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Forbes Travel Guide recently unveiled its annual Star Ratings, naming Restaurant Guy Savoy and The Laurel Collection by Caesars Palace as part of this prestigious list. The renowned Restaurant Guy Savoy earned Five Stars and the world-class destination resort received Four Stars. Additionally, The Cromwell, the only standalone boutique hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, earned a Recommended Award.

Each will be showcased alongside all of the Star Rating recipients on

Restaurant Guy Savoy is among an elite group of Las Vegas restaurants to receive the highly distinguished Forbes Five Star restaurant award, and has done so for the past five years. Designed to emulate the menu of his Paris restaurant, the Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace menu includes many classic and signature Savoy dishes such as artichoke and black truffle soup or foie gras.

“To be awarded the coveted five stars by Forbes Travel Guide for the past five years is an incredible honor,” said Chef Guy Savoy. ”I am so proud of my team at Caesars Palace and thankful to be given the tools to accomplish this recognition. We look forward to continuing to provide our guests with impeccable service and inspired, delectable dishes that they have come to expect at [the restaurant].”

Restaurant Guy Savoy has created a limited-edition Forbes Five Star Celebration Menu to commemorate the esteemed honor, beginning mid-March. The five-course menu features a luxe selection of dishes using the world’s finest ingredients. The menu includes dishes such as king crab and golden osetra caviar, seared foie gras, Savoy’s famed artichoke and black truffle soup, grilled A5 Wagyu beef and lobster, and a decadent chocolate dessert dish to finish. Wine pairings are included with each course.

The Laurel Collection by Caesars Palace features luxury accommodations and aims to offer guests an elevated experience within the larger destination resort. Consisting of premier accommodations of the Augustus and Octavius Towers totaling more than 1,500 rooms and suites, The Laurel Collection is focused on providing personal touches that include a dedicated service staff and spacious rooms.

Part of the Caesars Entertainment portfolio of resorts, The Cromwell again earned the distinguished Recommended Award. The distinction signifies that The Cromwell is among the best hotels in the world.


Cvent, the industry's largest event tech management company, released its annual list of top hotels for meetings and events in United States. The list was compiled by analyzing meeting and event booking activity through its Cvent Supplier Network, which sourced more than $11 billion in meetings and events in 2016.

In addition, Cvent expanded its European rankings, including its Top 50 Meeting Hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and debuted its Top 50 Meetings Hotels in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

Following are the top 10 properties from each list.

Top 10 U.S. Hotel Properties

  • Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.
  • The Venetian and Palazzo Resort, Hotel & Casinos.
  • ARIA Resort & Casino.
  • JW Marriott Austin.
  • Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center.
  • Omni Nashville Hotel.
  • The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.
  • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando.
  • Mandalay Bay Resort.

Top 10 EMEA Hotel Properties

  • Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona.
  • Hilton Prague.
  • Hotel Arts Barcelona.
  • Melia Castilla Hotel & Convention Center Madrid.
  • W Barcelona.
  • Hilton London Metropole.
  • Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center ijVENUES.
  • Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center.
  • Hilton Vienna.
  • Rome Marriott Park Hotel.

Top 10 APAC Hotel Properties

  • Marina Bay Sands Singapore.
  • Grand Hyatt Singapore.
  • Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.
  • Hilton Singapore.
  • Conrad Centennial Singapore.
  • Fairmont Singapore.
  • Hilton Sydney.
  • InterContinental Sydney.
  • Pan Pacific Singapore.
  • InterContinental Singapore .

“Hotels have become increasingly focused on developing more meeting and event business, and as such, have become more sophisticated in competing for the most lucrative opportunities for their respective venues,” said Kevin Fliess, VP of marketing for Cvent’s Hospitality Cloud. “Hotels continue to advance and expand their group marketing efforts and are increasingly embracing a data-driven approach to more effectively pursue [events].

“This coupled with another year of notable investment in renovation and other upgrades have led to shifts in the rankings as competition remains fierce even in a robust market," Fleiss said.

U.S. List Highlights:

  • The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is Cvent’s Top U.S. Meeting Hotel for 2017, climbing from second place last year.
  • Four new properties have broken into the Top 10:
    • JW Marriott Austin (Ranked 4th).
    • The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa (Ranked 7th).
    • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego (Ranked 8th).
    • Mandalay Bay Resort (Ranked 10th).
  • Newcomers to the top 100 list include Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel, the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel, and Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.
  • Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt are the top three hotel chains with the most representation.

View the full 2017 list of Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the U.S.

EMEA List Highlights:

  • The Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona is Cvent’s Top EMEA Meeting Hotel for 2017, climbing from third place last year.
  • The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai (Ranked 45th) is the first property from the Middle East to make the newly expanded list.
  • Four new properties have broken into the Top 10:
    • Melia Castilla Hotel & Convention Center Madrid (Ranked 4th)
    • Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre ijVENUES (Ranked 7th)
    • Hilton Vienna (Ranked 9th)
    • Rome Marriott Park Hotel (Ranked 10th)
  • Hilton, Marriott and Intercontinental (in that order) are the top 3 hotel chains with the most properties on the Top 50 list.

View the full 2017 list of Top 50 Meeting Hotels in Europe.

APAC List Highlights:

  • Marina Bay Sands Singapore is Cvent’s Top Meeting Hotel for 2017 from APAC.
  • Hilton, Hyatt and Intercontinental (in that order) are the top three hotel chains which have the most properties on the Top 50 list.
  • Seven out of the Top 10 Meeting Hotels from APAC are from Singapore and the remaining three are from Sydney, New South Wales.

View the full 2017 list of Top 50 Meeting Hotels in APAC.

Cvent evaluated hotel properties that generated business through the Cvent Supplier Network from January 2016 through December 2016. The properties were ranked according to various criteria, including total requests for proposals (RFPs), awarded RFPs, total room nights, awarded room nights, major metropolitan area (MMA) market share, conversion rate and the hotel's unique profile visits on the Cvent Supplier Network.

Featuring more than 245,000 hotels, resorts and special event venues, the Cvent Supplier Network is said to be one the world’s largest and most accurate databases of detailed venue information. In 2016, Cvent completed a merger with Lanyon Solutions, for more on that check out our Jan. 2017 cover story.

For more information regarding the Cvent Supplier Network, visit



Hotel Nikko San Francisco, located steps from Union Square, unveiled a sweeping $60 million renovation commemorating its 30th anniversary this year. Following a three-month renovation, spearheaded by Hirsch Bedner Associates, the contemporary interior design aims to elevate the guest experience.

The new design, which takes inspiration from the Nikko's Japanese heritage and the fluid lines of a traditional kimono, included 405 of 533 guest rooms and suites, structural upgrades to the lobby, public areas, third floor ballroom and meeting spaces, as well as large-scale infrastructure improvements.

"We are thrilled to bring travelers a completely reimagined and elevated hotel experience in the center of San Francisco," said Anna Marie Presutti, VP and general manager of Hotel Nikko San Francisco. "When Hotel Nikko San Francisco first opened, it represented the most advanced technological and architectural hotel design available of its time. We are happy to continue that legacy into our 30th year."

Since its launch in 1987 under the ownership and leadership of the Takenaka Corporation, one of Japan's largest architecture and engineering firms, Hotel Nikko San Francisco has embodied a modern Asian-inspired aesthetic taking a nod from its Japanese heritage, while constantly evolving to provide its guests accommodations that service the requirements of today's traveler. In February 2016, the hotel's revamped indoor pool with glass atrium and adjoining outdoor terrace reopened to include an outdoor grass dog run on its fifth floor.

The 405 new residential-styled guest rooms and suites are airy and bright with an understated color palate of earthy neutral tones, extending an urban refuge to visitors and creating an elevated contemporary hotel experience in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Living spaces will embody the core of the in-room experience allowing guests to feel at ease with deep seated sofas, plush carpets and quality fabrics.

Marble bathrooms feature oversized showers, creating a sanctuary for guests.

The revamped 6,652-square-foot ballroom on the hotel's third floor offers a striking new space for large scale gatherings, conferences and events. Focal points include tall metal-cut wall screens with modern Japanese design features, emphasizing the height of the space, and crystal glass drop light chandeliers anchored from the ceiling. The pre-function space offers natural light and contemporary art-inspired fixtures and furnishings such as copper finished tables, grey marble worktops and cozy armchairs.

Hotel Nikko San Francisco also offers 20 flexible meeting rooms on its 25th floor overlooking the city with expansive views of the San Francisco Bay. As part of the renovation, the meeting rooms feature the latest in audiovisual equipment for presentations. Additional hotel amenities include a 10,000-square-foot health club and fitness center with indoor pools, as well as a 140-seat live music venue and bar.

The hotel's signature restaurant ANZU, led by award-winning Swiss chef and food and beverage director Philippe Striffeler, is also now open. Serving California-inspired Japanese cuisine since 1999, the restaurant is a go-to address for East Asian cuisine enthusiasts. Signature dishes include thinly sliced Wagyu beef cooked tableside on a sizzling Japanese river stone and Misoyaki black cod served with purple yam dumplings, edamame, baby shitake mushrooms and ginger dashi broth.

Hotel Nikko San Francisco is a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection.



Pendry Hotels announced the grand opening of Sagamore Pendry Baltimore in the city's historic Fell's Point neighborhood. A new luxury hospitality brand from Montage International, Pendry is a collection of new luxury hotels that combines inspired design and authentic service tailored to world travelers.

Sagamore Pendry Baltimore features 128 luxury guest rooms, food and beverage concepts by renowned chef Andrew Carmellini of NoHo Hospitality Group opening to the public March 25, private meeting and event spaces, an outdoor pool and a vibrant lobby lounge, among its other standard amenities.

Sagamore Pendry Baltimore was developed in collaboration between Montage International and Sagamore Development Company, owned by Kevin Plank, founder, chairman and CEO of Under Armour.

"We are thrilled to open our second Pendry hotel, and first east coast location for the brand in Baltimore with our partners, Kevin Plankand Sagamore Development Company," said Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman and CEO, Montage International. "While paying homage to the property's rich heritage, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore brings new [and innovative] design and culinary offerings to Fell's Point.”

