November 23, 2005

NYC & Company announced last week that 5,000 hotel rooms will come online in New York City within the next two years. Unfortunately for meeting planners, most of these properties will be small, limited-service or redesigns of current properties. Only a 175-room Sheraton and hot hotelier Andre Balazs├Ľ 344-room Standard (both to open in 2007) will be new-built, full-service hotels with substantially more than 100 rooms.

Hilton International will open an upscale resort in Puerto IguazS, Argentina, next to the famous IguazS Falls on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. The Hilton IguazS Resort, opening in 2008, will feature a marina offering boat trips to the falls. In addition to 158 guest rooms, the resort will have a restaurant, several outdoor pools, a spa, a gym and a 16,146-square-foot conference center.

The French Lick Springs Resort and Casino is closed for 13 months in an effort to speed up its $300 million expansion and renovation project. When work is complete in December 2006, the resorts will offer a combined 680 guest rooms and more than 75,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. An 80,000-square-foot casino will be run by Blue Sky Casino LLC.

Ground was broken last week on the expansion of the 168-room Lakeway Inn and Conference Resort in Austin, Texas. Plans for the Dolce International property include the construction of 16 spa guest rooms, a new 5,200-square-foot ballroom and a 5,500-square-foot spa and fitness center.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Kimpton Hotels & Resorts will manage a new 250-room property being built in Austin, Texas. Construction could begin by May, with an opening scheduled for August 2007.

The 300-room Clarion Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, has been purchased by Pearl Investments and will be turned into a Hotel Indigo, an InterContinental Hotels brand. The transformation is expected to take about a year.

Neptune Hospitality Advisors is acquiring the 288-room Hilton Salt Lake City Airport. The hotel, with more than 8,300 square feet of meeting space, will undergo a $6.25 million renovation and will remain a Hilton.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened the 222-suite Westin Trillium House at the 32-acre Village at Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, Ontario, about 90 minutes from Toronto. In addition to 10,000 square feet of meeting space with outdoor access, the property features mountainside ski lockers and changing facilities, a heated outdoor pool, a fitness facility, a restaurant and high-speed Internet access.

The 460-room Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square New York City has completed a $12 million renovation of its guest rooms. Accommodations now feature the Sweet Dreams by Doubletree Sleep Experience bed, 27-inch flat-screen TVs, two-line speakerphones, safes, microwaves, refrigerators, ergonomically designed work areas with high-speed Internet access, and fold-out sofa beds. The hotel has more than 6,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Kor Hotel Group bought its first San Francisco property last week, the 110-room Campton Place Hotel. Kor took over management of the hotel last Thursday. No renovation plans are in place.

The 370-room Portola Plaza Hotel in Monterey, Calif., which offers 50,000 square feet of function space, will undergo renovations to its VIP guest floor and three of its ballrooms. The property will spend $8 million and is scheduled to complete renovations by January.