August 14, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Let the countdown begin. There's a year to go before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and visitors are already eagerly plotting their trips to the Chinese capital. A good bet is the award-winning Shangri-La Hotel, recently renovated with a spectacular $50 million Valley Wing, contemporary restaurant Blu Lobster (with the most extensive selection of Bordeaux wines in the city), and CHI Spa, one of the most luxurious spa facilities in Beijing. Guests of the new Valley Wing enjoy an unparalleled level of service with chauffeur-driven limousines, exclusive check-in lounge, 24-hour butler service, and complimentary breakfast, snacks, wines and canapés in the grand Valley Wing Lounge. A landmark in the western part of the city close to the Summer Palace and the Beijing Exhibition hall, the Shangri-La also features a state-of-the-art health club with heated indoor pool and rooftop garden. Don't miss an excursion on the River Dragon, the exclusive touring boat moored at the hotel which offers four cruises daily to the Summer Palace, passing by old bridges, temples, and traditional Chinese courtyard houses on the riverbanks.
Pictured: The new treatment rooms at the CHI Spa. Each CHI suite features a changing area and rain shower, in addition to heat treatments, bathing and relaxation spaces. Inspired by traditional Asian healing philosophies, CHI offers treatments and therapies that combine the healing rituals and traditions of China and the Himalayas.
This is music to our ears. The Tides, the high design hotel brand in "chic by the shore" settings from the Kor Hotel Group, has added another gorgeous resort to its impressive collection. Formerly Villa del Sol, the award-winning Zihuatanejo resort joins The Tides South Beach in Florida and The Tides Riviera Maya on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Listed on Travel and Leisure's 500 List and named "Most Outstanding Hotel" by Condé Nast Johansens, The Tides Zihuatanejo blends the casual romance of beachfront lifestyle with the coveted seclusion of a lush garden retreat. Located above a picturesque fishing village on Mexico's Pacific Coast, the hotel boasts signature Tides amenities, exclusive butler services, infinity pools, a world-class spa, and an enhanced beach experience, with the high-noon complimentary beverage refresher service and doting Beach Butlers who provide tanning products, neck cushions, iPods, and cocktail services. Seventy guestrooms and suites, housed in two-storey adobe-inspired casitas, afford stunning jungle and ocean views across a beautiful private beach. The restaurant, one of the new brand-signature La Marea restaurants, offers the freshest seafood with a beach club ambience. Lucky couples can take advantage of the private lagoon dinner on a small island in the resort's lagoon-- for the ultimate romantic dining experience.
Celebrate summer with handcrafted cocktails, music and massage in poolside cabanas at Scottsdale's chic urban resort, Hotel Valley Ho. With the "So Summer" package, rooms go for a paltry $149 per night, including a complimentary cocktail to toast your arrival, free appetizer at Trader Vic's, and 10 percent off your first VH Spa treatment. Paying tribute to its classic mid-century design, the original hide-away for Bogart, Bing and Marilyn re-opened in 2005 with gorgeous enhancements and impressive amenities. Signature guest rooms feature terrazzo tile baths behind translucent walls, a 32-inch HD LCD flat-screen TV and WiFi, and an all-glass wall opening onto a private patio or balcony.
In a city of superb restaurants, The Dining Room at Ritz-Carlton still manages to stand out. Some of San Francisco's most exciting food is being served at one of its swankiest addresses (The Ritz-Carlton is the city's only Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond hotel). Chef Ron Siegel cooks up modern French cuisine with Japanese accents; he's into food, not fad. Zagat explains, "Not just TV fans cheer on "Iron Chef" Ron Siegel-- class act patrons jest he should be knighted for his dazzling sublime prix fixe menus." Just blocks from beloved city landmarks like Union Square, The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton stands proud atop of Nob Hill. One of only two restaurants in Cali to earn Mobil's Five-Star Award for 2007, the restaurant also boasts one of the largest collections of rare vintage wines and single malt scotch collections in the U.S.