Designed by renowned Baltimore interior designer Patrick Sutton, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore sits atop Recreation Pier, once one of the country's busiest points of entry. The pier's extensive renovation has honored the historical essence of the property and restored it to its former glory. The hotel embodies the city's vibrant personality and idyllic harbor setting with character, inspiration and style. Even the guest rooms and suites have been designed to evoke the feeling of being in a captain's berth on a ship.

The history of Baltimore is woven into the hotel. The Star Spangled Banner was written nearby the hotel site, and the design embraces that historic event by including a wall dedicated to the lyrics upon entry.

The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore features a restored 4,565-square-foot Grand Ballroom, with 35-foot ceilings, restored to its original 1914 aesthetic using state-of-the-art conservation techniques. Ascend the two-story grand staircase to the ballroom foyer and guests will see large murals depicting the war of 1812 and the British bombardment of Fort McHenry from which the National Anthem was born.

Sagamore Pendry Baltimore is also home to two prominent food and beverage concepts. The Rec Pier Chop House—a prime Italian Chop House overlooking Thames Street—is devoted to time-honored Italian cooking. The Cannon Room, an American whiskey bar, derives its name from the mighty cannons that lived beneath Recreation Pier for centuries. An 18th-century cannon unearthed during the pier reconstruction is permanently on display within the space. The setting houses an intimate bar and fireplace.



Leaders of the Mohegan Tribe and Mohegan Sun gathered Thursday afternoon (March 23) at the flagship property in Connecticut, to announce the official plans for The Mohegan Sun Exposition Center.

Construction is already underway on the project, which has a target opening date of summer 2018. The expansion will span over 240,000 square feet and will be located by the Winter Parking garage and in close proximity to Mohegan Sun’s newest hotel, Earth Tower. The New York based architect firm KPF (Kohn Pedersen Fox) and the construction team out of North Stonington, A/Z Corp, are partners on the project.

The Exposition and Convention Center is expected to attract more corporate and association tradeshows, in addition to exhibitions such as Barrett-Jackson and the National Association of Postal Supervisors. It gives Mohegan Sun an opportunity to also expand current consumer geared shows like Terrificon and bring about tech industry shows, golf shows, musical extravaganzas, home-shows, motor sports and hunting & fishing shows.

One of the first partnerships announced by Mohegan Sun Assistant General Manager, Jeff Hamilton, is with United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI), to host a full-scale food show.

“This new conference center will help solidify Mohegan Sun as not just the premier conventions destination, but the premier resort in the Northeast region,” said Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown. “It will enable us to host some of the largest tradeshows in the nation and take back some of the lost conventions that seek bigger venues in Boston and New York.”

The Mohegan Sun Expo Center will bring in an estimated 200 jobs, including construction and permanent roles, with an additional 100 supplier jobs anticipated. Other key details and figures include:

  • 21,412-square-foot ballroom, divisible into two, with 3,000 square feet of pre-function space.
  • The Exposition Center itself, will be 131,000 square feet.
  • Free parking, 6 loading docks from an open parking field and additional drive-in access.
  • 18 meeting rooms in total, ranging from 360 to 675 square feet
  • A 1,263-square-foot boardroom with pre-function space and its own outdoor terrace.
  • 3,600 square feet of outdoor space, which includes a large wrap-around terrace.
  • A 5,361-square-foot kitchen
  • Additional features include a mobile box office, up to the minute technology, digital displays inside and outside the center, free Wi-Fi, contiguous exhibit space.

On the design front, the new Expo Center will be a column-free structure with clerestory windows, offering flexible programming within a naturally-lit space. The main circulation spine that connects the exposition hall to the pre-function area also provides access to the overall facility, including the ballroom and adjustable meeting rooms. Along this path, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors lead visitors onto an outdoor patio with more space.

Greenery extends east to the recently completed Earth Tower, which shares the same grand entry as the Sky Tower. Interior finishes will recall the Tribe’s cultural history, with custom carpeting and light fixtures that reflect Native American motifs, the nearby Thames River and existing color palettes.

Once completed in the summer of 2018, Mohegan Sun will be home to the largest meetings and convention spaces between Boston and New York City. To learn more, visit



The long-awaited Westin Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas headquarter hotel will take a major step towards opening its doors, when construction begins on the 350-room property. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated for March 27 on the corner of Promenade Parkway and Las Colinas Blvd.

The upscale, $113-million convention center hotel will mark the completion of a three-part visitor district that includes the already-completed 275,000-square-foot convention center and the Irving Music Factory, an all-in-one dining and entertainment destination scheduled to open Fall 2017.

The Westin Irving Convention Center has a tentative opening date of late 2018.

Located between the convention center and The Music Factory, the new hotel will boast 12 stories, 350 guest rooms and 16,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom.

Garfield Public/Private LLC, a national P3 developer headquartered in Dallas, is the project developer and BOKA Powell is the architect. Marriott International will operate the hotel.

The City of Irving is providing $22.5 million in bond proceeds for the construction of city-owned public meeting facilities and $13.7 million for the public parking garage to accommodate increased traffic.

“This is the right agreement at the right time with the right players,” said Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne. “The hotel will help fuel the growth of our convention business … [and is a] tremendous addition.”

The new property will serve a much-needed, and frequently requested, purpose for the copper-clad Irving Convention Center, which opened in 2011 and averages 305 events per year.

“We know the group market’s preference—and, often times, its requirement—for an adjacent headquarter hotel and it has remained a priority for us,” said Maura Allen Gast, executive director of the Irving CVB. “News of Westin as the flag and Marriott as its operator was well received by [customers].

“The hotel represents the final piece to Irving’s vision for a distinctive visitor district. The Irving Convention Center was the initial anchor; the Irving Music Factory with its Live Nation amphitheater and collection of restaurants is the second piece; and the headquarter hotel is the third.”

The Westin hotel’s architecture will complement the Irving Convention Center, a structure that has won numerous awards for its architectural uniqueness. The city plans to build a second, 840-space parking garage to accommodate hotel and convention center business as part of this project.


SPIN:Senior Planners Industry Network announced it will join forces with the advocacy coalition Meetings Mean Business (MMB) in support of Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) on April 6, 2017.

SPIN will work alongside MMB and meetings industry organizations worldwide to showcase the real impact that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, tradeshows and exhibitions have on people, business and communities. This year, SPIN’s efforts will be focused in eight locations.

California (San Francisco & San Diego)

  • SPIN:San Francisco is collaborating with seven other local associations for GMID Grand Slam at AT&T Park.
  • SPIN: San Diego is also partnering with seven other associations at Andaz San Diego.

Georgia (Atlanta)

  • SPIN:Atlanta is joining forces with four other groups for a panel education session at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta Midtown.

Minnesota (Twin Cities)

  • SPIN:Twin Cities is partnering with seven others at the Minneapolis Convention Center to discuss the impact the Super Bowl will have in Minneapolis next year.

Texas (Austin & Dallas)

  • SPIN:Austin is again holding a GMID celebration with 10 other association partners at Brazos Hall in Austin.
  • SPIN:Dallas, along with MPI & IAEE are partnering with Richmond College’s TEEM (Travel, Exposition, and Meeting Management) students at the Royal Oaks Country Club.

Canada (Ottawa & Toronto)

  • SPIN:Ottawa, in conjunction with MPI Ottawa will hold a full day of education at the Infinity Convention Center.
  • SPIN:Toronto will also collocate with their MPI counterpart at the Chelsea Hotel Toronto.

“SPIN members are passionate about what they do and passionate about this industry,” said Rod Abraham, SPIN’s Executive Director. “Working in concert with other industry associations to celebrate the industry and bring attention to just how important meetings are to the economy is good for everyone.”

To learn more about SPIN GMID events visit To learn more about GMID, visit Follow and participate in the digital conversations by using the official MMB and GMID hashtags: #MMBusiness and #GMID17.



Grand Wayne Convention Center, located in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind., announced the launch of its newly designed, interactive website tailored especially for event planners, guests and exhibitors.

The new site aims to provides an enhanced search tool that pairs an event’s needs with the spaces, services and amenities attributed to Grand Wayne Convention Center and Fort Wayne. Virtual 360 tours and facility maps help visitors view the convention center’s convention, meeting and auxiliary event spaces; additionally, clients and exhibitors have access to service order forms and event information.

“We constantly look for better ways to connect and serve our clients in the event planning process,” said Marcy McKinley, director of sales and marketing for Grand Wayne Convention Center. “This new site is truly an extension of our entire staff, featuring the customized approach of our on-site sales team, event managers, AV professionals, catering and host services. We want guests to sense our relevance and commitment to their comfort and creativity in downtown Fort Wayne!”

Grand Wayne Convention Center holds 225,000 square feet of meeting, tradeshow and convention space, including a 50,000-square-foot, divisible exhibition hall, 18 meeting rooms, AV, on-site event management and sales, a 12,000-square-foot kitchen with on-site chef and staff to serve up to 3,100 banquet guests. More information and virtual tours are available at



Embassy Suites by Hilton announced the opening of a newly-built hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. The hotel is located in the financial and arts center of Uptown Charlotte, giving guests access to sports, theatre, restaurants, city parks and more. The hotel features 12,000 square feet of event space and multiple meeting rooms.

"We are eager for guests to experience the variety of amenities that this property has to offer," said Ron Feeney, general manager, Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown. "Accessibility to the EpiCentre shops, restaurants and nightlife, and the Lynx Light Rail make this location that much more appealing."

Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown is located just steps away from the Charlotte Convention Center and seven miles from the airport. The hotel has 250 Suites that include open living areas, kitchenettes and modern amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi, HDTVs and ergonomic workspaces.

In addition to Embassy Suites by Hilton's traditional amenities, this property also features a fireplace in the lobby and a Meck Dec Terrace where guests can enjoy craft cocktails from the QC Lounge. The Suki Akor Asian Fusion restaurant serves fresh grilled meats, fish and vegetables and freshly made sushi.


Destinations Marketing Association International, often referred to and branded as DMAI, announced it will be updating its name to Destinations International during the 2017 CEO Summit in Nashville on March 21.

DMAI Chairman Gary C. Sherwin, CDME and CEO of Visit Newport Beach, Inc. and DMAI President and CEO Don Welsh announced the name change will become effective July 2017 during its Annual Convention in Montreal.

An eight-month rebrand review was conducted in collaboration with Miles Partnership and included feedback from stakeholder interviews. This information was also paired with an extensive analysis of key operations.

