November 30, 2005
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has completed its acquisition of Le Méridien, including all related management and franchise business in the brand's portfolio, for approximately $225 million. In a formal statement to investors, Starwood said the "acquisition will significantly increase the company's footprint in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific." In addition to the 130 existing properties, 10 Le Méridien hotels are in the development pipeline and scheduled to open in 2006 in destinations such as India, China and Thailand.

On Monday, event industry trade show TS2 and the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association announced a new partnership. EDPA will help market TS2, will plan the trade show's conference program and will receive money from TS2 based on its members' participation level. "We feel that this show, in which so many of our members are exhibitors, would benefit from our involvement and support," said Pete Dicks, EDPA's executive director. "That in turn would benefit our members and the industry." TS2 2006 is scheduled for July 25-27 at Chicago's McCormick Place Lakeside Center.

According to reports in several European media outlets, including the International Herald Tribune and the BBC news, six luxury hotels in Paris were fined this week for running a price-fixing cartel that kept their room rates artificially high. Exposed and fined, following a four-year investigation, were the five-star-rated Hotel de Crillon, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Hotel Ritz, Hotel Plaza Athénée, Hotel Meurice and Hotel Le Bristol. The French Competition Council published a 57-page report detailing the price-fixing scheme, complete with incriminating e-mail exchanges between the hotels' management detailing their strategy. The six hotels were fined a total of approximately US$831,000, with the Hotel de Crillon paying the largest penalty of about US$300,000.

Rezidor SAS Hospitality is partnering with the Italian fashion house Missoni to create a new hotel brand, Hotel Missoni, to be developed in the United Kingdom, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East. The properties, whose design will reflect contemporary Italian architecture and style, will be built in both urban centers and resort areas. The first three hotels are expected to open in 2007, with another 30 expected to open by year-end 2010. Target destinations include London, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Milan, Barcelona, St. Petersburg, Istanbul and Dubai. As yet, no sites have been chosen for the first three.

The sale of the Dunkin' Donuts Center by the city of Providence, R.I., to the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority cleared its final hurdle last week when the RICCA's board of directors agreed to purchase the arena for $28.5 million. Officials at the RICCA are in the process of designing an estimated $60 million renovation for the DDC that will add a pedestrian connector to the adjacent Rhode Island Convention Center and replace all of the 14,500 seats in the arena, among other improvements. The sale will enable the RICCA to market both facilities jointly, in hopes of attracting larger conventions to the city.

Landry's Restaurants, which owns the Golden Nugget chain of hotel-casinos, wants to build a new property in Biloxi, Miss., the city recently savaged by Hurricane Katrina. The $400 million proposal was submitted on Nov. 22 to the Biloxi City Council, which partly owns the site Landry's plans to build on. The 18-acre development, called the Biloxi Boardwalk, would offer a 60,000-square-foot casino, 600 guest rooms, a 100-berth marina and a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel. Isle of Capri Casinos also is interested in the site, on which it has first option, but the company has not announced any definite plans for the land as yet.

Kor Hotel Group plans to build an upscale condo-hotel in Miami called the Viceroy Icon Brickell. The property will have three towers of 50 to 60 stories each, with a combined total of 1,774 rooms. Amenities will include a 20,000-square-foot spa, a Philippe Starck-designed pool, a 15th-floor restaurant with a fireplace and ocean views, a 50th-floor rooftop pool and lounge, and approximately 121,000 square feet of event space. The property, which will open in 2008, is one of three Viceroy Resorts & Residences hotels planned by Kor.