Tag Archives: luxury hotel

Cannes Hyatt Deploys Hawks to Battle Seagulls

An uninvited guest is never a good thing during a meal and when the guest is question is an opportunistic seagull, it is time to bare the claws, literally. The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez has deployed a team of trained hawks to keep the gulls away —Heroes do come in all shapes and sizes, after all. Grand-Hyatt-Cannes-Hotel-Martinez-PRINT-(1)

The measure is mainly to ensure that the seagulls do not trouble the rich and famous on the scenic French Rivera, who might be in town for the Cannes Film Festival. “If a gull that weighs a kilo lands on a table, knocking over glasses — keeping in mind that celebrities walking the red carpet are wearing unique dresses — if a drink spills on a dress, it’s all over,” said professional hawker Christophe Puzin. “We basically send our birds of prey to attack seagulls. During the day, when we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we’re watching to make sure no seagulls land on the tables.”

One of the five winged heroes, happens to be a five-year-old Harris’s Hawk that answers to the name Tsunga. The environmentally friendly solution to the gulls, poses no threat to the guests of the hotel. While we’d like to attribute this to the hawks being super professional but it is probably because humans are too big — sea gulls however are no match to the feathered security team. Grand-Hyatt-Cannes-Hotel-Martinez-PRINT

“We have seen a gull try to take a guest’s steak before. And others come to get peanuts or other things,” said Alessandro Cresta, general manager of the hotel.

“Of course, it is also partly the guests’ fault. They have started taming them by feeding them regularly. After a while, birds get used to the presence of humans and lose their fear.”

St. Regis Kuala Lumpur Opens Doors

The famous St. Regis brand of hotels has finally touched down in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, providing a new standard of luxury for guests. Well, new in the sense that the city – in fact the country – lacked a St. Regis, which is a shame really as it is among the best Starwood has to offer. Located in the Sentral Precinct, otherwise known as KL Sentral, the 208 rooms and suites of the hotel aims to cater to the heart’s desire of any guest.

The array of suites on offered by the hotel range from 678 to 4,000 square feet, from vanilla guestrooms all the way up to the opulent Royal Suite. It isn’t quite as fancy as the St. Regis Abu Dhabi but more on that in bit. In terms of dining, St. Regis aims to satisfy a wide range of tastes, with a choice of six restaurants and bar spaces, as well as menus from three-Michelin-starred chef Takashi Saito from the Sushi Saito.The-St.-Regis-Kuala-Lumpur-Deluxe-Room_1

As for the rest of the services, you can expect all of the bells and whistles that the St. Regis is well known for. Each room will offer walk-in wardrobes, butler services and complementary daily unpacking, pressing and an in-room coffee and tea service. The Royal Suite, in particular, comes with private elevator access, leading directly into a suite featuring an outdoor terrace, a show kitchen, a massage room, and a gym.

“The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur’s strategic location, tech-forward facilities, and sophisticated services will offer the finest guest experiences imaginable, crafted for today’s luminaries who make our hotels their home away from home,” said Jim Petrus, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. For those familiar with the hotel’s reputation, it promises not to disappoint.

Focus: Architect Isay Weinfeld

Arguably Brazil’s best-known architect since Oscar Niemeyer, Isay Weinfeld has been designing private homes, luxury hotels and furniture since he founded his multidisciplinary practice in 1973. From the beginning, the Sao Paolo native has designed projects from the largest to the smallest scale and across a variety of programs; including civic, commercial and residential architecture, as well as interiors. Recently his firm has completed the Fasano Hotel in Uruguay, a private residence for the Royal family of Monaco and a line of office furniture for Herman Miller.

Fasano Las Piedras Exterior

Fasano Las Piedras Exterior

Fond of using concrete and simple shapes, many of Weinfeld’s private residences seem to float above the landscape with boxy, cantilevered living spaces that open to the outdoors. Although the architect has designed a multitude of them over the past 35 years, he still approaches each, with great specificity. “A house should exactly fit its user,” he says, and he signs on only after listening to prospective clients describe how they wish to live. “What do you do when you wake up in the morning?” he’ll ask. “How do you spend your day?”

In 2011, Weinfeld developed a strong rapport with a young couple looking to build a home in Sao Paulo’s Jardins, an area known for its trendy shops and restaurants. The pair wanted an informal, light-filled dwelling where they could live with their three children and Brazilian art collection — something modern, but comfortable. Weinfeld’s design features a series of serene rooms punctuated by diverse textures.

Fasano Las Piedras Bedroom

Fasano Las Piedras Bedroom

While Weinfeld generally dismisses the label of Tropical Modernism, his designs share the movement’s flair for the tactile and a look that is both sensual and stark. At the Jardins Villa his restrained palette features weathered-wood paneling, iron-gray concrete and raw granite steps, while splashes of color come from the art pieces and from the lush green garden. In the living spaces, muted mid-century furniture includes a coatrack by Le Corbusier, Hans J. Wegner dining chairs and leather armchairs by Danish designer Ib Kofod-Larsen.

