IN LA HABRA, Calif., on the Los Angeles — Orange County border, a new conference facility has opened. The Barnett Center, which is part of the headquarters for the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, features a 184-seat auditorium with theater-style seating and fold-down desktops. The facility is named for Albert Barnett, MD, chairman and founder of IHA.

The Executive Meeting Center at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center opened last year in Alexandria, Va. Certified by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), the EMC has 5,000 square feet of meeting space for groups of from 10 to 60. The 496-room Hilton offers complimentary shuttle service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Opening this spring in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the 116,000-square-foot Conference Center Niagara Falls will have 15 conference rooms, including an executive boardroom and a 65-seat amphitheater. There will be a 10,500-square-foot grand ballroom and a 32,200-square-foot entertainment/exhibit center that can accommodate 200 exhibit booths. The Seneca-Niagara Casino is located across the street, and the Frederick Law Olmstead — designed Niagara Falls State Park is two blocks away.

Benchmark Hospitality has recently reopened the World Trade Institute Conference Center in lower Manhattan. Owned by Pace University and managed by Benchmark, the center is located on eight floors at 163 William Street and offers 20,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space with 33 meeting rooms, including a 2,000-square-foot multifunction room. The conference center will return to the new World Trade Center after its completion.

In Vancouver, Wash., a $73 million construction project has begun on a hotel and conference center. The conference center will have 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The seven-story hotel, to be managed by Hilton, will add 225 rooms to the city's current 1,500 rooms. Completion is expected in 2005.

Bremerton Harborside Kitsap Conference Center is under construction in Bremerton, Wash., with an opening date set for July 2004. Located on Bremerton's waterfront with Puget Sound views and walk-on access to Seattle ferries, the center will have a 6,000-square-foot divisible ballroom able to accommodate 440 for a sit-down meal, a separate 696-square-foot executive meeting room, and a 3,240-square-foot pre-function lobby.

Benchmark Hospitality, The Woodlands, Texas, has opened a second conference center in Tokyo, the Tokyo Conference Center Shinagawa. It has just been accepted as a member of IACC. The center has 18,632 square feet of meeting space with 10 conference rooms, including a boardroom and a large hall that can accommodate 500. Its restaurant can seat 250 people. The conference center is adjacent to Shinagawa Station, providing easy access to and from Tokyo's subway and JR train systems. www.benchmarkhospi

In January after a multimillion-dollar renovation, the Holiday Inn Select Atlanta Capitol Conference Center reopened in downtown Atlanta. All areas of the hotel were renovated, including its conference facilities. The hotel has 24,000 square feet of flexible meeting and function space, including an amphitheater for 600.

In Clarkesville, Ga., about 90 minutes from Atlanta in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Glen-Ella Inn & Conference Center offers off-the-beaten-path space for groups of up to 25. The inn has a well-equipped conference room and Internet connectivity in all guest rooms.

The Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club has expanded its conference center with the new 16,000-square-foot Champions Ballroom, featuring eight breakout rooms. Located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, the resort has conference facilities that also include 8,000-square-foot and 4,000-square-foot ballrooms, and the 12,500-square-foot Tournament Hall, with exhibit space accommodating up to 60 booths. There are two executive boardrooms and five conference rooms.

The Baytowne Conference Center opened in spring 2003 with 32,000 square feet of meeting space. Part of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, it is located in Florida's panhandle on the bayside of Sandestin, overlooking Choctawhatchee Bay. The conference center, which can accommodate groups of up to 1,600 in size, is adjacent to the resort's recently opened 168-unit condominium hotel, the Grand Sandestin, which has private access elevators and its own concierge and check-in area.

In January in Evanston, Ill., the Omni Orrington closed to undergo a $20 million renovation. It will reopen in June as the independent Hotel Orrington. Included in the plan is a 19,000-square-foot conference center on the hotel's ninth floor, slated to open in September, which will meet IACC standards.

In November, The Harrison Conference Center at Lake Bluff (Illinois) launched a $3 million renovation of 55 guest rooms, scheduled for completion this month. Common areas will also be upgraded with new carpets, drapes, and upholstery. The conference center is a member of IACC. It offers 10,500 square feet of meeting space and 83 guest rooms.

Last year, the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., completed a $65 million expansion, featuring a new 50,000-square-foot conference center with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom. On the lakeside of the 18th green of The Golf Resort at Indian Wells, with views of the San Jacinto Mountains, the new group facilities include a pre-function area and a 15,000-square-foot kitchen, as well as temperature-controlled outdoor terraces. The resort, one of the few in the Palm Springs area that can accommodate groups larger than 500, has 479 rooms and 54 suites.

The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, overlooking Westminster Abbey, has upgraded its business center and the foyer. The Business Centre now has free Internet access and ISDN connection. Around five miles of cabling was installed as part of an improvement project on the third floor. The Centre has four main auditoriums, seven conference rooms, and more than 20 smaller meeting rooms, catering to events for 40 to 1,000 delegates.