September 06, 2006
UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago has reached tentative agreements with Hilton Hotels Corp. and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, which together employ approximately 4,200 of the union's members. The workers will vote today on the Hilton proposal, which calls for improved wages, benefits and working conditions. The union is expected to accept the terms, which will be released after the vote. No date is set yet for the Hyatt vote, although it should follow shortly. Meanwhile, negotiations with Starwood Resorts & Hotels have stalled after the company "ran into an unexpected problem late last week," Local 1 spokesperson Lars Negstad said. He declined to elaborate and Starwood did not return phone calls seeking comment. Eleven other Chicago properties, including Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont, have pledged to abide by the terms Starwood negotiates with the union. Elsewhere in union news, agreements have yet to be reached between hotels and UNITE HERE locals in Honolulu; Monterey, Calif.; or in San Francisco, where more than 60 hotel workers were arrested Thursday for trespassing and obstructing lawful business during a demonstration at the Palace Hotel San Francisco.

The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, closed since last year's Hurricane Wilma, reopened yesterday. The 365-room resort will debut some new facilities, including a culinary center in association with the upscale kitchen-equipment supplier Viking Range Co. and a tennis program operated by former tour player and commentator Cliff Drysdale. The resort has approximately 27,000 square feet of meeting space.

Opening Sept. 9 is the 1,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Occupying a 230-acre site along Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, the property will offer the 13,000-square-foot Spa at Shingle Creek and an 18-hole golf course. The hotel's extensive function space includes 50,000 square feet of outdoor event space and 445,000 square feet of indoor meeting space. Hotel officials claim the property's 95,000-square-foot ballroom will be the largest columnless ballroom in the country.

The 397-room Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving has been sold to the BentleyForbes real estate investment and operations company for an undisclosed amount. The property will undergo an 18-month improvement program that has yet to be defined. Just opened at the resort are 40 new villas and an event lawn. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will continue to manage the property, which offers 34,000 square feet of meeting space, two golf courses and a full-service spa with 16 treatment rooms.

Groundbreaking took place last week on the headquarters hotel for the Puerto Rico Convention Center, which opened last fall. The $209 million, 500-room Sheraton, scheduled to open in 2009, will feature a 10,000-square-foot spa, a rooftop pool, a 25,000-square-foot entertainment venue and 63,000 square feet of meeting space.

The US$1 billion Wynn Macau casino resort opens today. The 11-acre, 600-room property features 100,000 square feet of casino gaming space, seven restaurants, 28,000 square feet of retail shops, a spa, a salon and 23,680 square feet of meeting space. A $345 million, five-acre expansion planned to open in the first half of 2007 will include an additional 85,000 square feet of casino space, two more restaurants, a theater and a new entrance.

Pinnacle Entertainment has signed an agreement to purchase the Sands Casino in Atlantic City from financier Carl Icahn. The total price of the casino and 18 acres of land surrounding it is $270 million. Within 70 days, the Sands will close its doors, and Pinnacle will build a larger and more modern casino in its place. Pinnacle is owner/operator of casinos throughout the Western Hemisphere, including Belterra Casino Resort & Spa in Belterra, Ind., and L'Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, La.

Meeting Professionals International has moved the date of its next trade show. Originally slated for Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, during the Professional Education Conference in New Orleans, the PEC Expo now will be held on Sunday, Jan. 21, from noon to 4 p.m., following the opening general session. Online registration begins Sept. 15 at