March 23, 2004

The Sonesta Beach Resort Bermuda, closed for renovations since Hurricane Fabian hit in September, will reopen May 15 as the Wyndham Southampton Beach Resort. On Monday, Wyndham International signed an agreement with Southampton Beach Resort Ltd. to manage the 247-room property.

Las Vegas has taken major steps to quell an outbreak of a virus exhibiting Norwalk Virus-like symptoms. The bug has been suspected of causing for approximately 1,000 illnesses over the last four months. According to the Clark County Health District, the body responsible for health in the city, most cases were reported by people staying at Boyd Gaming Corp.'s 781-room California Hotel & Casino. The health district currently is being assisted by communicable-disease specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 600 possible cases of the virus were reported in February, but that number fell to 269 for the first three weeks of March and 50 in the last week.

The Balmoral, the renowned Rocco Forte Hotels property in Edinburgh, Scotland, has completed a $12 million refurbishment of its 188 guest rooms, ballroom, seven meeting rooms and public spaces.

Tomorrow, ground will be broken on the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences, a $100 million project next to the city's 20,000-seat American Airlines Center. The 250-room hotel is expected to open in early 2006.

Last week, Woodbine Development Corp. bought 656 acres outside Austin, Texas, for a new resort to be operated by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. The 500-room property will include a golf course, a full-service spa, and hiking and equestrian trails. A mile of the acreage runs along the local Colorado River, so canoeing and fishing also will be offered. A timeline for the groundbreaking has yet to be set, but the hotel is scheduled to open in 2006. Woodbine has a solid track record in this segment: The developer built the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale and the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort in Henderson, Nev., to name two of its projects.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced yesterday the enhancement of its Best Rate Guarantee on its branded websites. Aside from offering the lowest published rates, the company has created an easier claim process for those who find better fares elsewhere online. Users now can file claims electronically at and do so before they book at a Starwood website. The incentive to use Starwood's websites also has been altered: For those who find a lower rate elsewhere online, Starwood either matches the rate and gives an additional 10 percent off or awards the traveler 2,000 Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. The Best Rate Guarantee is now global, as well, applicable to every Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton and W branded hotel worldwide.