November 16, 2005

The 293-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Houston-Medical Center permanently closes on Dec. 18. The property has been purchased by the Baylor College of Medicine, which plans to use it as part of an expansion.

A former Wyndham property near Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport is now the Doubletree Hotel Newark Airport. The Sweet Dreams by Doubletree Sleep Experience (upgraded pillows, linens and mattresses) currently is being installed at the 396-room property; the guest bathrooms will be redesigned and renovated in 2006. The hotel offers more than 16,000 square feet of meeting space.

On Nov. 11, Larkspur Hospitality announced the opening of the 125-room Larkspur Landing, Home Suite Hotel, in Hillsboro, Ore. Formerly branded as a Candlewood Suites property, the hotel has undergone a $1 million renovation, upgrading soft goods in the rooms and refurbishing the lobby, breakfast room, business center and the exterior. The opening of the property brings to 11 the number of Larkspur Landing all-suite, extended-stay hotels in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.  

Hours after several online lodging news sites and the London Sunday Times announced that Hilton Group CEO David Michels planned to quit the company once the sale of its international hotels to Hilton Hotel Group for US$6.26 billion was completed, a company spokesperson denied any such intention on Michel's part.

Yeserday, the San Jose [Calif.] City Council's heard a proposal for a $2 surcharge to be levied on top of the 10 percent transient occupancy tax. The city's 35 largest hotels have agreed to create a hotel business improvement district, adding a charge of between 75 cents and $2 to their rooms in order to boost marketing funds available to the convention and visitors bureau. The surcharge could bring in an extra $1.6 million a year.

SBE Hotel Group bought Le Meridien Hotel Beverly Hills last week. The 297-room property, with 10,000 square feet of meeting space, will continue to be managed by Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts for an indefinite period. SBE currently is considering renovation options, one of which is a grand redesign by Philippe Starck.

Groundbreaking took place last week on a 150-room Sheraton hotel in Tarrytown, N.Y., five miles from StarwoodÕs corporate campus. The property, to open in January 2007, will be managed by New Castle Hotels and Resorts. The Sheraton Tarrytown will have four conference rooms comprising 1,750 square feet.
Ground has been broken on a $5.2 million, 15,000-square-foot spa at the 358-room Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino. To open in November 2006, the spa will have two Swiss shower rooms, a couples' suite, a wet room with a Vichy shower, three general treatment rooms and two facial rooms.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has sold the 290-room Westin Philadelphia to HEI Hospitality for $89 million. The hotel will remain a Westin but now will be managed by Merritt Hospitality, a subsidiary of HEI. A $10 million renovation is expected.

The all-inclusive, 730-room Sunset Jamaica Grande is now open in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, following a yearlong, multimillion-dollar renovation. The property, formerly the Jamaica Grande Resort, has 30,000 square feet of meeting space.