“This collaborative process, and ultimately our new brand, reflect the broader dimension of our organization,” Sherwin said during the 2017 CEO Summit held at The Westin Nashville. “We are fundamentally changing the way in which we operate, and that begins with consistent engagement with our members.”

Throughout 2016, DMAI said it reviewed past and current initiatives with the goal to build a new framework for the organization in 2017 and beyond. During this time, the team collectively established a new Vision, Mission and Value Proposition and subsequently a Business Plan for 2017, which are briefly outlined below.

  • Vision: Our members are essential to the success of destinations worldwide.
  • Mission: We empower our members so that their destinations excel. 
  • Value Proposition: We inform, connect, inspire and educate our members to drive destination economic impact, job creation, community sustainability and quality of life through travel.

“We realize we are a trade organization, not a marketing organization," Welsh said. "Our members are the marketers. This is exactly why we felt the need to rebrand the organization.

"Our efforts go far beyond a sharp new logo and a new name," Welsh added. "Together with our members and partners, Destinations International represents a powerful forward-thinking, collaborative association; exchanging bold ideas, connecting innovative people, and excelling tourism to its highest potential.”

Registration for DMAI's 2017 Annual Convention opens Friday, March 24. All programming for the convention will be held at Palais Des Congress de Montreal, located at the north end of Old Montreal.


The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and the U.S. Travel Association issued separate statements in response to the new electronic device restrictions for passengers traveling aboard select foreign flights.

Following is the GBTA’s official statement on the electronics ban.

“GBTA strongly believes the security of our skies is of the utmost importance,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “We support TSA’s efforts in securing our airways and believe they should take all necessary steps to do so. We are awaiting more information as to whether this addresses a specific security threat and also [are] reaching out to our members to assess the impact.

“Nearly half (49 percent) of business travelers prefer to stay connected and get work done while flying,” McCormick continued. “Not allowing them to bring their devices on the plane cuts productivity, taking away time that they can be getting business done. Many business travelers also prefer to keep their devices close for security purposes because they may contain sensitive company information.

“If it is in the best interest of security, business travelers are willing to comply with these types of measures. We encourage DHS to continue to adopt trusted traveler programs and expand PreClearance to ensure that resources can be effectively allocated to detecting threats to homeland security.”

And here is U.S. Travel’s official response to the electronics ban.

“[While] the American travel community supports efforts to make flying more secure ... we urge the federal government to make every effort to minimize disruption to legitimate travelers by clearly and quickly articulating the details of the new policy to enforcement personnel and the flying public,” said U.S. Travel Executive VP for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella. “Even with security as a justification, it does not absolve authorities of the responsibility to communicate.

"As with all security policies, we further urge that this new security measure be continually reassessed moving forward to ensure it remains relevant and effective in the ever-shifting threat environment.”

"We continue to hope that highly visible changes to security protocols in the future will be accompanied by a clear message that the government’s intent is not to suppress, but to secure travel, and that legitimate international business and leisure travelers remain welcomed and valued by the U.S.”

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced a ban “on carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone” for eight majority-Muslim countries that impacts 10 airports internationally. Shortly after, the U.K. put in place restrictions of its own that affect 14 airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet.

More information on the U.S. electronics ban is available in our initial news write-up.


A new network aimed at young professionals in the meetings and events industry called Meetings + Millennials announced its official launch. The network aims to be a place where young professionals from the meeting, incentive travel, conference, event and exhibition sectors can gather to learn, connect and advocate. The network will operate as an online community and also host meet-ups.

The Meetings & Millennials network was founded by Gráinne Ní Ghiollagáin, business development manager at Croke Park Meetings and Events, Anne Berrevoets, events coordinator, European Association for International Education, and Aoife McCrum, social media & digital marketing manager at SoolNua, who met at the ICCA Forum for Young Professionals in Barcelona in 2015.

“The [ICCA] forum was excellent. It brought us all together but, once it was over, there was no formal setting to meet again and develop the connections,” said Ní Ghiollagáin. “Meetings + Millennials provides us with that important place … and helps dispel the cliche that we’re an ‘entitled generation.’”

“We’ve created an online hub to learn from each other, share our experiences but also to advocate for our sector and to highlight the unique perspective we bring to the work that we do in meetings, incentives, conferences and events,” added McCrum. “Since we presented at ICCA we have been asked to conduct sessions at conferences in Paris and Frankfurt. These platforms allow us to educate corporations, agencies and associations on how to get the best from their millennial team members.”

To learn more about Meetings + Millennials and how to join, visit the official website.



Ensemble Real Estate Investments recently celebrated the launch of the Hyatt Place Emeryville/San Francisco hotel with a grand opening ceremony for local civic leaders, investors and top representatives from San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville’s burgeoning local business community.

Ensemble led the development of the Hyatt Place Emeryville/San Francisco, a 175-room, upscale hotel for business and leisure travelers that features views of San Francisco’s bridges and cityscape, Emeryville’s downtown shopping district and the Oakland hills. Emeryville and adjoining East Bay communities are home to a wide array of local innovators and global brands, including Peet’s Coffee, Clif Bar, Novartis, Pixar Animation Studios, Bayer Healthcare, Leapfrog and many others.

The new Hyatt property has been a key part of Emeryville’s ongoing downtown expansion and restoration initiative and serves as the flagship hotel in Bay Street Emeryville, a three-city-block-long development of one of the most popular urban shopping destinations in the Bay Area. The retail mega-center features 65 stores, 10 restaurants, a movie theater and 400 residential units.

The destination uses architecture, lighting, landscape and environmental graphics to create an eclectic, energetic atmosphere with compelling streetscapes, plazas and green space.

Leveraging its landmark location, the Ensemble team created a highly distinctive design with exclusive amenities for Emeryville. The hotel’s architects went beyond the typical Hyatt Place high standards by including dramatic oversized windows to showcase the breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay.

Additionally, to complement the original culture of the local community, Ensemble invited gifted local artists to design pieces for the hotel’s public areas. The property features the work of two local artists who collaborated with Ensemble and Hyatt to create personalized works unique to Emeryville.

Hyatt Place Emeryville/San Francisco Bay Area is “a different kind of hotel” designed around the needs of the modern traveler. Situated on the Bay overlooking San Francisco and just across the San Francisco Bay Bridge, between Oakland and Berkeley, the hotel is within minutes of many popular attractions in the Bay Area. The modern hotel offers 1,440 square feet of meeting space and is ideal for business.


The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced a ban “on carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone” for eight majority-Muslim countries that impacts 10 airports internationally.

According to The New York Times, “the new policy took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the United States from airports in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.” The device ban only applies to flights on foreign carriers.

Royal Jordanian, the state-run airline of the Hashemite Kingdom, clarified in a tweet that medical items are exempt from the ban and that larger electronic devices can still be carried in checked baggage.

More information on the electronic device ban is available from The New York Times.


Business travelers view terrorism as the greatest safety risk they face on the road, according to a new study released by the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association.

Almost half (45 percent) rank it as their greatest concern when traveling for business, much higher than the share indicating street crime (15 percent), illness/disease outbreaks/sanitation (13 percent), property crime/theft (12 percent), kidnapping (8 percent) or natural disasters (6 percent).

“We often talk about the resiliency of the business travel industry in the face of terror threats, economic uncertainty, political unrest and other factors,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. “Keeping travelers safe on the road is a prime responsibility for travel professionals.”

A decent share of respondents are wary about business travel in the emerging world as seven out of the 10 emerging market destinations measured “unsafe” or “not safe at all” by at least one-quarter of U.S.-based respondents. Business travelers generally feel developed cities in North America and Western Europe are safe for business travel as all of the mature markets tested are viewed as at least “somewhat safe” by more than eight in 10 U.S.-based business travelers.

However, at the same time, the share who only rate these same destinations as “somewhat safe”—rather than “safe” or “very safe”—is relatively high, exceeding 20 percent for each destination. This could reflect the fairly common view in today’s world that any destination can be high-risk.

Survey respondents were asked to rate the safety of 16 specific destinations for business travel ranging from domestic to international and developed to developing. Business travelers not only view terrorism as a safety threat they face on the road, but also agree it has an impact on the business travel industry more broadly and can change the frequency or ways in which people travel.

When rating this impact on a 10-point scale, business travelers give terrorism an average rating of 7.6 with 60 percent rating it an eight or higher. This implies that terrorism is potentially more impactful in shaping opinion than disease outbreaks, corporate budget cuts or the effects of the global economy.

While one-third (37 percent) of business travelers feel safe when they travel regardless of destination, more than half (52 percent) feel safer when traveling domestically compared to internationally. Baby boomers are most likely to feel safe when they travel both domestically and internationally. 

In the past year, 30 percent of business travelers have traveled for work to a destination they or their organization consider to be high-risk. Millennials (37 percent) are more likely to have traveled to such a destination, compared to Gen X travelers (27 percent) or baby boomers (25 percent).

When it comes to attitudes about high-risk travel, more than half (57 percent) of business travelers feel that nowadays any destination could be high-risk. Baby Boomers are least likely to hold this view.

More Information:
The Risk on the Road: Safety and Security Concerns Lead to Traveler Behavior Change report is available exclusively to GBTA members on the GBTA website and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing A free preview is also available.

The GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 798 U.S. business travelers in September of 2016 using an online panel of business travelers. Respondents qualified if they were employed full- or part-time; had traveled for business at least four times in the past year and had traveled to an international destination for business at least once in the past year. To supplement the survey findings, the GBTA Foundation also conducted four unstructured interviews with travel and security professionals.



Homewood Suites by Hilton announced the opening of the Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea. The new 152-suite hotel is located three miles from the airport and just a bridge away from Boston and the City of Cambridge, and complements the region's growing need for lodging.

"With over 18 million visitors a year, Boston and its surrounding areas are a major travel destination for both domestic and international visitors," said Adrian Kurre, global head of Homewood Suites. "Between the property's spacious suites and convenient location, Boston Logan Airport Chelsea accommodates all types of travelers, and with the area's growing need for more hotels, it only made sense to expand.”

Developed and owned by XSS Hotels and managed by Colwen Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea offers a combination of studio and one bedroom accommodations, featuring fully-equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas.

Guests are provided all of the essentials, including complimentary daily hot breakfast, evening social hours Monday-Thursday, Wi-Fi and a grocery shopping service. Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea also offers an indoor heated saltwater pool and state-of-the-art fitness center.

