September 29, 2004

Houston’s famed Astrodome might be turned into an entertainment complex complete with a 1,000-room hotel and a waterpark. The idea is the investigative stage at the moment; a final plan for the world’s first domed stadium might be approved within 12 months, according to Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You have a built-in audience,” said Tollett. “The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs 45 days and brings in 2 million people each year, and the Texans play there, bringing in 65,000 people ten Sundays a year. The hotel also would serve as a convention property for the Reliant Park facilities, which offer 2.1 million square feet of exhibit space.

The 322-room Tremont Boston Hotel will be reflagged as the Boston Tremont Courtyard by Marriott next month. The property, whose three ballrooms provide 13,000 square feet of meeting space, is expected to invest $6 million in renovations to bring the hotel up to Courtyard standards.

The Erie (Pa.) County Convention Center Authority last week signed a deal to build a 200-room hotel alongside the already planned 125,000-square-foot convention center. Both projects will break ground June 1 and are scheduled to open in June 2007. The hotel likely will be a Sheraton with about 5,000 square feet of meeting space. The convention center will have 30,000 square feet of exhibit space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space and a 13,500-square-foot ballroom.

The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board is beginning to implement a set of customer service standards in local hotels and restaurants. In April, the government hired the Freeman Group, a veteran customer service consultant, to develop Tourism Industry Service Standards. Now the standards are complete, and the coming months will see implementation of an inspection system, a hotel categorization system and customer service education, not just for hotel employees but also for any government employees that interface with guests. Visitors should expect to see improvements starting next spring.

The Hyatt Regency San Antonio has completed a $16.6 million renovation. All 632 guest rooms and the lobby were completely revamped, and wireless Internet access was added throughout. The property offers 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

In Cancun's hotel zone, Karisma hotels has purchased the 102-room Paraiso Maya and plans to reopen it as the boutique, all-inclusive Azul Hotel + Beach Resort this November. Designer touches to the beachfront property will include a 30-variety tequila bar.