IN LAS VEGAS, Green Valley Ranch, which opened in December 2001, has just started an expansion of a second tower including 290 rooms and 35,000 square feet of meeting space. Plans call for completion of the project in November 2004. The resort, six miles from the Strip, offers panoramic views of the city. It has 201 rooms, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 55,000-square-foot casino.

On Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, Westin opened its first hotel in Nevada in November. The 825-room Westin Casuarina Hotel & Spa, at the site of the former Maxim Hotel just off the Strip, has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including five contiguous meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 470 people, one meeting room for up to 350, and two boardrooms. The hotel has a spa, pool, and a 20,000-square-foot casino, and a 200-seat showroom. A massive $75 million renovation and upgrade took place over the past year.

The 2,543-room Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will break ground soon for a $31 million expansion of its Pavilion Convention Center, which will add 60,000 square feet of convention space to the existing 100,000 square feet. The expansion will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2004.

At The Venetian in Las Vegas, the new Venezia hotel tower opened in June with 1,013 luxury suites. (The original all-suite tower has 3,036 suites.) The Venezia tower also has a pool deck, a wedding chapel, and a concierge level (the top five floors on the west side of the tower, with 122 suites) featuring a private lounge and a restaurant. By room count, the Venetian now claims to be the third-largest hotel in the world, with 18 restaurants, a convention center, and an art museum all under one roof.

Meanwhile, at Vegas' Sands Expo and Convention Center, a recent renovation project has seen the expansion of the existing Customer Service Center by 200 percent, the addition of three meeting rooms, the addition of a show management suite of offices, and a permanent new coffee shop in the upper lobby. All concession areas in the exhibit halls have been enhanced, and the upper and lower lobbies and meeting room corridors have been repainted.

At New York — New York in Las Vegas, the pub, Nine Fine Irishmen, opened in July. The 9,000-square-foot facility was designed by the Irish Pub Co. and imported directly from Ireland. It overlooks the Strip and has private dining rooms available for groups seven days a week for lunch or dinner.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas opened The Park at MGM Grand last spring. This outdoor event venue is adjacent to the hotel and to the MGM Grand Conference Center. Located on the former site of the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park, the 10-acre facility can accommodate groups from 350 to 7,000 in four distinct areas: the Amphitheater, an 11,404-square-foot, 950-seat, outdoor theater; the Island, a 9,404-square-foot venue surrounded by greenery; the Center Stage, a 25,873-square-foot lawn area; and Festival Square, a 68,837-square-foot concert space. The Park's five themed streets, including Western and Mardi Gras, can also be used as venues for events.

In early 2004, The Sheraton Atlantic City plans to launch the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed. The 15-story hotel has over 500 guest rooms, a fitness center, and a year-round heated pool. The hotel is located at the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway, adjoining the convention center and next to the newly opened retail and entertainment center, The Walk. It offers over 27,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, including 18 meeting rooms, a boardroom, and in-house audiovisual and exhibitor support.

Atlantic City's Showboat — the Mardi Gras Casino has added a 19-story tower to house more than 500 hotel rooms. The Showboat has also completed a $5.3 million high rollers' lounge and a $17 million restaurant complex.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is slated to open in April in Hollywood, Fla., with 500 rooms and a 130,000-square-foot casino. Meeting space will total 25,000 square feet and include a 16,000-square-foot ballroom. Also set to open in April is a 12-story, 250-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, with 12,000 square feet of meeting space and a 90,000-square-foot gaming complex.

Beyond Borders

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. received a license from the Bahamian government to operate a casino at the Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort. The casino, which opened in December, features a 35,000-square-foot casino. The property is divided into the Westin at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort and the Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort, encompassing 372 acres and two 18-hole golf courses. There is 90,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space at the resorts, plus a 40,000-square-foot conference center.

In Monaco, the Hotel Hermitage has begun a major renovation and expansion, which should be completed in April. Sixty-three rooms and suites will be added to the existing 229, and 40 rooms will be completely renovated.