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Western update: new developments make the West hotter than ever.

Is the West a better region for meetings than ever? See for yourself. From new resorts and hotels in Las Vegas, Tucson, Seattle, and Albuquerque to convention center expansions in Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Santa Clara, and Palm Springs, the West is buzzing with activity. No matter where you travel in the West, you are sure to discover a fresh appeal to an amazing region that has been a long-time favorite of associations of all sizes.

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ARIZONA

MESA

Arizona's third-largest city offers association groups small-town charm, convenience, and affordability in the heart of one of the West's largest metropolitan areas. Mesa is located only 12 miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; yet it offers more than 60 hotels including top meetings properties such as the 273-room Sheraton Phoenix East (more than 52,000 square feet of meeting space), 263-room Hilton Phoenix East (more than 22,000 square feet of meeting space), and the 130-room Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Conference Center which features a new, 15,000-square-foot meeting facility.

With an enticing outdoor environment, the Mesa Amphitheater is a popular venue for a variety of events. It offers outdoor seating for 4,200 and catering for group functions. Near the amphitheater downtown is the Mesa Centennial Center. It offers a 15,000-square-foot, open-floor exhibit hall and 25,000 square feet of additional function space. A theater with 100 tiered seats and videoconferencing capability is part of the center.

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All the splendor of the magnificent desert Southwest is at Mesa's doorstep. The city offers 25 golf courses as well as other outdoor options such as boating and hiking the surrounding mountains. Five museums, including the Mesa Southwest Museum and Mesa Historical Museum, offer lots of cultural treasures as well.

PHOENIX

Phoenix residents continue to express confidence in their downtown's exciting future. In November, voters approved funding for additional segments to a light rail system under development. In addition to the initial 20-mile route that will open in late 2008, the new light rail system will now be complemented by 27.7 miles of suburban track within the next 20 years.

The initial route will connect Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with downtown hotels and attractions including the Phoenix Convention Center, which will open the first phase of its $600 million expansion in early 2006. The first phase of the project involves construction of the West Building, with 165,000 square feet of space including a 65,000-square-foot exhibit hall on the first floor.

The existing South Building also will be connected to the new West Building, providing an additional 143,000 square feet of space for exhibits or meetings. The phased expansion will increase total rentable space from 302,000 to more than 900,000 square feet by total completion in 2009.

Also scheduled to debut in late 2008 is a 1,000-room Sheraton that will be located just one block from the center. The 712-room Hyatt Regency Phoenix, with 45,000 square feet of meeting space, is located across the street from the center. Just one block away is the 532-room Wyndham Phoenix with 57,000 square feet of meeting space.

TUCSON

January marked the opening of the long-awaited Starr Pass Marriott Resort and Spa adjacent to the Tucson Mountain Park. The city's first new resort in almost 20 years, the 575-room Marriott offers more than 88,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. Among the event space are ball-rooms of 20,000 and 15,000 square feet. In addition, the luxurious resort also offers a 20,000-square-foot spa, 27 holes of championship golf, three pools, and underground parking.

Other area resorts are upgrading, as evidenced by recent renovations completed by the 428-room Hilton Tucson El Conquistador, which offers more than 100,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor function space. Hilton has spent more than $7 million upgrading the plush resort since taking it over two years ago. The Rio Rico Golf Resort also wrapped up renovations recently and renamed the property the Esplendor at Rio Rico.

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The Downtown Radisson Hotel City Center also unveiled plans in February to more than double its guest room inventory and build condominiums in two new towers. Under the plan, the 300-room Radisson would expand to 700 guest rooms, as well as update the existing property. The project is tied to a proposal to build a new downtown arena that is now under consideration.

The Radisson is near the Tucson Convention Center, a facility that features more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space that separates into three halls, a 20,000-square-foot grand ballroom, a 511-seat theater, 2,289-seat performance hall, and an 8,750-seat arena.

CALIFORNIA

ANAHEIM/DISNEYLAND

Always fresh and fun, it's hard to imagine that Disney turns 50 in 2005. As an organization that knows how to throw a birthday party, Disney is certain to make 2005 a great year to meet in Anaheim with numerous community events and charity fundraisers planned.

Disney's presence has brought meetings magic to Anaheim, which had a record year in 2004 when more than 1.175 million convention-related visitors spent $1.6 billion. The city's resort area now offers 20,000 hotel rooms and all the great attractions created by Disney's two theme parks and the Downtown Disney entertainment district, where lively restaurants, shops, multiscreen cinema, and live entertainment provide delegates with many options.

