October 19, 2005

The 188-room Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, has been purchased by an undisclosed new owner for $55 million. The property, built in 1886, will be managed by Destination Hotels & Rresorts. The Driskill, in the heart of downtown Austin, offers 14,837 square feet of meeting space.

Hilton Garden Inn, which this year embarked on an ambitious expansion plan, says it aims to keep going. The chain will open 45 hotels a year for the next three years. This year, Hilton Garden Inn will open 42 properties by year-end, including hotels in Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Antonio, Texas. Hilton Garden Inns range in size from 80 to 357 rooms, with most offering between 125 and 175 rooms. Opening yesterday was the 369-room Hilton Garden Inn in New York City.

In Manhattan, the 125-room Holiday Inn Express Midtown-Fifth Avenue opened Oct. 14.

Sage Hospitality Resources has purchased the Cherry Valley Lodge, a resort and conference center in Newark, Ohio, reportedly for $15.5 million. The resort has 200 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of conference space. An announcement will be made before the year's end about possible renovations to the resort.

Construction is under way on the US$820 million Darwin City Waterfront project in Australia's Northern Territory, which will include the Darwin Convention and Exhibition Centre, a hotel, recreational facilities, and residential and commercial elements. To open in 2008, the DCEC will feature 43,000 square feet of exhibit space.

The Royal Sonesta Hotel, a 500-room hotel in New Orleans' French Quarter, claims that Oct. 14-16 it held the city's first corporate meeting since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in late August. Corporate events and accommodations were arranged for a group of 35 doctors attending an event by Switzerland-based Alcon Inc., which has its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Adam's Mark Winston-Salem was renamed the Winston-Salem Marriott on Oct. 13. A $20 million renovation has just been completed at the 325-room hotel, which has 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

Twelve Marriotts in New Orleans will begin accepting guests on Nov. 1. The hotels question are the JW Marriott; New Orleans Marriott; New Orleans Marriott at the Convention Center; Renaissance Arts Hotel; Courtyard New Orleans/Convention Center; Courtyard New Orleans/Covington-Mandeville; Courtyard New Orleans Downtown near the French Quarter; Courtyard New Orleans-Metairie; Residence Inn New Orleans-Downtown; Residence Inn New Orleans-Metairie; SpringHill Suites New Orleans-Convention Center, and TownePlace Suites New Orleans-Metairie. Area Marriotts still closed are the Fairfield Inn Kenner-New Orleans Airport; Renaissance Pere Marquette; Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans; and Ritz-Carlton, Maison Orleans. Still closed in Point Clear, Ala., is the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa.

Los Angeles' Westin Bonaventure Hotel received permission from the city council on Monday to convert 30 percent of its 1,354 guest rooms to condo units. After the city had agreed to grant $290 million in subsidies and loans to the recently inked Hilton headquarters hotel next to the Los Angeles Convention Center, Bonaventure owner Peter Zen threatened to fight the project, saying the city was unfairly subsidizing new competition. Zen had filed a lawsuit against the developers as early as April and in recent weeks began organizing a petition drive for a ballot referendum. Zen has agreed to drop all legal action in return for the right to go ahead with his condo project.