In August, the $202.5 million Virginia Beach Convention Center opened its first phase of construction. It now offers 300,000 square feet of space, including a 31,029-square-foot ballroom, a 56,516-square-foot exhibition hall, and 19,249 square feet of meeting space. When the center is completed in early 2007, it will have 516,522 square feet of space, including a 150,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall and 28,929 square feet of meeting space.
The $600 million Phoenix Convention Center expansion will triple the size of the current facility. It will feature approximately 900,000 square feet of rentable space. The first phase is due to open in May 2006. A 1,000-room Sheraton hotel, a block from the convention center, has been approved as well. The $350 million hotel will be 30 stories high and is slated for completion in 2008. Additionally, a light-rail service from the airport to downtown is planned to come online in December 2008.
In February in Grand Rapid, Mich., the 40,000-square-foot DeVos Place Ballroom opened, marking the completion of the new convention center. The ballroom, which can accommodate 2,500 banquet-style and 5,000 for receptions, is Michigan's largest. Above the ballroom, a boardroom and six River Overlook Meeting Rooms provide an additional 7,000 square feet of meeting space. The $211 million DeVos Place has a 160,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a Grand Gallery with 28,000 square feet of reception space, 12 enclosed loading docks, and a total of 29 meeting rooms.
The Kansas City Convention Center has received a complete facelift, and is constructing a new 46,450-square-foot ballroom, which will span Interstate 670. Slated to open in 2007, it will be located next to the 388,000-square-foot Bartle Hall exhibition area. The new ballroom is only one piece in a massive $6 billion renaissance that will result in Kansas City, Mo.'s, new Power & Light District, a nine-square-block residential, retail, and entertainment district (scheduled for completion in late 2006); the new $250 million Sprint Center, a 15,500-seat arena set for a 2007 opening; and the Hilton President Kansas City, set to open late this year. The $45 million hotel, closed for 25 years, is within walking distance of the Sprint Center and the convention center. It will have more than 213 guest rooms.
The 145,000-square-foot Palm Springs (Calif.) Convention Center expansion, which cost $34 million, is nearing completion. The center will have 21 breakout rooms, up to 120,000 square feet of exhibit space, the 20,000-square-foot Primrose Ballroom featuring a “cloud ceiling,” a new 18,000-square-foot lobby with mountain views, and a scenic outdoor function area for dining and receptions. The facility will have a 12-bay loading dock and high-speed Internet access throughout. Adjoining the convention center is the 410-room Wyndham Hotel, with more than 30,000 square feet of additional meeting space, and one block away is the new $95 million Spa Resort Casino, a 228-room full-service resort.
In Des Moines, Iowa, at the Iowa Events Center, the new 250,000-square-foot Hy-Vee Hall has opened. It features 10 covered loading bays, an exhibit hall of 96,120 square feet, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space in eight rooms. The new facility is connected directly by climate-controlled walkway to both the Wells Fargo Arena and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
In Philadelphia, The Board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority has signed an agreement with SMG to consult on the center's expansion, operations, and marketing. The PCCA received $16 million in state funds to complete architectural plans and to begin purchasing approximately 22 properties to prepare for the expansion. The convention center will almost double its size, and plans call for 541,000 square feet of exhibit space, two ballrooms totaling 93,000 square feet, and 87 meeting rooms. A timetable has not yet been established for the project.
In downtown Denver two blocks from the Colorado Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency Denver has been renamed Grand Hyatt Denver after a $15 million upgrade. All 511 guest rooms now have high-speed Internet access and work stations. Bathrooms feature granite counter tops. Conference facilities, located on the second and third floors, have been upgraded, and 20,000 square feet of banquet space is now available on the 37th and 38th floors of the adjacent office tower.