The property holds 2,200 square feet of flexible meeting space for more than 200 attendees.

Located at 145 Beech Street, Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea offers guests access to Logan International Airport, Boston Convention & Exposition Center, downtown Boston and the City of Cambridge. Complimentary parking and an airport shuttle service are available to all guests.



Meetings Today Live! California, the first Meetings Today Live! event of 2017, kicked off in sunny San Diego at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Sunday, March 19. Planners and suppliers in attendance enjoyed an opening reception on the property’s outdoor Promenade Plaza overlooking San Diego Bay.

More than 50 industry professionals will spend the next couple of days of the hosted-buyer educational event following an action-packed schedule including one-on-one buyer-supplier meetings; an educational session with mindful expert, Theresa Rose; gamification with Geoteaming; and special afternoon events at the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Zoo

Meals, receptions and property tours will take place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, the Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa; the Pendry San Diego; Hard Rock Hotel San Diego and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, which is the host hotel for the event featuring the 34,000-square-foot Sapphire Ballroom. 

Click here to view our MT Live! California image gallery, which will be updated throughout the event.


The International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), with support from Hilton, released The Global Millennial Viewpoint Survey, which examines the perceptions of 7,600 youth in 30 countries. The survey provides insight into how young people see the world today in areas ranging from education and economic opportunity to health and civic participation, among other areas of interest.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Young people are optimistic about their economic futures: 76 percent of youth surveyed agreed with the statement, "I will be able to get the kind of job I want."
  • Youth feel disconnected from their governments: 65 percent think their government does not care about their wants and needs.
  • Mental healthcare is an unaddressed need among youth: 60 percent said that "the way I feel emotionally gets in the way of my studies, job or social life.”
  • Income inequality is a major concern for youth: 90 percent agreed with the statement, "There is too much economic divide between the high and low income."
  • Income and job flexibility are most important for young people choosing a career path: 71 percent and 56 percent, respectively, ranked these two as the most important factors.

Flexibility in the workplace, starting salary and long-term earning potential appear to be the primary career path drivers for millennials, and young people across all of the regions surveyed said they want their supervisors to help them grow and to demonstrate that they respect and trust them versus talking down to them.

"With 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 worldwide, understanding how this generation thinks and feels about their lives and futures is crucial for governments, the private sector and society at large,” said Max Verstraete, VP Corporate Responsibility & ADA Compliance, Hilton. “At Hilton, we believe that understanding, empowering and investing in the next generation is both a responsibility and an opportunity for our business."

The study reveals that relatively low percentages of youth feel that their governments care about their wants and needs. At the same time, young people also strongly believe that government plays an important role in their lives: 63 percent of those surveyed acknowledge that governance and politics affect them.

"Too often, young people find themselves as passive recipients of policies and programs designed for them,” said Bill Reese, President and CEO, International Youth Foundation. “This survey aims to shift that paradigm, asking youth what they feel about issues of critical importance.

“Young people will continue to shape our world for years to come,” Reese said. “Understanding their opinions, fears, and aspirations is critical to their success and our collective future."

Click here to access the 2016 Global Millennial Viewpoint Survey. Deloitte, a financial consultant, also recently put out an interesting millennial survey of its own earlier this year, which can be accessed via its website.


A federal judge in Hawaii and another in Maryland issued restraining orders blocking President Trump’s second attempt at a ban halting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The orders also temporarily block the restriction on the number of refugees that can enter the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu said that the updated executive order still appeared to promote discrimination against Muslims “in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.” In Maryland, Judge Theodore D. Chuang reached a similar conclusion on the revised travel ban later in the day.

President Trump aggressively responded to Judge Watson’s ruling at a campaign-style rally in Nashville late on Wednesday, saying that “this ruling makes us look weak, which by way we no longer are, believe me.”

While the restraining orders set in motion by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland only temporarily prevent the travel ban from taking place, it’s entirely possible that the courts will overturn it completely.

More information on the blocking of the ban is available via The New York Times. And more information on the second version of the ban and some industry response is available in our previous news coverage.



Hampton by Hilton announced the opening of four new hotels, the Hampton Inn & Suites Ashland, Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus Scioto Downs, Hampton Inn & Suites Alliance (all located in Ohio) and Hampton Inn & Suites West Lafayette in Indiana. The openings aim to capture the “bleisure” (business and leisure) travel market.

“We encourage today’s travelers to take advantage of business trips and travel commitments by venturing into the weekend to explore new destinations, passions and experiences along the way,” said Phil Cordell, global head, focused service brands, Hilton. “Our newest openings will allow guests to experience the charm of the Midwest while enjoying Hampton by Hilton’s welcoming and comfortable accommodations.”

The new Hampton by Hilton offerings are designed to make travelers’ lives easier while on the road, striking a balance between work and play. The brand understands the importance of location for bleisure travelers near major business centers and tourist attractions. All Hampton by Hilton properties offer the brand’s signature free, hot breakfast; On the Run breakfast bags; free Wi-Fi in every room; and fitness centers.

Hampton Inn & Suites Columbus Scioto Downs holds the most on-site meeting space of the four hotels at 3,000 square feet, while the Ashland and West Lafayette locations contain space for smaller groups.



Element Huntsville, from the high-end brand of boutique hotels by Starwood, announced it will open Tuesday, April 4, on floors 7-11 of the Westin Huntsville as a separate extended stay hotel and will be managed by Crescent hotels & Resorts. Crescent, based in Fairfax, Va., is a national operator of hotels.

As one of Starwood’s Select Service hotels, Element by Westin offers a modern upscale extended stay experience. The brand also brings an even greater focus on sustainability to the complex. Designed to be “green from the ground up,” Element made history when it launched as the first major hotel brand to mandate that all U.S. properties pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.

The new construction of the Element Huntsville includes the build-out of 150 rooms including 68 suites, all with full kitchens. Once open the Element will offer its signature Rise: Breakfast bar, a complimentary breakfast served daily; Relax: Evening reception, held nightly with wines, beers and soft drinks, paired with appetizers; and Restore: Gourmet pantry, a market place with grocery option available on-site.

While Westin and Element by Westin are both Starwood brands, this will be the first “dual property” complex in the country with both the Westin and Elements brands in one location. Guests at both hotels will get views of and easy access to the Bridge Street Town Centre, where the hotel complex is located.

The first floor of the hotel building will have one entrance for Westin guests and separate entrance, lobby, check-in desk and elevators exclusively for Element guests. There will only be one connector between two hotel brands in the first floor lobby. The same team will oversee both hotel brands.



The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando opened its first phase on Friday, March 10, as an expansive, 106-acre destination hotel just minutes from Walt Disney World. Set on Lake Austin, amid a portion of Central Florida's conservation grounds, The Grove launched with 184 of its 878 residential-style suites.

Spacious accommodations that span up to nearly 1,600 square feet are matched with an amenity package that will roll out in stages. Opening with three swimming pools, a spa, fitness center, two bars and lounges, a large-scale grab-and-go, a lakefront pier with watersports and a children's game room, The Grove will grow to also include a variety of other dining options and an on-site water park.

Located three miles from Walt Disney World Resort's Western Way entrance, The Grove is the first hotel of its kind to open on the growing west side of Disney. The Grove's lakefront setting blends with a natural marsh and wooded landscape to offer an unexpected retreat from the fast pace of neighboring theme parks and area activities, including Magic Kingdom Park, Animal Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando.

"The opening of The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando helps launch the next phase for the neighborhood just west of Walt Disney World," said Bill Lee, The Grove's general manager. "This previously under-developed area is blossoming into what will be a new district of entertainment, accommodations, and recreation for the nearly 70 million people who visit Orlando annually. It's an exciting moment for us.”

Association, incentive and corporate meetings, as well as social events, will find a home at The Grove Resort & Spa. With 6,000 square feet of flexible indoor space, and poolside, lawn and garden alfresco venues for intimate meetings or large groups, the resort accommodates up to 250 people at a time.

The resort's 221-seat, indoor/outdoor restaurant, Valencia, will arrive in late spring. There, guests will dine on Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean-inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando is owned by a joint venture between certain affiliates of Westport Capital Partners and BTI Partners, and is part of the Benchmark Resorts & Hotels portfolio.


Marriott International announced that it will become an Official NCAA Corporate Partner across all 90 NCAA championships. Designated as the "Official Hotel Partner of the NCAA," 30 distinct Marriott hotel brands across the USA look forward to welcoming students, alumni, fans and families across the U.S.

"Fans travel to over 800 sites each year to attend NCAA Championship events and Marriott is the perfect partner to enhance that on-site experience," said Will Funk, executive vice president of property marketing and corporate partnerships for Turner Sports. “Marriott is uniquely positioned to provide … hotel and hospitality options for the millions of people who love seeing [top] student athletes compete.”

In partnership with the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports, Marriott International will have the opportunity to be a part of all of the NCAA highlights and to continue to support college student-athletes and communities across the country. Beginning with the Men's Final Four in Phoenix and the Women's Final Four in Dallas this April, Marriott invites guests to share in celebrating every game.

This multi-year alignment will span beyond NCAA March Madness, to include the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four and all of the association's championships, granting Marriott International marketing, media, and activation rights. As an official partner of the NCAA, Marriott is now able to offer tournament experiences to Marriott guests and Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton and SPG rewards members.

Starting with March Madness, Marriott Rewards members will have the opportunity to use their points to bid on the Ultimate Men's Final Four Weekend Experience, with just two spots up for grabs from now until March 17. This exclusive experience includes two highly sought after tickets to the Final Four and National Championship Game, VIP access to a variety of Final Four weekend events, and overnight accommodations at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa with transportation.

More details about the Marriott and NCAA collaboration are available at



Bald Mountain Development and Alcion Ventures announced $165 million in construction financing has been secured for the five-star Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Napa Valley slated to open early 2019. Initial site work has begun on the hotel with vertical construction to begin this summer.

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P. worked on behalf of the developers, Alcion Ventures and Bald Mountain Development, to place the construction loan with Heitman on behalf of one of its institutional investors.

The 20 residences are expected to be complete fall 2018 with the resort to open early 2019. Upon completion and after the resort’s opening, residence owners will have VIP access to the Four Seasons Resort’s collection of amenities and activities, including a world-class restaurant, spa and fitness center.

