September 14, 2006

The negotiating committee of UNITE HERE Local 2 in San Francisco, the union representing the city’s hotel workers, has reached a tentative agreement with the 13 hotels that make up the Multi-Employer Group. The committee is recommending that its members vote to ratify the agreement when given the opportunity on Sept. 22. The deal includes no changes in health-care eligibility or co-payments, and improvements to vision and prescription benefits; better retirement benefits; a $3 per hour wage increase for non-tipped workers and $1.50 for tipped workers, among other wage increases; and workload reductions for room cleaners and safety improvements for kitchen staff. If accepted, the contract would run through August 2009.

Cristyne L. Nicholas, president and CEO of NYC & Company, announced her resignation Friday after seven years with the convention and visitors bureau. She will remain on the job at least through the end of the year to oversee the groundbreaking of the expansion to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Nicholas will be remembered for getting the Javits expansion approved, as well as for bringing major travel and meetings industry conventions to New York after 9/11. Her successor -- or whether she will have a successor -- has not been announced.

Sports power couple Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are developing a resort in Idaho's Tamarack Village. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will manage the hotel, which will open in 2009. Agassi and Graf will work with joint-venture partner Bayview Financial LP to develop the resort, called Belvedere Ridge, which will have about 285 hotel rooms, condos and penthouse residences. A Fairmont Willow Stream spa is included in the plans.

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., is being sold to Host Hotels & Resorts for $393 million. Starwood Hotels & Resorts will continue to manage the property as a Westin. The hotel, a major meetings property, offers 732 rooms, 27 holes of golf, a full-service spa, 70,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and more than 100,000 square feet of outdoor function space.

The Xianglu Grand Hotel opened last week in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen. The 1,525-room property is one of the largest hotels in China, with 96,500 square feet of meeting space, divided into 26 breakout rooms. Two ballrooms accommodate 950 attendees each.

Theresa Breining, CMP, CMM, owner and president of Concepts Worldwide in Carlsbad, Calif., has stepped in as chair of the Convention Industry Council's APEX Commission. She replaces Mickey Schaefer, CAE, president of Mickey Schaefer & Associates. Whereas Schaefer oversaw the development of the APEX best practices documentation and tools, Breining will work to implement the tools and to evolve them as the meetings industry changes.

The Fairmont New Orleans has pushed back its reopening to 2008. According to Fairmont executives, the 107-year-old property, which was scheduled to open next spring, sustained far more damage from Hurricane Katrina than previously thought. The hotel is working to rebook groups that had reserved space for 2007 meetings.