Tourism & Hospitality

Plan would make Monument Circle grand public spaceRestricted Content

September 15, 2008
Cory Schouten

A group of local business and civic leaders is working on a plan to transform the city's most visible symbol into a public-gathering space without equal in the United States. Monument Circle already hosts dozens of activities each year--including major concerts like last year's NFL Kickoff--and it will host several events connected to the 2012 Super Bowl. But many stakeholders believe the Circle has yet to live up to its true potential.

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First-ever driving festival could put French Lick on the map of exotic vehiclesRestricted Content

September 1, 2008
Chris O\'malley

Organizers of the inaugural World Class Driving Festival at the West Baden Springs Hotel Sept. 3-7 hope to put Indiana on the map when it comes to exotic cars and potentially lucrative business opportunities surrounding the accompanying lifestyle.


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NCAA mum on date to reopen fire-damaged Hall of ChampionsRestricted Content

August 25, 2008
Sam Stall

Almost a full year after a fire in a single exhibit closed the NCAA Hall of Champions, the wait for the college sports museum's reopening is becoming as prolonged and agonizing as sitting through a college football game during a freezing November rain. The NCAA is apparently in no hurry to relieve the suspense.

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EYE ON THE PIE: How I spent my summer vacationRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Morton Marcus
Helen Heavybreath is one of the most intrusive persons in my life. She always wants to know, "Where have you been? What have you been doing? Whom did you see?" At least the woman's grammar is good. Before she accosts me again, I will report my vacation activities. What do you think an economist would do this summer, given current circumstances? Quite naturally, high gasoline prices induced me to take a 3,000-mile driving vacation from Indiana into Colorado, New Mexico...
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Center at IU helps nation's rec areas become inclusive: Venues of all types, sizes learn methods to make attractions more accessible to visitors with disabilitiesRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Since its inception, the center's staff has worked with venues ranging from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to local parks in the Indianapolis area. Besides facilities, it also comes to the aid of individuals. Recently, the center helped a bride who wanted to get married on the beach at sunset. A family member uses an electric wheelchair, so the center offered advice to her Florida hotel on how to construct a portable wheelchair path to the ceremony that...
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State Fair brings in bounty of corporate sponsorshipsRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Andrea Muirragui Davis

An economic dry spell may have corporate America praying for rain, but tough times have led to a bountiful year at the Indiana State Fair. Two weeks before the fair's Aug. 6 start date, corporate sponsorships were running 22 percent ahead of 2007, surpassing $1.5 million for the first time.

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Hotels feeling travel slump: City occupany rates fall, but downtown operators performing well this year thanks to convention bizRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Scott Olson
Staggeringly high gasoline prices and a sputtering economy are preventing scores of would-be travelers from packing up their thirsty sport-utility vehicles and heading to their favorite vacation destinations. Nationwide, hotel occupancy rates slipped to 68 percent through June of this year, down from 71 percent the same time last year, according to the most recent data from Tennessee-based Smith Travel Research. For the most part, local hotel operators are feeling the same pain. Through the first six months of the...
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Tourism chief excited to sell world on Indianapolis: Former Seattle exec will have work cut out for himRestricted Content

June 30, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Few in Indianapolis' hospitality community knew what to think when Donald Welsh announced he was leaving Seattle to lead convention and tourism efforts here. But Seattle insiders say their loss is Indianapolis' gain. "He's behind a lot of the energy in the [Seattle] organization and getting people engaged," said Anthony Anton, president of the Washington Restaurant Association. That energy will be needed at the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, which is working to fill an expanded Indiana Convention Center and...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Sky-high gas prices are revving up the political rhetoricRestricted Content

June 2, 2008
Mike Hicks
From all the noise surrounding gasoline prices, you'd think nobody actually benefited from the high prices. But, of course, some folks do benefit. Let's figure out who they might be. Obviously, consumers don't benefit. The average car owner in the United States pays about $80 more per month with gas at $4 per gallon than he did back when it was $2.25. Not good news, of course, but hardly the end of the world. Folks who provide goods and services...
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Central Canal might get floating stageRestricted Content

May 26, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
A floating stage for concerts and a submarine memorial are in the works for Indianapolis' Central Canal, adding to the downtown waterway's growing base of attractions. Efforts to develop a one-acre site at the heart of the canal, meanwhile, remain stalled.
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Zoobilation sells out fast despite $200-plus admissionRestricted Content

May 5, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Far from the typical rubber-chicken fund-raiser attended mostly by board members and their friends--Zoobilation, the 22-year-old, annual black-tie fund-raiser for the Indianapolis Zoo--attracts 4,300 ticket holders eager to spend an evening wining and dining at the zoo.
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Commentary: Do we need a disaster to wake us up?Restricted Content

April 28, 2008
Tawn Parent
About 20,000 historic properties were damaged in the storm, and Gay, executive director of Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, has led the charge to save them. "We never felt like throwing up our hands," Gay said. "We don't do that." The Preservation Resource Center contacted owners of the nearly 4,000 historic properties that were condemned after the hurricane. About 600 of them have been spared to date. The PRC also has been helping review the planned demolition of buildings...
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Film exec returns home to sell state: New tax credits helpful, but not enough to make Indiana stand out as movie venueRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
When Erin Newell was growing up in Greenwood, she and a friend would swipe her dad's video camera and make movies in the basement. As a student at Ball State University, she studied filmmaking. And when she graduated, she was out like a shot to Los Angeles. Now, nearly nine years later-after scoring production and assisting credits on movies that even everyday folks have heard of-she's back in Indiana, helping to beef up the state's film-production industry so others might...
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THE TRAVELING LIFE: Not for the night life: On tour in Saudi Arabia