Opening this fall is the new Doubletree Guest Suites Anaheim Resort/Convention Center, a 252-room hotel with 7,200 square feet of meeting space in the heart of the city's convention district. In addition, another Doubletree property, the Doubletree Hotel Anaheim/Orange County, completed a $6 million renovation in March.

Fresh from a $180 million expansion completed in 2001, the Anaheim Convention Center offers 1.6 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The impressive center includes 815,000 square feet of exhibit space, 52 meeting rooms, 130,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 38,000-square-foot ball-room. Due to the continued growth of the city's convention business, Anaheim city officials are considering yet another expansion that would create 100,000 additional square feet of exhibit space and result in new meeting space.

Disney operates several large hotels with meeting space in the area, including the 751-room Grand Californian, 990-room Disneyland Hotel, and 502-room Paradise Pier Resort.

LOS ANGELES/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

The buzz around the City of Angels is the proposed $1.2 billion hotel, retail, entertainment, and 1,000-unit housing complex called the Grand Avenue Project. The multiyear development would be a boon to the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, which is within walking distance of the city's downtown business district and more than 4,700 hotel rooms. The center offers 887,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space and a theater with 300 tiered seats.

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Of course, nothing says Los Angeles like the movies, so group events at Universal Studios Hollywood are a natural choice. The massive complex offers groups 28 back-lot movie sets, a dedicated sound stage, set lighting, elaborate movie props, and the Globe Theater, a 9,600-square-foot special events venue. The Universal CityWalk entertainment district also offers a variety of private event options such as Tango Alley, where a 10,000-square-foot events center is surrounded by 33 places to eat and play. Universal's multiscreen cinemas and IMAX theater complex offer 425 stadium seats and a six-story screen. Universal's theme park debuts its "Fear Factor" attraction this spring, where contestants compete in a variety of activities that make for a perfect team-building experience.

Elsewhere, the Westlake Village Hotel and Spa will open late this year in the San Fernando Valley. The 20-acre well-being complex will have physicians on site, a full-service spa, a conference center, and 267 guest rooms.

MONTEREY

Monterey is sporting a unique new group event venue with this month's opening of the newly renovated Golden State Theatre. Originally opened in 1926, the opulent theater can accommodate groups of up to 1,100. It has a large lobby and mezzanine level for receptions.

The Golden State Theatre is located in the heart of the city, only two blocks from the Monterey Conference Center, which was recently refurbished as well. The center's 19,600-square-foot Sierra Ballroom received new carpeting earlier this year, and the entire facility received upgraded broadband services. The center offers 61,000 square feet of meeting space, making it the largest coastal facility of its kind between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

From bayside boutique hotels to large meetings properties, Monterey offers groups a world of choice in accommodations. The 380-room Portola Plaza Hotel recently completed a $7 million renovation that transformed it from a Doubletree property. It offers 20,000 square feet of meeting space. In February, the 575-room Hyatt Regency Monterey unveiled new wireless broadband Internet access in its 30,000 square feet of meeting space (and other public spaces) as well as select guest rooms. The 341-room Monterey Marriott recently finished guest room renovations. It offers 16,000 square feet of meeting space.

For private events with a culinary emphasis, the Culinary Center of Monterey offers beautiful classroom kitchens and a restaurant that seats 150 for plated meals and 225 for strolling dinner and receptions. Events at the teaching facility can be fully catered or can include hands-on demonstrations where groups do some of the cooking themselves.

NEWPORT BEACH

Newport Beach embodies the relaxed resort lifestyle in an urban Southern California setting. The ocean-side community offers some of the region's finest resorts along its nine miles of beaches, all with the convenience of being located near the Orange County/John Wayne International Airport.

Newport Beach's fabulous resorts keep getting better. The Newport Beach Marriott is in the midst of a $60 million renovation that began last summer. Scheduled for completion this fall, the project is adding a 14,000-square-foot spa with 16 treatment rooms, updating its 41,000 square feet of meeting space, and adding 20 new luxury suites showcasing sweeping ocean vistas. All 532 guest rooms also will be completely redesigned, as will the resort's lobby, porte cochere, and pool area.

The prestigious Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach also upgraded recently. The 295-room hotel completed its two-year, $20 million enhancement program with the January opening of a 4,000-square-foot spa with nine treatment rooms. With 35,000 square feet of meeting space, the Newport Beach property has more meeting space than any other Four Seasons in North America.

Also recently upgraded through multimillion-dollar projects are the 403-room Hyatt Newporter, with 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 132-room Balboa Bay Club and Resort, with 17,000 square feet of meeting space.

