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News Around The South


CWI Acquires Hawks Cay Resort

DUCK KEY– Carey Watermark Investors Incorporated (CWI) has acquired the Hawks Cay Resort, the largest destination resort in the Florida Keys. Located on Duck Key, approximately 100 miles south of Miami and 60 miles northeast of Key West, Hawks Cay includes 177 guest rooms and a resort residential management program that includes over 250 two- three- and four-bedroom villas.

CWI's total investment in the property is approximately $149.4 million, including $15.6 million of planned capital improvements and other acquisition-related costs. The property will be managed by Pyramid Hotel Group.

The resort includes 14,800 square feet of indoor meeting space, six food and beverage outlets, a private saltwater lagoon and an 85-slip marina.

Hotel Part of Mixed-Use Southern Village Project

CHAPEL HILL– The Chapel Hill Town Council has approved plans for a hotel as part of the mixed-use Southern Village Project, according to local news reports. An operator has not been named.

The council also voted to increase the hotel property's size by moving the project's boundary and rezoning the residential lots to mixed-use village, which allows taller buildings and more square footage.

Multimillion-Dollar Improvements Planned For Two Knoxville Hotels

KNOXVILLE– The Hampton Inn Cedar Bluff – West and the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff – West have unveiled plans to undergo multimillion-dollar improvements with the projects starting in October.

According to hotel officials, the improvements will add 400 guest rooms and will bring $4 to $5 million in improvements to the 225-room Holiday Inn and the 175-room Hampton Inn. Combined, the properties have approximately 7,400 square feet of meeting space.

"Included in the interior upgrades and renovations will be newly appointed guest rooms, redesigned meeting space and catering rooms, and the creation of two indoor basketball courts inside the Holiday Inn along with the addition of a new bar and grill concept," said Michael Gibson, founder and chief executive officer of M. Gibson Hotel Management Inc.

The improvements are set to be completed by October 2014.

Hilton In South Florida Goes Green In A Big Way


FORT LAUDERDALE – The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is changing its rooftop landscape by adding six wind turbines to the 374-suite resort. Hotel officials, which have been committed to saving energy since opening in 2007, say the turbines will help reduce energy consumption that will eventually provide a cost savings to the hotel, and to the consumers.

"We are committed to implementing innovative programs and making continual improvements to our overall sustainability results each year," states Andreas Ioannou, general manager, adding that the hotel participates in many other programs to reduce waste and energy use.


The World's First Hampton Inn & Suites Gets A Facelift

NEWPORT NEWS – The world's first Hampton Inn & Suites, recently unveiled a $3 million renovation that included a newly designed lobby and fitness center, and redesigned pubic areas, exterior, meeting space, guest rooms and suites. The lobby is now set up to give travelers more room and greater capabilities in the new business center.

"While this property has always been well cared for by its owners, we are thrilled to offer our guests something new and fresh," said Craig Larson with Cornerstone Hospitality. "We basically took the property down to the studs, modified some spaces and gave it a new life."


Owensboro Breaks Ground On New Downtown Hotel

OWENSBORO, Ky. – A 123-room Holiday Inn Owensboro Riverfront Hotel is set to be constructed next to the new Owensboro Convention Center, according to local news reports.

With the 150-room Hampton Inn already under construction, the convention center will now have two new hotels on either side. “The more hotels we have downtown, the more groups we can accommodate that need 200 to 300 hotel rooms nearby, so we are excited about having an additional hotel as our neighbor,” said Dean Dennis, Global Spectrum’s general manager of the Owensboro Convention Center.
The five-story hotel is expected to be completed in the fall of 2014 and will feature 123 guest

The Wynfrey Hotel Becomes Hyatt Regency Birmingham- The Wynfrey Hotel

Birmingham, Ala. – Known as a Birmingham landmark since 1986, The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover and only minutes from downtown Birmingham, has undergone a dramatic transformation and now welcomes guests as Hyatt Regency Birmingham– The Wynfrey Hotel.

Hyatt Regency Birmingham– The Wynfrey Hotel has undergone a $20 million renovation, which includes updates to every aspect of the facility from landscaping to furniture. "The surroundings are new but the legendary service will remain the same, as will the wonderful staff and management team," said Andy Peters, general manager.

The hotel now offers 329 newly renovated guest rooms, as well as two dining options, Shula's Steak House and the new MERK's Tavern & Kitchen.

More than 32,000 square feet of meeting space is also available.

Interactive Activities for Meetings

GREENSBORO–Meeting guests at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation can experience some old-fashioned, down home Southern fun with the resort’s newest activities for groups: a resident “Moonshine Man” and a traditional BBQ sauce challenge.

The “Moonshine Man,” aka Ol’ Bubba Lee Boykin, is a sixth-generation moonshiner who recounts anecdotes about this legendary high-proof distilled spirit, while guests sip a little history. The BBQ Sauce Chef’s Challenge is a “lively” competitive activity that where groups are divided into teams and partnered with expert BBQ sauce chefs. Teams are given a multitude of ingredients and one hour to create a delicious Southern sauce. A panel of judges tastes the final products, which are judged on creativity, taste and “BBQ Sauce Chant.”

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation also offers groups 251guest rooms with resort and lake views; a 26,000-square-foot, full-service spa and fitness center; and more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space. 

Caesars Entertainment Begins Development On $400 Million Horseshoe Baltimore

BALTIMORE–A groundbreaking ceremony was held last month to mark the official start of construction on a $400 million facility in Baltimore with an anticipated completion of the full-service gaming and entertainment venue in late 2014.

Horseshoe Baltimore will feature an outward-facing urban casino design, three restaurants, several bars and restaurants, and a multi-purpose entertainment space. In addition, the 335,000-square-foot property will offer casino games.

“We’re looking forward to setting a new standard in Maryland,” said Horseshoe Baltimore Senior Vice President and General Manager Chad Barnhill. “Between the unmatched recognition we offer our guests through our Total Rewards program, the exceptional customer service we provide, and the unrivaled promotions we host, there’s no question that Horseshoe Baltimore is going to raise the bar on the Maryland experience.”

The upcoming facility will offer approximately 7,670 square feet of function space in addition to 4,615 square-feet of pre-function space.

Convention Center Advisory Board Endorses Portman-CMC Plan

Miami Beach – The Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board endorsed Portman-CMC’s plan to redevelop the Miami Beach Convention Center District as the best plan for the residents and convention attendees of Miami Beach.

This comes four weeks before the city commissioners and mayor will vote to determine which developer will be chosen to redesign the 52-acre district.

