December 06, 2006

On Dec. 1, Regent Hotels & Resorts opened the 500-room Regent Beijing, the brand's second property in China. On Jinbao Street, in the heart of Beijing's commercial zone, the Regent includes four restaurants, a lounge and a spa. In-room amenities include free high-speed wireless access, plasma TVs, DVD players and views of the Forbidden City. Depending on seasonality, the property can accommodate groups requiring blocks of up to 150 guest rooms and offers a range of function rooms, as well as a 6,727-square-foot ballroom.

The 36-room Ice Hotel in Quebec City is set to open on Jan. 5. This year's version of the hotel, constructed from 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice, will feature a playground for children and a suite with a private spa. The hotel bar, the N'Ice Club, will be designed to resemble the lost city of Atlantis. Group rates are available at the hotel, which will be open though April 1, 2007.

The Embassy Suites Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, a new resort set on the beaches of Oahu, has begun accepting reservations for visits beginning Dec. 22, 2006. Owned and operated by Outrigger Enterprises Group, the all-suite hotel features two towers for a combined 421 rooms, as well as 24-hour business and fitness centers, an outdoor swimming pool with a waterfall, and 2,000 square feet of meeting space.

UNITE HERE Local 5 and the Waikiki Beach Marriott announced last Thursday that they have reached a tentative contract agreement. While the details have yet to be divulged, the union revealed that it is similar to contracts previously signed with other Waikiki hotels, which included wage increases of $2.40 an hour over four years for non-tipped employees and $1.20 an hour for tipped employees.

The Hyatt Regency Bellevue (Wash.) is planning a $90 million addition set for completion in April 2009. Kemper Development, which recently submitted a design-review application with the city, is planning to build a second tower with 351 rooms, bringing the grand total to 733, and a new 18,000-square-foot ballroom.

On Dec. 4, IFA Hotels & Resorts announced it would build in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the $1 billion Kingdom of Sheba resort, which will be part of the already-announced Palm Jumeirah development. The Kingdom of Sheba will cover approximately 1.4 million square feet and be completed in mid-2010. Approximately 300 of this property's rooms will be condos -- with prices ranging from $1 to $7 million -- while 550 will be in a hotel called the Fairmont Kingdom of Sheba. Amenities at the Fairmont will include a private beach and club; boutique dining areas; health and fitness facilities; several pools, and meeting space. In addition, the hotel will include the Fairmont Heritage Place, Kingdom of Sheba, a residence club with 50 luxury apartments, all with sea views and some with terrace pools.

Also in the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, will be a new development called Yas Island. Developers Aldar Properties said the artificial island will have the world's first Ferrari World resort with a theme based around the luxurious Italian car company, Ferrari. The island also will contain 3 million square feet of shopping, a Ferrari-themed park, a museum and a theater, as well as a championship-quality racetrack with a Ferrari Driving School. Plans also call for two marinas, yachting facilities, several restaurants, other resorts, a water park, three golf courses, and a polo field and equestrian center. No opening date has been released.

Loews Hotels will complete its purchase of the 493-room Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Casino on Dec. 8, at which time it will be known as the Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort. In Henderson, Nev., 10 miles south of the Las Vegas Strip, the property has 40,000 square feet of event space, including the 21,330-square-foot Casablanca Grand Ballroom.

The Rezidor Hotel Group on Dec. 1 announced the upcoming rebranding of the 1,200-room Pribaltiyskaya Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. As of Jan. 1, it will become the Park Inn Pribaltiyskaya. The property, which has a 50,000-square-foot water park and a spa, plans to renovate its 1,200 guest rooms and approximately 32,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa, on the Mexican island of Cozumel, completed a $25 million redevelopment on Dec. 5. The redesign reduced the room count from 253 to 220 but created the new category of Ocean Suites. The resort's largest meeting room hosts up to 300 guests.

A new W Hotel officially has been announced for downtown Austin, Texas. The W Austin Hotel & Residences will feature 250 guest rooms and 200 condominiums in the city's Second Street District. The property will be part of Block 21, a mixed-use development that will include the new home of the "Austin City Limits" public television music show in a 2,000-seat live music and event venue. A new facility for the Austin Children's Museum also will be built, along with 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.    

The JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., will undergo a $35 million renovation in celebration of its 70th anniversary. Ground will be broken April 30 on a project that includes the rebuilding and expansion of the ballroom to 22,000 square feet and the addition of two new restaurants. The 453-room property features two golf courses and a 32,000-square-foot spa. The current 40,000 square feet of meeting space will jump to about 47,000 square feet when construction finishes in April 2008.

A $9 million renovation has been completed at the 302-room Inverness Hotel in Englewood, Colo. A 4,500-square-foot spa was added as part of the project and the rooms all were redone. The hotel's two restaurants also were repositioned: The Swan became Baca, serving Colorado cuisine with a Spanish touch; the casual dining area is now The Spotted Dog, an English pub-style establishment. The 60,000 square feet of meeting space, which has been approved by the International Association of Conference Centers, received new ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chairs and upgraded A/V equipment.