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December 22, 2015
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The Latest on New Meeting and Event Venues




It's been a busy week in terms of venue development, with big news from Las Vegas to Australia

las vegas
Photo by Freeimages.com/Brett Mathews

ARIA's Big Las Vegas Expansion

ARIA Resort & Casino announced plans for a major expansion of its convention center, slated to begin May 2016 with an estimated completion date in February 2018. 

The $154-million project will provide an additional 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space across four stories, including both indoor and open-air spaces, as well as a glass-enclosed venue with views of The Park and the new Las Vegas Arena. With the completion of the expansion, ARIA will have more than 500,000 square feet of meeting space in total. 

The first level of the expansion will have an open ballroom with pre-function space, plus access to an exclusive loading dock for events that require sizable displays. On the second level will be flexible indoor-outdoor breakout rooms, with a large ballroom and naturally lit pre-function spaces connecting to ARIA's existing convention center on level three. 

On the top floor will be a ballroom with outdoor patio that can accommodate up to 2,000 guests, with views overlooking The Park and Las Vegas Arena, both of which are slated to open in April 2016. 

The new space is planned to be LEED Gold certified, and will take the place of the location currently occupied by Cirque du Soleil’s production of Zarkana, which will close April 30, 2016.

gaylord rockies resort and convention center

Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center Moves Forward

The new Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado, took another step forward when Marriott International closed on a $500 million construction loan to build the new hotel and convention center. The property is scheduled to be completed in late 2018. 

The new venue will have over 485,000 square feet of total meeting and convention space. There will be three ballrooms, ranging from 8,000 to 35,000 square feet, as well as a 175,000 square foot Exhibit Hall including 55,000 square feet of Flex Space. Additionally, there will be 81 breakout rooms. Outside, the venue will offer 20,000 square feet of covered space, plus three event lawns ranging from 5,000 to 22,000 square feet. 

Other planned amenities include eight dining outlets, retail shops, a spa, salon and fitness center and an indoor / outdoor pool, lazy river and lap pool. The hotel will be 10 minutes from Denver International Airport

Marriott will manage the hotel and convention center under a long-term contract. Michael Kofsky will serve as the director of sales and marketing for the hotel, leading a team with the goal of pre-booking more than 1.25 million room nights prior to opening. The hotel is expected to bring over two million visitors to the City of Aurora and the State of Colorado during the first several years after opening. Marriott said it expects 80 percent of guests to be net new visitors to the state. 

sydney, australia
Sydney, Australia // Photo by Freeimages.com/Jose Boaventura de Freitas

New Venue Expansions in Melbourne and Sydney

This week also saw two new updates from Australia. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) selected a shortlist of potential builders for its planned expansion. Infrastructure developer Plenary Group shortlisted three contractors – Brookfield Multiplex, Probuild and Watpac – to competitively tender for the 20,000 square meter expansion.

The current design for the expansion includes additional exhibition space, a 1,100-seat theatre and multi-function space, meeting rooms, a new banquet hall, extra car parking and a hotel to provide additional accommodation in the precinct. Contractors will be chosen in the coming months with construction expected to begin in the first half of 2016 and the expansion to be opened in 2018.

In Sydney, the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) is undergoing a $3.4 billion transformation. The project will offer greater capacity, state of the art facilities and new technology for events and conventions in Australia. The transformation project will also include the new landmark Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour five-star hotel, which will have 600 guestrooms, as well as a new commercial, residential and retail space when it opens in 2017. In addition, as part of the revitalization of Darling Harbour, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney has also been undergoing a $160 million redevelopment. That project will see the current 683-room capacity increased by a further 222-rooms, new conference facilities and more.

Plans for the "DoNo" development in Hartford, CT.
Plans for the "DoNo" development in Hartford, CT.

New Hard Rock Hotel in Hartford, Connecticut

Looking further ahead, Hard Rock International announced plans to open its first hotel in New England. The 170-room Hard Rock Hotel Hartford is set to open in Connecticut in fall 2018 as part of the city’s $350 million Downtown North “DoNo” redevelopment plan, which is expected to bring housing, retail, a brewery and a 9,000-spectator minor league ballpark to long-vacant land. 

A spokesperson for Hard Rock tells International Meetings Review that the hotel will be able to accommodate the demands of meetings and groups, but that details on event space at the hotel were not available at this time. Design meetings are slated to start in January. 

Developed in collaboration with Centerplan Companies, the hotel will be managed by Hard Rock International and centrally located at the meeting of Main and Trumbull Streets. Plans call for a rooftop pool and lounge with views of the downtown skyline and capital dome, in addition to brand-exclusive offerings, such as a Rock Spa and Hard Rock Cafe

Guests will also be able to enjoy signature Hard Rock amenities for music lovers, such as The Sound of Your Stay music program that allows guests to check out a Fender guitar for impromptu in-room jam sessions. Hard Rock Hotel Hartford will also host live music performances year-round. 


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About the Author: Adam Leposa



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