April 20, 2005

Following three months of negotiations with Unite Here Local 6, Elad Properties, the new owner of New York City's Plaza hotel, has adjusted its plans for converting hotel rooms into condominiums. About 350 rooms will remain guest rooms, up from a previously planned 150, and the Grand Ballroom will not be converted to retail space, though the property still will feature a retail component. The hotel closes April 30 for an 18-month conversion process.

The New York Giants football team signed a deal last week with acting New Jersey governor Richard Codey to replace the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands with a new, $750 million facility next door, to open in time for the 2008 NFL season. The new stadium will have 80,000 seats, more luxury boxes than the old venue and improved concessions. Before the project can proceed, the Giants must work out a deal with the developers of the Xanadu project, a massive entertainment center being built in the same complex, to minimize traffic in the area.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts plans to open two new properties adjacent to Baltimore-Washington International Airport: A 203-room Sheraton will debut in fall 2006, while a 260-room Westin hotel will open in spring 2007. The Sheraton will have 4,600 square feet of meeting space, and the Westin will have 7,300 square feet.

Last weekend the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Home Builders announced it is pulling out of its commitment to hold the 2007 and 2008 International Builders' shows in Atlanta, where the event has been held for the past 25 years. In a statement, NAHB president David F. Wilson claimed the show's attendance figures have ballooned from 65,000 to 100,000 since the association's initial signing with Atlanta, and the association is complying with all of its contractual obligations in the termination. The NAHB has not indicated where it will hold the 2007 and 2008 shows. This is the second time the association has backed out of future contracts. The association currently is in settlement talks with the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, which sued for the group's cancellation of its commitment with the city for 2013 and 2014.

Groundbreaking on a convention center in Raleigh, N.C., took place on April 6. Opening in spring 2008, the facility will have 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, 16 meeting rooms and a 32,000-square-foot ballroom for up to 2,400 people. A 400-room Marriott is scheduled to open at the same time, featuring a 9,000-square-foot ballroom.

The Green Meeting Industry Council has launched an improved website to help planners make their meetings more environmentally friendly. The site, www.greenmeetings.info, offers information on best practices, links to award programs and resources on how to address specific environmental issues such as food waste, recycling and energy efficiency.

United Airlines will implement new three-tiered pricing for all of its corporate accounts. The program will include negotiated discounts on every published domestic fare. United said the pricing policy, which will be unveiled shortly, is part of a sales reorganization aimed at injecting value into its corporate accounts.