October 4, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
2012 will be a big year for Britain, says Travel Agent Magazine. London is prepping for a series of blockbuster events, starting with the Queen's Jubilee in June, honoring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne (can we say gigantic flotilla on the Thames?) If you're eager to get in on the action, and also partake in Olympic fever, it's best to book your hotel room ASAP. The USA Today reports that "hotels are expected to fill about 92% of their rooms, which will mean many sold-out nights"-- according to a new forecast from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. "And that's despite a number of new hotels that have opened, including Dorchester Collection's tony 45 Park Lane in Mayfair and Starwood's trendy W in the heart of Leicester Square."
Looking for a hotel in London or the surrounding area? Five Star Alliance has a number of recommendations- whether you want a family-friendly boutique hotel or an opulent palace on the Thames. There are also a slew of four-star hotels available.
Pictured: The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments.
September 30, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
When The Savoy opened its gilded gates in London last year after a staggering £220 million restoration project, London couldn't stop talking about it. (And when we dropped by for a visit earlier this year, there was an impressive line of visitors gawking at the famous bars and lobby.) A lot of ink has been spilled about the "most ambitious hotel restoration in British history"-- but did you know that it was also an eco-friendly one? (Fairmont-- who manages the hotel-- gets serious props for its green programs.) The Savoy is all about sustainable luxury, having installed the latest in green technology in the hotel, and having launched various sustainable initiatives. To show guests the green side of London, the hotel has launched "The Savoy Elements Package." Here's what it includes:
* Overnight accommodation
* Return transfers in a luxury hybrid vehicle from a London airport or station
* A “Savoy Green Butler” to assist with requests such as packing and making travel arrangements as well as advising on green initiatives within the hotel and places of interest around London
* Welcome green gift on arrival
* Choice of inspirational 3-hour walking green tour of London
* Complimentary valet car parking if arriving by hybrid vehicle
* Complimentary use of a BMW bicycle with helmet provided
* An organic, 3-course dinner in either the River Restaurant with a pre-dinner, biodynamic cocktail
* Organic breakfast with selected organic juices
* A one-day travelcard allowing free use of London's public transport network
* A donation of £10 to London charity Thames 21, on behalf of the guest
* An organic, gourmet picnic hamper and blanket can be arranged at an additional cost
* Details of outdoor activities, including heritage sites, nature walks, cycle and jogging routes, wildlife centres, conservation programmes and community projects for volunteering are available through the Concierge
Rates from £825 per night, based on double occupancy and subject to availability.
Say goodnight to the Hotel Victor. Located next to the Versace mansion on Ocean Drive in South Beach, the sexy designer hotel once embodied South Beach's pleasure-seeking vibe. Back in 2004, the press fell hard for the concept after the Victor had a major overhaul by French designer Jacques Garcia; the Hotel Victor debuted mini-bars stuffed full of “South Beach life-style essentials” (like chilled eye masks), the personal "vibe manager" to arrange your stay in Miami, and cool, signature treatments like the Jet Lag V at the Spa V. Oh, and let's not forget the illuminated jellyfish tank in the bar. Now we hear that Thompson Hotels has acquired the Hotel Victor will be re-branding it as the Thompson Ocean Drive after a multi-million dollar renovation of the public spaces and guest rooms. Anticipated date of completion: early 2012.
Kimpton has snatched up a fine piece of real estate in San Diego- the former Sè Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. Just this week, the property reopened as the Hotel Palomar San Diego with a rooftop bar and pool deck, destination spa, and a two-story "gastro-lounge" called Saltbox Dining and Drinking. Kimpton's latest hotel joins sister property, Hotel Solamar, which is located eight blocks away. Say hello to the shiny new hotel with a special introductory offer of $159, plus a complimentary glass of Champagne for two while dining at Saltbox. Subject to availability, through December 30, 2011.
For more history on this sleek, design-led hotel, and who owned it even before it was called the Sè Hotel, check out this article.
