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DENVER-Two months after he was thinking of tabling the $105-million, 528-room Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport, Mayor Wellington Webb has decided to move forward on it. The hotel, scheduled to open in 2004, is needed and will create jobs, he says.

In these times, it’s important to retain faith in the economy, he adds, and one way to show that is to move forward on project such as the Westin.

DIA will finance the construction of the hotel and own it. The hotel will be operated and managed by the Westin hotel chain. It will be located just southeast of the DIA terminal. DIA will service the debt on the bonds through revenue derived from the operation of the hotel. No tax dollars will be used to construct or operate it.

”The hotel is needed,” says Webb, noting that 2002 is on tap to become the second-best year ever for the total number of room nights associated with convention bookings.

”It’s an amenity that is an essential component of any major international airport,” Webb explains. ”It will provide additional convenience for business travelers and will provide the added benefit of meeting spaces and accommodations for passenger layovers. As one of the busiest international airports, there is a proven market for a hotel now and in thefuture.”

The Westin will be the fifth Starwood hotel in the Denver metro area, says Greg Mount, vice president of operations for the southwest region for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Westin’s parent.

”Denver has truly become a global player, and as business gets back to doing business, Denver International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, is a critical component of our future growth,” Mount says. ”Smart growth must provide a balance of infrastructure to meet the requirements of business travelers. First-class accommodations and meeting space located at the airport are vital.”

So far, 35% of the hotel’s design is completed. It will take another six to seven months to complete the design and produce construction documents necessary to bid for the construction. It will take at least 24 months to construct it.

The hotel will include 40,000 sf of meeting, exhibition and ballrooms; a fitness center and a lap pool; a full-service restaurant and a coffee shop; a business center and valet parking.

It’s anticipated that 85% of the guest will be arriving form the airport and 15% will be local arrivals.

The city will enforce a ”card check” agreement that requires a strict neutrality provision between the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and other unions.

Under this provision, employees of the new hotel will be able to decide if they want to be represented by HERE and other labor groups.

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