“We are pleased and honored to be the recommended choice of the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board,” said Jack Portman, vice chairman of Portman Holdings. “We are confident that this process will lead to the best outcome for the residents and visitors of Miami Beach.”
Highlights of the Portman-CMC plan include a modernized convention center, 800-room hotel, 125,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, 300 residential apartments, a refurbished Jackie Gleason Theater and Carl Fisher Clubhouse, significant additional parking, and a Latin American Cultural Museum.

The Miami Beach mayor and city commissioners will vote to determine which developer will win the bid for the Miami Beach Convention Center District on July 17.

Tampa Convention Center Approved As Energy Star Partner

Tampa, Fla.– The Tampa Convention Center (TCC) in downtown Tampa, Fla., has been approved as an Energy Star Partner by dedicating to improve and promote energy efficiency within the 600,000-square-foot convention center. The center is ranked in the 84th percentile of efficiency when compared to other buildings of similar size and type of operation.

“The ENERGY STAR partnership is a result of our ongoing commitment to the environment,” said Eric Blanc, CMP, director of sales, marketing, and convention services. “Our team has initiated a number of green initiatives, from recycling to reducing waste, and this new partnership will allow us to take our energy efficiency to new heights.”

As part of the partnership, TCC will measure and track their energy performance, create and implement an energy management plan, and support the Energy Start Challenge, a national call-to-action for commercial and industrial buildings to improve their energy efficiency by 10 percent or more.

Atlanta’s Largest Corporate Convention Returns

Atlanta – The city’s largest corporate meeting returned to Atlanta in June, bringing 35,000 attendees and an economic impact of more than $25 million. Primerica hosted its biennial summer convention at the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome. “Primerica is one of the largest conventions in the country and a strong economic driver for our city,” said William Pate, ACVB president and CEO. “The Primerica convention is a great example of a hometown corporation that not only supports our local economy but provides an additional boost by hosting their international meeting here.”

Primerica celebrated a major milestone in 2013 with the recent move into their new international headquarters in Duluth, Ga.

Downtown Nashville Hotel Gains New Owner

Nashville, Tenn.– The 247-room Hutton Hotel in downtown Nashville has been acquired by Carey Watermark Investors, who have announced plans for $3.7 million in capital improvements and other costs. Amerimar Enterprises will still manage the property. “The Hutton Hotel represented the opportunity to acquire a premium-quality hotel in one of the nation’s top 25 hotel markets,” said Michael Medzigian, Carey Watermark’s CEO. “Given the opening of the new convention center and other existing attractions, the Nashville hotel market is expected to continue its strong positive trend.” 

Amarillo CVC Adds Two Staff

Amarillo, Texas – Kashion Smith and Stephanie Andrews, two area hospitality professionals, have joined the staff of the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council. Smith is an Amarillo native with more than 10 years of hospitality experience in local properties. She joins the staff as a convention sales manager handling association and government groups and the corporate market.

Andrews is a Louisiana native but has been in Amarillo for many years. She has 18 years of industry experience and is the office’s new sales and servicing assistant. “To have either young lady join our staff would be wonderful, but to have both come on board at the same time is quite a coup. Their experience and training will help the office exceed the expectations of our clients and our visitors,” said Dan Quandt, executive director of the Amarillo CVC. 

Hyatt Regency Dallas Names DOSM

Dallas – Hyatt Regency Dallas has appointed Christ Watson as director of sales and marketing. In this role, Watson will be responsible for leading a sales team in driving top line revenues and marketing of the recently renovated, 1,120-room hotel, that includes 160,000 square feet of meeting space.

Watson has spent 11 years with the Hyatt organization, most recently as the director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Louisville for four years.
“Chris’ deep sales experience with the Hyatt organization and his innate ability to connect with people will make him a valuable asset to the Hyatt Regency Dallas,” said Fred Euler, general manger.

Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Introduces New Faces to the Team

Virginia Beach, Va. – The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) sales team has added a three new faces. First up is Jamie Mitchell, one of two new sales managers. Mitchell will focus on religious associations, fraternal and sports associations, as well as Southeast territories. Rachel Weiss has been hired as the second new sales manager. Weiss will focus on military reunions, meetings under 50 rooms on peak night, and researching new business for the team.
Next up is Fred Malinis, the new sales database strategist and research manager. Malinis will assist the team with managing projects, training and developing sales strategies for the Customer Relationship Management system, overseeing intern opportunities for research and developing new technology. Assuming the leadership role of director of sports marketing is Nancy Helman. Helman has been a key player on the Sports Marketing team for the past 12 years, and her new advancement will continue to drive the sales efforts for the sports marketing unit.

Grand Hyatt Washington And Hyatt Regency Washington Complete Combined $42 Million Renovation

Washington, D.C.– The Grand Hyatt Washington and Hyatt Regency Washington hotels have announced the completion of their combined renovation, totaling $42 million. Grand Hyatt Washington, located in the heart of Washington, DC in Penn Quarter, completed a $23 million renovation of its guest rooms and expanded its Grand Club lounge to double the size. Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, located just steps from the U.S. Capitol, completed a $19 million redesign of its guest rooms and public spaces. “After many successful years of business in Washington, DC, we are thrilled to be able to continue to offer a fresh and updated product to both our business and leisure guests,” said Grand Hyatt Washington General Manager Dan Amato. “The room accommodations will continue to offer great technical upgrades to our business traveler while maintaining a soothing escape for our leisure guests as they explore our wonderful city.”

State’s Top Chefs Competed for Coveted “Best Chef of Alabama” Title 

Atmore, Ala.– Ten of the very best professional chefs in Alabama brought their sharpest knives, coolest nerves, and hottest techniques to Wind Creek’s Culinary Studio as they competed to be named “Alabama’s Best Chef” during a day-long competition in April.
The invitation only event, sponsored by Alabama Gulf Seafood and Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, featured top chefs from across the state who are known for their innovation, expertise and ability to consistently please palates. “Alabama appreciates good food and great chefs,” said Jay Dorris, president of PCI Gaming which operates Wind Creek. 