Bald Mountain Development is a boutique resort development firm based in Aspen, Colo., and Napa Valley, Calif., whose principals, David Parker and Kelly Foster, specialize in luxury resort properties.


SAN JOSE, Calif.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced its first property in San Jose, Calif., at Museum Place, a mixed-use development by Insight Realty Company that will also expand the Tech Museum of Innovation.

Museum Place will include a four-star, 173-room Kimpton hotel, 300 residential units, retail, restaurants and will increase the size of the Tech Museum by 54,000 square feet. The development will also include 250,000 square feet of Class A creative office space. The Kimpton Hotel is expected to launch in 2021.

The new Kimpton hotel will include approximately 8,000 square feet of meeting space, a full service restaurant, a fast-casual Café, a sixth-floor bar and an outdoor pool and fitness center. The international design firm Steinberg was selected as the architect. The project will also improve an existing pedestrian promenade that connects Park Avenue to the San Jose Convention Center and VTA Light Rail station.

Owned and developed by Insight Realty Company and its partner China New Era Group Corporation, this project will be in the heart of downtown San Jose, just one block from the Convention Center, near SAP Center and close to major companies with nearby offices including Adobe, Cisco Systems and IBM.

"Not only is San Jose the epicenter of the technology industry, it's also a world class city and the ideal place for a Kimpton hotel and restaurant," said Mike DeFrino, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' CEO. "With professional sports, a state-of-the-art entertainment and a burgeoning downtown, the Museum Place project is the perfect venue for us to introduce our brand of heartfelt hospitality to the Silicon Valley.”

This project will join Kimpton's nine properties in California cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego; hotels in Palm Springs, Sacramento and Hollywood are incoming this year.



In late 2015, Joie de Vivre Hotels assumed management of what is now Monterey Tides and immediately embarked on a $12 million renovation and repositioning of the 196-room beachfront property. As part of the refurbishment, the hotel was transformed with vivid colors, creating a coastal aesthetic.

As Monterey Bay’s only beachfront hotel, seascape views are inescapable. To complement the sweeping views and create a relaxing experience, tones reminiscent of the ocean—grays, blues and pops of color—were used in all public spaces, including the lobby and pool area, in addition to the guest rooms.

Upon arrival at Monterey Tides, guests are greeted with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Floor-to-ceiling windows capture the view with small seating vignettes throughout the lobby to create casual spaces for guests to enjoy the setting. A fireplace anchors the lobby at one end. Bar Sebastian anchors the other end of the lobby providing service to guests seated throughout the public space or in the bar.

The culinary concept for Bar Sebastian was inspired by Executive Chef Jose Velasquez and his desire to infuse his Mexican roots with Spanish Tapas. Chef Velasquez researched ancestral recipes of the Mayas and Aztecs to develop a creative menu that incorporates fresh ingredients from Central California.

Guest rooms were redesigned to bring the feel of the ocean inside with deep blue walls and a wave-like carpet design. Contemporary furniture with colorful accents adds vibrancy to each room. The year-round pool at Monterey Tides also was renovated and features a new pool deck with wood siding.

Additional property enhancements are planned with meeting space renovations in the near future. Monterey Tides currently offers 10 event spaces with the largest space being able to accommodate 450 guests.



The March for Science celebrates Earth Day with a call to support and safeguard the scientific community and our planet. On April 22, 2017, scientists, educators, journalists, students, neighbors, friends and family will walk out of the lab and into the streets to recognize that science and the earth are important to everyone.

The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Virginia, is offering two overnight packages ($295/person and $175/person) that include accommodations in single occupancy rooms, meals and transportation assistance from The National to the Washington Metro. Here participants can access transport to the National Mall, the White House and the Capital area. The March in Washington D.C. will kick off at 10 a.m. with a teach-in and rally on the National Mall and end with a march through the streets of D.C.

The National Conference Center, which offers an extensive culinary program, celebrates science by highlighting the many food scientists who have paved the way for the public and chefs. W.K. Kellogg, known for his cereal company; Louis Pasteur, known for pasteurization of milk and juices, and in this century, Alton Brown, the founder of Good Eats, all have played an influential role in advancing the science of food.

The Science of Food two-night package, priced at $295 per person, includes guest room accommodations on the nights of April 21 and 22, dinner both nights and breakfast both mornings, and a boxed-to-go lunch guests can take to the March for Saturday. With the one-night package, priced at $175 per person, guests check in the morning of April 22, attend the March in Washington and return for an overnight stay with dinner and breakfast included. A boxed-to-go lunch guests can take to the March for Science is part of the package.

Groups of 20 or more can also arrange for a Chef’s Table experience at an additional expense.

The National Conference Center has created a local food program, while preparing food for more than 700 guests per meal, three meals per day. Food is science and the culinary team incorporates science into many of the hotel’s group activities: How to make ice cream with Nitrogen; Wine Tasting with Herbs and Baking 101.

“We practice science every day in the kitchen and we thought we could share some of our scientific processes with these groups,” said National Conference Center Executive Chef Chris Ferrier.

The National Conference Center is located 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 35 miles from Washington, D.C. The National offers free parking for cars and motor coaches. The National also offers easy access to the Washington Metro subway system, and can provide vouchers for transportation.

For more info on group packages contact Desiree Puller at

Read more about National Conference Center Executive Chef Chris Ferrier in our March 2017 Top Chefs profile.


Four chefs from IACC-member properties representing the U.S. and Canada gathered to compete for the IACC Americas Chapter Cook-Off at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, where the winners secured their spot in the Global Copper Skillet Competition finale being held at IACC-Americas Connect in Los Angeles.

Shane Hawkins, lead cook at Stonewall Resort, located in Roanoke, W.Va., took the “Junior Category Americas Cook-Off Award” for his winning dish of Cornmeal Dusted Trout with Lemon Wine Butter, Pepper Seared Beef with a Whiskey and Shiitake Cream, Fried Fingerling Potatoes and Thyme Roasted Carrots.

Kent Phillips, executive chef at Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, located in London, Ontario, took the “Senior Category Americas Cook-Off Award” for his winning dish of Smoked Paprika Petit Tenderloin and Horseradish Jus with Seared Trout, Asian Pear Slaw, Sweet Potato Fingerling Hash with Bacon and Sun-dried Tomatoes.

In the competition, the chefs were presented with basic pantry items along with a "mystery basket" of proteins. They were given 30 minutes to prepare, create and present their creations to local judges.  

For the third year in the 13-year history of the Copper Skillet Competition, IACC introduced a Junior Chef category where IACC conference venue chefs under the age of 26 competed in the cook-off.

The Copper Skillet Competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference venues around the world and to honor their ongoing contributions.



The Florida House of Representatives passed separate bills on Friday, March 10 that aim to reduce funding for Visit Florida (HB 9) and completely cut funding for Enterprise Florida (HB 7005).

The bills passed through the Florida House in an 80-35 vote and the measure to reduce funding for Visit Florida has been described by Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast as a matter of accountability. Gov. Rick Scott and representatives from both parties have said passage of the bills will endanger the economy.

According to the Naples Daily News the Florida House wants to cut off taxpayer money to more than 20 other business incentive programs throughout the state as spelled out in HB 9 and HB 7005.

Gov. Rick Scott released the following statement on the passage of HB 9 and HB 7005.

"Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism,” Gov. Scott said. “But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida.”

The Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida bills will now head to the Senate where they will await committee assignment by Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. It is expected that HB 9 and HB 7005 will have a harder time making it through the Senate, but nothing is for certain at this point in time.

More information on Friday’s House vote is available via the Naples Daily News website.


Marriott International, Inc. announced it expects to dramatically increase the size of its portfolio in Europe across all segments of the industry. The planned expansion in Europe is the first development vision announced for the continent since the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

"2016 was a momentous year for both the company and our continent team. We added 40,000 rooms in Europe with the Starwood acquisition alone, and achieved our long-term goal to triple in size, from 40,000 open rooms in 2010 to 134,000 open or signed rooms at the end of 2016," said Amy McPherson, president and managing director, Marriott International, Europe. "Now, as we look to the future, we have set ambitious goals for 2020. We plan to expand our lead in the luxury and full-service segments, to have the largest portfolio in the upscale tier and to win with Millennials in the affordable lifestyle category.”

Marriott currently operates the largest portfolio of hotels in the luxury and full-service segments in Europe and plans on expanding this lead through accelerated growth of its luxury brands, such as The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, its collection brands, including The Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection Hotels and Tribute Portfolio, and industry stalwarts, Marriott Hotels and Sheraton.

The company also plans to debut Delta Hotels by Marriott in the continent, expecting to have over 4,000 opened or signed rooms for the brand in Europe by 2020. Marriott is also targeting to triple the number of signed deals for W Hotels, in Europe by 2020, and has already announced signings in Prague and Budapest.

Marriott is also aiming to lead in the European upscale segment by 2020. Marriott currently has the fifth largest portfolio of open hotels in that segment today with nearly 24,000 open rooms featuring brands including AC Hotels, Aloft Hotels and Four Points by Sheraton. The company is targeting to double this portfolio in the continent in opened and signed rooms by 2020 and, in doing so lead the segment.

Marriott has set a goal of expanding its Courtyard Hotels presence in Europe by over 12,000 opened and signed rooms by 2020, backed by a strong pipeline of expected openings including Paris, Dresden and Edinburgh in 2017. Expansion in the extended stay segment should come from Residence Inn and Element brands, which currently have signed deals in London, Aberdeen and Amsterdam.

Finally, Marriott expects the largest portion of its rooms growth will come from its affordable lifestyle brand, Moxy Hotels. Marriott expects to have a robust affordable lifestyle portfolio in Europe by 2020.

The Moxy brand will also continue its expansion in the United States with openings in New York, Seattle and Nashville in 2017, as well as the first signings in Asia in Bandung, Indonesia and Tokyo, Japan.


The Event Leadership Institute (ELI) announced it has hired industry education expert Michael Granek, CSEP, MBA, PID as president and CEO to help lead the organization’s growth and development.

Granek is the former academic director for the Event Management Diploma Program at the Art Institute of Vancouver, where he designed and developed the program and curriculum, and personally taught numerous courses, in addition to training and leading a team of faculty.

During his five year tenure there, Granek grew enrollment by 400%, and secured a milestone articulation agreement with the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council. He has since advised online education companies in improving student engagement, content delivery models and accreditation guidance.

