Tag Archives: hotel chains

Hotel Indigo Neighborhood Guide

Hotel Indigo launches virtual concierge service

Hotel Indigo, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, has launched a new guest service they call “Neighborhood Guide,” an interactive touch screen that will be installed in hotel lobbies across the system.

Hotel Indigo Neighborhood Guide

Much like a virtual concierge, the display allows guests to look up local attractions, restaurant recommendations and interact with guests from other properties around the world.

Hotel Indigo Shanghai Suite

But what makes the service particularly interesting is that recommendations aren’t carbon copied from guidebooks, but curated from hotel staff: everyone from the bartender to the room attendant contributes addresses of their favorite hangout, like the best place in the city for a burger or late night jazz.

Hotel Indigo Shanghai bedroom

“Our guests want to experience something unique and different when they travel. For them, it’s not about doing what’s trendy or popular.”

“They want to be with interesting people and make a meaningful connection to the neighborhood,” said Americas brand manager Mary Winslow.

Hotel Indigo Shanghai Bund

Integrated Google maps also allow guests to send directions from the Neighborhood Guide directly to their mobile phone by email or by scanning a QR code, while photo-sharing features enable travelers to share their photos with the other 54 Hotel Indigo properties around the world.

Starwood Keyless Key

Starwood Turns Smartphones Into Hotel Room Keys

Starwood Hotels is testing a new feature that would replace keys and membership cards with a smartphone app.

Starwood Keyless Key

The new feature, called a keyless key, would enable its Starwood Preferred Guest members to go straight to their rooms and open the door via their smartphone, rather than having to go through the process of checking in.

It will be trialed at the Aloft Harlem New York and Aloft Silicon Valley California hotels and builds on Starwood’s existing Smart Check In service.

Available at a number of Aloft hotels, it automates a number of processes for valued, time-poor customers but the features are built around a physical smart card that guests must obtain and carry with them.

With the Keyless Key all that a guest will need is an Android smartphone running version 4.3 or newer or an iPhone 4S or newer. The locking mechanism works via Bluetooth so as long as the app is running, the door will automatically unlock or lock.

If the trial is successful, Starwood plans to roll the feature out to all of its W and Aloft hotels, globally by the end of 2015.

The company’s competitors will be watching closely. With the exception of free or metered wi-fi, the hospitality industry has been very slow to unlock the potential benefits of mobile technology and apps.

But if Starwood’s trial is a success, then smart keys and a host of other “smart” features could soon become the norm across the industry.

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

Forbes releases top hotel picks for 2014

Hong Kong, Macau, New York City and London have emerged as leaders in Forbes magazine’s latest travel guide, with each city boasting seven 5-star rated hotels.

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto

In the 56th edition of the Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings list, inspectors bestowed new stars to properties like the Four Seasons Hotel Macao and The Pierre, A Taj Hotel in New York, expanding the five-star group to 97 hotels.

The Four Seasons luxury hotel chain emerged as the leading hotel brand, boasting the most five-starred properties with 18 hotels across 11 destinations making the cut and tripling its number of winners over the last decade.

New to the club this year is the brand’s flagship hotel The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, the first in Canada to own bragging rights to holding a five-star status with Forbes and five stars with AAA.

four seasons toronto room

Recently, the luxury hotel received a star boost when it recruited  chef Daniel Boulud to open an outpost of his restaurant empire within the property.

The Forbes guide includes 97 five-starred hotels, 48 restaurants and 41 spas. In the 4-star category, it lists 296 hotels, 186 restaurants and 149 spas.

Meanwhile, in TripAdvisor’s ranking of top hotels in the world, Italy boasted the largest number of top-rated hotels.

Instagram

Instagram and Pinterest are changing the hotel industry

Hotel chains are increasingly leveraging the power of Instagram to reach a broader audience, with Starwood the latest to integrate the photo-sharing feature across its nine brands around the world.

Instagram

Using the hashtag #SPGLife, guests can now add photos of their Starwood experience at properties like the St. Regis, the Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton and W to an Instagram guest gallery.

It’s estimated that Starwood guests staying at the chain’s 1,150 properties around the world capture and share an average of 40,000 images a month on Instagram.

Currently, photos on the guest gallery include beachfront photos of the W Maldives as well as food porn of a traditional English breakfast at the St. Regis Singapore.

W Hotel Maldives

Perhaps one of the biggest Instagram pioneers of the hotel industry, however, remains the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia, a boutique property that billed itself as the world’s first Instagram hotel for hinging its decor and services on the photo-sharing app when it opened this year.

