Puerto Rico has taken the first steps toward building a major new convention center. Early this year a steering committee was established to guide the development of a major facility as part of the island's $1.2 million waterfront project, El Triangulo Dorado. Headed by Jorge Pesquera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, the committee will select a consulting firm and create subcommittees to deal with financing, convention center management, architecture, and numerous other issues; assemble a meeting planner advisory board; and select entities for ownership and development. The committee hopes to see a convention center groundbreaking within the next three years.
Atlantic City, NJ has set May 1 to 3 as the official grand opening dates for its new Atlantic City Convention Center. The center will offer 500,000 square feet of contiguous meeting space, 45 meeting rooms, and a walkway to a new 500-room hotel managed by Doubletree.
One block east of the recently expanded Sacramento (CA) Convention Center, the city's historic 4,000-seat Memorial Auditorium reopened late last year. Almost $11 million was spent to refurbish the elegant 1927 facility, bringing accessibility, air-conditioning, electrical, and lighting up to modern standards and repainting, replastering, and regilding the interior spaces.
Booking for 1999? Memphis Cook Convention Center plans to have a major expansion completed by spring of that year, adding 45,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 32,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 2,500-seat performing arts center. The $60 million expansion will give the center a total of 220,000 square feet of exhibit space.
New and Improved By January 1999, Savannah, GA will boast a major new meetings complex. On Hutchinson Island, across the Savannah River from the city's historic district, the 401-room Westin Savannah Harbor Resort is scheduled to break ground this April shortly after construction begins on the Georgia International Maritime Trade Center. While the resort will offer 18 holes of golf, a spa, and meeting space, the trade center next door will complement its services with a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, and 22 meeting rooms.
The Boca Raton (FL) Resort & Club recently broke ground on a two-year, $40 million construction project that will add major meeting space to this 963-room resort. To be called the Mizner Center, the new meeting and convention facility will include 34 meeting rooms and the potential to host groups of up to 1,800 persons.
Wichita, KS will see its first new hotel in 20 years when the 17-story Hyatt Regency Wichita opens this summer. The 300-room property will offer 12,500 square feet of meeting space and connect directly to the Century II Convention Center.
Since last fall when the Walt Disney World Swan and the Walt Disney World Dolphin merged their sales and marketing operations, the popular meeting properties have been in the midst of a refurbishment. The $15 million project is upgrading soft goods in more than 2,000 guest rooms, renovating 72 meeting rooms, and repainting (by hand) the buildings' exterior murals. Improvements will continue throughout 1997 on the pools, tennis courts, landscaping, and health clubs. Also, the properties recently merged their reservations departments.
The Claremont Resort and Spa, which first opened in Oakland, CA in 1915 with 240 rooms, will complete a 40-room addition in March. The new rooms will be business-ready, with desk, T-1 modem lines, VCR, and CD player.
After closing in January 1995, the Sheraton Maui spent $150 million on renovations before reopening late last year. The project razed all but two of its original 1963 buildings and, as a result, more than half of its 510 rooms and suites are brand new; the balance have been completely renovated. The resort now offers a swimming lagoon.
In San Juan, PR, the 570-room Condado Plaza Hotel & Casino completed a $6 million upgrade of its public areas.