Fasano Las Piedras Pool

Fasano Las Piedras Pool

At a recent hotel project in Uruguay, the architect created a series of concrete bungalows that appear like stones scattered across the area’s rugged landscape.  The project, Hotel Fasano Las Piedras in Punta del Este, combines private houses, hotel bungalows, a golf course, polo fields and a three-kilometer long beach over 480 hectares of arid, rocky land.

After a detailed study of the program, Weinfeld opted for a structure made up of single units designed and distributed as isolated modules almost “landing naturally” on the ground like the rocks themselves. From the outside the bungalows look like low-slung rectangles; on the inside the design features large open spaces, endless unframed glazing’s and pure white surfaces that combine with rustic woods, saddle leather and eclectic furniture pieces.

Jardim Exterior, New York City

Jardim Exterior, New York City

The project is not the first Weinfeld has designed for the Fasano Hotel Group. He designed the original Fasano Hotel, which opened in 2003 in São Paulo and was named one of the “50 Best Hotels of the World” by Condé Nast Traveler. He also designed several subsequent properties under the Fasano brand, including the upcoming Fasano Hotel and Residences at Shore Club in Miami. Developed by HFZ Capital Group, the project is located in South Beach and when complete in 2017 it will include a revamped Shore Club with a 100-room hotel and 75 luxury condominium residences designed by Isay Weinfeld.

The project marks Weinfeld’s first large scale project in Miami. He is also, currently working on his first multifamily project in New York City. Jardim, which means ‘garden’ in Portuguese, will be located in West Chelsea overlooking the High Line Park. The project design features a simple, monolithic structure rendered mostly in brick and concrete with latticed wood screens and a generously planted second-floor terrace that envelops the site.

Jardim Living Room, New York

Jardim Living Room, New York

The apartments themselves are a classy mix of smoked oak, marble, brass and limestone and prices average about US$2,500/sq. ft. (or $2 million for one-bedroom units.) Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling the exclusive sales and marketing. Jardim, also incorporates a private driveway and 2,000 sq. ft. of gardens across two levels. On the ground floor, the courtyard is viewed through tall windows that provide a leafy backdrop for the front desk. Glass skylights in the second floor terrace allow natural light to filter through to the residence’s swimming pool and gymnasium below.

The project is a welcome departure from the flamboyant architecture that surrounds it, including the soon to be completed 520 West 28th Street, a spaceship-like condominium by Zaha Hadid Architects. “This isn’t a kind of architecture that shouts, it’s an architecture that speaks low,” Weinfeld said in a recent interview. “What is very important for me is to have a very well-designed plan. For me, the function of a project is very important. It’s not a question of beauty. The building has to work to make sense.”

Fasano Hotel and Residences at Shore Club

Miami has long been a favored destination for well-heeled Brazilian travelers, now Brazil’s top designer and hotelier are teaming for a luxury development in South Beach. Isay Weinfeld is converting The Shore Club, a historic hotel in Miami’s Art Deco district, into a luxury complex with condominiums, hotel rooms and poolside bungalows, while Fasano Hotel Group will operate the hotel and residences.

Fasano Hotel at Shore Club Exterior

Fasano Hotel at Shore Club Exterior

The Art Deco building, which is located on the waterfront in South Beach, was originally built by Miami architect Albert Anis, in 1939. Weinfeld is preserving and transforming the Central Tower, the Shore Club’s original 22-floor structure designed by David Chipperfield and adding external living spaces. New renderings show glass-lined balconies, light-colored materials and lush landscaping. There will also be a converted eight-story North Tower and two-story poolside and beachfront bungalows. The re-design will feature a total of 100 hotel rooms and 75 apartments, many of them offering expansive views of the beach and Atlantic Ocean.

The South Tower will house the main hotel lobby and retain many of the property’s original details while also bridging the indoors with the outdoors via a mix of terrazzo, concrete, steel and lush landscaping. Outside, the new swimming pool, will be the largest in South Beach measuring about 250 feet long and over 9,500 sq. ft.

For the condominium units, Weinfeld is creating a look of quiet, laid-back elegance by combining wood grain with white stone finishes. He has also designed expansive outdoor living areas, some terraces larger than 3,000 sq. ft., and used wide oak floors to transition seamlessly from inside to the outdoor areas.  All residences will have floor-to-ceiling windows and Bulthaup kitchens complemented by a full Gaggenau appliance suite. The condominium units range from one to one to four-bedrooms and 800 sq. ft. to over 4,000 sq. ft. There is also one tri-level penthouse and a selection of two-story bungalows. Buyers enjoy access to the new amenities building that will house a gym, yoga rooms and a spa. Prices start at $2 million.

