April 12, 2006

Kathleen "Kitty" Ratcliffe, formerly executive vice president at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, will be the new president of the St. Louis (Mo.) Convention & Visitors Commission, the commission announced on April 10. Ratcliffe came to New Orleans in 2002, after a stint as the president and CEO of Jacksonville (Fla.) & the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau. She begins in her new work "within 60 days," according to a press release, succeeding Carole Moody, who is retiring after a 30-year career with the commission.

During an April 6 press conference, Steven Hacker, CAE, president of the International Association for Exhibition Management, announced a jump in the organization's membership. According to Hacker, the bigger numbers are attributable to IAEM's February deal with the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, whereby CEIR members joining IAEM have their CEIR dues applied to their IAEM membership dues. (CEIR members who choose not to join IAEM can continue to support CEIR exclusively with their dues.) "We started this year with approximately 3,300 members," said Hacker. "After two months of the new program, we've added about 600, and we're at 4,000 members already. Since our membership renewal cycle is in October through November, it would not be surprising if membership doubled by the end of the year."

UNITE HERE Local 217 in Hartford, Conn., plans to stage a rally on April 22 at the Marriott Hartford Downtown to protest the lack of a labor peace agreement with the hotel's owner, Waterford Group LLC, which also operates the adjacent Connecticut Convention Center (CCC). Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez sent a letter to Waterford in late March to alert the company that it was in apparent violation of an ordinance requiring the company to sign a labor agreement that would allow unionization and prevent strikes. "We have a living wage ordinance that requires, if there's significant public benefit given to a private developer, that certain conditions must be met at the facility," said Matt Hennessey, the mayor's chief of staff. "Among them is the developer must provide the city with a labor peace agreement that ensures there will be no disruption at the facility" while the developer is receiving public funds. Waterford has until April 28 to provide documentation of a labor peace agreement, Hennessey said, or else the company could stand to lose tax benefits from the city that could be worth $15 million to $30 million over the next 15 years. In the meantime, the Connecticut Democrats have decided to move its state convention from the CCC to the University of Hartford on May 20, to avoid a potential confrontation with a picket line.

The InterContinental Boston hotel, which is scheduled to open in November, has reached an agreement with the Boston Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 26, ending the union's call for a boycott of the property, according to the Boston Globe. Union officials, hotel executives and the hotel's spokesperson were all unavailable for comment. According to the Globe, between 150 and 200 of the hotel's 325 employees will be unionized, and if the majority of employees sign cards expressing a desire to unionize, the hotel must use union workers to fill positions both the hotel and the union agree to.

Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos Inc. announced on April 6 that it plans a 33-story, 536-room hotel at its recently renovated Ameristar Casino Black Hawk casino, formerly the Mountain High Casino, in Black Hawk, Colo., approximately 20 miles northwest of Denver. Work will begin next month. Additions will include a pool, indoor and outdoor spas with mountain views, a steakhouse, and the Meeting Center, which will feature a grand ballroom, a junior ballroom and several meeting rooms. The project will cost an estimated $180 million and be finished in summer 2007.

The 273-room Four Seasons Hotel Boston announced on Monday that it will complete a three-year, $43 million comprehensive renovation of the hotel before the end of the month. The project created 6,000 square feet of additional meeting space, bringing the hotel's total to 15,600 square feet, most of which is illuminated by natural light. Design firm Babey Moulton Jue & Booth developed the hotel's new look.