Mohegan Sun Unveils Grand Expansion Plan Where the heck is Uncasville, Connecticut? We'll get to that. First, consider the $800 million plans of Uncasville's Mohegan Sun, set to be transformed from a gaming complex into a "true destination," said David Casey, vice president, hotel sales and marketing. The resort will add a 1,200-room hotel, 200,000 square feet of retail/entertainment space, a 16,000-square-foot spa, and a 40,150-square-foot ballroom to its 276,000-square-foot casino.

The huge casino does not have a huge presence in the new marketing plan for Mohegan Sun. The message: It's there, but it won't overwhelm. On weekends, 50 percent of guest rooms will be dedicated to meeting and leisure guests.

Mohegan Sun was created by the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut in 1996. The new Mohegan Sun is going right after groups, with 100,000 square feet of meeting space and a claim to convenience coupled with size. Here's where the location comes in. "For organizations with large meetings, this is the first alternative for meeting outside urban areas," Casey said. "We're one hour from Providence, one hour from [Hartford's] Bradley Airport. Within a 100-mile radius, there are 15 million people and some of the most influential corporations in the U.S." The project will be completed in April 2002. When it opens, the hotel will be part of the Associated Luxury Hotels network.

A Night in China--in Chicago Networld, the China National Tourist Office, and the Hong Kong Tourist Association sponsored an elaborate dinner and cultural show for IT&ME attendees to introduce Chinese cities as incentive destinations. Highlighting Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, representatives gave presentations, slide shows, and finally, introduced live entertainment to present a true taste of each city. A delicious family-style meal--chopsticks only!--enhanced the China experience.

Asia remains a value destination for meetings, especially Hong Kong, where the Value Plus Program offered by the Hong Kong CVB will likely extend through 2001, according to Amy Chan, executive director, HKTA. The program offers incentive and meeting groups as much as 50 percent off room rates at more than 40 hotels.

Visit China next year--notable not just because it leads us into a new millennium, but because 2000 is also the highly auspicious Year of the Dragon. The two coincide only once every 3,000 years!

The New Rio Rio de Janeiro has totally changed its image, said Gerard Bourgeai-seau, Rio's secretary of tourism.

Making comparisons to New York City, Rio's tourism representatives claim a very real about-face: The city is cleaner, safer, and even more fun. More fun in the city that created Carnival?

That could just be. A new mayor came into office in Rio in January 1997 and has concentrated his efforts on tourism. He launched a new slogan, "Rio Incomparable," but, more important, improved the city's infrastructure.

The Copacabana district, famous for its beach resorts, and Rio's other hotel districts are improving as well: Some $78 million is being invested in hotels, including a Meridien, Sheraton, and Renaissance. On October 19, four new tourist bus routes started.

While Brazil's currency, the real, was devalued in January, hotel rates remained steady. But the restaurants and other services became extremely good values, said Bourgeaiseau.

There are direct flights from the U.S. to Rio, which is nine hours from New York, or via Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Today's Best Value? Acapulco You heard it here first. The hot tip comes from John Wallis, vice president of marketing, Hyatt International. "Acapulco has taken a lot of knocks in the past 15 years, but the government has put things back together, and this is a great incentive product," he said. "You get guaranteed sun, great beaches for $100 a night." Both the Hyatt Regency Acapulco and the Acapulco Princess (now a CP Hotel) are in the midst of renovations, he noted. "Acapulco hasn't been fashionable, but now you're attracting a new generation."

Hyatt International has 32 properties currently under development worldwide. Some highlights:

*Middle East: Much of the most exciting development is here, in Oman, Jor- dan, Egypt, and Israel. "As people start trusting the peace, you will see a lot of incentives here," he said. "It's the most incredible historical experience."

*China: "Asia still is a tremendous bargain and will remain so for the next 18 months," Wallis predicted. The 555-room Grand Hyatt Shanghai recently opened in the financial district, with meeting space for 1,200 people.

Bacara Resort: Elegance, Privacy A gracious resort in the style of a Spanish village springs from 78 beach- front acres in Santa Barbara next fall. Its 360 rooms will have a residential feel, and its 42,000-square-foot spa will have 35 treatment rooms.

Underneath all that, the five-star Bacara Resort & Spa will be wired. "Everything is high-tech covered in softness," said Ralph Behrstin, director, worldwide incentive sales. With 25,500 square feet of meeting space, the resort will be 10 minutes from the Santa Barbara Airport.