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02/23/2017


PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wisc.

DoubleTree by Hilton welcomed DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasant Prairie Kenosha into its global portfolio after the completion of its $3.5 million conversion and renovation of the 120-room property.

The conversion and renovation included upgrades to the guest rooms, meeting spaces and public spaces, including the lobby, market, business center, fitness center and pool area. The reopening will be celebrated in April 2017 with a “Grand Reopening” event and ribbon cutting ceremony.

"Whether in town for business or pleasure, DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasant Prairie Kenosha provides guests with access to some of the area's main attractions, from Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets across the street to Jelly Belly Candy Company, Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor just a few miles away," said Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton.

The hotel is managed by First Hospitality Group, Inc. (FHG), which was recognized in Forbes America's Best Midsize Employers 2016. FHG received a No. 28 ranking out of the 250 best midsize employers in the country, No. 1 in the travel category and No. 3 amongst all of America's best travel companies.

"We are pleased to reintroduce this property to the Pleasant Prairie community under the Hilton brand," said Robert Habeeb, CEO, First Hospitality Group. "Coupled with the popular attractions in the area, we are confident that the renovations made will help to continue driving more traffic to the area.”

The DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasant Prairie Kenosha offers an on-site restaurant and bar, The Chancery Bar & Grill, with menu items such as Chocolate Chip Pancakes and a Chancery Fried Chicken Dinner.

Business meetings and events accommodating up to 500 attendees may be held in the hotel's 5,500 square feet of meeting and banquet facilities. A sound system and A/V equipment are also available.

Other conveniences include an indoor swimming pool and 24-hour fitness center.

02/23/2017


The Convention Industry Council (CIC) selected SmithBucklin, an association management and services company, to provide full-service association management moving forward. The CIC was run by Talley Management Group prior to the switch. Karen Kotowski, CMP, CAE, will continue to serve as CEO.

In addition, the CIC’s headquarters will move to 2025 M St., N.W., Washington, D.C., on April 1.

“We are delighted to have been selected to serve the Convention Industry Council,” said Matt Sanderson, president & CEO, SmithBucklin. “We share CIC’s passion for bringing people together to achieve great things, and we look forward to serving this thriving industry … which is [an important focus] of our company.”

The CIC was founded in 1949 by four organizations to facilitate the exchange of information within the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. CIC has grown to include 33 member organizations representing over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties. The mission of the CIC is to strengthen the value and sustainability of its members, support the premier credentialing program for the meeting professional, and provide a collaborative platform to ensure a thriving events industry.

CIC offers many tools and programs designed to support the industry. It facilitates the exchange of information and ideas, and educates the public on the industry’s profound economic impact. CIC provides the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program, which is recognized globally as the badge of excellence. It also is spearheading the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative to develop accepted industry practices.

“The Board of Directors is very pleased with the level of support that SmithBucklin will bring to CIC, and its ability to help our organization both now and as we work to realize our potential in the future,” said Susan Robertson, CAE, CIC Chair. “SmithBucklin’s culture and values are aligned with CIC’s. The staff is extremely well-qualified to support critical areas such as the domestic and global expansion of the CMP credential, APEX standard-setting and major events such as the Hall of Leaders. Further, SmithBucklin’s solid services in the areas of marketing and branding, IT and website development are essential for taking CIC to the next level.”

In her continuing role as CEO, Kotowski will work with the CIC Board of Directors to establish strategic objectives, while being accountable for developing and executing plans that achieve results. The SmithBucklin team will support CIC’s initiatives, including the CMP program, APEX and the Green Meetings Industry Council.

Kotowski has more than 24 years of association experience. She has served CIC for eight years. Previously, she served as staff vice president at the National Association of Home Builders. Kotowski has a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University, and she holds two certifications: the CAE and the CMP since 1995.

02/22/2017


Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 59th list of worldwide Star Rating recipients, continuing its selective approach for recognizing the world's finest properties and rewarding gracious, intuitive service.

For 2017, the award winners include 22 new Five Star hotels, 76 new Four Star hotels and 83 new hotels in the “Recommended” category. Other first-time recipients include seven Five Star restaurants, 13 Four Star restaurants and 12 Recommend restaurants. The list also honors nine new Five-Star spas.

As it continues to expand globally, Forbes Travel Guide now rates properties in 42 countries throughout the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, with plans to add the Middle East and Africa for 2018.

Newly added international destinations for 2017 include: Bali, Barcelona, Bogota, Budapest, Cartagena, County Kildare (Ireland), Dublin, Kyoto, Lima, Lisbon, Manila, Melbourne, Monte Carlo, Munich, Osaka, Santiago, Seoul, St. Tropez, Sydney, Venice and Zurich.

"This year's star rated properties—the largest and most global group in the company's history—achieved an impeccable standard of excellence in hospitality, underscoring our overall mission of positively contributing to the international tourism industry as well as the individual hotel experience," said Gerard J. Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. "We are excited to recognize the 2017 Star Rating recipients, an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants and spas with a strong culture of service.”

To celebrate this year's award, Star-Rated winners are invited to the Forbes Travel Guide All-Star Celebration in New York City on March 2. Attendees will enjoy selections of dishes prepared by award-winning chefs and legends of the international culinary world, including Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali.

The complete list of winners is available at www.forbestravelguide.com/about/awardwinners.

02/22/2017


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

The battle between Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House over the fate of Visit Florida heated up on Tuesday as a budget panel voted to cut spending on tourism marketing and eliminate funding for Enterprise Florida.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the HB 7005 bill passed in an 18-12 vote with just two Republicans, Reps. Holly Raschein of Key Largo and Bill Hager of Boca Raton, voting against it. The amended bill is looking to put Visit Florida under “strict transparency and accountability rules,” according to those who support the legislation.

Under HB 7005, salaries for Visit Florida staffers would be capped at $130,000 per year, travel expenses and contract spending would have to follow state rules and its CEO would have to gain Senate approval. The updated bill would also reduce Visit Florida’s state funding to from $76 million to $25 million.

An original version of the bill proposed by the House called to eliminate Visit Florida funding entirely. The amended version of the bill will next make its way to the House floor, for further consideration.

The Florida Legislature will meet in a session beginning on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. A regular session lasts for 60 calendar days and this is when further action and legislation could occur.

More information on HB 7005 is available via the Orlando Sentinel.

02/22/2017


KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

The Tennessean Hotel will open in Downtown Knoxville this April as part of the Gemstone Collection brand. Benchmark will operate the property, which features 82 guest rooms and 12 luxury residences in the World's Fair Park. The park sits on the perimeter of the University of Tennessee campus.

"Knoxville is a vibrant, thriving hub for business and leisure travel and now one of the hottest hotel markets in the U.S.," said Alex Cabañas, CEO of Benchmark. "The Tennessean Hotel, with its exceptional location, modern luxury and commitment to … personalized service, make it ideal for our [collection].”

The hotel is being developed on the grounds of the 1982 World's Fair Park and adjacent to the many attractions of Downtown Knoxville. Guests of The Tennessean Hotel can enjoy the city's exciting and diverse arts, theater and culinary scene, shop in the boutiques of Market Square, take a cruise on the Tennessee River, visit the acclaimed Knoxville Zoo and take in several historic sites in the area.

The Park Pavilion, located adjacent to The Tennessean, offers 16,000 square feet of luxury indoor venue space with an option for outdoor space at Knoxville's pristine World's Fair Park. Event breakout spaces, pre-function space, floor-to-ceiling air curtains and hidden service hallways make this flexible space suitable for all kinds of functions. Within the hotel is the Boardroom, which features Butler Service.

02/22/2017


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.

Walt Disney World Resort began work on a new 15-story tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort that will bring an additional 500 rooms with suites and concierge level services. The new tower overlooks Lago Dorado and will offer rooftop dining with views of nighttime fireworks at nearby theme parks.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort will also reimagine its current resort rooms and transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island oasis connected by a series of bridges to other areas of the resort. The transformation will stay true to the resort theme, reflecting the spirit of adventure.

Additionally, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort will feature a new waterfront dining area and a retail shopping area, creating a new landscape from the resort's current marketplace, Centertown. The new centralized location will offer the resort's guests more convenient access to amenities and dining.

The addition of Disney's Coronado Springs Resort tower will bring the number Walt Disney World Resort rooms to nearly 30,000 within its 27 resort hotels. And more event areas are coming online, as a result.

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort features 220,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.

02/21/2017


SPOKANE, Wash.

The cost of coffee and Wi-Fi are two sometimes pricey add-ons that almost every meeting incurs. Visit Spokane is looking to entice planners by offering free coffee and Wi-Fi at the Spokane Convention Center.

“Times are changing rapidly in this modern world and it’s important for people to be connected,” said Rob Enriquez, VP of sales at Visit Spokane. “Coffee, especially here in the Northwest, is also important.”

Spokane's expanded 500,000-square-foot convention center is on the banks of the Spokane River downtown. Within walking distance of the convention center, which is connected to two hotels, there are 3,500 downtown guest rooms. Spokane's downtown core also features 80-plus restaurants.

