Business Briefcase: Full-service hotel opens near mall

Business Briefcase: Full-service hotel opens near mall

April 8th, 2012 by Ellis Smith and Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Full-service hotel opens near mall

The InterContinental Hotels Group, the world's largest hotel group by number of rooms, opened the 137-room Holiday Inn-Hamilton Place last week at 2220 Center St., just off Shallowford Road near Interstate 75. It is the only full-service hotel outside of downtown Chattanooga.

Michael Rose, the hotel's general manager, said the new inn is within walking distance to the Texas Roadhouse and Fuji Japanese Restaurants and the newly opened CarMax.

The hotel offers more than 2,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, a 24-hour business center and complimentary wireless Internet service. Other amenities include the full-service FUSE restaurant and lounge, an indoor heated pool, fitness center, sundry shop, and coin laundry.

Phone company raises the roof

Workers replacing a roof at AT&T's downtown headquarters last week used a crane to haul their tools to the top of the tall, concrete building.

"We're building a new roof on top of the building," said Cathy Lewandowski, senior public relations manager for AT&T.

But one tool, shaped like a small room, was larger than the others.

The crane carefully hauled a portable toilet to the top of the building, where it remained until the workers completed their work.

VW's Up! wins world car award

The Volkswagen Up! small city car won the 2012 World Car of the Year, defeating its rivals BMW 3 Series and Porsche 911.

Oliver Stefani, the chief designer of the VW Up!, said "the goal of this car was to make something small great."

The Up! went on sale in Europe in December, but it is not yet available in the United States. VW has not announced whether it would bring the Up! car with its 1.0-liter engine and less than 100 horsepower to the American market.

The World Car Awards jurors said the Up! "has altered what we have come to expect from the city car segment."

In a departure from the original transverse rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive concept version of the Up!, the production version employs a more conventional transverse front-engine/front-wheel-drive layout more in keeping with the rest of the Volkswagen lineup.

In Europe, the Up! will be sold exclusively with a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder TSI gasoline engine. New to the Volkswagen lineup, it comes in two states of tune: a base 59-hp version that is claimed to return 56 mpg on the combined European consumption cycle and a sportier 74-hp version rated at 54.6 mpg. Gearbox choices are set to include a standard five-speed manual and a new six-speed clutchless unit.

Oddly, given that the initial sales focus for the new Volkswagen is firmly on Europe, there is no diesel engine option. Instead, Volkswagen will sell the Up! with a 68-hp version of the turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine capable of running on natural gas.

Although it won't be available from the start of sales, Volkswagen has also confirmed plans for a plug-in electric version of the Up!

Conceived to be sold in many of Volkswagen existing markets, the Up! will initially be produced at an existing Volkswagen factory in Slovakia -- the same site responsible for the Touareg and its sister models, the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. However, plans also exist for production in Brazil, China, India and Russia.

While there are no immediate plans to sell the Up! in North America, Volkswagen is considering using a lengthened version of its front-wheel-drive MQB platform for a production version of the Bulli, shown as a concept car at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show back in March, tentatively due out in 2014.

CAR magazine says VW is planning Up! to sell for between $9,000 and $14,000, depending on market, body style, and standard equipment.

Normal and turbocharged gasoline units to go along with a turbocharged diesel. Though power outputs range from just 60 to 86 horsepower, performance should be respectable, as the 2012 Volkswagen Up reportedly weighs well under 2,000 lb.

Transmissions will likely comprise a 6-speed manual and an optional automated manual, probably the new lower-cost 7-speed version of VW's DSG Direct Shift Gearbox. Fuel economy should be eye-popping.

CAR reports that VW is aiming for around 66 mpg overall with the base gasoline engine and an amazing 95 mpg with the turbodiesel.

Best companies for reputations

Food and beverage companies displaced Internet darlings in this year's top rankings by the Reputation Institute compiled for Forbes magazine.

Amazon in the United States and Google around the world had been the best companies for reputation in 2011. But in the new Reputation Institute study, food & beverage and consumer product companies roared back to the top of the reputation heap.

General Mills ranked No. 1 in the study, followed by Kraft at No. 2, Johnson and Johnson at No. 3 and Kellogg's at No. 4. Amazon ranked No. 5 this year and Apple placed No. 8.