Their kind of town: W opens two hotels in Windy City

W, the boutique-style hotel brand of White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., has entered the Chicago market. The 390-room W Chicago City Center opened in June and the 556-room W Chicago Lakeshore is scheduled to debut in November.

Starwood is excited about its entry into the Windy City market. “Chicago has long been an enthusiastic town that has emerged as one of the hottest in the world,” said Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels.

Formerly a Days Inn hotel built in the 1960s, W Chicago Lakeside features the laid-back, living-room style lobby that is one of the brand's trademarks, as well as the Whiskey Sky bar and Wave, a Mediterranean restaurant. Meeting spaces include Altitude, a rooftop venue that rotates 360 degrees to provide views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline.

W Chicago City Center is located in the city's “Loop” business district. The property, formerly the historic Midland Hotel, features 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 4,200 sq. ft. ballroom with a 25-foot ceiling. Guestrooms are designed in a 1940s Hollywood theme.

Gargantuan family resort under way in Osceola, Fla.

Ground has been broken on Reunion Resort & Club, a multi-phase project in Osceola, Fla., that is scheduled to be built over 15 years at a cost of approximately $2 billion. Phase one, expected to open in January 2003, will include a 500-room hotel and spa, a 120-room inn, 1,850 condominiums and townhouses and two golf courses. Upon completion, the resort community is projected to include 3,000 hotel rooms and 5,000 residential units.

Orlando, Fla.-based The Ginn Co. is the developer of the project, and Morris Architects, which has offices in Orlando, has been hired to conduct a feasibility study of all the resort's phases. The site is located about 15 miles from Walt Disney World and will feature the Independence golf course designed by Tom Watson and the Legacy golf course designed by Arnold Palmer. Other amenities will include tennis courts, walking/riding trails, equestrian facilities and a swimming pavilion with pools, cabanas and a river ride.

John Mellencamp would like Hampton's ‘small town’ hotel

Hampton, a mid-priced hotel chain, has introduced a 52-room prototype hotel designed for small towns. Hampton, a division of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton Hotels Corp., hopes to capture business and leisure travelers seeking a high-quality hotel in tertiary markets.

According to Hampton, the prototype marks the first economically viable mid-priced hotel with less than 60 rooms. To create the new model, Hampton built a room at its operations center in Memphis, Tenn., and sought customer feedback.

The new Hampton Inn prototype, designed to fit on a site as small as 1.29 acres, is expected to open in the first quarter of 2002. The prototype will feature a lobby with a “walk-around” front desk, and either an outdoor or indoor swimming pool. The prototype can be modified to include meeting space, an exercise facility and suites with whirlpool spas and will offer amenities such as free breakfast.

MeriStar inks management deal with American Skiing Co.

Washington, D.C.-based MeriStar Hotels & Resorts has signed a five-year consulting contract with Newry, Maine-based American Skiing Co. to oversee the management of eight of its destination resorts. The agreement comes about four months after the two companies cancelled a merger deal that would have created a new company called Doral International. Despite the withdrawal of the merger plans, the two sides continued conversations regarding management of the American Skiing properties.

The management agreement includes such properties as Grand Summit resort at Sugarloaf in Maine; the Sunday River resort in Maine; the Grand Summit at Attitash/Bear Peak in New Hampshire; the Sugarbush Inn in Vermont; the Killington Grand Resort in Vermont; the Grand Summit resort in Vermont; the Steamboat resort in Colorado; and the Grand Summit resort in Utah.

Wingate Inns launches suites hotel division

Wingate Inns International Inc., a Parsippany, N.J.-based hotel chain, has launched a suites division as an extension of its existing mid-market hotel chain. Each Wingate Inn & Suites property will include an inventory of at least 30% suites, which will feature two rooms and a minimum of 552 sq. ft. of living space. In addition to larger living areas, the suites will offer standard Wingate Inns amenities such as oversized work desks, recliners, microwave ovens and refrigerators. The first suites property is slated to open in suburban Cincinnati in 2002.

The company decided to launch the new division to take advantage of the increased demand for suites and the growing trend of business travelers taking families along on trips. Wingate Inns, an all-new construction hotel chain, opened its first franchised hotel in July 1996.

e-mail hotel news to swebb@primediabusiness.com