Launched this February, the incentive requires groups to utilize 450+ room nights on peak, and the event must actualize by Dec. 31, 2019. More info is available at www.visitspokane.com/freecoffee.

02/21/2017


SAN DIEGO

Pendry Hotels announced the grand opening of its first hotel in San Diego's downtown Gaslamp Quarter. The Pendry San Diego features 317 guest rooms, three dining concepts and numerous meetings options.

"We are thrilled to debut the first Pendry hotel, Pendry San Diego, in the heart of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter," said Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman and CEO, Montage International. "San Diego is the ideal city for us to launch the brand and we look forward to welcoming guests and locals alike.”

Pendry San Diego offers a dynamic hub where guests and visitors can work, relax, socialize and dine in one central location. Rooms are appointed with custom furnishings, luxurious bathrooms and a sophisticated design nod to the city's beach and surf culture. 36 suites offer views of the city skyline and harbor, the historic streets of the Gaslamp Quarter or direct access to The Pool House outdoor deck.

The hotel boasts 35,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and special event space, including a Grand Ballroom, customizable Parlor and Salon rooms, a private al fresco poolside deck and more.

Guests and locals will enjoy a Tom Adler curated pop-up art gallery highlighting Ron Churchsurf photography. Each space within the hotel is rooted in design, culture and an inspired aesthetic that speaks to San Diego's unique coastal voice and rapidly growing influence in arts, food and technology.

Pendry San Diego is home to the following restaurants, bars and nightlife: Provisional Kitchen, Café & Mercantile, Nason's Beer Hall, Fifth & Rose, Lionfish and the Oxford Social Club. The luxury hotel is located at 550 J Street, San Diego, in the epicenter of the city's historic and energetic Gaslamp Quarter, blocks from Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres, and the San Diego Convention Center. 

02/21/2017


The U.S. Green Building Council released its LEED in Motion: Venues report, which highlights the efforts of convention centers, sports venues, performing arts centers, community centers and public assembly spaces to transform their environmental, social and economic footprint through LEED certification.

The report aims to showcase some of the most impressive green venues around the world.

“The scope and scale of the venues industry is enormous, and the leaders creating these spaces have an important role to play in reducing environmental impact,” USGBC CEO Mahesh Ramanujam said. “By incorporating green practices, venues around the world are positively impacting their triple bottom line—people, planet, profit—while inspiring others to be proactive in [social responsibility and sustainability].”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of conventions and events is expected to expand by 44 percent from 2010 to 2020—far outpacing the average projected growth of other industries.

Annually, the top 200 stadiums in the U.S. alone draw roughly 181 million visitors, and roughly 60 million people worldwide attend a consumer or industry tradeshow. Waste Management estimates that the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL generate a combined 35,000 metric tons of CO2 each year from their fans’ waste. Meanwhile, the convention and tradeshow industry produces an estimated 60,000 tons of garbage each year.

Venues that incorporate LEED into their buildings tend to experience increased cost-savings, decreased annual operating costs and a higher return on investment overall. According to the 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, from 2015-2018, it is estimated that LEED-certified buildings in the U.S. will have saved more than $2.1 billion in combined energy, water, maintenance and waste savings.

The LEED in Motion report highlights the green strategies and savings of more than 30 LEED-certified venues across the globe, including Orlando Magic’s Amway Center, the first NBA arena to earn LEED Gold certification using the LEED Building Design + Construction: New Construction rating system, was able to save nearly a million a year, including close to $700,000 in annual energy costs alone because of LEED certification.

Click here to access the full LEED in Motion: Venues report for more information.

02/20/2017


NEW HAVEN, Conn.

Noble Investment Group announced the Courtyard by Marriott New Haven at Yale University has completed a significant upgrade of its guest rooms and public areas to better serve business and leisure travelers.

Located in downtown New Haven, Conn., the hotel is adjacent to the Yale University campus, New Haven’s vibrant commercial district, and the 1,541 bed Yale-New Haven Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the world and the primary teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Nursing.

The Courtyard New Haven at Yale University features:

  • 207 guest rooms and suites with marble and granite finishes.
  • More than 1,600 square feet of flexible meeting and boardroom space.
  • A fully-equipped business center and fitness center.
  • Complimentary high-speed wireless internet access.
  • A Bistro cafe offering both breakfast & dinner options.
  • A brand-new lobby that includes several tech upgrades.

“We are excited to showcase the valuable enhancements we have been made on behalf of our local community and our guests,” said Steve Matiatos, general manager of the Courtyard New Haven at Yale.

02/20/2017


NEW YORK CITY

1 Hotels, a luxury lifestyle hotel brand, launched its third property and first ground-up development, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Remaining true to 1 Hotels founder, Barry Sternlicht, core philosophy, "The world around us is beautiful, and we want to keep it that way." The property aims to cultivate the best of eco-conscious design, sustainable architecture, cause-oriented partnerships and unrivaled service. 

Situated at Pier 1, just south of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, in Brooklyn Bridge Park with waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge was developed by a joint venture partnership between Starwood Capital Group and Toll Brothers City Living.

The property features 194 guest rooms, including 29 two- to six-bedroom suites and The Riverhouse, its Presidential Suite, with most rooms offering panoramic views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York City skyline. The project also includes the adjoining new condominium, Pierhouse, which consists of 106 townhome-style residences that were sustainably designed by Marvel Architects.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge offers more than 20,000 square feet of flexible event space featuring sliding floor-to-ceiling windows and tree-line or Skyline views. The Meadow Rue event space, located on the ground floor, opens onto the park, designed with collapsible doors and windows to accommodate up to 1,000 guests. All spaces are named after native plants, grasses, trees and shrubbery found in the park.

The lobby of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge opens to a 25-foot green wall, featuring steel grating covered in hand-placed plants and creeping vines that will evolve over time, created by landscape architecture firm, Harrison Green. A two-story industrial spiral staircase is punctuated by a sculpture of obsidian rock boulders wrapped in hand-dyed rope by Rachel Weiss. The dwellings are complemented by a 4,000-square-foot rooftop, nine-treatment room Bamford Haybarn Spa (opening in June 2017), a  fitness center, a yoga and barre studio operated by POE Yoga, two restaurants and a 50-seat screening room, among other amenities.

"Confronted with how far Americans were lagging behind in changing our consumption habits, I created 1 Hotels to show sophisticated travelers that they can do good, live well, and connect with both the world and the community around them," said Barry Sternlicht, 1 Hotels founder and the chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. "Today, with the opening of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, my vision is now realized. We were able to select every material and develop mindfully, yet the space's main purpose remains to serve, entertain and inspire."

Guests can easily access 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge by the East River Ferry, a two-minute drive over the Brooklyn Bridge or the MTA (three different subway lines). The property also offers 300 valet parking spaces located under the hotel and universal charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles. The property is 10 miles from LaGuardia Airport and 25 miles from JFK International Airport.

02/20/2017


NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a $32.2 billion capital plan on Thurs., Feb. 16, which includes financing for the states’ airports and transit systems. According to the Associated Press, the plan commits financing for a Hudson River train tunnel and a new bus terminal in Manhattan.

The $32.2 billion capital plan also allocates more than $11 billion toward redevelopment projects at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airports—including an extension of the PATH system to the Newark airport—and sets aside $2 billion to refurbish the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey.

More information on the infrastructure investments is available via the Associated Press.

02/16/2017


EVANSVILLE, Ind.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Evansville opened in Evansville, Ind., marking the return of a convention hotel to the downtown area for the first time since 2009, according to the Courier & Press newspaper.

The 241-room, five-story, state-of-the-art property is located near offices, restaurants and cultural attractions along Evansville’s horseshoe-shaped waterfront. Guests can stroll the scenic paths along the Ohio River or access the adjacent Old National Events Plaza and the Ford Center via skybridge.

The hotel is the first property in Evansville and third in Indiana for DoubleTree by Hilton.

"Downtown Evansville is undergoing a renaissance, and we are delighted to play a major role in it with our warm and inviting new hotel," said Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton.

With architectural elements that harken back to the Tri-State area's days as a mining and manufacturing region, DoubleTree by Hilton Evansville blends modern and rustic design. Furnishings and fixtures throughout the hotel carry contemporary, clean lines and warm color schemes, all enhanced by metal and raw material accents.

Diners may choose from a number of on-property options. Stone City Grill offers all-day dining, with its menu featuring regional favorites with a modern flair—all served in an upscale, relaxed atmosphere.

One of the hotel's most distinctive features is its 12,000 square feet of meeting, reception and event space. Six separate rooms are highlighted by the elegant Grand Ballroom, which accommodates 650 guests. For larger events, the space can expand to more than 600,000 square feet given the hotel's connection to and alliance with the adjacent Evansville Auditorium and Convention Centre (better known as The Old National Events Plaza) and Ford Center arena. Event spaces can benefit from the hotel's sound system and AV equipment.

Other conveniences include a 24-hour fitness center, featuring Fitness by Lifestyle Fitness cardio equipment, personal TV screens, free weights and plenty of room to stretch. Outside is a fire pit with casual seating available alongside the heated, salt water pool or on the sun deck.

