Monthly Archives: May 2010

IMEX triumph bodes well for strong year ahead

Frankfurt – IMEX 2010 came to a close at Messe Frankfurt today with IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom, announcing that the award-winning show has once again set new records for hosted buyer numbers and countries represented.

“The past couple of years have challenged our industry on many fronts, not least economically, but I am delighted that both buyers and exhibitors have voted with their feet and turned up in greater numbers than ever to do business at IMEX this year,” said Bloom.

A record number of well over 3800 hosted buyers from more than 60 markets attended this year’s show, among a visitor total of nearly 9000. The mood amongst buyers and exhibitors was also positive and optimistic, with many reporting increases in levels of business and appointment numbers. A typical example was Nik Racic, Director of the Croatian Convention and Incentive Bureau who said on day two of IMEX: “We have 25 exhibitors on the Croatian stand and they are so far reporting 10 – 12 % more business than last year”.

Buyers from emerging markets were particularly evident at IMEX, demonstrating a new wave of buying power and interest that many exhibitors were pleased to see. Buyers from Brazil, Russia, India and China attended in larger numbers, with groups from Asia and the US also noticeably bigger than last year. Changes to hosted buyer itineraries for 2010 ensured that more of them stayed at the show for three full days and spent longer periods on the show floor with exhibitors. However, Bloom explained that IMEX will still continue to focus on developing European markets to maximise reach to buyers in the UK and on the continent in addition to the long haul markets.

“We can see the results of these increases in our online appointment numbers. Individual and group appointments rose by 14% this year, which represents a total of 57,000 business appointments made between buyers and exhibitors before and during the show. The number of diary messages exchanged before and during IMEX increased by 9% to over 12,000.”

“Figures are one thing but we all know that quality is what matters most to IMEX visitors and exhibitors. I am delighted, for example, that we are seeing an increasing numbers of smaller companies, destinations, agencies, CVBs and the like investing in IMEX because they know full well the show will raise their profile and help them punch well above their weight. They are ambitious for their share of the market and we are pleased to help them achieve it,” stated Bloom.

He added: “It is also an excellent sign for the whole industry that many more hotel groups and cruise companies exhibited here this year. It is encouraging that many have come through the downturn and that they are feeling more optimistic about business in the year ahead.”

Tuesday’s IMEX Politicians Forum saw 28 politicians from Sweden, Greece, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Panama, Poland, Denmark, Scotland and Australia, amongst others, spend a day debating how the industry can work better with its political representatives for each group’s mutual benefit.

“The meetings industry must continue to present itself consistently, and communicate with one voice – and that voice must powerfully articulate its economic strengths and the long-term benefits the sector provides at both regional and national levels,” said Bloom.

He also talked about the launch of the first ever IMEX Challenge set to take place in Poland this September.
“Thank you to everyone who came to our press conference about the IMEX Challenge Poland this week. Your goodwill and support is key to the success of this, our first ever CSR project. As always it is a case of IMEX living out its most important values and putting them into practical action. Come September, 24 people from across the industry will be toiling hard over several days to transform the garden and grounds of a foster home near Warsaw. We plan to run an IMEX Challenge every two years with the express intention of leaving behind a lasting legacy such as an educational or maintenance endowment, in addition to the work the group will carry out on the spot,” explained Bloom.

The IMEX education programme also proved extremely successful this year. It was the biggest programme delivered to date, with 82 separate sessions, most of which were packed out. The majority take place outside of show hours so as not to cut across core business.

“It is clear that people arrive at IMEX with a determination to get the most out of each day and that our education programme has now become a considerable asset and an important part of the value that IMEX delivers,” said Bloom. The new CSR Drop-In Power Sessions had been especially well-received he remarked.

He also described excellent levels of interest and support for the launch of IMEX America and the positive response to the partnerships announced during the show, particularly the support of Maritz Travel. Bloom also explained how the IMEX model will be developed in Las Vegas and be unique in the US market.

Further initiatives will be launched over the coming months.
He concluded by announcing that over the next two years IMEX will be embarking on a comprehensive website development plan. “Our website has become the living heartbeat of the show: the engine that drives communication, information and, most importantly, exhibitor appointments. We will be introducing a series of features designed to make it an even more powerful and user-friendly tool for year-round business, as well as stepping up and enriching our social media content,” stated Bloom.

Bloom summed up: “As usual at IMEX there’s no such thing as a quiet time and no such measure as good enough. We will always strive to develop the show further and to ensure our buyers and exhibitors all benefit from our efforts to push back the boundaries of what, where and how a trade show can deliver better value and more business for them.”