Story Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth
Images by Douglas Elliman

This article was originally published in PALACE 15

Hilton and Marriott Top Hotel Rewards Ranking

A new report reveals Hilton and Marriott to be the top hotels in terms of rewarding guests for their loyalty. Looking through the responses of nearly 3,100 consumers in the US, the Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards program tied for first with an overall satisfaction score of 741, out of a maximum 1,000. These were improvements to the brands’ score compared to the previous year, and it also marks the second year that Hilton HHonors has taken the top rank in the report from the market research group J.D. Power.

The report measures customer satisfaction based on six factors: account maintenance and management; ease of redeeming points; ease of earning points; variety of benefits; reward program terms; and customer satisfaction. The overall satisfaction with hotel loyalty programs also spiked across the board, improving from 701 in 2015 to 711 this year.

“At Hilton, customer experience is at the heart of everything we do. Our team members around the world are passionate about delivering impeccable, personalized service to our guests and that is why it’s an honor to once again be recognized by J.D. Power,” said Mark Weinstein, senior vice president and global head of Loyalty & Partnerships, Hilton Worldwide, in an article by BusinessWire.

These are the top hotel rewards programs as ranked by J.D. Power:

1. Hilton HHonors
2. Marriott Rewards
3. IHG Rewards
4. La Quinta Returns
5. Best Western Rewards
6. Choice Privileges
7. Omni Hotel Select Guest
8. Club Carlson
9. Hyatt Gold Passport
10. Fairmont President’s Club

Life Is Suite: The Carlyle

Staring out of my window at The Carlyle and appreciating the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I had spent my time in New York up till that point. To put things in context, it was my first trip to the Big Apple and I was eager to soak up as many experiences as I possibly could.

I spent the better part of my two-week trip living out of an apartment in the hipster district of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and taking the L-train every day to the city. I walked up and down the entire Times Square stretch, twice, where I got tricked into taking a photo with an Asian Elvis, something that cost me $5. I strolled through Central Park and witnessed no less than two marriage proposals in the span of half an hour. I even queued up for 45 minutes to have dessert at Serendipity 3 – the famous dessert café where John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale fell in love in 2001’s rom-com Serendipity, a movie that, I proudly and freely admit, helped me through a particularly rough breakup.

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All in all, it had been a pretty action-packed trip and I didn’t think there was much else I had yet to experience. And then, I was invited to spend the last couple of nights of my trip at The Carlyle. To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it prior to receiving the invitation. But, as I later found out, that is what The Carlyle secretly wants.

Built in 1930 and named after British essayist Thomas Carlyle, the 35-storey hotel prides itself on being a time capsule of art and culture. Its rooms and suites boast of classic Louis XVI style with audubon prints, architectural renderings by Piranesi, and English country scenes by Kips on the walls, Nero Marquina and Thassos marble finishes, and even Steinway and Baldwin grand pianos.

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But above all else, The Carlyle is proudest of its discreet nature. Situated in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, The Carlyle is surrounded by galleries such as the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and designer boutiques on New York’s posh Madison Avenue. Its classy, albeit unassuming front may just make you walk past it without realising what is it or the immense history and heritage that lay within in.

Over the years, the hotel has housed just about everyone – from politicians to business moguls, film stars to musicians. Every American president since Truman has stayed there. Visiting royals and heads-of-state include the likes of the late Princess Diana and Kings and Queens of Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Sweden. It used to be the meeting place for Frank Sinatra and George Harrison and continues to be a regular haunt for people like Mick Jagger, George Clooney, as well as fashion figures such as Vera Wang and Carine Roitfeld.

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Café Carlyle has made an indelible mark on the entertainment and social landscape of New York since its opening in 1955, playing host to legendary talents such as Bobby Short, Woody Allen, Elaine Stritch, Steve Tyrell, Eartha Kitt, and Judy Collins. Bemelmans Bar, on the other hand, is where artist and author Ludwig Bemelmans’s childhood fantasies are given free rein, with fine works of art and drawings of books including his children’s series, Madeline.

Having gone down the list of The Carlyle’s VIPs, guests might visualize a movie-like scenario that sees them rubbing shoulders with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, sipping cocktails with Emma Watson, nodding to fashion designer Michael Kors and former Vogue creative director Grace Coddington chatting at the next table, while Mariah Carey walks up to sing a tune simply because she felt like it.

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But The Carlyle isn’t a place to go just to see and be seen. Instead, it is a place to immerse yourself and engage in its heritage and tradition-rich stories rather than simply bearing witness to them. It is a place to make your home away from home and to create your own narratives.