September 27, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Leave it to Four Seasons to put together the ultimate globe-trotting adventure: Around the World by Private Jet. Departing from Los Angeles on October 29, 2012, this 22-day adventure will hit up Four Seasons destinations in Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia, Bali, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Egypt and the UK. Just 78 guest will be whisked away on a specially-outfitted Boeing 757 provided by TCS & Starquest Expeditions. (Jetsetters will feel right at home in the VIP seats, attended to by a Four Seasons concierge, and debriefed on destinations by onboard experts in art history, cuisine, and more.) On the ground, personalized itineraries will include local specialties, behind-the-scenes tours, and off-the-beaten path treasures. Here are a few of the highlights of this three-week trip:
Two of the world’s most active volcanoes in Hawai’i, the vibrant coral gardens of the South Pacific, Sydney’s iconic buildings and scenic gorges, the mystical allure of Ayers Rock, Bali’s Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and Yeh Pulu temples, Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai, Agra’s Taj Mahal, Mumbai’s Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, and a private, lantern-lit dinner amid the pyramids of Gîza.
Pictured: Four Seasons Bali Jimbaran Bay.
Big hotel news out of Philadelphia: Kimpton Hotels is taking over the historic Lafayette Building and transforming it into a four-star Hotel Monaco, one of only two city hotels to open next year, and the first new hotel in the Society Hill/Old City area in a decade. Major Nutter was on site for the recent groundbreaking ceremony- to applaud the project's jolt to the local economy (the new hotel will create 400 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs). Overlooking Independence Mall at Fifth and Chestnut Streets, the hotel is located in "the most historic square mile in the country." Expect brightly colored spaces, and a hefty dose of signature Kimpton whimsy. The 268-room Hotel Monaco will be joining the Hotel Palomar-- located at 17th and Sansom Streets-- as Kimpton's second property in the City of Brotherly Love.
Image via The Philadephia Inquirer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for research. Many will wear pink ribbons, volunteer at local charities, and participate in the National Race for the Cure. Hotels are also giving back and supporting the cause. Case in point: The Waldorf=Astoria in New York is offering the "Pink Ribbon Pedicure" at its swank Guerlain Spa during the entire month of October. $10 of the $90 treatment will be donated to help fund breast cancer awareness and research. What's in store for lucky ladies? While sipping on a sparkling pink champagne cocktail, they'll indulge with an ultra pampering luxury pedicure topped with P.Y.T. pink polish.
Whether you love it for late-night snack binging, or hate it for its over-priced bag of peanuts, who doesn't have an opinion about the hotel mini-bar? (No surprise that this is one of our favorite subjects; one of the first things we do upon check-in is swing open the door to the mini-bar to check out the goods. Curious about the history of the mini-bar? Check out our article on its "Fabulous Evolution" here.) So imagine our delight when we stumbled upon a recent Wall Street Journal article about how hotels are overhauling their mini-bar offerings, substituting gourmet local goodies for the boring standard items. Surprisingly, hotels actually lose money on mini-bars; the contents expire, have to replenished, need to be checked by employees daily. To quote:
In an attempt to convince guests to spring for pricey treats, some hotels are swapping out the standard potato chips and candy for unique local snacks or other items you can't get at the nearest 7-Eleven. The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago, for example now offers ham-flavored Chilean almonds. The Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz., swapped out bottles of its lowest-selling beer, Heineken, with Grand Canyon Pilsner, a local brew. Loews Hotels is in the process of adding more locally sourced items to the minibars at its 18 hotels, such as chocolates from Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. Omni Hotels & Resorts will soon test a gluten-free pretzel in its minibars.
Get ready, Orlando. The Magic Kingdom is getting a luxe addition. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced that it will begin construction on a $360 million luxury resort in December. Slated for 2014, this will be the largest resort for the brand on the planet- encompassing 444 guest rooms, 40 time-share units, 90 Four Seasons private residences (any buyers out there?), a rooftop resto with views of Walt Disney World, and a "lazy river" water complex. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Four Seasons snatched up the real estate in August 2008 for $51 million, including Disney's Osprey Ridge golf course, which will become part of the resort.
September 14, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
It looks like massive tourism growth in glitzy Dubai has had a big impact on Dubai International. The airport handled 4.7 million passengers in the month of July alone, and is on track to eclipse Hong Kong and Paris Charles de Gaulle. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has determined that Dubai's airport will move into place this November as the world's second busiest international airport. London's Heathrow continues to be the world's busiest airport. Interested in jetting to Dubai to check out the indoor ski resort or the LED light show at InterContinental Dubai Festival City? Browse the Five Star Alliance collection of four- and five-star hotels...