OAKLAND

Oakland's Jack London Square is in the midst of a $300 million, multiphase development that began last November with the restoration of the historic 66 Franklin Building built in 1926. Located in the heart of Oakland, Jack London Square's redevelopment project also will consist of a 250-room, meetings-oriented hotel, the 185,000-square-foot California Harvest Hall, a theater complex, up to 20 restaurants, retail shops, and office buildings.

Oakland's convention center is located only eight miles from its airport, giving event planners unmatched convenience in the Bay area. California's seventh-largest city features the Oakland City Center downtown. When combined with the adjacent, 484-room Oakland Marriott, the Oakland City Center offers 89,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

The Hilton Oakland Airport also features an ample inventory of both rooms and space, with 364 guest rooms and 6,400 square feet of meeting space. As for Oakland International Airport, it is serviced by 12 carriers that offer more than 200 flights and 26,000 seats daily. The airport is constructing a 6,000-space parking garage near the terminals to handle the growing traffic from the increasingly popular gateway.

ONTARIO

Ontario city officials recently approved an ambitious new development that will bring a large "urban village" next to Ontario Mills Mall, Southern California's largest entertainment and outlet mall. Plans call for about 1.9 million square feet of development, including a potential luxury hotel, approximately 800 condominiums, 465,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, and an office complex. The city also may build an arena/community events center on adjacent land.

The city already has a showcase exposition facility in the Ontario Convention Center that features a 70,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, and 24,000 square feet of meeting rooms. More than 2,000 hotel rooms surround the convention center, which is only two blocks from the Ontario International Airport. The airport offers more than 100 daily nonstop flights to more than 16 major U.S. cities and is only 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Among Ontario's major hotels are the 484-room Doubletree, 164-room Sheraton, 309-room Hilton, and 293-room Marriott. Most area hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to the airport, convention center, and Ontario Mills Mall.

PALM SPRINGS

Anticipation is building for the September opening of the $34.7 million expansion of the Palm Springs Convention Center. The project will nearly double the size of the existing facility by adding 20,000 square feet of ballroom and meeting space, 34,000 square feet of exhibit space, and 38,000 square feet of pre-function space. A 5,700-square-foot meeting room and expanded kitchen facility opened earlier as part of the project.

The facility is also undergoing a dramatic exterior appearance change as the main door is being switched from the east side of the building to the west, where it will open to downtown Palm Springs with the San Jacinto Mountains rising directly behind. Part of the center's appeal is its proximity to upscale hotels.

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The Hilton Palm Springs and Hyatt Regency Palm Springs are within easy walking distance, while the 410-room Wyndham Hotel has direct access to the center. The Wyndham offers 28,000 square feet of meeting space and a day spa.

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Among the 160 hotel properties that Palm Springs offers are numerous luxury resorts, such as the Miramonte Resort and Spa in the exclusive Indian Wells suburb. In late 2004, the resort was purchased by Loews, which announced that it will under-take more than $5 million in renovations to the 215-room property that features 12,000 square feet of meeting space and a $3.5 million spa that opened last May.

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SACRAMENTO

Meeting in California's capital city offers a lot of advantages. Start with Sacramento International Airport, located only 15 minutes from downtown Sacramento and featuring more than 150 daily flights. The airport recently received a flurry of new service from several airlines including new nonstop service to Washington, D.C., on both United and JetBlue, a third daily nonstop to Denver on Frontier, new nonstop service to Palm Springs on Horizon, and nonstop service to Maui on Aloha. A new, 5,300-space parking garage opened last fall at the airport as well.

Once off the plane, delegates can stretch their legs in the city that invites visitors to walk to meetings. More than 2,000 hotel guest rooms are within walking distance of the Sacramento Convention Center, which offers 134,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 24,000-square-foot ball-room, and 31 meeting rooms. The Wolfgang Puck Express, a new casual eatery, opened in the center in 2004.

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A new hotel is now under construction a few blocks from the state capitol. Ground was broken in November on a 239-suite Marriott Residence Inn that will include meeting space and other amenities.

One of the city's main attractions for meeting delegates is the 28-acre Old Sacramento Historic District along the Sacramento riverfront. Restaurants, shops, hotels, and other attractions are in the district, among them the K Street Pedestrian Mall. Museum favorites include the newly renovated California State Railroad Museum, Golden State Museum, and Crocker Art Museum.

