February 04, 2004

The board of directors of the International Association of Conference Centers has voted to delete the organization's "grandfather clause" from its bylaws. The clause -- which referred to IACC's Universal Criteria that ensure the quality of all member centers -- exempted conference centers from having to comply with any new criteria that were enacted after the date when the member was accepted. The original Universal Criteria were adopted in 1994 and have been updated and strengthened every year. Now, all members will undergo an independent inspection every four years, and they must comply with the Universal Criteria in effect at the time of the inspection, regardless of when they were accepted into membership.

Dallas-based Wyndham International Inc. is continuing to shed nonstrategic asset properties as part of the chain's strategy to pare its portfolio and pay down debt. This week, Wyndham announced the sale of six Doubletree properties to Slohat Hotels, L.P. Those properties are the Doubletree Anaheim, Calif.; Doubletree Tulsa, Okla.; Doubletree Allen Center and Doubletree Post Oak in Houston; Doubletree St. Louis; and Doubletree Overland Park, Kan. The proceeds of the sale were not released.

Last week, the boards of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Convention and Visitors Bureau and the city's 250,000 square-foot RiverCentre exhibition complex voted to merge operations. Officials from both organizations expect the pooling of resources to increase bookings, help promote Saint Paul as a destination and streamline operations without layoffs. "Savings will be administrative, so we only need one CEO now, for example," said Tom Triplett, interim president of the CVB. "Those savings will be put back into sales and marketing." Final approval of the plan, which might take place this spring, rests in the hands of the city council and the Minnesota legislature.

Delta Air Lines is expanding its New York service and renovating its terminals at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The expansion will include eight new destinations out of JFK, including Denver; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; San Diego; and Ft. Myers, Fla. In addition, the carrier will add more flights this spring to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Las Vegas. Delta also announced a six-year, $300 million plan to renovate its JFK terminals with upgraded public areas, baggage-handling technology and a bus connection to the new Air Train shuttle.

On Monday, the 215-room Amalfi opened in Chicago. Operated by Hostmark Hospitality Services, the boutique hotel features two small meeting rooms, a fitness center, DVD/CD players in guest rooms, and free high-speed wireless connections in every guest room and meeting room. Eccentric job titles at the Amalfi are the rage: Doormen are called "impressionists," maids are "comfort stylists," receptionists are "experience designers" and bartenders are "libation and leisure artists."

The 302-room Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, has opened in the German city's Beisheim Center. The property has nine meeting rooms, a ballroom and a spa.