March 29, 2006

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC announced plans on Monday to build its first resort in the People's Republic of China, at Sanya, Yalong Bay, in Hainan Province. To be opened in 2008, the 451-room property will feature suites and private villas, as well as a 30,000-square-foot spa that Ritz-Carlton promises "will be the largest and most lavish in the region." Additionally, the Ritz-Carlton, Sanya will provide 17,600 square feet of flexible meeting space, a 10,000-square-foot ballroom divisible into four rooms, as well as five smaller meeting rooms.

On March 22, the ASAE board approved changes to the group's membership structure and strategic planning, based on recommendations of a membership task force. Changes include the creation of two new categories of membership to ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership: one for "consultant members" whose primary activity is "the sale of intellectual property or expert advice to associations," and another new category for "industry partners," formerly known in the group as "associate members." Also, an exclusive Association CEO interest division will be created to provide custom research and other offerings specifically for ASAE-member CEOs. These changes require amendments to the group's bylaws that still must meet with the approval of a voting majority of ASAE members.

On March 23, Hilton Hotels Corp. announced a massive project, the 18-story Hilton Orlando Convention Center. The property will have a 15,000-square-foot spa, 1,400 rooms and 130,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 50,000-square-foot grand ballroom, a 30,000-square-foot junior ballroom and 38 meeting rooms. Also on site will be an Italian restaurant, a fine-dining restaurant and a lobby lounge. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2006, with completion set for 2009.

This week the American Hotel & Lodging Association launched a website addressing the hotel industry's 2006 labor negotiations. The site,, contains information on negotiations in specific cities, facts about the issues being negotiated (benefits, employee wages), statements by the union and AH&LA, and official press releases. Also featured is Meeting Planner Resources, where planners can download "Meeting in the Middle," a brochure on contractual issues including force majeure, cancellation and attrition clauses. The introduction by Joseph McInerney, president and CEO of AHLA, states the brochure was developed "to give meeting planners an overview of important topics and legal issues in meeting contracts and to correct some false impressions that readers might get from the 'Meeting Planner Resource Manual' distributed by UNITE HERE," the union representing hotel employees in labor negotiations in several major convention cities this year.

Two-thirds of planners who responded to a survey by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International are expecting to organize more meetings or events in 2006 compared with 2005. The survey was completed by 478 planners registered for this week's Affordable Meetings Mid-America at Chicago's Navy Pier. Of those planners anticipating more meetings in 2006, nearly 80 percent expected between one and 10 additional meetings or events this year. The study also revealed that more than 60 percent of respondents reported their meeting budgets have increased for 2006 compared with 2005. Additionally, respondents indicated that trends in the industry include planners doing more in less time; being more responsible for the bottom line; dealing with tight budgets; and meeting increasing demands of attendees, especially those that concern technology.

The Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Daniel M. Lincoln president and CEO, effective April 17. Lincoln, who served as vice president of tourism and membership for the bureau from 1990 to 1998, has been working as a consultant for the CVB since last September. Lincoln spent five years at the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, most recently as senior vice president of sales and marketing, and, in 2003 founded a consulting firm serving clients in Cincinnati and Baltimore. Lincoln succeeds Alan Welch, who will retire.

The first new-build Conrad hotel in the United States opened in Indianapolis on Monday. The 241-room Conrad Indianapolis, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space, is fully booked for this weekend's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four, held at the RCA Dome. A grand opening for the Conrad is scheduled for May. And more hotel rooms are on the way. Developers have until April 3 to submit proposals to the city for an 800- to 1,000-room hotel, which the CVA hopes will be ready to open in 2010 when expansion at the Indiana Convention Center is complete. The Pan American Plaza, which houses two ice rinks and several offices across the street from the expanded center, is considered the favored site for a new hotel. A spokesperson for the CVA said the hotel, which would be the largest in Indianapolis, "is an integral part of our strategic growth." Since 2002, the CVA has turned away more than 100 conventions because the city did not have enough available hotel rooms.

Employees of the 262-room Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort were informed last week that the property will shut down after May 31. Hyatt has managed the Puerto Rico hotel, built by Laurance Rockefeller in 1958, since 1985. The neighboring Hyatt Regency Cerromar closed in 2003, but the Hyatt-managed vacation club at that property will remain in operation.