December 13, 2007
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
200-room property with "exceptional location next to the Papal Palace" overlooking the river Rhône. 10,280 square meters of living space, including cells and "women's detention area." Must be turned into luxury hotel. Interested? Submit your bid by January 23, 2008. And we thought Boston's Liberty Hotel was unique. The French government has decided to sell off this dilapidated state-owned property to a hotel group willing to convert it into an 110-room luxury hotel. If Sarkozy's plan works, Sainte-Anne's prison will be the first of eight unused jails to go on the market.
We've been waiting with bated breath, and now the opening date is just around the corner. Come May 2008, you can get your Spring Break groove on at the Mondrian South Beach, the first project by Morgans Hotel Group to include residences. We've gushed about the nearby Delano, and the Mondrian promises to be just as cool:
Around the pools, gardens and bay, Mondrian South Beach makes playful use of space with multiple outdoor living areas. A large swimming pool is adorned with an oversized custom lamp by plunge pools, a pool bar and cabanas for private rental, and surrounded by lush gardens hung with hammocks and landscaped into a labyrinthine trail with lounge areas, secret pathways and "kissing corners."
Located on the west side of Miami Beach, the hotel will offer jet skis and water sports on Biscayne Bay. As to be expected from a top-notch interior designer (Marcel Wanders was named "Designer of the Year" by Elle), the lobby will showcase an "exuberant style with oversized furniture and motifs inspired by fairy tales." From the second level terrace, guests can take in some incredible sunset views. There will be a five-star restaurant, fully-equipped gym, and spa. For more pics, check out Hotelchatter's exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage.
Looking for a quick getaway? Escape the busy holiday season for a last-minute retreat at Georgia's exclusive Sea Islands, where championship golf, elegant dining, and charming Southern hospitality will restore your body and mind. Act fast! This last-minute offer is available until December 16, 2007. Starting from just $395 per night, enjoy luxury accommodations at The Cloister or The Lodge plus one round of green fees, cart, forecaddie, and range balls per person, per night. (Based on availability during these dates only. Play on Seaside incurs a $50 surcharge. Forecaddie gratuity is additional.)
Fans of Langham Hotels will be thrilled to learn about a new boutique in the works: The Langham Yangtze Boutique, Shanghai. The hotel group currently has eight properties in six gateway cities-- London, Boston, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Auckland and Toronto-- and now they're adding Shanghai to the mix. And if this hotel is anything like the others, we're in luck. The goal? Recreate the history and romance of Old Shanghai in a historic landmark in the central business district. Designed by architect Li Pan in the 1930s, the building is an iconic masterpiece of art deco and neoclassical architecture. After undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, the 101-room hotel will re-open in mid-2008 as a five-star boutique hotel.
Forget St. Barts. Head to Anguilla, the jewel of the British West Indies, where laid-back luxury and a "magnificent island lifestyle" will be celebrated at the brand new Viceroy Anguilla. The Caribbean island was recently picked by the NYT as one of "53 places to go in 2008" and the latest offering from the Kor Hotel Group's Viceroy brand is a major reason why. Nestled on 35 acres of exclusive beachfront, the resort promises every possible pleasure with incomparable amenities: a world-class spa village, fine dining, elite concierge services, and a wealth of recreational amenities including tennis courts, infinity-edge pools, resort boats service, and Kids Club. This Spring 2008, discover "where the sublime meets the sea."
Tis the season. The Strasbourg Christmas Market draws thousands of visitors each year for the biggest holiday market in France. Sprawling across the picturesque alleyways of half-timbered houses in front of the Cathedral, festive with lights and decorations, the market is straight out of a fairy tale. In its 431st year, this market is as about as merry as it gets. The scent of mulled wine and warm gingerbread fills the streets. Stalls brim with handcrafted ornaments and delightful gifts. And with the new high-speed train connecting Paris and Strasbourg, this border city in Alsace has become like a Paris suburb. In fact, the TGV has added extra trains just for the holiday season and now folks can check out the Strasbourg Christmas Market on a simple day trip from Paris.
High-rollers will get a kick out of this. Caesars Palace, the world's best known resort-casino, has just raised the betting limits to appease the biggest gamblers in the world. Starting this week, players can bet up to $50,000 per hand at blackjack and also on line bets at craps. These are the highest betting limits in Las Vegas.
Around the world in 24 days? Just pony up $97,970 for a five-star Abercrombie & Kent itinerary onboard a Boeing 757 reconfigured for just 50 passengers. Or how about perfume? Get your hands on the world's most expensive fragrance: a Baccarat crystal container with a 5-carat diamond set in 18-karat gold containing 500 ml (17 fl oz) of the Imperial Majesty version of No. 1 for Women. Asking price? $215,000. Or maybe you covet a designer cat for your sweetheart? The price tag for an Ashera (hybrid breed resembling a mini-leopard) is $22,000. Reuters has the scoop on the priciest holiday gifts out there.
One of the most exciting things to come out of Art Basel Miami Beach (the prestigious art show closed yesterday) was the launch of The Florida Room at the legendary Delano Hotel. The media's abuzz about the new lounge on the Miami scene. What's the big deal exactly? Lenny Kravitz designed it! That's right-- the NY-based Kravitz Design Inc. teamed up with Morgans Hotel Group to create The Florida Room. Billed as a "modern day speakeasy," the sophisticated subterranean space features live musical performances nightly, with internationally-renowned DJs taking over the late night hours. Latin-inspired specialty cocktails include a fresh Raspberry Mojito and The Florida Room Punch. Hipsters sit back and enjoy the smoked bronze mirrored ceilings, crystal chandeliers by Swarovski, and grand piano that's a replica of Kravitz's own. To quote Kravitz from the official press release:
"My aunt had a place in her house where everyone played, hung out, listened to music and where all the fun was had, called the Florida room," said Lenny Kravitz. "We decided to create a space with this theme in mind but that also had the feeling of the old piano lounges in the resorts back in the 50's in Florida, Cuba and New York City. I love the rich musical history of Miami Beach. The Beatles, James Brown and Frank Sinatra all spent time here. We see the Delano as having this same kind of rich history and also took cues from this to envision the place I always wanted at the beach, but hasn't existed here in a long time."
The Mile-High City is getting a new luxury addition. Listed as one of Frommer's "Top Destinations for 2008," Denver has experienced a "recent renaissance." With over 300 days of sunshine per year, Denver is one of the sunniest cities in the U.S., simply brimming with down-to-earth cosmopolitan delights. And now Ritz-Carlton is coming to town. The opening date has been delayed until January 11, 2008, but the hotel's debut has been much anticipated. With the largest guest rooms in the city, The Ritz-Carlton Denver provides majestic Rocky Mountain views and luxury to match, just minutes away from the very best that Denver has to offer. The 202 guest rooms (including 47 suites) are chock full of elegant amenities (think 400 thread-count Frette linens, plush terry robes, five-fixture bathrooms with oversized tubs, Bvlgari bath essentials, flat panel, high definition LCD TVs, and cappuccino makers). And that's not all. The hotel will be home to Elway's, the signature restaurant named after Denver Bronco quarterback and NFL Hall of Fame Inductee John Elway and the FORZA Fitness Club, a complete facility with indoor pool, free weight gym, and basketball court. The best part of all? The Ritz-Carlton Denver is pet-friendly.