From the Ground Up
Marcus Hotels and Resorts opens its newest property in November, the Miramont Resort in Indian Wells, CA. The 11-acre, Mediterranean-style resort will have 226 rooms, including 60 suites, and 10,000 square feet of meeting space geared to smaller meeting and incentive groups. Amenities include a golf concierge to help golfers set up tee times at any of 40 area courses.
The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers opened its new 25,000-square-foot Executive Conference Center in September, with accreditation from the International Association of Conference Centers already in place. The facility's 12 meeting rooms (for groups as large as 75) incorporate built-in data ports and electrical outlets for each conference table, closets for storing luggage or meeting supplies, and shelf space at public phones to accommodate laptop computers. The center takes up one level of the Sheraton but has its own exclusive entrance and marquee.
Under New Management Management at the 109-year-old Hotel del Coronado (Coronado, CA) has been turned over to Destination Hotels & Resorts. More than $50 million will be invested in the 692-room landmark hotel over the next five years.
After a $4.5 million renovation of the former Doubletree Guest Suites, Westin Suites, Philadelphia Airport opened this summer. Just one mile from the airport, the property offers 251 two-room suites and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.
Another Westin rebranding: Next spring, following a $1.5 million upgrade, the Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC, will reopen as the Westin Francis Marion Hotel. The 74-year-old property has 226 rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space.
Renovation Time Boston's historic Omni Parker House began a $45 million renovation in June that is scheduled to upgrade its 550 guest rooms, remodel banquet and event facilities, and add a new bar and restaurant by September 1998.
At Park Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan, The Drake has $45 million in improvements and a new name. Now called Swissotel New York, The Drake, the hotel's 495 rooms have been remodeled and the number of suites has gone from 62 to 108. Rooms feature fax machines set up for express check-out by fax, three phones, voice mail, free 800-number and credit card access, oversized desk, and complimentary in-room coffee.
Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort in Death Valley, CA, has completed a major renovation to mark its 70th anniversary and will now be accepting guests year round. At 214 feet below sea level, this 244-room desert outpost has been redone to emphasize it Mission-style architecture and is also improving its 18-hole golf course. The resort has six meeting rooms that accommodate up to 200 persons.
People come to Vegas for the spectacle, the no-holds-barred, over-the-top spirit that's found in this city that is growing faster than any other in the U.S., whose hotels enjoy a 90 percent year-round occupancy rate. It is a city that never sleeps, where sunrise and sunset have very little to do with anything that happens there. The slots, the keno, the craps and blackjack tables, the baccarat operate round-the-clock. The bars never shut down. Shows run every night.
This fall, the Desert Inn resort and casino, on the Strip, will complete over $200 million in renovations and expansion. Since purchased in May 1993 by ITT Sheraton, the hotel has downsized the number of guest rooms from 821 to 715 rooms, including more than 50 suites and 76 new mini-suites, and three large casas. In filling a high-end, leisure-travel niche for Vegas, the hotel turns its back on the Strip and opens out onto a new, palm-filled pool complex leading to the resort's own 18-hole championship golf course (the only one on the Strip). The feeling is much more Boca Raton than Las Vegas, with four tennis courts, a 22,000-square foot spa, and the award-winning Monte Carlo restaurant as well as three other restaurants. The resort has 30,000 square feet of function space, including four ballrooms, to accommodate up to 1,000 persons.
On the opposite side of the Strip, Caesars Palace seems to be in the process of reinventing itself. The 1,400-room hotel with over 121,000 square feet of casino space, built in 1966, adds 2,500 rooms as of mid-December following a $650 million construction project. The new 29-story, 1,200-room Palace Tower and conference facility will feature 550-square-foot standard rooms with ten-foot-high ceilings, and all-suite 28th and 29th floors with dedicated concierge service. The 110,000 square feet of new meeting space (including 55 separate meeting rooms, two separate registration areas, and two new business centers) on the third and fourth floors of the tower, for groups of from ten to 3,000, will augment the pre-existing 80,000-square foot meeting and convention area. A new 22,000-square-foot spa will have 28 separate treatment salons, a "Zen waterfall" meditation area, and a climbing wall. The 4.5-acre swimming pool and gardens area will be landscaped with nearly 700 trees.
Caesars last year opened Caesars Magical Empire, a multi-chambered dining and entertainment experience with ten dining chambers; two theaters with after-dinner entertainment; two bars; a catacomb maze; and a central rotunda featuring a pyrotechnics show that will singe your eyebrows.
A 283,000-square-foot expansion to the Forum Shops at Caesars opened recently, doubling its size.
--Barbara L. Brewer