September 22, 2004

Hurricane Ivan inflicted extensive damage to the Alabama coastline, especially the city of Gulf Shores. The city's convention and visitors bureau has set up a web page for the latest news and asks planners with events scheduled in the area to check for updates. Several hotels were forced to close; one property that suffered minor damage, the 405-room Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Point Clear, Ala., will reopen this Friday.

Wyndham International this week announced it sold four properties to Thayer Lodging Group for $69.6 million. The hotels -- the 408-room Wyndham Miami Airport; 311-room Wyndham Colorado Springs; 250-room Wyndham Peachtree Hotel & Conference Center in Peachtree City, Ga.; and the 242-Wyndham Lisle in Lisle, Ill. -- will continue to be managed by Wyndham. The transaction is expected to close in October and Thayer will invest $27.5 million in renovating the four hotels.

On Sept. 15, the 410-room Adam's Mark Hotel in San Antonio officially became the Crowne Plaza-San Antonio Riverwalk. The property, which offers 37,000 square feet of meeting space, is scheduled to receive $6.3 million in improvements.

The 760-room Sheraton Atlanta unveiled 33,000 square feet of new meeting space last weekend. The property now offers a total of 83,000 square feet of event space linking the property's North and South hotel towers. The new space includes a 15,000-square-foot ballroom and a 6,000-square-foot conference center with four meeting rooms. In addition, audiovisual equipment has been upgraded, too.

Hotel rooms throughout the Mid-South region were full as hundreds of thousands of people from the Gulf Coast fled Hurricane Ivan last week. The Little Rock [Ark.] Convention and Visitors Bureau extended its hours of operation to help people seeking accommodation there. According to the Nashville CVB, that city's hotel occupancy rose five to 25 percent above average due to the hurricane, with an extra 1,500 rooms filled last Thursday and Friday. Likewise, hotels in Memphis, Tenn., were at capacity. "Hotels around here were filled as far away as Robinsonville, Miss.," said a spokesperson for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. "A lot of people escaping Ivan took advantage of local attractions," he added. "The Memphis Zoo gave them a 20 percent discount."

Marriott Hotels & Resorts will offer choices from its Fit for You menu of low-carb, low-cholesterol and low-fat dishes on the lunch, dinner, restaurant and room-service menus at all of its U.S. properties. Fit for You items also will be included in meeting coffee breaks, buffets and banquet menus.