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Carlson celebrates 60 years of operation in Grand style

If you're going to celebrate 60 years of ... well60 years of anything, then you probably want to do it in opulent style, andthat's exactly what the Carlson Cos. did. With representatives from allaround the world gathering at the the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the largesthotel/theme park in the world, Carlson Cos. reveled in its success withstar-studded parties and conferences.

Before the party could really begin, however, some business had to be takencare of. That business was explaining to the employees where Carlson Cos. istoday and where it's going in the future - but more importantly, how it'sgoing to get there.

Living the Legacy was the theme of the Carlson Cos.' CC60 Summit 1998, andthe first speaker of the session, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, expressed thistheme best. "Our goals are ambitious, but we all share a common legacy- a legacy of accomplishing what we set out to do," she said, "and the momentum is building."

The last time the Carlson Cos. came together in such a celebration was forits 50th anniversary in 1988. Nelson explained that since that celebration,Carlson Cos. had grown from 2,000 in attendance to more than 4,500 in 1998.In '98, Carlson Cos. was operating in 10 countries, and today it's operatingin more than 140, she added. Once the companies had only one hotel brand, andnow they have three, she continued. "We've come a long way to thisimportant milestone," she said.

She expressed later that the companies will lead the way in the hospitality industry by being more globalized, more technological and more in touch. "High-tech, high-touch could be the new mantra for the Carlson Cos.," she added.

Once Nelson set the theme for the summit, a myriad of well-known andrespected speakers followed, including Megatrends author John Naisbitt,former Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Douglas Ivester, Saturn Corp. President andChairman Donald H. Hudler, Oracle Corp. Chairman and CEO Lawrence J. Ellison,Disney Theme Parks and Resorts President Judson Green and former U.S.President George Bush, each providing insight into their own successes andhow this can be applied to the future growth of Carlson Cos. For example,Ivester said: "The Coca-Cola brand is a promise, all the Carlson Cos.brands are a promise. A brand is a promise of what the consumer can expect,whether it's a soft drink or a hotel."

To round out the summit, Curtis Carlson, founder, chairman and CEO of Carlson Cos. Inc., passed on the legacy when he officially announced his retirement and his successor, daughter Marilyn Carlson Nelson, who will lead the organization into the 21st Century. From that moment on the band struck up and the party began.

For a more indepth look at the current standing of Carlson Hotels, which includes Regent International Hotels, Radisson Hotels Worldwide and Country Inns & Suites, read the profile story featured in NREI's new supplement, Hotel Strategies.

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