July 27, 2005

Representing a major shift in union organization, several members of the Change to Win Coalition, a newly formed alliance of labor unions, announced a boycott of the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago on Sunday. Among the boycotting members were Unite HERE (the garment, textile and hotel employees union), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union. The Teamsters and the SEIU -- representing 3.2 million of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members -- both submitted letters of disaffiliation to the AFL-CIO on Monday, citing fundamental differences of opinion on how to accomplish the goals of bettering the lives and working conditions of its laborers. Anna Burger, who was elected chair of the Change to Win Coalition earlier this month, announced that a "founding convention" for the coalition will be held in the fall.

Event firm PGI has been acquired by TBA Global Events. According to a statement from TBA, the move is expected to increase the firm's annual revenue by $175 million and will allow TBA to expand its client base in Canada and Europe. In late 2004, another company, rumored to be Carlson Marketing Group, attempted to acquire PGI, but the deal fell through. TBA will continue to be headquartered in Encino, Calif.

New York City's Farley Post Office is poised to become a train station that will supplement Penn Station, across the street. The $818 million Moynihan Train Station, to open in 2011, will offer rail service to New York-area airports, a large hall available for special events and two 200-room boutique hotels, one attached to the station and one at a nearby housing development.

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has replaced its E-mmediate Meetings program (which allowed planners to research event space and rooms for meetings of 100 or fewer attendees) with the new E-mmediate Response program (e-mmediateresponse.hyatt.com). The system gives planners access to real-time data on rate and date availability (but not event space openings) at Hyatt's U.S., Canada and Caribbean properties for any size meeting. The hotel company guarantees personal follow-up by a sales manager within one business day. Booking takes place after a contract is finalized with the sales manager.

Graves Hospitality Corp., owner of Le Méridien Minneapolis, announced plans to rename the property the Graves 601 Hotel Minneapolis as of Aug. 1. The 255-room hotel's ownership, management, employees and design will remain the same, Benjamin Graves, president of the hospitality company, told M&C. The property, which was Le Méridien's first and only Art + Tech branded hotel in the United States, will be the flagship property for the new Graves Hotels Resorts brand. Graves plans to open several more hotels within the next two to three years. Projects currently are in development phases in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, downtown Chicago and Coronado, a resort island in San Diego Bay. Two more properties might be added in Costa Rica.

The Crowne Plaza Karon Beach opens on July 31 in Phuket, Thailand. The beachside property, which has 164 villas as well as 168 guest rooms, features a spa called the Tea Tree. Also on property are Wildfire, a fine-dining restaurant with two levels of meeting space; Pacifica, a casual restaurant; and Kinnaree, the resort's lounge, with a three-story terrace overlooking a pool. The hotel was due to begin welcoming guests in February, but last year's devastating tsunami delayed the opening.

Local developers have inked a deal with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to manage a planned 265-room luxury hotel in the Yorkville section of Toronto. The $325 million, mixed-use facility will feature condominiums, retail, restaurants, a pool, a spa and a banquet hall. The project is slated to be finished in 2009.