Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne scheduled for 2000 Construction has begun on the 14-story, 300-room Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne in Miami and is expected for completion in fall 2000. Atlanta-based Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. LLC will manage the facility which features an additional 198 individually owned residences.

Located within the 44-acre Grand Bay community - one of the last oceanfront sites zoned for development in the area - the resort will offer ownership opportunities for those seeking vacation residences (more than two-thirds of these units have already been sold). The resort is being developed by Miami-based G.B. Hotel Partners Ltd.

Construction financing of $173 million was provided by a bank consortium led by Mellon United National Bank, also of Miami. Florida-based Odebrecht Construction is the project's general contractor.

DoubleTree Hotel comes online in Cleveland In March, father-and-son development team Bruce and Todd Felder completed the DoubleTree Hotel at Courthouse Tower in Cleveland. Located within one block of the city's convention center, the hotel features 329 rooms, 14,140 sq. ft. of meeting space and a 6,500 sq. ft. ballroom.

The hotel is home to DoubleTree Hotel Corp.'s newest start-up, the Cleveland Fish Market, which is a $2 million restaurant featuring more than 10,000 sq. ft. of dining space.

Hilton Hotels takes advantage of southern hospitality In May, Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton Hotels Corp. opened a 193-room, eight-story hotel in Atlanta which will be owned and operated under a license agreement by an affiliate of Atlanta-based Hardin Capital LLC. The Hilton Garden Inn is also one of 15 hotels Hardin is developing with Hilton over a five-year period.

The facility is located in the Perimeter Center area - one of the most densely populated office markets in the Southeast with more than 25 million sq. ft. of office space. The hotel caters specifically to this market with a board room and 3,600 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Hardin Capital and Hilton began collaborating in 1996, and have opened hotels in North Carolina, New York, Colorado, and Georgia. More than 200 Hilton Garden Inn properties are expected to open or are under construction in the United States, Canada, and Mexico by year-end 2000.

Prudential RB Allen forms hospitality and lodging group In response to increasing national hotel sales activity, Prudential RB Allen Commercial RealEstate, a subsidiary of Newark, N.J.-based Prudential, has formed a hospitality and lodging group with emphasis on the southwestern United States.

The group will aim to maximize marketing efforts for properties valued at $1 million or more, and will be supported by the company's Prudential One Network, which has approximately 700 full-time commercial brokers in more than 44 states and four Canadian provinces.

Robert P. Krueger, John Wang and Fabiola Thebaud - with more than 27 years of real estate experience - will lead the new lodging group.

Red Roof Inns opens new facilities across the United States Since the beginning of 1999, the number of Red Roof Inns has grown to 312 with 17 facilities opening in the United States in 12 states. The openings are part of an expansion program for the hotel chain, which plans to open a total of 50 units throughout 1999.

Earlier this year, a corporate-owned unit opened in the company's home base of Columbus, Ohio. This project represents one of several projected Red Roof Inns to open in central business districts or airport locations, with two such hotels already open in Nashville, Tenn., and at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

New kid on the block Throughout my professional experience, I have always timed starting a new job fairly well. My preference is to start during a slow period so that I can get my feet wet and learn the ropes. I figured I had timed things the same when I began working for NATIOAL REAL ESTATE INVESTOR in May. I quickly realized that, with real estate, there is no slow period when, during my second week on the job, my editor told me I would be attending the 21st Annual New York Hospitality Industry Investment Conference.

Feeling somewhat anxious about my new venture - and excited at the same time - I was comforted by the fact that I have always enjoyed staying in hotels. As I made my way into the reception hall at the New York Marriott Marquis on the first night of the conference, I was introduced to some people who have been in the hotel business for 20 years and others who were rookies like me.

The next day I learned that approximately 1,800 people attended this year's conference - a number that did not surprise me considering how this year's conference had been moved to the Marriott Marquis to accommodate a rising number of attendees. What fascinated me the most during this conference was a behind-the-scenes look at the "Deal of the Year" - last year's merger of CapStar Management Co. and American General Hospitality.

Run by Paul Whetsell and Steve Jorns, respectively, these two individuals came together to form MeriStar Hotels & Resorts. What impressed me was the way they managed to do what seemed like the impossible: putting egos aside to bring their expertise together and form one of the largest independently branded hotel management companies in the nation. While most of that is old industry news, it was refreshing (and new) news to me.

In between introductions at the conference, I had the chance to attend workshops and listen to comments from some of the most successful people in the business. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to learn about an industry that is run by people who care about the customers, in part, because their livelihood depends on them and because they enjoy producing a quality product.

Like the hoteliers I met in New York, I enjoy delivering a quality product. And similar to the people at the conference, my livelihood depends on our "customers" - the readers. Therefore, it's important that I hear from you - your thoughts, news, ideas and success stories. Together, we can take the hotel industry to new heights.