Westin Introduces New Teambuilding Options In Hollywood

Hollywood, Fla.– The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa has created a brand new teambuilding meeting break by creating an elaborate obstacle course on the resort’s Audubon-certified 18-hole championship golf course. Racers in the obstacle course event were dared to run, jump and crawl their way through the course. When it comes time for the actual meeting, the beachfront property offers more than 200,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Visit Orlando Receives ‘Destination Partner of the Year’ from HelmsBriscoe 

Orlando, Fla. – Visit Orlando has received the ‘Destination Partner of the Year’ in the U.S. award during HelmsBriscoe’s Annual Business Conference held in Orlando. The presentation was made by HelmsBriscoe Founder and CEO Roger Helms to Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel during the opening ceremony in April at the Hard Rock Live Orlando. “I am honored to recognize Visit Orlando as HelmsBriscoe’s 2012 Destination Partner of the Year,” said Helms. “Visit Orlando has been a strong ally for not only our associates, but for our clients as well. The service that Visit Orlando provides is second to none and I look forward to many more years of a mutually successful partnership.”

Site Search Selects Experienced Leader 

St. Petersburg, Fla.– Site Search president, Richard Miseyko, CMP, CMM, has announced the addition of Nina Crabtree, CGMP, as director of sales. “Nina is an incredibly accomplished industry leader with an impressive background in the meetings industry. We’re delighted to have a professional of her caliber representing our firm.” Crabtree most recently served as sales manager with the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau where she was responsible for the state association, government and SMERF markets.

Tampa Bay and Company Hires CEO

Tampa, Fla.– Following a three-month national search, Tampa Bay and Company has hired Santiago Corrada as its new president and chief executive officer. Corrada was selected for his local experience, management skills, industry knowledge, collaboration expertise and overall leadership ability as well as for his passion for Tampa Bay. “We are confident that Santiago’s abilities, experience and diverse background will benefit Tampa Bay and Company,” said Jim Dean, chairman of Tampa Bay and Company’s Board of Directors and president of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “He brings a sincere love for this community, a progressive leadership style and a collaborative approach that will serve this organization and our community well.”

Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel Unveils Revitalization  

Atlanta – The Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel has unveiled renovated guest rooms, concierge lounge and atrium façade. Each guest room, many with private balconies and runway views, incorporates contemporary furnishings in warm brown and white hues with delicate orange accents.

The concierge lounge features new furnishings and amenities and the illustrious architectural design of the hotel’s 11-story interior atrium façade received a facelift as well.
The hotel features more than 35,000 square feet of meeting space and close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Bench Kitchen, Bar And Lakeside Patio Open At Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center

Gaithersburg, Md. – Work and play mix at The Bench, a new restaurant in Gaithersburg now open at Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center. The Bench’s kitchen, bar and lakeside patio are part of the new Marriott Greatroom that replaced The Grille at Washingtonian restaurant and traditional lobby in a multimillion-dollar renovation. “We’re pleased to offer our guests a restaurant and greatroom designed for the modern lifestyle, whether they’re staying at the hotel, working in the neighborhood, or simply looking for an exceptional local dining experience,” said Sara Moore, general manager, Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center.

Middleton Place Launches Organic Farm-to-Table Project 

Charleston, S.C. – A full-fledged Middleton Place Organic Farm is now underway, with spring vegetables being harvested, and the summer crop planted. The collaborative effort between Director of Food Services Micah Garrison, and Brandon Buck, executive chef at the Middleton Place Restaurant, with the supervision of Vice-President of Horticulture Sidney Frazier, broadened the scope of the production garden, creating a one-acre farm on the northwest corner of the National Historic Landmark. Co-farmers have also been hired. The farm will provide produce to the Middleton Place Restaurant, and will supply a full-fledged Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in the coming months.

Having an organic farm on site will create opportunities for the Middleton Place Restaurant, enabling Buck to customize future menus. “The chefs will have the opportunity to more directly affect their menu to interpret and bring historical cuisine to life,” said one of the farm's co-farmers Amy Talarico. “And it creates an additional sensory experience for visitors to the restaurant who will taste truly local, lovingly grown and prepared food.” 

Hyatt Regency Greenville Receives Multimillion-Dollar Renovation Facelift

Greenville, S.C. – A multimillion-dollar renovation of the Hyatt Regency Greenville has been realized. The renovation project, which commenced December 2011, included the renovation and redesign of the entire property, including all of the hotel's 328 guest rooms and suites; the addition of meeting and event space; the launch of a new soil-to-city restaurant, Roost; and refreshed public areas, lobby and guest room corridors. “The direction we took for the Hyatt Regency Greenville renovation and anchoring the NOMA Square design, was motivated by our desire to provide a unique setting that showcases our signature modern hospitality while incorporating a bit of southern charm,” said D.J. Rama, president of JHM Hotels. :With the success of Greenville's award-winning downtown, revitalized thirty-five years ago with the original construction of this property, we are pleased to have the opportunity to re-establish the cornerstone of Greenville's North Main Street.” 

Hyatt Regency Dallas Announces Completion Of Multimillion-dollar Renovation  

Dallas – Hyatt Regency Dallas has completed a $50-million makeover and upgrade of its 1,120 guest rooms, bathrooms and corridors, less than a year after construction began and just in time to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the hotel.

The re-designed and re-configured rooms offer different options for both work and relaxation. “This hotel has become an iconic part of the Dallas skyline since the first guest checked in here on in 1978,” said Fred Euler, general manager. “We want to celebrate that, but at the same time we are always looking forward and our new ultra-modern guest rooms not only reflect our city, but they also make our guest experience the most high-tech and stylish in North Texas.” 

Hampton CVB Announces Additions to Sales Team

Hampton, Va.– The Hampton Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) has announced that they have filled two senior staff positions: senior group sales manager and senior group services manager. Cathy Grieve has been hired as senior group sales manager and will primarily focus on state associations for the bureau. A 22-year veteran of the hospitality industry, Grieve most recently worked in business development for Eisenman and Associates out of Richmond, Virginia. Brooks Hierstein has been hired as senior group services manager. Hierstein most recently worked for the City of Virginia Beach Resort Management and Special Events Office as event coordinator.

Introducing Richmond Region Tourism: A New Name for Richmond Metropolitan CVB 

Richmond, Va. – The Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau has unveiled its new name and new logo. Going forward, they'll be known as Richmond Region Tourism. The logo includes an outline of the state to distinguish Richmond, VA from other Richmonds, circles to represent the energy that radiates from the center of the state and emphasis on the word "Region" to stress the fact that Richmond Region Tourism represents a large area with a vast array of offerings for visitors.

Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Introduces New Faces to the Team 

Virginia Beach, Va.–The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) sales team has added a three new faces. First up is Jamie Mitchell, one of two new sales managers. Mitchell will focus on religious associations, fraternal and sports associations, as well as Southeast territories. Rachel Weiss has been hired as the second new sales manager. Weiss will focus on military reunions, meetings under 50 rooms on peak night, and researching new business for the team.

