October 12, 2005

If Marriott International's third-quarter figures are any indication of the lodging industry's strong recovery, meeting planners can expect to pay higher rates at domestic properties for the fourth quarter of 2005 and in 2006. According to figures released by Marriott, the chain expects North American RevPAR (revenue per available room) to increase by 7 to 9 percent in 2006, roughly 75 percent of which will be driven by rate increases. Strong consumer demand in the third quarter of 2005 pushed average occupancy levels to 75.9 percent, which in turn increased room rates by 7.9 percent. For the fourth quarter of 2005, the company expects performance levels to continue to improve.

Pinnacle Entertainment reopened the Hurricane Rita-damaged, 750-room L'Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, La., on Oct. 7. A day later, hotel-casino chain Isle of Capri reopened its two Lake Charles properties, the 252-room Isle of Capri Hotel and the 241-room Inn on the Lake.

The new 60,000-square-foot events center at the 700-room Broadmoor in Colorado Springs opens Monday with its first group, the Colorado Association of Realtors. Construction begins at the end of this month on a $30 million renovation of the South Tower, which houses the hotel's oldest 124 rooms. They will be updated with new bathrooms, copier/scanner/fax machines, flat-screen TVs, and bedside touchscreen controls for lights, heat and air conditioning. The property's Penrose Room also is being renovated.

At a time when many airlines are slashing routes, discount carrier JetBlue has ramped up air service from New York City and Boston. On Oct. 5, the airline introduced service from Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport to six destinations in Florida and Puerto Rico. On Oct. 11, JetBlue introduced 10 daily flights between New York's JFK and Boston's Logan airports; added seven new gates at JFK; launched three new daily flights from JFK to Austin, Texas; added four new daily flights from JFK to Richmond, Va.; and increased service to Buffalo, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt. At Boston Logan, in addition to the 10 JFK flights, JetBlue will offer new daily service to Austin, Texas; Nassau, The Bahamas; Richmond, Va.; and West Palm Beach, Fla.

Global Hyatt Corp. and Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. acquired Century City, Calif.'s 728-room Century Plaza Hotel & Spa last week, rebranding the L.A. landmark as the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. A $22.5 million renovation of guest rooms, common space and the Hyatt Regency Club already has begun. The seven-acre property offers 141,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space and a 35,000-square-foot Asian-influenced spa.