At the end of day, you want to be able to say, “I stayed at The Carlyle on the 15th floor suite that overlooks the Upper East Side, sat at the Café Carlyle listening to Steve Tyrell sing It Had To Be You, before taking an elevator that Marilyn Monroe used to ride on her many secret visits to John F. Kennedy’s duplex suite to rest your head on your very own pillow with your initials embroidered in gold on it.”

That’s the Carlyle way of life.

Story Credits

Text by Patrick Chew

This article was originally published in Men’s Folio

Grand Hyatt Opens in Rio de Janeiro

Looking out upon the sands of the Barra da Tijuca and the blue span of the ocean from a post of luxurious comfort sounds like the ultimate plan for any dream tropical vacation. The Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro provides exactly that comfort, with its 436 guestrooms kited out for any tourist’s desire. Among these rooms are 40 suites, two separate 1,561 square foot Presidential Suites and an even larger Penthouse Suite, at 2,100 square feet with a 1,248 square foot terrace with a lounge area and pool.

The interior of the Grand Hyatt Rio was designed by Yabu Pushelberg and Brazilian design firm Anastassiadis Arquitetos, while outside it has 17 gardens created by Brazilian landscape architect Burle Marx. Three signature restaurants allow for a plethora of dining choices while a 24-hour fitness center and a full-service spa allow for one to keep both health and beauty in tip top shape.

The Barra da Tijuca, where the hotel is situated in, is considered one of the most exclusive areas within the city, and is known for its beautiful beach. All rooms will feature balconies and great views of the Atlantic Ocean or the Marapendi Lagoon.

For more information, you can check out the hotel’s site over here.

Hyatt Launches Indie Hotel Label

The Hyatt Hotels Corporation, parent company of the Hyatt range of hotels, is finally venturing into the boutique segment, trailing on the heels of Hilton, Marriott and Starwood. Travelers who shun the cookie-cutter hotel experience, where rooms are decorated to be as inoffensive as possible in varying shades of beige and black, may want to look up properties in Hyatt’s newly launched brand which curates historic landmarks, boutique hotels, resorts and contemporary properties around the world.

Dubbed “The Unbound Collection by Hyatt,” the new portfolio is targeted towards modern travelers who seek unique experiences, says Hyatt.

That means properties that may boast an historic past, an exclusive location, innovative design or an award-winning dining experience.

So far, properties in the collection include the Hotel du Louvre in Paris; The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas; the Carmelo Resort & Spa in Uruguay; and the Coco Palm Resort in Kauai, Hawaii.

Hyatt is playing catch-up in the hotel industry, which has seen its fair share of behemoth hotel groups try and edge their way into the boutique hotel market.

Hotel du Louvre, Paris

Hotel du Louvre, Paris

Marriott’s The Autograph Collection has been rounding up independent hotels to their portfolio since 2010, and today counts more than 90 properties around the world.

In 2014, Hilton Worldwide launched Curio – A Collection by Hilton, four- to five-star hotels chosen because they represent the local area and offer authentic experiences unique to the destination.

Properties include the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino; The Sam Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas; Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota; and The Franklin Hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The Starwood Tribute Portfolio also launched last year as a collection of independent hotels that includes The Royal Palm South Beach Miami, the Great Northern Hotel in London, UK, The Hermitage in Jakarta, Indonesia, and The Kiroro Resort in Hokkaido, Japan.

But one of the original curators of independent hotels, however, can be traced back to France’s Relais & Chateaux founded in 1954, whose members are often historic or heritage landmarks like castles or manors, set in unique, often rustic areas in the world. Properties are admitted based on factors such as ‘charm’ and ‘character.’

Macau’s The 13: Most Expensive Hotel Ever?

At the startling cost of $7 million per room, Macau’s The 13, with its 200 baroquely crafted suites, fancies itself as the hotel for the one percent of the one percent. This ridiculous exercise in excess, which reportedly cost in excess of $1.4 billion (divide this by 200 and you get the per room cost above), was spearheaded by the infamously flamboyant Stephen Hung, the hotel czar with a taste for the highly decadent who earned his fortune from investment banking and real estate.

To provide some context here as far the price goes (because this story is frankly unbelievable), the 13 Hotel is not the most expensive hotel in Macau even. The hotly anticipated Wynn Palace Cotai cost a reported $4.1 billion but, at 1,700 rooms, the per room cost there is a mere $2.4 million. The secret sauce here is clearly exclusivity. Just a look into the premises already calls to mind visions of Brian De Palma’s Scarface, just with more gilt and less gunfights.

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The Internet seems to be divided about what this Louis XIII Holdings Ltd (yes that is the name of Hung’s company and the reason for the hotel’s name) property means for humanity. Stunned disbelief is probably an adequate summary. In our opinion, Hung seems to be on a determined goal to minimize the energy expenditure of the guests as far as he possibly can. The suites are accessed by private elevator. A 24-hour butler service staffed by professionals (trained by MCM Palace Consultants in Paris and certified by the English Guild of Butlers) is available. Red Rolls-Royce Phantoms are used as VIP shuttles. You get the feeling that if Hung had enough resources, he would have hired personal palanquin bearers for every guest as well.