Next up is Fred Malinis, the new sales database strategist and research manager. Malinis will assist the team with managing projects, training and developing sales strategies for the Customer Relationship Management system, overseeing intern opportunities for research and developing new technology. Assuming the leadership role of director of sports marketing is Nancy Helman. Helman has been a key player on the Sports Marketing team for the past 12 years, and her new advancement will continue to drive the sales efforts for the sports marketing unit. 

Grand Hyatt Washington And Hyatt Regency Washington Complete Combined $42 Million Renovation

Montgomery, Ala.– The Grand Hyatt Washington and Hyatt Regency Washington hotels have announced the completion of their combined renovation, totaling $42 million. Grand Hyatt Washington, located in the heart of Washington, DC in Penn Quarter, completed a $23 million renovation of its guest rooms and expanded its Grand Club lounge to double the size. Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, located just steps from the U.S. Capitol, completed a $19 million redesign of its guest rooms and public spaces. “After many successful years of business in Washington, DC, we are thrilled to be able to continue to offer a fresh and updated product to both our business and leisure guests,” said Grand Hyatt Washington General Manager Dan Amato. “The room accommodations will continue to offer great technical upgrades to our business traveler while maintaining a soothing escape for our leisure guests as they explore our wonderful city.”

DoubleTree Opens in Capital Downtown

Montgomery, Ala.– A DoubleTree by Hilton has opened in downtown Montgomery, and the city is working to bring in another hotel nearby where the State House Inn was formerly. The 131-room hotel saw a $13 million transformation project during rebranding efforts that added a restaurant, an outdoor patio and a ballroom, said General manager Tom Quatrochi.

Montgomery Seeks To Move Planetarium  

Montgomery, Ala.– Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange says officials are considering moving the city's planetarium downtown to join a growing number of attractions. The mayor said officials are considering having it join the City-County Public Library and the Children's Museum of Alabama in the $22 million Questplex building. The planetarium has been in Oak Park since 1968, and its equipment is outdated.

Strange told the Montgomery Advertiser that Troy University, which manages the planetarium, has agreed to help with upgrades.

Tampa Convention Center Partners with TECO Streetcar  

Duck Key, Fla.– The Tampa Convention Center (TCC) in downtown Tampa, Fla., has partnered with the TECO Line Streetcar System to offer meeting planners and conference attendees free access to the TECO streetcar system. Effective May 1, the partnership allows registered conference attendees to use their official conference badge for unlimited use of the TECO streetcar system during their conference at the 600,000-square-foot, riverfront venue.

“This is yet another tremendous added value for meeting planners who book events at Tampa Convention Center, allowing attendees to save on transportation expenses during their event,” said Eric Blanc, CMP, director of sales, marketing and convention services at Tampa Convention Center. 

Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa Completes Multimillion-dollar Upgrade to Guest Rooms

Lexington, Ky.– The Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa has recently completed an extensive guest room renovation project. The $5 million accommodation revitalization completes phase one of the hotel's three-year renovation plan. Guest rooms feature new furniture, carpeting and “stylish” accents. In addition, technology enhancements were included.

The resort also renovated its hospitality and presidential suites for corporate, social or bridal entertaining. Other enhancements include the transformation to the Elmendorf and Spendthrift meeting rooms.

Hotel Monteleone Chef Chosen as Chef of the Year 

New Orleans – During the annual Best Chefs of Louisiana awards dinner in April, the American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter named Executive Chef Randy Buck of Hotel Monteleone as the 2013 Chef of the Year. “Chef Buck’s innovative recipes and leadership in the main kitchen has raised the hotel’s dining experiences to new heights,” said Ronald Pincus, vice president and chief operating officer for Hotel Monteleone.

Big Easy To Get New Airport  

New Orleans – Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans Aviation Board have announced plans to build a brand new, state-of-the-art airport on the north side of the current airport property. The project budget is estimated at $826 million and construction is expected to commence in 2014, with completion in 2018 for the 300th anniversary of the City of New Orleans.

The economic model of the new facility will allow the airlines to bring in more daily flights. “The new construction will not impact the existing terminal or the new services and features in which we invested or be distracting in any way for your meetings,” said New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Stephen Perry. “This new airport, along with the recent opening of the Great Hall at the Morial Convention Center, our work on the Tricentennial re-engineering of the riverfront, exponentially more restaurant and entertainment venues than ever before, the expansion of the National World War II Museum, new street car lines and so much more are further evidence that great meetings happen here.”

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort Completes Major Expansion

Cherokee, N.C. – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort has completed a $650 million dollar expansion. “I’ve seen this property truly transform from what was once a regional day- trip casino into a world-class destination resort,” said Regional President of Caesar’s Entertainment, R. Scott Barber. The expansion doubled its hotel and gaming space, added live gaming tables, restaurants and shops and a rotunda with waterfalls and a light show.

The Casino has 150,000 square feet of gaming space and also features more than 1,100 hotel rooms, 10 restaurants, a 3,000-seat Event Center, a 18,000-square-feet Mandara Spa and eight retail shops.

Performing Arts Center Coming to Henderson  

Henderson, N.C.– A long awaited theater is becoming a reality in downtown Henderson. The performing arts center theater, McGregor Hall, will seat 1,000 and will be connected by a lobby to Perry Memorial Library. The new facility will be collectively known as Breckenridge Commons. Construction is expected to commence in August and a tentative completion date is set for December 2014. 

Scott Mason Named As General Manager, The Driskill 

Austin, Texas – The Driskill, a recent addition to the Hyatt portfolio in Austin has appointed Scott Mason as general manager.

In his role, Mason will oversee operations for the 189-room property, located in the heart of downtown Austin. A 15-year Hyatt veteran, he arrives in Austin after most recently serving as general manager for the Four-Diamond Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

East Texas City Looks To Build Convention Center

Jacksonville, Texas.– Jacksonville city officials are looking at approving a two-phase master plan that includes a convention center, as well as a livestock expo center. All facilities would be located in the Nichols Green Park area and would include under 22,000-square-feet of heated and cooled space, along with verandas and a civic hall, which as proposed, could seat between 700 and 800 people for concerts.

Norfolk Approves New Conference Center Project

Norfolk, Va.– Norfolk is posed to build a new conference center after the City Council approved a $126 million project that will include a luxury hotel and a 50,000-square-foot conference center downtown.

The project will be located on the corner of Granby and Main streets and could be finished by spring 2017. 