Meet Robin Roane

Please welcome Robin Roane, Senior Sales Manager, to the ACVA Sales team. Robin joins ACVA with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Highlights of her career include Membership Director for NBTA and 18 years with Marriott International. With Robin’s wealth of experience in the industry and her passion for Alexandria, we are very excited to have Robin on our team.

“Since accepting the position, I have not stopped smiling,” says Robin and she is looking forward to assisting you with all your meeting needs. RRoane@VisitAlexVA.com

IMEX America – Trade show’s unique model to set new benchmark in US

– Maritz launches Customer Event during IMEX America
– Key hosted buyer groups announced
– Major educational programme already in place
– Wild Card Americas scheme launched

IMEX Group Chairman, Ray Bloom, announced his delight at the way plans and partnerships were developing for the group’s new show, IMEX America, during a press conference on day two of IMEX in Frankfurt today (Wednesday 26th May). He was joined by Bruce MacMillan, CEO of MPI (Meeting Professionals International), IMEX America’s Strategic Partner and major educational provider.

Bloom said: “IMEX America represents a unique model of trade show in the US. As a result we have had an extremely strong response and expectations are already very high. As discussions developed with a variety of partners over the first quarter of this year, it became clear that we could confidently announce a larger number of hosted buyers than first thought. Conference Direct, HelmsBriscoe, HPN, Starwood Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels, Maritz, MPI, ASAE and PCMA are just some of the partners who have committed to bringing their most important buyers in good numbers. As a result we now intend to host 2,000 hosted buyers from the association, corporate and agency markets to Las Vegas in October 2011.”

Maritz announces support of IMEX America

Maritz Travel, the leader in designing and delivering effective meetings, events and incentive travel programs (ME&I), also has announced today that it will run its annual senior-level Customer Event during IMEX America. This event will attract up to 100 of Maritz Fortune 500 corporate clients, as well as Maritz account managers all as hosted buyers.

“Maritz is excited to be able to integrate our annual customer event with this new industry tradeshow,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO, Maritz Travel. “It allows our clients to access the most advanced content from Maritz’ leading experts, and provides the opportunity to network with the best global suppliers in the ME&I industry. The quality of the content and educational programs available through IMEX America are aligned with Maritz’ goal of helping our clients leverage meetings, events and incentive travel programs to reach their business objectives.”

Bloom continued, “We are guaranteeing that 80% of our hosted buyers will come from North America and will place business internationally, as well as domestically. The remaining 20% of buyers will come from other world markets. This will guarantee exhibitors access to thousands of US buyers from the enormous American outbound market; as well as the best buyers placing business within the US – both from the domestic market, as well as from across the world.”

“Our unique visitor marketing programme will also be extensive. We will place a special emphasis on the catchment area around Las Vegas and the West Coast region. Agreements with a number of partners, including Northstar as our major media partner, mean we have already identified 300,000 planners who fit our criteria” he explained.

Bloom continued: “The fact that the show is hosted buyer-led will be a unique feature in the US market, making IMEX America unlike any other trade show in North America. The scale and quality of the buyer program, the education programme and the number of its industry partnerships will be unrivalled. Our ability to bring hosted buyers in from both global and domestic markets and allow them to make their own business appointments with their choice of exhibitors using our online diary and appointment system is unique. In the last two months leading up to IMEX here in Frankfurt, for example, buyers made over 40,000 individual appointments with exhibitors. Numbers will obviously be different initially in the US, but it is this ability to make their own appointments before the show even opens that will set IMEX apart and give it enormous value and return on time invested for the business-minded buyer and exhibitor.”

40 education events scheduled – extensive marketing campaign

Bloom also explained that IMEX America’s many industry partners and affiliated associations are confident of this strategy and already making plans to build the show into their marketing and education programmes.

MPI’s Strategic Partnership with IMEX America means the association has the role of major educational provider for the three day show. As a result MPI will be running high-level seminars each morning before the show starts, together with a dedicated day of education the day before it opens and its popular MPI Foundation Rendezvous party. In addition, from 2011 it will no longer be operating its marketplace tradeshow alongside WEC (World Education Congress) each year but encouraging all members to make IMEX America their annual show of choice. Said Bruce MacMillan, President and CEO of MPI, “We are putting the collective buying power of MPI members, estimated to be $16.4 billion, behind our exclusive strategic partnership with IMEX America, as well as designing a uniquely co-created educational experience for buyers and sellers.”