Granek is a three time president of the Vancouver chapter of ILEA (International Live Events Association), and is the recipient of the Canadian Event Industry Awards’ Spirit of the Industry Award. Previously, he ran his own event production firm, Granek Productions / Pacific Show Productions.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike over the years as a consultant, to help our instructors make our courses more engaging and dynamic, and when the opportunity came up to have him join our team full time, we jumped at the chance,” said ELI founder Howard Givner, who will be stepping back from day-to-day operations to take a more advisory role with the organization. “It’s rare to find someone who combines such strong academic expertise with deep event industry experience, and we’re extremely excited to have Mike bring that unique combination of skills to help ELI get to the next level.”

“The Event Leadership Institute is an industry leader in event education, and I am truly honored to have been selected to join the team,” Granek said. “The opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the events industry is very exciting to me and something that I have been passionate about my entire career. I look forward to working with the ELI team and industry partners to continue the great work they have done in advancing the events industry through training and education.”

The Event Leadership Institute (ELI) delivers progressive education, training and thought leadership for event professionals. ELI has been an early adopter of numerous education innovations over the years.


The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) polled its United States and European members this week to assess the business travel impact of President Trump’s revised executive order on travel.

Nearly four in 10 (37 percent) of U.S. business travel professionals expect some level of reduction in their company’s travel because of the revised executive order. Even more European travel professionals felt this way with 47 percent expecting some level of reduction in business travel for their company.

Additionally, 17 percent of European travel professionals reported that their company has already canceled business travel to the United States because of the executive orders issued.

Thirty-eight percent of European business travel professionals said their company’s would be less willing to send business travelers to the United States in the future because of the executive order and 45 percent indicated their company will be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the U.S.

“There is always the risk that closing our borders sends the message that the United States is closed for business, and the results of this poll show the perception of the United States as a welcoming destination for business travel has been altered,” said GBTA COO Michael W. McCormick. “As we always say, security is paramount, but GBTA continues to be a proponent for expanding proven security programs and developing new technology to facilitate information-sharing among governments to ensure travelers are [vetted properly]."

Additional findings from the polls:

  • 44 percent of European travel professionals reported their organization currently has employees traveling abroad who might be or are affected by the current travel ban.
  • 20 percent of European travel professionals reported there are directives within their organization to cancel or delay travel of employees who are nationals of banned countries.
  • U.S. travel professionals cited potential for countries to respond to this ban, making travel more difficult for U.S. travelers (51 percent), complications in travel to the U.S. (44 percent) and increased threats against U.S. travelers abroad (41 percent) as their top concerns for lasting impacts of the travel ban. These numbers were all marginally down from a poll following the announcement of the first travel ban in January where they were at 63 percent, 56 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
  • U.S. travel professionals expressed similar levels of support and opposition for the revised travel ban as they did for the original one. Just over half (52 percent) of the travel professionals surveyed strongly or somewhat oppose this action, while 35 percent strongly or somewhat support it, compared to 50 percent and 38 percent, respectively, in the initial poll.
  • When asked about top concerns regarding the immigration ban on travelers, increased traveler harassment (41 percent), uncertainty regarding green card and approved visa credibility to enter the U.S. (34 percent), and harassment of U.S. travelers to and from the Middle East (34 percent) topped the list. More than one-third (34 percent), however, didn’t share any of the concerns listed.


The poll of European members was conducted online between March 7-8, 2017. The respondents are comprised of 148 European travel managers, 51 of whom reside in Denmark, Finland, Norway or Sweden. The poll of U.S. members was conducted online between March 7-8 and is comprised of 176 travel managers.



Meet Minneapolis, the area DMO/CVA, presented the city’s first-ever tourism master plan, Destination Transformation 2030, at its March 2, 2017, annual meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The destination management organization is seizing the opportunities provided by the major events coming to the city over the next few years to strive towards longer-term gains in tourism.

Destination Transformation 2030 is a comprehensive tourism plan for Minneapolis, providing goals for where the destination will be in the year 2030, including:

  • Attract 50 million visitors to the metro area annually; in 2015, there were 32 million visitors.
  • Increase winter visitation to 11 million travelers, whereas there are 6 million today.
  • Support 40,000 hospitality jobs; currently, there are 32,500.
  • Develop a $10 million annual awareness-building marketing campaign for the metro area.

“We want to celebrate and enhance the very best of our city and everything it offers. And we want the world to know about it,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges, co-chair of Destination Transformation 2030.

Over the past year, Meet Minneapolis gathered input from 3,000 people, including tourists, travel writers, meeting planners, local stakeholders, residents and industry experts. Six subcommittees worked to develop the plan. The plan identifies eight initiatives for 2030:

  • Attract 50 million visitors to the metro area annually by 2030.
  • Launch a metro-wide branding and marketing campaign.
  • Build an iconic visitors center on downtown’s central riverfront.
  • Implement a unified transportation, wayfinding and information program for Minneapolis.
  • Adopt a comprehensive place-making plan to drive Minneapolis tourism priorities and investments.
  • Accentuate winter as a novel tourism adventure.
  • Grow and emphasize hospitality jobs as important to social equity and the metro economy.
  • Identify and secure ongoing resources to implement the tourism master plan.

More details on each initiative are available at



Benchmark Resorts & Hotels announced its "Top Meeting Trends for 2017" as observed by its properties. Benchmark is a U.S.-based hospitality management company, which operates 70 hotels, resorts and conference centers within its Benchmark Resorts & Hotels and Gemstone Collection brands.

"We look forward to another stellar year,” said Ted Davis, Benchmark’s chief sales & marketing officer. “2016 was a year of dynamic growth for us as well as much of the meetings industry, and 2017 is looking even more promising. We particularly look forward to the increasing demand for creative destination-inspired experiences and outdoor adventure activities that encourage [group participation and collaboration].”

Following are Benchmark’s “Top Meeting Trends for 2017" (note some of these trends have a supplier focus, coming from the perspective of Benchmark, but these still apply to both sides of the planning process).

Trend #1: The Outlook is Promising

The good news is the national election is behind us and early indications are encouraging for a favorable business environment for 2017. The remainder of the year looks bright with renewed energy and prosperity in the meetings marketplace, growing confidence in job creation and resulting training demand, and a reinvigorated economy expected to provide a strong boost to corporate meetings.

Trend #2: Authenticity Matters 

Now more than ever, groups want authentic, interactive travel experiences to enrich their meetings. This is particularly so with younger meeting guests, the millennials. Planners seek to immerse their attendees within the local milieu, such as experiencing indigenous cultures like Hawaii's distinctive Polynesian heritage or engage with social causes. Properties that provide opportunities to discover genuinely authentic destination experiences set themselves far apart from their competitors and leave their guests transformed.

Trend #3 Social Media Grows Up

Social media in the meetings marketplace has achieved the status of standard operating procedure. LinkedIn establishes communication with meeting planners. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube showcase a property to planners and highlight the venue's unique capabilities and that of the destination. Twitter is essential within a meeting for its concise, bite-size communications. Creative and relevant hashtags during meetings prove an ideal way to draw planners into the meeting experience and to share messages with fellow attendees.

Trend #4 Corporate Play Days

Blame it on the millennials. Teambuilding in 2017 is technology in bonding: GPS, virtual reality, adrenaline-packed interaction utilizing multiple skills set to the workplace. Some even call it Corporate Play Days as "teambuilding" seems outdated to today's youthful meeting attendees.

Trend #5: I Need It Yesterday!

The No. 1 planner request in 2017 is "as soon as possible, or sooner!" This lust for speed is driven by technology, so planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around by the afternoon or COB. Text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls because it's quicker. Even on-property needs and requests have expectations of immediate response. Time is money, and never before has this meant more to planners! Winning properties operate with anticipation and a sense of urgency.

Trend #6: Fast & Furious Technology

Smartphones are changing everything in meetings! Poken enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. Click Share is becoming the norm allowing complete flexibility to presentation controls and to permit others in the room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button ... Skype engages interaction with remote participants. Dedicated apps drive registration and communication.

Trend #7: The Pace is Positive

From group size, to the number of meetings scheduled for 2017, to up-trending meeting rates, to strengthening demand for creative, customized meeting packages—it's all trending positively for 2017. Though the length of meetings remains three days and two nights, some properties are even starting to see week-long meetings.

Trend #8: All In the Crafting

For 2017, distilling trends are creating an increasing interest in the evolution of craft beers, craft cocktails and craft liquors, particularly whiskey. It's more than enjoying the taste of a locally inspired libation ... increasingly off property experiences and tutorials on how these beverages are created and how they pair with food are in high demand with meeting engagers and attendees. Many properties’ bars are hosting happy hours featuring these tutorials. The big draw is the education element, which makes for a unique post-meeting event activity.

Trend #9: Relationship Management

How do you build a solid relationship in life, whether personal or professional? Nurture it! Life in 2017 is hectic, moving at lightning speed, cluttered and even chaotic at times. But your relationship with meeting professionals shouldn't be. Good old fashioned phone calls, invitations to special events at your property or within your destination, meeting for coffee or cocktails after work, are all seen as critical in nurturing a relationship with those who can be so meaningful in delivering volume business to your hotel or resort.

Trend #10: Train, Train, Train!

Hands down, nothing is more important for guests on property than experiencing a well-trained staff. A trained staff is responsive, participatory, solutions minded and continuously attentive to customers’ needs. It starts with hiring the best and continues, daily in some cases, with effective training. We know this goes without saying, but it is one of the top issues and opportunities in hospitality today. Planners, hotel guests and meeting attendees all notice, and respond accordingly with reviews and repeat business.

One More Trend: Where the Demand Is

Healthcare, education, the financial industry, major pharma, even coal and gas for certain regions of the country are all delivering strong demand in 2017. Also, incentive meetings are making a comeback.



MDM Group, a developer based in Miami-Dade County, announced it has closed on a five-acre parcel in Overtown which once housed the original Miami Arena to build a new hotel and conference center.

Located at NW 7th St. and 1st Ave., the $45 million acquisition is a next step in the process of developing the Marriott Marquis Miami Worldcenter Hotel & Expo Center, bringing to downtown Miami the world class conference and exposition center long-sought by local leaders. The seller is Old Arena LLC.

