March 15, 2006

Boston Edison Co. and three other Massachusetts companies agreed last week to pay more than $9 million toward the cleanup of hazardous materials on and around the site of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, under a settlement agreement with Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and the Boston Redevelopment Authority filed a complaint in 1996 alleging that Boston Edison was using the South Boston land as a junkyard for electronics that contained PCBs, harmful chemical mixtures that were banned in the 1970s. The settlement money will be used primarily to reimburse the state and the MCCA for past cleanup work, but some money will fund efforts to eradicate remaining subsurface contamination from a small parcel of land near Cypher Street. The land on which the convention center was built and on which the Westin Boston Waterfront is being constructed has been completely cleaned, according to a spokesperson for the MCCA.

Rezidor SAS Hospitality will open its first three Missoni-branded properties in Kuwait, Edinburgh and Dubai. The 200-room Hotel Missoni Kuwait, which will be part of the Symphony Complex, will open in mid-2007; the 130-room Hotel Missoni Edinburgh, on the Scottish capital's Royal Mile, and the 250-room Hotel Missoni Dubai, which will be part of the Palm Island Jumeirah resort, both will open in late 2008. Each property will have a spa, a fitness center and conference facilities. Rezidor SAS plans to open 30 Missoni properties by 2010.

As a result of a merger of Duke Energy and Cinergy Corp., the Cinergy Center in Cincinnati henceforth will be known as the Duke Energy Center. The facility, which was expanded and renovated, stages its grand reopening in June.

On Monday, Pinnacle Entertainment acquired all the shares of rival hotel-casino company Aztar Corp. in a $2.1 billion deal. The merger will give Pinnacle 12 casino hotels in the United States, comprising approximately 8,800 hotel rooms. Hotel brands under the new company's umbrella include Boomtown, Casino Magic and Tropicana. The buyout still has to be approved by Aztar shareholders. Pinnacle officials also hinted that the flagship 1,874-room Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas will begin a major renovation and expansion within the next two years.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is planning to build a hotel and residence tower in St. Paul, Minn., to open in fall 2008. The Westin Saint Paul Hotel & Residences will include 250 guest rooms, 82 residences and 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The property will anchor a mixed-use development known as The Bridges of Saint Paul that will include office and retail space, restaurants and a museum attraction known as "Mythica: The Center for World Mythology and Human Journey."

Loews Hotels announced Monday that it will assume management of the 353-room Madison hotel in Washington, D.C., around April 1. Guest rooms of The Madison, A Loews Hotel, will be given new flat-screen TVs and soft goods. The hotel has played host to every president since John F. Kennedy.

According to the Business Travel Monitor, released yesterday by American Express Business Travel, the average fare paid for U.S. domestic flights dropped to a six-year low of $216 at the close of 2005. Meanwhile, hotel and car-rental prices, as well as international airfares, reached new six-year highs. Simplified fares and more low-fare competition are to blame for the drop in domestic fares, said Andy McGraw, senior vice president and general manager of American Express Business Travel North America. Yet, domestic fares are rising; in the fourth quarter of 2005, the average domestic fare paid edged up 3 percent to $223 one way, compared with $215 one way for the same period in 2004.  Over the course of 2005, the average domestic fare paid rose 10 percent.