Scheduled to open in November, the 580,000-square-foot Puerto Rico Convention Center will feature a 152,700-square-foot exhibition hall dividable into three exposition spaces, as well as 36,400 square feet of additional meeting space that will include 15 separate meeting rooms on two levels, dividable into 28 breakout rooms. It will be the largest single meeting space in the Caribbean and Latin America and it will feature the largest ballroom in the Caribbean, with 39,500 square feet of space, capable of hosting 4,388 people theater-style. The new convention center is the centerpiece of the Puerto Rico Convention Center District, a $415 million multi-use urban center covering 113 acres. Plans include a 500-room headquarters hotel, a $175 million facility set to begin construction at the end of this year with a projected opening in 2007. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, under its Sheraton banner, will manage the new hotel.
In Cincinnati, the Cinergy Center's $160 million expansion, renovation, and reconfiguration is on schedule for completion in mid-2006. The project is managed by the City of Cincinnati. The Cinergy Center continues to be open for business during construction.The expansion is on track for completion of the first-floor exhibit hall level, comprising nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, by January. The second-floor meeting room level and third-floor grand ballroom, serviced by a new and expanded kitchen, will be completed by May 2006. The reconfiguration of the existing ballroom will complete the project in June 2006.
At the Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, Wis., a $40 million redevelopment was completed in May. The Abbey has totally refurbished its 35,000-square-foot Fontana Spa. The resort has 40,000 square feet of upgraded meeting and event space, including 32 meeting rooms, the 10,150-square-foot Harbor Ballroom, and the new 6,000-square-foot West Shore Pavilion.
The 500-room Hyatt Regency Boston recently completed a $10.5 million renovation of all guest rooms, public spaces, and the health club. Last year, all meeting space and public space was redone. The 22-story hotel has 20,000-plus square feet of meeting space, including a 5,046-square-foot ballroom with panoramic views and an adjacent outdoor terrace. All meeting rooms are wired for videoconferencing and wireless Internet access. The former Swissotel, in the Downtown Crossing area, was reflagged in 2003 as a Hyatt. At the time of the renovation, the hotel embarked on a “green” program that includes recycling and energy-savings measures. The kitchen now composts its waste; electricity, heat, and air conditioning are keyed in to check-in, and check out; and every meeting and storage room has motion sensors to turn lights on and off. The hotel garnered an Environmental Merit Award from the Environmental Protection Agency last month for its efforts.
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas has opened its new West Wing, with 700 rooms. All feature king-size beds with pillow-top mattresses and body pillows, flat-screen televisions, DVD players, cordless phones, desks, and Bose radio alarm clocks with CD players. The bathrooms feature marble floors, oversized showers, and TVs in the bathroom mirrors.
Scheduled for completion in December, the 26,000-square-foot spa at Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa in Phoenix will be managed by Red Door Spas. The two-story spa will encompass indoor and outdoor areas. Ten of the 16 treatment rooms will feature patios, and three will offer outdoor treatment areas. Wigwam has 331 guest rooms and can accommodate up to 950 in its meeting/banquet space. It offers 54 holes of golf on site.
The Westin Pasadena (Calif.) has just finished an $11 million renovation of public spaces, meeting space, and all 350 guest rooms. A new 2,200-square-foot meeting room brings total meeting space to 26,000 square feet. A new business center has also been added.
In Overland Park, Kansas, the Overland Park Convention Center is working with Simcha Catering and the Vaad Hakashruth of Kansas City, the local kosher supervising organization for the Kansas City Metro area, to provide kosher dining options for groups.
The Greater Richmond Convention Center is now providing free wireless Internet service to all of its guests. It has also opened a new cybercafe, where guests have free use of six freestanding Internet-accessible kiosks. In addition, the cybercafe has been wired to serve as a “hot spot,” providing patrons with a laptop computer and the ability to log onto the Internet at no charge.
The new 7,200-square-foot Cumberland Ballroom opened in May at the Nashville Airport Marriott. It was part of a $2.3 million hotel renovation that also showcases a new main lobby and restaurants. The ballroom, which can accommodate an event for up to 950 people, has 30-foot ceilings, computer-generated lighting effects by Lights Fantastic, and videoconferencing. The Marriott, set on 17 acres minutes from downtown, has 24,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space, including three ballrooms and 14 breakout rooms.