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May 18, 2005

The 398 rooms at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson are being renovated, to be completed in October. The $10 million project will completely change the look of the rooms, and the bathrooms are being redone, as well.

The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort in San Antonio, Texas, has completed a $13 million renovation to all 500 rooms. High-speed Internet and Wi-Fi access and addition of Hyatt's Grand Bed were among the floor-to-ceiling improvements. The property offers 33,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 2,003-room Hilton Reno was sold on May 11 by parent company Caesars Entertainment to the Grand Sierra Corp., which plans to change the propertyÕs name to the Grand Sierra Resort by the end of the year. The new owners of the Nevada property will build a second hotel tower and a 150,000-square-foot water park, but no timeline has been announced for the additions. The resort has 200,000 square feet of meeting space and 107,000 square feet of casino space. Work on the expansion will be finished in 2007.

Hilton Hotels Corp. has formed a Multicultural Advisory Board to advise the chain on the best ways to expand its reach into multicultural markets. The 20-member board includes representatives and meeting and event planners of major minority and multicultural organizations, including the NAACP, National Urban League, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the National Council of La Razza and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Hilton has created two director of sales positions responsible for increasing the chain's market share in African-American and Hispanic markets.

Extended Stay Hotels announced it has acquired 16 Sierra Suites Hotels, which will be reflagged Extended Stay Deluxe, a new brand. The 16 properties are in Phoenix; Orlando; Atlanta; Boston; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Pleasanton and San Jose, Calif. Extended Stay Deluxe properties will offer more upscale rooms with workspaces, full kitchens, personalized voice mail and exercise facilities. Extended Stay Hotels will continue to expand the brand in 2005, primarily through conversion of existing StudioPLUS hotels and Wellesley Inn & Suites hotels, which it acquired in October 2004.

The government of Bermuda has approved plans for Tucker's Point Hotel & Cottages, a residential resort project that includes a 104-room luxury hotel, a Greenbrier spa, a marina and a 5,000-square-foot conference center. The hotel will debut in late 2007, at Tucker's Point Club, a golf club, tennis center and beach club that has been built over the past few years.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed on to manage the Sheraton Urumqi Hotel in Urumqi, the capital city of China's Xinjiang province. The property, set to open in early 2007, will have 410 guest rooms and 18,500 square feet of meeting space, in addition to three restaurants, a health club/spa, an indoor swimming pool and retail shops. Starwood currently operates 19 hotels in the People's Republic of China, with 14 more in development.

The Hilton Hartford and its unionized workers agreed to a four-year contract last week. The contract calls for a total $1.65 per-hour raise over four years, increasing every six months, as well as caps on health-insurance premiums and reduced workloads for housekeeping employees.

The Ocean Edge Resort & Club in Brewster, Mass., announced that the first phase of a three-year renovation project has been completed. The resort improved its 335 guest rooms and grounds on the Cape Cod property, which offers 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The next phases will add a ballroom in 2006 and a spa in 2007. In total, the resort will spend $15 million on the improvements.