MPI and IMEX America will also be launching a series of six high-level webinars in the autumn of 2010, underlining the strategic partnership and the major education role of MPI while creating momentum for the inaugural event.

Bloom explained: “We already have a total of 40 different educational events, seminars and workshops lined up in the schedule, with seven additional Forums, which include a Politicians Forum similar to the one we run every year in Frankfurt, plus a continuation and expansion of the Future Leaders Forum which we run in partnership with MPI. I am also delighted to announce today that we will be launching a Wild Card competition for IMEX America and offering free exhibition places plus a generous package of marketing support to two previously unknown destinations from the Americas region.”

Other indicators of confidence and support show in DMAI’s (Destination Marketing Association International) recent decision to make IMEX America an Alliance Partner and officially endorse the tradeshow. In addition, Site has chosen to hold its annual conference immediately after the show, together with Site Nite North America the evening before. Other key association partnerships have also been confirmed with ASAE, PCMA, ICCA, IAEE, ECM, AIPC, CIC, JMIC and GMIC. MeetGreen are confirmed in the role of Official Sustainability Consultant, whilst the Alan Waxler Group will be the show’s official ground handlers.

Several partners and exhibitors have already given their resounding approval to the launch of IMEX America. They include Angeline Lue, Director of Sales & Marketing, Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, who says, “IMEX America creates an ideal platform for us to target the North America market more effectively. Based on the track record of IMEX and our success in generating leads at their shows, we are filled with anticipation at the potential this opportunity presents.”

Greg Ortale, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has also given his support saying, “I am genuinely excited about IMEX America. Houston has had great success at IMEX Frankfurt because the organizers understand the importance of delivering value to their exhibitors. I strongly suspect the new tradeshow will meet or exceed those same exhibitor value standards.”

Peppermill Resort Spa Casino to add Executive Boardroom to Meeting Space

(Reno, NV) – Recently completing the $400 million expansion has not slowed the progress at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino. “Our ownership continues to show confidence in the Reno market by reinvesting in capital improvement projects at our property,” stated Bill Hughes, Director of Marketing Operations. “We are constantly striving to provide an exceptional product with great guest service.”

The Peppermill is set to break ground on a new two-story executive boardroom that will marry a rich décor of walnut and marble and state-of-the-art technology, including individual business hubs at each of the board tables’ 26 seats and a high-tech media and projection suite. With seating for 46 in the boardroom, the first floor will house a perfectly appointed pre-function area for executive retreats, lecture series, or more casual events.

“Our rooms, restaurants, entertainment, meeting space…they’re the best Northern Nevada has to offer,” says Pat Flynn, Director of Hotel and Sales. The executive boardroom project is scheduled to be completed this summer.

The Peppermill Resort Spa Casino features 1,635 luxurious rooms and suites, two resort pools, 10 award-winning restaurants, 16 themed bars and lounges including EDGE nightspot and Terrace Lounge, free nightly entertainment in the Casino Cabaret, 24/7 gaming action, headliner entertainment as well as the 43,000 square foot Spa & Salon Toscana and Fitness Center featuring northern Nevada’s only Caldarium with indoor pool, sun deck and Secret Garden.

Verandah Club Gears Up for Summer Fitness and Sun

The deluxe fitness facility at Hilton Anatole offers outdoor pool memberships and summer workouts.

DALLAS, TEXAS – Whether it’s drinking a frozen margarita in the outdoor pool or working out to sultry and steamy blues music in Burlesque Body Sculpt, Hilton Anatole’s Verandah Club fitness facility has a summer sport for any personality.

For its second year, Verandah Club opens its outdoor pool with swim-up bar to the local community. Pool memberships are $118 per month for families and no initiation fee. The pool is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, May 29 – September 5. The outdoor pool is one of the largest in the city and one of few with a swim-up bar. In addition, there are ample lounge chairs, several umbrellas and onsite towels for comfort and convenience. Call Membership Director Rick Dunnaway at 214.761.7855 for further details.

The Summertime Blues Burlesque Workshop, themed “Fedora Fever” in June, is all about class and style using the fashionable burlesque prop, the fedora hat. Set to the sultry and steamy blues song “Every Night,” trainer Jana Edele, artistic director and choreographer of the Velvet Kittens of Le Cabaret Burlesque, begins with a 30-minute stretching and toning warm-up followed by signature burlesque dance choreography focused on slow hip and shoulder isolations and sultry burlesque movement. “Fedora Fever” is every Monday night in June (June, 7, 14, 21 and 28) from 6:30 – 7:30 PM. Early June registration for all four classes is $45 (plus tax) until May 24th. Otherwise, registration is $60.00 (plus tax). Please contact Cara Young at 214.761.7895 or Cara.Young@hilton.com for further information and registration.