SAN DIEGO/PALA CASINO/PACIFICA HOTELS

With San Diego's stunning beauty and almost perfect weather, it's no wonder the city continues to buzz with new hotel and resort developments. The former Radisson Hotel San Diego became the Sheraton San Diego Hotel Mission Valley in January. The 260-room hotel recently completed a $5.9 million renovation. Also in January, the 306-room San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter reopened after a 14-month, $45 million project that completely reconstructed the property's exterior and interior. The new 500 West hotel also opened in January with 260 guest rooms in the historic Armed Services YMCA Building downtown.

Near the entrance of the Gaslamp District is the Hotel Solomar, which opened in April with 235 guest rooms, 9,000 square feet of function space, and a rooftop complex with a pool, cabanas, and an outdoor fitness center. Set to reopen by July 4 is the landmark, 273-room U.S. Grant Hotel, which has been closed since January for a $26 million makeover.

The Omni San Diego Hotel, a luxury hotel connected by a sky bridge to the San Diego Padres Ballpark, is conveniently located across the street from the recently renovated convention center. The ballpark offers more than 27,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a 9,266-square-foot grand ballroom, featuring a large prefunction area.

The newly upgraded Shelter Pointe Hotel and Marina (a Pacifica Hotels property) is on 11 acres of lush tropical gardens at the tip of Shelter Island and only three miles from the San Diego International Airport. The resort features 206 freshly renovated guest rooms and suites, 18,000 square feet of meeting space, and 23,000 square feet of outdoor event space including courtyards, gardens, and a private beach at the edge of the marina. Another Pacifica Hotels property is the Mission Valley Resort near San Diego's Old Town in the heart of the city. The 202-room resort features 7,000 square feet of meeting space and a 27,000-square-foot tennis, fitness, and racquetball complex. Outdoor function space includes a court-yard gazebo and manicured grounds. Pacifica recently added free wireless high-speed Internet access for guests at its 23 California hotels.

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In December, Harrah's Rincon Casino and Resort opened a new hotel tower and spa north of downtown. The property now offers 651 guest rooms. The Pala Casino Resort and Spa in northern San Diego County also recently completed a $105 million expansion that added 30,000 square feet of meeting space. In addition, the project created two new restaurants and two entertainment venues encompassing 3,000 seats. The 507-room resort also features a 10,000-square-foot spa and a large casino.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco's appeal seems to know no end, as it continues to increase its tourism infrastructure. An influx of international visitors is expected next year, when the largest commercial passenger jet, the Airbus A380, begins landing at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). SFO will be one of only six U.S. airports able to accommodate the Airbus, which will transport up to 1,000 passengers.

SFO has experienced a spurt of new service since completing its master plan in late 2003 that included a new international terminal, people mover, and BART light rail link to downtown. This month, Independence Air begins nonstop service between SFO and Dulles International outside Washington, D.C. Independence is the sixth carrier to initiate service at SFO in the past 18 months.

San Francisco is also seeing new hotels in 2005. In March, the Hotel Vitale opened with 199 guest rooms and a gourmet restaurant. This summer, The St. Regis Hotel will open at Third and Mission Streets, complete with 276 guest rooms, a 10,000-square-foot spa, a fine-dining restaurant, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space as part of a 40-story, mixed-use tower that will include condominiums. On the ground level of the St. Francis will be the $11 million Museum of the African Diaspora that will open this fall.

The new museum and hotel are adjacent to the Moscone Convention Center, which opened its West Building expansion in 2003. The expansion added 300,000 square feet of function space, including a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall on the lobby level. The second level of the new building offers 19 individual meeting rooms that can be combined into various configurations, while the third level features a 60,000-square-foot, column-free ballroom. The West Building brought total function space at Moscone to 900,000 square feet.

SAN JOSE

Tech-savvy San Jose is earning a reputation as a great host for meetings as well. Convention officials report that San Jose has experienced a hotel room increase of more than 50 percent since 2000.

Leading the new additions is the San Jose Marriott that opened in 2003 with 506 guest rooms and 21,000 square feet of meeting space. The 213-room Hotel Valencia Santana Row opened in 2003 as well. The Fairmont San Jose also added 264 rooms recently to bring its guest room inventory to 805. It offers 60,000 square feet of meeting space.

If groups can't find enough meeting space in the local hotels, the San Jose McEnry Convention Center features a 143,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 22,000-square-foot ballroom, and 30 meeting rooms.

Just two miles from downtown is the Mineta San Jose International Airport, with 200 daily flights. The airport is in the midst of a $1.3 billion expansion project that will significantly increase its capacity. The first phase, the $355 million North Concourse project, is scheduled for completion in late 2007. The entire project should be complete by 2013.

