December 07, 2005

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced on Monday that smoking will be banned at all 77 Westin Hotels & Resorts in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, effective in January. The policy change results from "a clear consumer demand for a clean, smoke-free environment," said Sue Brush, Westin's senior vice president, in a statement, noting that 92 percent of Westin's guests request nonsmoking accommodations. The ban will prohibit smoking in all guest rooms and public spaces, though the policy will allow smoking in designated outdoor areas or in "areas not owned or operated by Westin Hotels & Resorts," which could include franchised restaurants, a spokesperson for Westin said. The chain will replace soft goods and conduct thorough cleanings in all 2,400 smoking rooms at the 69 affected properties. Eight Westin hotels already are smoke-free.

Work is under way on a multimillion-dollar expansion to the 357-room Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. Forty villa guest rooms will be added, including a suite with a meeting room for up to 12 people. Construction will be completed by May. The property's golf pro shop also will be enlarged, as will the clubhouse's private dining room and lounge, and a new banquet room will be built. This work will be finished by the end of January. Renovations already completed include carpeting and artwork enhancements to the 32,000-square-foot conference center.

A three-year, multimillion-dollar renovation project has been completed at the Peabody Memphis. All 464 guest rooms were overhauled, historic meeting rooms and public spaces were restored, and the Capriccio Grill Italian Steakhouse was added. Wireless Internet access was installed throughout the hotel. The project also expanded the Grand Ballroom to 17,500 square feet and the main Exhibit Hall to 11,500 square feet. The Skyway, the hotel's nightclub and group reception venue, was the last space to be renovated. Overall, the property offers 80,000 square feet of meeting space.

Performance improvement firm Carlson Marketing Group has modified its name to Carlson Marketing. Jim Schroer, president and CEO, also has streamlined the company's divisions, regional teams and 22 overseas offices into three parts: Carlson 1to1 (for creating comprehensive business strategies for clients), sales and marketing services (for loyalty marketing, recognition and rewards), and meetings and events (for incentive travel, meetings and event marketing). According to a spokesperson for the firm, no staff cuts have been made. In other news, CB Wismar, former executive vice president of strategic communication and chief creative officer at event company PGI, has joined Carlson as vice president of event marketing in the meetings and events division.

The 420-room Hard Rock Hotel San Diego will open in spring 2007 in the city's Gaslamp Quarter. In a twist for the hotel chain, the rooms will be available for purchase. Each room will have an LCD television, a martini bar and a workstation. The hotel also will offer a 7,000-square-foot live-music venue, a Nobu restaurant and 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.