On Location Hotel Guanahani Once you weather the short, white-knuckle flight from St. Maarten to St. Barthelemy--the small, chartered plane slipping through a narrow gap between two mountains to ease itself onto the runway, then stopping just short of the narrow beach dotted with sunbathers--island time begins. A 15-minute van transfer over a lush landscape takes you to Hotel Guanahani, a perfect island getaway for small meetings or incentives.
Set on its own 15-acre peninsula, Guanahani has two sandy beaches, one facing a tranquil lagoon, one looking out to the open sea. The hotel's 75 brightly colored bungalows, each with a terrace and lush, private garden, sprawl from beachside to the top of a breezy headland with spectacular views. Several bungalows feature private pools and private outdoor Jacuzzis.
For groups of eight or more, the hotel offers an off-season package (April through October) that includes accommodations in an ocean-view room, breakfast and lunch or dinner, and use of the hotel's meeting room (at 500 square feet, it holds up to 22 people, classroom-style). Rates this year began at $280 per room per night, and include airport transfers.
St. Barthelemy (or St. Barth) itself is part of the French West Indies, so exquisite dining abounds, including the Guanahani's own two restaurants, Bartolomeo and L'Indigo. Boutique-style duty-free shopping is a short drive away in Gustavia (U.S. dollars accepted everywhere). And in the unlikely event that you should grow weary of the hotel's two beaches, the island is ringed with lovely white-sand strands and secluded coves (those on the south side face the Caribbean; on the north, the Atlantic). In the French style, many are clothing-optional.
Guanahani is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. For more information, call (800) 223-6800. --Barbara L. Brewer
NEW AND IMPROVED Wyndham has rebranded Baltimore's largest hotel, the Omni Inner Harbor, as the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor. The 707-room downtown hotel will undergo a $6 million refurbishment. It offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space.
*Grand Hyatt Washington and Renaissance Washington have joined forces to serve large meetings. Located two blocks from each other in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., the two hotels flank the Washington Convention Center, are within two blocks of the MCI Center, and are close to Capitol Hill, the White House, and the National Mall. Together the hotels offer 1,700 rooms and suites, as well as 110,000 square feet of meeting space.
*Construction began in August on the Dallas Convention Center expansion and renovation, expected to be completed in July 2002. At that time, the center will offer more than one million square feet of exhibit space, with more than 726,000 square feet of contiguous space. A highlight is the new 203,000-square-foot Exhibit Hall F, a column-free hall with 40-foot ceilings. In addition, the DCC will add a 44,000-square-foot pre-function lobby; a 55,000-square-foot pre-function lobby, a completely renovated East Lobby; and a total of 105 renovated meeting rooms. A new bus drop-off will facilitate movement to and from the facility.
*The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is set to open in December in Santa Ana, N.M., 20 miles north of Albuquerque. The 350-room resort was developed on Native American land in partnership with the Santa Ana Pueblo. Each guest room opens onto a private balcony or patio with views of the Sandia Mountains. The property will offer 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom. Multiple open-air courtyards and gardens, an amphitheater, and a 10,000-square-foot outdoor ballroom on the Rio Grande also are available. The 13,000-square-foot spa will have 18 treatment rooms, and a fitness center will offer numerous exercise classes. A Gary Panks-designed golf course, Twin Warriors Championship Golf Club, is on site.
BEYOND BORDERS The six-level, 377,000-square-foot Grimaldi Forum in Monaco welcomed its first major conference in September. The center, built over the Mediterranean Sea in the Larvotto Quarter of Monte Carlo, offers 107,000 square feet of exhibit space and numerous meeting spaces. The Salle des Princes is a 1,900-seat auditorium with a 10,760-square-foot stage and a 600-seat balcony; two additional auditoriums seat 400 and 800 guests. Espace Ravel is a multifunction room with natural lighting that can hold more than 200booths. There are also 11 modular spaces that convert to 23 breakout rooms, accommodating from 10 to 200 attendees.