The Marriott Hickory Ridge Conference Center in Lisle, Ill. is so dedicated to meeting the technology needs of its clients that it has created a new position--telecommunications supervisor--to do exactly that. In this role, Harold Karbonek is responsible for all network cabling and computer cabling--such details as category 5 wiring, a 100BaseT Fast Ethernet system, and ISDN lines and their various classifications. He is the technical right arm of the conference services manager and often works closely with customers' systems supervisors.

The goal at Hickory Ridge is to become the prototype for meeting technology within Marriott Conference Centers. For direct links back to the home office, meeting rooms are wired so that telephone calls and/or modem links do not need to go through the conference center's main switchboard. According to Karbonek, 2,500 direct inward dial lines can be assigned to telephones in a meeting room or anywhere within the conference center. This is a facility where a common request might be to have a group of 250 laptops networked together. No problem--Karbonek can handle it.

A popular choice from among the facility's 100 meeting rooms is a tiered 80-seat theater with rear-screen projection. The largest room in the facility can accommodate 250 banquet-style, 198 classroom-style. Among the highlights of this 383-room property, located 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, are a 24-hour, full-service business center; a fitness center; and customized teambuilding programs.

Brand New * The 2,914-room Paris-Las Vegas Casino Resort, Hil-ton's largest construction project ever, is slated to open next to Bally's on the Las Vegas strip in late 1999. The Parisian-themed property will include a 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower. Meeting space includes the 85,200-square-foot Paris Ballroom and the 17,385-square-foot Champagne Ballroom. Pre-function space is modeled after the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

* The Paramount Hotel in Seattle will soon have a sister property in Portland, Ore., incorporating guest-suggested improvements such as larger bathrooms with separate shower and tub, and larger guest rooms overall. The property's 154 rooms will have telephones with dataports and voicemail, coffee makers, and irons and ironing boards. The Portland Paramount is expected to open this summer as a three-star, three-diamond property, with 1,500 square feet of meeting space.

* Groundbreaking for the 950-room Adam's Mark Jacksonville is set to begin late this year, pending city approvals, with completion in early 2000. The hotel will offer 127,000-square-feet of meeting and exhibit space.

* Accor recently announced it will build its second Sofitel hotel in Chicago, scheduled to open in 2000. The 400-room Hotel Sofitel will be downtown, one block west of North Michigan. Plans call for a brasserie-style restaurant, pastry shop, on-site parking, and 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

Tech Upgrade * All seven properties in the Fairmont Hotels chain--Boston, San Francisco, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Dallas, New Orleans, Chicago, and The Plaza Hotel in New York City--have upgraded guest rooms to include in-room faxing as well as e-mail service, with a private fax number and e-mail address assigned to each guest. Suites are equipped with enhanced services, including plain paper printing from guests' PCs, copying, and multi-language printing.

* The Crowne Plaza-Seattle Hotel recently installed a satellite dish to meet the videoconferencing needs of its clients. The property has also upgraded its four club floors, adding a designated dat- aport in every room.

* In order to create local area networks for the training meeting environment, The DFW Lakes Hilton is installing category 5 lines and additional telephone lines throughout its conference center. Nearly every meeting room will be wired, including The Commerce Room, its tiered amphitheater. Managed by Dolce, the Grapevine, Texas property has 386 guest rooms and 40 meeting rooms.

* L'Ermitage Beverly Hills has spent $60 million to upgrade its 124 guest rooms and suites for total luxury and total business. In addition to syca-more paneling, silk shams, 40-inch televisions, programmable lighting and climate settings, and audio and video CD players, there are also five multi-line phones in every room (including a cellular phone), 10 jacks with dedicated voice/data lines and Internet access, and a plain-paper copier/ printer/fax machine.

Expansions * SeaWorld Orlando is building a multimillion-dollar, 12,000-square-foot complex dedicated to hosting groups. Scheduled to open in 1999, the complex also includes 17,000 square feet of themed garden reception area and a deluxe boardroom. SeaWorld already offers meeting options including complete park exclusives, events and dine-arounds at themed attractions, and private animal/entertainment shows themed to corporate events.

* Hotel Sofitel Chicago in Rosemont has completed a $2 million renovation of its guest and meeting rooms. The 300-room property, adjacent to the Rosemont Convention Center, has a dedicated conference center with sophisticated teleconferencing and audiovisual capabilities, a business center, and a 24-hour complimentary shuttle to O'Hare International Airport.

* The 538-room Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., recently debuted The Pavilion, a 12,000-square-foot freestanding ballroom. The Pavilion provides a garden setting, and is climate-controlled for year-round use.

* The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, centerpiece of a 6,500-acre community above Vail Valley, Colo., is expanding. The Lodge has added 28 rooms, bringing the total number to 56. The existing guest rooms and public areas were completely renovated. Last year, the Valley Course, designed by Tom Fazio, joined the Hale Irwin-designed Mountain Course. A Dave Pelz Short Course also opened in late 1997.

International Beat * The Westin Taipei is scheduled to open in 1999 with 317 guest rooms, including Guest Office rooms designed specifically to meet the needs of business travelers. A health club, business center, and meeting and banquet facilities are also planned.

* Westin has been selected to be part of Japan's Awaji Island International Park City project, just off the coast of Kobe in the Inland Sea. The 201-room Westin Awaji Island Resort & Conference Center is set for completion in the spring of 2000. The Conference Center will have a total area of more than 148,000 square feet spread over four floors.

* Stakis Hotels is building London's largest convention hotel, the 1,073-room Stakis London Metropole Hotel & Conference Center, to open in September 2000. The hotel will offer 40 meeting rooms, the largest of which will hold 1,000 people.

* The 267-room Brisbane Marriott Hotel opened recently in Brisbane, Australia. About 20 minutes from the Brisbane International Airport, the hotel offers 6,835 square feet of meeting space, an executive floor, a business center, and exercise room.

* The Pan Pacific Hotel Manila recently opened in the Philippines. The 240-room hotel features all executive floors with personalized, full butler service. Other facilities include a rooftop garden, seven function rooms, a business center, and fitness center.

* The Gran Melia Caracas Hotel, Suites & Conference Center, Sol Melia's first business hotel venture in Venezuela, recently opened in Caracas, 25 miles from the airport. The hotel features 432 guest rooms and 236 two- and three-bedroom apartments. A complete fitness center, business center, heliport, and meeting space for up to 3,000 delegates also are available.

You've Got Mail At the ANA Grand Hotel Wien, a 205-room, full-service hotel in the center of Vienna, guests can now keep in e-mail contact with their offices from all guest and banquet rooms, thanks to new networked computer services. The hotel provides local access to the Internet through the hotel's server, eliminating long-distance expenses. A temporary e-mail address can be set up for guests for the length of their stay at the property. The ANA Grand will also rent PCs to guests.