DoubleTree by Hilton Evansville is located nine miles from Evansville Regional Airport.

02/16/2017


David Scowsill, president CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), delivered a message of warning in regard to the repercussions of limiting access to the U.S. for immigrants and other travelers during a speaking engagement at the Routes Americas aviation conference in Las Vegas on Feb. 14.

"The United States is in danger of taking the same path it took after the 9/11 terror attacks, which led to a decade of economic stagnation in the travel and tourism sector," Scowsill said. "Strict visa policies and inward-looking sentiment led to a $600 billion loss in tourism revenues in the decade post 9/11, as previously reported by the U.S. Travel Association, with a noted 9% drop in international arrivals.

Additionally, Scowskill warned that “The Trump Administration is in danger of steering the country in the same direction, which could have a huge impact on the country's travel and tourism sector, which generates over 8% of the country's GDP and supports nearly 10% of total employment in the U.S."

Airlines, hotels and travel agencies are all reporting drops in international bookings to the U.S., following the Executive Order banning visitors from seven countries to enter the country. This is the unintended consequence of the ban announcement, with business customers holding back on their travel plans.

Scowsill spoke directly at the administration during his speech, offering five pieces of advice:

  • Recognize that travel is a key generator of American jobs and economic growth.
  • Keep tourism out of politics. Blanket bans on citizens from specific countries will not make the American people safer.  
  • Remember the decade of lost economic growth. Travelers have a choice and they will go elsewhere.
  • Use the technology available to share information. That will ensure that only the right people arrive at borders in the first place.
  • Consult with the industry in advance of change. This will make the implementation of policies more orderly, fairer and less damaging.

"For the President who has promised to create jobs and to make America great again, travel and tourism seems the most obvious answer,” Scowsill said. “After all, the livelihood of millions of Americans depends on people being able to use planes, trains and automobiles to spend their tourist dollars.”

"Travel and tourism thrives by breaking down barriers, not building them; by making it easier for people to travel, not applying blanket bans. Our sector bridges divides between cultures, fosters understanding across religious and geographic boundaries. It is a massive generator of jobs and economic growth.”

Last week GBTA polled both its U.S. and European members to assess the impact of President Trump’s travel ban. In Europe, nearly half of travel professionals reported expectations for their company to reduce business travel over the next three months and 31 percent of U.S. respondents agreed.

More information on the GBTA’s findings are available via its official press release.

02/16/2017


The Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMB), a cross-industry communications and advocacy initiative, is rolling out its platform for industry professionals around the globe to better advocate for the power of face-to-face meetings. The newly created licensing agreement program, which was revealed at PCMA Convening Leaders, will allow non-U.S. based partners to use MMB branding, messaging and research.

“We are thrilled to welcome more international partners into the MMB family through this global expansion,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI and co-chair of MMB. “This will allow us to extend the MMB brand in an authentic, grass roots and meaningful way, which truly emphasizes that meetings matter all over the world and provide a platform to engage the global events community.”

The Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC), founded in 2009 to advocate on behalf of the Canadian meetings industry, announced it is the first to execute the MMB licensing agreement and will soon be rebranding as Meetings Mean Business Canada (MMB Canada). The BEICC board is actively reaching out to key industry stakeholders across all sectors of the Canadian meetings industry to transform the coalition into a proactive, well-funded advocacy movement with access to all levels of government.

“In-person meetings have a huge impact on the international economy and communities across six continents, but we are more powerful when we come together to share information and advocate for our industry,” said Grant Snider, BEICC chair and president and CEO at Meeting Escrow.

“Building on what has been accomplished by the BEICC and aligning our efforts with the MMB coalition will help us better communicate the importance of our $27 billion dollar 341,000 full-time job industry in Canada and will help MMB create a template for expansion of this new industry-wide platform.”

MMB is in talks with additional partners and will look to keep growing in 2017 and beyond.

02/15/2017


NASHVILLE

Turnberry Associates, a Miami-based real estate developer, unveiled further plans for the new JW Marriott opening in downtown Nashville next year. Featuring an “elliptical shape” conceptualized by award-winning architecture firm, Arquitectonica, the 33-story property is poised to become one of the city's most iconic buildings. Nashville's newest luxury hotel is located in the heart of downtown and will rise to 386 feet once completed, offering sweeping views from one of the highest elevations in the city.

The hotel is located within a two-mile radius of several Nashville landmarks, including the Music City Center, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Schermerhorn Symphony Center and more.

"We are thrilled with the plans for JW Marriott Nashville, as we feel the design and public spaces of the hotel including the roof top bar, five star dining experience, Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina, meeting offerings and spa and fitness facilities will continue to position Nashville as a luxury destination for both leisure and business travelers," said Jeffrey Soffer, Co-Chairman and CEO at Turnberry Associates.

The 533-room JW Marriott Nashville will welcome guests in an elegant lobby, where visitors can indulge in over 1,000 wines or premium cigars. The 33rd floor will also feature a spa and fitness center.

Standout design elements of the hotel include an undulating glass frontage that incorporates sculpture, fountains and art as well as a covered terrace on the 33rd floor boasting expansive outdoor space and dramatic vistas of the southern capital city. The 33rd floor will also feature Nashville's first Bourbon Steak, offering guests a five-star dining experience from world renowned chef, Michael Mina.

Conveniently located just 10 miles from the airport, JW Marriott Nashville aims to be an ideal location for groups and business travelers, boasting 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space, two ballrooms, 16 meeting rooms and two boardrooms equipped with advanced wireless technology.

02/15/2017


ATLANTA

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) officially unveiled Social Table, a new food and beverage experience shaped to suit the distinctive needs of individual events and their attendees.

The convention center, food and beverage partner Levy and its experience design agency, Curiology, and Atlanta-based design and architecture group ai3 collaborated on the research and design process for the Social Table experience, which emphasizes flexibility, high quality, freshness and local flavors.

“Each convention center event brings a new set of attendees, who move, see and dine differently,” said Cindy van Rensburg, division president of Levy Convention Centers. “We recognized an opportunity to craft a more intuitive experience serving guests fresh, locally-inspired menus [in a way they prefer].”

Levy, the Georgia World Congress Center and ai3 grounded the design process in research to understand show manager, exhibitor and event attendee patterns. The immersive process identified several common behaviors, such as sitting at a restaurant space or roaming the event floor, which guided Social Table’s configuration.

Social Table infuses GWCC’s on-campus dining options with flexible and variable menus and spaces, including a full 35-seat bar, a build-your-own salad bar and a “Grab and Go” station. The space also features a multi-use food and beverage station serving a rotating and customizable selection of house-smoked BBQ, hand-pressed burgers and artisanal flatbreads. Southern twists on classic cocktails, like the Southern Mule, Midnight Manhattan and Lemon Sapphire Mojito highlight the revamped beverage offerings.

Social Table launched for the International Production & Processing Expo earlier this month, and will continue to provide customizable dining options for all guests and show organizers. 

The 3.9 million-square-foot GWCC offers 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space, 12 exhibit halls, 106 meeting rooms and two grand ballrooms and various outdoor spaces and plazas for all types of groups.

02/15/2017


HOUSTON

After hosting Super Bowl LI that focused global attention on the city, Houston First Corporation announced the booking of a new record number of room nights tied to future conventions in 2016.

The organization, which in partnership with the Greater Houston CVB is responsible for bringing conventions and tourism to the city, said its sales team booked 479 conventions and meetings in 2016, representing 765,401 room nights, up 4.4% from 732,967 room nights in 2015. It’s worth noting that the 2015 figure was also a record; that was the first year the organization was able to introduce renovation plans for the George R. Brown Convention Center and the broader campus surrounding it.

That $175 million improvement project, now dubbed Avenida Houston, was completed in Dec. 2016.

“What Houston has accomplished in the last few years now positions us to become a greater convention and leisure travel destination in the years ahead,” says David Mincberg, board chairman of Houston First. “The renovation of the GRB and its surroundings, along with the creation of new hotels including the Marriott Marquis, was part of a master plan for how Houston would win more convention business. With that plan now executed, we are already seeing the benefits of what’s been created.”

Houston First began 2017 with yet another milestone as the organization hosted the largest client familiarization tour in its history coinciding with Super Bowl LI. The tour welcomed 19 meetings and conventions clients representing meetings in sectors such as agriculture, corporate meetings, energy, healthcare, information technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

In addition to record convention sales, the organization’s website network, led by VisitHouston.com, logged nearly 7.4 million visitors in 2016, a new record up from 6.6 million in 2015.

02/14/2017


HONOLULU, Oahu, Hawaii

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced its intention to open a new luxury hotel and branded residences in Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The project, which has a target opening date in early 2020, will enable Mandarin Oriental to introduce its brand of luxury hospitality to the destination.

Mandarin Oriental, Honolulu will be the anchor of Mana'olana Place, a 36-story mixed-use tower with gardens and public plazas, currently being developed by Los Angeles-based Salem Partners. Located in the heart of the Ala Moana district, the hotel is a short walk to Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Beach.