SANTA CLARA

Plans are moving forward on adding 24,000 square feet of ballroom space to the Santa Clara Convention Center. It is possible that construction will begin in 2005-2006, pending final approval from city officials. More than 2,800 hotel rooms are located within one mile of the 262,000-square-foot convention center, which currently offers a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 6,264-square-foot ballroom, 25 breakout rooms, and a 607-seat theater.

Connected to the convention center is the Westin Santa Clara, with 505 guest rooms and 44,000 square feet of meeting space. Other major meetings hotels in the area include the 280-room Hilton Santa Clara, with 4,500 square feet of meeting space, and the 752-room Santa Clara Marriott, with 23,500 square feet of meeting space for your group's function.

Northern California's largest family entertainment destination, Paramount's Great America, is across the street from the center. The Paramount Pavilion is a new, 12,000-square-foot meeting facility at the park. Paramount's IMAX theater is available for private functions as well. Also adjacent to the center is the Network Meeting Center at Techmart, a facility built exclusively for tech-oriented day meetings for up to 250 people.

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COLORADO

COLORADO SPRINGS/BROADMOOR RESORT

Colorado Springs is renowned for its natural beauty and resort facilities that allow visitors to enjoy the area in style. Among the area's attractions is the legendary Broadmoor Resort, which has been attracting presidents and famous celebrities since it opened in 1918.

In recent years, the Broadmoor has spent millions to expand and upgrade the 3,000-acre complex at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. This fall, the resort will unveil the Broadmoor Hall, a 60,000-square-foot, pillar-free ballroom with a 25-foot ceiling, covered loading dock, and 30 recessed utility boxes with 100-amp, three-phase electrical service, microphone/intercom lines, CATV, and video capabilities.

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Broadmoor Hall is adjacent to the 20,000-square-foot International Center and the 18,000-square-foot Colorado Hall. The three facilities form the Broadmoor Event Center Complex, giving planners a total of 185,000 square feet of functional meeting and exhibit space throughout the property.

Broadmoor offers 700 guest rooms with another 1,500 guest rooms within minutes of the resort via a shuttle service. Leisure amenities are highlighted by three championship golf courses as well as a 43,000-square-foot spa.

DENVER

Denver recently celebrated a milestone in its meetings infrastructure while it prepares for yet another huge addition. In December, the Colorado Convention Center unveiled its $300 million expansion that doubled its contiguous exhibit space to 548,000 square feet and added a 50,000-square-foot ballroom, 35,000 square feet of meeting space, a 5,000-seat lecture hall, and a 1,000-space parking garage.

Opening late this year is the 1,110-room Hyatt Regency that will serve as the center's headquarters hotel. The 37-story Hyatt will have ballrooms of 30,000 and 15,000 square feet and will be located across the street from a light rail station and just one block from Denver's mile-long pedestrian promenade, the 16th Street Mall.

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Five other hotel projects that will bring 1,000 new guest rooms to downtown Denver have been announced since the center's opening. Construction is under way on a Hampton Inn at 18th and Sherman Streets, while a Hilton Garden Inn is planned next door to the center. A 228-room Residence Inn by Marriott also is under construction, and a 50-story residential high rise that will include a Four Seasons Hotel is planned to get under way by year's end. The Denver Athletic Club also plans to add a hotel in a future development.

Denver's largest current hotel, the 1,225-room Adam's Mark, is also undertaking a major renovation. The hotel offers 133,000 square feet of meeting space. Denver is also experiencing two other major infrastructure projects--a $91 million expansion of the Denver Art Museum that will double its size by 2006 and the $75 million restoration of the Denver Auditorium Theater that will serve as the cornerstone of the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

VAIL

Vail's luxury resort offerings have further improved with recent upgrades to several properties. The Vail Cascade Resort and Spa completed a four-year, $20 million make-over in late 2004 that included refurbishing its 292 guest rooms and conference space. It also added a restaurant and spa.

The "ski-in" Beaver Creek Lodge recently completed a major renovation. The 72-suite property offers 5,000 square feet of meeting space and a newly remodeled fitness center. Other resorts that have upgraded recently include the Vail Racquet Club, Montaneros, Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa, and Lifthouse Condominiums. The old Tivoli Lodge was demolished last summer, and a luxury new 61-room hotel is scheduled to open at the site this summer.

Vail Resorts is planning to redevelop the ski mountain's base area in Vail Village and Lionshead pedestrian village as part of its Vail's New Dawn plan, a multiyear redevelopment project. An upscale hotel, retail space, and restaurants are planned for the project, which is scheduled to begin this summer.

