Black Meetings and Tourism

May/June 2014

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Houston First Corporation, the parent organization that operates the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center, was part of recent celebra- tion to mark groundbreaking of the 1,000-room Marriott Marquis Houston hotel. The convention headquarters hotel will sit on 2.6 acres adjacent to the George R. Brown. It is scheduled to open in summer 2016. "It's hard to overstate the value of having a second 1,000-room hotel attached to the George R. Brown," Houston First chairman Ric Campo said at ceremonies held on April 11. "This is a vitally important tool in our tool belt and one that opens up an entirely new universe of mega-conventions for which we can now be competitive. This will expand on the enormous growth planned for this area and will allow us to successfully host more major events, such as the 2017 Super Bowl." The $350 million project was initially proposed in 2012 by Houston First, RIDA Development Corporation and Ares Management. RIDA, which is based in Houston, is a full-service real estate organization that has created and invested in developments for more than 40 years. RIDA has regional offices in Orlando, FL, and Warsaw, Poland. RIDA landmark projects include: • ChampionsGate Community, master planned community development in Florida • Warsaw Trade Tower, the largest office tower in Central Europe • Hilton Orlando, a 1,400-room convention center hotel The new Marriott Marquis will be the first in Houston and the sixth in the company's flagship Marriott Hotels brand portfolio. Marriott Marquis is a brand extension of Marriott Hotels, located in gateway cities, featuring iconic architec- ture, and multiple food and beverage venues. Marriott Marquis properties are known for their expertise in hosting large conventions and meetings as well as serving business and leisure travelers. "We couldn't be more pleased to add another Marriott Hotels proper- ty to our port folio in Houston, to enhance both tourism and business- related experiences in this thriving city," said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. "Marriott Marquis hotels are nationally recognized for incredible amenities and service, and we are delighted to offer this in downtown Houston." The hotel, in addition to featuring more than 166,000 sq. ft. of meeting, banquet and exhibition space, will offer exciting features and amenities such as a resort-style deck, infinity pool and Texas-shaped lazy river for outdoor activities. With signature restaurants and street-level retail adjacent to Discovery Green park and hotel lobby entrances, the Marriott Marquis Houston will be connected to the convention center, enhancing the dynamic, pedestri- an-friendly environment downtown. Houston First owns and operates the 1,200-room Hilton Americas- Houston hotel, which opened in December 2003 just weeks before Houston previously hosted the Super Bowl in 2004.The Hilton is attached the GRB at the south end of the building. When the Marriott is complet- ed at the north end, Houston will have the ability to offer 2,200 rooms attached to the downtown convention center. "It's really a game changer for our convention district and the ability for Houston to host large conventions," Campo said. HOUSTON'S GEORGE R. BROWN ADDS SECOND HEADQUARTERS HOTEL Ground Broken for 1,000-room Marriott Marquis to Adjoin Convention Center B M & T ••• May/June 2014 ••• 10 H O T E L H A P P E N I N G S Houston First board members and staff participating in groundbreaking for the Marriott Marquis Houston with RIDA Development president Ira Mitzner (sev- enth from left) are, from left, Peter McStravick, Dave Osterhout, Sharon Adams, Lisa Hargrove, C.C. Conner Jr., Desrye Morgan, Mitzner, David Solomon, Ric Campo, Katy Caldwell, Richard Rabinow, Thomas Deon Warner, Dawn Ullrich, Luther Villagomez and Brenda Bazan.

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