It will also be adjacent to the Hawaii Convention Center and the Ala Moana Center.

The hotel's 125 contemporary guest rooms and suites will be designed to reflect the Hawaiian culture, together with features inspired by Mandarin Oriental's oriental heritage. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group will also manage 107 Residences at Mandarin Oriental, located on the Mana'olana tower's upper floors.

Mandarin Oriental, Honolulu will feature a rooftop restaurant and bar with landscaped outdoor terraces, providing views of Diamond Head, Ala Moana Beach and Downtown Honolulu. There will also be a lobby lounge, an all-day dining restaurant and extensive banqueting and meeting spaces with terrace and garden views.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental will offer holistic rejuvenation and relaxation across eight treatment rooms. Further leisure options include a comprehensive fitness centre and an outdoor swimming pool.

"We are delighted with this opportunity to open a hotel in Honolulu and look forward to bringing Mandarin Oriental's legendary hospitality back to Hawaii," said James Riley, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental. "This new development will be a welcome addition to the brand's expansion around the world.”

02/14/2017


SmithBucklin, an association management company, released its annual publication, Circuit. This year’s edition includes the new "20 for 2017" section which focuses on key issues, trends and developments in the industry.

"These 20 pieces give us an opportunity to showcase the thoughts and insights of association experts including our own SmithBucklin colleagues,” said Matt Sanderson, president & CEO, SmithBucklin. “Our hope is that these stories will jumpstart thinking and conversation about the evolution and continuing significance of associations.”

Some of the 20 industry issues, trends and developments discussed include:

  • High Marks for Unconventional Education: Tried and true association education methods such as instructor-led courses, structured sessions and certification are now evolving in unconventional ways.
  • A Focus on Members: Membership retention and recruitment will continue to top association agendas in 2017. In fact, member-related topics represent four of associations' six highest priorities.
  • Look Out! Politics Ahead!: One outcome of the recent election campaign cycle was that some associations—and more specifically, the industries and professions they represent—were hit by quick-strike collateral damage arising from candidate comments.
  • It's All About the Experience: In 2016 Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Associations are likely aware of this, as Millennials are also becoming an increasingly important factor as members and constituents. Studies show that Millennials favor experiences over things.
  • Do Good, Feel Good, Look Good: While associations are naturally engaged in important work on behalf of their members and industries, the interest in, and demand for, opportunities to make an impact on altruistic causes through association events and other activities is increasing.

"Overall, Circuit highlights the enduring value of associations, and reflects our fascination with and commitment to the association industry," Sanderson said. "I hope all of our readers will [take away something useful]."

A digital version of SmithBucklin’s Circuit is available at http://www.smithbucklin.com/circuit2017.

02/13/2017


GAITHERSBURG, Md.

StepStone Hospitality announced the addition of the 301-room, including two suites, Hilton Washington, D.C. North/Gaithersburg, Md., bringing its third-party management portfolio to 17 hotels. StepStone will also oversee upgrades to the hotel, which include new guest room carpet and lobby/lounge furniture.

“The Hilton Washington, D.C. North/Gaithersburg marks StepStone’s fifth Hilton family branded hotel,” said Tom Russo, StepStone’s CEO. “We believe our familiarity with the Hilton brands, combined with our knowledge of the market, will allow us to quickly increase the hotel’s metrics and guest satisfaction.”

The Hilton Washington, D.C. North/Gaithersburg is a full-service hotel located in Gaithersburg, Md., with easy access to businesses, historical venues and entertainment options in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Hotel amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, two swimming pools (one indoor), a fitness center, complimentary business center and 16,500 square of meeting and event space. Dining options include Rook's Corner Restaurant, an American-style seafood/steakhouse and a more casual lobby bar. 

Centrally located in the hi-tech corridor of I-270 outside of Washington, D.C., the hotel is a short ride by the Metro or car to the Smithsonian Museums, National Zoo, the White House and National Mall.

02/13/2017


The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) launched “Dreams Happen Here,” a national campaign focused on the economic benefits the hotel industry brings to communities. AHLA’s new data claims the hotel industry supports eight million jobs across the country and contributes nearly $600 billion annually to the U.S. GDP, making a case for the industry and its positive impact across the U.S.

Conducted by Oxford Economics, this is said to be the most thorough economic impact analysis of the industry to date, showcasing the depth and breadth of the industry and its value to the communities they serve, advancing lifelong careers, investing in local development and boosting opportunities.

As part of the campaign, AHLA is launching a week of hospitality-focused activities in Washington, D.C. to showcase the strength of the industry and the jobs to Capitol Hill and the new administration.

Some of the key findings from the Oxford Economics research include:

  • More than one billion guests stay in hotels every year.
  • Hotels support $1.1 trillion in U.S. sales, including hotel revenue, guest spending and taxes.
  • Hotels generate $170 billion in local, state and federal taxes.
  • Hotels contribute nearly $600 billion to the U.S. GDP.
  • Guests spend nearly $500 billion at hotels and local businesses.

The full report and additional documents are available for viewing on the AHLA website.

02/09/2017


MORTON, Ill.

Park Inn by Radisson announced the opening of Park Inn by Radisson Morton. The hotel is located off I-74 providing easy access to visitors from General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

"We are pleased to see continued growth of the Park Inn by Radisson brand across the Americas," said Jeffrey Freund, senior vice president, Midscale Brands, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. "This hotel is a quality addition to our brand providing a friendly, positive and vibrant experience for guests."

The hotel offers 96 guest rooms and suites. Pet friendly rooms are also available. Guests have access to complimentary high-speed Internet, a fitness center, a business center, an indoor pool and free parking.

The Park Inn can also serve as a venue for corporate functions and special events. There is more than 10,000 square feet of space that can host up to 350 people. Guests can choose from five different rooms for their meeting or celebration. Event services are provided which include audiovisual equipment, videoconferencing and teleconferencing, food and beverage services and an event coordinator.

The hotel's on-site restaurant, Paddy O'Flaherty's Irish Pub & Eatery, has classic American dishes along with Irish cuisine such as shepherd's pies and corned beef sandwiches, with a complimentary breakfast.

In their spare time, guests can hit the links at Quail Meadows Golf Course, catch a minor league baseball game at Dozer Park or tour the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard. The Spirit of Peoria is also nearby.

02/09/2017


The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region's tourism development agency, and Airbnb, a community marketplace for accommodations, signed a landmark agreement to develop a set of policy principles and recommendations on the sharing economy for Caribbean governments and other stakeholders.

Under the agreement, signed at the CTO's headquarters by Secretary General and CEO Hugh Riley and Airbnb's Shawn Sullivan, public policy director for Central America and the Caribbean, both organizations will share data and studies with policymakers about the positive impact of the sharing economy in the region; identify ways to make it more inclusive; and attract new stakeholders and focus on providing authentic cultural experiences.

This partnership agreement will also provide to the CTO an economic analysis of Airbnb's positive impact on local economies. By reviewing Airbnb's aggregate data, key stakeholders will be briefed on the value of peer-to-peer review mechanisms. At the same time, Caribbean government officials and other stakeholders will learn about the long-term benefits of the sharing economy and home sharing.

"The CTO is establishing a basis for mutual cooperation with Airbnb,” Riley said. “It is important for us to examine all aspects of this important segment of the sharing economy. We believe that by clearly understanding Airbnb's massive influence in capturing consumers' interest in unique accommodations we will be in a position to properly advise our members and to allow the Caribbean to achieve the goals of year-round profitability, visitor satisfaction and sustainable tourism development.”

Currently, there are 41,000 listings across the Caribbean and a typical host in the Caribbean earns approximately $3,900 per year. The new agreement will also help to identify new ways to market the Caribbean as a region: “One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean” and grow the tourism industry.

"This is an exciting partnership for Airbnb,” Sullivan said. “We look forward to working with the CTO to develop policy recommendations for regional governments and other stakeholders on the sharing economy. The Caribbean is an important and growing market … we expect continued growth here.”

02/08/2017


SAN JUAN, P.R.

El San Juan Hotel, a landmark property in Puerto Rico, celebrated its reopening as part of the Curio – A Collection by Hilton. The 388-room hotel is the first Curio Collection property in Puerto Rico.

“With the reopening of El San Juan Hotel, we are proud to continue our growth throughout the Caribbean by welcoming it as the first Curio Collection property in this spectacular destination,” said Mark Nogal, global head, Curio – A Collection by Hilton. “As a hotel that honors its proud past ... the fully remodeled and upgraded property will provide guests visiting San Juan truly authentic and remarkable experiences.”

Originally opened in 1958 to much fanfare and as a favorite spot for celebrities, the oceanfront El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton property is located in the Isla Verde district of San Juan.

“In the 1960s, Puerto Rico became one of the most visited destinations in the United States, with El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, being at the center of its vibrant music and entertainment scene,” said Stefan Huber, managing director and general manager, El San Juan Hotel. “After a $60 million dollar restoration, we are thrilled to reopen a property that pays tribute to the history of Puerto Rico.”