Verandah Club is located at the Hilton Anatole at 2201 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas, Texas 75207. It is open weekdays 5:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. General and corporate memberships are available. More information can be found at www.verandahclub.com or by calling Membership Director Rick Dunnaway at 214.761.7855.

About the Verandah Club
Verandah Club is the Hilton Anatole’s newly-renovated 80,000-square foot private fitness club, located in the hotel’s beautiful 7-acre park. The Verandah Club’s facilities were designed by Precor, the official workout equipment of Hilton Hotels. The $340,000 worth of new equipment includes cardio machines all equipped with LCD TV monitors with clear cable access as well as advanced strength training equipment. In the updated strength training room, guests also have the option of a complete line of free weight equipment. The fitness facility also features one of the finest indoor lap pools in the region, outdoor pool with swim-up bar, two outdoor tennis courts, racquetball and squash courts, one-quarter mile secure outdoor track, indoor track, full-court basketball court, croquet court and private boxing gym. Verandah Club is open weekdays 5:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and weekends 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Individual, couples and corporate memberships are available. More information can be found at www.verandahclub.com or by calling Membership Director Rick Dunnaway at 214.761.7855.

About the Hilton Anatole
Located within a 45-acre campus, the Hilton Anatole Hotel features two high-rise atriums; a 27-story tower; and 1,606 luxuriously appointed guestrooms with first-class in-room amenities and wired Internet access. Additionally, the hotel offers guests more than 333,400 sq. ft. of meeting space equipped with high-speed wireless and wired Internet access, as well as a variety of recreational activities including viewing the Art Collection, one of the largest and most intriguing private assemblies in the world; an 80,000 sq. ft. fitness center, the Verandah Club, featuring state-of-the-art cardiovascular and weight equipment, tennis courts, one of the finest lap pools in the region plus a fun outdoor pool with swim-up bar, and an indoor jogging track; 10 shopping boutiques; V Spa, the hotel’s newest luxury spa oasis; and 12 unique restaurants and bars for dining and entertainment, including the award-winning, four-star Nana and chic Gossip Bar. The Hilton Anatole is owned by Dallas-based Crow Holdings and managed by Hilton Hotels Corporation.

About Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels. For more than 90 years, Hilton Worldwide has been offering business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value. The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands. Its brands are comprised of more than 3,500 hotels in 81 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®.

For more information about the company, please visit www.hiltonworldwide.com.

The Breakers Palm Beach Becomes Member of Associated Luxury Hotels

. . . Legendary AAA Five-Diamond Resort Becomes Newest Option Within ALHI’s Distinctive Portfolio

WASHINGTON, DC – The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida’s legendary oceanfront resort, has joined Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) as its newest member. The Breakers, which has invested more than $250 million in ongoing enhancements over the past decade, will now receive dedicated National Sales services and support by ALHI as its authorized National Sales extension to the meetings, incentive/recognition travel, and convention marketplaces. The Breakers is owned and operated by Flagler System Inc., a privately owned company under the same family ownership since 1896.

“The Breakers is truly one of the finest resorts in the country, and is world-renowned for its exceptional resort and recreational offerings, stunning oceanfront setting, outstanding meeting facilities, and highly-skilled staff,” said David Gabri, president and CEO of ALHI. “The newly-renovated resort is even better than before — and it was already a world-class resort. We are extremely pleased to add this outstanding ‘gem’ to ALHI’s exceptional and distinctive portfolio.”

The Breakers Added To ALHI’s “Level 5 Collection”

The renowned AAA Five-Diamond resort is also the newest member in the recently-launched “ALHI Level 5 Collection,” a segment within ALHI’s portfolio which now consists of 16 member hotels and resorts which have earned the highest and most distinctive recognitions of the prestigious AAA Five-Diamond Rating, and/or the esteemed Forbes (Mobil) Five-Star rating, or are newly-opened and are designed to achieve one of these ratings when they become eligible.