In a bid to attract and serve a digitally savvy clientele, the hotel offers a free night’s stay to Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers — in other words, lots of clout — and has likewise dedicated a “selfie space” where guests can take photos of themselves, hashtag it #1888hotel and see their photo appear instantaneously on screens near the reception desk.

1888 hotel

Similarly, the Four Seasons claimed authority on the photo sharing site Pinterest, with the Pin. Pack. Go feature. After a traveler creates boards pinned with photos of their ideal vacation and specifying their destination city, a virtual concierge from the Four Seasons will offer personalized recommendations and itineraries based on the user’s Pinterest board.

Meanwhile, both Condé Nast Traveler and luxury travel company Cox & Kings predict that geolocating mediums like Facebook and Instagram will play increasingly bigger roles in the travel industry in 2014, either as an advertising platform for hotels or as a “Wish you were here” postcard by guests.

Hotel Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hyatt launches two all-inclusive resort brands

Hyatt Hotels is making its first foray into this segment of the travel market with the launch of two distinct all-inclusive resort brands: Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara.

Hotel Hyatt Zilara Cancun

The first will offer family-friendly vacation experiences, while the latter will target travelers without children looking for rest and relaxation.

Hyatt has already launched the first hotels representing the new brands: the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos and the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, both located in Mexico.

According to a press release from the hotel group, owner of over 500 luxury hotels worldwide, the new resort brands will give new momentum to the market for all-inclusive vacations and allow Hyatt to become an innovative actor in this segment.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun

To this end, the group conducted research on its clients’ desires and expectations in order to effectively differentiate the Hyatt all-inclusive experience from that offered by its competitors, namely through more high-end services.

Even with the “all-inclusive” package, guests at the new Hyatt hotels will enjoy more flexibility and personalized services than in a typical resort in this category.

Guests who enjoy more spontaneity in their vacations can modify the activities or meals they have scheduled at any time, and the hotel remains in contact with the clients from the moment of their reservation, namely through social networks, to provide assistance with itineraries and planning.

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

In a separate area of its development plans, Hyatt hopes to offer hotels that are more integrated into their surrounding environment, namely by introducing the guests to the local culture through regional excursions, shows and cuisine.

Loews Miami Beach Hotel

Loews Hotels turns Twitter into booking tool

Loews Miami Beach Hotel

US hotel chain Loews has become the latest hotelier to leverage the power of Twitter, with a new channel that allows guests to book their room as fast as a few hashtags and tweets.

In a digital age where consumers demand instantaneous answers, the luxury chain launched a Loews Hotels Social Reservations channel that will put the guest in touch with a virtual reservations agent when they use the hashtag #BookLoews in a tweet to @Loews_Hotels.

Once the guest is ready to finalize the booking, the hotel’s online travel planner will tweet them a link to a secure chat conversation where the guest can then reserve their booking.

“When it comes to reservations, we recognize that giving consumers the option of booking efficiently on a network where they are already engaging on a daily basis is going to set us apart and grow our consumer base in a meaningful way,” said the director of social media Piper Stevens in a statement.

Loews has 19 properties across the US and Canada. The Twitter booking option is available with the exception of their Orlando, FL hotels.

The North American hotel chain is the latest to use Twitter to their advantage. This summer, the Sol Wave House, a party hotel in Majorca, Spain touted itself as the world’s first Twitter-based hotel.

The Royal Horseguards

New luxury hotel brand launches out of London

The Royal Horseguards

The luxury hotel market is about to get crowded as a London-based hotel company has announced ambitious plans to launch a new brand they claim will “redefine” luxury across the industry.

Their first order of business? To convert their existing five-star The Royal Horseguards hotel located on the north bank of the River Thames and re-open as Clermont Hotel in 2014.

The Clermont hotel will serve as their flagship outpost in Europe — the first of 30 Clermont-branded hotels to be built around the world over the next decade.

It’s also the first of three new hotel brands the company, glh. (Global Hotel Company) plans to launch over the next 12 months, it says, an ambitious plan that hopes to put the squeeze on well-established luxury brands like The Four Seasons, the Mandarin Oriental and the Ritz-Carlton.

Other properties that will be rebranded under the Clermont sign include Singapore’s tallest building (290 m) the Tanjong Pagar Centre and the Clermont Kuala Lumpur which are due to open in 2016.

The latter will feature an Olympic-length pool, aqua gymnasium, and private dining rooms where residents can host private events and entertain guests. Plans are also afoot to build private luxury apartments across Singapore and Malaysia called Clermont Residences.

jw marriott marquis miami

JW Marriott debuts new turndown program

jw marriott marquis miami

The JW Marriott hotel chain has revamped the traditional turndown service with a program that includes an organic snack bar, essential oils, and luxury chocolates to replace the classic mint on the pillow.

