August 17, 2005

The San Francisco Multi-Employer Group, representing 14 downtown hotels, and hotel employee group Local 2 Unite HERE came away from another negotiation session last week with their battle unresolved. The union rejected MEG's latest proposal, which offered a contract term that expired in 2007 -- one year sooner than MEG's previous offer -- a $5 monthly copay for complete health care, and a benefit package requiring 20 work hours per month, rather than the 45 hours the hotel group had proposed earlier. In a public statement, the Multi-Employer Group said the union's refusal of its offer displayed "a lack of respect for us, our employees and the people of San Francisco." Local 2 continues to insist on a contract that would concede to one of two demands: a 2006 expiration date, which would line San Francisco up with next year's negotiations in Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles; or card-check neutrality, which would give unions freedom to organize at hotels without approval from the National Labor Relations Board.
InterContinental Hotels Group PLC has signed a franchise agreement with Queens Moat Houses Ltd. to operate up to 16 properties in the United Kingdom. Eleven properties will be converted to the Holiday Inn brand and two will be branded as Crowne Plazas, while an additional three hotels might be converted at a later date. [LG/from InterContinental Friday)

Marriott International has entered into an agreement with Lumbermen's Investment Corp. to develop a 1,000-room hotel in San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Golf at the property, two 18-hole courses and a learning center, will be developed in a partnership with the PGA Tour. Construction could begin early next year, to be completed by 2009.

Under construction in Vail, Colo., is the Arrabelle at Vail Square, a 36-room luxury RockResort property to open in fall 2007. The hotel will offer a 10,000-square-foot Avanyu Spa, a small conference center and 63 condos.

The 357-room Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, Texas, will begin a $15 million expansion in the fall, to be finished in spring 2006. Forty new villa rooms will be added, along with some meeting space and two new suites. The top level of the sports club will be redesigned to include a private banquet room.

The University of Texas plans to build a 250- to 300-room property on its Austin campus, to be managed by Flik International. The $60 million University of Texas Professional Education and Conference Center, which will offer 70,000 square feet of meeting space, will open in September 2008.

The Radisson Hotel Memphis (Tenn.) was rebranded as the Doubletree Hotel Memphis Downtown yesterday following an $8 million renovation. The 280-room property has 7,500 square feet of meeting space.

The first phase of a $60 million renovation is finished at the 314-room Carlton on Madison Avenue in New York City. The lobby of the 1904 hotel was expanded and redesigned by the Rockwell Group and now features a three-story waterfall and Tiffany-style glass dome skylight. By the fall, there will be 6,306 square feet of meeting space available, and a new restaurant called Country, a sister to popular spot Town, will open. A spa and health club also is in the works. The hotel is managed by Allegiance Hospitality Services, a subsidiary of Omni Hotels.

Hyatt will rebrand the AmeriSuites hotel chain it acquired in January 2005 as an upscale select service product called Hyatt Place, with a heavy emphasis on design and technology. Plans for a new-build prototype won't be revealed until late September, but former AmeriSuites properties are expected to complete the renovation and rebranding process by the end of 2006.

The 295-room Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach (Calif.) will lose its Four Seasons handle this October. The Irvine Company, the hotel's owners, will manage the property independently. Renovation plans and the property's new name have yet to be announced.