March 31, 2008
Frank Basile
Shortly after arriving in Jeddah, it became clear that you don't go to Saudi Arabia for its night life. With very little interaction of the sexes, a virtual ban on flirtation, a total prohibition on alcohol, smoking, dancing and movies, there was not much for our little tour group to do after dinner each evening. As for the days, well, they were different than anything you could experience here in the U.S. ... particularly for the women in our group....
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Brown County tourism industry feuds over how to ward off a slumpRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Jonathan Hiskes
Among those who stake their livelihood on tourism there is a sense that Brown County is at a crossroads. That dilemma is evident in decisions about whether to refurbish aging hotel rooms, update restaurant decor or close shop for the off-season.
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Pedestrian bridge to state park still in the works: White River venues think hotel complex will be a boostRestricted Content

February 4, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Developers of the $425 million hotel complex downtown still are working out plans for a pedestrian bridge spanning Washington Street that will connect it to White River State Park. Merrillville-based White Lodging Co. and Indianapolis-based REI Real Estate Services proposed a connector-either a bridge or an underground tunnel-in early designs of the convention hotel complex at the southwest corner of West and Washington streets. Although later site plans did not include the link, REI President Mike Wells said the developers...
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Conrad manager says four-diamond award perfect fit for marketRestricted Content

January 14, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Almost two years after opening, the Conrad Indianapolis hasn't received a Mobil Travel Guide review, and its four-diamond AAA ranking puts it on par with five other Indianapolis hotels--most of which target conventioneers and business travelers.
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Convention Center President Bob Bedell to retireRestricted Content

January 7, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Bob Bedell worked behind the scenes for months--if not years--to make the case for expanding the Indiana Convention Center and building a 1,000-room hotel nearby. But someone else will have to fill both venues with visitors. The 60-year-old Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association president has said he'll retire at the end of June.
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Event planners revive venues: Oasis finds new use for eatery, spruces up MuratRestricted Content

December 31, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
When John Stowers was looking to move on from his job managing several nightclubs for an Indianapolisbased partnership in 2002, he and his wife, Patti, wanted to buy a bar he could run. In the process of venue shopping, they stumbled across a space for lease-The Terrace at Market Tower, a restaurant on the second floor of the office building at 10 W. Market St. Like other so-called amenity restaurants, The Terrace was more a perk for building tenants than...
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THE TRAVELING LIFE: Genghis Khan slept-and was admired-here

December 31, 2007
Frank Basile
Before we landed at the Genghis Khan Airport, checked into the Genghis Khan Hotel, and drank Genghis Khan beer, everything we had heard about the most famous Mongol of all time was negative. But that changed when we visited Mongolia in September. You might wonder what nice things could be said about a guy who conquered more territory in 25 years than the Romans did in 400? Well, the people we encountered perceived him as a combination of George Washington,...
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Union push under way at 2 Indianapolis hotels: They would be first to unionize in central IndianaRestricted Content

December 24, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
Employees at two Indianapolis hotels have begun a push to unionize-a move that, if successful, would make the properties the only union hotels in central Indiana. Several workers at the downtown Westin and the Keystone Sheraton have met with representatives of New York-based Unite Here, a labor group that represents about 440,000 hospitality and textile employees nationwide. Both hotels are part of Bethesda, Md.-based Host Hotels & Resorts Inc.'s global portfolio. Backers said a union is needed to raise wages...
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VIEWPOINT: Why did we allow gambling to seduce us?Restricted Content

December 24, 2007
Tom Henderson
The money is seductive: an "easy" $1.6 billion. That's what gambling brought to Indiana in taxes this year. The prize might not be as big in 2008. There's new competition. And a big drop in gambling revenue would spoil the negotiations that all the nervous Indiana politicians have been doing. Their jobs are on the line, and they know it. Hoosiers are embarrassed. They don't like that. I have a beautiful picture of two of my children standing inside the...
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Commentary: A foreign investment that is sure to pay offRestricted Content

December 10, 2007
Brian Williams
As the year draws to a close, the business community remains focused on taxes and the health of the economy. The governor's privatization of the Indiana Toll Road generated a windfall of $3 billion. If managed properly, that money should fund Indiana's road and bridge repair work. However, perhaps we should consider investing some of the interest to radically change our stature in the global economy. Canada possesses coastlines along the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans; has abundant natural resources,...
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'Voluntourism' pioneer wants to go corporate: Once province of colleges, Ambassadors branches into businessRestricted Content

December 3, 2007
Chris O\'malley
Companies wanting to build camaraderie and teamwork often send their employees on the all-too-predictable retreat. A couple of hours down the road, in a restful setting, they'll do role-playing games and problem-solving exercises. These corporate chums will cap it off with a bar tab equivalent to the national debt of Belize. Sally Brown thinks she has a better alternative to the typical company retreat. Why not send those employees to Belize? Or how about El Salvador, or even India, for...
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A&E: A&E goes on a road trip: 'Wicked' in the Windy City

December 3, 2007
Lou Harry
Musical-theater buffs in Indianapolis know that an occasional trip to Chicago is a must. Savvy ticket buyers willing to schlep up Interstate 65 have gotten advance looks at such longrunning Broadway hits as "Mamma Mia!," "Aida," "Monty Python's Spamalot" and "The Producers" before they opened in New York (and years before their tours arrived here). Right now, though, the big musical draws in Chicago-"Wicked" and "Jersey Boys"-aren't pre- but, rather, post-Broadway. And more than just stopping in the Windy City...
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