The Breakers joins such other exceptional members of the “ALHI Level 5 Collection” as: The Broadmoor, which opened in Colorado in 1918 and is the longest consecutive winner of the AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Five-Star Awards; West Virginia’s renowned Greenbrier, welcoming meeting guests and dignitaries for nearly 229 years, and offering 85,000 square feet of meeting space and over 50 recreational activities; the Bellagio in Las Vegas, offering 200,000 square feet of meeting space, 19 dining options, a world-recognized casino, and a 65,000-square-foot spa; and The Skylofts at MGM Grand, a luxury boutique hotel located on top of the premier MGM Grand and thereby providing access to 600,000 square feet of meeting space, 18 restaurants, a 6.6-acre pool complex and a 171,000-square-foot casino.

Additional offerings in the “ALHI Level 5 Collection” include Georgia’s newly redeveloped Five-Star Cloister at Sea Island, a spectacular and secluded meeting retreat, with more than 80 years of history and extraordinary resort facilities and options; California’s 295-room Island Hotel Newport Beach, which provides stunning views of the Pacific Ocean; the 220-acre, popular-with-the-stars Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, offering 16,000 square feet of first-class meeting space; and the world-class Grand Del Mar, nestled amidst the picturesque Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County.

Others in the “ALHI Level 5 Collection” include the luxurious Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, set along side of the Rocky Mountains with 775 fabulous guest rooms and 75,000 square feet of meeting space; the contemporary new ARIA Resort & Casino, which opened in Las Vegas’ new CityCenter in December 2009 with 4,004 guest rooms and 300,000 square feet of meeting space; the 47-story non-gaming Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, which debuted in December 2009 with 392 sophisticated guest rooms and an impressive 23rd floor Sky Lobby; the world-recognized Peninsula Chicago, recently voted the #1 hotel in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler, and located literally along the center of Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile; The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club, reminiscent of an English country manor, with three golf courses, 65,000-square-foot spa and five miles of private beach; the all-suite, oceanfront Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach, which is Mexico’s longest standing recipient of the AAA Five-Diamond award; and the world-renowned Lodge at Pebble Beach, legendary for its four world-class golf courses and breathtaking setting on the Pacific Ocean.

The Breakers also joins such other legendary hotels and resorts in ALHI’s portfolio, as the famous oceanfront, Victorian-style Hotel del Coronado, which was built in Coronado, California in 1888 and is a National Historic Landmark; Washington, D.C.’s Willard InterContinental, which has hosted many of the country’s most noteworthy business and political leaders for over 150 years; and the 2,000-acre famed Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, built more than 100 years ago, and featuring 420 guest rooms and suites, 60,000 square feet of meeting space, and eight incredible golf courses.

The Breakers: A Class Of Luxury

Set amidst 140 acres of breathtaking oceanfront property in the heart of Palm Beach, The Breakers is widely recognized as one of the finest resorts in the United States. The AAA Five-Diamond resort has hosted U.S. presidents, European nobility, and a virtual “who’s who” of business executives. Founded in 1896 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel features magnificent interiors and artfully designed landscaping.

Offerings at The Breakers include 540 newly-renovated guest rooms and suites, 45,000 square feet of indoor meeting space (with over 22 venues including four majestic ballrooms, and elegant, yet comfortable, meeting and board rooms), as well as 20,000 square feet of scenic outdoor event space amidst 140 lushly landscaped acres. Recreational offerings include a half-mile private beach, a Mediterranean-style Beach Club reminiscent of the French Riviera, 36 holes of championship golf (featuring the historic Ocean Course, Florida’s oldest 18-hole golf course, and the contemporary Rees Jones Course), a golf academy, a 20,000-square-foot oceanfront spa, 10 Har-tru tennis courts, five oceanfront pools, two fitness centers, four whirlpool spas, nine restaurants, five bars, an array of watersports, and 11 on-site boutiques.

In addition, The Breakers also offers an array of team building programs such as The Breakers Olympics, Historic tours, Sushi Demonstrations, Wellness classes, Voluntours and many other extraordinary events. A consistent recipient of the meetings industry’s highest honors, the resort is situated just six miles from Palm Beach International Airport, and minutes from famed Worth Avenue and downtown West Palm Beach.

