The State of Louisiana's Bond
Commission gave the city of Shreveport final permission on Jan. 21
to start the process of selling $52 million in bonds to finance a
planned convention center hotel. (The Shreveport Convention Center
is now being built and will open in January 2006.) The project,
most likely to be a 300-room Hilton, is not without controversy.
Opponents threaten a lawsuit to block the project.
On Jan. 24, Turnberry Associates, based
in Aventura, Fla., agreed to buy the 920-room Fontainebleau Hilton
Resort in Miami. The property, which will open its second tower
next month with 462 rooms, also plans a third tower -- most likely
to open in early 2007 -- for a total of approximately 1,600 rooms.
Additionally, Turnberry announced it will begin a $150 million,
two-year renovation project to refurbish the property's meeting
space and add a spa, signature restaurants and Las Vegas-style
entertainment venues. For the last two years, Turnberry has been
involved in the construction of the two new towers but now assumes
ownership. Hilton will continue to manage the property.
On Jan. 20, Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage
and Singapore-based CapitaLand submitted a joint proposal to the
government of Singapore for developing an entertainment resort
south of the nation's central business district in the Marina
Bayfront neighborhood. No timeline has been announced for the
The 215-room Hilton-Oklahoma City
Northwest has been reflagged the Crowne Plaza Oklahoma City. The
property is slated for a $2.5 million renovation that will focus on
the hotel's guest rooms, lobby, restaurant and lounge areas. "We
are delighted about continuing to grow the Crowne Plaza brand in
North America," said Kevin Kowalski, vice president, brand
management, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts. The property's
renovation will be completed by the end of the year.
Investment firm Quinlan Private has
launched a new hotel company, called Maybourne Hotel Group. The new
entity will own and manage three former Savoy Group properties in
London: The Berkeley, Claridge's and The Connaught. (The firm will
add a spa and 35 rooms, for a total of 127, to The Connaught.)
Geraldine McKenna, previously executive vice president of the Savoy
Group, will be CEO of the new group. According to a spokesperson,
Maybourne plans to add other international luxury properties to its
On Jan. 25, French hotel company Accor
announced it will take over management of the Sheraton Brisbane, in
Brisbane, Australia, as of Feb. 1. The property, which recently
finished a US$7.64 million renovation, will be reflagged as the
Sofitel Brisbane. The hotel has 410 rooms and 14 function rooms
catering up to 1,200 people.
Contrary to some industry speculation,
officials with the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority expect
the sale of the Westin Providence and the planned development of an
adjacent hotel tower to suffer no delays. Last week, after the
Cranston, R.I.-based Procaccianti Group was named top bidder for
the Westin and a neighboring empty lot, company president James
Procaccianti was revealed to be on the receiving end of an
unresolved, 10-year-old lawsuit from the state, a fact the RICCA
said was not disclosed in the firm's initial bid. Although RICCA
chairman David Duffy claimed to be "not happy" about the
late-breaking news, convention center authority representatives say
the sale to Procaccianti Group will go ahead despite the lawsuit.
The RICCA board will meet to finalize its decision Thursday.
Capping an extensive renovation, the
224-room Westin Governor Morris announced its reopening last week
in Morristown, N.J. The thoroughly rejuvenated hotel features a New
American restaurant called Copeland with raw bar, martini lounge
and wine room, and has 25,000 square feet of meeting space.
Groundbreaking on a $77 million,
280-room expansion to the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge,
purportedly Brooklyn's only full-service hotel, took place last
week. When finished, the hotel will have 656 guest rooms. The
Brooklyn Marriott expansion is scheduled to open fall 2006. The
project will include a 3,000-square-foot conference room, bringing
the total meeting space to 36,000 square feet.