July 05, 2006

On June 30, Cendant Corp. sold its Travelport division, which includes Galileo and Orbitz, among other travel brands, to the Blackstone Group, a New York City-based private equity firm. The deal was worth approximately $4.3 billion, according to Cendant.

The Metropolitan Council, the regional planning organization for the Twin Cities region of Minnesota, selected a proposal last week to link the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis with an 11-mile, $930 million light-rail line. If the project is approved by the Federal Transit Administration, construction could start in 2010.

The Ferchill Group, the real estate developer planning to renovate Detroit's long-shuttered Book-Cadillac Hotel, finally secured financing for the $180 million project last week. Work is expected to begin within the next two weeks on the hotel, which will be named the Westin Book-Cadillac. The property will offer 455 guest rooms, 67 condominiums and 39,000 square feet of meeting space.

Following a nine-month renovation, the 171-room Raffles Beijing Hotel reopened last week.  The property, near both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, features three meeting rooms the Sapphire (1,916 square feet), the Opal (1,916 square feet) and the Amethyst (1,356 square feet) which can be combined into a ballroom configuration. The hotel also offers multiple F&B outlets, a business center, an indoor swimming pool and airport limousine service.

Now that the Convention Industry Council has settled into its new offices in Washington, D.C., its staff has expanded. Alison Heath, CMP manager, Michelle Measel, CMP coordinator, and Chris Marshall, CMP director, will work to grow the Certified Meeting Professional program, increase CMP volunteerism and implement a new electronic database for the program. Katie Brannan, CMP, APEX director, and Katherine Brick, APEX coordinator, have been charged with further implementation of the Accepted Practices Exchange.