September 28, 2005

Guests who were overcharged on hotel and motel taxes in San Diego County since 1990 can file for a refund, the county's board of supervisors announced last week. Transitory occupancy taxes for hotels in unincorporated areas, meaning areas not located in a proper city, were increased from 8 to 9 percent in 1990; in 1995, the hike was found illegal. Until a trickle of recent lawsuits, however, nothing was done to reverse the 1 percent increase, leaving the city with $4 million in wrongly collected tax dollars. When the problem was uncovered earlier this year, the county offered reimbursement to any guest who had stayed in a San Diego County hotel within the past three years; the refund opportunity has now been extended to any stay since the tax hike was first implemented in 1990. Reimbursement forms are available at

A $40 million renovation has begun at the 900-room Wilshire Grand Los Angeles, to be completed over the next four years. Every area, from guest rooms to the 50,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, will be remodeled.

The 144-room Parker Palm Springs (Calif.) unveiled 11 new meeting spaces last week, offering a total of 12,926 square feet. The areas range from a 5,556-square-foot grand ballroom to a 336-square-foot boardroom.

The Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia will undergo a $15 million renovation. By fall of 2006, 290 of the property's 545 rooms will be renovated, and the rest converted to about 100 condominiums. Meeting and public space also will be refurbished.
The 96-room Colony Club Hotel, a luxury hotel in Barbados, has been renovated and will reopen Oct. 3. The 40 renovated rooms are equipped with custom linens, flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet access, new marble-rich bathrooms and, in some rooms, espresso machines.

The 1,100-room Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno, Nev., will undergo a major expansion. The $230 million project, opening in late 2007, will add a 600-suite, 17-story hotel tower; a 50,000-square-foot convention and entertainment center; a pool with deck; a spa; and a 10,000-square-foot, two-story nightclub. Several areas of the existing property will be redecorated to match the Tuscan theme of the new section. With the additional meeting space, Peppermill will have approximately 90,000 square feet of function space.

A W Hotel is planned for Phoenix, to open in 2008. The 190-room hotel (with 170 W Residences, as well), will be built next to the city's America West Arena and across the street from the expanding Phoenix Convention Center. The W Phoenix will feature 10,000 square feet of meeting space and a 10,000-square-foot Bliss Spa. The nearby W Scottsdale, with 225 rooms, opens toward the end of 2006.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group plans to build a hotel/condo project in the Victory development near the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Mandarin Oriental would not confirm the report.

Ashford Hospitality Trust has signed an agreement to purchase the Hyatt Dulles in Herndon, Va., for $72.5 million. As soon as the sale is complete, Ashford will renovate the hotel's restaurants and public spaces. A $5 million renovation of guest rooms was completed earlier this year. In addition, Ashford is considering plans to add 210 guest rooms and up to 16,000 square feet of meeting space. Currently, the property has 10,000 square feet of function space.

The 490-room Coast Anaheim Hotel will be reflagged as the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort when a $32 million renovation is completed next spring. Improvements will include upgraded guest rooms with Sweet Sleeper Beds, an updated lobby and a redesign of the property's 20,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.