THIS COMING FALL, Sandia Resort & Casino (www.sandiacasino.com) will open a greatly expanded facility 10 minutes north of Albuquerque, N.M.'s, international airport. A new hotel will have 228 guest rooms and 35,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 28,000-square-foot grand ballroom (divisible into four), and six breakout rooms with 5,700 square feet of additional space. The casino will feature more than 1,750 slots, blackjack, mini-baccarat, the largest poker room in the state, and a high-limit salon. Also on site: an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Scott Miller, and a 12,000-square-foot spa. Sandia is operated by the Sandia Pueblo American Indians.
In San José, Calif., construction has begun on an 80,000-square-foot expansion to the San José McEnery Convention Center (www.sjcc.com), to be known as South Hall. The column-free facility is scheduled to open in time to host the eBay Live! 2005 Community Conference, to be held June 23 to 25. The $6 million, 80,000-square-foot exhibit hall will take the convention center's exhibit capacity to 223,000 square feet. The center's 22,000-square-foot ballroom underwent a $400,000, three-month renovation that was completed in January.
In San Antonio, Texas, La Quinta Inn and Suites San Antonio Convention Center opened in January. (www.lq.com). A new 14-story tower replaces a La Quinta hotel built for the 1968 HemisFair and is connected to a 50-room La Quinta annex constructed in 1995. The entire $30 million project has approximately 350 guest rooms and 8,000 square feet of meeting space.
The new $202.5 million Virginia Beach (Va.) Convention Center will celebrate its first-phase opening in June, featuring more than 300,000 square feet of space, including approximately 57,000 square feet of exhibit space, 19,000 square feet of meeting room space, and a 31,029-square-foot ballroom. More than 1,000 free parking spaces will be available. The existing 23-year-old building will be demolished on completion of Phase I, and construction will then begin on Phase II. When that is completed in January 2007, the convention center will total 516,522 square feet, encompassing 150,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 31,029-square-foot ballroom, and 29,000 square feet of meeting space.
Meanwhile, the 20-story, 291-room Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel opened in March (www.hiltonvirginiabeachoceanfront.com). The hotel is the centerpiece of an upscale entertainment and hospitality complex that will feature an oceanfront park, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The hotel has 12,000 square feet of meeting space and, to top it all off, a rooftop infinity pool with ocean views.
Early this year, the Kansas City (Mo.) Convention and Entertainment Centers finished a renovation of meeting room and pre-function space. More than half of the facility was gutted and the space reconfigured into 26 meeting rooms with more than 67,704 square feet of meeting space. High-speed wireless Internet is installed throughout the building. Then in March, new seats were installed and upgrades done to Municipal Auditorium. The $135 million project will also add a 46,450-square-foot ballroom over Interstate 670, scheduled for completion in 2007.
Georgia State Park Lodges (www.naturallybusiness.com) operates several lodges with guest rooms and meeting space, including The Lodge at Amicalola Falls State Park, with meeting space for as many as 200 people; The Lodge at Red Top Mountain State Park (with two group pavilions for 250 attendees); The Lodge at George T. Bagby State Park, with a 3,867-square-foot conference center; and, for small groups, The Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island, 6,110-acre getaway accessible only by ferry.
The Puerto Rico Convention Center (www.prconvention.com) is accepting bookings for late 2005 and beyond. At 580,000 square feet, the facility will be the largest in the Caribbean, housing a 152,700-square-foot exhibition hall, a 39,500-square-foot ballroom, and 36,200 square feet of meeting rooms.