The Breakers becomes ALHI’s ninth member in Southeast Florida, and joins the beautiful PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach County, legendary site of premier golf events, and fresh off of a $65 million transformation. Additional ALHI offerings in Southeast Florida include the secluded Ocean Reef Club, offering 300 guest rooms and suites and 30,000 square feet of meeting space in picturesque Key Largo; the sophisticated Biltmore, set on a private 150-acre oasis in Coral Gables, and featuring 76,000 square feet of meeting space; the Mediterranean-style Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, secluded on 300 tropical acres in Miami, and featuring significantly enhanced facilities following a $150 million transformation; the world-class InterContinental Miami, featuring 641 guest rooms and suites with spectacular views of beautiful Biscayne Bay, and 81,000 square feet of meeting space; the spectacular new 1,504-room Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which recently completed a massive $1 billion renovation and expansion; the acclaimed Boca Raton Resort & Club, which recently completed $220 million in renovations; and the AAA Four-Diamond, 790-room Loews Miami Beach Hotel, which just completed an impressive $50 million renovation, and is located on famous South Beach. For information on any of the ALHI members in Florida, and worldwide, visit www.alhi.com .

ALHI’s professional National Sales team helps planners with its diverse and distinctive portfolio of more than 125 Four- and Five-Diamond quality hotels and resorts worldwide, offering nearly 100,000 rooms and suites and over 10 million square feet of meeting space. ALHI serves its dues-based membership as a reliable sales extension to planners, providing nearly 25 years of dedicated National Sales services to planners with reliable one-call, experienced national sales access. There is no cost to planners’ organizations to utilize the services of ALHI, as its members’ dues fund the organization. To see the ALHI portfolio, visit www.alhi.com.

ALHI members include extraordinary meeting and incentive resorts, incomparable city hotels, exclusive smaller hotels, golf resorts, historic and landmark properties, island destinations, resorts with spas, properties in international destinations, and hotels with gaming and entertainment.

ALHI has 16 professionally-staffed National Sales Offices to serve, with locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, North Carolina, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Diego, Toronto and Washington, DC. Go to www.alhi.com to identify the ALHI sales professionals in your area.

For more information about ALHI, or to inquire about a potential meeting at any of the ALHI member properties, contact your nearest ALHI National Sales Office, call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-ALHI (2544), and visit www.alhi.com.

Keep It Green in Alexandria

More and more planners are looking for greener destinations, greener meeting facilities and group activities with little or no impact on the environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is all the buzz and planners are realizing that you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money too. Eco-City Alexandria was a front-runner in implementing a strategic process for sustainability and, today the hospitality community has stepped up to lessen the impact of meetings and events on our environment.

Keep It Green In Alexandria incorporates city programs, hotel initiatives and green group experiences. Set out on foot or bicycle and explore the city. Plan an event and give back to the community or just take advantage of the public transportation opportunities. Not sure how to take the first step, see Meeting Planner Tips, Tools & Resources on Being Green and learn how. Visit MeetAlexandriaVA.com and start saving today.

Paragon Casino Resort Announces Director of Convention Services

Marksville, LA (May 2010) – Paragon Casino Resort is excited to announce the recent addition of Cindy Stephens Torian as director of convention services to the team. Torian brings twenty-five years of hotel experience to her new post.

Torian began her career as part of a three year management training and development program with Hilton Hotels at properties in California including the Beverly Hilton. Throughout her career, Torian has held positions at several hotels as director of sales and marketing as well as general manager. She has also held the position of national sales manager for Walt Disney World Resorts. Torian’s most recent post prior to joining Paragon was vice president of Hadnot Hotel Properties, LLC. Hadnot Hotel Properties built and operated the Louisiana Convention Center and Hampton Inn in Alexandria, LA.

Torian is an active member of several non-profit organizations in the area and has also served as chairman of the board of directors for the Alexandria/Pineville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the president of the Alexandria Hotel/Motel Association.

About Paragon Casino Resort
Paragon Casino Resort, the Pearl of Louisiana, is the only casino resort destination in Central Louisiana. Paragon has been attracting gamers from across the country for 15 years. Paragon features an impressive lineup of luxury amenities and attractions including a new luxury hotel tower; Spa La Vie, a full-service spa and salon; an eighteen hole golf course; an indoor tropical pool with swim-up bar; a soaring retail atrium with “living” bayou; and three movie theatres. The Paragon Convention Center is made up of the Mari Showroom, Paragon Ballroom which can subdivided into the Arsene Ballroom. Belazaire Ballroom, and the Chiqui Ballroom. The Chiqui Ballroom can be subdivided into Chiqui 1, Chiqui 2, and Chiqui 3. Paragon’s Marketplace Buffet is Louisiana’s largest buffet, with 550 seats and live-action stations.