Hawks Cay Resort Completes Million Dollar Culinary Expansion

Duck Key, Fla.– PlanHawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys has completed phase one of a million dollar culinary update, including the opening of two restaurants on-property, as well as two smaller food and beverage outlets for cocktails and coffee. These new culinary offerings are part of a larger hotel renovation, said James Moss, director of sales.

Set to be complete later this year, phase two upgrades will enhance the experience of the adults-only area. This private area, which now includes the Tranquility Pool lined with private cabanas, will be expanded and soon welcome Sand Bar, an alfresco restaurant in the sand.

Broward County Convention Center Exhibits Works of Marine-Inspired Local Artists 

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – The SMG-managed Greater Fort Lauderdale/ Broward County Convention Center has begun exhibiting the work of some of South Florida’s most eco-minded artists. The rotating exhibits showcase the facility’s commitment to celebrating South Florida’s marine environment and ecosystems.

“Since receiving our LEED- (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification in the summer of 2012, we continue to identify new ways to express our facility’s eco-consciousness and connection with the coastal waterways and environment,” said Mark Gatley, regional general manager for SMG. The works, selected in collaboration with the North Beach (NOBE) Art Gallery, will be on display in the 600,000-square-foot Convention Center’s Cyber Café. The first exhibition features 30 prints on paper or canvas by Pascal Lecocq, known as The Painter of Blue.

Unique New Event Space Comes To The ‘Big Easy’  

New Orleans – On January 13, The National WWII Museum unveiled The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, a unique space for meetings and events. It is the largest building on The National WWII Museum campus and can host up to 700 guests for a seated dinner or 1,500 for receptions and theater-style events.

In the space, World War II aircraft soar overhead — including the Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress,” a SBD Dauntless and the TBM Avenger — with elevated “catwalks” providing eye-level views.

There is also the interactive submarine experience FINAL MISSION: The USS Tang. Based on the last war patrol of the USS Tangin the Pacific Theater, visitors man the positions and perform the battle actions of the actual crew members as the sub engages the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces. 

North Carolina’s “Mansion on the Hill” Joins DoubleTree

Durham, N.C. – The DoubleTree by Hilton Raleigh-Durham Airport at Research Triangle Park has recently opened. Known locally as the “Mansion on the Hill,” the former Hilton hotel saw a seven-month, $8 million renovation that included design enhancements to the exterior and interior public spaces, guest room makeovers, and the introduction of a new locally-driven restaurant concept.

“With its genuine caring culture and commitment to a superior guest experience, the DoubleTree by Hilton brand is a natural fit with our authentic southern hospitality,” said General Manager Henry Naber.

The hotel features 248 guest rooms and suites and 9,300 square feet of meeting space. 

Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort Completes Renovation to Guest Rooms  

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort at Kingston Shores, an oceanfront resort in Myrtle Beach, has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation to its guest rooms.

Each of the 385 guest rooms and suites has been painted in a new color palette for a fresh and modern look, which includes new furnishings. To complement this renovation, new entry doors and high-definition TVs have been installed in all guest rooms. The bathrooms have also been updated.

“We are proud of the renovations, and we know that every detail has gone into making sure our guests enjoy a luxurious and comfortable experience at Kingston Shores,” said Bob Barenberg, managing director.

Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort offers 385 oceanview rooms and 18,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Chattanoogan Hotel Renovates Its Meeting Space 

Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Chattanoogan hotel is finalizing renovations to its 25,000-square-foot conference facilities. The refurbishment includes new carpet and wallcoverings; the addition of a new glass tile entry wall; replacing upholstered seating; enhancing the corridor lighting; and transforming the area which housed traditional phone booths into a new contemporary cyber café with charging stations and seating. In addition to its high-tech meeting space, The Chattanoogan has 199 guest rooms and suites.

AT&T Executive Education And Conference Center

Austin, Texas – The AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center has added to their sales team. Amber Lamb has been named senior sales manager and Olivia Gardner is now the interactive promotions and marketing manager.

Lamb started her career in the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago and is also the vice president of the Austin Hospitality Association. Gardner has ten years of experience, and has worked with top government agencies, private yacht charter companies, catering companies and several elite private clubs of the Silicon Valley.

San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces New Associate Director Destination Services

San Antonio – Sarah Linley, CMP, CTA, has joined the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau as the new associate director destination services. She will assist in managing the destination service team, provide support to high-profile meetings and events, and serve as liaison to other city departments and hospitality partners.  

Virginia Crowne Plaza Rebrands As Richmond Magnuson Grand Hotel.

Richmond, Va.– The Crowne Plaza Richmond has been rebranded as the Richmond Magnuson Grand Hotel and Convention Center. The new owner is SN Holdings LLC, which purchased the 282-room hotel. The hotel will upgrade its local, regional and national market to attract business, group and leisure travelers via an affiliation with Magnuson Hotels’ global portfolio of nearly 2,000 hotels.

Classic Center Expands, doubles capacity

Athens, Ga. - The Classic Center in Athens, Ga., held a grand re-opening in February to showcase its expanded meeting space. ConventionSouth Publisher Talty O'Connor was on site to celebrate the facility's new look. The $24 million project added an 8,000-square-foot atrium and expanded the exhibit hall to 56,000 square feet. Now the facility can accommodate groups of up to 3,000, banquet style, 6,000, theater style, and 273 10-foot-by10-foot exhibit booths. The facility offers wireless Internet access and state-of-the-art lighting and audio/visuals.

Watch this video of the grand re-opening of The Classic Center:


State Park Is Adding Outdoor Teambuilding Activities

Gulf Shores, Ala. – Planning teambuilding challenges along the Northern Gulf Coast just got easier with the net Gulf Adventure Center opening at the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. The attraction will open this spring with ziplines, kayaking and paddle boarding on Lake Shelby.

Omni Orlando’s Conference Center Is Now Open

Orlando, Fla. – The Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate along with Osceola County opened a 55,000-square-foot conference center in January. The new state-of-the-art facility add more than 46,000 square feet of meeting space to the existing event space at the resort, resulting in more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space in total.

The “crown jewel” of the center, according to Mike Magnelli, managing director, is the 28,800-square-foot ballroom. Mike also noted that it offers “advanced communications and computer technology, an open prefunction area, an event lawn and a large loading dock for easy setup have also been incorporated into the design. “The conference center will improve the already-top notch luxury meeting experience offered at the Omni Orlando Resort,” Mike said.

‘Spruced Up’ Miami Beach Works On Plans For A New Convention Center 

Miami – Two firms are currently competing to win a contract for a one billion dollar redevelopment of the current Miami Beach Convention Center and surrounding area, said Jeff Lehman, chair of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. “Miami Beach is already an international destination but as our ongoing and major construction projects prove, we are always striving to be bigger on the world stage.” Plans to expand and renovate the facility are set to be finalized this June, Lehman told ConventionSouth.

