February 01, 2006

At least 67 people were killed in the Polish city of Katowice when the roof of the Katowice Trade Center collapsed on Jan. 29. Approximately 120 exhibitors and 12,000 attendees were in the center for Pigeon 2006, an international fair of racing pigeons, according to Jan Kawaler, the chairperson of the convention. An investigation is under way to determine how the roof of the seven-year-old structure could collapse. The center, approximately 140 miles southwest of Warsaw, remains closed.

The Exhibition and Event Industry Audit Commission will co-locate one of its two annual meetings with TS2 -- Where Trade Shows and Corporate Events Begin, it was announced on Jan 31. EEIAC advises and promotes implementation of attendance audits and will offer attendees an educational session on the value of such audits at TS2 2006, to be held at Chicago's McCormick Place July 25-27. "We are committed to the importance of audits," said Robert E. Harar, chairman of National Trade Productions, producers of TS2. "We're pleased to welcome EEIAC to TS2 to educate and promote the value of audits to our members."

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Inc. has entered into an acquisition agreement with Kingdom Hotels International and Colony Capital to sell the chain in an all-cash transaction for approximately US$3.9 billion. The announcement this week ended months of speculation that the Toronto-based chain would be acquired in a takeover bid by billionaire financer Carl Icahn, a majority shareholder.  Under the deal, which was unanimously approved by Fairmont's board of directors, Kingdom and Colony will acquire Fairmont's entire portfolio of 87 properties. However, Fairmont will remain an independent hotel management and ownership company. Furthermore, Kingdom and Colony, the latter of which owns the Raffles chain, announced their intention to combine the two companies to create a global luxury chain. There are currently 33 Raffles properties, primarily in Asia and Europe, including the flagship Raffles Singapore. Raffles, like Fairmont, will retain its independent brand identify. The transaction is expected to be completed in several months.

InterContinental Hotels Group announced earlier this week plans to sell seven of its properties in Europe in the coming months. The hotels are in Amsterdam, Budapest, Cannes, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rome and Vienna. Sale of the properties is expected to take at least nine months. IHG said the move is in keeping with its strategy to reduce asset ownership and increase management opportunities.

Beginning Thursday, Feb. 2, Florence's Amerigo Vespucci Airport will be shut down for three months to accommodate engineering work. Flights to Florence will be diverted to Pisa, about 50 miles away.

Officials broke ground last week on a resort and residential development in Branson West, Mo., that is expected to cost more than $1 billion. The Indian Ridge Resort on Table Rock Lake will be constructed on 1,000 acres in southwest Missouri and will include a 109,000-square-foot water park, a condo-hotel and 25,000-square-foot conference center, a championship golf course, a shopping center, a 3,000-square-foot Ozark history center and a full-service marina. The project will be constructed in phases, with the first phase of retail and condos due to open next year. Scott Decker, manager of resource development for the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce, estimated the entire project could take up to seven years to complete.