October 13, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
my life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I went on vacation to a hotel called Bel-Air.
Now here’s news: The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles is reopening this month, and the property has turned things upside-down with its renovation. With a fresh new look, they’re positioning themselves to be the prince of spa services. The revitalized property offers a 4,000 sq. ft. spa by La Prairie and is the first US hotel to launch a line of in-room amenities by the same luxury Swiss company. The familiar swans still glide across the serene lake they call home, and their habitat is now maintained by an updated circulation system that saves over 1.5 million gallons of water. It’s great to see more and more hotels incorporate green engineering into their modernized design plans. Alongside the familiar Grace Kelly suite, the new presidential suite even offers a private courtyard and private pool where can guests can relax after enjoying dinner for up to ten people from their private chef’s kitchen. The main buildings preserve some of the original colonial Spanish aesthetic, while also being ‘modernized’ to include retro themes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. This is hotel the Dorchester Collection is clearly proud to be reopening, and as well they should be.
Not only does the Hotel Bel-Air feel completely renewed, until December 29th, Hotel Bel Air will include a $100 dining credit with your reservation, so you can enjoy fresh cuisine imagined by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck the next time you stay at this lovely hotel.
October 13, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Come January 2012, Washington D.C. will have a swell addition to its luxury hotel scene. Capella is coming to town! (The ultra-luxury brand has established a reputation in the hospitality world for its service standards. Read: Personal assistants for each and every guest.) Located at 1050 31st Street, NW alongside the historic C&O Canal, the Capella Georgetown will be intimate in size. Just 48 guest rooms and suites will cater to "a sophisticated and discerning clientele including global industry leaders, heads of state and other visitors." What else is in store? An elegant restaurant and lounge serving seasonal cuisine overlooking the Canal, a rooftop pool and bar, and exclusive spa.
Related Articles: Design Dream: Capella Singapore Features Objets d’Art from Lamont Design
The W Retreat Koh Samui is turning 1. Now's the time to surrender to a tropical island escape... W's sexy resort on the Gulf of Thailand made some waves when it opened last year. (One look at the photos and you'll see why.) Situated on a pristine stretch of Koh Samui's coastline, the resort manages both to delight the local party crowd and mesmerize global jetsetters, all while keeping its cool. Secluded villas surrounded by lush foliage make for the ultimate in relaxation after sampling the island's red-hot nightlife. Book the "1st Year Celebration" at W Retreat Koh Samui and you'll reap the rewards:
* A price of THB 11,111 per Retreat/per Night in a Jungle Oasis with free breakfast for two. (That's $358.)
* Only 11 Retreats are available per day for this special offer, so act fast to book.
* 1+1 Thaimazcal Spa Experience (buy 1 get 1 free at THB 2,400)
* Reserve your stay over 11/11 and get a free Thaimazcal Spa Experience for two persons
Book by November 30, 2011 for stays from November 1- 30, 2011.
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong set the bar high when it opened on June 21, 2010. Literally, the hotel caps off Cesar Pelli’s IFC Shanghai building with an incredible rooftop bar on the 58th floor that's the tallest in Shanghai. Gadling buzzed about the hotel as "luxury in a modern Mandarin-style shell." Travel + Leisure said: "The 285-room hotel places you in a cloud-level fantasy." And now the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine (U.S. edition)-- besotted with all the hotel's superlatives-- have voted it the 'Best Hotel In The World' in the magazine's 24th annual Readers Choice Awards. Two top awards were bestowed upon the hotel in one evening, Best Hotel in Asia Pacific, and then Overall Best Hotel in the World. Collecting the award on behalf of the hotel was The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company President, Herve Humler.
October 11, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Throwing a ball or getting hitched in D.C.? A new ballroom is turning heads in town, located- where else?- in the swank Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. The official press release cited "greater guest demand" as the reason why the hotel is transforming Fahrenheit restaurant into permanent banquet rental space, and the hotel's bar and lounge into a three-meal restaurant and bar called Degrees Bistro. Slated to open in a matter of weeks on November 1, 2011, the Fahrenheit Ballroom has already been picked by Daily Candy D.C. as a prime wedding venue:
Turn up the heat at The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s new event space, the Fahrenheit Ballroom. Located on the top floor of the brick factory-turned-hotel, the grand dance hall wows with huge windows, steel beams, and a loftlike feel.
Related Article: Ritzy the Nesting Duck Checks in to the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown
October 10, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
News from the postcard-perfect Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. The BodyHoliday-- the all-inclusive resort famous for its promise "Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind"-- has opened its doors after a $20 million makeover. The renovation added a brand new infinity pool; doubled the size of the Watersports Center; and upgraded the resort's public spaces and dining venues. Not to mention the all-new, open-plan Penthouse Suite-- complete with a marble hammam and a soaking tub for two with sea views. What's more- the resort is introducing two new beauty partnerships to guests: THALGO, a high-end marine-based skincare and beauty line available at the wellness center, and REN, a bioactive skincare line available in-room.