Meanwhile, several projects have improved parking around town and in the coming two years, the city is set to open a new bicycle/pedestrian paved path with landscaping and a pier at South Pointe Park in 2014. And, last November, the city completed a renovation of the North Beach Bandshell outdoor events venue. 

Gwinnett CVB Unveils New Name And Branding As Atlanta’s Playground

Gwinnett County, Ga. – The Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau has rebranded and renamed as Explore Gwinnett. The new name is coupled with a new tag line, “Atlanta’s Playground,” which speaks to Gwinnett’s reputation for having family-friendly attractions, sports and must-see events. “We truly feel that our new name, branding and logo pull together so many positive aspects of Gwinnett’s reputation with visitors,” said Lisa Anders, executive director of Explore Gwinnett.

Cleo Battle Joins Louisville CVB

Louisville, Ky. – Cleo Battle in now representing the Louisville CVB as executive vice president, replacing Karen Williams who retired from the position after 22 years of service. Battle has worked in the hospitality industry for 27 years. Prior to coming to the Louisville Bureau, he spent the last 12 years as Vice President of Sales & Services for the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau in Richmond, Va.

Battle’s responsibilities include developing relationships with clients in Washington and Chicago, representing the Louisville Bureau at industry tradeshows and conferences and providing strategic leadership and oversight of the Bureau in all aspects of its fiscal and daily operation. 

New Arena Offers Alternative Venue in Big Easy 

New Orleans, La. – Opened in November 2012, the newly-constructed Convocation Center and Annex at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) offers more than 93,000 square feet of space with more than 4,100 seats that can be reconfigured. Because of its smaller size compared to other large spaces in New Orleans, the Convocation Center is providing the city with an alternative space for small to mid-size events, concerts, galas and more, said college officials.

The night before Super Bowl XLVII, the Annual Gridiron Celebrity Hoops All-Star Basketball Game marked its 15th year at the convocation center. “This mid-size athletic event proves our convocation center has the capacity to draw big crowds for important functions. We have end and center stage arrangements that allows for flexibility and our state-of-the-art scoreboard system is top of the line,” said XULA President Dr. Norman Francis. 

New Hotel Opening Marks 10,000 Rooms in Shreveport-Bossier 

Shreveport-Bossier, La. – With the grand opening of the dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton in March, Shreveport-Bossier celebrates the 10,000 hotel room mark, said destination officials. “A lot of large conventions will not consider a destination unless there are 10,000 rooms or more. Now, we are able to approach those meeting planners that were unavailable to us before,” said Dianna Douglas, regional sales manager at the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

The Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Shreveport-Bossier provides 9,000 square feet of event space, the Grand Dahlia Ballroom, a 24/7 business center, a full-service restaurant and bar, and on-site catering.

Myrtle Beach Welcomes Numerous Tourism Developments

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – The city of Myrtle Beach is set to usher in a number of new developments this year, including an airport expansion, downtown revitalization and city anniversary, according to destination officials.

Myrtle Beach International Airport will complete a $113 million expansion project this spring. The project will extend the passenger terminal from 6 to 13 gates, add nearly 40,000 square feet of glass and new dining facilities, and add additional parking areas and a rental car facility.
The downtown continues its revitalization with a new entertainment complex featuring a miniature golf course and restaurant that will be complete on the former site of a historic inn by the spring. In addition, a new 6,000-square-foot building is being created on Ocean Boulevard. that will be home to a candy store and ice cream shop.

Rounding out the year will be celebrations of the 75th Anniversary for the City of Myrtle Beach.

Convention Center Authority Approves Room-Block Deal, Meeting Space Use

Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville’s Convention Center Authority has approved a room-block agreement with the Renaissance Nashville Hotel that, if approved by the Metro Council, requires the hotel to set aside room for Music City Center conventions and also provides the hotel with additional meeting space at the existing Nashville Convention Center, according to local news reports.

A total of 315 guest rooms would be blocked in the 24-35 month period after Music City Center opens and 400 after the center has been opened for 36 months. The amount of meeting space at the convention center the hotel can utilize has not been finalized.

Austin CVB Announces New Hires/Staff Changes 

Austin, Texas – The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau has welcomed Amy Brown as director of northeast regional sales and Shilpa Bakre as senior communications manager. Brown and Bakre joined the CVB on February 4th, each with more than a decade of experience in their respective departments. “Amy’s extensive sales background comes at an ideal time as Austin’s convention bookings are greatly on the rise,” says Steve Genovesi, senior vice President, sales.
ACVB also announced the promotion of Mary Kay Hackley as vice president, strategic alliances, Julie Chase to vice president and chief marketing officer and Julie Hart to vice president and chief financial officer.

Irving Convention Center Hotel Moves Forward

Irving, Texas – The Irving City council recently approved a memorandum of understanding that will allow a development agreement for a $90 million, 350-room, upscale, full-service Irving center at Las Colinas headquarters hotel to move forward.

“This is great news for the city of Irving. This hotel and the amenities it brings will make Irving a highly sought after convention city,” said Irving City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.
The hotel will also include a 300-space parking garage, a sky bridge linking the hotel to the convention center, and 20,000 square feet of additional meeting room space.

The development agreement is expected to be finalized in May and with a hotel brand announcement in June. Groundbreaking will take place later this year, and a grand opening slated for third quarter 2015.

Visit Jacksonville Appoints New President/CEO

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Visit Jacksonville has selected 42-year veteran Paul Astleford as its next president and CEO. “I see Jacksonville as a city with huge potential as a destination for corporate, group and leisure travel,” Astleford said.

His experience includes destination-marketing experience as president and CEO for the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau.

Omphoy Beach Resort Obtains New Management

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Love Hotel Management Company has taken over direction of the Omphoy Beach Resort in Palm Beach, Fla. “We are excited to expand our services into this resort community and are confident this property will exceed expectations,” said Joe Ruggeri, president. The resort offers 134 guest rooms and a 6,000-square-foot meeting space.

Georgia Convention Centers Invest In New Technology 

ATLANTA – Metro Atlanta Convention centers are investing millions to keep up with technology and stay competitive, according to local news reports. Wi-Fi and access to the Internet will be updated. The Georgia World Congress Center alone is spending $1.5 million to upgrade its fiber-optic cables and the Gwinnett Center is planning another $250,00 in improvements to its network. 

