Elections yesterday produced results that will impact
meeting planners and events around the country, many involving
cigarette smoking. Here are a few notable outcomes:
" In Arizona, voters passed a measure
prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places and places of
employment, including sports arenas, restaurants, bars, hotels and
motels (although it permits properties to allow smoking in up to
half of guest rooms). The proposition also creates a
2-cent-per-pack tobacco tax that will pay for the enforcement and
public education of the new statewide smoking law.
" By an overwhelming margin (72 percent
to 28 percent), voters in Laramie County, Wyo., passed a 1 percent
increase to the area's lodging tax, bringing it to 4 percent. The
tax will help fund the Cheyenne Area Convention and Visitors
" In Nevada, voters approved an
initiative to ban smoking in certain public places with a
food-handling license, including bars that serve food. Smoking will
continue to be allowed in gaming areas of casinos.
" A new Harrah's resort casino is not
in the cards for Rhode Island. Citizens rejected an amendment to
the state constitution that would have allowed a gaming company to
own and operate a resort casino in association with the
Narragansett Indian Tribe in West Warwick, R.I.
" Voters in Ohio supported the more
stringent of two smoking ban proposals on the ballot, favoring a
law that bans smoking in nearly all public places, including bars
and restaurants. The law takes effect in January.
Four Seasons Hotels has received a $3.7 billion
takeover offer from its majority investors, including the chain's
current chairman and CEO, Isadore Sharp; Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin
Talal of Kingdom Hotels, and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' Cascade
Investment. The group wants to take the publicly traded hotel chain
private. The Four Seasons board of directors has established a
special committee to consider the terms of the takeover, which
would pay stockholders $82 per share, with Sharp remaining at the
helm. In an official statement, Sharp said the buyout offer "was
the best way to preserve and expand the long-term strategy, vision
and core values of Four Seasons."
As of Jan. 1, the Internal Revenue Service's suggested
mileage rate for using a car for business travel will increase from
44.5 cents per mile to 48.5 cents per mile. Companies are free
to set their own rates, according to the IRS; the rate merely is a
guide based on an annual study of the cost of operating an
On Monday, the European Union instituted new rules
restricting liquids that can be carried onboard commercial
aircraft. The new rules, which are similar to those imposed
recently in the United States, apply to all flights departing EU
airports, no matter the destination or the nationality of the
carrier. Liquids must be stored in containers of 100 milliliters
(3.3 ounces) or smaller capacity, and packed in one clear,
resealable bag no larger than one liter. A guide to the rules
change is available at ec.europa.eu/transport/air_portal/security/rules_liquids/index_en.htm.
The Toronto Congress Centre announced plans for a
major expansion that will boost the facility's overall convention
floor space to more than 1 million square feet. Scheduled for a
fall 2007 opening, the Toronto Congress Centre North addition will
comprise 500,000 square feet of additional exhibition space, 40
meeting rooms and a 25,000-square-foot ballroom.
The 424-room InterContinental Boston opened Monday
with 32,000 square feet of meeting space, including a
10,500-square-foot ballroom. Also offering 130 residential units,
the property sports a 6,600-square-foot spa, a 24-hour health club,
a French brasserie, a sushi bar, a champagne bar and a rum-themed
bar. Also, the 447-room InterContinental London Park Lane has
reopened following a $113 million renovation. The property has five
meeting rooms; a spa; a restaurant; and The Cookbook Cafe, where
up-and-coming chefs will provide cooking classes for guests.
The 564-room London NYC officially debuted last week,
celebrating the change in name and look from the Rihga Royal. The
spacious rooms, most of which are suites, have an airy, residential
feel, designed by Irishman David Collins. Meeting space is not yet
finalized, but plans call for three meeting rooms, suitable for
small gatherings. Gordon Ramsay's restaurant opens Nov. 16; Ramsay
will be handling the hotel's catering, as well.