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September 27, 2016

Supplier News: Marriott, Starwood Finalize Merger, Hilton Into Montenegro

marriott and starwood hotels

Don’t miss this week’s top hotel and supplier news from the meetings and events industry. 

Marriott and Starwood Complete Merger

In major news for meeting and event venues, Marriott International has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., creating the world’s largest hotel company. 

The deal has come a long way since it was first announced back in November 2015, from a last-minute bid by Chinese investment firm Anbang to a delay in the antitrust approval process by Chinese authorities. The newly combined company will operate more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 brands from midscale to luxury in over 110 countries. Starwood’s and Marriott’s loyalty programs will also begin to work together, as, starting today, the newly combined company will match member status across Marriott Rewards (including The Ritz-Carlton Rewards) and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to transfer points between the programs for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts. 

What’s next? According to an interview with Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson at PCMA/Convening Leaders in Vancouver earlier this year, plans call for the combined company to keep all of its luxury brands. That includes Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, Edition, Autograph on the Marriott side, and St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels on the Starwood side. It remains to be seen what else will happen next. 

Hilton Opens First Montenegro Hotel

In hotel news Hilton has opened its first Monentegro property, the Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora. The new 180-room, 23-suite hotel is located in the city center, close to all public and commercial facilities. 

The hotel has one of Podgorica’s largest meeting spaces, with five meeting and conference rooms, all with natural daylight, along with the pillar-free, 425-square-metre Crystal Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 435 guests in theatre style.

There are also four food and beverage venues on property, including the 8th floor indoor/outdoor Sky Bar, signature Restaurant Crna Gora, local Terrace Fontana with views of the fountain, and The Bar and Cigar Club. Guests staying in the executive rooms and suites can also enjoy complimentary breakfast in the morning and snacks and drinks throughout the day in the Executive Lounge, situated on the sixth floor of the hotel with a terrace overlooking the park.

Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora also has one of the largest spas in the city, Doclea Spa, with a Finnish sauna, Bio sauna and steam bath, as well as an indoor pool, experience showers offering visual, sound, temperature and aromatic effects and VIP massage rooms.

tampa stay well room

Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina’s New Wellness Rooms

In the U.S., the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina has debuted new Stay Well wellness-focused rooms. 

The South Tampa hotel has converted 34 guest rooms on one floor to the new concept, which includes an air purification system that reduces allergens and toxins, as well as circadian mood lighting designed to emulate the color of natural outdoor light to enhance sleep quality, energy levels and productivity. Guests can also take advantage of long wave night lighting that aims to allow guests to safely navigate at night while minimizing sleep disruption, as well as special mattresses designed to support the back. In the morning, a dawn simulator wakes guests gradually and gently with increasing levels of music or natural sound, coupled with gradually increasing light. 

Also available are aromatherapy, as well as a Vitamin C-infused shower system that neutralizes the effect of chlorine, known to dry the skin and hair.

Stay Well guests also get access to healthy menu selections, allergy-friendly cleaning processes, wellness programs, and meditation options via a mobile app, plus complimentary access to Cleveland Clinic’s wellness programs for sleep, nutrition and stress management. 

New Meetings and Event Space at Charlotte Marriott City Center

In venue news, planners looking to book in Charlotte have a new option. The Charlotte Marriott City Center has reimagined its meetings and events space, bringing new tech and networking amenities to the 20,000 square foot venue on the their floor of the hotel. 

The space consists of 13 breakout areas. There is an Event Hub pre-function collaboration area, which has a flex-connect table for recharging and space for event registration and breaks, as well as a City Center Boardroom, which at 660 square feet offers collaboration tools including clickshare, glass whiteboards, touchscreen monitors, magnetic panels and more. 

The Charlotte Marriott City Center has 446 newly renovated guest rooms, including 22 Stay Well rooms and four suites. There is also a FLEX fitness center, as well as access to local attractions like the NASCAR Hall of Fame, 7th Street Public Market, the Bank of America Stadium, Time Warner Cable Arena, the American Legion Memorial Stadium, the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, and local restaurants and bars. 

Homewood Suites by Hilton to Open in New Orleans’ French Quarter in April 2017

In New Orleans, a new Homewood Suites by Hilton is set to open in the French Quarter in April 2017. The 207-suite hotel will be a short walk to Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, the Central Business District and the Saenger Theater.

