May 03, 2006

Ground was broken last week by Wynn Resorts on a $1.4 billion expansion to the 2,726-room Wynn Las Vegas, which opened in April 2005. To debut in 2008, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas will have 2,000 rooms and 30,000 square feet of meeting space, among other amenities.

Las Vegas hosted a record 44 of the 200 largest trade shows in 2005, and for the first time Orlando landed more of the top trade shows than Chicago, according to the Tradeshow Week 200, which was released last week. Orlando hosted 26 of the top 200 shows, six more than Chicago, claiming the second-place ranking that Chicago had held for the past 11 years. The report also noted that net square footage and attendance at the top 200 trade shows each increased by more than 3 percent over 2004 figures.

Plans were unveiled last week for the first phase of a $1.8 billion downtown Los Angeles development known as the Grand Avenue project, designed by architect Frank Gehry. A 50-story tower, across the street from Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, will house a 275-room hotel and 250 residences, and another 250 lofts and apartments will be created in a connected 25-story tower. The first phase of construction, to begin early next year, also includes a 50,000-square-foot specialty food market, a health club, restaurants, art galleries and retail shops. Overall, the nine-acre Grand Avenue plan calls for the creation of 400,000 square feet of retail space and up to 2,600 residences.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts will build a 285-room hotel in Nashville. Groundbreaking is set for late this summer; the property will open in late 2008. The InterContinental Nashville will feature a spa, several dining options and about 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

A statewide smoking ban in Hawaii has been approved by the Legislature, joining 11 other states. The bill, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2007, prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces, including bars and restaurants.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will open a W Hotel in Chile's capital, Santiago, in 2008. The W Santiago, which will be the first W in South America, will have 205 rooms, a restaurant with a terrace, a spa and approximately 37,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 2006 winners of Mobil Travel Guide's Top Spas were announced last week. Now in its third year of publication, the guide will include a second five-star spa -- The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York. (The other five-star spa, announced last year, is Spa Montage in Laguna Beach, Calif.) Four-star additions to this year's edition include Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, Calif.; the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples (Fla.); the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Key Biscayne (Fla.); the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.; the Spa at Setai, in Miami Beach; the Spa at the Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs; and The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas.

David Peckinpaugh will replace Reint Reinders as president and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau when Reinders retires next month, the CVB announced last week. Peckinpaugh currently is chief marketing officer for Conferon Global Services; he leaves his post May 12 and is expected to join the CVB on June 5. He previously held senior management positions at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad and the Hyatt Regency San Diego, now the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Rick Binford has been promoted to chief marketing officer at Conferon Global Services.