Mohegan Sun Reinvents Itself Mohegan Sun, now a 276,000-square-foot gaming and entertainment complex in Uncasville, Conn., is spending $800 million to reinvent itself as a full-service meeting destination. Plans call for a 1,200-room luxury hotel, a 16,000-square-foot world-class spa, 200,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, and 100,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Northeast's largest ballroom (40,150 square feet). Gaming is being subtly marketed as but one facet of the complex, which originally was created by the Mohegan tribe of Native Americans of Connecticut in 1996. The new Mohegan Sun will promote its size and convenient Northeast location for groups. The project is expected to be completed in April 2002.
Transformations Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has converted the Arlington Marriott Hotel to the Wyndham Arlington DFW Airport South Hotel in Arlington, Texas. The 310-room hotel is the brand's first property in the city. As part of the conversion, Wyndham is putting $46 million into a two-phase renovation. The first phase, to wrap up at the end of the year, will redo all first-floor public space and landscaping. The second phase, to begin early next year, will redo all meeting facilities. The property's guest rooms, which were completely renovated 18 months ago, also will be updated. The hotel offers 21,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom and 4,000-square-foot outdoor plaza with private yacht club. Also available: a full-service health and fitness center, a full-service business center, and jogging trails.
Benchmark Hospitality has transformed the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach, Va., into a full-service conference center. Investing $8 million in a renovation and expansion, Benchmark added a 25,000-square-foot conference wing that includes six dedicated general session rooms, eight breakout rooms, a 70-seat amphitheater, and permanent refreshment break areas. Benchmark also improved all existing meeting space and completely revamped the restaurant menu and layout. All guest rooms have been refurbished as well. The finishing touches to the project will be complete by March 2000.
Openings The new Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort is close enough to the excitement yet far enough from it to offer quiet elegance amid the hubbub. Expected to open this month, the 496-room resort will cater to meetings, with 40,000 square feet of indoor function space, including a 21,330-square-foot ballroom. An additional 70,000 square feet of function space is available outdoors.
The Loews Philadelphia Hotel, across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, will open in April. The 583-room hotel will offer 40,000 square feet of function space, including three ballrooms; and in-room high-speed Internet access, cordless phone, and combination fax, copier, and printer.
The Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas Resort marks Hyatt's first foray into Vegas. The property is located on the 320-acre Lake Las Vegas, 17 miles from the Strip, with views of the Southern Nevada mountains. Also on site is a championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, a complete spa and fitness center, a casino, and three restaurants.
International Beat An ambitious, multimillion-dollar renovation project has been completed at the five-star Dromoland Castle, one of Ireland's top destinations for meeting groups, located in Newmarket-on-Fergus, near Shannon Airport. The historic property offers 100 guest rooms, including 24 new luxurious club rooms, all with commanding views of estate grounds and Lough Dromoland. The 12,000-square-foot Brian Borou International Center has also been renovated; the main hall accommodates receptions of 700, and several executive rooms with fireplaces and vaulted ceilings accommodate up to 40. Dromoland offers an 18-hole golf course, a new clubhouse, and a full-service spa with a new Olympic-size pool.
A sister property of Dromoland, Ashford Castle, in Ireland's County Mayo, has also completed a renovation program involving all of its 83 guest rooms and all public space. The magnificent 13th-century castle is the former estate of the Guinness brewing family. Its newly refurbished conference center can accommodate up to 140 people for receptions.
The completion of Monaco's new convention center, the Grimaldi Forum, is scheduled for June 2000, and the first official event will take place in September. The Grimaldi Forum is ideal for groups of 800 to 1,200. It will include three auditoriums with 1,900-seats, 800-seats, and 400-seats; a meeting room that seats 400 theater-style; 23 breakout rooms; and two exhibition halls, one with 42,000 square feet and the other with 45,000 square feet. Many of Monaco's top hotels are within walking distance of the center.
ON LOCATION Hilton Boston Logan Airport The Hilton Boston Logan Airport, with 600 guest rooms--and space to expand by another 300 rooms--recently opened, almost three months ahead of schedule. The $100 million hotel offers a quiet respite (No, I really mean it!) in the middle of the seventh-busiest international gateway to the United States. All guest rooms have extra-large windows with soundproof glass and casings, bringing the spectacular views of Boston's skyline, harbor, and airport inside while leaving the noise outside. Rooms feature dual-line phones with voice mail, data ports with high-speed Internet access, and conference calling. The top floor of the hotel is Hilton's 75-room Executive Level.
The grand and junior ballrooms share a reception area covered by the hotel's sweeping, 65-foot skylight, which also soars above the spacious lobby. All 30,000 square feet of meeting space are on one level, and many meeting rooms feature city views. An on-site conference manager is available, as is a fully equipped business center and a 6,600-square-foot European-style spa and fitness center.
Best of all, the hotel is a short walk by skybridge (with movable walkway) from terminals A and E (the international hub). "Zip in" check-in means guests with reserved rooms board a private van at the arrival gate, present their credit card during the five-minute ride to the hotel, and receive their room keys upon stepping off the van. --Barbara L. Brewer
More than 1,000 readers of the Missouri business magazine Ingram's voted Kansas City Marriott Downtown the Best Meeting Facility in the city in the magazine's first Best of Business Kansas City competition.
The hotel is in the heart of the city's business, theater, and government district and is adjacent to the Kansas City Convention Center. It consists of two towers: the modern 573-room Marriott Tower is connected by skybridge to the recently opened 410-room Muehlebach Tower and its adjoining renovated historic Muehlebach Hotel lobby and public areas. The towers combined offer 100,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 17,040-square-foot ballroom and a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The hotel also has a health club with indoor lap pool, two full-service restaurants, and two lounges.
ON LOCATION Telluride Celebrates New Conference Center Aconcert by jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and his sextet, backed by an orchestra from the Denver Musicians' Association, marked the recent grand opening of the Telluride Conference Center, 9,500 feet up in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains. The 11,000-square-foot conference center has a 6,000-square-foot flexible ballroom that holds up to 500 theater-style, plus three breakout rooms that can seat 16 people boardroom-style. The largest of the three can host a reception for 60. A special feature of the center is a mezzanine that, combined with the lobby, provides more than 2,000 square feet of exhibit or display space.
First to use the conference center was the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association, based in Washington, D.C. NHRA executive director Peter Bell housed his 150 attendees, plus about 50 family members, in two Wyndham International luxury properties just a short walk from the conference center.
The Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa offers 174 guest rooms, including 28 suites, plus one- to four-bedroom condominiums and penthouses. The 6,090 square feet of meeting space includes a ballroom seating 180 classroom-style and three breakout rooms. The spa features 44 treatment rooms. An 18-hole championship golf course is adjacent. Guests at The Lodge at Mountain Village have access to the Golden Door Spa. The lodge offers accommodations in the main lodge, in fully furnished one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums, and in log-and-stone cabins.
It's a 13-minute ride by complimentary gondola from Mountain Village to the Victorian town of Telluride, which still looks much the same as it did when Butch Cassidy robbed its San Miguel National Bank in 1889. Today's Telluride, a year-round resort, is designated a National Historic District. --Rayna Skolnik