Venue Focus

THE HOLIDAY INN DOCKLANDS, which opened on the Excel campus in May, will be upgraded to a Crowne Plaza property this month, following an external and internal refurbishment of public areas, guest rooms and conference facilities. The change has been made in response to customer demand for a higher specification hotel.

Tel: 0870 990 9692 RE1008

THE EAST OF ENGLAND SHOWGROUND in Peterborough has opened The Cambridge Suite, to complement existing meeting facilities. Accommodating 550 people, the new space is linked to the Peterborough Suite to form a multifunctional complex. It will officially open in January, but is available for Christmas events.

Tel: 01733 234451 RE1009

EXPRESS BY HOLIDAY INN Hemel Hempstead is open for business following a £4.5m investment. As well as 116 guest rooms, it has four Meet Smart conference rooms each holding up to 40 people theatre-style.

Tel: 0870 4585485 RE1010

THE CROFT HOTEL, located near Darlington, has joined Best Western's portfolio of independently-owned hotels, after undergoing restoration and refurbishment. The 19th century former home of author Lewis Carroll offers meeting facilities for up to 150 delegates.

Tel: 01325 720319 RE1011

THE WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE will officially open on 26 November, and is expected to become one of the world's leading performing arts venues. As well as a 1,900-seat theatre, it also houses a 250-seat Studio Theatre plus corporate hospitality rooms.

Tel: 029 2040 2000 RE1012

CONGRESS CENTRE, in London's West End, opens The Bedford Suite this month. Situated close to the centre on Bedford Avenue, the facility comprises three meeting rooms, the largest seating 44 theatre-style. Tel: 020 7467 1318 RE1013. THE BRIDGE SE1, a flexible event venue located under London Bridge mainline station, re-launched in September following refurbishment. Improvements include new wooden floors and lighting plus the addition of a spectacular spandex tunnel in the entrance. Tel: 020 7940 6090 RE1016

WHITFIELD STREET STUDIOS, used by music business luminaries such as Madonna and Elton John, is offering Studio 1 for corporate hire. The venue provides a West End location, projection screen and non-tied catering agreement. It is ideal for receptions, dinners and product launches. Tel: 020 7636 3434 RE 1017

SWISSOTEL THE HOWARD, London, has introduced a temporary events venue for use during the winter season. The property's Winter Garden, a private courtyard garden, takes up to 300 people when used in combination with JAAN, the hotel's fine dining restaurant. Tel: 020 7300 1754 RE1018

SMOKE TREE RANCH, once the home of Walt Disney in Palm Springs, California, now offers guests a true desert experience. Its six cottages and 51 rustic bungalows are available for hire between October and April. Five meeting spaces are available, the largest holding up to 165 people. Tel: +1 800 787 3922 RE1019

KEMPINSKI HOTELS & RESORTS is renovating the Leela Kempinski hotel in Mumbai. The first phase is already close to completion and platform beds and a number of office areas have been added to several bedrooms. Tel: +91 80 2521 1234 RE1020

THE MERRION has opened its penthouse, offering striking views across Dublin. The 2,800ft2 residence over two levels has two main bedrooms and comes with its own rooftop terrace, complete with hot tub. Tel: +353 1 603 0600 RE1021

GRAN HOTEL BALNEARIO BLANCAFORT will reopen at the end of the year in La Garriga, on the outskirts of Barcelona. The five-star hotel has an auditorium, conference rooms and a 24-hour thermal centre with Balinese areas. Tel: +34 93 860 56 00 RE1022

REZIDOR SAS has taken over the Four Seasons Hotel in Berlin, and will operate under the Regent brand. Located in the Gendarmenmarkt, the function space in this five-star hotel can cater for 150 guests. Tel: +49 30 20 33 8 RE1123

LE MERIDIEN STUTTGART is to reopen in November following an extensive refurbishment. Located on Willy Brandt Strasse, C&I groups can make use of the ballroom, business suites and two executive floors. Tel: +49 71 122 210 RE1024

FOUR SEASONS Hotels and Resorts has added an Egyptian property to its portfolio. The Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is set in the heart of the city's prestigious Garden City district and offers 366 rooms. Tel: +202 791 7000 RE1025.

ALTAMER RESORT, on the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean, has opened its African Sapphire villa. With nine bedrooms and nine bathrooms, a private pool, home theatre and fitness centre, it is ideal for incentives. Guests can also make use of the state-of-the-art conference centre. Tel: +1 264 498 4000 RE1028

RACE RESORT ASCARI is now open to thrill-seeking groups with a sense of speed. Boasting the longest racetrack in Spain, the Andalucian resort also offers a race academy for budding drivers, while non-drivers can relax in the Cortijo clubhouse and enjoy the stunning views. Tel: +34 661 51 47 45 RE1029

SEILER HOTELS is celebrating its 150th anniversary next year and the group's flagship hotel is scheduled to reopen in time for the festivities. The five-star Hotel Mont Cervin, located in Zermatt, has been renovated and extended and the new luxury suites are the height of opulence. Tel: +41 27 966 88 88 RE1030.

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