Vail city officials also are moving forward with design plans for the Vail Conference Center. Construction on the new center could begin this spring.

Daily nonstop jet service will begin this June on United between Chicago and the Vail/Eagle County Regional Airport. American Airlines also offers direct service to Dallas from Vail.

IDAHO

BOISE

Boise's high desert climate in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains means moderate temperatures and low humidity combined with a world of choice in outdoor activities. Within one hour's drive from downtown are mountains, rivers, lakes, and desert. Boise's 25-mile Greenbelt path system also connects five major parks.

There's plenty of choice in town, too, with a vibrant and culturally diverse downtown and surrounding area that is home to several Fortune 500 companies along with many boutiques, quality restaurants, pubs, farmer's markets, and outdoor concert venues.

Idaho's capital city has much to offer to groups, starting with a recently expanded airport that's only a few miles from downtown. America West began offering nonstop jet service between Boise and Las Vegas in late 2004, bringing the number of cities connected to Boise via nonstop service to more than 20. Boise Airport's new 361,470-square-foot terminal includes a conference center, expanded baggage claim area, and expansive new ticketing on the second floor.

For conventions, there's the Boise Centre on the Grove located downtown with more than 50,000 square feet of function space including a 25,000-square-foot ballroom and a 322-seat auditorium. The facility is adjacent to Grove Plaza, an outdoor events area. Also located at Grove Plaza is the 5,000-seat Bank of America Centre, which includes banquet facilities for up to 500 people in its Grand Ballroom and 36 private suites. More than 600 first-class hotel rooms are within walking distance of the center, and more than 4,000 guest rooms are available citywide.

NEVADA

LAS VEGAS

The pace of new development in Las Vegas continues to be astounding, with spectacular new facilities that just opened and more on the horizon. The $2.5 billion Wynn Las Vegas Resort opened last month on the former Desert Inn site. The megaresort features 2,701 guest rooms, 18 restaurants, a spa with 45 treatment rooms, a championship golf course, and more than 200,000 square feet of meeting space. Among the meeting space are ballrooms of 50,197 and 25,389 square feet.

This month, the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino completes its $80 million upgrade that includes 60,000 square feet of exhibit space to complement its existing 100,000 square feet. The Rio, which has 2,500 guest suites, also created a new entrance and renovated the lobby, front desk, and lounges.

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The 548-room Renaissance Las Vegas opened in December with 20,000 square feet of meeting space on Paradise Road just off the Strip. It is a nongaming property. The Flamingo also recently opened a new 18,000-square-foot, 14-room conference center, bringing its meeting space inventory to 73,000 square feet including the 20,800-square-foot Sunset Ballroom. The Flamingo offers 3,565 guest rooms, two showrooms, eight restaurants, a spa, and three pools.

Caesar's Palace will open its new 949-room, 26-story Augustus Tower this summer, bringing total rooms at the Las Vegas landmark to 3,340. The $289 million, all-suite tower will be the centerpiece of a $376 million expansion that includes 86,000 square feet of new convention and meeting facilities that will bring its total meeting space to 240,000 square feet. Last October, the $139 million expansion of the Caesars Palace's Forum Shops debuted with 175,000 square feet of new space.

Following on the heels of the Venetian Resort's recent $250 million expansion that included 1,013 additional suites and 150,000 square feet of meeting space, a new "sister" property is under construction and scheduled to open in 2007. The Palazzo Casino Resort will be a 50-floor, all-suite resort with 3,025 guest rooms, a 105,000-square-foot casino, 450,000 square feet of meeting space, and 400,000 square feet of retail and entertainment venues. The Palazzo is adjacent to the Venetian, which now has 4,049 suites and nearly 1.9 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space when combined with the available space at the Sands Expo Center. Included in the space is the 85,000-square-foot Venetian Ballroom.

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A $600 million expansion of the Palms Casino Hotel was announced in March. The expansion will include 347 guest rooms, 599 luxury condos, a 2,200-seat showroom, meeting space, and themed party suites in a 40-story tower. Also recently announced was the $1.5 billion Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino that will be located near the Bellagio. The Cosmopolitan will encompass more than 2,400 condo-hotel and hotel rooms, more than 150,000 square feet of event space, a 70,000-square-foot casino, 1,800-seat theater, and 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and entertainment space. It is expected to open by early 2008.

Colony Capital recently acquired the Las Vegas Hilton and announced that it will undertake a $70 million upgrade of the property that is located next to the Las Vegas Convention Center and its 3.2 million square feet of exhibit space. The Hilton offers more than 200,000 square feet of meeting space and 3,174 recently refurbished guest rooms with both wireless and high-speed Internet access.

