June 18, 2024 6:24 AM
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Gaylord Opryland Nashville
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Talk on the Tradeshow Floor: Hotel News as Economy Slows Building

by Jeanne Brei

Summer has officially begun and the talk on the tradeshow floor has turned to hotel news as travel plans start to shape up. ExhibitorLIVE 2024 will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., next February as many attendees said they enjoyed going to someplace other than Las Vegas during the feedback session in Louisville. So, after 30 years in Las Vegas, the show is going on the road again next year—the educational conference is scheduled for Feb. 25-28, 2024, and the exhibition will be held Feb. 27-28, 2024.

ExhibitorLIVE 2024 to be at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Gaylord Opryland Nashville The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (pictured right) was formerly known as Opryland Hotel and is located minutes from Nashville International Airport. The resort features more than 750,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and 2,888 guest rooms, including 171 suites and five themed presidential suites. Ryman Exhibit Hall, located on the lower level of the convention center, offers 263,772 sq.ft. of space and 17 dedicated loading docks, making it the largest non-gaming, in-hotel exhibit space in the world.

SoCal Hospitality Union Authorizes Strike as Early as July 4th Weekend

Unite Here graphic
Fortunately, they didn’t select a Southern California location since Southern California’s largest hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 11—which represents more than 32,000 room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, front desk agents, servers and food service workers—has voted to authorize a strike as early as July 4th weekend at dozens of hotels with more than 15,000 workers. The strike authorization vote came after more than a month of failed negotiations with hotel employers–including Hyatt, Hilton, Highgate, Accor, IHG and Marriott.

 

The union said in a release that their biggest concern for hotel workers is the rising cost of housing and their demands include an immediate $5 an hour wage increase to keep pace with the cost of housing; affordable family healthcare; a pension that will enable workers to retire with security, and a “safe and humane” workload.

The economy has also been blamed for the delay in building the Signia by Hilton convention center hotel in Indianapolis and others. According to Bisnow, more than half of hotel projects in the U.S. in the pre-construction or groundbreaking phase this year are now on hold—the result of stricter lending standards making it more difficult to secure financing. But hotels are finding a way around the financing difficulties.

Indianapolis City-County Council Approves City Financing Signia by Hilton CC Hotel

Signia_Indianapolis_Rendering_2023In the midwest, the Indianapolis City-County Council has approved the city taking over financing for the 40-story, approximately 814-room Signia by Hilton convention center hotel after Kite Realty Group Trust experienced challenges securing funding in the private market. The city will finance the $510 million cost of building the hotel (rendering pictured right courtesy of Hilton) and build up a reserve fund to allow the hotel to operate without revenue for up to a year and a half, if necessary—$625 million in hotel revenue bonds were approved to finance the project.

The 40-story Signia is part of a larger redevelopment of the Pan Am block that is also set to include a $200 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. Although the council’s five Republicans voted against the financing due to the concern of the city being an owner of a hotel that is then competing directly against private industry owners, all 19 Democrat council members voted for it as Mayor Joe Hogsett explained, “Today’s vote will help protect and expand the 83,000 hospitality jobs in our community.

It will increase business across our tourism economy and secure our spot as one of the top host cities in the country. Instead of sliding backwards through complacency, we are building a stronger, more vibrant downtown.”

San Antonio’s Wyndham River Walk to Become the InterContinental San Antonio

Former-Wyndham-San-Antonio-River-Walk-to-become-an-InterContinentalAfter a two-year closure due to the lockdowns, construction has finally begun to bring the former Wyndham San Antonio River Walk hotel (pictured left) back to life as the city’s first InterContinental property by late 2024. IHG Hotels & Resorts and Scarlett Hotel Group purchased the hotel back in 2021 with plans for a $50 million overhaul to transform it into a luxury, full-service, four-star, 390-room InterContinental hotel by early 2023. After the long delay, they recently announced the start of a $158 million project to revive the hotel as an InterContinental San Antonio by late next year. Just a mile from the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center between East Martin and East Pecan streets, the 21-story hotel will have a rooftop pool with downtown views, several restaurants and bars, direct access to the Riverwalk and a river-taxi landing area as well as 40,000 sq.ft. of meeting space.

One upgrade in the developers’ remodeling plan is to use electrochromic glass—also known as smart or dynamic glass—which makes it easy to control backlighting or maximize daylight for events and presentations.

Economy Also Slows the Dream Hotel, the Fountainbleu & the Majestic in Las Vegas

Dream Las Vegas HotelIn Las Vegas, the Dream Hotel (rendering pictured right), located between the Pinball Hall of Fame and Las Vegas Harley-Davidson across from Mandalay Bay, stopped construction last March until more funding could be secured. Dream developer Bill Shopoff told the Las Vegas Review-Journal back in March that he owes approximately $25 million to $30 million for work on the resort, and that construction “will restart once the terms of the financing are finalized.” The 450-room luxury hotel was originally estimated to cost $300M to complete, but that estimate has now nearly doubled to $550M-$575M.

Fountainbleu Las Vegas HotelAnother hotel that’s been under construction for almost two decades is the Las Vegas Fountainbleu (pictured left)—now scheduled to open in December. When Florida developer Jeffrey Soffer acquired the 1950s-era Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach in 2005 he announced plans to build a Fountainbleu on the Las Vegas Strip that same year. They broke ground in 2007 but went bankrupt in 2009 when the economy imploded. Billionaire Carl Icahn acquired the nearly completed hotel in 2010 for around $150 million and flipped it in 2017 for $600 million to developer Steve Witkoff and partners. Witkoff renamed the project Drew Las Vegas but suspended construction in March 2020 due to the lockdowns.

Soffer then reacquired the property in February 2021 in partnership with Koch Industries. They renamed the resort back to the Fountainbleu, resumed construction and landed a $2.2 billion loan to finish the roughly 3,700-room project, which has around 3,800 construction workers. At 67 stories, the Fountainbleu is currently the biggest hotel being built in the nation, although in Las Vegas, it will only be the ninth-largest, but with a great location next door to the new West Hall of the LVCC.

Even though Las Vegas has seen locals casinos being torn down (Texas Station, both Fiestas, Wild West, etc.), they have also seen some locals casinos being built and opened in 2023, including a Wildfire Casino on Boulder Highway majestic las vegas renderingthat occupies the space that was once the Showboat Casino and Hotel as well as the soon-to-open Durango Casino & Resort on the 215 at Durango in the southwest valley.

But no progress has been seen on the Majestic Las Vegas hotel (rendering pictured right) across from the West Hall of the LVCC. Developer Lorenzo Doumani purchased the 6.1 acre site on Convention Center Drive in 2014 and imploded the former Clarion Hotel (which occupied the site) in early 2015.

He said construction would begin in 2023 of the then-estimated $850 million dollar project—a 720-suite,  five-star, non-gaming, non-smoking, resort with six free-standing restaurants, 270,000 sq.ft. of Tech Sky Suites, and a top-drawer medical wellness spa.

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