April 21, 2004

InterContinental Hotels Group, which last week announced the creation of an upscale boutique brand called Hotel Indigo, is adopting a new standard across its entire portfolio for selling or reselling hotel rooms online. According to IHG senior executives, individual hotel owners and guests complainned about some of the practices of online distributors, resulting in the creation of the new standard. Beginning May 20, rooms at IHG's 3,500 hotels will only be sold through distributors whose marketing practices meet with company approval, like clearly stating taxes and service charges, and not bumping online travel shoppers to other sites with promises of discounts. The majority of IHG's customers are unaffected by the policy, as 70 percent of the company's inventory is booked through its own branded sites.

Last week, former Ritz-Carlton president and COO Horst Schulze announced that a special development order from the Bermuda government had been granted for the $80 million, 100-room Cliffs Resort & Spa. The luxury Bermuda resort is part of Schulze's new hospitality venture, the West Paces Hotel Group LLC. Assuming the project gains the necessary approvals, the hotel and residential complex is scheduled for a 2007 opening, said West Paces COO Bob Warman. He added West Paces is working out plans to open similarly sized resorts in Los Cabos, Mexico; Cologne, Germany; and Atlanta. Said Warman, "They'll be 100-room hotels with a full array of amenities, to serve the very high-end traveler."

A Friday groundbreaking is scheduled for a 30,000-square-foot conference center at the 185-room Skytop Lodge in Skytop, Pa., in the Pocono Mountains. The building will open this winter.

In Bermuda, the 593-room Fairmont Southampton reopened last Thursday, following repairs made after considerable damage was caused by Hurricane Fabian last September. The property has a new roof and new landscaping, and the water damage to the property has been repaired.

The 254-room Hilton Newcastle Gateshead opened in Newcastle, England, last week. The property has 11 meeting rooms.

The Radisson SAS Birdland Resort & Spa opened on April 19 in Bad BŸk, Hungary. The 208-room property, 70 miles southeast of Vienna, Austria, and 100 miles west of Budapest, Hungary's capital, features an 11,500-square-foot spa, six pools, five meeting rooms, four restaurants and two bars. The hotel is within the grounds of the Birdland Golf & Country Club, which has a championship-quality, 18-hole course currently being expanded to include a nine-hole course and an 18-hole putting layout. Tennis courts will open in the summer.

The renovated Spa at the 700-room Broadmoor in Colorado Springs opened April 16. Among the additions to the 39-treatment-room facility are six new massage rooms, three new facial rooms, a couples massage room and a larger Quiet Room for "recovering" after treatment. Meanwhile, construction has begun on Broadmoor Hall, a 60,000-square-foot events center that will open in fall 2005, bringing the property's meeting and exhibit space to 185,000 square feet.

This June, Boston will open the doors of its first African-American-owned hotel, the 175-room Hampton Inn & Suites, with 1,200 square feet of meeting space. Completing Phase I of the Crosstown Center project, the opening will mark the 37th African-American-operated property in the Hilton portfolio. Andy Ingraham, president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, notes that five of the seven top managers are people of color, demonstrating that the African-American presence at the Hampton Inn & Suites is not limited to ownership.

An $8.5 million renovation of the 395-room Westin Oklahoma City Hotel begins April 26th. The project, which will transform all the hotel's guest rooms and public spaces, is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2005.