Designed to help guests relax and rejuvenate while on the road, the Nightly Refresh Program will launch at participating hotels worldwide across the chain this summer.

For the many travelers who have a hard time dozing off in beds other than their own, the service will include an organic “Dream Bar” that could be described as breakfast at midnight.

Instead of chips and nuts, for instance, guests are offered organic oats which aid in the release of serotonin to promote relaxation and help them wind down.

Blueberries are also on the menu to offer a dose of antioxidants, fight off inflammation and replenish the skin during the night. Chia seeds, almonds and coconuts also provide vitamin B6 and fiber.

To recharge and detox, blends of essential oils such as pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berries are offered for baths and showers to help restore balance in tired bodies after a long flight.

Other amenities include wine samples and luxury bonbons from Astor.

Marriott International launches Arabic website

Paris Marriott Hotel Champs Elysees

In a bid to woo an increasingly important market segment — affluent Arabic speakers and frequent flyers from the Middle East — the Marriott hotel chain has launched its international website in Arabic.

The new portal allows Arabic-speaking customers around the world to book stays across the chain’s 3,800 properties in 74 countries.

Marriott has asserted a strong presence in Dubai, where it boasts the tallest hotel in the world. The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai (below) stands at 355 meters and consists of twin towers each with 77 floors.

More than $100 million of revenue is booked annually via marriott.com in Arabic-speaking countries, the company says. The Marriott joins the Fairmont and the Hilton in offering website services in Arabic.

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

Trump Hotel Collection in wellness focus

TRUMP HOTEL COLLECTION

Trump Hotel Collection is the latest hotel chain to join the health and wellness movement, launching services that offer low-calorie menus and fitness programs that allow guests to work out in their room.

Debuting on Monday, the “Trump Wellness” program rolled out across the brand’s luxury properties in the US, Canada and Panama in partnership with Technogym and sports apparel brand Under Armour, which will provide footwear and workout gear for guests. Pre-loaded iPod shuffles are also available.

Guests who prefer to work out from the comfort of their hotel room can also call upon the concierge to bring up yoga mats, stretch bands, and light weights, while those who want to hit the pavement are offered maps of local running paths mapped by each Trump Hotel Collection property.

The dietary component of the wellness program includes a range of gluten-free, vegan, and organic meals with nutritional information, as well as a Quick Bites menu that offers meals to go in 15 minutes or less. Minibars have also been made over to include healthier snacks.

Where possible, select properties will also be sourcing vegetables, herbs and other ingredients through local farmers and artisanal producers.

Trump Hotel Collection joins a string of other hotel chains that have caught on to the demand for healthy travel, particularly among the business set who are regularly on the road and want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Westin Hotels and Resorts, for instance, will loan guests a pair of New Balance sneakers and workout clothes, and even a ‘running buddy’ who will accompany guests on their run in a foreign city.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas also offers “Stay Well” rooms that include spa menus, wake-up light therapy, air purification and aromatherapy, vitamin C-infused showers and wellness videos from Deepak Chopra.

And Fairmont Hotels & Resorts offers a “Fairmont Fit” program that includes fitness gear, mp3 players, bikes on loan and running clubs.

Aspria Hotel in Hannover

Top 10 hotels for health-minded travelers

Aspria Hotel in Hannover

For travelers looking for a healthy getaway, here are a few good places to stay along the way.

1. InterContinental has launched a new hotel brand called EVEN, the first mainstream hotel brand to focus exclusively on wellness. Exercise options include in-room touches such as a coat-rack that doubles as a pull-up bar, well-equipped gyms, personalized fitness advice for all guests and a “Wellness Wall” with exercise ideas, walking distances and equipment rental information on display.

The first EVEN hotel is slated to open in New York by the end of 2014, while the company envisions opening another 100 US locations over the next five years, InterContinental announced late last year.

2. Four Seasons in Canada uses wellness concierges, who plan your daily wellness itinerary, including spa appointments, healthy meals, and workouts. In addition, Four Seasons Resort Whistler offers a Path to Wellness package, a three-night stay offering meditation, aromatherapy, and a yoga mat, as well as a fitness plan and outdoor guide to direct guests on mountain adventures.

3. At the New York boutique hotel INK48, guests can borrow the new “Forgot It? We’ve Got It – Runner’s Edition” kit, which includes a music-filled iPod shuffle, a sports watch with a built-in pedometer, a running belt, and water bottles, and a map of the Hudson River running path. Return from your run and you’ll find a Gatorade and a Power Bar waiting in your room.

