MeetingNews Hotel & Resorts Roundup

Iconic Plaza Hotel Reopens in Big Apple
New York—One of Manhattan's most storied—and perhaps most missed properties after a two-year closure has reopened. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is sill managing the hotel. The Plaza, a bastion of Old World elegance, welcomed guests again on March 1. Significantly scaled down to make room for condominiums, the hotel now stands at 282 guest rooms and suites, and 21,000 sf of meeting space. Prior, it had about 800 rooms and 25,986 sf of meeting space.

However, seven meeting rooms were added and the 500 to 700-person Grand Ballroom was restored. In addition, a new, two-story, upscale event venue will open on property this month. The Rose Club "will embrace the past, present, and future of the legendary Plaza," according to property officials. A champagne bar was added and the famed Palm Court is again serving afternoon tea. Opulence is in the guest rooms too: they are now in the Louis XV style and each bathroom includes 24-karat gold plated fixtures.

Mainstay in DC Gets New Look and Feel
Washington, DC—Just in time to celebrate her 45th birthday last month, the Madison, a Loews Hotel, topped off a three-part renovation. The property, which has 353 guest rooms and suites and more than 11,000 sf of meeting space, added a small meeting area and updated its accommodations, lobby, bar, and facade.

In the new meeting space, the Carlton Club's main room is 1,400 sf, and the spot has two additional rooms offering 273 and 156 sf, respectively. Featuring a table that seats up to 26 guests, the club's main room is decorated in salmon, navy blue, and gold. The Carlton Club was previously the Federalist restaurant. The main room's highlight is a mural of the District of Columbia, circa 1800, depicting the President's House [the precursor to the White House] and Capitol as they then appeared. There is a living room-like atmosphere with leather chairs, couches, and side tables.

All guest rooms and suites now are appointed with 32-inch LCD TVs, massage chairs, iHome docking stations with a digital clock radio, and a heated towel rack. The bar was redesigned to create an clubby ambiance while the lobby lounge now evokes a comfortable living room or a home away from home. Out front, the hotel is clad in granite and dramatic lighting was added.

New, Renovated Properties Open Up in Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico—Meeting planners who haven't considered Puerto Rico in a while may want to give the destination another look. Plans for a new, $77-million Crowne Plaza—opening next year— have been announced, while the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino has finished a $38-million redo. Minutes from the airport and near the Hato Rey Business District, the 264-room Crowne Plaza will feature a day spa, casino, and 15,000 sf of meeting space. In addition, the hotel will be situated within a 26-acre, mixed-use development complex that will house more than 550,000 sf of retail space.

Meanwhile, the 525 guest rooms and suites at the Marriott have been upgraded, as has the hotel's Executive Lounge,which provides 360-degree views of Condado Beach and Juan. The hotel, which also expanded its casino and upgraded its public areas, has 9,400 sf of meeting space.

Go West, NYLO: Brand Makes Westward Move
Broomfield, CO—NYLO Hotels is set to break ground here next month on its third property, adding a West Coast presence for the brand when its 176-room property opens in April 2009. Close to both Denver and Boulder, the newest NYLO will be in the high-tech area of Interlocken and part of 575 Interlocken, a 12-acre mixed-use project that will have 13,000 sf of restaurant and retail space. In addition, NYLO Interlocken is minutes away from Flatiron Crossing, a 1.5-million-sf retail, dining, and entertainment complex.

The hotel will have three 250-sf boardrooms, which can be made into one 750-sf space. Also, it will have an informal meeting area, known as the Loft, which will feel like a living room. NYLO, which creates hip boutiques that it calls mid-priced, opened its first property last December in Plano, TX. A second hotel, opening this July, will be in Warwick, RI.

Team TV
A hotel rolls out TV and movie-themed teambuilding
The Homestead, long considered a group-friendly property, just became more so with nine new teambuilding programs. All based on movies and television shows, the challenges have various goals: Some will foster teamwork, others improve decision-making or communication skills, while a few are just for the groups to have fun. They can be held for groups of up to 500 attendees and some include the resort's existing high and low ropes courses, for a more rigorous challenge.

Titanic and Indiana Jones are among the films on which some of the offerings are based. TV-themed events spawn from Survivor, CSI, and the Apprentice. Activities include raft building, interpreting cryptic clues and puzzles, and treasure hunting. The Homestead has 483 guest rooms and suites, and 72,000 sf of meeting space.

Originally published March 10, 2008