Whitby opens in New York

British husband and wife team Kit and Tim Kemp will open their second New York property, the Whitby Hotel, in February this year. The newest Firmdale Hotels property is situated in Upper Midtown Manhatten, the 86-room property is a short walk from Central Park and Broadway and within reach of several restaurants, galleries and museums. The Whitby Hotel offers three event and meeting spaces and a state-of-the-art cinema with 130 seats. Firmdale Hotels comprises eight luxury hotels in London, including The Soho Hotel and Haymarket Hotel, and a second New York property, Crosby Street Hotel, which opened in 2009.

ICC Birmingham and Vox go virtual

A 360-degree video that enables viewers to tour the International Convention Centre (ICC) Birmingham and the Vox Conference Centre remotely has been launched. The toolkit offers organisers an immersive experience as they take a virtual tour through the venues' event spaces. Kelly Haslehurst, head of marketing for the ICC and Vox, said: "A picture tells a thousand words and we wanted to create a new way to showcase both of our wonderful venues in their locations of Birmingham and Resorts World respectively. We think virtual reality is a key trend being used by event organisers and we wanted to take that concept to bring our venues to life. This is a great tool for our corporate clients and agencies alike to explore the space that we have to offer without having to leave their own office. Both venues have unique propositions that still images just can’t capture in the same way as actually immersing yourself into the environment and seeing it with your own eyes."

Unique Venues of London grows to 86

Sky Garden and 10-11 Carlton House Terrace have become the latest to join Unique Venues of London, bringing the total membership to 86. Situated in the iconic domed roof of 20 Fenchurch, Sky Garden spans three storeys and boasts London's highest landscaped public gardens. It offers events spaces with unrivalled panoramic views across the city and is available for private hire. 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, home of the British Academy, was originally constructed during the late 1820s and combines views of St. James's Park with high ceilings. Both venues were assessed through Unique Venues of London’s joining process, which includes complete financial declarations and a series of secret shopper visits to prospective members before a final presentation and subsequent vote from existing members. Commenting on the new appointments, Lisa Hatswell, general manager of Unique Venues of London, said: "We are delighted to welcome two diverse and different destinations to the membership, both Sky Garden and 10-11 Carlton House Terrace offer a perfect snapshot of the association breadth. We look forward to welcoming and involving both venues in our ongoing aim to unlock some of the capitals world-famous institutions and hidden gems for event organisers and bookers."

Dining in the Dolomites

Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf, situated in the picturesque UNESCO World Natural Heritage Dolomites, has unveiled its newly refurbished restaurant. The La Stube 1872 restaurant will be the central gourmet dining outlet of the hotel, featuring new fine dining menus that focus on fresh ingredients. The hotel's Il Gazebo space features 360 degree panoramic views of the surrounding dolomite mountains. The hotel is launching a Dinner Among the Stars package in celebration of the opening, featuring a four-course menu created by Michelin Star chef Graziano Prest. It will allow guests the opportunity to sample the best Italian cuisine while taking in the spectacular scenery of the Dolomite mountain range.

Madinat Jumeirah complete after hotel opening

The Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel has opened this month, bringing a contemporary architectural twist to its sister properties within Madinat Jumeirah Resort. The new resort represents the completion of Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian Resort of Dubai. It also marks the end of the Jumeirah Group’s transformation of two kilometres of coastline into a major tourist destination, a project that began in 1997 with the opening of Jumeirah Beach Hotel and continued with the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah. Richard Alexander, general manager, Jumeirah Al Naseem, said: "The last year has been a fascinating journey of planning and preparation for the opening of Jumeirah Al Naseem. In being given the challenge of writing the final chapter in the story of Madinat Jumeirah, we didn’t just want to create a 430-room beachfront hotel – we wanted to bring a wave of vibrancy that matches the energy of Dubai." The hotel also features seven restaurants and bars.

Cultural icon nears completion in Hamburg

A new cultural landmark is opening early next year in Hamburg, with the arrival of the Elbphilarmonie. The venue, on the banks of the river Elbe, includes three concert halls, hotel, private apartments and a public viewing area with 360 degree views. The heart of the venue is the Grand Hall, which sits 50 metres above ground level and has 2,100 seats. It's design ensures it remains soundproofed, resting on 362 giant spring assemblies which separate it from the rest of the building. The two other halls seat 550 and 170 visitors. The roof structure has been designed to resemble waves, and weights 8,000 tonnes. The Elbphilarmonie opens on 11 January 2017.

Futuristic design for Düsseldorf conventions

Congress Center Düsseldorf (CCD) has unveiled design plans for a facelift ahead of the construction of its new Hall 1. The venue has revealed a futuristic-looking redesign of its entrance CCD Süd, including a forecourt and underground carpark. One major feature is a 20-metre high, 7,800 sqm roof of translucent fibreglass cloth with LED lighting. The existing exhibition halls 1 and 2 will be replaced by a new 12,000 sqm column-free hall, with work expected to finish by summer 2019. "With the reconstruction and the increased capacity, the CCD Congress Center Düsseldorf is equipping itself even better for large conferences and corporate events. The highly modern building and the location on the Rhine and the Nordpark, increase the quality of event participants’ stay," said Hilmar Guckert, spokesman of the Düsseldorf Congress Sport & Event management board.

W Hotels Worldwide makes Las Vegas debut

W Hotels Worldwide, now part of Marriott International, has made its Las Vegas debut with the opening of W Las Vegas. W transformed a 289-room tower of SLS Las Vegas, providing guests a brand new elevated hotel-within-a-hotel experience, located on the emerging north end of the Vegas strip. The 289 rooms at W Las Vegas were designed by Philippe Starck, while the hotel offers three floors and 1,400 sqm of brand new meeting and event space. The adjacent SLS Las Vegas hotel serves up an additional 7,400 sqm of flexible meeting and event space. Anthony Ingham, global brand leader at W, said: “W Las Vegas will show guests a different side of the strip, offering an unexpected and irreverent twist on the typical Sin City experience.”

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