Additionally, Paragon features a 59,754-square-foot gaming floor offering approximately 2,200 slot machines with Las Vegas odds, 46 table games, including Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, various poker games, as well as a nine-table poker room. Other attractions include a 531-room hotel, five restaurants, a full-service RV resort, and the newly renovated Kids Quest child care activity center. The luxurious OTB adjacent to Roxy’s is open to the delight of racetrack enthusiasts. LA 1 Market features a wide range of Louisiana products from art to cookbooks. The Pelican Stage in Big Daddy E’s restaurant features live music for dining pleasure.

Paragon Casino Resort is located on Highway 1 in Marksville, La. The casino and all of its amenities are owned and operated by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. For more information, please visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com.

Starwood Hotels Launches Global Social Media Scavenger Hunt for Free Weekends

200 Free Weekend Nights to be Awarded in a 10-Day Destination Dash with Clues on Facebook and Twitter

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – May 2010 – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is awarding hundreds of Free Weekend Nights through a global social media scavenger hunt that will lead travelers to properties across the globe. The SPG® “Passport to Free Weekends” contest is an extension of Starwood’s current SPG Free Weekends promotion that offers travelers the opportunity to earn a Free Weekend Night Award for every three stays at a Starwood property. Both new and existing Starwood Preferred Guest® members who stay three times between May 1 and July 31 will earn a Free Weekend Night.

The SPG “Passport to Free Weekends” contest kicks off May 12 and will award a total of 200 Free Weekend Nights to 100 winners over the course of 10 business days. The scavenger hunt will leverage SPG’s presence on Facebook and Twitter, where members will find clues leading them to the Starwood property that holds the daily Free Weekends prize. Each day, Starwood will award the first 10 winners with two Free Weekend Night Awards to be used at over 920 properties across the globe – from Dallas to Dublin to Doha.

The clues will drive members to a particular hotel in one of the nearly 100 countries where Starwood has a presence. The winning location will rotate each day, incorporating each of Starwood’s nine brands, including St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Le Méridien(R), Westin(R), Sheraton(R), Aloft(SM), Element(SM) and Four Points(R) by Sheraton. When the participant determines the identity of the designated hotel, he or she will approach the front desk to claim their prize. The first 10 winners will get their “passport” photo taken, which will then be posted on SPG’s Facebook and Twitter pages for winners to enjoy fifteen minutes of fame.

To participate in the contest and receive the clues, members should “like” Starwood Preferred Guest on Facebook and follow @SPGInsider on Twitter. To learn more about contest terms and conditions, please visit spg.com/passport. Or to register for the SPG Free Weekends promotion, visit spg.com/freeweekends.

About Starwood Preferred Guest
The SPG program’s breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world’s most sought after collection of hotels, reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. By creating a program centered on its members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as SPG.com, SPG.com/stayconnected, SPG.com/flights, thelobby.com and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at 940 participating properties, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments at spg.com/moments, the program has proven to be a big draw for the world’s most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood. For more information about Starwood Preferred Guest please visit SPG.com or call (877) – STARWOOD.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1000 properties in nearly 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club Offering “Check In Meeting Offer” and “Meeting Stimulus Package” For New Group Bookings

. . . Southwest Florida Beachfront Resort Just Completed
Two Major Multi-Million Dollar Enhancement Projects

NAPLES, FL (May 2010) – The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, which just completed two major multi-million dollar enhancement projects, is offering impressive incentives to groups for meetings or programs booked and held by December 31, 2010. The 319-room resort features 34,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, many beautiful outdoor Gulf-front and Gulf-view venues, and is Southwest Florida’s only resort directly on the beach to offer an on-site championship golf course, world-class spa, and award-winning tennis center.

The resort is offering two programs to groups: the “Check In Meeting Offer” and the “Meeting Stimulus Package,” according the Director of Sales David Tyler.

The “Check In Meeting Offer” is available to groups booking and holding a new meeting or program before December 31, 2010. This program enables groups to receive up to $5,000 toward their program. Groups taking advantage of this offer will receive 10% of the total revenue for each individual program. The offer is based on availability, is not valid with any other offers, and some restrictions may apply.

A separate program that is being offered by the resort is the “Meeting Stimulus Package,” which is available to groups booking and holding a new program by December 31, 2010. Based on availability, the package includes: no attrition for qualified meetings, free daily meeting room rental, a complimentary afternoon break, one complimentary guest room for every 25 paid, free entrance for attendees to the fitness center (with use of the exercise room, whirlpool, sauna and steam room), free wireless Internet access in all guestrooms, 25% off audiovisual services, and 25% off golf greens fees. To qualify, it must be a new booking with a minimum of 20 rooms per night for at least two nights. The package is not valid with any other offers, and some restrictions may apply.

