* CHANGINGFACES Barbara Best, a 20-year sales and hospitality veteran, has been named director, global accounts, North America for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which includes such brands as Westin, Sheraton, W, Four Points by Sheraton, St. Regis, and The Luxury Collection. Before joining Starwood, Best spent 12 years with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives, Meeting Professionals International, and the Professional Convention Management Association. She'll be based at Starwood's Washington, D.C., global sales office.

At Wyndham International Inc., James Walters has been hired as senior vice president, sales. Walters will oversee the company's national sales offices in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Holly Gandras-Smith has been promoted to director of national sales, responsible for Loews Hotels on the West Coast. Gandras-Smith was formerly director of sales, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. She will be based in the company's Los Angeles sales office.

The Opryland Hospitality Group appointed Karla Kelly to director of national accounts; she will work from the Washington, D.C., sales office. Kelly was previously vice president of conventions and exhibitions for the National Association of Truck Stop Operators.

The Pierre, a Four Seasons hotel in New York City, welcomes George A. Allen Jr. as director of sales. Allen comes to The Pierre from the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage in California, where he was the associate director of sales.

Matt Alagna is the new director of resort sales and marketing for the Hershey Lodge and Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa. Alagna comes from the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lodge, Wis., where he was the director of sales and marketing.

Farazana Bhatti-Chambers has been named director of national accounts for the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel, which will open in February. Bhatti-Chambers previously worked as director of group sales for the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn near Baltimore; she will be responsible for the Northeast and Southeast corporate markets.

Amy Gilliam Copeland has been named director of sales and marketing for Loews L'Enfant Plaza hotel in Washington, D.C. She was formerly director of sales and marketing at the Radisson Plaza Hotel at Mark Center, Alexandria, Va.

James L. Bressler is the new director of sales and marketing for the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, N.C., on the campus of Duke University. Bressler has more than 30 years of hospitality management experience, most recently as director of marketing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas.

Kiawah Island Resorts near Charleston, S.C., has appointed Kim Lowe as its new associate director of sales. She will be responsible for the corporate market in South Carolina. Lowe has worked at the resort for 10 years, and was previously responsible for the express meetings market.

The Rosen Centre (formerly the Omni Rosen) in Orlando, Fla., has appointed Jamie Cox national sales manager. He will be responsible for corporate accounts on the West Coast as well as the incentive travel market. Cox joins the Rosen Centre after a five-year tenure as national sales manager for the Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

At Florida's Boca Raton Resort & Club, Brent Wieschhorster has been named national sales manager. He will focus on meetings for the Mid-Atlantic corporate market. Wieschhorster was previously sales manager for the Southeast region of the U.S. at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort.

Allison Carter has joined the TradeWinds Beach Resorts & Conference Centers in St. Pete Beach, Fla., as a national sales manager. She will work with the corporate meetings market in the Southeast. Carter most recently served as a sales manager at the Williamsburg Marriott in Virginia.

The Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix has appointed Tami McGruder director of sales. Prior to joining The Legacy, McGruder held a similar sales and marketing position with Homewood Suites in Seattle, Wash.

Marriott's Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, in Phoenix, scheduled to open in November 2002, has added to its pre-opening sales team. Doug Gennardo will move from his former position as market director of field sales for the western region to director of sales and marketing. Dan Carraher, the new director of group sales-corporate team, comes from the position of associate director of sales at the Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, Calif.

Erika White has been appointed corporate sales manager for The Legacy Golf Resort in Phoenix. Prior to joining the Legacy, White was a corporate sales manager for the Holiday Inn Select, in Phoenix.

San Diego businesswoman M. Theresa Breining, CMP, CMM, has received Meeting Professionals International's 2000 Meeting Professional Award in the International Planner category. Breining is the founder and president of Concepts Worldwide, a global full-service meeting management firm. In 1999, the Ken Blanchard Companies and the San Diego Business Journal recognized her company as a "Best Company to Work for in San Diego." Breining has developed and taught meeting planning certificate programs at various Southern California universities for the past 14 years.

* GOINGPLACES The $150 million Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate will begin construction next spring in the Champions Gate master-planned community in Orlando, Fla. The hotel will open in the fourth quarter of 2002. Overlooking two world-class golf courses designed by Greg Norman and situated just five miles from Walt Disney World, the property will have 732 guest rooms and suites and more than 70,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 26,000-square-foot ballroom and 20,000-square-foot ballroom. A spa and the world-renowned David Leadbetter Golf Academy also are planned.

The Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek Resort & Spa in the Vail Valley, Colo., is spending $8 million to renovate its 275 guest rooms. The hotel is in the center of Beaver Creek Village and offers ski-in/ski-out access. Another highlight of the property is Allegria, its 20,000-square-foot spa.

The St. Regis, Los Angeles, the eighth hotel in Starwood's St. Regis portfolio, was recently created from part of the former Westin Century Plaza. The 297-room St. Regis, Los Angeles will offer a full-service spa and technologically advanced boardrooms and function space. The adjoining Century Plaza by Westin will be renovated as well, with new meeting rooms, a new entrance and lobby, and a 30,000-square-foot day spa.

Marriott's Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, slated to be Arizona's largest resort and spa, is set to open in November 2002 as part of the 5,700-acre Desert Ridge planned community. The 950-room resort will offer a 28,000-square-foot spa and two championship golf courses, the Arnold Palmer-designed Wildfire course, and a second course to be designed by Nick Faldo.

The Whitney-A Wyndham Historic Hotel has opened in New Orleans. The 93-room property was created from a $10 million renovation of the 110-year-old Whitney Bank building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original bank vault has been transformed into a private dining area for 10 guests, and other meeting space is available for corporate groups.

Grand Hyatt Washington and Renaissance Washington (D.C.) have joined forces to serve the large-meeting market. The two hotels, two blocks from each other in the heart of downtown Washington, flank the Washington Convention Center and are within blocks of the MCI Center, Capitol Hill, The White House and National Mall. The pairing offers meeting planners a total of 1,700 rooms and suites, including 200 rooms on private club floors; some 110,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space; and 13 hotel restaurants.

The 375-room Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is being created from the former DiLido Hotel, retaining its pastel colors and architectural features of the Art Deco era while upgrading the building's communications technology. The oceanfront hotel, set to open in mid-2001, will offer 20,000 square feet of meeting space and a 13,000-square-foot spa.

The $600 million Diplomat Resort Country Club & Spa is under development in Hollywood, Fla. Set to open in January, the complex will include 1,000 guest rooms. In the spring, a 209,000-square-foot convention center featuring a 50,000-square-foot Great Hall will open next to the hotel. The project includes a Northern Italian Villa - style Country Club, which is now open, a John Lee - designed golf course, 10 tennis courts, and a 30,000-square-foot European spa and fitness center.

* BEYONDBORDERS Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced a joint venture with Indian Hotels and Health Resorts to manage and develop luxury hotels throughout India. The first will be Mandarin Oriental Ananda, The Himalayas, near Rishikesh, India. The 75-room resort will feature 21,000 square feet of spa facilities.

The Sofitel Tokyo has been renovated and expanded as part of an aggressive repositioning of the Sofitel brand. The hotel now offers 83 guest rooms, including 10 suites, along with five technologically advanced meeting rooms that accommodate up to 300.

The Westin La Quinta Golf Resort opened in October in Costa del Sol in southern Spain. The 172-room resort is a joint venture between La Quinta Real Estate Group and Starwood. Located in Spain's "Valley of Golf," the property offers 27 holes of golf, three putting greens, a driving range, and an on-site golf academy. A 3,800-square-foot state-of-the-art conference center is adjacent to the hotel and accommodates up to 335 attendees.

The Townsend Hotel After unveiling a $20 million expansion and renovation this year, the 151-room Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich., has become a model of luxury and connectedness.

Consider the new 5,000-square-foot Townsend Ballroom, which has carved cherry-wood paneling and custom-made Waterford chandeliers, along with high-speed Internet access and built-in computer interfaces for PowerPoint and LCD projection. Two new executive boardrooms are equipped with laptop connections built in to the tables, and videoconferencing is available through a PictureTel Concorde 4500 system.

The property's guest rooms, all of which have T1 Internet connections, feature the British-themed decor that is a Townsend trademark, including antique reproductions and marble baths with sunken tubs. Six new suites range from 1,100 square feet to 2,100 square feet.

Meanwhile the town of Birmingham offers boutiques and restaurants within easy walking distance of The Townsend Hotel. The hotel is near the major Detroit freeways, allowing easy access to downtown and the metropolitan Detroit corporate community.