This landmark hotel and convention facility is slated to be built in two phases. The initial phase of the construction will include the 600,000-square-foot conference and exposition space along with 1,100 hotel rooms. The second tower will consist of 600 hotel rooms, and will begin shortly after construction commences, bringing the total number of hotel rooms to 1,700. MDM expects to break ground in 2017.

“We have been passionately working on this project and are thrilled to be another step closer to creating a hotel and conference center that will continue to further the City of Miami’s stance as a true global destination,” said Joseph Herndon, director of development, for MDM Development LLC.

The development is expected to generate thousands of jobs during construction phases and it is expected to pave the path for hundreds of both direct and indirect career opportunities.

The project has been designed by Miami architects Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates (NBWW). RTKL, the globally acclaimed creative services organization, is the development’s interior design firm.



Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel brand by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, announced plans to open and operate a new hotel in San Francisco. Expected to open in the summer of 2017, the San Francisco property will be managed by Virgin Hotels and developed by Paradigm Hotels Group. 

"San Francisco is a dynamic, forward-thinking city that embodies so much of what Virgin Hotels stands for, and is already home to many fans of the Virgin brand,” said Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal.

Located South of Market just steps from Yerba Buena Gardens, Virgin Hotels San Francisco will feature 196 Chambers and Grand Chamber Suites; multiple dining and drinking outlets, including the brand's flagship space, The Commons Club; a coffee shop; numerous meeting spaces; and a rooftop bar.

"We're thrilled to partner with Virgin Hotels as it continues its expansion around the world," added Jay Singh, owner of Paradigm Hotels Group. "Virgin Hotels is a brand that knows what travelers want.”

Virgin Hotels San Francisco is a new build located at 250 Fourth Street, serving as neighbor to many cultural attractions, as well as the Moscone Center and the incoming Central Subway Station.

Virgin Hotels Chicago opened in 2015, and the brand recently announced plans to open additional properties in New Orleans, Silicon Valley, Nashville and Palm Springs. Hotels in Dallas and New York City are currently under construction, slated to open in 2018 and 2019, respectively.


President Trump signed a new version of his executive order on Monday, March 6, this time blocking citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—from entering the U.S.

The executive order, commonly referred to as President Trump’s travel ban, was updated in a few key areas to better hold up under federal scrutiny. Most notably, the updated ban is not immediate and instead goes into effect on March 16, Iraq was removed from the list of countries and current visa holders are not affected.

Once implemented, the ban will last for 90 days for travelers and 120 days for refugees.

The New York Times put together an analysis of the travel ban and more details of what else is new that is worth a look for those in the meetings and events industry. While the U.S. (and the meetings industry) does not routinely do business with the countries mentioned in the ban, it’s influence can still be felt elsewhere.

Many see the travel ban as having an impact on the overall perception of the U.S. and who decides to travel to and from the country, though the exact repercussions of the travel ban have yet to be determined.

So far, the hospitality industry has greeted the updated travel ban with a somewhat muted response, but it seems that many are keeping a close and cautious eye on the travel ban and its overall impact.

The Meetings Mean Business Coalition released the following statement on Tuesday, March 7.

“Meetings Mean Business joins the American travel community in supporting efforts to bolster national security. We recognize the substantially more cautious and deliberate introduction of the revised executive order on travel and immigration, however, several of the industry’s initial concerns remain unaddressed.

"A Meetings Mean Business survey, conducted after the initial executive order, found that [the majority of industry professionals] were concerned about reputational harm to the U.S. Our industry is centered on bringing people together, fostering relationships, driving positive outcomes and supporting communities where meetings and events are held.

"We reiterate our belief that striking the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation is of the utmost importance. We also continue to urge that the security reviews prescribed ... be concluded as quickly as possible.”

And here is an excerpt of an official statement from U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow.

"The American travel community supports efforts to bolster national security, and the Trump administration deserves some credit for the substantially more cautious and deliberate introduction of the revised executive order … Cabinet officials were on the right track with public statements welcoming lawful visa holders into the U.S. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the administration fully seized the opportunity to differentiate between the potential security risks targeted by the order and the legitimate business and leisure visitors from abroad who support 15.1 million [jobs]."

Travel industry website, Skift, compiled statements from these and other associations here.

In a recent informal survey sent out to Meetings Today Friday With Joan newsletter subscribers in February 2017 and promoted via social media outlets, 60.2% of respondents felt the original travel ban would negatively affect our industry. While 27.7% felt the travel ban would not directly impact our industry in the long-run.

12% of respondents were uncertain on the overall industry impact of the original travel ban.

Meanwhile 42.2% of respondents felt that their meetings would not be directly impacted by the previous travel ban and 31.3% felt that their meetings would be directly impacted. 26.5% of respondents were unsure if their events would be directly impacted by the travel ban in any way. 83 people responded to the survey.


The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) have joined forces to provide a new, enhanced experience for global meetings and incentive professionals at the SITE + MPI Global Forum. The crossover between industries and memberships sparked the idea for the unique event, taking place Jan. 12-14, 2018, at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria, Rome, Italy, a five-star luxury hotel.

The forum brings together the power of two global brands to share industry trends, offer innovative and relevant education and provide a collaborative environment for networking and business exchanges.

“As past-chair of MPI, I am excited about this opportunity to collaborate with MPI on the Global Forum, which will quickly become one of the most important industry events in Europe in 2018,“ said SITE CEO Kevin Hinton, CIS. “SITE and MPI share many members, and by combining our otherwise competing events, we are making it easier for members to attend one event versus having to choose between the two.”

“We look forward to partnering with SITE to deliver a strong and innovative program for Global Forum next year. This collaboration is just one example of our strategic priority to expand MPI educational offerings within Europe, and we believe our members in the region will welcome the opportunity to learn and network alongside SITE members,” added Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI.

More information and updates on the events are available on MPI and SITE member websites.



Hard Rock International unveiled plans to purchase the former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and open the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in its place. Hard Rock and its partners announced on March 2 that they had reached a definitive agreement to purchase the property with a subsidiary of investor Carl Icahn.

Hard Rock International will be majority owner of the rebranded Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in partnership with the Morris and Jingoli families. The group said it will invest more than $300 million to purchase, substantially renovate and reopen the casino, located on 17-acres of boardwalk real estate.

"We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment," said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International. "We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success."

The partnership will transform the existing Taj Mahal with a complete remodel and rebrand of the property, offering guest rooms with views of the city and ocean in the iconic Atlantic City building.

From renovation to completion, it is expected that the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will create over 3,000 jobs for Atlantic City and provide an ongoing and significant impact to the local economy.



The James Hotels announced its New York-NoMad Hotel is set for a summer 2017 launch, with an official opening date tentatively planned for sometime in June. The expected launch window of The James New York-NoMad will follow the anticipated May 2017 opening of The James West Hollywood-Sunset in California.

"The James New York-NoMad brings another distinct personality to our family," said Carl Cohen, chief experience officer at Denihan Hospitality Group. "As we roll out new properties over the next year, The James Hotels will be known for offering mindfully elevating experiences."

Centrally located at 29th Street and Madison Avenue, The James New York-NoMad will aim to provide the ultimate urban retreat and an ideal home base from which guests can explore the city. The property is located just minutes away from Madison Square Park, Gramercy Park and the Flatiron District.

With a legacy dating back to the start of the 20th century, The James' exterior embodies all the elegance and stature of classic New York, standing as a 12-story testament to Beaux-Art architecture. The 344-room luxury property, including 28 suites, is being transformed by designer Thomas Juul-Hansen.

The property will offer 4,500 square feet of event space, including a grand ballroom for up to 250 people and four private meeting rooms, ideal for intimate business meetings as well as large social gatherings.

John Meadow's LDV Hospitality, a New York-based restaurant group, will be the food and beverage partner managing all in-room dining. It will also open a few new dining concepts within the property.


Convene, a growing network of meeting, event and conference venues, released its Global Meetings Research Report that aims to showcase “What Meeting and Event Planners Want in 2017.” Convene caters heavily to the corporate meetings market and reported that "corporate planners" made up 82% of the survey respondents.

Some key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Event planners surveyed by Convene hosted most of their events in New York City, followed by Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago.
  • Other national and international hubs where those surveyed typically host events include Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Switzerland, Chile, Barcelona, Shanghai, Toronto, Singapore and Hong Kong.
  • 34% of respondents said that “bespoke is best” and prefer working with general purpose venues that allow planners to work with preferred vendors or coordinate specific event details on their own.
  • 17% of planners believe venues don’t provide enough staff to support their events.

For more details on these and other survey results check out Convene’s full report.



The Oklahoma City Council voted on and approved the preliminary report for the new $288 million downtown Oklahoma City Convention Center. Since 2010, The City of Oklahoma City and Populous have been working together to build a new convention center through the Metropolitan Area Projects 3 (MAPS 3), a one-cent, self-funded sales tax initiative passed in 2009 by Oklahoma City voters.

Opening in 2020, the Oklahoma City Convention Center will be located on the south end of Oklahoma City’s downtown district directly adjacent to the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the 70-acre downtown park currently under construction. The SMG managed convention center will offer a 30,000-plus-square-foot ballroom, 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and 45,000 square feet of meeting space with 27 unique meeting rooms in the three-level facility. Each meeting room will offer informational meeting spaces in the adjacent pre-function space outside for attendees to maximize their time in the center.

On the first level, 18 loading docks and two drive-in ramps will provide load-in access to exhibit halls.

The interior view will offer an earth tone palette that will carry through the exterior, utilizing Oklahoma’s terracotta color on the outside with landscaping surrounding. Interactive wayfinding will be located throughout the convention center to allow attendees to easily find all of the available assets.

“The approval of the preliminary report gets Oklahoma City closer to attracting new meetings and conventions to Oklahoma City,” said Oklahoma City CVB President, Mike Carrier. “This is a convention center the city can be proud of, because they have invested in it and their community.”

MAPS 3 is a $777 million capital improvement program to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City. It is funded by a one-cent sales tax initiative that began in April 2010 and ends December 2017.

All MAPS projects are paid in full before a project is started. Other MAPS 3 projects coming to Oklahoma City include a modern streetcar system which will link important districts in and around downtown, including drop off and pick up points at the new convention center and a 70-acre Downtown Public Park, which will be directly west of the convention center offering walking trails, a tranquil lake and a café.


Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN) announced that SPINCon 2017, the senior planner association’s annual convention, will be held Dec. 3-5, 2017, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas.

“The Grapevine CVB and Great Wolf Lodge worked hard to come up with a great package for SPINCon 2017 and we are very excited to be working with them,” said Rod Abraham, executive director of SPIN.

Created by SPIN’s Founder and Chairwoman Shawna Suckow, each SPINCon is designed to be an innovative and one-of-a-kind event, however the focus remains on bettering all aspects of the meeting professional, so tracks will again emphasize professional, personal and spiritual well-being. The SPINCon Planning Committee is currently working to finalize the theme and the program for the 2017 event in Grapevine.

“I am thrilled that we were selected to host this year’s conference,” said Brady Closson, managing director of sales & marketing, for the Grapevine CVB. “We know last year’s SPINCon in Ft. Lauderdale was exceptional, so we will work hard make the Grapevine experience very special. Our team at the CVB, the Great Wolf Lodge and the entire hospitality community are looking forward to working with [SPINCon] to showcase our area.”

SPIN membership is limited to senior-level planners with at least 10 years of full-time experience. More details on SPINCon 2017, including the theme and schedule, will be revealed in coming months.



The Florida House announced it will separate its recently updated measures to cut spending on Visit Florida and eliminate funding for Enterprise Florida into two bills, which will be voted on individually.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a House panel will take the Visit Florida measures out of HB 7005, which contains the repeal of several economic development programs, and put them into HB 9. The new legislative session begins on Tuesday, March 7, and a floor vote on both bills is expected to occur later in the week.

More information on the Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida bills is available via the Orlando Sentinel.


NASSAU, Bahamas

Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a management agreement with CTF BM Operations Ltd. for the operation of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, the Baha Mar Convention Center and a variety of restaurants, bars and lounges, all of which will be part of the mixed-use Baha Mar Resort on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. The long-awaited Baha Mar Resort will open in phases, with initial operations at Grand Hyatt Baha Mar expected to begin in late April 2017.

“It is an honor to soon be part of the Baha Mar family, and Hyatt is thrilled to reaffirm its commitment to Baha Mar and to work together to create an exciting new destination in the Bahamas,” said Myles McGourty, senior vice president, Latin America and Caribbean, Hyatt. “Expanding Hyatt’s brand presence in the Caribbean is important to our global expansion strategy as we grow our World of Hyatt platform and bring more genuine experiences to our loyal guests in destinations where they want to travel.”

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar will offer 1,800 guest rooms, including 227 lavish suites with high-end amenities and "breathtaking ocean views." The hotel will feature three on-site restaurants, including a 200-seat main restaurant, a pool bar and grill and a jazz-themed lounge. Additionally, the Baha Mar Convention Center will feature more than 85,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space.

Hotel News Now recently put together a history of the Baha Mar development through Dec. 2016.



The Hermosa Inn, a AAA Four Diamond boutique hotel nestled in Paradise Valley (a suburb of Phoenix and near Scottsdale), completed the second phase of a $5.5 million dollar renovation and expansion.

The renovation included the addition of 10 deluxe hideaway casitas, the complete renovation of 12 historic rancho casitas and an expansion of LON’s Last Drop bar and patio, increasing the hotel's number of hacienda-style accommodations and casitas to 43. Phase one of the expansion began in 2015.

"Maintaining the integrity and character of Hermosa Inn and the dream that once inspired its inception, was at the forefront when the Allreds embarked on this renovation and expansion," said Stephen Ast, managing director at Hermosa Inn. "Their investment of $5.5 million dollars translates to $125,000 per key, which by any standard, is impressive and indicative of their commitment, not only to preserving The Inn's legacy, but to creating an authentic and memorable guest experience that [represents Arizona].”

A stately fountain anchors the hotel's new entryway, creating a welcoming arrival that leads directly into the newly-built, “ruggedly handsome” lobby with beamed ceilings and a hefty fireplace that perfectly mirrors the understated, Old Arizona elegance and residential comfort of the original hacienda.

Situated just a short stroll from the main building, via a walkway trellised with hot-pink bougainvillea, Old West meets modern luxury in the 10 spacious, 700-square-foot deluxe hideaway casitas that feature European white oak floors, vaulted ceilings with a skylight, a beehive fireplace, an expansive yet secluded patio and luxurious bathrooms with both a clawfoot tub and a glass enclosed shower.

Simultaneously, 12 historic rancho casitas were completely renovated, with careful attention paid to modern-day conveniences and residential comforts, while preserving their Old Arizona charm. In 2016, all of Hermosa Inn's existing accommodations underwent a complete renovation, including the installation of wood floors, new bedding, leather furnishings and completely remodeled bathrooms.

The Hermosa Inn offers facilities to host smaller meetings, corporate retreats and social events.


The Trump administration could have an impact on the international travel plans of U.S. adults, according to the latest “travelhorizons” survey of 2,300 U.S. adults conducted by MMGY Global.

U.S. adults who have traveled internationally during the past year were asked how the new presidential administration will affect their upcoming travel plans. More than four in 10 (43 percent) of these travelers feel that the Trump administration will have at least some impact on where they choose to vacation internationally, while one quarter (26 percent) say it will have no impact at all.

There is a substantial difference in the responses provided by Democrats versus Republicans: one half (52 percent) of Democrats feel the Trump administration will have some impact on their choice of international vacation destinations, while three in 10 (31 percent) Republicans feel the same way.

Millennials are significantly more likely than other generations to feel the Trump administration will impact their international vacation choices. Nearly six in 10 (56 percent) of millennials feel the Trump administration will have some impact on their international vacation choices, compared to 33 percent of Generation Xers, 15 percent of young boomers and 29 percent of older boomers.

For more information about these insights, visit

About travelhorizons™
Travelhorizons™ is a quarterly survey of Americans’ travel intentions viewed through the lens of emerging economic, social and political developments. This iteration of the nationally representative survey of 2,307 prequalified adults, 525 of whom have taken at least one international (including Mexico and Canada) vacation in the past 12 months, was conducted from Jan. 24 – Feb. 4, 2017.



Washington Marriott Georgetown, the first Marriott hotel built in the nation’s capital in 1981, completed a $28 million transformation, an investment by hotel owner, Geller Capital Partners.

Representing Marriott Hotels’ massive reinvention efforts, evolving everything from hotel design to associate training, the Washington Marriott Georgetown is Marriott International’s first fully redesigned property in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and will serve as an example of the latest and greatest the brand has to offer.

“We want our guests to experience forward-thinking, aesthetically pleasing spaces that help foster their inventive nature,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president, Marriott Hotels. “Marriott Hotels has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation in travel to create experiences that inspire and push our guests’ creativity. Washington Marriott Georgetown has accomplished this and more.”

The newly transformed Washington Marriott Georgetown lies in the heart of the city’s West End neighborhood, an area noted for its tree-lined residential streets, embassies and critically-acclaimed restaurants, including the city’s first Nobu, scheduled to open later this year. The neighborhood has also become the city’s fitness hub, with brands establishing West End footprints including SoulCycle, Orange Theory, Equinox and the forthcoming Squash on Fire, a 19,700-square-foot squash facility opening its doors in May.

The hotel is within walking distance to Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle.

Washington Marriott Georgetown’s renovation added 8,300 square feet of new public space, a completely reimagined F&B program, 18 meeting rooms, a new fitness center and the M Club Lounge. The hotel’s guest rooms feature the new “Marriott Modern Design” room where the experience meets the needs of today’s traveler by offering flexibility, mobility and technology-enabled work surfaces.

The hotel also transformed its 18 meeting rooms and added three new rooms including the new 4,800 square-foot Metropolitan Ballroom, making a total 22,000 square feet of above ground flexible event space. Many meeting spaces feature floor to ceiling windows, while all include a flexible setup.



On March 1, a Frederick hotel that has been part of the growing community for nearly 40 years, will reopen its doors as the 156-room Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center. The property is said to be a trusted gathering place for groups since it originally opened and was operated as other brand names. Located adjacent to the Francis Scott Key Mall, the hotel has been home to business and leisure travelers alike since 1979.

“We are excited about the evolution of this Frederick landmark,” said Susan Lent-Cohen, president of Cohenterprises and owner of the conference center hotel. “The Clarion brand has strong name recognition in the leisure market but also offers convenient amenities … [for business travelers].”

With nearly 13,000 square feet of event space, the Frederick Event Center is the largest venue for conferences in the area. This includes the 7,800-square-foot banquet hall that can hold 500 seated.

Cohenterprises plans to further convert the Frederick Event Center into a green meeting venue with modern AV technology and alternative energy. The 14-acre property hopes to attract larger events.

The Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center features Casey’s Lounge, a 24-hour business center, indoor pool, fitness center, comfortable rooms, free high-speed Internet and an on-site miniature golf course.



Vail Resorts, Inc. announced it has entered an agreement to acquire assets related to the mountain operations of Stowe Mountain Resort from Mt. Mansfield Company, Inc. (MMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), for a purchase price of $50 million, subject to certain adjustments.

Stowe Mountain Resort will be Vail Resorts' first mountain resort on the East Coast and complements the company's network of 10 mountain resorts and three urban ski areas.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Vail Resorts' assets will include operations of base area skier services at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Other facilities such as the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe Country Club and certain real estate owned and held for future development will be retained by MMC.

"We're thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts. “With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders. We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the [resort].”

As previously mentioned, MMC will retain ownership of the renowned Stowe Mountain Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort, a 312-room hotel and spa that has already been recognized as one of the greenest and most luxurious mountainside hotels in the world, and additional slope-side real estate opportunities.

Stowe Mountain Resort offers 56,000 square feet of event space at its alpine village at Spruce Peak.

This transaction is subject to Vermont administrative review. At closing, the purchase price will be adjusted for certain agreed upon terms, including a reduction (or increase) in the price by the amount that the resort's EBITDA exceeds capital expenditures for the period from Nov. 1, 2016, through closing.

Vail Resorts also revealed plans to integrate Stowe Mountain Resort into its Epic Pass and other season pass products for the 2017-18 winter season, subject to the acquisition closing.

The headline for an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated "Vail Resorts to Acquire First East Coast Hotel," but in actuality MMC will retain ownership of Stowe Mountain Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort. Vail Resorts plans to acquire the mountain operations of Stowe Mountain Resort, including base skier areas at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak.

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