June 16, 2004

Last week, the Mandalay Resort Group rejected rival MGM Mirage's $7.95 billion takeover bid, which would have created the largest gaming company in the world. Undeterred, MGM has upped its bid from the original $68 per share to $71 per share, which would value the sale at more than $9 billion. No reaction concerning the new bid was available at press time. Mike French, a Philadelphia-based analyst in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Hospitality & Leisure Practice, said there was no negative response from the money markets: "Wall Street thinks it will be a great deal," he said.

Plans for building a $1 billion convention center in Detroit have been scrapped. Last week, the Cobo Tourism Action Group, a task force created by the Tourism Economic Development Council (a subsidiary of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau), reported that the price tag of the new facility was too steep when weighed against the potential economic reward. Instead, the council recommended expanding the existing 2.4 million-square-foot Cobo Center. "The total cost of a new facility, matched against the comparison of the benefits, has steered us in the direction of a facility expansion," said Walt Watkins, chairman of the Cobo Tourism Action Group. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who had previously advocated constructing the new center, said he accepted the report's conclusion.

The International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus will launch a new event, the CVB Outlook Summit, on Oct. 6 in Chicago. It will be held in conjunction with the organization's COO/CFO Forum. The Outlook Summit will feature experts forecasting industry trends for CVBs. Peter Yesawich, president and CEO of market research firm YPB&R, will present findings from an IACVB-sponsored meeting planner study. Other speakers will include Mark Lomanno of Smith Travel Research, Bjorn Hansen from PricewaterHouseCoopers, Hudson Riehle with the National Restaurant Association and Ty Christian from YPB&R's Diversity Marketing Group. The event is open to bureau CEOs and senior CVB staff members.

On tonight's City Council of Phoenix agenda is the selection of a hotel company to operate a proposed 1,000-room convention center hotel. The competition is down to Hilton Hotels and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. The property, which would have 65,000 square feet of meeting space, would be owned by the city and financed by tax-exempt bonds. The council also will debate a site for the hotel. The city staff members who have been conducting due diligence for the proposal have recommended a 2.8-acre plot owned by the Rouse Co. that would put the hotel a few hundred feet from Phoenix Civic Plaza, the city's convention center, which is now undergoing an expansion. The proposed cost for the land is $3.6 million.

According to a recent industry forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers, lodging demand is on the rise. The company predicts a 3 percent increase in the average daily room rate for 2004. Occupancy levels will hover at 60.8 percent, a 1.5 percent increase over 2003, while revenue per available room will increase a full 5.8 percent over 2003 numbers.

The European Union has rejected a U.S. proposal to open aviation markets to airlines on both sides of the Atlantic. An official with the E.U. said the union would use future negotiations to seek more access for E.U. airlines to U.S. destinations. Transportation secretary Norman Y. Mineta expressed disappointment on Friday, saying the agreement "would have established 'open skies' between the United States and 25 European nations, creating more competition and offering travelers and shippers more transatlantic choices at a lower cost." Mineta said the department would continue to pursue the initiative despite the setback.

The 424-room InterContinental Boston planned for the city's Financial District is set to begin construction. The $330 million property will service the new convention center, which is a 15-minute walk away. The hotel also is a cornerstone in the redevelopment of the Boston Harbor community. The property is expected to open in spring 2006.

Plans are in the works for two museums and a luxury hotel near the Apollo Theater on 125th Street in New York City, to break ground as soon as next year. The National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame will occupy the lower levels of what will likely be a W Hotel, according to Harlem Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Lloyd Williams. "Our object is to create a destination point rather than just a hotel," said Williams.