For more information, call the resort’s Group Sales department at (800) 866-1946 or (239) 261-2222, ext. 2001, or complete an RFP at www.NaplesBeachHotel.com

Continually enhancing its already-impressive offerings, the resort just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and remodeling of its guest rooms and suites in January 2010, and completed its $5 million all-new beachfront pool complex in February 2010.

The first phase of the multi-million dollar guest room project, which was completed in January 2008, included new bedding and fabrics, flat-panel televisions, rich new furnishings, and accents in calming tropical shades. The second (and final) phase of the project included totally-remodeled bathrooms in guest rooms and suites, new carpet in guest rooms and guest room corridors, new sliding glass doors, and new carpet.

The totally-remodeled bathrooms in the guest rooms and suites are larger, with a sizeable new walk-in glass-enclosed shower with striking sea-blue tile. The newly-remodeled bathrooms now feature new double sinks, spacious new vanities, beautiful new tile floors, new fixtures, and vanity mirrors. In addition, another vanity outside of the bathroom (complete with a sink, a large mirror, a vanity mirror, and towels) has been added so that another person can get ready while the bathroom is in use. This remodeling of the bathrooms kicked off in November 2008, and was done in phases so as not to adversely affect guests or groups.

“The resort has invested more than $16 million on our guest rooms and suites since 2007, and more than $55 million on enhancements to our resort since 2000,” said Tyler. “We are continually enhancing our resort to ensure we’re providing an exceptional experience to all of our groups and guests. With all of these impressive enhancements, it really is like a new resort.”

In addition, the resort just completed its significantly-improved new pool complex in February 2010. The new, much larger, beachfront pool complex features two new pools (a free-form pool for families, and a secluded oval-shaped pool for adults), whereas the previous area featured just one pool. The complex also features two new whirlpools, with one located by the family pool, and the other by the adult pool. The $5 million pool project also included the new Poolside bar (with food service), new restrooms, new locker facilities, and a new pool shop. Picturesque tall palms encircle this new large pool area, and there is easy access for guests to walk right onto the beach.

“We’re providing these very enticing group offers as incentives for groups to check out our greatly-enhanced resort,” said Tyler. “Add to this the fact that our resort has everything on-site – the beach, golf, tennis, our world-class spa, great meeting space, and beautiful outdoor Gulf-front venues – and the resort truly is ideal for groups.”

A consistent recipient of many of the meetings industry’s highest honors, the resort offers a variety of venues for meetings and receptions. The 22,000 square feet of meeting space in The Clubhouse provides an impressive view overlooking the championship golf course. Venue options at the resort include the 6,283-square-foot River of Grass Ballroom, the 2,457-square-foot Mangrove Ballroom, and such scenic outdoor venues as the Watkins Lawn.

Standard offerings in rooms and suites include a private balcony or patio (with a view of the Gulf, lush grounds, or picturesque golf course), as well as an in-room refrigerator.

Owned and operated by the Watkins family for more than 60 years, the 125-acre resort features: 1,000 feet of pristine white-sand beach; an on-site par 72 championship golf course; a world-class Spa; complete Fitness Center; the Mary C. Watkins Tennis Center with six Har-Tru courts; the professionally-supervised Beach Klub 4 Kids, a recreational program for children ages five to 12; and an Orchid House, home to over 3,000 tropical plants.

In addition, guests can take advantage of four great restaurants, including the beachfront HB’s on the Gulf, and the Seminole Store that serves deli sandwiches, ice cream, gourmet coffees and a variety of freshly baked pizza, pastries and desserts in a café atmosphere. The resort also features four bars, including the popular Sunset Beach Bar, consistently named “Best Place To View A Southwest Florida Sunset” and named “Naples’ Best Beach Bar” by the Travel Channel.

The resort is just blocks from Naples’ renowned shopping districts of fashionable 5th Avenue South and historic 3rd Street South. Venetian Village, Waterside Shops, Bayfront and Tin City are minutes away.

Groups can experience the area by taking tours of the Everglades, Caribbean Gardens, or the Conservancy Nature Center. In addition, boat and fishing trips can be arranged at the hotel. Other leisure time activities can include Naples’ outstanding museums, theatres, and art galleries.

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is located at 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. North. For information, call the resort’s Group Sales department at (800) 866-1946 or (239) 261-2222, or click here.