Designed by Jeffery Beers International, the modern look and lavish feel of the property can be felt throughout. The front of the hotel has been completely transformed and upgraded. It also features a custom sculpture designed by acclaimed local artist, Luis Torruella. Torruella’s design of the eight-foot sphere that floats in a pool of water is inspired by the close relationship that Puerto Rico and the hotel share with music, dance and nature.

The hotel's expansive lobby features a hand-carved mahogany ceiling and chandelier while the rooms, suites and villas use warm-toned stone, creating a relaxed atmosphere.

El San Juan hotel features five award-winning restaurants overseen by Executive Chef Gonzalo Rivera who, prior to joining El San Juan Hotel, served as the Executive Chef at Boca Beach Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. A new restaurant will also open this spring, Caña by Juliana Gonzalez. Chef Juliana Gonzalez, a local islander born and raised in Puerto Rico, has worked in and led some of the finest restaurants in Spain and Miami for the last 15 years, and has now returned to San Juan to open her first restaurant in the city. The restaurant represents a new wave of socially and environmentally mindful ways of eating that includes working with local farmers, fishermen and small businesses to craft an original concept that bonds Puerto Ricans with their heritage.

In addition to its restaurants, El San Juan Hotel boasts an 11,000-square-foot grand ballroom—the second largest in San Juan—four pools, six bars and the vibrant El San Juan Beach Club. Throughout the coming year, the hotel will introduce, amongst other things, new innovative programming, spacious state-of-the-art spa and fitness facilities and curated restaurant concepts in newly-designed venues.

02/08/2017


HAVANA, Cuba

Kempinski Hotels announced it will open its first hotel in Cuba in the second quarter of 2017. The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana features 246 rooms and suites and is located within the historic Manzana de Gómez building in the heart of Old Havana—a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kempinski shared the news after signing a management contract with the Grupo de Turismo Gaviota SA.

"We are very pleased to be opening this outstanding hotel in the spring," said Markus Semer, CEO of Kempinski Hotels. "The opening is a continuation of our pioneering spirit as the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana will be Cuba’s first modern luxury five-star hotel. And its location within a famous historic building currently makes it the most exclusive hotel project in Old Havana.”

When the property opens, guests will be able to choose from 246 luxury rooms and suites, ranging in size from 430-square-foot standard room to the 1,600-square-foot presidential suite—all with ceilings of 13 to 16 feet. The rooftop terrace and swimming pool, with views over the old town, is a hotel highlight.

On-site facilities will include a large spa, three restaurants, a lobby bar, cigar lounge and business center. No details were provided at this time on the inclusion of meeting or event space at the hotel.

02/08/2017


BRYAN, Texas

The Stella, a luxurious four-star hotel coming to Bryan, Texas, in Spring 2017, will debut over 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space upon opening. The Stella’s spaces, which include a grand ballroom and outdoor lawn, will be multi-use and functional for business meetings, corporate retreats and various social events.

The hotel is part of Lake Walk, a 180,000-square-foot town center and master planned community, which includes restaurants, retail, a five-acre lake, waterfront park, pavilion and more. The Stella will offer a seasonally driven restaurant, craft cocktail bar, specialty coffee roaster, outdoor pool and poolside cabanas.

The Stella’s function areas, six meeting rooms and outdoor space, are able to accommodate groups of 10 to nearly 500 people. With a wide array of room sizes and layout options, The Stella has the flexibility to host everything from intimate boardroom meetings to large-scale corporate events.

The meeting spaces, curated by interior designer Design DMU and architect FAB Studios, feature an earthy color palate reminiscent of the Texas countryside with a modern and sophisticated flare. Inspiring, light-filled spaces will feature panoramic views of the outdoors and the Texas countryside.

The property’s largest indoor room, the Celeste Ballroom, is 4,307 square feet and accommodates up to 479 people. The Stella’s function lawn, The Back Yard, offers 10,000 square feet of space that can hold up to 300 people and can be tented for barbecues and formal events. Beyond the boardroom, groups can experience on-site activities that include paddle boarding, lakeside concerts, outdoor yoga and hiking and biking trails.

The Stella’s 176 guest rooms offer a sophisticated residential feel with oversized balconies in several of the suites. Guest rooms feature views of the lake, golf course and Kyle Field.

02/08/2017


CORNWALL, Ontario, Eastern Canada

Seven chefs from IACC-member properties across Canada gathered to compete for the Canadian Copper Skillet at the NAV Centre, where the winners edged one step closer to the International Copper Skillet Competition finale to be held this April 2017 at IACC-Americas Connect.

“The Canadian competition has previously been held in Toronto,” said Ian Bentley, the NAV Centre’s director of conference services and food and beverage. “This year we wanted to represent Cornwall and our region of Canada, though it's a celebration of culinary talent from across the country."

Jessica Neville, chef at NAV Centretook the “Junior Category Canada Copper Skillet Award.” Judges selected Neville for her dish of Asian noodle with duck vegetable stir fry and red wine Tahini paste.

Kent Phillips, executive chef at Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, took the coveted “Senior Category Copper Skillet Award” for his winning dish of garlic shrimp, duck confit potato hash, sun-dried tomato Brussels sprouts, green apple-gooseberry slaw and quick pickle golden beets.

In the Canadian Copper Skillet 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 area judges. During the cooking stage, event announcer Michael Smith, one of Canada’s best-known chefs, commented on a very important skill some of the competitors were using.

“Watch how many chefs are tasting their food,” Smith said. “We often like to say a cook’s single best tool is their tongue … it’s a basic skill but a skill that’s often overlooked.”

02/07/2017


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

Visit Florida, the public-private DMO for the state, could be eliminated in 2017 if a bill filed by members of the Florida House were to pass that aims to remove the budget for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

On Jan. 31, Florida Gov. Rick Scott had asked the Florida Legislature for $85 million in extra funding for Enterprise Florida and $76 million to continue to support Visit Florida, according to Tampa Bay Times.

The Florida House retaliated on Feb. 2 with a bill that threatened to eliminate both agencies. The move came after Visit Florida received scrutiny for its “questionable spending” on marketing deals and efforts.

Last Friday, Feb. 3, Visit Florida President & CEO Ken Lawson released the following statement:

“At Gov. Scott's Jobs Summit in Orlando, I led a panel discussion on Visit Florida's vital role in ensuring Florida's tourism industry remains the top tax revenue and jobs producer in the state. I told the more than 500 CEOs and business leaders in the audience that I was there to tell the truth, and the truth is Visit Florida matters.

“Our work as a force multiplier to help Florida tourism businesses get exposure on a global scale—a feat they could not do on their own—is essential to the state's continued prosperity. In concert with our more than 12,000 industry partners throughout all 67 counties, over the past five years, we have grown visitor spending in the state from $87.4 billion to $108.8 billion.

“As we enter this year's legislative session, it's clear we are in for a fight. We certainly have Gov. Scott's and other key leaders' support and I assure you we are going to make our case, but we need your help.

“Here's what you can do:

  • View and download the slides [U.S. Travel CEO] Roger Dow presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee that shows what can happen if public funding for tourism marketing is taken away.
  • Go to TourismWorksForFlorida.org to find the contact information for your local elected officials.
  • Use the points from Roger's presentation to draft an email and send it to them as both a constituent and tourism industry employee who feels that continued funding for Visit Florida's efforts to market the state to visitors is essential to all Floridians.”

The Florida Legislature will meet in a session beginning on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March. A regular session lasts for 60 calendar days and this is when further action and legislation could occur.

More information on the proposed bill is available via the Tampa Bay Times and the Palm Beach Post.

02/07/2017


Associated Luxury Hotels (ALH), the newly launched parent company of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), is already expanding its reach with the acquisition of Frankfurt, Germany-based WorldHotels. ALHI and WorldHotels both consist of upper-upscale and luxury-level hotels and resorts, but ALHI focuses its efforts on drumming up M.I.C.E. market business whereas WorldHotels works with meetings and loyalty solutions.

The acquisition is said to represent an opportunity to increase ALH’s competitiveness and profile with the addition of complementary, membership-based service offerings and a geographically diverse network. Worldhotels will remain focused on the individual business traveler (IBT), leisure and meeting sector solutions and expertise for its 75,000 rooms among 350 member hotels and resorts around the world.

ALHI will continue focusing on the North American meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (M.I.C.E.) marketplace for its membership of more than 250 luxury-level independent hotels and resorts totaling 138,500 rooms, plus their Global Luxury Alliance members across the globe. ALHI had already announced to its members that it plans to establish “ALHI boots on the ground,” augmenting its ALHI GSO sales team into Europe in 2017.

According to ALH Chairman, David Gabri, the company will operate ALHI and Worldhotels as separate divisions, initially keeping the memberships and operations of each organization separate. Based on the unique market positioning of individual hotels and resorts within Worldhotels, some select member hotels and resorts may be invited into the ALHI membership portfolio. Worldhotels’ portfolio, like ALHI’s, features city center business hotels, historic grand landmark hotels, lifestyle hotels, boutique hotels and exquisite resorts.

02/06/2017


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

Peak Hospitality announced plans for what is currently the Hotel Cascada that include a $5 million renovation and transformation to a Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center by summer of 2017.

