Tag Archives: Arizona hotels

Starwood to open Westin Phoenix Downtown

Starwood Hotels & Resorts today announced plans to open its first Westin hotel in Phoenix, Arizona in February 2011.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will offer a prime location just one block from the Phoenix Convention Center, the city’s largest convention and entertainment facility. The 242-room hotel will feature sophisticated oversized guest rooms, averaging 550 square feet, as well as a full suite of the Westin brand’s signature amenities and services.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown will occupy nine floors of the Freeport McMoRan Center, a significant new landmark on the downtown Phoenix skyline. Located at 333 North Central Avenue, the mixed-use complex will also feature 2,100 square feet of ground floor retail, premium office space and indoor parking. Surrounded by a choice of restaurants, shops and nightlife, the new hotel will be across the street from a METRO light rail station, where guests can hop on a train to Sky Harbor International Airport.

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Arizona Hotel Association's new legislation proposal gets icy reception

If you think that big government has stuck their nose into your business, wait till you see what the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association is proposing.

Arizona hotel operators want families to take an end-of-summer vacation – and, hopefully, fill their empty rooms.

Kristen Jarnigan, spokeswoman for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, said her industry is weighing legislation that would require all public schools to start their academic year at the same time. More to the point, the law would forbid schools from starting back up before Labor Day.

“It extends the holiday season,” she said. “You get in that Labor Day weekend where everyone does that one last hurrah getaway that pumps millions of dollars of tax revenues into the budget in tourism tax dollars.”

More to the point for her industry, it also would fill empty rooms and the cash registers of resorts, hotels and motels.

Lucy Messing, president of the Tucson Education Association, said Arizona schools used to start after Labor Day. “But we’re about education,” she said. “We certainly should not be run by the hotel lobby.”

District spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss said a calendar option that would start classes after Labor Day was considered, but was not as popular among parents as the calendar with an earlier start date and a one-week break in October.

Even Tom Horne, the state superintendent of public instruction, said the idea makes no sense.

Jarnigan, however, said there are lots of good reasons to consider adjusting the school year.

She said there is evidence that August, when most schools start up now, is at least marginally hotter than June. She cited figures showing the average high in August at 102.4 degrees, versus just 102 degrees for June.

One complicating factor is some schools – like Chandler and Queen Creek unified school districts and a number of charter schools – run on a year-round calendar, based at least in part on the educational theory that students lose too much ground when they’ve got too much time between classes.

“They would also need to be included in the discussion,” Jarnigan said, before the Legislature mandates a universal start date.

Terry Locke, spokesman for the Chandler district, said the calendar proposed by the hotel association would be very unpopular in Chandler, where the current modified year-round calendar has a 93 percent approval rating from parents.

Horne said having a uniform, state-mandated start date would overrule such local control. What it also would do, Horne said, is provoke anger.

“You learn from bitter experience not to mess with the calendar committee,” said Horne, who served on the Paradise Valley Unified School District governing board for 24 years.

“One year we changed it,” Horne recalled of his board. “And we got so much hostility for that, that we learned never to change that again.”

AH&LA AZ meeting still on despite call for boycott

Despite calls by some for a travel and tourism boycott in response to Arizona’s new immigration law, the hotel industry’s biggest lobby, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), has said it will not move or cancel its June summer summit meeting, scheduled for June 15-16 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We do not plan to move our summer meeting from Arizona,” AH&LA CEO Joe McInerney told USA Today, the paper reported yesterday. “It would send the wrong message to the industry.”

According to McInerney, AH&LA does not support a travel industry boycott of Arizona and—despite the large number of foreign-born workers in the hospitality industry—plans to stay out of the Arizona immigration debate.

“We do not support in any way a boycott of one of Arizona’s biggest industries because these ill-advised actions hurt the state’s 1,100 lodging properties and their 52,000 employees and their families,” he said in a separate statement, according to USA Today. “Attempting to score political points on a serious issue like immigration reform by hurting the livelihood of thousands of our employees is not a constructive way to solve one of the nation’s most vexing issues. We encourage visitors to travel to Arizona to support the state’s hospitality industry, and leave state politics to its residents.”