Station, is going to close in order to be converted into an office building almost the size of the Empire State Building, news outlets reported last week. Building owner Vornado Realty Trust would not comment, but a report by brokers Grubb & Ellis Co. said the revamped structure would be open by 2011.

The Outrigger Waikiki Beach Walk, a $535 million retail, entertainment and hotel development on Oahu, opened to visitors last week. Covering nearly eight acres of central Waikiki, the complex eventually will include five hotels: the newly opened 421-room Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk and the 195-unit Wyndham Vacation Ownership Resort-Waikiki Beach Walk, a timeshare property; the 800-room Outrigger Reef on the Beach, currently undergoing a $100 million upgrade; the 264-room Ohana Islander Waikiki, which is slated for a makeover this year; and the new 460-unit Trump International Hotel & Tower-Waikiki Beach Walk, a condominium hotel scheduled for completion in 2009.

Beginning Feb. 12, Gaylord Hotels will become smoke-free, joining Westin Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International. The new policy affects Gaylord's three existing properties -- the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville; Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla.; and Gaylord Texan on Lake Grapevine near Dallas -- as well as the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Prince George's County, Md., which will open in 2008. In a symbolic gesture, the hotel company began auctioning 10,577 ashtrays from its properties on eBay. All proceeds will go to the American Lung Association. The auction can be viewed at www.gaylordhotelskicksbutt.com.

Columbia Sussex Corp. now officially owns Las Vegas' 1,875-room Tropicana Casino & Resort, after gaining final approval from Nevada gaming regulators. The new owners also have permission for a $2 billion project for the site that will increase its offerings to 10,224 rooms and a 500,000-square-foot conference center. Some or all of the proposed four hotel towers might be separately branded, and ground might be broken as early as this fall.

Royal Caribbean International is banning trans fats from its fleet of 20 ships. By March 1, trans-fat-free frying oil will replace oils currently used in food preparation. Additionally, a selection of trans-fat-free options have been introduced to Royal Caribbean's menus. According to spokesperson for the cruise line, Royal Caribbean will work with its food suppliers to eliminate all trans-fat items by year's end.