Mandalay Bay continues to enhance its massive complex since opening a 1,122-room, 43-story hotel tower (THEhotel at Mandalay Bay) as well as the 1.5 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center in 2003. THEhotel features the $25 million BATHHOUSE spa, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, high-speed Internet access, two new fine dining restaurants, and the newly opened Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce nightclub. Mandalay Bay also recently opened its Mandalay Place retail center with 41 unique shops and restaurants located on a skybridge connecting Mandalay Bay and Luxor. The resort offers 4,342 guest rooms overall and a 12,000-seat events center.

The new Las Vegas monorail system has an attractive stop at the Imperial Palace that features a 25-foot waterfall and 40-foot replica bonsai tree. The Imperial Palace offers 2,700 newly renovated guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, and wireless Internet access throughout the facility.

Another stop along the monorail route is Bally's and its directly connected, sister property, Paris Las Vegas. Bally's offers 2,814 guest rooms and more than 175,000 square feet of meeting space in 43 self-contained rooms. When combined with the meeting space at the 2,916-room Paris, Bally's can offer planners more than 300,000 square feet of function space.

Come 2006, the 2,500-room Aladdin will become the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino through a $100 million upgrade. The resort will have a completely new facade, 114,000-square-foot casino, and 75,000 square feet of meeting space.

RENO

Downtown Reno gained another top meeting facility when the Reno Events Center opened earlier this year. The $27.5 million, 7,500-seat arena encompasses 55,000 square feet of exhibit space on its floor due to retractable seating. Its second floor offers almost 5,000 square feet of space in six meeting rooms that can be combined in various configurations. The center is part of a $65 million, two-phase project to develop a special events and convention venue in the heart of downtown Reno.

Of course, the recently expanded Reno-Sparks Convention Center already is a major exposition facility with 500,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. It is within minutes of several large casino resort hotels with ample meeting space of their own. The 1,995-room Reno Hilton has 200,000 square feet of meeting space, while the 1,400-room Nugget Casino Resort features 110,000 square feet of meeting space. Other top properties include the Peppermill Hotel and Casino (1,070 rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space), Harrah's Reno (950 rooms, 14,000 square feet of meeting space), and Atlantis Casino Resort (1,000 rooms, 24,000 square feet of meeting space).

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Overall, Reno offers 20,000 hotel guest rooms, and several other top resorts are just 38 miles away in the spectacular Lake Tahoe region.

NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE

Albuquerque began celebrating its 300th birthday in April, making it only the 22nd U.S. city to claim a Tricentennial. The city's meetings industry appears to be in a festive mood as well as several new projects are under way or recently completed.

The Albuquerque Convention Center began a $6 million renovation last fail that is adding free wireless Internet hot zones throughout the public spaces; upgrading other information technology to include a fiber-optic backbone and category 5 cabling to the exhibit halls, lobbies, and all meeting rooms; installing new LCD information kiosks; adding a business center; and other improvements that will be completed by year's end. The center features 167,562 square feet of exhibit space including a clear span of 106,200 feet. The facility also includes 27 meeting rooms, a 31,000-square-foot ballroom, and a 2,350-seat auditorium.

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In April, a 260-room Embassy Suites opened in downtown with 20,000 square feet of meeting space. The former Holiday Inn Mountain View also became the MCM Elegante Hotel and Event Center in March. The 342-room hotel with 7,400 square feet of meeting space underwent a multimillion-dollar upgrade. The former Wyndham Garden Inn completed a $1.5 million renovation in April that transformed it into the Nativo Lodge. The 150-room Nativo, which blends New Mexico's Pueblo style and colors with contemporary furniture, offers 7,000 square feet of meeting space.

Off-site event options keep increasing in Albuquerque with recent developments. In September, the National Hispanic Cultural Center opened the new Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts, which includes a 691-seat proscenium theater, a 288-seat theater, and a smaller facility. The $15 million New Mexico Veteran's Memorial continues to expand to become one of the largest military memorial facilities in the nation. Nearing completion, the 25-acre facility has a catering kitchen, indoor function space for 150 people, and an outdoor amphitheater in the garden area.

OREGON

PORTLAND

Getting around always has been easy in pedestrian-friendly Portland. New public transportation projects have made it even easier. The city's 38-mile MAX light rail system recently debuted a $350 million expansion that links Portland's exposition facilities with its airport and top hotels. The Portland Streetcar line also completed an $18.5 million extension that now reaches the popular RiverPlace Marina District. Among the restaurants, hotels, shops, and galleries located in the area is RiverPlace Hotel, which completed a $4 million renovation in late 2004. The upscale hotel features 39 guest rooms and spacious suites as well as meeting space that can accommodate up to 200 people.