The renovation of the property will include a redesigned lobby, multiple upgrades to meeting and guest rooms, and a new 1,100-square-foot fitness center, new exterior paint and a new exterior landscape.

Based on completion of the renovations, the hotel will officially adopt the “Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center” name by May 31, which will mark the end of the hotel’s first phase of remodeling.

The 11-acre property includes two four-story buildings with 300 rooms, over 30,000 square feet of flexible conference space, and New Mexico’s only and nationally-ranked indoor water park with five pool areas, two slides and other amenities in a 30,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the hotel.

The Peak Hospitality team plans to honor the long-time Albuquerque families that helped to build the original Four Seasons property as well as the rich history of its fine dining and quality meals. This will be accomplished in how existing banquet areas and restaurants are remodeled in the first phase.

Two additional phases will include work on the water park and other improvements at the property.

02/06/2017


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced more details on its 18,000-square-foot Central Conference Center. Scheduled to debut in May, the $11 million project will aim to provide an exclusive meeting experience while effectively complementing Borgata’s existing meetings and conventions program.

“The launch of Central Conference Center complements our event space, allowing us to accommodate more weddings, special occasions, tradeshows, business expos and more,” said Mark Vanderwielen, vice president of hotel & property operations for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. “As the market-leading resort destination in the region, we recognize the importance of our meetings and conventions customers and are delighted to offer them an exclusive product containing a level of service that is unmatched anywhere in the city.”

Designed by Avenue Interior Design, Central Conference Center features two stories of customizable event space including five meeting rooms, a board room and an office on the lower level; as well as a 6,500-square-foot clear span ballroom on the upper level. The architecture features oil-rubbed metallic and bronze finishes, incorporating custom tabu zebrano millwork and trims with marble, granite and quartz stone fixtures.

Borgata Executive Chef Tom Biglan (Borgata Buffet, The Metropolitan, Bread + Butter, Noodles of The World) will manage the culinary program for Central Conference Center with Executive Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois (Borgata Buffet, The Metropolitan, Bread + Butter) overseeing the pastry program.

The addition allows Borgata to devote over 106,000 square feet of meeting, event, and convention space between its three venues—The Event Center (70,000 square feet), The Water Club (18,000 square feet) and Central Conference Center (18,000 square feet) while also offering a wide array of dining.

02/06/2017


Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the latest hotel company to discover a payment card data breach, which affected 12 of its properties within the InterContinental and Holiday Inn brands. IHG said it is notifying customers who used cards at the affected hotel restaurants and bars between Aug. and Dec. 2016.

IHG properties that were hit by the breach include the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, Chicago Magnificent Mile, Los Angeles Century City, Mark Hopkins (San Francisco), San Juan Resort & Casino, Toronto Yorkville, and The Willard (in D.C.). Three Holiday Inns and a Crowne Plaza were also affected by the data breach.

Cards used at the front desks of these properties were not affected, according to IHG's statement.

A list of the affected hotel restaurants and bars, along with the specific time frames for each (times vary by location) is located at www.ihg.com/protectingourguests. The site also contains more information on steps guests may take to protect their information and what to do if they find unauthorized charges.

IHG said an investigation of its other properties in the Americas is still ongoing.

02/06/2017


MONTEREY, Calif.

From the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium to a hotel industry that has garnered numerous accolades, Monterey County has long set the bar for sustainable business practices and standards.

As the region continues to be at the forefront of the sustainable movement, more than two dozen community leaders and visionaries along with an audience of public officials, public policy experts, hospitality and tourism professionals, hospitality developers and contractors and hospitality educators are gathering for the first-ever Sustainable Hospitality Symposium on Thurs., Feb. 23, 2017.

The Symposium will be held at the InterContinental The Clement Monterey, a property which features 16,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for meetings, conferences and other special events.

The Sustainable Hospitality Management program at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) has partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey County CVB, the Monterey County Hospitality Association, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, the Monterey County Workforce Investment Board, the Santa Cruz County Economic Development Agency, local cities and firms as well as the Government of Costa Rica to host the event. CSUMB also announced that Congressman Jimmy Panetta, who was recently selected to serve on the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans will speak at the event.

"The Sustainability Symposium is bringing together the creme-de-la-creme of policy-makers, public officials, hospitality leaders, green developers and builders as well as educators from Costa Rica and the United States,” said Shyam Kamath, Dean of the College of Business at (CSUMB). “The goal is to shape the future of the Monterey Bay region as the leading [sustainable hospitality and eco-tourism] region in the country.”

For more information about the event, check out csumb.edu/green.

02/02/2017


DMAI, PCMA, MPI and the Meetings Mean Business Coalition have all released statements on President Donald Trump’s recent travel ban that has caused uncertainty ever since it was signed into action on Jan. 27.

The executive order indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the country and suspends all refugee  admission for 120 days (from the date when the order was signed). It also bans any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for at least 90 days.

Here is a collection of excerpts from industry association statements released in recent days.

From DMAI President & CEO Don Welsh on behalf of the organization:

“While DMAI understands the need for security in our travel, we are deeply concerned that a ban based on nationality—even a temporary one—runs contrary to the principle of freedom of travel promoted by the international tourism community,” Welsh said.

“An arbitrary ban like this one has the potential to interfere and impede the benefits the tourism industry offers by way of economic development, job creation and promoting understanding between countries and communities. DMAI strongly urges the Trump Administration to review any visa issuance procedures in question, and lift this travel ban as quickly as possible.”

From PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton on behalf of the association:

“Last week's Executive Order on immigration and refugees has left many of us with questions on how this will potentially impact our meetings and events, for both North American programs that have attendees from outside of North America and Global programs with North American attendees,” Sexton said.

“Know that we have been working closely with the Meetings Means Business Coalition to monitor the evolving policy and provide you with updates. Below find the Coalition’s update with information and clarity on the top questions business event professionals have regarding this Executive Order.”

From the Meetings Mean Business Coalition:

“The administration’s executive order on immigration and refugees has led to concern and confusion across the meetings industry. Our industry is all about bringing people together, fostering relationships, driving positive outcomes and supporting communities. We are continuing to monitor the issue and will be reaching out to our members to understand how the executive order is affecting them.

“At the same time, Meetings Mean Business joins with industry partners in reaffirming that it’s critical to strike the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation.

"Together, we urge the administration to conduct its review of the visa issuance protocols quickly, and trust that it will yield an even more secure travel security system that protects international travelers and welcomes them into our country whether traveling for a meeting or leisure.”

From MPI President & CEO Paul Van Deventer on behalf of the association:

“We are concerned the recently signed U.S. executive order on immigration and refugees could have negative impacts on our global membership community and the meeting and event industry.

"MPI is lending its full support to the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and their efforts to monitor this issue and understand potential implications. We will unite with fellow coalition members to advocate for our industry, sharing updates with our members on how Meetings Mean Business is ‘reaffirming that it’s critical to strike the right balance between enhanced security and travel facilitation.’”

More reactions on the travel ban from ASAE and the U.S. Travel Association are available here. In addition, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is keeping a running tally of those who are denied boarding on flights.

02/02/2017


BLOOMINGTON, Ind.

AJ Capital Partners announced its plan to open Graduate Hotels' newest location in Bloomington, Ind., Graduate Bloomington, in late 2018. The six-story, 150-room ground-up hotel development is located on Kirkwood Ave. between Washington and Lincoln Streets and just steps away from Indiana University.

"It is with great pleasure that we announce our newest Graduate Hotel in Bloomington, Indiana," said Tim Franzen, president of Graduate Hotels. "We've had our eyes set on the dynamic city of Bloomington since the launch of Graduate Hotels. Bloomington is a truly beautiful city with such rich history.”

With approximately 8,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, 5,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a fitness center, and corner cafe, Graduate Bloomington will aim to be the ideal destination of choice for IU visitors, business and leisure travelers, and locals alike.

Prominently located in downtown Bloomington on Kirkwood Ave., the main thoroughfare connecting IU's campus and the city's courthouse square, the hotel is situated among a myriad of restaurants, shops and music venues. The heart of IU's campus can be accessed just a few blocks from the hotel.

02/02/2017


CHICAGO

First Hospitality Group, Inc. (FHG) and Hilton announced a partnership to bring Hilton’s first triple-brand hotel, consisting of a Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton, to North America’s largest convention center, McCormick Place. Construction has already begun on the property.

“We are pleased to partner with FHG on this one-of-a-kind project, a venture which is a true testament to the value proposition delivered to the owners of Hilton’s growing number of multi-brand hotels,” said Jim Holthouser, executive vice president, Global Brands, Hilton. “Serving as a premier hub of international commerce attracting nearly three million visitors a year, McCormick Place is the ideal location to build Hilton’s first triple-brand hotel and bring even greater exposure to [our brands].”

Officially named the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago McCormick Center, the Hampton Inn by Hilton Chicago McCormick Center, and the Home2 Suites by Hilton Chicago McCormick Center, the project is expected to bring nearly 350 full-time jobs and more than 600 construction jobs to the local community.