Callaway Gardens Announces Major Renovations 

PINE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Callaway Gardens has announced “major” improvements and renovations for 2013, including a refurbishment of their Mountain Creek Inn. “I’m extremely pleased to share that by April 1 all 274 rooms in the Mountain Creek Inn will be new,” said Edward Callaway, chairman and CEO for Callaway Gardens.

Enhancements for the Gardens as well as the Robin Lake Beach area will be announced soon.
Callaway offers a 10,000-square-foot ballroom space and a Mountain Creek Conference and Training Center within walking distance for meetings or classroom space.

The Big Easy’s CVB Offers Hospitality Training

NEW ORLEANS – Officials with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau have invited the Disney Institute to give local businesses pointers for their service-industry personnel in time for the Super Bowl. Free training sessions are offered for management and staff at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. 

State Gears Up To Promote Gulf Coast Region

JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson County superiors are the latest to join an effort asking the Mississippi Legislature to put together a tourism marketing group to promote the state’s Gulf Coast, according to local news reports.

The resolution is calling for the creation of a Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau to help with advertising and marketing of the region’s attractions. The bureau is aimed to help combat increased competition coming from neighboring states and the lingering impacts of both Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Burlington Convention Center To See Improvements

BURLINGTON, N.C.– The Ramada Inn and Convention Center in Burlington is set to see renovations, according to local news reports. The renovations and expansions will increase the center’s capacity to host more than 500 to accommodate an additional 90. The expansion with also incorporate a bar into one of the center rooms, new furnishings and décor throughout the hotel, and more.   

Memphis Considers New Convention Center 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Memphis is dreaming for a $600 million new convention center to compete with larger cities in their market, according to local news reports. The opening of discussion for the project comes five years after talks were introduced about building a new center or expanding the current one.

The city has also moved closer to the redevelopment of the Pyarmid Arena with the approval of a development plan for the project. The planned development will turn the Pyarmid Arena into a Bass Pro Shop, a hotel, and indoor and outdoor retail and recreation space. 

Spartanburg Hotel In The Works 

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A new 100-room branded hotel is in the works for the west side of Spartanburg, according to local news reports. The hotel will be located beside two existing inns at the 50-acre Westgate Towncenter.

The property is currently home to the 126-room Hampton Inn and Suites and an 88-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites, as well as the 37,000-square-foot Summit Pointe conference and events center. Negotiations are still in the works over a franchise agreement. 

Austin To Welcomes New Westin Hotel 

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Plans have been announced to open a second Westin hotel in Austin, Texas—the Westin Austin Downtown. The hotel is scheduled to break ground in 2013 and open in Spring 2015 on the northeast corner of East Fifth Street and San Jacinto Boulevard. The 17-story, 326-room Westin hotel will be just one-and-a-half blocks from the city’s convention center and will include a full-service restaurant, a fitness center, and a 13,500 square feet meeting space. “We continue to experience an uptick in demand across Austin and particularly in the central business district,” said Bob Lander , president/CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Business travel, leisure and conventions all generate demand in this area and Westin Hotels and Resorts has long been recognized as a leader and innovator in these market segments.”

Newport News Hotel No Longer An Omni 

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Ommi Hotel in Newport News is now the Newport News Hotel and Conference Center since the beginning of 2013, according to local news reports. The hotel was part of a planned private auction in 2011. An Omni representative told local news that the franchise agreement with the hotel came to an end and both parties agreed to move on at the close of the term. 

The Hilton Little Clarion Raises Flag In Little Rock 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– The Hilton Little Rock Medical Center is changing flags and becoming the Clarion Hotel Medical Center. The 263-room property will continue to be owned by HLR LLC and operated by Arkansas Hotel Management LLC. Both companies remain committed to the Little Rock market. “We have enjoyed our partnership with Hilton Hotels, but feel that the Choice Hotels/Clarion brand will provide a more strategic connection to the Little Rock market from a local, regional and national level,” said Martin Belz, managing member of Arkansas Hotel Management LLC.

Aloft Orlando Names New GM & DOS 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Craig Leicester has been appointed as general manager and Ricardo Echeverri as director of sales and marketing of the new Aloft Orlando Downtown. The 118-room hotel is scheduled to open in July within the former Orlando Utilities Commission building and is set to offer 7,200 square feet of flexible meeting space

Visit Florida Announces New President/CEO 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Visit Florida has announced that Will Seccombe has been named its new president/CEO. Seccombe has served as the organization’s chief marketing officer since 2008, and has served as the acting president since Chris Thompson’s departure to head Brand USA. “For the past four years, Will has been the creative genius behind all of Visit Florida’s ‘big ideas’ and the bulldog who sees those projects through to their successful conclusion,” said Thompson.

New Director Of Tourism Named For Northwest Georgia Town 

DALTON, Ga. – The Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center Authority Board has announced the hire of Brett Huske to lead the center starting January 1. He has been the executive director of the Dalton CVB for three years, and in his new position, will be the director of tourism as he assumes responsibilities for both the CVB and trade center.

“Brett’s background in hospitality and tourism makes him a perfect choice to lead both organizations into the future,” said Dan Rogers, chairman of the authority board.  

Downtown Paducah Hotel Project In The Works 

PADUCAH, Ky. – Developers have announced a proposal for a downtown hotel project next to the Julian Carroll Convention Center in Paducah. The hotel will include 121 guest rooms, as well as a restaurant and a bar, and will be attached to the convention center via a pedestrian bridge.

A groundbreaking for the project is tentatively set for 2013, with a hotel opening in late 2014.  

Triangle Gets New Hampton Inn and Suites 

RALEIGH, N.C. - The hotel offers 126 guest rooms in the Glenwood South District with nearly 1,000 square feet of meeting space.   

DoubleTree In Tulsa Selected For World’s First Made-Market 

TULSA, TEXAS – Doubletree by Hilton Tulsa Downtown has been selected as the beta site for a new dining concept that is scheduled to roll out in other markets across the nation in 2013. Made Market, a $2 million project under construction now in Tulsa, is an all-day eatery that blends the convenience of a gourmet market with the allure of a brick over gastropub. “DoubleTree by Hilton Tulsa Downtown is thrilled to be the first to launch Made Market, a whole new dining experience for both hotel guests and downtown regulars,” said Bruce Sneller, general manager. “Given the growth in downtown’s nightlife and the level of activity in Tulsa’s hospitality market, there could not be a better place than Tulsa to debut this new concept.”

