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Hotel & Resort Beat

Boutique hotel innovator Bill Kimpton dies at 65

Bill Kimpton, considered by many to be the father of the boutique hotel in the United States, died March 30 at the age of 65 from complications of leukemia.

Having decided that travelers were presented with a choice of either generic or overly expensive hotels, Kimpton opened his first European-style property in 1981, a type of hotel later dubbed “boutique.” The Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group he founded in San Francisco now owns or manages 35 hotels and 29 restaurants nationwide.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., his experiences included service in the U.S. Army and a stint as an investment banker in New York before moving to San Francisco as a manager for Lehman Brothers in 1969. His interest in psychology and spirituality led him to serve on the boards of the Hoffman Institute and the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He also founded the Mental Insight Foundation in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Isabelle, and four children.

Starwood Hotels continues love affair with Arizona desert

White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has been selected to manage a $125 million, 500-room resort south of Phoenix under its Sheraton brand. Owned by the Gila River Indian Community and located on a 372,000-acre reservation, the resort will be called the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa. The hotel is part of a planned development that will include golf courses and a 350-acre business park.

Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2002, the resort will be situated on the banks of the Gila River and offer amenities such as a 17,000 sq. ft. spa, three outdoor swimming pools and a waterslide. To take advantage of the desert weather, the hotel will feature an open-air lobby with cacti and other plants. Starwood already operates five resorts in Arizona, including the Phoenician in Scottsdale. The company will add another hotel to its Arizona collection, the Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, in 2002.

Rustic renovations in store for La Jolla hotel

The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., has kicked off a $28 million addition and renovation that will include 173 new guest rooms. Scheduled for completion in early 2002, the project includes a 4-story addition and a 2-story building containing presidential and governor suites. Other new construction will include a grand terrace overlooking the Torrey Pines golf course, a 269-car parking garage and a courtyard. The renovations will encompass the pool, lobby, restaurant, meeting rooms and ballroom.

San Diego-based Evans Hotels is the developer, and Newport Beach, Calif.-based McCarthy is the general contractor. Designed to capture the Greene & Greene craftsman style of the early 1900s, the exterior will feature wood rafter tails and railings, cedar shingles and plaster-finish walls, while theinterior finishes will include a variety of marble, granite and hardwood.

MeriStar, American Skiing nix $1.2 billion merger plans

Washington, D.C.-based MeriStar Hotels & Resorts, the nation's largest independent hotel management company, and Newry, Maine-based American Skiing Co. have cancelled their plans to merge. The deal would have combined MeriStar's 268 properties with American Skiing's premium ski resorts under a new company called Doral International Inc.

MeriStar CEO Paul Whetsell said the slowing economy influenced the decision to withdraw the plans. MeriStar agreed it would be wiser to continue its core business of operating hotels than to proceed with the merger, which would have created a company with combined assets of $1.2 billion.

Big debut for JW Marriott; Research groups team up

  • Marriott International Inc., Washington, D.C., has opened its first JW Marriott hotel in Manhattan. The company re-flagged the former Rihga Royal hotel, which was recently purchased by Annapolis, Md.-based Thayer Lodging Group for $135 million. The 500-suite, 54-story hotel is the seventh JW Marriott in the United States and the 14th worldwide. Although the conversion marks the first JW Marriott brand to open in the Big Apple, Marriott International has a portfolio of 10 hotels with 6,500 guest rooms in Manhattan.

  • The Hospitality Research Group in Atlanta and Boston-based Torto Wheaton Research have teamed up to produce a hotel report called Outlook. The partners will produce reports on the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, focusing on full-service and limited-service hotels.

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