TIRED OF CANCUN?
Planners now have a new nearby convention destination to consider: Riviera Maya, the fast- developing coastline south of Cancun and north of the Mayan ruins at Tulum, boasts a new convention center and adjacent hotel. The eight-month old Iberostar Paraiso Lindo offers 446 guest rooms adjacent to a convention center that opened a month after the hotel. The convention center is designed to accommodate up to 1,000 people. The main ballroom has 15,683 square feet of space that can be divided into six rooms, high-definition projection screens, 42-inch plasma screens, and a Dolby Surround Sound system. Across the hall from the ballroom are four boardrooms, each divisible into two. Two other all-inclusive Iberostar properties, the 424-room Iberostar Paraiso Beach and the 390-room Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, are within a two-minute trolley ride of the convention center, affording planners access to more than 1,200 guest rooms, a dozen pools, and more than 10 bars and 18 restaurants. Iberostar now has 11 all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and plans to open two new hotels on the Riviera Maya in 2004 and 2005. www.iberostar.com
Opening in March 2005, the Marriott Louisville Downtown will be connected directly to the Kentucky International Convention Center and to the Hyatt Regency. The full-service Marriott will have 617 guest rooms and 44,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 21,000-square-foot Louis-ville Ballroom.
In Charlotte, N.C., the Charolotte Convention Center, the Hilton Charlotte & Towers, and the Westin Charlotte have formed an alliance to offer a packaged combination of convention and exhibit space, guest rooms, and planning services. The Charlotte Convention Connection expedites the planning process by allowing the meeting planner to deal with one entity. The combined adjacent facilities offer 1,107 guest rooms, 69,200 square feet of ballroom space, 280,000 square feet of exhibit space, and 70 breakout rooms. Planners can call (704) 335-2111 for more information.
At the new Georgia International Convention Center in College Park near Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, the already state-of-the-art technology offerings have been enhanced by the purchase of two broadcast-quality cameras. In combination with the facility's four-channel internal television network, the cameras can be used to broadcast programs live during an event, or to capture highlights of an event on video for members who could not attend. www.gicc.com
The 742-room Doubletree Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando has renovated its 60,000-square-foot convention hall and conference facility. The hotel, the largest Doubletree property in the world, is now undergoing a $14 million renovation that will be completed by the end of 2005. The hotel's meeting and convention center includes a 23,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, a 10,000-square-foot pre-function area, and 11 breakout rooms. www.doubletreemeetings.com
The 814-room Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort has added an 18,000-square-foot ballroom, which opened in June. The addition, with 22-foot ceilings and more than 5,000 square feet of foyer space, brings total property meeting space to more than 74,000 square feet in three ballrooms and 37 breakout rooms. In addition, the Hilton has done a total renovation of the resort's exterior and pool areas.
The Caribe Royale All-Suites Resort and Convention Center in Orlando is renovating all 1,218 of its one-bedroom suites, as well as its main lobby. The $7 million renovation work, which will be done this fall, follows last year's $30 million expansion of the resort's Grand Caribe Convention Center, which doubled the property's meeting space to more than 150,000 square feet and added the 40,000-square-foot Grand Sierra Ballroom. www.cariberoyale.com.
John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc. plans to build a $35 million, 250-suite Embassy Suites Hotel and adjoining 80,000-square-foot convention center in Loveland, Colo. Construction will begin next spring, with completion slated for summer or fall 2006. www.jqhhotels.com
In Madison, Wis., a $2.5 million renovation of the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center was recently completed. It included new carpeting, chairs, and movable wall coverings; and upgraded audiovisual equipment. Movable walls were installed, creating new meeting spaces of up to 3,680 square feet. www.visitgrandrapids.org
The JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa will open in Tucson, Ariz., in December with more than 88,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 20,000-square-foot grand ballroom and a 15,000-square-foot junior ballroom. Set in a saguaro cactus forest in Tucson Mountain Park, the resort will also provide some stunning outdoor venues along with its 575 guest rooms, 35 suites, 27-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Facility, and 20,000-square-foot spa. www.jwmarriottstarrpass.com
The Oregon Convention Center contracted Eleven Wireless, based in Portland, to install a high-speed wireless (Wi-Fi) network that provides Internet access to exhibitors and meeting participants anywhere throughout the nearly one-million-square-foot facility. Eleven Wireless' software application, ElevenOS, enables OCC to offer multiple service levels of Wi-Fi and bill customers via credit card, pre-paid cards, or direct to their convention center account. Visitors to the center have a choice of two wireless service plans: either 60 minutes for $6 or 24 hours for $12.
Pacific Palms Conference Resort, located in Industry Hills, Calif., recently completed a $30 million renovation of its 292 guest rooms and suites, the lobby, and all 45,000 square feet of meeting facilities. Improvements to the 650-acre property also include a technology cafe, a business center, and the installation of a wireless network. Pacific Palms has two adjacent championship golf courses, tennis courts, an aquatic center, and an equestrian center. www.pacificpalmsresort.com
An expansion to the Vancouver (B.C.) Convention and Exhibition Centre will begin later this year, with completion expected by 2008. The expanded VCEC will house the media center for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to be held in Vancouver and Whistler. Both the Canadian federal government and the B.C. provincial government have increased their contribution to the expansion of the center, bringing the total for the expansion project to U.S. $406 million.
A new convention and meeting facility is scheduled to open before New Year's 2005 in Reno, Nev. The 118,000-square-foot Reno Events Center is part of a $65 million, two-phased project in downtown Reno. The facility will include a multipurpose space on the first floor for concerts, sporting events, and small conventions. The 55,000-square-foot space will include retractable seating. The second floor will have 4,954 square feet of space, with six meeting rooms and suites, each approximately 825 square feet in area. It.