The new Made Market offers a full-menu, quick-service dining experience with various dining options, including a main dining room, a living room for lounging, a bar, and an herb ‘Garden Room’ in the front window section as you enter the restaurant. Guests may eat in or place take away orders for food and drink at the counter and runners will deliver the order to individual tables and guests’ rooms.

North Augusta Reveals Stadium Plans

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Augusta GreenJackets have possibly found a home thanks to the city’s council members, who are considering a plan that would include a sports and entertainment center, as well as a hotel, restaurants, conference center and more, according to local news reports. Even the city’s mayor, Lark Jones, has called it “the biggest proposal that has ever been made.”

The site for the project adjoins the 13th Street bridge connecting downtown August and North Augusta, and could include a 200-rom hotel and conference center modeled after Hampton Terrace, an Augusta-based resort that burned in 1916.

Floating Hotel Gets Approved  

BEAUFORT, S.C. – The Beaufort City Council is considering allowing boat hotels, or “botels,” in the city’s downtown marina, according to local news reports. The 93-foot Charlestonian yacht is seeking a permit to rent rooms overnight while it is docked there. The city-approved site plan has a number of stipulations, including paying accommodation taxes and requiring on-site managers. Additional daydocks and a water sports center are also being discussed.

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel Begins Renovation 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is giving travelers a fresh location to visit in Nashville with a multimillion-dollar renovation.

The project includes a complete redesign of the lobby, remodeled corridors, new guest and public bathrooms, and the new Mason’s restaurant and Mason Bar.

The new design tells the story of Nashville using local music, fashion and food as design inspiration. Mason’s, named for the popular Mason jars used in Southern canning, is slated to be a Southern brasserie-style restaurant combining traditional Southern dishes with classical French techniques. “Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is Tennessee’s only Four-Diamond rated hotel that has maintained that rating for more than 27 consecutive years, and we intend to keep up that rating by matching this invigorating contemporary look with our impeccable service,” said Tom Negri, managing director of Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Loews Vanderbilt Hotel’s transformation is scheduled for completion in May 2013. Throughout construction, the hotel’s meeting and conference space, ballroom, fitness center will remain open.

Fort Worth Convention Center Attains LEED Status

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The Fort Worth Convention Center (FWCC) was recently awarded Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Certified Level status by the U.S. Green Building Council. “We are making the building as efficient as possible not only to conserve resources and be more efficient, but because it’s the right thing to do for our environment and city,” said Mayor Betsy Price. “We’ve received great feedback, and attendees of some of our large meetings let us know these positive changes make Fort Worth even more appealing as a destination.”

The LEED certification process took more than two years of work, including water reduction measures, waste diversion, implementing a green cleaning policy, adding high-efficiency lighting, environmentally-friendly pest management and energy conservation by city staff and external consultants.

“Our convention attendees will see new recycling containers in addition to high-efficiency lighting and water reduction fixtures, but the majority of the work was in systems and operations that elevate our ability to manage our business efficiently,” said Kirk Slaughter, Director of Public Events for the City of Fort Worth.

Hotel Roanoke’s Regency Room To Get Facelift 

ROANOKE, Va. – Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center’s Regency Room will be closed for about six weeks for renovations in honor of its 75th birthday, according to local news reports.

The hotel dining room will close at the beginning of 2013 and will reopen mid-February with new draperies, upholstery and carpeting, along with a new room divider. New awnings will also be built over outside patios and the Pine Room Pub.

Abandoned Hotel Purchased, To Open As A Hilton

MIAMI BEACH – RLJ Lodging Trust recently announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire the former Hilton Cabana Miami Beach for $71.6 million. The property opened as a hotel in the early 1950’s and was closed and gutted in 2007 in anticipation of a condominium conversion. The conversion did not materialize and the property went into foreclosure.

In 2011, the current owners purchased the property to develop a new hotel, which they expect to complete and open in the fourth quarter of 2013 as a Hilton.

Renovated Inn on Fifth Adds To Sales Team

NAPLES, Fla. – The newly redesigned Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples recently added to their team of marketing and sales professionals.

Dale Encinosa, CHME, will be representing the Inn on Fifth in the group sales market for both the newly renovated hotel and the new Club Level Suites, opening this month. She will focus on development and management of corporate and association accounts in the United States domestic market. Nick Fallon has also been hired as sales assistant.

With 15 years of customer service experience, Evita Reyes has been promoted to group sales manager. She has been working at the Inn on Fifth for more than five years, most recently as revenue manager.
The Inn on Fifth provides nearly 8,000 square feet of recently renovated indoor and outdoor meeting space. This month, the inn will put the finishing touches on its expansion project that will offer an additional 700-square-foot boardroom, as well as 32 Club Level Suites.

St. Simons Gets The Go-Ahead On New Hotel

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The Glynn County Islands Planning Commission has given the go ahead for the site plan for what will be the Inn at Sea Island, according to local news reports. The 86-room inn on St. Simons Island is set to begin construction in January and will take roughly nine months to complete, said developers. The county commission will now have to approve the project.

Guestroom Refresh Announced at Ritz-Carlton

GREENSBORO, Ga.– The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation—situated on Lake Oconee, Georgia’s second largest lake—is poised to begin an extensive refurbishment of 251 guest rooms and suites.
According to Ralph Vick, general manager, the renovation, which will be completed by Dallas-based Duncan Miller Ullman Design, ranges from the renewal of the 2,392 square-foot Ritz-Carlton suite to all 460-square-foot standard guest rooms. The refurbishment is to be completed by March 31, 2013.

The new décor has been designed to capture the area’s colorful Southern history and “compelling beauty,” while infusing a clean, hand-crafted residential feel.

“Our design scheme evokes the spirit of an ‘endless summer,’ with a nod to the region’s Southern roots and abundant natural beauty,” said lead interior designer Kimberly Miller.
The hotel offers more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space. 

DreamBuilding Teams Added at Château Élan

ATLANTA – The Château Élan Winery and Resort has added a new teambuilding option for groups looking to make a difference, said resort officials. The resort has teamed up with lapdog, inc., a team development group, to work with organizations to plan, organize and implement a memorable and environmentally-focused activity. There are three categories of philanthropy:

-Feeling Green: Groups have the option of participating in Public family Programs, Wildfire Care, Trail Building or Weed Warriors.

-IMPACT Initiatives: Some examples of IMPACT activities include adopting a family or families in need, volunteer at a local food bank or design, build and donate to makee the community better.

-TOMS-Shoes for Tomorrow: Style your “sole:” Each member of the group will give their special touches to a white par of TOMS. For every pair purchased, TOMS will give a child in need a pair of shoes.  




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