Week of December 2
VisitPittsburgh Welcomes Planners
VisitPittsburgh in November welcomed 16 meeting planners to the city for a familiarization (FAM) tour. Among the organizations that attended the Light-Up Night FAM Tour were Emergency Nurses Association, ConferenceDirect, Tree Care Industry Association, Illuminating Engineering Society and HPN Global, a leader in the meetings and conventions industry.
In addition to tours of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Light-Up Night Celebration itself, other highlights of the FAM included visits to The Andy Warhol Museum and Senator John Heinz History Center, a ride on the Duquesne Incline and dessert at LeMont Pittsburgh atop Mt. Washington.
Hotel tours included the Fairmont Pittsburgh, DoubleTree by Hilton & Suites Pittsburgh Downtown, Pittsburgh Marriott City Center, Omni William Penn Hotel, Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown and The Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh.
Pictured, first row: Jaci McDonald, Planit Meetings; Kristin Durand, HPN Global; Carolyn Sistare, Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council; Valarie Landers, Illuminating Engineering Society; Cindy Orr, Association of Equipment Management Professionals; Terry Hix, Location Solvers.
Pictured, second row: Henry Richards, ConferenceDirect; Traci Browne, Trade Show News Network; Sean McDonald, Planit Meetings; Jenny Blackford, American Gear Manufacturers Association; Madelaine Morgan, American Gear Manufacturers Association; Bob Kaiser, IFCA International; Karen Kaiser, Guest; Diane Morgan, Tree Care Industry Association; Dale Gibbons, Emergency Nurses Association; Leslie Dreiske, Emergency Nurses Association
Philadelphia CVB Highlights Convention Successes
Philadelphia’s largest hospitality industry event was held on November 27 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown as the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) highlighted the organization’s accomplishments of the past year, which included: celebrating the one-year anniversary of the PHL marketing initiative launched in 2012; the selection of SMG as the new facility managers at the Pennsylvania Convention Center; securing $1.2 billion in future conventions; and contributing to a 43 percent increase in international visitor spending to Philadelphia over the previous year. “On the convention front, we are counting on SMG, the convention center staff and board, along with the talented work force in the center, to deliver a new level of service for our customers, so that we can book and re-book meetings, conventions and trade shows that will grow demand and increase jobs,” said Jack Ferguson, PHLCVB president and CEO. www.discoverphl.com
Visit Jacksonville Considers New Convention Center
Visit Jacksonville wants to start a “meaningful discussion” on how to capture a greater share of convention business, according to a report in The Florida Times-Union. Visit Jacksonville Board Chairman Bill Prescott recently told the Duval County Tourist Development Council that they want to revive the convention center study that was begun in 2007 but did not progress due to the recession. Now that tourism is improving, Prescott said the study should focus on building a new convention center near the Hyatt Regency hotel as the location is close to restaurants and nightlife that does not surround the existing center — the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.
The previous study considered these options for expanding convention business:
• Expand the Prime Osborn Convention Center if a 500-room headquarters hotel, restaurants and nightlife options were located within walking distance.
• Build new convention center space in two phases next to the 966-room Hyatt Regency.
• Construct a new convention center in the area of EverBank Field or on the opposite side of the river on land.
The council is considering various options about reviving and funding the study. www.visitjacksonville.com
Long Beach Arena Unveils Pacific Ballroom
The Pacific Ballroom, a new venue billed as Long Beach’s newest, largest and most innovative meeting and special event space, debuted at the Long Beach Arena November 20. The evening, titled “The Sky’s the Limit,” was a series of spectacular reveals that showcased the ballroom’s versatility as a special-events space to more than 1,000 guests including professional meeting and special event planners from across the country.
“TED, the most innovative conference in the world, was in Long Beach for five years, which allowed us to observe how they creatively used our meeting spaces,” said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With the renovation, we have reimagined the Long Beach Arena, creating a flexible space that will allow other groups to have a similar experience without high cost.”
The recently completed installation creates a loft-style ballroom, which multiplies the utilization of floor space of the arena’s floor space. One of the largest-ever flying steel truss grid systems is now suspended above the 45,000-sf arena floor. This ingenious grid system can be raised or lowered in minutes to provide the perfect ceiling height for any event, transforming the arena from a hockey venue filled with 13,000 fans into an ideal meeting space for up to 5,000 reception guests. The grid contains customizable state-of-the art sound and theatrical lighting, and electronically operated curtain walls drop down to cover the arena’s upper deck seating, completing the creation of the Pacific Ballroom. www.visitlongbeach.com
Meliá Baha Mar to Debut in 2014
The chairmen of Baha Mar Ltd. and Meliá Hotels International on November 19 signed an agreement for Meliá to operate the all-inclusive Meliá at Baha Mar, in the luxury leisure development Baha Mar in The Bahamas. The $3.5 billion (U.S.) investment, comprised of 1,000 acres with more than 3,000 feet of pristine oceanfront, is just 12 minutes from Nassau International Airport. On December 1, 2013, Meliá will take over the operation of the Meliá Nassau Beach Resort and begin a renewal plan that will be completed by December 2014, without any interruption to the guest experience. Meliá Nassau Beach Resort features 694 rooms and multiple spaces for meetings and conventions. Upon completion of renovations and simultaneously with the opening of Baha Mar, it will be renamed Meliá at Baha Mar. Highlights of the refurbishment will be new restaurant concepts, updated pools and an enhanced lobby area.