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Every inch of the hotel seems to be embellishment: baroque inspired frescoes on the ceiling; gold-fringed drapes hanging across the room; black and white marble checkered floors; stained glass windows; neo-classical columns; crystal chandeliers. One might think that even aristocrats in the past had some sense of restraint. Likewise, in the taste department, there are six Chinese, French and Japanese restaurants & bars. The hotel even has a private invitation-only shopping space called L’Atelier – featuring exclusive bespoke products by high-end luxury brands.

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“This was a labor of love,” Hung declared in a statement, “The team and I put every ounce of creativity and passion we had into this project to ensure every detail was perfect. Our guests, I believe, will find the result truly remarkable and beyond anything they have previously experienced.”

A new kind of experience indeed. Guests will definitely be feeling Hung’s efforts penetrating into every inch of their senses for days to come.

Affluent Travelers Favor Hotels with Gyms: Report

According to the results of the 2016 Luxury Travel Report prepared by consultancy firm Resonance, fitness centers are twice as important to America’s richest travelers compared with regular travelers (40 percent versus 20). While the results here are only for one nationality, hotel operators everywhere will want to see how this relates to the one-percenters of the world. For example, Euromonitor reports that the spa market is thriving in China, with all travelers.

For the Resonance survey, 1,667 Americans travelers in the top one percent and five percent of household income and net worth were interviewed.

Compared to the 60 percent of regular US travelers who say they use the health and fitness facilities at the gym, the survey found that among the top one percent, that figure jumps to 78 percent.

Over the years, hotel chains have been responding in kind, helping frequent flyers and business travelers maintain their health on the road.

One of the best examples is the EVEN hotels chain, a brand centered entirely on wellness and health. Every room is designed to include a designated ‘gym zone,’ and comes with a yoga mat, exercise ball, foam roller, resistance bands, and library of fitness videos.

Runners who stay at select Westin hotels can also participate in a running program with a resident running concierge who will take guests on 5-mile runs (8 km) around the city. Guests who forget their shoes can borrow a pair of New Balance runners for the nominal fee of $5.

Likewise, the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts hosts will lend out workout kits that include fitness apparel, yoga mats, stretch bands and running shoes.

The Trump Hotel Collection also lends out Under Armour-branded gear and offers a low-calorie menu for health buffs.

The luxury hotel brand that gets the stamp of approval for its spa and fitness facilities from the world’s most finicky, one percent guests? The Four Seasons.

Likewise, while 31 percent of US consumers will travel to participate in an athletic competition, that number spikes to 46 percent among the wealthy.

Hong Kong is Most Visited City in the World

For the sixth year in a row, come rain or high water as they say, Hong Kong is the most visited city on the planet. With 27.8 million international arrivals, the Special Administrative Region tops the Euromonitor International’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking for 2014. Yes, 2014 because apparently the data has just been compiled for that year according to the AFP report on it. The numbers reported are based on overall arrivals, not just high net worth individuals and a UBS report on the most expensive cities to visit in 2015 lists London (five-star hotel rates at $400 per night) ahead of Hong Kong ($250 per night). In Asia, Tokyo ($500 per night) and Shanghai ($470 per night) are both ahead of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also cheaper, all-costs included, than either of those cities – $640 versus $1,000 (Tokyo) and $670 (Shanghai); the 2015 UBS report excludes Singapore.

Speaking of which, London ($750 per night, all costs in) surpassed Bangkok and Singapore to take second place on the Euromonitor list. London is the top European city in terms international arrivals followed by Paris ($890 per night, all costs in) in fifth, which is exactly in line with news reports citing London as a city of choice for Chinese travellers. North America’s most visited city and the only one in the top 10 was New York ($1,030 cost per night, all-costs-in, to visit) in eighth. By our count, this makes London, Paris and New York the most popular and most expensive cities to visit. We are not sure if “most expensive” is a tag any city really wants to have though…

Rio de Janeiro showed the highest jump in international arrivals with a 46.6% increase due to the FIFA World Cup and will likely see similar jumps in 2016, thanks to the Olympics. Greece had a record year in 2014: three Greek cities made the Top 100 with Athens seeing double-digit growth.

Kiev did not make the Top 100 for the first time due to geopolitical tension in the region. Saint Petersburg and Moscow saw double digit declines.

The United States and China top the rankings with seven cities each in the ranking.

For more information and the complete list of Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Ranking, you can find it here.

