September 27, 2006

As of yesterday, the Transportation Security Administration is allowing travel-size containers (three ounces or less) of toiletries in carry-on luggage. Such liquid, gel and aerosol items must be packed into a single quart-size, clear plastic bag with a zip top and must be removed and placed on the security checkpoint conveyor belt for X-raying. In another change, travelers now are allowed to bring liquids and other items on board that have been purchased from airport concessions after passing through security. More information is available at

The Louisiana Superdome reopened Monday, little more than a year after the stadium was used as the main emergency point for thousands of displaced residents following Hurricane Katrina. The stadium can host events for up to 70,000 people. In other New Orleans news, a 26-story, 450-room hotel debuted adjacent to Harrah's New Orleans casino on Sept. 21. Also opened alongside the property is the Fulton Street Promenade, with a jazz club and a Todd English restaurant among its attractions.

Sol Melià Hotels & Resorts is overhauling its image worldwide. Over the next three years, visible improvements will be made in hotel infrastructure, décor, guest room amenities, restaurant offerings, health and fitness facilities, and customer service.

Ending months of speculation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide decided on a name for its new Westin extended-stay brand, formerly known as Project ESW. Element hotels, all smoke-free properties, will be introduced into diverse but proven markets such as corporate centers, airports and business parks worldwide, including Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. The first Element will open in Lexington, Mass., in 2008. Another 150 development projects are in the pipeline.

Golden Tulip Hospitality has launched a new luxury brand called Royal Tulip. The first property in the brand, to open in spring 2009, will be the Royal Tulip Amsterdam Symphony in the city's financial district. The hotel will have 210 rooms and four meeting rooms for up to 355 people.

The contentious two-year fight by hotel workers for a contract in San Francisco is officially over. Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 voted on Friday to ratify a contract with the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, covering 4,200 workers at 13 city hotels. The new contract, which increases wages, protects medical benefits and unionizing activities, and reduces workloads for certain employees, lasts through 2009.

The hotel tax in Albany County, N.Y., is rising from 5 to 6 percent beginning Oct. 1, to pay for a new $200 million convention center in Albany. Current plans call for 225,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space and a 400-room hotel. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2008. The tax increase will be levied until Dec. 31, 2008.