International Scene The Radisson Watermark, Gold Coast in Surfer's Paradise, Australia opened in November with 411 rooms and meeting space for 240 persons.

Also in November, the Conrad International Centennial Singapore opened with 509 business-ready rooms, including a large desk, three two-line phones, and computer hookup.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which operates such upscale properties as The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, will open its first resort in Mexico in February. Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos will encompass 60 suites and 114 villas looking out over the Sea of Cortez. The resort will offer an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II golf course, rooftop fireplaces, telescopes for star gazing, and other luxurious extras.

Renaissance Hotels International will open its first hotel in Great Britain in 1998, when a $75 million transformation of London's Chancery Court is complete. The landmark building, soon to be known as the Renaissance London Hotel, is in the heart of London between the City and the West End. It will offer 340 rooms, meeting space, and a ballroom seating 350 persons.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company's first Indonesian resort, the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, is slated to open in the first quarter of the year. The 40-acre property sits on a bluff overlooking the Indian Ocean with 257 rooms, 36 one- and two-bedroom villas, and 6,243 square feet of meeting space.

Renovation Time The Vail (CO) Cascade Hotel & Club completed a $2 million renovation at the end of 1996 that updated its lobby areas, ballrooms, and prefunction areas.

Sun International Hotels recently announced a $375 million expansion of its 1,147-room Atlantis Resort and Casino on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. By 1998, the resort will add a convention complex with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, a 1,200-room hotel, a 50,000-square-foot casino, a water recreation and aquarium complex (including a tube slide through a shark-filled tank), and six restaurants.

At the Grand Hyatt New York, renovations are complete on all of its 1,407 guest rooms, adding larger desks, work chairs, power strips for computers, and an easy chair. The hotel's 35,000 square feet of meeting space was also updated.

In November, the 310-room Arlington (TX) Hilton began a $2.7 million project to renovate all of the hotel's guest rooms and public areas (except for the Grand Ballroom, which was redone two years ago) and create two concierge floors and two executive floors. The work should be completed in March. Also in Arlington, a $2 million renovation of the 310 rooms at the Marriott Arlington Hotel began in November. The project should be completed by February 1997. A feasibility study for a 200-room expansion is also in the works.

With a redesign of the public areas, meeting rooms, and ballroom complete, the Doubletree Hotel-National Airport, Pentagon City in Arlington, VA is now renovating its 632 rooms. The project is expected to be finished in February.

On November 1, the Doral Ocean Beach Resort became The Westin Resort, Miami Beach. The beachside, 417-room property was acquired by Interstate Hotels Company in October and will undergo a $10.5 million renovation during 1997, which will include the addition of 34 oceanfront guest rooms.

Caribbean Beat A number of major hotel chains are making moves on St. Thomas, USVI. Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina became a Doubletree Resort in September. Doubletree's first Caribbean property offers 171 condominium units and a beachfront location. The 15-acre Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, formerly The Grand Palazzo Hotel, opened in December with 148 guest rooms and four one-bedroom suites, all with balconies. Also in December, Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort reopened after a six-month face-lift. The 300-room, all-inclusive resort has 15,000 square feet of renovated meeting and banquet space.

Desert Shmesert In January, The Pointe Hilton Resort at Tapatio Cliffs in Phoenix opened a three-and-a-half acre water park, featuring a 40-foot waterfall, two free-form pools, a children's activity center, a 130-foot enclosed water flume, an open-air restaurant, and poolside gardens. New sun decks and terraces-a total of 65,000 square feet-can be used for outdoor functions.

With 204 low-rise rooms set into a hillside above the bay, and 86 more in beachfront villas, the 290-room Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, St. Thomas, USVI, looks smashing in its latest, $20 million reincarnation following hurricane damage. It has its own beach, swimming pool, a bar that delivers drinks to either, and oceanfront and poolside restaurants. There is also a 5,654-square-foot ballroom (divisible into three sections), 1,800 square feet of additional breakout space, and a director of creative services for meetings. The hotel offers seven different theme party options.

"We used to be the catering department," says Susan Novarro, director of creative services. "Being the creative department is like wearing a sign that says 'I am a beautiful woman.' We have to live up to it! We've done some relatively elaborate presentations for medical and insurance groups."

"Optimal group size runs from 75 to 300," says Novarro. "We have had groups as small as 20 and, in off season, as large as 500."

The hotel also has an on-property water-sports service run by Captain Glen Davis, who also offers yacht charters and day trips to nearby islands.

In addition to rebuilding and refurbishing the hotel, Renaissance has clearly taken pains to rejuvenate and retrain the staff-expect to be very pleasantly surprised. -David Erickson