March 17, 2004

InterContinental Hotel Group is selling the 211-room InterContinental Central Park South in New York City to Anbau Enterprises for $63.5 million in hard cash. InterContinental bought the property from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in July 1999. The sale is expected to be completed by April, but the hotel will continue to operate until the end of the year, when it will be closed by Anbau and turned into cooperative apartments. InterContinental also plans to sell New York City's 300-room Crowne Plaza at the United Nations.

The Palm Springs (Calif.) Bureau of Tourism is being scrutinized by the local city council over unauthorized spending linked to an annual music festival held last October. A report issued by the bureau last week revealed that it spent more than $208,000 producing Rocktoberfest, even though the city had budgeted only $80,000. "I take full responsibility for making the assumption that the city council would allocate additional funds over and above our contracted amount for this fiscal year -- as they had done the previous two years," wrote bureau director Linda Fort. She added that the bureau was unable to find corporate sponsorships to make up for the shortfall and did not inform city officials when she re-allocated advertising funds to pay for the event. SMG, a private company that manages the bureau, reportedly has plans to audit the bureau's finances and business practices.

A feasibility study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers asserts high demand for exhibition space in Indianapolis justifies doubling the capacity of the Indiana Convention Center. The study, released last week, says adding 275,000 square feet would generate 2,700 new jobs and $165 million in annual spending for the city. "The PricewaterhouseCoopers report definitively validates what we have come to know as reality -- which is demand is up and has been up, even amidst industry decline, in Indianapolis," said a spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. "The Indianapolis Convention Center has operated at the highest occupancy rate of any convention center in the country, and that's been consistent for the last few years. There's no choice but to expand." The $107,000 feasibility report was commissioned by the city's Capital Improvement Board, which owns and operates the convention center.

Bowing to the influence of the late Dr. Robert Atkins, both Sheraton Hotels and Hyatt Hotels Corp. are introducing low-carbohydrate menu options. The 15 items that make up Sheraton's Lo-Carb Lifestyle will be available next month on restaurant and room-service menus and as to-go snack offerings in 200 North American hotels. A special low-carb banquet menu also has been developed. Hyatt's offerings of nine dishes -- including bacon-wrapped turkey medallions and short ribs with cauliflower puree -- are available now on restaurant, banquet and room-service menus at more than 100 North American properties.

RegOnline, a provider of online registration services, will no longer require an event setup fee for meetings of 100 people or fewer. Costs are now calculated on a per-person basis. The pricing for the smaller meetings is $3.75 per registrant. For meetings of more than 100 people, organizations pay a $125 event setup fee and $2.50 per person.