November 01, 2006

The 442-room French Lick Springs Resort opens in French Lick, Ind., on Friday, pending an audit conducted by the Indiana Gaming Commission after yesterday's trial run of the resort's new 84,000-square-foot casino. The $382 million restoration of the resort will be complete next spring, when the nearby 245-room West Baden Springs Hotel opens. The resort offers a total of approximately 30,000 square feet of meeting space; a 31,600-square-foot tennis and exhibition center; 45 holes of golf, including an 18-hole course that is set to open in 2008; two full-service spas; and various dining and entertainment options. The property marks the return of gaming to the state after an absence of more than 60 years.

JetBlue Airways will launch service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Jan. 4, with up to five nonstop roundtrip flights a day from New York's JFK airport and up to two nonstop roundtrips a day from Long Beach (Calif.). Although initially approved to land only four planes daily at O'Hare, JetBlue was able to buy additional slots.

Closing today is the Stardust Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Boyd Gaming Corp., the property's owners, will demolish the building to make way for the $4 billion Echelon Place development that will open in 2010. When it debuted in 1958, the Stardust was the city's largest hotel but has since been dwarfed. The Stardust's 1,552 rooms will be replaced by Echelon's 5,300, while the former's 25,000 square feet of meeting space will be obliterated by Echelon's 650,000-square-foot ExpoPlace Convention Center.

The Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort in Hawaii officially became the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort last Friday, after the completion of an $18 million renovation. The work encompassed all 350 guest rooms, the lobby, dining facilities and the 13,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel offers four swimming pools, a spa and a 24-hour business center.

A pilot program has been completed for the Certified Medical Meeting Manager designation, a new certificate offered by PMPN, a network of independent medical meeting planners. The CMMM is awarded based on an online timed test covering both general meetings topics and issues specific to medical meetings of all kinds. The certificate is designed to complement the CMP and CMM, so planners with one of those designations are allowed to skip the general part of the test. The program will be tweaked over the winter, and the test should be offered again in March or April. PMPN owner and chairman James Montague is looking for an independent accrediting body to legitimize the program further.