The Baha Mar development includes five hotels with a total of 2,900 hotel rooms and residences, gaming, golf, shopping, entertainment, and natural attractions. In addition to Meliá at Baha Mar, the portfolio of Baha Mar properties includes Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Mondrian and Grand Hyatt, all anchored by the Baha Mar Casino & Hotel. A dedicated onsite convention center will be the cornerstone for the approximately 200,000 sf devoted to meeting and conventions facilities. www.melia.com, www.bahamar.com
GBTA Opposes Bill That Will Impace Federal Meetings Travel
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) issued the following statement which opposes travel restrictions contained in H.R. 2061, the DATA Act. “There is absolutely no doubt that lavish conferences, vague travel policies, and inappropriate travel expenses are a waste of our valuable tax dollars. However, H.R. 2061 goes about it the wrong way. These proposed cuts and restrictions would severely impact federal agency operations,” stated GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “If enacted, H.R. 2061 would threaten key agencies’ ability to effectively operate and ultimately result in lost jobs. Use of professional travel management principles can avoid the embarrassing, expensive and indefensible costs and stories like GSA’s Las Vegas scandal. Congress should mandate that the federal government should uniformly follow everyday practices adopted at thousands of U.S. companies — optimizing the use of travel dollars by effectively implementing policies that drive appropriate traveler behavior.” www.gbta.org
Anaheim Resort Area Hotel Development on the Rise
The Anaheim, CA, resort area is in the midst of enhancing and expanding hotel offerings. There are currently four hotel projects underway including The Hyatt Place Anaheim Resort, opening late 2014 with 178 rooms; the Hyatt House Anaheim Resort, opening in 2015 with 252 rooms; and two SpringHill Suites properties, one with 172 rooms and second with 120 rooms. Both SpringHill Suites hotels will open summer of 2014. In total, these hotel projects account for an additional 722 guest rooms.
Future hotel development plans could bring 2,400 additional hotel rooms to the Anaheim Resort area within the next six years. “As our leisure and business visitor figures continue to grow beyond 43 million people annually, Anaheim is well positioned for hotel expansion,” said Jay Burress, president and CEO, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “Anaheim is one of the nation’s leading vacation and convention destinations, and as such, it is only natural that we expand and enhance our hotel offerings to better serve today’s business and leisure travelers. Moving forward, our organization plans to take an active role in discovering and encouraging hotel- and tourism-related projects that will enrich the Anaheim Resort district.” www.anaheimoc.org
Javits Center Completes Expansion, Renovation
The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center of New York, touted as “the busiest convention center in the United States,” recently completed a 110,000-sf expansion, as well as renovations to the center such as the installation of a new 240,000-sf glass curtain wall and the construction of a green roof. “The Javits Center fuels the economic engines of New York City and New York State unlike any other facility, and with our renovation complete, we have more horsepower than ever before,” said Alan Steel, CEO of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, which owns and operates the facility. He added, “The landmark renovation of the Javits Center exemplifies the importance of the building to New Yorkers and its business community, and we are happy to be an integral part of the upcoming development of the West Side neighborhood. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and his staff, Empire State Development, the design and construction teams and our entire work force for their commitment to ensuring our continued success.”
The $465-million renovation of the Javits Center, which began in 2009, included an extensive upgrade to the main building’s groundbreaking design, including the installation of new energy-efficient lighting and the construction of the110,000-square-foot expansion adjacent to the existing facility – now known as Javits North. In order to obtain LEED Silver certification, the existing curtain wall at the Javits Center was replaced with 3,722 panels of energy-efficient, high-performing glass – along with 2,400 skylight panels – allowing daylight to penetrate the interior spaces and enhance the building’s famous exterior. www.javitscenter.com
American-US Airways Merger Approved
The merger of American Airlines and US Airways, which will form the biggest airline in the world, has been approved by the Justice Department (DOJ) with conditions, according to various news reports. The DOJ in August filed suit against the merger saying it would restrict competition. Six states joined the lawsuit. The agreement states American Airlines and US Airways must scale back by giving up takeoff and landing rights or slots at Reagan National and New York’s LaGuardia Airport and gates at airports in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami to low-cost carriers to offset the impact of the merger. The settlement announced November 12 still needs approval by a federal judge in Washington. Attorney General Eric Holder said the agreement would ensure more competition on nonstop and connecting routes throughout the country. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree Reopens
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree, one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic properties and the newest and largest Pittsburgh-area Hilton Worldwide property, will hold the Grand Re-Opening November 21.
The celebration will showcase the hotel’s multimillion-dollar renovation and celebrate its 40th Anniversary. The transition includes the hotel’s 460 guest rooms, including 11 new suites, more than 40,000 sf of event space including the addition of the new 10,000-sf Starzl Grand Ballroom. A new sense of arrival entry and lobby lead guests into the three new restaurant and lounge outlets. The amenity-rich property also offers a state-of-the-art fitness center complemented by a heated indoor and outdoor pool and a 24-hour business center. DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree is located between the Pittsburgh International Airport and only minutes from downtown. www.doubletree.hilton.com/Pittsburgh