Other projects are adding to Portland's fascinating collection of meeting space and hotel facilities. Following a $45 million expansion in 2000, the Portland Art Museum is now in the midst of a $34 million historical restoration to be completed this fall. The project will create 27,000 square feet of additional gallery space and restore three historic ballrooms available to private groups. The Oregon Historical Society also recently completed a project that created elegant new event space.

More facilities with a historic twist involve the redevelopment of Portland's old U.S. Custom House into an upscale boutique hotel. Plans are to transform the Custom House, built in 1901, into an 82-room hotel with elegant staircases, unique woodwork, and vaulted ceilings. In other recent hotel news, the former Doubletree Hotel-Jantzen Beach on Portland's Hayden Island has become a Red Lion Hotel. The 318-room property with 34,000 square feet of meeting space will be renovated.

The biggest news in recent years involved the 2003 expansion of The Oregon Convention Center. The 407,500-square-foot, $116 million project created the largest exposition facility in the Pacific Northwest with 255,000 square feet of exhibit space, a new 34,400-square-foot Portland Grand Ballroom, the 25,200-square-foot Oregon Ballroom, and 52,000 square feet of meeting space.

UTAH

SALT LAKE CITY

Work is under way on an expansion of the Salt Palace Convention Center that will enlarge the facility by 40 percent. Scheduled for completion by July 2006, the Salt Palace expansion project will add 145,000 square feet of exhibit space and 72,000 square feet of meeting space. Upon expansion, the Salt Palace will offer 685,000 square feet of exhibit, meeting, and ballroom space.

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A fiber-optic backbone runs through the center, which was one of the first exposition facilities in the country to offer a wireless environment for convention delegates.

Salt Lake City's hotel and retail communities are expanding as well. Just three blocks southwest of the Salt Palace, the Rio Grande Plaza will open in late 2005 with a new Hilton Homewood Suites hotel. Across the street from the convention center, two major shopping centers are in the midst of a $500 million redevelopment project scheduled for completion in late 2006. The first phase of a new aquarium also opened last year just three blocks west of the center. The entire 70,000-square-foot Living Planet Aquarium will open in 2007. A new children's museum is scheduled for completion in 2006 as well.

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Convenience is a key reason why the Salt Palace has been a popular host of major events. It is within walking distance of 7,125 hotel rooms and 90 restaurants that are part of Salt Lake City's thriving downtown, which includes the new $300 million Gateway shopping and entertainment district just one block west of the center expansion.

WASHINGTON

SEATTLE

One has to look no further than Seattle to witness the rebound of the hospitality industry. More than a dozen proposals for new hotels are under consideration or construction including luxury properties that are certain to be popular for meetings.

The $100 million Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is under construction overlooking Puget Sound near Pike Place Market. The elegant hotel, scheduled to open in 2007, will feature 150 guest rooms, 40 private residences, and a main ballroom that will showcase water views with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Another upscale hotel under construction is the 160-room Pan Pacific Hotel, scheduled to open by August 2006 as part of a 550,000-square-foot complex that will include restaurants, condos, and retail shops. The 120-room Hotel 1000 also is under construction in the former Warshal's Sporting Goods site on First Avenue. Other plans announced recently include a 400-room expansion of the Sheraton and a 343-room hotel at Eighth Avenue and Olive Street that would be part of a high-rise tower with 170 condominiums.

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's $2.4 billion expansion is certain to bring a lot more visitors to the new Seattle hotels. This month, the airport's Central Terminal expansion opens with a glass-enclosed courtyard and more than a dozen new eateries. Last summer, a new and expanded 14-gate Concourse A and adjoining new South Arrivals Hall opened. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2010 and will include construction of a third runway, enhanced transportation system, new terminals, enhanced security, and additional curbside baggage check-in locations.

SPOKANE

In the heart of the inland Northwest, Spokane offers an abundance of attractions, activities, and amenities to convention delegates. In the heart of downtown, surrounded by 100 acres of green space, is the Spokane Convention Center. Currently being expanded, the center will soon feature a 100,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall. Scheduled for completion in fall 2006, it will be one of the few "green" convention centers nationwide. By 2007, a new 25,915-square-foot ballroom, a 2,700-seat theater, and more than 57,000 square feet of newly renovated meeting space will be available.
COPYRIGHT 2005 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:real estate developments in Western United States
Publication:Association Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:7044
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