The triple-brand hotel will be connected via skybridge to the convention center and is slated to open in late 2018. Upon its completion, the hotel will include 23 floors and a collective 466 guest rooms.

Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton McCormick Center will have three distinct lobbies and dining areas—each catering to the needs of their respective guests—while sharing many common amenities, including six rooms of meeting space totaling roughly 7,000 square feet.

02/01/2017


WILLIAMSBURG, Va.

The Williamsburg Lodge, a four-star rated Forbes Travel Guide hotel and a member of the Historic Hotels of America collection, announced it has joined Autograph Collection Hotels, a Marriott portfolio.

“We are thrilled to be joining Marriott International’s Autograph Collection Hotels portfolio,” said Florencio Ferrao, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of hospitality. “It’s a perfect fit that will allow the Williamsburg Lodge to refresh and retain its individual personality while offering more value to our guests through enhanced services and access to the worldwide Marriott Rewards network.”

The Colonial Williamsburg Company, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s for-profit subsidiary, will continue to own and operate the Williamsburg Lodge, but the hotel will include Marriott brand benefits.

Comprised of seven distinct buildings, the Williamsburg Lodge features include 323 guest rooms with modern amenities and furnishings inspired by the collections of Colonial Williamsburg’s celebrated Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; 45,000 square feet of meetings and banquet space including two large ballrooms, 28 meeting rooms and four outdoor function areas; two Southern-inspired food and beverage outlets, Sweet Tea & Barley and Traditions; and access to The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s award-winning three golf courses as well as The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg’s world-class facilities.

Opened in 1939 to provide comfortable accommodations for travelers to the historic town, the Williamsburg Lodge is one of the first Colonial Williamsburg hotels constructed under the guidance of John D. Rockefeller Jr., the founder and first benefactor of the town’s restoration.

02/01/2017


SAN ANTONIO

The San Antonio Marriott Northwest completed a $17 million renovation, including all 295 guest rooms and meeting spaces and the debut of the atrium lobby.

The hotel also unveiled a new restaurant, lobby bar set in the atrium and the brand's M Club Lounge, a 24/7 concierge for Marriott Platinum and Gold members.

The upgrades to the property's 10,000-square-foot ballroom and meeting rooms, which total 11,400 square feet, enhance the hotel’s ability to create custom events, weddings and conferences.

Under the helm of San Antonio native and Executive Chef Jesse Vasquez, the hotel's new restaurant, Asado Urban Grill, features an array of expertly-prepared classic dishes. Chef’s own Tex Mex-inspired take on local favorites includes his famous traditional roasted salsa and a homemade San Antonio tortilla soup. In addition, the hotel’s lobby bar, Asado Urban Grill Bar, invites business and leisure travelers alike to enjoy signature beverages and tasty small bites.

“San Antonio is having an incredible moment right now, as a destination and as a place to live, and our renovation mirrors the city’s own rejuvenation,” said San Antonio Marriott Northwest General Manager Lina Cosmas. “Through the hotel’s new design, emphasis on a localized culinary experience and new community partnerships, our goal is to be top of mind with both travelers and residents.”

02/01/2017


Ride-sharing services are now allowed by one-half (50%) of all corporate travel policies, a jump from 44% in June 2016, according to the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index Global Report* – Jan. 2017, in partnership with American Express. The Index examines business travelers' habits and experiences.

As policies expanded to include ride-sharing suppliers, such as Uber and Lyft, ridership among business travelers increased 21%. A majority of travelers anticipate using these types of services about the same amount (71%) or more often (18%) in the three months following the survey.

Use of home-sharing services, like Airbnb and HomeAway, also increased 20% from June 2016, despite only 30% of companies allowing this stay option. A majority of business travelers expect to stay at home-sharing properties about the same amount (72%) or more often (13%) in coming months.

"The sharing economy trends that have come to define personal travel are now significantly influencing business travel as well," said Susan Chapman Hughes, senior vice president, American Express Global Commercial Payments. "However, nearly one in five travelers are still unsure whether their employer's policies allow for sharing-economy services; making it especially important for companies to communicate clear details about the services and amenities that their policy covers."

Additional Survey Findings

The GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index Global Report also revealed that being on the road can mean less exercising for many business travelers. Of those who work out regularly at home, 45% don't exercise as often during work trips, either because they don't have the time (71%), are too tired (47%), are out of their normal fitness routine (29%) or because their hotel does not have a fitness center (17%).

Business travelers remain dedicated to staying on the road for work. Almost nine out of 10 (88%) say they would prefer to travel the same amount or more in the future and 64% agree their employers feel business travel is important to their organization's overall financial performance.

"GBTA has said many times that business travel drives lasting business growth," said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. "It comes as no surprise that road warriors and their companies see the value in putting travelers on the road to get business done and drive results."

Even More Key Highlights

  • Strong demand for reliable Wi-Fi continues, with more than three-quarters (77%) of business travelers saying it is vital to stay productive on work trips. Travelers are most satisfied with Wi-Fi offered by hotels (83%) and less so with service on airplanes (49%) or trains (48%).
  • Millennials are often the most active age group on social media during work-related trips, but now other generations are catching up. For the first time in the history of this survey, more than one-half (54%) of all business travelers say they use social media sites at least once a day.
  • Business travelers continue to favor corporate cards over other payment forms for trip-related expenses. Though still in the minority, the amount of business travelers using mobile wallets tied to corporate cards increased to 14% from 12% in June 2016.
  • Mobile wallets are especially popular in Hong Kong (20%) and Mexico (19%).

The GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report – January 2017, in partnership with American Express, is available on the GBTA or American Express websites.

*Survey Methodology: Between Sept. 6-26, 2016, the GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 3,220 business travelers whose primary residences are located in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., who have taken at least four business trips in the past year.

02/01/2017


Hilton dropped the “Worldwide” following its company name and the extra “H” in its loyalty rewards program while introducing what it is calling a series of “industry-first benefits” for its rewards members.

Hilton Honors is the updated name of the rewards program—previously referred to as Hilton HHonors—and now, through a partnership with Amazon, members can shop with their points on Amazon.com.

In a move that the company said was “guided by extensive consumer feedback,” Hilton Honors is the first loyalty program that will offer members the choice to combine points and money for a hotel stay, to use their points at Amazon.com and to allow family and friends to combine points for free.

Beginning in late February, members can use the new Hilton Honors Points & Money slider to select how many points they want to redeem toward a room. The Amazon benefit will start up this summer.

Beginning in April, Hilton Honors members will be able to combine their points with up to 10 friends or family members for free. A total of 11 members can pool their points for stays in locations.

In addition to the aforementioned updates, Hilton is also rolling out a new logo.

01/30/2017


LAS VEGAS

Caesars Entertainment announced a new partnership with Las Vegas-based Three Square to donate surplus food items from conferences and events through the organization’s Food Rescue Program.

The Food Rescue program sources edible food to feed hungry people in Southern Nevada. Prepared food is recovered from numerous hotel properties, brought back to Three Square and cooled down in a blast chiller to meet the recommended health code standards. From there, the food is then repackaged into individual meal servings for various agency partners and for large congregate feeding sites.

These donations help provide food assistance to nearly 140,000 Las Vegas residents each month.

“We were able to rescue over 7,000 pounds of food from one conference,” said Don Ross, VP of catering and convention services at Caesars. “What we are able to do with Three Square is so important for the thousands of hungry people in our valley. We are proud and thrilled to be a part of this [program].”

The Rio is the first Caesars Entertainment property to begin donating to Three Square with other Las Vegas properties to follow throughout 2017. The initial donations from the Rio totaled 7,135 pounds of food, which is equal to 40,657 total portions. The food donated from the property was surplus from a three day conference and varied from hot plates of chicken and beef to salads, cheeses and bread rolls.

01/30/2017


There has been a lot of uncertainty and confusion in the days since President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 banning any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. The immigration order also indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the country and suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days (while a security review is conducted).

The travel ban has already sparked protests and legal action, with more challenges on the way.

While the countries listed in the travel ban do not have direct business ties with the U.S., there is still much debate over what the ban could mean for the future of U.S. foreign policy and business travel. There is also the social justice aspect to consider as many refugees are seeking to escape from life-threatening environments.

ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE voiced his concerns about the travel ban*:

“While ASAE supports strong screening of travelers entering the U.S., it’s clear that this order was too hastily enacted, sparking chaos and confusion across the world. Not only does it concern us in terms of the impact on international attendance at association meetings and conferences, it raises questions about whether we are making policy as a nation based on religion. ASAE urges the administration to clarify the intent of this order and confirm our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism.

“We will be continuing to work with the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other like-minded organizations to jointly address this issue,” Graham continued. “We will also reach out to our members to see how this ban affects them and their own members, and we’ll be closely monitoring this issue moving forward with a goal toward clarifying the order and making sure our members can operate effectively and facilitate international travel to their conferences and events.”

In addition, the U.S. Travel Association released a statement on Jan. 28 (an excerpt is copied below):

“We recognize the new administration's desire to review visa issuance protocols with respect to countries that have a heightened risk of terrorist activity or weak law enforcement cooperation with our government," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. "We urge the administration to conduct this review quickly, and trust that it will yield an even more secure travel security system that protects international travelers and welcomes them into our country to conduct business and to enjoy our cities, attractions, national parks and landmarks."

