October 06, 2004

Local 54 of Unite HERE/Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union went on strike last Saturday morning at seven of Atlantic City's 12 casinos. According to the union, Unite is demanding the casinos adopt a three-year agreement that will allow all of its U.S. casino contracts to expire at the same time, giving the union better clout for future negotiations. Other demands include lowering co-pays for health benefits and adding guarantees that subcontractors hire only casino employees. The union has settled already with the three Atlantic City casinos owned by Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts; the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa's contract with the union does not expire until 2007; and Sands Casino Atlantic City has an agreement with the union that it will abide by any decision reached with the other seven casinos. Discussions to avert a similar strike in Washington, D.C., took place yesterday, said a union spokesperson.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization's latest updates on hurricane recovery are as follows: Grand Cayman will tentatively reopen for business by Thanksgiving, with some properties opening before that. In the Dominican Republic, about 7,000 hotel rooms on the island's east coast were affected and most will be back on line within 45 days. Most resorts in Grenada are up and running for visitors while the hurricane-torn country begins to rebuild. Information on hotel reopenings in Grenada is available here. Most of the hotels in the Turks & Caicos have reopened.

Last week, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education adopted the Revised Standards for Commercial Support, the document that guides planners of continuing medical education in divorcing seminar content from pharmaceutical-company influence. This action represents the culmination of a three-year review process to update the standards, which were last revised in 1992. ACCME expects accredited providers to finish adopting the standards by May 2005, and will judge existing providers on a year's worth of meetings under the new rules starting in November 2006. Information on the revised standards can be viewed here.

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association has canceled the 2005 AHMA Hardware Show at Chicago's McCormick Place. The decision comes after low turnout plagued the 2004 AHMA show, the first show the association had run following a bitter split with ex-production partner Reed Exhibitions. "It's a tough decision because the Hardware Show has been such an important event to our members and our industry and our association for such a long time, but that doesn't change the fact that it's the right decision," said Timothy S. Farrell, AHMA president and CEO. The cancellation is seen as a blow to Chicago, home to the hardware event for 28 years, and a boon for Las Vegas, where Reed's 2005 National Hardware Show will span two convention centers. The AHMA event posted its best numbers in 1999, drawing more than 67,000 attendees and generating an estimated $85 million for Chicago.

Yesterday, megamall company The Mills Corporation announced details of the $1.3 billion, 4.76 million-square-foot Meadowlands Xanadu project, to open in 2007 in East Rutherford, N.J., on the site of the Continental Airlines Arena. The 104-acre tribute to commercialism will be divided into districts focusing on sports, entertainment, fashion, kids and food, and will feature an indoor ski slope, a cooking school, the largest cineplex in the United States and the largest specialty-sweets store in the world, claim the developers. Details for the project's 520-room conference hotel are not yet finalized.

At the 2004 Motivation Show, held in Chicago Sept. 28-30, there were fewer exhibitors but more visitors compared with 2003. A spokesperson for show organizer Hall-Erickson Inc. said more than 15,000 attendees were at the show; in 2003, the number was 14,400. As for exhibitors, there were 406 travel firms this year (compared with 417 last year) and 589 product firms this year (compared with 637 in 2003). By most accounts, traffic was best on the first day of the show, slightly less active on Wednesday and very slow on Thursday. But Hall-Erickson has no plans to cut the show to two days, as visitors and exhibitors have suggested. "Now, we have two good days and a third lousy day -- almost every trade show has the same problem. If we went to two days, we'd only have one good day and that would not be serving our exhibitors well," said the spokesperson.

Gaylord Entertainment announced Sept. 29 that it will open the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in 2008. Overlooking the Potomac River in Prince George's County, Md., 10 miles from Washington, D.C., the new property will have approximately 1,600 guest rooms. Also on the 41-acre site will be 400,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-story glass atrium, a marina and a 20,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. The hotel will be part of the 200-acre National Harbor development, which also will include 500,000 square feet of dining, retail and entertainment facilities.

Kathleen M. Ratcliffe, president of the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced her resignation on Oct. 4. Her last day at the CVB will be Oct. 29, after which she will become the executive vice president of sales and marketing for the New Orleans Metropolitan CVB. Ratcliffe has been running the Jacksonville bureau since July 1997.