May 10, 2006
Joe D'Alessando has been named the new president and CEO of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, effective July 5. D'Alessandro, who has served as president and CEO of the Portland Oregon Visitors Association for 10 years, will split time heading both the POVA and the San Francisco bureau for the month of July to satisfy a 90-day notice clause in his contract. A POVA spokesperson said the association hopes to have selected a replacement for D'Allesandro by that date. At the San Francisco bureau, D'Allesandro will succeed John A. Marks, who retires on June 30 after 19 years with the CVB. Prior to joining the POVA, D'Alessando served as executive director of the Oregon Tourism Commission and as international program manager for the California Office of Tourism.

The United States hosted the most international association events in 2005, followed by Germany, Spain, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Austria and Switzerland, according to the International Congress and Convention Association. The study also ranked the cities that hosted the most international association events last year: Vienna held the top spot, followed by Singapore, Barcelona, Berlin, Hong Kong, Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Seoul and Stockholm. The annual survey was based on 5,315 meetings that took place in 2005, were organized by international associations, took place on a regular basis and rotated between a minimum of three countries.

American Express Business Travel has consolidated its consulting efforts under a new division called Global Advisory Services, to be headed up by Mike Streit, a 12-year veteran at American Express. The division will comprise 200 consultants and analysts to help organizations optimize their global travel spend.

Yesterday, the 360-room Park Hyatt San Francisco became the Le Méridien San Francisco, the first U.S. hotel to come under the brand since it was acquired by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide last November. The property, which has 14 meeting rooms comprising more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space, will undergo a soft-goods renovation in the coming months. The addition of San Francisco brings the Le Méridien U.S. portfolio to five.

On Monday, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. announced plans to open a 286-room, 60-story property in the Pudong district of Shanghai, China, in 2010. The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, will feature 17,717 square feet of meeting space, four restaurants, an indoor swimming pool and a spa. The property, situated near the Shanghai New International Expo Center, will be the second Ritz-Carlton in the city.

Construction is under way on a $240 million Ameristar Casino hotel and conference center in St. Charles, Mo., adjacent to the company's 130,000-square-foot casino. The 400-room, all-suite property, which is unofficially being called the Ameristar Casino Hotel St. Charles, is expected to open by the end of 2007. The 55,000-square-foot conference center, which includes six meeting rooms, an 11,500-square-foot main ballroom and a 4,500-square-foot junior ballroom, will open this summer.

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa in Acme, Mich., near Traverse City, will host a grand reopening celebration on May 12. The 900-acre resort is emerging from a three-year, $11 million renovation project that enhanced guest rooms, meeting space, public spaces and the resort grounds. A total of 614 guest rooms are divided among a six-story hotel, a 17-story glass tower, and beachfront or fairway condominiums. The resort features more than 85,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 9,240-square-foot ballroom.