Each one- and two-room suite will have a fully-equipped kitchen, including a refrigerator and dishwasher. Guests can also take advantage of valet parking, flexible meeting space, business center, and swimming pool and fitness facilities. Additionally, complimentary daily full-hot breakfast, evening social Monday-Thursday, Wi-Fi and grocery shopping service for an additional fee, an outdoor grill, putt-putt green, billiard room and laundry room are all available. Prior to the hotel opening, the new Rampart streetcar line is expected to be completed, giving guests access to both the Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue lines with easy access to City Park, Audubon Park, the Garden District, shopping at Canal Place and the Riverwalk, among other local attractions.

Qatar Ramps Up U.S. Promotion

In destination news, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is reaching out to the U.S. market with the establishment of a new office in New York. The QTA said that the U.S. is one of the Gulf state’s fastest-growing visitor source markets.

The New York office will enhance the QTA’s on-the-ground presence and capabilities, QTA officials said in a release announcing the opening, allowing the QTA to drive awareness of Qatar as a quality destination through marketing to tour operators, travel agencies, hospitality partners and media, as well as consumers. 

The country’s U.S. marketing campaign will cover a wide range of promotional initiatives, including workshops, sales visits, travel agents’ e-learning TAWASH destination training, tour operator partnerships, familiarization trips, media campaigns and more. 

The U.S. office is the QTA’s seventh location worldwide, joining the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) markets and South East Asia.

New DoubleTree by Hilton in South Beach

In Florida, Hilton has opened the new The Gates Hotel South Beach – a DoubleTree by Hilton

The 235-room hotel has three meeting rooms aimed at small meetings, events and social gatherings. Additionally, all guest rooms — including the hotel’s 17 suites — have a work desk and ergonomic desk chair, in-room refrigerator, laptop-size safe and coffeemaker. Some guest rooms include balconies, and all are nonsmoking. 

For food and drink, the lobby bar serves as a hub for guests to mingle, and it seamlessly transitions to the outside pool, where private daybeds are arranged between the pool and lake. Solar-powered charging stations are available outside, and throughout the hotel there is complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center, a 24-hour fitness center, courtesy transportation to and from the beach, beach chairs and towels and guest bicycles. An onsite Concierge Desk is also available. The Continental restaurant is adjacent to the hotel, serving a menu of global dishes. 

The hotel, which is built on the foundation of the 1954 Ankara Motel, is across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, within walking distance of Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road and the area’s restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and shopping. 

Acquisitions: Fourth Wall Events Buys Discover New York and Beyond

In business news, Fourth Wall Events has announced the acquisition of destination management company Discover New York and Beyond. 

As part of the deal, Fourth Wall Events’ destination management services will now be branded as Discover New York, with a new logo. The corporate and leisure divisions will have dedicated teams. 

Discover New York has over 20 years of experience in destination management. Founded in 2004, Fourth Wall Events is headquartered in New York City with offices in New Jersey and San Diego

New York City’s MICE Roadshow

In destination news, NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for New York City, has kicked off its 2016 European MICE Road Show, visiting Leeds, London, Copenhagen and Munich. Through September 29, members of NYC & Company’s Convention Development team will showcase New York’s MICE offerings to European buyers. 

Highlights will include new and newly renovated hotels, including the Four Season Hotel New York Downtown, The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg and 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, in addition to meeting spaces such as the newly resort Weylin B. Seymour’s venue in Williamsburg, which can host events for up to 1,000 guests, and Convene Park Avenue, Midtown Manhattan’s newest dedicated meeting space. Updates will also be available on the Jacob K. Javits Center’s $1 billion expansion, with construction to begin by the end of the year, adding more than 1.2 million square feet of additional event space, including the largest ballroom in the Northeast at 60,000 square feet. Adjacent to the Javits Center, the Hudson Yards development will be the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center when complete in 2025. Hudson Yards will offer planners additional event space, a new Equinox hotel, cultural activities, restaurants, shops and more. 

Organizations joining the 2016 European MICE Road Show include Lotte New York Palace, New York Hilton Midtown, YOTEL New York, InterContinental New York Barclay, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, The Lexington New York City, Spring Studios and New York Marriott Marquis.

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