The Westin Flagship Westin Hotels and Resorts has announced that it will manage the first "city ship," a $1.2 billion, 2,800-stateroom megaliner that is expected to be launched by the end of 1999. Although two and a half times larger than any other passenger ship, size will not be the only thing that sets America World City: The Westin Flagship apart. The ship will operate under the American flag, a tax advantage for U.S. meetings; four 400-passenger daycruisers (docked inside the ship's hull) will allow guests to come and go-trip length can vary from passenger to passenger; and nearly three quarters of the guest rooms are in three, eight-story towers that rise above the main deck. In addition, the ship will include 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, a television studio, spa, planetarium, and six swimming pools.
Breaking Ground Construction began this summer on a new 32-story hotel linked to Chicago's McCormick Place convention complex. When completed in two years, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place will offer 750 guest rooms, 50 hospitality suites, a 12,000-square-foot ballroom, and two boardrooms. It will be connected to the center's Grand Concourse, which links to all three exposition buildings.
Talk about a captive audience, Minnesota's first prison, now a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places, will undergo a $6 million conversion this fall to create the 117-room Radisson Hotel & Suites Stillwater with meeting facilities for up to 400 persons. The original 1853 buildings, a territorial prison, will continue as a Stillwater tourist attraction.
Management Moves Park Ridge, NJ-based Dolce International has been awarded managementfor three properties recently purchased by The Yarmouth Group, a New York City real estate investor. Lakeway Inn in Austin, TX (already under Dolce management); Salishan Lodge in Glen Eden Beach, OR, about two hours from Portland on the Pacific coast; and Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA, near the Columbia River Gorge.
Boston's 152-room luxury Bostonian Hotel has affiliated with Regal Hotels International and has been renamed the Regal Bostonian Hotel.
Convention Spaces The Baltimore Convention Center completed its expansion in September, putting a dramatically different face on the city's meeting capacity. The total facility has increased from 425,000 square feet to 1.2 million square feet, including a new 36,000-square-foot ballroom. The center is connected by overhead walkways to the Inner Harbor and is across the street from Camden Yards ballpark.
Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, WI has been the center of controversy since it was submitted to the city-and rejected-in 1938. After nearly 50 years of fervid criticism, staunch support, referendums, and false starts, the building will finally open next summer. Monona Terrace, which curves along Lake Monona with floor-to-ceiling windows and a roof-top garden, will add 40,000 square feet of exhibit space to Madison's inventory, as well as a 14,000-square-foot ballroom, 12,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and a 320-seat lecture hall.
Renovation Time Erawan Garden Resort in Indian Wells, CA is no longer. The property was acquired by Marcus Hotels and Resorts in mid-August and closed for renovations. When it reopens, the 226-room resort will have a new name (as yet undisclosed), increased meeting space, at least one entirely renovated pool (it has two), and 80 two-room suites.
Up, Up, and Away Planning adventures in the Southwest for your qualifiers? Chino Valley, AZ-based Kenai Helicopters opened a new full-service heliport this summer near the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon that can handle group tours.
International Scene After a two-year, $45 million renovation, London's Royal Garden Hotel reopened last spring at its central location overlooking Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. After a top-to-bottom refurbishment, the property now features fax and modem link in all 403 guest rooms, ten conference rooms, and a 24-hour business center.
Presidente Inter-Continental Hotels, Mexico has acquired the 414-room Hyatt Regency Guadalajara. Now called the Presidente Inter-Continental Guadalajara, it is the second commercial property for a chain best known for its resorts.
Copenhagen-based First United Tours & Incentives, SAS Airlines, and the Danish Tourist Board recently joined forces to promote incentive program possibilities that combine tried-and-true Scandinavia with emerging St. Petersburg-a combination that depends on both smooth transfers and imaginative programming.
The trip began in Oslo, where our group was lodged in the 157-room Hotel Continental, a downtown landmark that manages to be venerable without being stuffy. Following a brisk cruise on Oslo Fjord aboard the SS Johanna (100 years old and 92 feet long), we dined at the hotel's trendy Theatercafeen-Northern Europe's only surviving Viennese cafe.
Stockholm is home to the 302-room Grand Hotel, with conference facilities for up to 700 persons. This waterfront classic is the country's finest hotel. Shepherded by Scanropa, our ground operator in Sweden, we visited the City Hall, the Nobel Prize banquet venue, which is available for private functions (as are all the venues mentioned here), and toured Confidencen, an elegant, 18th-century theater that was recently restored.
St. Petersburg's Grand Hotel Europe gave the group a traditional Russian welcome-with bread, salt, and drink. Managed by Kempinski Hotels, the Grand is the city's premier hotel, with a classic "winter garden" ballroom accommodating up to 250 persons.
Handling our ground movements in St. Petersburg, Russian Dimensions demonstrated its skill in incentives by putting together some one-of-a-kind experiences, including a gala farewell banquet at the Yusupov Palace-one of the city's most opulent venues-catered by the esteemed Potel & Chabot, the 150-year-old French catering company that has put on feasts for the likes of George V of England and Nicolas II of Russia.
No trip to St. Petersburg should conclude without a visit to the Hermitage, the fabulously rich art treasure house. And on the other side of the coin, try a ride on the Russian metro-austere, efficient, clean!
We ended our tour in Copenhagen. From the 118-room Hotel D'Angletrerre, an elegant 18th-century gem, we enjoyed a bird's-eye view of this city of parks, galleries, and bustling nightlife. We toured function rooms overlooking lovely Tivoli Garden, had champagne delivered by divers at the Little Mermaid sculpture, and then enjoyed the chic Restaurant Kommandanten. A good excursion from Copenhagen is the North Zealand region and nearby islands. Here we had a private tour of Kronborg Castle (reputedly Hamlet's castle) and lunched at the tranquil Sol-lerod Kro, a 300-year-old inn. The fare-well dinner at the Solyst Estate was another triumph. A private shooting club, the Estate pampers guest in private dining rooms.