Mohegan Sun, now a 276,000-square-foot gaming and entertainment complex in Uncasville, Conn., is spending $800 million to reinvent itself as a full-service meeting destination. Plans call for a 1,200-room luxury hotel, a 16,000-square-foot world-class spa, 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, and 100,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Northeast's largest ballroom (40,150 square feet). Gaming is being subtly marketed as but one facet of the complex, which originally was created by the Mohegan tribe of Native Americans of Connecticut in 1996. The new Mohegan Sun will promote its size and convenient Northeast location for groups. The project is expected to be completed in April 2002.
Transformations Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has converted the Arlington Marriott Hotel to the Wyndham Arlington DFW Airport South Hotel in Arlington, Texas. The 310-room hotel is the brand's first property in the city. As part of the conversion, Wyndham is putting $46 million into a two-phase renovation. The first phase, to wrap up at the end of the year, will redo all first-floor public space and landscaping. The second phase, to begin early next year, will redo all meeting facilities. The property's guest rooms, which were completely renovated 18 months ago, also will be updated. The hotel offers 21,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom and 4,000-square-foot outdoor plaza with private yacht club. Also available: a full-service health and fitness center, a full-service business center, and jogging trails.
Benchmark Hospitality has transformed the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Va., into a full-service conference center. Investing $8 million in a renovation and expansion, Benchmark added a 25,000-square-foot conference wing that includes six dedicated general session rooms, eight breakout rooms, a 70-seat amphitheater, and permanent refreshment break areas. Benchmark also improved all existing meeting space and completely revamped the restaurant menu and layout. All guest rooms have been refurbished as well. The finishing touches to the project will be complete by March 2000.
Openings The new Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort is close enough to the excitement yet far enough from it to offer quiet elegance amid the hubbub. Expected to open this month, the 496-room resort will cater to meetings, with 40,000 square feet of indoor function space, including a 21,330-square-foot ballroom. An additional 70,000 square feet of function space is available outdoors.
The Loews Philadelphia Hotel, across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, will open in April. The 583-room hotel will offer 40,000 square feet of function space, including three ballrooms; and in-room high-speed Internet access, cordless phone, and combination fax, copier, and printer.
The Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort marks Hyatt's first foray into Vegas. The property is located on the 320-acre Lake Las Vegas, 17 miles from the Strip, with views of the Southern Nevada mountains. Also on site is a championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, a complete spa and fitness center, a casino, and three restaurants.
International Beat An ambitious, multimillion-dollar renovation project has been completed at the five-star Dromoland Castle, one of Ireland's top destinations for meeting groups, located in Newmarket-on-Fergus, near Shannon Airport. The historic property offers 100 guest rooms, including 24 new luxurious club rooms, all with commanding views of estate grounds and Lough Dromoland. The 12,000-square-foot Brian Borou International Center has also been renovated; the main hall accommodates receptions of 700, and several executive rooms with fireplaces and vaulted ceilings accommodate up to 40. Dromoland offers an 18-hole golf course, a new clubhouse, and a full-service spa with a new Olympic-size pool.
A sister property of Dromoland, Ashford Castle, in Ireland's County Mayo, has also completed a renovation program involving all of its 83 guest rooms and all public space. The magnificent 13th-century castle is the former estate of the Guinness brewing family. Its newly refurbished conference center can accommodate up to 140 people for receptions.
The completion of Monaco's new convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, is scheduled for June 2000, and the first official event will take place in September. The Grimaldi Forum is ideal for groups of 800 to 1,200. It will include three auditoriums with 1,900-seats, 800-seats, and 400-seats; a meeting room that seats 400 theater-style; 23 breakout rooms; and two exhibition halls, one with 42,000 square feet and the other with 45,000 square feet. Many of Monaco's top hotels are within walking distance of the center.