Lodge at Sea Island Named Best US Hotel

Interest in the best the world has to offer explodes once again as The Lodge at Sea Island, Georgia, is crowned top hotel in the USA. The US News & World Report is responsible for this latest ranking, looking at hotels and resorts in the US, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. According to a variety of press reports, the ranking is based on guest reviews, industry awards and expert opinion on 2,500 properties. Winners apparently represent just the top 10 percent of this total.

We have no information as to why an organization that has the word “World” in its name only looks at regional properties. What we do know is that the awards have been ongoing since 2011 and that this is the second time the Georgia property has won top honors. According to TripAdvisor, a room at The Lodge costs between $350-$700 per night, roughly.

Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Ritz-Carlton Montreal

Here are the top winners in all regions:

  • Best hotel in the US: The Lodge at Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
  • Best hotel in the Caribbean: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
  • Best hotel in Canada: Ritz-Carlton, Montreal
  • Best hotel in Mexico: Rosewood Mayakoba

From Concentration Camp to Luxury Resort

When Montenegro announced plans to transform a dilapidated Austro-Hungarian fortress island into a resort, while simultaneously preserving its heritage, no doubt it did not expect a backlash. Of course, the fortress-island in question, Mamula, also served as a WWII concentration camp so perhaps the authorities should have anticipated trouble. Now this is a relevant discussion to have, especially because in our part of Asia, we have our own troubled history with the wounds of wars and dictators past. In the example of Mamula island, the Montenegro government leased out the uninhabited island to Swiss-based Orascom Development Holding AG for 49 years. The hope was that the 15 million euro project would create 200 local jobs and pay for the preservation of the site, which might be the only island-fort built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire of old. However, even before the final plans were submitted to authorities, the local residents – some of whom are descendants of those held prisoner on Mamula – have protested this development, according to this report. Clearly there are two sides here with valid points of view but it appears to boil down to a choice between preserving the Mamula in some form (as promised by Orascom) or leaving it to disintegrate under the weight of time.

13 Hotels We are Waiting for in 2016

From the highly anticipated opening of a Toy Story-themed hotel at Shanghai Disney, to the grand reopening of two iconic Parisian landmarks, 2016 will be a big year for the luxury hotel market. While tens of thousands of new properties will open their doors for the first time in 2016, here is a selection of properties that are noteworthy for raising the bar in luxury, marking a milestone, or helping to transform the local tourism landscape.

Europe

In the last few years, Paris saw the temporary shuttering of two of its most iconic and luxurious hotels, the Ritz Paris and Hotel Crillon. This year, they will compete for attention as both are slated to re-open their doors after extensive and lengthy renovations.

Ritz Paris (March, 2016)

The hotel has been undergoing renovations since July 2012 – the biggest makeover in the hotel’s 117 year-old history. The refurbishment includes a new spa by luxury fashion brand Chanel, called “Chanel au Ritz Paris.” The hotel began accepting reservations for stays starting March 14, 2016.

Hotel de Crillon, Paris (2016)

With a history dating back to 1758, the Hotel Crillon (pictured above) is a veritable institution in Paris, located at Place de la Concorde where the Champs-Elysees begins. In 2013, it was announced that Rosewood Hotels & Resorts would take over the management of the property. The restoration will entail a contemporary overhaul led by Lebanese artistic director Aline d’Amman and architect Richard Martinet. It was also announced that Karl Lagerfeld has been commissioned to design two suites. An exact opening date has yet to be disclosed.

Nobu Hotel, Shoreditch, London (First quarter of 2016)

Nobu Hospitality (pictured below), co-owned by Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, has announced plans to open its first European hotel in London’s trendy Shoreditch area in 2016. Expected to open in the first quarter of the year, the hotel’s five storeys are fractured into angular balconies and cantilevered steel beams using printed layered, glass and reflective facades to play with reflection and light. The hotel will be comprised of 156 rooms while the dining options will be helmed by chef Matsuhisa.

Il Sereno Lake Como, Italy (Spring 2016)

This five-star boutique hotel will be the sister establishment of the luxurious Le Sereno Saint Barths. Located 6 km from the center of Como and 50 minutes from Milan, the design of the new 30-room hotel has been overseen by Patricia Urquiola, who has focused on natural materials to create an aesthetic that is both timeless and full of character, intimate and casual. Urquiola’s studio will also design the interior of the ferry that will shuttle guests around the lake. Room rates will range from 600 to 4500 euros.

nobu shoreditch

Nobu Hotel

Africa

The Oberoi Marrakech (Third quarter of 2016)

Located 20 minutes from the city center, the luxurious property is built within 25 acres of citrus orchards and ancient olive groves. Each villa and suite comes with a private pool and views of the Atlas mountains, while rooms are spacious, modern and feature handcrafted Moroccan design features. The brand’s signature spa is built on a private island on a lake within the orchard, and offers Ayurvedic and Moroccan-inspired treatments. Facilities also include Moroccan hammams, yoga studio and outdoor pavilion.

