Tech Upgrades * The Doubletree Hotel North Shore Executive Meeting Center (EMC), 12 miles from downtown Chicago in Skokie, Ill., is now a member of the International Association of Conference Centers. The announcement follows a $5.5 million renovation that created the technologically advanced EMC. Each EMC meeting room is linked with fiber-optic cabling, allowing simultaneous broadcasts, communication, and interaction between rooms. The 368-room property offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space and is adjacent to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts.

* Lakeway Inn, managed by Dolce International outside of Austin, Texas, has begun a $20 million expansion to double its size by next July. A new building overlooking Lake Travis will be the resort's centerpiece, growing the property to 240 guest rooms and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition to Dolce International's standard business appointments, high-speed phone lines for modem access will be added to all meeting rooms and dual data port access will be installed in all guest rooms.

The Wired West * Starwood Hotels & Resorts has announced that two new W Hotels, the company's new business brand, will open in San Francisco and Seattle in the spring of 1999. The W San Francisco will offer 418 rooms and five suites within walking distance of the soon-to-open Sony Entertainment Center. The hotel will have a business center and 9,500 square feet of meeting space. The W Seattle will offer 417 rooms and nine suites. More than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,700-square-foot ballroom, are planned, along with a business center.

* In the heart of Silicon Valley, the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto has added T1 speed Internet access from each of its 62 guest rooms as well as its 6,000 square feet of meeting space. The new service eliminates the need for guests to find a local Internet service provider and, of course, provides far faster connections than even the fastest modems. Each guest room also includes a printer/copier/fax machine, voice mail, and a business desk with office supplies. The daily fee for Internet access is $12.

Virtual Vancouver * Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver this summer transformed 17 of its 506 rooms into "Global Office Cyber Rooms." For a $30 per day fee, guests get a room equipped with everything needed to access e-mail, surf the Internet, or have a videoconference--a Compaq personal computer, video camera, and supporting software. The property recently completed a $10 million renovation to all guest rooms and suites.

* Two new Vancouver meeting properties have opened: The 313-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Georgia, just a few blocks from the Vancouver Trade & Convention Center, opened in June with 5,803 square feet of meeting space. All rooms feature a multi-line telephone, data port, and voice mail. Nearby in Richmond, B.C., Marriott International recently opened the Vancouver Airport Marriott with 4,600 square feet of ballroom and meeting space. Its 237 rooms include 172 suites, all of which offer Marriott's Rooms That Work workstation. All guest rooms feature two phone lines, microwave, refrigerator, and iron and ironing board.

San Jose Tech Venue The Tech Museum of Innovation opens its new, expanded facility in San Jose, Calif., on October 31. Groups as large as 2,500 can book the 132,000-square-foot, mango-colored building for private, after-hours events, creating a decidedly high-tech ambience with the museum's nearly 300 interactive, exhibits in four theme galleries.

The Tech will have the only IMAX Dome Theater in Northern California, which also can be used by groups. It has 295 seats, plus four handicapped-accessible spaces.

The $96 million expansion is funded through a partnership with the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose, private donors, and the Tech Capital Campaign.

Check out The Tech's interactive Web site at www.thetech.org, where you can build a satellite, try real-time color experiments, and, of course, buy tech toys.

When you come into Arizona's Scottsdale Plaza Resort for a site inspection, one of the most important people you meet is not an employee. He's Bill Jett, and he heads AV Concepts, a locally based production company. "We try to be proactive," says Jett. "We'll reach out six or more months in advance to offer help with everything from graphic design to AV staging and project management. We can handle videoconferencing or shooting video of your group."

The hotel itself is no slouch with technology. The Scottsdale Plaza maintains two ISDN lines. "That way we don't have to order them," says Bruce Johnson, director of information systems. "We prefer to use multiple ISDN, because getting T1 lines installed means being at the mercy of USWest" [Scottsdale's regional Bell company].

The 404-room resort does well with training and user group meetings, says Steve Scatino, who handles the high-tech market for the property. "We had Josten's Learning Center in here with 275 people for five days," he says. "We set up fractional T1 service for them so they could run simultaneous breakout sessions over a network."

A Real One-Stop Perhaps the most startling aspect of the Scottsdale Plaza Resort's one-stop philosophy is how all-encompassing it is. The property will handle on-line registration, and even owns a travel agency. "Most user and developer conference organizers don't have the staff for this kind of work," says Scatino. "It's where we add value."