September 14, 2005

The 605-room Essex House in New York City has been sold to Dubai Investment Group. Jumeirah Hospitality and Leisure, which manages the famously luxe Burj Al Arab in Dubai, will take over management of the property from Starwood Hotels and Resorts in January. At that time, a $50 million renovation will begin, updating the hotel and transforming 15 percent of its rooms to condominiums. The renovation should be done sometime next year. This is Jumeirah’s first property outside Dubai; more are being considered in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

To raise money for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort and the American Red Cross, the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H., will auction itself off on eBay, beginning today and ending on Sept. 24. The highest bidder gets exclusive use of the hotel -- all 200 guest rooms -- for the night of Nov. 9. The bidding starts at $5,000. If the winner is unavailable on Nov. 9, the hotel will allow the 200 room nights to be used by the winner piecemeal through May 16, 2006.

The old Sam Houston Hotel in Houston will be rebranded tomorrow as the Alden Houston, the first in a new hotel brand introduced by Tim Miller, who worked for Ian Schrager for more than 15 years. The 97-room luxury hotel in HoustonÕs central business district, which originally opened in 1924, offers a restaurant called 17, a boardroom, meeting space for up to 75 people and a veranda that accommodates 200. Miller is looking at redeveloping properties in Atlanta, Austin, Cincinnati, Nashville and Vancouver into Alden hotels by 2007.

The 399-room Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong opened on Monday in the city's International Financial Centre. The property features two restaurants, a spa, two ballrooms overlooking Victoria Harbour and seven additional meeting rooms.

The Beau Rivage Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., which was partially destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, opened a job placement center last weekend. The service will provide information on positions open at its Tunica, Miss., and Las Vegas properties for those affected by the hurricane. The hotel's website -- -- has more information.

InterContinental Hotels Group said that of its 560 hotels across its various brands in the Hurricane Katrina-affected region, including Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza, 60 were affected, with 25 sustaining significant damage.

The 148-room upscale Sans Souci Resort & Spa near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, has been sold to Couples Resorts, and is now called the Couples Sans Souci.
Hunter Mountain Resort, in Hunter, N.Y., a ski town in the Catskills, officially unveiled last week the $26 million, 109-room Kaatskill Mountain Club. The hotel offers a health club and spa, restaurant and conference center. The Kaatskill Mountain Club has four meeting rooms totaling 2,400 square feet; bringing the total amount of meeting space at the resort to 20,700 square feet.