Americas

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown (mid-2016)

Billed as the little sister to its flagship New York property in Midtown, the second Four Seasons hotel will open in the Tribeca district, a short stroll from the new World Trade Center, Wall Street and the Soho neighborhood and serve as a dual residential and hotel property. The 185 rooms are designed by Yabu Pushelberg. Dining will be provided by Wolfgang Puck and his CUT steakhouse restaurant and bar.

The James Hotel, Los Angeles (2016)

Once construction is complete in 2016, The James Hotel will open the doors to the first new ground-up hotel in West Hollywood in 30 years. The boutique property will open in the heart of Sunset Strip at the corner of Sunset and La Cienega Boulevards, and house 286 rooms, two restaurants and a rooftop and lobby bar. The LA location will be the third for the brand after locations in Chicago and New York. The brand’s philosophy embraces wellness, sustainability, local art and culture.

Il Sereno Lake Como

Il Sereno Lake Como

Middle East

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, UAE (2016)

Located in the heart of the new Central Business District, the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island will mark the first hotel for the chain in the Emirati capital. The property will open along a stretch of prime waterfront, and house a retro-modern Chicago steakhouse, cocktail bar, and poolside restaurant. Along with 200 rooms, the property will also feature 124 private and serviced residences.

St. Regis Cairo, Egypt (October 2016)

Organized as two towers, the St. Regis will house 292 lavish rooms that includes 63 suites. The mixed use property will also offer 99 guest apartments and 117 residences. Located on the north end of Corniche Road, rooms will offer views of the Nile River and in proximity to the pyramids and retail area.

Asia

Wynn Palace Cotai, Macau (June 25, 2016)

Originally scheduled to open in March 2016, the ambitious Wynn Palace Cotai will be delayed by another three months for a set date of June 25. The $4.1 billion, floral-themed property features 1,700 rooms spanning 28 storeys, and an artificial lake. To enter the grounds, guests will board air-conditioned SkyCabs that cross the 8-acre Performance Lake into the heart of the resort. Like its predecessors, the Wynn Palace will house an opulent spa, salon, luxury retailers and gourmet dining restaurants.

Mandarin Oriental, Bali (End of 2016)

Located on the southern Bukit peninsula, the luxury hotel group’s newest property will be built on elevated terraces to offer commanding views of the Indian Ocean. The resort will be comprised of 97 villas, each with a private pool and 24 guestrooms. The signature restaurant will be a cliff-top, cantilevered dining space with sweeping ocean views. Guests will also be able to indulge in luxurious spa services that include Balinese treatments.

Shanghai Disney (Spring 2016)

After experiencing construction delays, the opening of Disney’s third theme park in Asia after Hong Kong and Tokyo is expected to open its pearly gates in spring. When it does, the park will also open the doors to two highly anticipated themed hotels, The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and a Toy Story Hotel. Not particularly encouraging is the image supplied for this story but we digress! At the Art Nouveau-inspired Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, guests will be greeted by bronze statues of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, while Toy Story fans will find Woody and Buzz Lightyear at the hotel courtyard.

Rosewood Phuket (2016)

To open on Emerald Bay in Western Phuket, the luxury property will be comprised of 80 villas and 32 residences that are designed to blend in with its natural hillside forest surroundings. Retractable glass walls will provide guests with unobstructed views of their environment, while garden rooftops and cantilevered structures will help the villas meld with the landscape. Dining options include a rustic Thai seafood eatery on the beach, poolside eatery, bistro and terrace bar, while a Sense spa will feature six spa villas and a swimming pool.

Shanghai Disney

Shanghai Disney

Claridges Christmas tree 2015

Christopher Bailey’s Claridge’s Christmas tree revealed

Fashion designer has been getting into the festive spirit with his latest project — a Christmas tree for Claridge’s hotel in London.

The Burberry Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer’s “Claridge’s Christmas Tree 2015” has been unveiled in the hotel lobby, and the result is in striking contrast to the art deco design of the venue.

Exploring the concept of light interaction, the tree draws inspiration from Burberry’s longstanding heritage of providing protection against the elements, and the brand’s history in pushing digital boundaries through its physical experiences. The motion-responsive structure features almost 100 umbrellas, each finished in bespoke gold and silver metallic fabric. It also features the interactive element of 77,000 individual lights, which will be triggered as guests walk by, sending thousands of twinkling beams into the hotel’s lobby.

“It is so wonderful to see the tree in such an incredible setting as part of Claridge’s seasonal celebrations, I hope that it helps to bring guests a sense of festive fun,” said Bailey.