4. Perks being offered at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts include a “workout in a bag,” which includes instructional cards, foam rollers, and a mat.

5. Westin Hotels and Resorts will loan guests a pair of New Balance sneakers and workout clothes just in case they’ve forgotten theirs at home. If you need a running buddy, a “running concierge” can lead the way.

6. Launched as a health club business in 2000, Europe’s Aspria recently added four urban wellness hotels — Berlin, Brussels, Hanover, Hamburg — that offer a sports club, spa, and healthy meals at its “vital lounges.”

7. Las Vegas’s MGM Grand recently converted numerous rooms into “Stay Well” rooms, chock full of 16 health amenities. Expect personalized spa menus, wake-up light therapy, air purification and aromatherapy, vitamin C-infused showers and wellness videos from Deepak Chopra.

8. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts now offer a new “Fairmont Fit” program, rolling out in 80 of their hotels around the world this year. The package includes fitness gear, mp3 players, and cruiser bikes to borrow, with some hotels offering group fitness and “run clubs.”

9. London’s Eccleston Square Hotel offers Hastens’ “Mind Spa” relaxation programming, which broadcasts sleep-inducing natural images and sounds in your room to promote better sleep.

10. Hotel Rio Sagrado, Peru also offers a package called “A Good Night’s Sleep,” where yoga instructors meet guests in their room for sleep-inducing yoga sessions and herbal massage sessions.

New York INK48

Ayers Rock

Around the World with Four Seasons

Elephant riding Thai jungle

Luxury hotel brand The Four Seasons has announced an ‘Around the World’ travel itinerary aboard a private luxury jet that comes with a personal chef and onboard concierge.

Built around Four Seasons properties around the world, the 23-day itinerary for 2014 includes stops in Bali, where guests will take part in Balinese cooking classes and in Chiang Mai, where they’ll ride elephants in the Thai jungle.

Guests on the Around the World Tour will be shuttled on a Boeing 757 which will come with a private chef, a physician, and an onboard concierge who will help build personalized travel itineraries such as spa appointments, sightseeing tours, and dinners for couples celebrating a special occasion.

The price tag for this once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world? $87,950 USD for double occupancy and $8,950 USD for additional guests.

Four Seasons’s Rediscover the Americas itinerary, meanwhile, takes guests on a tour of the American west coast and South America with stopovers in Miami, Nevis, Buenos Aires, Carmelo, Costa Rica, Punta Mita and Beverly Hills. On the Americas tour, the travel itinerary may include a beachfront yoga session in Mexico, for example, or a horseback ride through the grasslands of Uruguay.

Double occupancy on the Americas tour is $62,950 USD while the single supplement is $7,650.

The Four Seasons Rediscover the Americas tour is scheduled for February 24 – March 13, 2014, while the Around the World tour kicks off March 14, 2014 for 23 days.

Ikea Logo

Marriott, IKEA team up to launch new hotel brand

ikea bed

US hotel chain Marriott said Tuesday it is teaming up with IKEA to launch of new budget hotel brand in Germany and Europe, called Moxy Hotels.

Over the next 10 years, 150 low-cost hotels will be opened in 10 different countries, Marriott chief Arne Sorenson told a news conference in Berlin.

In addition to Germany, hotels would be opened in Austria, Britain, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

The very first Moxy Hotel would open in Milan at the start of next year, Sorenson said. The new brand was targeted at a young, price-conscious, well travelled clientele.

Female Hotel Guest

What do women want from hotels?

Female Hotel Guest

After asking female globetrotters how hotels can anticipate their needs in research carried out over 18 months, Hyatt introduced a new service they call “Hyatt Has It”.

The new ‘Hyatt Has It’ service will offer phone charger, hair curlers and steamers, yoga mats, make-up remover wipes and razors to female guests.

In response to their female respondents’ desire to eat healthily while traveling and on the road, the hotel chain has also launched new menu items that include fresh juices, smoothies, more balanced portions, and customizable meal options.

Hyatt properties will also provide an upgraded range of bath and skincare products from companies such as Le Labo, June Jacobs and Aromapothecary.

Ritz-Carlton hotel Vietnam

Ritz-Carlton to open its first hotel in Vietnam

Ritz-Carlton hotel Vietnam

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has announced the brand’s first hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), marking another step in the group’s expansion in Asia.

The 250-room hotel is set to open in 2017 and will be located in the historic centre of Saigoni9 adjacent to the famous Ben Thanh Square market, in a 48-storey tower.

The Ritz-Carlton, Saigon is part of a development project called The One Ho Chi Minh City, which also includes prime office space, retail outlets and 350 luxury apartments.
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