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Hotel Happenings

HOLIDAY INN-AMARILLO OPENS CRYBABIES DINER AMARILLO, Texas-The Holiday Inn-Amarillo, which has recently completed a $2.5 million renovation, has opened its Crybabies Diner, a new concept tested here for possible development in select hotels nationwide. Designed to better adapt to the fluctuating volume of patrons, the Crybabies Diner provides numerous service styles, from traditional seating and table service to guests' seating and partially serving themselves. The restaurant, which features a nostalgic retro design, offers booth, table and counter seating, the latter to benefit single diners such as business travelers. The menu features burgers, blue-plate specials and other comfort foods; the most expensive item costs $6.75.

TRAVELING EXECS EAT HEALTHFUL BREAKFASTS ATLANTA-Holiday Inn Express recently surveyed 1,000 executives on their travel breakfast eating habits. The survey revealed that 57 percent of the polled executives don't go back for seconds at hotel breakfast buffets; 47 percent stick to the same breakfast routine when traveling as they do at home; 63 percent say it's not hard to find a nutritious breakfast on the road, and 25 percent believe the true "breakfast of champions" is a whole-grain cereal.

HISTORIC CASA MONICA HOTEL IN ST. AUGUSTINE REOPENS ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.-Following a two-year, $17 million renovation, Casa Monica Hotel, originally opened in 1888, reopened in December, making it the oldest hotel located in St. Augustine, the oldest U.S. city. One of the first structures to be constructed of poured concrete, the hotel served as an elite social destination until the Depression forced its closure in 1931. The hotel, which was designed and built by YMCA-founder Franklin W. Smith of Boston, includes the 164-seat, fine-dining 95 Cordova Restaurant, offering local seafood and international specialties; and 5,000 square feet of meeting and function space.

BENNIGAN'S AND RAMADA FORM ALLIANCE PLANO, Texas-S&A Restaurant Corp., a division of Metromedia Restaurant Group, has entered into a strategic relationship that aligns Bennigan's Irish American Grill & Tavern with Ramada Franchise Systems. Through the agreement, Bennigan's becomes a preferred foodservice provider to Ramada operators and will be given top consideration to develop restaurants in Ramada hotels. "Many hotel operators have seen internalized foodservice as a heavy but necessary burden for their lodging properties," said Steven Belmonte, president and CEO of Ramada Franchise Systems. "Our arrangement with Bennigan's enables our operators to focus on their core lodging business."

Rubbell Hotels has named chef, author, teacher and food writer Sheila Lukins as food guru for the company's newest property, the Beach House Bal Harbour in Surfside, Fla. She will create all menus and recipes for the property's oceanfront restaurant, the Atlantic, and oversee all food-related aspects of the hotel. phone: 305/535-8600

Olimpia Tammaro is the new catering director at Loews Hotel Vogue, Montreal. phone: 514/285-5709

Philip Kendall, formerly of the Hyatt Hotel chain, is the new vice president of food and beverage at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, headquartered in White Plains, N.Y. He succeeds Dante Alexander, who has been promoted to vice president of brand operations. phone: 914/640-8100

Chris Blobaum has been appointed executive chef of Cezanne, the fine dining restaurant at the new Le Merigot Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. Blobaum's emphasis at Cezanne is French cuisine with Pacific Rim accents. phone: 310/395-9700

Thomas Whitney has been named director of food and beverage at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (Md.). phone: 301/657-1234

Steve Peterson is the new corporate executive chef for the Westin Hotels & Resorts chain. He is responsible for all food and beverage elements at Westin's more than 100 properties worldwide. phone: 914/640-8487. Steve Hall is the new hotel manager of food and beverage at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites in Los Angeles. phone: 213/624-1000

Nancy Lyon has been appointed director of conference services and catering for The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. phone: 314/719-1406

Tim McGregor, formerly of the Hyatt Hotel chain, is the new food and beverage director at the Monterey (Calif.) Plaza Hotel & Spa. Richard Hill is the new spa director. phone: 831/646-1700

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