Last week, Florida's 3,300-member Seminole tribe announced it
had acquired the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant, hotel and casino chain
from British investment company Rank Group PLC in a $965 million
deal, beating out 70 competing bidders. The Seminole tribe already
owns and operates two Hard Rock facilities in Tampa and Hollywood,
Fla. The deal, which is expected to close in March, includes 124
cafés, six hotels and casinos. In 2005, the Hard Rock chain posted
$70 million in profits on $500 million in revenues. Meanwhile, this
week Hard Rock International announced it will build a 450-unit
condo-hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., to open in late 2009. The Hard
Rock Hotel Palm Springs will include 40,000 square feet of meeting
space and a 20,000-square-foot Rock Spa.
Thomas J. Noonan has been named the new president and CEO of the
Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. Noonan, who
begins his new job Jan. 3, comes from the Dallas Convention and
Visitors Bureau, where he was senior vice president of sales and
services, the bureau's second in command. He replaces Leslie R.
Doggett, who resigned last May.
Le Méridien Lav opened in the Mediterranean port city of Split,
Croatia, on Monday. A $100 million renovation of the former Hotel
Lav, the property has 381 guest rooms, a restaurant, a pub, a
champagne lounge, 2,000 feet of private beach, a marina and a
tennis academy. Also on site are 22,554 square feet of meeting
On Monday, the Travel Industry Association of America launched a
new website -- www.GetAPassportNow.com -- to provide information to
travelers about documents and deadlines mandated by the Western
Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The site also provides links to help
U.S., Canadian and Mexican citizens obtain passports. "The message
is that if you want to travel to or from the U.S., get a passport,"
said Roger Dow, president of TIA. According to the group, 40
percent of Canadians and just 27 percent of Americans currently
have a passport. The TIA is encouraging all travel industry
partners to provide links to the site on their web pages in order
to increase those percentages.
Myles McGrane, general manager of the Jacob K. Javits Convention
Center in New York City, will retire by the end of the month. In a
note to show managers, he said, "My decision to leave is personal
and the timing with the change in state government is simply
coincidental." A successor has not yet been announced. By 2010, the
first phase of an expansion to the center will be completed,
increasing the exhibit space by 340,000 square feet to a total of
1.1 million, and increasing the meeting space by 180,000 square
feet to a total of 210,000 square feet.
Wyndham Hotel Group, in a deal with Royal Orchard Hotels of
Bangalore, India, will develop 10 four-star-quality, Ramada-flagged
hotels in the Indian states of Karnetaka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra,
Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Investment in the properties by Royal
Orchard Hotels will total about US$100 million. Wyndham Hotel Group
franchises the Ramada, Days and Howard Johnson brands in India, a
marketplace PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts will require up to
125,000 new hotel rooms in the next five years. This deal will add
at least 1,000 guest rooms to the country.
On Dec. 8., the Singapore government announced that Infinity @
TheBay Pte. Ltd., a venture between Genting International and Star
Cruises, has been awarded development rights for the $3.4 billion
Integrated Resort project on Singapore's Sentosa Island, which will
feature a Universal Studios theme park, an oceanarium, a water
park, a museum and other entertainment offerings. Meetings venues
will provide capacity for up to 12,000 attendees, including 22
meeting rooms, a ballroom and exhibition space. A total of 1,830
rooms will be divided among six hotels, including a Hard Rock
Hotel, a Maxim's Residences and a first-of-its-kind Hotel Michael,
designed by lead project architect Michael Graves.