Steal away to Colorado's Rocky Mountains and unwind Aspen-style at the Hotel Jerome. For as little as $450 per night, you can indulge in the Summer Serenity package, which includes a 50-minute in-room massage per person, a bath butler turndown with your choice of aromatherapy oils, continental breakfast for two at Jacob's Corner and a delicious fresh-fruit plate and sparkling water upon arrival. Since 1889, the award-winning Hotel Jerome has charmed guests with its relaxed elegance, personalized service, and exceptional accommodations in the heart of Aspen. Indeed, Hotel Jerome, now a National Register Landmark, is oft considered the very symbol of Aspen.
August 10, 2007
By: Editorial AdvisoryBoard
Currently, Mr. Scott VandenBerg oversees the operation of Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead, a sub-city of Atlanta Georgia. In his role as General Manager, he manages 46 managers and 235 employees at the 4-diamond property. He grew up in western Michigan and started his hotel career at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. He has been at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta for three years and took some time to answer our questions.
Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is a sophisticated retreat with the largest guest rooms in Buckhead. Our Buckhead Atlanta luxury hotel combines relaxation with the conveniences and excitement of the city.
Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the Grand Hyatt Atlanta's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel’s location at the intersection of Peachtree and Piedmonth allows access to some of the best shopping and dining in the Southeast.
Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The Grand Hyatt is host to many celebrities that visit the Atlanta area that include Bono from U2, Madonna, P-Diddy, Whitney Houston and Eric Clapton. It has also hosted Presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel has one of the most successful kosher kitchens in the Atlanta area and is led by Chef Billy Skiber. The hotel is host to many of the city’s most profile events including the Susan b. Komen Pink Tie Ball, Childhood Autism Foundation Candlelight Ball and National Kidney Foundation Gift of Life Gala.
Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: All of the guest rooms in the hotel are wonderful; however, the Presidential Suite is a home away from home. It features a dining area with an eight-person table, a sitting area with sofas and chairs and a full kitchen. The living rooms is outfitted with such luxury items as an iPod with docking station, home theater system with DVD library and multiple flat panel plasma televisions.
Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I would want to know all of the amenities that the hotel offers and what type of entertainment options are available in the area.
Five Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the hotel?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: I knew from the moment I joined Hyatt in 1979 that I would like to climb the corporate structure and one day become a General Manager. I joined the company as a corporate management trainee. After working at 15 different Hyatts in many different positions, I was able to obtain my first GM job at Hyatt Westlake in Westlake Village California. After 4 years there, I became GM at Hyatt Regency Islandia in San Diego, California. I was successful at that property and after 4 years there, I was offered a chance to become GM at Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead. The entire process took a lot of hard work, dedication and a drive to continue to succeed.
Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hotel customers are 50% group and 50% transient and come from all over the U.S. and some international as well.
Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: The hardest part of being a GM is trying to fit all of your obligations to community, staff, owners, guests and corporate office into a daily schedule. You are always "on the run" and meeting different people with needs for your time. If I could change one part of the hotel, it would be to add more public function space to the property. We are a very popular upscale venue and we must turn down some events due to previous bookings
Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Favorite other hotels - Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills is a classy hotel with a great clientele and a wonderful location, Grand Hyatt Kauai is a beautiful property that is very relaxing, Park Hyatt Paris is known for their excellent service and top of the world reputation.
Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?
Mr. Scott VandenBerg: Grand Hyatt Atlanta is located on the prime corner of Buckhead and is a leader in Atlanta's hotel industry. The hotel ranks among the top 20 hotels in Hyatt's North American portfolio on customer service, facility design and services. The location lends itself to convenience when shopping or dining at the city's finest stores and restaurants. The staff is seasoned and will take care of guests needs with ease. We welcome you to experience the Hyatt touch at this magnificent facility.
Mr. Scott VandenBerg grew up in western Michigan and graduated from Holland High School in his hometown of Holland Michigan. He started in the hospitality industry at the age of 16 working for Holiday Inn in the Stewarding department. After performing several different jobs at this Inn, he decided that he liked the hotel business and wanted to go to Michigan State University to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. He graduated from Michigan State University with honors obtaining his B/A degree in business specializing in hotel/restaurant and institutional management. After graduation, he joined Hyatt's Management training program in 1979 and relocated to San Diego California. His career has taken him all over the United States, Canada, Caribbean and Hawaii. As a 27-year veteran of Hyatt, Scott has worked at 15 different Hyatt Hotels of which 5 were new openings. Additionally, he assisted in the opening of two other Hyatt Hotels. Scott's hobbies include skiing, hiking, gardening and outdoor activities. He also enjoys his two Corvettes and loves to ride his Harley around Georgia’s back roads on weekends.
