Billing itself as the first environmentally smart hotel in the continental U.S., the 193-room Sheraton Rittenhouse Square Hotel opened recently in Philadelphia. The hotel's atrium lobby contains a 40-foot-high forest of live bamboo trees, chosen because they take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen at a 35 percent higher rate than any other plant. In guest rooms, night tables are made from recycled shipping pallets; bureaus are finished with a nontoxic lacquer process; and the walls are covered with bamboo panels (considered sustainable since it grows 60 feet every three years). Special air filtration units remove mold, pollen, and bacteria. Lighting is energy-efficient; cleaning supplies nontoxic. The hotel has 4,500 square feet of meeting space in seven rooms.

Brand New Wyndham Hotels & Resorts will open a 362-room hotel in the heart of Boston's financial district, after a $40 million redevelopment of the city's historic Batterymarch Building.

The Wyndham Boston Hotel, to open in the second quarter, will be owned by Patriot American Hospitality and managed by Wyndham International. The hotel will offer 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center, and a fitness center.

The 800-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel has opened in the heart of South Beach. The first new luxury hotel built on Miami Beach in more than 30 years, the Loews Miami Beach has six restaurants and lounges, an oceanfront free-form swimming pool, a fitness center, children's camp, and 85,000 square feet of meeting space. One hundred of the resort's rooms are in the historic, St. Moritz Hotel, which has been completely restored to its Art Deco splendor. Three concierge floors are available in the new 700-room tower.

Hilton Boston Logan Airport, a 600-room property directly connected by skybridge to Boston's Logan International Airport, opens in September. Its state-of-the-art guest rooms (with dual-line phones and data ports) include a 75-room Executive Level with private lounge. The hotel will offer 30,000 square feet of meeting space, all of which will be on one level.

Renovations/Expansions The Philadelphia Marriott is expanding into the historic Reading Terminal Headhouse, adding 210 concierge rooms and bringing total guest rooms to 1,410. Meeting space is being expanded to 100,000 square feet, including two restored ballrooms, the 6,000-square-foot Independence Ballroom and the 2,700-square-foot Liberty Ballroom. A 1,200-square-foot outdoor terrace is also available. The project will be completed by June.

Expansion of the Memphis Cook Convention Center will begin this spring. When the project is completed, in the spring of 2001, the facility will offer 195,000 square feet of exhibit space, 30 meeting rooms offering a total of 50,000 square feet of space.

The 770-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel has added a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, the largest in Alabama. The Birmingham Grand Ballroom is equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. The Sheraton Birmingham is connected by skywalk to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (350,000 square feet) and the Medical Forum Conference Center.

The Grove Park Inn Resort in Asheville, N.C., is building a $13 million, 40,000-square-foot spa, to open in the spring of 2000. At that point, the 510-room property will be renamed the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa. It offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space.

International Conference Resorts has completed a $13.5 million expansion of the Carefree Conference Resort in Carefree, Ariz., just north of Scottsdale. The project added the 10,000-square-foot Saguaro meeting room; the Mesquite Dining Room, seating 400 guests; a business center; and 66 guest rooms, bringing the property's total to 249 rooms, suites, and casitas.

The Tempe (Ariz.) Mission Palms has completed an $11 million renovation, including a remodeling of the hotel's more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space and the installation of a high-tech telecommunications and audiovisual infrastructure. Much of the remodeling was done to meet or exceed the standards of the International Association of Conference Centers. A new business center and executive boardroom have been added along with a new bistro, the Mission Grille. The project also renovated the hotel's 303 guest rooms and fitness center.

The San Diego Convention Center is going to enhance its landmark Sails Pavilion, adding a glass enclosure to the 90,000-square-foot, open-air area and installing an industry-standard trade show floor to this space as well. The project will be completed by the spring of 2000 and will take place at the same time as the center's ongoing expansion, which will open in September 2001. Once the expanded center is open, it will offer more than 600,000 square feet of space.

The Kapalua Bay Hotel is the latest addition to the Luxury Collection of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The 191-room, 15-suite resort fronts the world-famous Kapalua Bay in northwest Maui. All rooms were fully restored just over a year ago. The hotel offers 3,700 square feet of indoor meeting space, including a 2,900-square-foot ballroom, plus expansive outdoor function space including terraces and an oceanfront luau setting. Groups at Kapalua Bay have use of the Kapalua Golf Club's three championship courses.