BRAND NEW The addition to Kansas City's Destination Crown Center complex, the new 54,000-square-foot Crown Center Exhibit Hall, is on schedule. The expansion, which will include a 30,400-square-foot hall, a 15,200-square-foot hall, and 5,700 square feet of pre-function space, will debut in January 2000. The new facility will be accessible from both the Westin Crown Center and the Hyatt Regency Crown Center.
* The 1,400-room Opryland Hotel Florida, to open in 2002 in Kissimmee-St. Cloud, has broken ground. As part of the groundbreaking ceremony, meeting planners, representing nearly a dozen bookings accounting for more than 52,000 room nights, simultaneously signedwith the hotel. The property will have four acres of gardens under glass and 380,000 square feet of meeting space.
* The 717-room Tampa Marriott Waterside recently celebrated its topping out by announcing it has already booked more than 300,000 room nights. Scheduled to open in early 2000, the hotel will offer more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space, all wired with fiberoptics. It is adjacent to the 600,000-square-foot Tampa Convention Center.
RENOVATIONS AND EXPANSIONS Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colo., is spending $11.25 million to expand its conference center. When the project is completed in June 2000, the facility will offer 56,500 square feet of meeting space and the entire resort will have more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space. Included in the expansion is a 20,000-square-foot ballroom. Keystone has 1,400 rooms and is breaking ground on a second 18-hole golf course, also set to open next June.
* Canadian Pacific's Banff Springs Hotel has opened Solace, its new, $12 million, 35,000-square-foot European-style spa. Among its features: a 105-foot indoor heated saltwater pool and a 65-foot outdoor heated pool. The hotel offers 770 rooms, 85 suites, and nearly 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
* Ocean Place Conference Resort in Long Branch, N.J., has refurbished its 254 oceanview guest rooms, added three meeting rooms (for a total of more than 30,000 square feet in 31 rooms), and expanded its spa. The conference resort, managed by International Conference Resorts, also added a media center and a business center. In other ICR news, the Scottsdale Conference Resort has begun a $2 million refurbishment that will redesign the arrival area, replace soft goods, add work desks in all 326 guest rooms, and upgrade lighting in three of the resort's 50 meeting rooms.
* The historic 170-room Hyatt Sainte Claire San Jose, built in 1926, now offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel recently created its "Room of the Future," with T1 connections and in-room Hewlett-Packard fax/copier/printer all-in-one machines.
* Bass Hotels & Resorts has opened the Crowne Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel, its second Crowne Plaza in the city. The 353-room hotel is in a resort setting on the Don Valley Ravine on the east side of Toronto. It was completely renovated before its conversion from the Toronto Don Valley Hotel and offers more than 16,000 square feet of meeting space and a health and fitness center.
On Location Sheraton Boston Unveils New Look A group of about 40 meeting and event planners converged on the Sheraton Boston hotel this summer for a look at the hotel's spectacular $75 million renovation. Connected with the Hynes Convention Center, the hotel has been completely redesigned, including a brand new Constitution Ballroom (7,000 square feet), which will cater to mid-sized groups too small for the hotel's 10,000-square-foot grand ballroom, but too large for its 4,000-square-foot Republic Ballroom. The relocated lobby, with its chandeliers and hand-painted, vaulted ceiling, is centrally located to the hotel's two towers (which contain 1,181 guest rooms, making it New England's largest hotel). One floor up the escalator from the lobby, the new 9,000-square-foot pre-function area opens onto the ballrooms (which are divisible using double airwall construction). All meeting areas are wired with T1 and T3 lines for high-speed Internet connections.
Sheraton is touting its Sheraton Select Service, a new banquet service that allows attendees three menu choices. The four-course dinners for up to 2,000 persons will be prepared in the new state-of-the-art kitchen, featuring bottom-heated conveyor belts for banquet prep. To keep pace with the hotel's renovation, 500 of the hotel's staff participated in a three-day intensive training program called "One Heart, One Mind."