October 19, 2005

Meeting Professionals International has partnered with JLT Services Corp. to offer MPI's 19,000 members new event cancellation insurance, professional liability insurance, business owners' policies, special-event coverage and weather insurance. Members with immediate needs can call JLT at (877) 528-8249. MPI and JLT also are looking into providing term life insurance, disability income, long-term care, medical/dental/vision insurance, workers' compensation, employment practices liability insurance, identity-theft coverage and more.

Hilton Hotels Corp. is in talks with its British counterpart, Hilton Group PLC, to buy the European group's 400 hotels. Should the $6.3 billion, all-cash deal go through, Hilton Hotels' portfolio would jump to 2,700 properties in 80 countries and put Hilton in position to go toe-to-toe with Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which are rapidly expanding into the European and Asian markets.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will develop a US$100 million-plus luxury resort on the island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. The St. Regis Resort Bora Bora will include 101 over-water and beach villas, some with private swimming pools built over the lagoon. The 44-acre resort also will include a 12,000-square-foot spa on a separate island in the lagoon. To open in April 2006, the resort will be Starwood's fourth managed property in French Polynesia.

Ground was broken Oct. 11 on a 60,000-square-foot conference center at the 693-room Doral Golf Resort & Spa, a Marriott Resort, in Miami. The new center will feature a 24,000-square-foot ballroom. The $25 million addition will open in early 2007, bringing the resort's total to more than 110,000 square feet of event space.

Two new airlines, each offering a different level of business-class service, will compete head-to-head with daily flights between New York's JFK airport and London's Stansted International Airport. Luxury-class carrier Eos began service yesterday. "The Eos experience   with an unprecedented 21 square feet of space [per person] and lay-flat beds is simply unrivaled in today's market," said David Spurlock, the airline's founder. On Nov. 1, Maxjet Airways will begin flying. "Maxjet was founded to bring greater value to the intercontinental market by connecting key business cities with a high-quality, low-fare business-class product," said Gary Rogliano, Maxjet's CEO.

The International Association for Exhibition Management has condemned a new California law designed to limit unwanted fax transmissions. "California may be terminating itself as a place that is open to new business development," said Steven Hacker, CAE, president of IAEM. Under the new measure, which takes effect in January 2006, recipients can sue senders for $500 for each fax sent without "express invitation." IAEM's position is that such a law will impede legitimate business owners and hurt face-to-face events in California by encouraging producers to move events out of state.

After years of delays, Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell has released the first $16 million for the $632 million expansion of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Convention Center. When completed in 2009, the expanded center will have 541,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 87 meeting rooms and two ballrooms totaling 93,000 square feet.