November 10, 2004

Empire State Development Corp. announced last week its approval of the $1.4 billion New York Sports and Convention Center, a 75,000-seat football stadium for the New York Jets immediately south of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It will also be used as a 180,000-square-foot exhibit hall. Assuming the environmental impact statement reaches completion, a 30-day public-input process goes smoothly and the Public Authorities Control Board gives its final approval, construction will begin next year, and the center will open in 2009. Meanwhile, the long-awaited expansion to the Javits Center might be approved in the state legislature as soon as this month.

The expanded Colorado Convention Center in Denver, which officially opens Dec. 6, already received its certificate of occupancy on Nov. 5. The facility now offers 584,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 100,000 square feet of meeting space, a 50,000-square-foot ballroom, a 35,000-square-foot ballroom and a 5,000-seat auditorium.

In other Denver news, voters approved a $4.7 billion mass-transit system last week. The 12-year plan will expand by 119 miles the city's current light-rail and commuter-rail offerings. To pay for the construction, the sales tax has been raised from 7.2 to 7.6 percent (and the total tax on a hotel room goes from 13.45 to 13.85 percent). The project will add service from downtown out to Denver International Airport and Boulder by 2014. Tracks expected to open next year will serve the hotels in the Denver Tech Center along I-25.

The winners of the 2005 Mobil four- and five-star awards are in, and the usual suspects continue to reign supreme. This year, 31 properties achieved the five-star rating, while 117 were awarded four stars. This year's expansion into Alaska and Hawaii by Mobil inspectors yielded the only new five-star winner to this year's elite list, the Four Seasons Resort Wailea in Maui. For a full list of winners, visit the website. Long-time five-star achievers making the list again include the St. Regis and the Point in New York City, as well as the Hotel Bel-Air in California and the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The 422-room InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, in Atlanta's upscale neighborhood of Buckhead, opened on Nov. 4. The $115 million, 21-story hotel has 31,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms. Also on site is the 25,000-square-foot Windsor Garden, filled with native Georgian plants.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts will manage a new hotel in Beijing. When the hotel opens in mid-2006, it will join the company's two other Chinese properties, the Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai, which opened in 2002, and the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, scheduled to open next year. The Four Seasons Hotel Beijing will have 300 guest rooms, as well as three restaurants, a spa and two ballrooms.

The 2,701-room Wynn Las Vegas, set to open April 28, has already planned an expansion. The details still are being refined, but the 20-acre addition will contain about 1,500 suites in a separate hotel tower, as well as new casino space and restaurants. The tentative name of the $900 million expansion is Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.