On Location Puerto Rico's Grand Vision Ground was broken in April for the new Americas World Trade District, a $600 million public/private investment that represents one of the largest waterfront urban developments undertaken in the U.S. At the center of the 110-acre district will be the new Puerto Rico Convention Center, a World Trade Center, a first-class headquarters hotel and casino, lush parks, promenades, and a restaurant-lined Grand Canal.
The waterfront convention center, developed with the help of a team of U.S. meeting planners, will open in three phases. The first, scheduled for the fall of 2002, will include a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 40,000-square-foot meeting space, and a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. The site is at the tip of Isla Grande, formerly the San Juan Naval Station and Coast Guard base. It is convenient to Old San Juan, as well as the international airport, and the Condado hotel and tourist district.
The aim of the new district? To position Puerto Rico as a first-class business destination. "We are entering a new level of the game and playing in a new league," says Jose A. Corujo, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Projections developed for his agency estimate the center will draw 242,000 attendees in just its first year of operation. "The economic impact of this development is huge for Puerto Rico," he says, noting that Puerto Rico is ideally positioned to become a leading business center for commerce and conventions, given its
central location between North America and Latin America. --Regina McGee
NEW AND IMPROVED The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, an oceanfront golf and spa resort, opens in December. The 261-room hotel, the design of which was inspired by the grand seaside lodges of the 19th century, is in the town of Half Moon Bay, 30 minutes from San Francisco International Airport. The property includes a 209-room main building and three adjacent bungalows, with a total of 52 rooms and suites. There is a 16,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 17,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,100-square-foot ballroom. Guests have full privileges at two golf courses: The Links Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, and The Ocean Course, designed by Arthur Hills.
*The 286-suite Embassy Suites Convention Center Las Vegas has opened, three blocks from the convention center. The nongaming hotel features suites with two-line phones, data ports, and Web TV. Also available: 6,500 square feet of meeting space, and a spa and fitness center.
*The Mainstay Suites and Sleep Inn, two hotels under the same roof, opened recently in King of Prussia, Pa., less than two miles from the Valley Forge Conven-
tion Center. The property combines 69 suites (with full kitchens) and 79 traditional hotel rooms with an integrated front desk system.
*Houston's Astrodomain Complex continues to grow as the city breaks ground on the new Harris County Exposition Center. The 1.4-million-square-foot facility will open in May 2002 with a total of 706,213 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, which is divisible into five separate halls ranging in size from 40,000 to 168,000 square feet. The center also will have 72 meeting rooms, the largest more than 22,000 square feet.
*Ocean Walk Village, the $200 million oceanside district leading the revitalization effort on Daytona Beach, has announced the expansion of the Adam's Mark Daytona Beach Resort. With the $45 million addition, the resort will offer a total of 742 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting space. Opening in phases through winter 2002 along blocks of boardwalk, Ocean Walk Village is a collection of resorts, a water park, and boutiques.
*Hyatt Regency Dallas has completed a $70 million expansion and renovation. Additions include a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, a 40,000-square-foot exhibit hall, and 183 guest rooms, bringing total guest rooms to 1,122.
BEYOND BORDERS The new Singapore Expo Centre was officially opened this spring by the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, on the opening day of the Food & Hotel Asia exhibition, the first event to occupy all six halls at the Singapore Expo. The center offers 645,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, along with 270,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space. Also available are nine meeting rooms seating up to 140 guests, and four conference halls that can be combined to seat up to 1,100 guests.
*The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre has opened The Forum, which holds 1,600 theater style. The Forum offers the latest audiovisual equipment and telecommunications services, including videoconferencing facilities and high-speed data transmission.