March 03, 2004

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts announced it will open the Le Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Miami/Sunny Isles Beach, in December. The 25-story property will have 210 guest rooms, as well as a 6,300-square-foot spa and fitness center, a 250-seat Italian restaurant and a private beach. Meeting space, however, will be minimal.

The 300-room Golden Sands Resort, a Radisson SAS Resort, is under construction in Malta. The property, which will open next spring, will have 13 meeting rooms and a spa.

The American Hotels & Lodging Association has voted to become a dual-member group. Under the new structure, individual hotel companies (both those that own or operate properties, and corporate entities that own or manage properties that do not carry their own brand name) now may join the AH&LA directly, rather than being required to have membership in their state's hotel association. In addition, the AH&LA's 52 state associations and two city associations, Washington, D.C., and New York, which formerly were considered members, will now be AH&LA partners.

In an unexpected move, two of the nation's largest and strongest unions have joined forces. The Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) have combined forces to create UNITE HERE, with a membership of 440,000, to be headquartered in New York City. According to union leaders, the merger of the two unions was a natural business decision, as members of both organizations are overwhelmingly minority immigrant women. "Our members are the same people. And together we will have the strength we need to bargain with giant global corporations," said president John Wilhelm of UNITE in a formal statement announcing the planned merger. The tentative agreement is expected to be ratified by a member vote at a special joint convention in Chicago in July.

Kuwait's International Financial Advisors and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, developers Nakheel have agreed to cofund a $200 million luxury resort on the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made and palm-tree-shaped island being built off Dubai. The IFA has not yet decided on the hotel company that will operate the 1,000-room property.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts plans to open a hotel in the Pearl River Delta city of Guangzhou, China. The 750-room Shangri-La Pazhou, Guangzhou, next to the Guangzhou International Convention Centre, will offer two ballrooms, 18 function rooms and three floors exclusive to corporate travelers. The hotel will open in early 2007.

The 382-room Hyatt Regency Bellevue (Wash.) has finished an upgrade to its meeting rooms and prefunction space. The project added new decor, lighting and a private lounge for meeting planners. The changes come as part of a two-year, $5 million renovation.

Toronto-based AFM Hospitality Corp. will assume control of Boutique Hotels & Resorts International, a worldwide alliance of 200 stand-alone properties. To operate the business, AFM will create a new U.S. subsidiary, AFM Premier Alliances, to be headed by Boutique's founder and chairman, Martin Buehler. "AFM anticipates that Boutique Hotels & Resorts International will provide us with a prominent means to penetrate the independent upscale market," said Lawrence P. Horwitz, CEO and chairman of AFM. Boutique's notable member hotels include the Reef Resort in Grand Cayman, the Bahamas; the Mountvista Boutique Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand; and the Baan Yin Dee Boutique Hotel in Phuket, Thailand. The deal, which is subject to approval from Toronto Stock Exchange regulators, could be finalized by March 30th.