San Francisco's Le Meridien becomes performance art


The new Le Meridien San Francisco has become a work of art.

The hotel, located in the city's Embarcadero district, tapped renowned lighting designer Thierry Dreyfus to create an interactive display that has turned the 24-story hotel into an ever-changing Mondrian painting.

The windows of the Le Meridien's 360 guest rooms have been covered with colored, transparent gels that are illuminated or darkened as lights are turned on and off in the rooms.

The light show, which began Nov. 1 and will run through Jan. 31, is part of what Le Meridien calls First Night.

A similar First Night celebration is slated for Dec. 1 at the opening of a Le Meridien in Shanghai, and another will take place at the Le Meridien in Split, Croatia, although a date for that opening has not been set.

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The Atlanta area welcomed its first 100% African-American-owned, full-service hotel when the 218-room Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Marietta debuted in September.

The Roberts Hotels Group developed the property. It is being managed by the InterContinental Hotels Group, which operates the Crowne Plaza hotel chain.

"InterContinental Hotels Group is a great partner, and I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship as we go forward," said Michael Roberts, who owns the Roberts Hotel Group with his brother Steven and also serves as chairman of the board of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners and Operators.

Among Roberts' other properties are the Holiday Inn Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Mayfair Hotel in St. Louis. 

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InterContinental Hotels Group announced plans to build four Hotel Indigo properties in the Washington-Baltimore area.

The new boutique properties will be located in Ashburn, Chantilly and Herndon, Va., and Linthicum, Md., and are owned by the Asha Cos. All are slated to open by the end of 2008.

The hotels will reflect a new-build prototype of Hotel Indigo rolled out in October 2005.

The design was created to meet demand by developers eager to build Hotel Indigo properties in suburban areas where conversions are not an option, according to IHG.

Additionally, Hotel Indigo recently introduced what it called Interpret Indigo, which the company said gives developers the flexibility "to creatively interpret the property's interior design while maintaining the Hotel Indigo brand hallmarks."

"The new-build design concept was always considered to be an important step in our distribution strategy to maximize the growth potential of Hotel Indigo," Jim Anhut, IHG's senior vice president, brand development for the Americas, said in a statement.

Hotel Indigo, which launched in 2004, has properties in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Sarasota, Fla., and plans to open one soon in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Hyatt Place, Global Hyatt's new select-service brand, has opened three properties, including Hyatt Place Scottsdale/Old Town, Ariz.; Hyatt Place Atlanta Airport-South; and Hyatt Place/Perimeter Center, Ga.

Global Hyatt launched the brand last year after it acquired the AmeriSuites hotel chain from the Blackstone Group.

It has been spending over $150 million converting AmeriSuites to Hyatt Place properties and expects to open as many 120 Hyatt Place hotels in such cities as Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Detroit in 2007.

Hyatt Place guest rooms feature Hyatt's signature Grand bed, a section sofa, 42-inch high-definition plasma TVs, a video/music entertainment system and a workstation to accommodate laptop computers.

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Marriott International said it will centralize and automate the payment of commissions to group travel intermediaries beginning in January.

To that end, Marriott said, under its centralized plan, industry-accredited group intermediaries would receive commissions in one consolidated payment for all of its brands worldwide, including Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites. 

Under the new system, group travel intermediaries may receive commission payments by check or direct deposit/electronic funds transfer.

The payments would be accompanied by a detailed paper or e-mail statement outlining the business booked for each hotel.

To participate, organizations must be industry accredited by ARC, IATAN, IATAN/TSI, IATA or IATA/TIDS and provide that number to the hotel sales manager. 

Group planners who do not have one of these accreditations can learn more about the process by logging onto or calling (877) 734-2826, Ext. 4435.

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The Doubletree Hotel brand is heading to China.

The Hilton Hotels chain signed a multiyear management agreement to operate a 360-room Doubletree in Tianjin, its first in that country.

The hotel, owned by the Tianjin Automobile Industrial Group Co., is slated to open in late 2007.

The China property follows Doubletree's first foray into the Asian market: It announced plans last July to build the 358-room Doubletree by Hilton Resort and Spa near Sriracha, Thailand. The resort will open in 2008.

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The Dorchester Group, which owns and operatives five luxury hotels, said it is looking to expand its portfolio of properties as part of a larger rebranding effort.

The 10-year-old company also said it will now be known as the Dorchester Collection.

The current portfolio of hotels consists of the Dorchester in London; the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles; the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, Italy; and Le Meurice and the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris.

The Dorchester Collection said it intends to add traditional and contemporary, highly individual hotels in the U.S., Europe and Asia to its roster both through acquisition and third-party management contracts.

Michael Milligan is Travel Weekly's hotel editor. E-mail him at [email protected].

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