*Graham’s statement on Trump’s immigration order was provided by ASAE for distribution to our audience and originally appeared in the following article on the Associations Now industry website.

For more information and analysis on the travel ban:

01/30/2017


ANAHEIM, Calif.

The Anaheim Marriott has invested in renewable energy with the installation of a commercial solar system placed on three portions of the hotel roof. The industry-leading system was recently activated, and it currently fuels the daily power needs of nearly one-third of the property’s 1,030 guest rooms.

Positioned above the Platinum, Grand and Marquis Ballrooms, the new photovoltaic system features 1,805 solar modules. It is projected to produce 880,000 kilowatt hours of power per year, generating a reduction in annual hotel energy consumption equal to the elimination of a year’s greenhouse gas emissions from 131 passenger vehicles, or the CO2 emissions of 68,168 gallons of gasoline consumed.

“While this investment makes clear economic sense, the reduction of our carbon footprint is also extremely meaningful to our associates, our guests and the surrounding community,” said Alex Shotwell, director of sales and marketing. “We look forward to promoting further clean energy advances.”

The solar power installation at Anaheim Marriott was implemented in partnership with SoCore Energy, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Edison International. Marriott is the sole owner of the project.

The hotel adjoins the Anaheim Convention Center and offers 100,000 square feet of event space.

01/30/2017


Hard Rock International, with presence in more than 74 countries, announced the launch of Hard Rock Japan LLC and the appointment of Edward Tracy as CEO of the company's new division. Tracy's recent appointment is a strategic move designed to support the company's growth plans in the region.

Hard Rock is no stranger to Japan with more than 30 years of experience in the country—opening its first Japanese cafe in Tokyo with long-time partner, WDI Group, in 1983. With six Hard Rock Cafe locations currently in operation, in addition to 24 hotels and 11 casinos around the world, Hard Rock showcases an established track record of developing and managing entertainment and hospitality venues.

With the recent passing of Japan's Integrated Resorts Promotion Bill, the company fully intends to apply this expertise and recognition as a major contender among the bidders for resort licenses.

"As the former CEO of Sands China Ltd and CEO of the Trump Organization, Tracy brings more than 30 years of proven gaming, hospitality and integrated resort experience to Hard Rock," states Jim Allen chairman of Hard Rock International. "We are confident in Tracy's ability to lead the company's efforts in Japan and we look forward to seeing our business continue to grow under his leadership."

Tracy joined Sands China Ltd, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp., in July 2010 as its president and COO, becoming the company CEO in July 2011. Tracy was responsible for the oversight of the country's largest integrated resort operator by revenue, capacity and content, with 13,000 hotels rooms.

In October 2014, Harvard Business Review named Tracy as one of "The Best-Performing CEOs in the World" in its annual top 100 ranking. Prior to Sands, Mr. Tracy served as president and CEO of Capital Gaming, a multi-jurisdictional manager of regional casinos.

He also served as president and CEO of the Trump Organization, where he was responsible for managing over 12,500 employees, 3,000 luxury hotel rooms and 240,000 square feet of casino space.

01/27/2017


WASHINGTON, D.C.

The hotel industry in the Washington, D.C.’s central business district reported more rooms sold on inauguration day 2017 than on any other inauguration day on record, according to data from STR.

“When looking at this year’s presidential inauguration, there are three factors that make an analysis of the true impact on hotels difficult—the presence of the Women’s March, more alternative accommodations available than any other inauguration and the day of the week,” said Jessica Haywood, STR’s senior research analyst. “But from [the numbers], we can see that there were more rooms sold on inauguration day than any other we have on record (since 2001), and rate spikes were substantial.”

The number of hotel rooms available in the D.C. CBD is 5.1% higher than what was available for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Airbnb also reported more listings than normal.

Inauguration Ceremony
(Day of Week)

Occupancy
(Percentage)

Average Daily Rate (ADR)

Demand
(Rooms Sold)

Bush – 2001 (Saturday)

89.3%

US$300.58

22,725

Bush – 2005 (Thursday)

89.4%

US$346.57

23,515

Obama – 2009 (Tuesday)

96.8%

US$607.45

25,392

Obama – 2013 (Sunday)

81.5%

US$455.66

22,469

Trump – 2017 (Friday)

96.3%

US$728.52

29,081

During the 2017 inauguration, 110 hotels in downtown D.C. reported occupancy at or above 95%.

“The Women’s March clearly had an impact on hotel performance this year, but it is impossible to tell how much,” Haywood said. “It is likely that some inauguration attendees stayed an extra day, while some marchers arrived a day early. Many hotels require a three-day minimum [inauguration stay].”

01/27/2017


TALLAHASSEE, Fla.

Visit Florida President & CEO Ken Lawson, who was recently hired as the DMO’s new leader following the departure of Will Seccombe, unveiled a new series of transparency and accountability measures.

Lawson shared the following information within a recent Visit Florida newsletter:

As part of our continuing response to Gov. Scott's [call] for additional transparency and accountability measures, I am happy to share that the following actions are either completed or well underway:

  • Developed a standardized process of identifying and posting public records, including:
    • Posted employee salaries online.
    • Posted organizational chart online.
    • Posted more than 640 contracts online (with more incoming).
    • Posted audits and annual tax return.
    • Posted annual performance measures.
  • Updated the audit policy to include a more frequent auditor rotation.
  • Revised the corporate travel policy [now activated] to be in line with state standards.

Lawson noted that Visit Florida brought in David Wilkins as a consultant to review the DMO’s policies and procedures. He also mentioned the posting of job openings for CMO and CFO positions. At the end of his later, Lawson shared positive news on out-of-state visitor spending, which can be accessed below.

Last, but certainly not least, I am pleased to share with you that today we announced the release of Tourism Economics' Economic Impact of Out-of-State Visitor Spending in Florida study. This study offers a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of the true economic impact of visitor spending in our state and the findings clearly demonstrate that tourism is driving the growth of Florida's economy.

To view the study in full, click here. To read the official Visit Florida press release, click here.

01/27/2017


AAA released a list of 63 restaurants and 120 hotels that have earned the AAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2017 Five Diamond Award list. This group represents just 0.3 percent of the nearly 59,000 “AAA Approved” and “Diamond Rated” restaurants and hotels.

The following venues earned the Five Diamond ranking for the first time in 2016 (includes notes from AAA):

The Modern – New York City (Restaurant)

An exquisite museum sculpture garden provides this AAA Five Diamond restaurant a sublime, cosmopolitan and relaxed setting for a most splendid meal. The prix-fixe menus focus on seasonal, high-quality ingredients; sautéed foie gras, lobster steamed in spinach, bone marrow-crusted beef and Long Island duck are standouts. Service is energetic and diligent. The wine list is ample, and desserts artistic.

Four Seasons Resort Lana'i – Lanai City, Hawaii (Hotel/Resort)

The newly renovated AAA Five Diamond resort provides panoramic ocean views atop rugged lava cliffs and white sand beaches. Accommodations are culturally contextual, giving a nod to Hawaiian aesthetics.

The St. Regis New York – New York City (Hotel/Resort)

A New York landmark since 1904, this appealing AAA Five Diamond property offers style at a grand level. When combined with contemporary luxury and attentive services, it is in a rarefied, supreme class.

Spice Island Beach Resort – St. George's, Grenada (Hotel/Resort)

Situated on a gorgeous white-sand beach, this all-inclusive AAA Five Diamond resort has richly decorated, luxurious suites with furnished balconies or terraces. Some units also come with private plunge pools and four-poster canopy beds. The suites, tucked among private gardens dotted by lemon, almond and sea grape trees, are spread out in several buildings and afford very nice privacy.

Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F. – Mexico City (Hotel/Resort)

Recently renovated from top to bottom, the design of this AAA Five Diamond hotel is stylish and sophisticated throughout. The elegantly appointed guest rooms are chic and many overlook a beautifully landscaped courtyard. Spanish colonial-inspired rooms feature marble bathrooms.

Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Dorado, Puerto Rico (Hotel/Resort)

Cutting-edge AAA Five Diamond luxury is wrapped in an envelope of naturally preserved sanctuary-style surroundings. The guest suites are spacious and have luxurious amenities and ocean views, with some also featuring private pools. Guests can indulge at the stupendous five-acre spa that includes a complete hydro treatment area and treehouse treatment rooms. The service is stellar from beginning to end.

The Jefferson Hotel – Richmond, Va. (Hotel/Resort)

This ornate 1895 Beaux-Arts hotel is a historic landmark with striking architectural details, including a Tiffany stained-glass rotunda, a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson and a grand staircase.

"Five Diamond establishments represent the upper echelon of hospitality, redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences," said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings. "Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment."

Candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Using guidelines weighted by member priorities, inspectors evaluate guest services and physical attributes to assess the level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

A complete list of Four and Five Diamond facilities is available at AAA.com/DiamondAwards.

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