October 7, 2011
By: Christopher Roney
Hello friends/acquaintances/internet (wo)men,
Today I want to take some time out of my busy schedule to address an important issue in the hotel world. Randall Munroe of XKCD has been kind enough to bring to our attention one of the problems plaguing hotels and travelers alike: The bogus hotel review. Who are these evil people who are out to ruin the reputation of perfectly good hotels and steer you wrong in your vacation plans? Are they fun-hating scrooges who kick puppies and steal candy from babies? Maybe. But that doesn’t have much to do with writing reviews. Maybe instead they’re hired guns engaging in intricate plots of corporate espionage, compromising their rivals with claims of bed bugs and sticky-fingered staff. Or maybe they’re just entitled people full of rage at some perceived slight: “Agh, my muffin wasn’t cut in half for me! Worst hotel ever!!!”
We may never know for sure. But what we do know is this: Telling the real reviews from the fake is just as important as any step in the booking process. And it can be really difficult to do so. Here’s a couple of tips I’ve picked up in my time working with online reviews.
1. Don’t base your decision off a single negative review. Look at the aggregate of a hotel’s reputation online and across more than one site. Some of the biggest review sites are so worried about trustworthiness, they're changing their slogans. Any mistake can be made once, but the mark of a problem is when more than one person on more than one site points out the same bad service.
2. Go to the experts. If industry staples are reviewing a hotel well, it’s unlikely that poor reviews are anything but an anomaly. And conversely if it’s getting bad reviews, you might want to think twice about booking. This isn’t to say you should ignore customer reviews, however. Professional reviews are great at getting drilling deep into the nitty-gritty of a hotel stay and evaluating across multiple hotels, but customers are more likely to spot the most recent changes in a hotel’s practices. If a hotel has taken a turn for the worse, customers will be the first to know.
3. Pay attention to the language. According to a study by Cornell researchers, if a reviewer itemizes every experience they had, mentions the name of the hotel, and uses a lot of exclamation points, there’s a chance that it’s been generated by the hotel itself. Plenty of people enjoy their stays and want to gush about them, but very few will take the time to give you an itemized list of everything you can see and do there.
4. Above all, trust your instincts. Ultimately, reading online reviews is about reading the people who wrote them, and even after only a couple of sentences you’ll have a good sense of who is trustworthy. If you think someone sounds like a fake or is completely irrational, don’t let them color your judgment.
October 6, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Hot off the press! Starwood has unveiled a dazzling hotel in Florence, Italy. After a 10-month restoration, the property that was formerly called the Grand Hotel Florence has been reborn as a St. Regis- meaning it features the signature St. Regis Butler service and St. Regis Aficionado program, providing guests with insider access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Talk about historical grandeur! This hotel was originally designed in 1432 by Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, and is one of the city's most culturally significant buildings. The 81 guest rooms-- including the opulent designer suite by Bottega Veneta-- are decked out with paintings, decorative antiques, frescos and crystal chandeliers-- thus paying homage to local Florentine artisans. Overlooking the Arno River, the hotel also features three Iridium Spa Suites for the ultimate in pampering. What we're most excited about? A stellar restaurant called Etichetta Pinchiorri, opened by the folks behind the Michelin three-star restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence.
From supporting local craftsmen in Romania to clean-ups of the reefs in Cozumel, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts knows responsible business. In fact, they've partnered with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations to celebrate Responsible Business Week. Hotels around the world are "taking part in activities that ensure their location remains an appealing place to visit for future generations"- to quote the official press release. The protection and preservation of local environments is key. Examples of these geotourism initiatives include: InterContinental Boston's rooftop beehives that pollinate the flora in surrounding parks and provide local honey for the kitchen; InterContinental Bora Bora Resort's salt water air-conditioning system, the first in the world; Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort's environmental work to protect the reefs and marine life, teaching guests how to scuba dive responsibly. More details can be found here.
As fans of Hyatt's Andaz brand, we've been keeping our eye on this story for awhile. Come January 1, 2012, Andaz will be arriving in China with a cool new hotel in Shanghai's Xintiandi district. HotelChatter recently got the scoop from a very-excited tipster who claimed the property was originally slated to belong to Jumeirah. From the hotel's official website, there's a lot to be thrilled about. A spa with a swimming pool and juice bar. An all-day patisserie called-- what else?-- Éclair. A fun lounge and restaurant that combines a "French bistro and Shanghainese brasserie." A Glass Pavilion for weddings and red carpet events. Not to mention the rooms with a view, all equipped with an "impressive LED lighting where guests can customise the colour to suit their mood." In Andaz fashion, all non-alcoholic minibar drinks and snacks, local telephone calls, and wireless internet access are free.
Pictured: Andaz Liverpool Street in London.