Imagine: a host of teeming marine life-- trumpet fish, white and black tip reef sharks, and turtles-- right outside your villa sundeck. Cocoa Island, the Indian Ocean outpost from COMO Hotels and Resorts (the folks behind Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos), is located in a quiet atoll where the waters are undisturbed. Diving in the Maldives is rated among the best in the world, and Cocoa Island has an on-site dive center staffed by PADI certified instructors catering to every level of experience. You can rent equipment, enroll in PADI sanctioned diving courses, and adventure out on safari dives farther afield. You can even take part in night dives. Cocoa Island's house reef stretches to over 500 meters along the southern flank of the atoll, and with a visibility of 20 to 25 meters, both divers and snorkelers are delighted by the exquisite coral and its thriving ecosystem.
Come September 1st, The Peninsula Tokyo will dazzle guests with the legendary glamour and prized service of The Peninsula brand. With the Tokyo debut, The Peninsula Hotels opens its eighth hotel worldwide-- and guests are in for a treat. Rooms are among the city's largest and boast stunning views of the Tokyo skyline, Imperial Gardens and Hibiya Park. Forget multi-use high-rises or office buildings; the 24-floor hotel is the only free-standing luxury hotel to be built in Tokyo in more than a decade. Conveniently situated in the business district of Marunouchi on Harumi-dori Avenue and Naka-dori Avenue, located near the shopping capital of Ginza, The Peninsula Tokyo is a contemporary homage to Japanese heritage and culture, with traditional accents in the guest rooms, along with all the comforts and innovative technology to be expected in this tech capital. Sophisticated facilities include five unique restaurants, a modern lounge bar, two ballrooms, six elegantly designed function rooms, a wedding chapel, a Japanese ceremony room, a fitness center, The Peninsula Spa by ESPA and three luxury jewelry shops, all making their retail debut in Japan-- GRAFF, de GRISOGONO and Chantecler Tokyo.
Discover the best of Barcelona on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From museum hopping to boat trips, from Gaudi's architecture to gothic cathedrals, from reflexology massages by the pool to personal shopping tours, Hotel Arts Barcelona understands the art of enjoying summer. A member of the Ritz-Carlton family of hotels, Hotel Arts Barcelona overlooks miles of Barcelona beachfront and the grand vista of Port Olimpic. The view may be nice, but the hotel's striking contemporary architecture is really what turns heads. In addition, there is a spectacular collection of Spanish contemporary art housed in the hotel. Sit down for an al fresco meal, fanned by a mild summer breeze, at the Restaurante Marina. Sink into a soft sofa on Arola's chill-out terrace, sipping a cocktail and sharing tapas. This is what summer's all about. The hotel also boasts a stunning Spa by Six Senses on the 43rd floor, outdoor pool, open-air Jacuzzi in terraced gardens, and a fitness center with personal fitness consultations.
Everything about this joint encapsulates the over-the-top vibe of Sin City. The best views in Vegas? Check. The best décor? Hands down. Truly one-of-a-kind culinary creations? You'll be begging for more. After all, Mix is the vision of Alain Ducasse, the renowned celebrity chef whose stellar restaurants have catapulted him into stardom. You'll be tempted with contemporary and classic French and American dishes with global accents, as well as signature dishes from Ducasses' restaurants in Paris and Monte Carlo. At Mix, the setting high atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay is as much an experience as the cuisine. The cutting-edge restaurant is adorned in white and silver, distinguished by sweeping staircases, mid-century modern furniture, and an incredible 24-foot chandelier of 15,000 hand-blown glass spheres. It's no wonder Mix was named "Best Restaurant" by the Travel+Leisure Design Awards 2006. Dinner only. Reservations a must.