February 08, 2006

Marriott International continues its sleep and bedding upgrade program with a new collection for its Marriot ExecuStay portfolio (a temporary-housing brand), which includes Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Marriott Executive Apartments. Elite Dreamer, which includes a signature bed and high-quality bedding, will be rolled out at all ExecuStay properties. Marriott says the upgrade will come without a rise in room rates.

The 370-room Rome Cavalieri Hilton hotel plans a $20 million expansion of its meeting space (which is currently 93,000 square feet). The project includes the addition of a separate entrance for meetings and events. Also, the hotel has completed the expansion of one meeting/event room, the Terrazza Aranci; now it can accommodate 250 for seated events and 350 for receptions.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced the sale of three more properties as part of its strategy to minimize capital investment. Sold to Boston-based Pyramid Hotels Opportunity Venture II for $146 million were the 206-room Westin Embassy Row, Washington, D.C.; the 264-room Sheraton Suites in San Diego, Calif.; and the Sheraton Framingham, Mass. All three hotels will continue to fly their Starwood-branded flags under long-term license agreements.

This week InterContinental Hotels Group launched eHost, a comprehensive virtual concierge service for its Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts brand. eHost will provide weather, airline information and hotel-specific information, such as dining options, local attractions, shopping, transportation and movies -- in short, all the services an on-site traditional concierge would provide. IGH says it does not intend to replace the concierge service at its hotels, only enhance it. Full-scale implementation of eHost is anticipated by year's end.

Cable Beach Resorts, three neighboring properties in Nassau, the Bahamas (and the basis of the soon-to-commence $1.6 billion Baha Mar project), will get an $85 million facelift, to be completed by year's end. The 691-room Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort will be fully renovated and will be reflagged as a Sheraton hotel. At the Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, 257 of the 850 rooms will be completely renovated, and the rest will receive upgrades.

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, one of Asia's largest hotel groups, opened its first Australian property last week, the 100-room BLUE Woolloomooloo Bay, Sydney. Formerly a W hotel, the boutique property is adjacent to the Royal Botanical Gardens and within walking distance of the Sydney Opera House.

The 400-room Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe announced this week the completion of a multimillion-dollar renovation. Meeting space was expanded by 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and the remaining meeting space and all guest rooms were refurbished. 

The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark in Lake George, N.Y., held its grand opening yesterday. The resort has 200 suites, 6,500 square feet of meeting space, a spa and a 38,000-square-foot indoor water park. The property is across from a Six Flags theme park.

The 200-room Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto (Calif.) opened last week. The chain's 70th property has all the amenities and luxuries one would expect from a Four Seasons, including a rooftop pool, a spa, 42-inch plasma TVs in the rooms and 7,000 square feet of meeting space.

ClubCorp, a Dallas-based company that owns and operates golf courses, country clubs, resorts and private business and sports clubs, announced last week that it has entered a long-term agreement to manage the Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster, Mass., on Cape Cod. ClubCorp will spend more than $20 million over the next two years renovating the 335-room resort, its spa, ocean view restaurant and meeting space, and Jack Nicklaus golf course. Last year, the resort spent $5 million upgrading its facilities.

Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., is undergoing a $200 million expansion project that will add more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space to its conference center in June, a new 200,000-square-foot Expo Center in 2007, and an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park and additional condominiums that will bring the resortÕs total room count to 750 by March 2007. Officials plan to break ground on the Expo Center in June and open the water park in July.