In true Burberry social media-savvy style, the UK fashion house has designed a Snapchat geo-filter that will enable all Snapchat users to frame their snaps with metallic Burberry umbrellas inspired by those on the Christmas Tree. The filter, which launches Monday, will be accessible to all Claridge’s visitors throughout the festive season, and is part of an on-going creative partnership between Burberry and Snapchat.

Claridge’s designer Christmas tree has become something of a festive tradition over the past six years, with previous creatives including Dolce & Gabbana. Christopher Bailey and Claridge’s will be hosting a private event on the stairs of the hotel’s lobby on Wednesday, November 18. Images from that event are here.

Claridges Christmas tree 2015

 

Burberry also co-hosted an exclusive star-studded party in celebration of the collaboration with Claridge’s. Click to view the story here.

Ritz-Carlton most popular luxury hotel brand

Ritz-Carlton hotel in Jakarta

The  has topped a new report that ranks the most popular luxury hotel brands.

For the list, analysts used data from TripAdvisor’s public review forum, looking primarily at how a hotel was ranked against the competition in its city. And according to TripAdvisor, travelers are happiest with their stays at the Ritz, a Marriott-owned brand.

In Quebec, the Ritz-Carlton ranks first out of 164 hotels. In London, the brand is ranked 22nd out of 1,052 hotels, and its Central Park location 46th out of 469 hotels in New York.

Rounding out the top three spots are traditional luxury brands at the top end of the high-end spectrum such as the Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

The top 10 list is conspicuously absent of well-known, established brands such as the Four Seasons, Peninsula, St. Regis and Waldorf Astoria.

The World’s Most Popular Luxury Hotel Brands, 2015 are:

1. The Ritz-Carlton
2. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
3. Raffles Hotel & Resorts
4. Langham Hotels and Resorts
5. Rocco Forte Hotels
6. Dorchester Collection
7. Capella Hotels and Resorts
8. Park Hyatt
9. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
10. Armani Hotels & Resorts

Sheraton Grand

Sheraton Grand officially launched

Sheraton Grand

Starwood Hotels and Resorts has moved to clarify the consumer confusion surrounding what a Sheraton hotel actually represents by launching the Sheraton Grand brand for top-tier properties.

It’s actually a significant development for tourists looking to make the most of a luxury holiday around the world. In this case, travelers will now direct themselves to the “Sheraton Grand” catalog to choose their stays.

This new division guarantees tourists “an exemplary hotel offer.”

Only establishments equipped with extraordinary gyms, spas that dreams are made of and rooms with “sophisticated design and precision workmanship,” and that are in specific locations “ranging from big cities to spectacular beaches,” can be a part of this network of addresses. They must also stand out in customer satisfaction.

100 hotels are set to receive the “Sheraton Grand” label before 2017.

The first to be so designated are the Bangalore Hotel – Brigade Gateway in India, the Beijing Dongcheng Hotel in China, the Sheraton Hotel Dubai, the Sheraton Hotel Edinburgh in Scotland, the Rio Hotel & Resort in Brazil, the Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort in Japan, the Sheraton Sukhumvit in Thailand, the Sheraton Taipei Hotel, the Tokyo Bay Hotel and the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill in South Korea.

Château de Versailles Orangerie

New Luxury Hotel Planned for Versailles

Château de Versailles Orangerie

Imagine opening your hotel room window to gaze upon the lavish grounds and famous palace of Versailles after spending a night on the estate itself.

That prospect could soon be reality — at least for some of the wealthier visitors to France — after a government body that manages Versailles put out a tender to build a hotel alongside the fabled grounds.

CHATEAU DE VERSAILLES SAYS NO TO SELFIE STICKS

There are plans for three 17th century buildings on the border of the palace property to be converted into a luxury hotel, according to officials who confirmed a report in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Guests will have to enter the hotel from a road outside the estate, and not all the rooms will give on to the grounds.

But those that do will have a view across the Versailles gardens and, by craning necks to the right, a bit of the palace.

The company that wins the tender will have operating rights for 60 years, but will have to pay between eight million and 11 million euros to fix up the buildings’ walls and roof, and touch up the interior.

The cash-strapped government has increasingly been forced to turn to the private sector to keep its heritage in a good state.

A source close to the managing body for Versailles said the plan was part of a culture ministry policy “to renovate and add value to historic monuments’ spaces and installing economic activities”.

One of the buildings served as the finance ministry under Louis XV, and up to the Revolution of the late 18th century.

Leading French hotel group AccorHotels, which reportedly is competing in the tender launched two weeks ago, told AFP it was a “logical” choice given its strength in the sector.

It is not the first time a hotel has been planned at the site. In 2010, a company called Ivy International won a 30-year contract to build a 23-room hotel, but failed to go through with the scheme.

intercontinental hong kong

InterContinental Sells Hong Kong Hotel for $938 Million

intercontinental hong kong

InterContinental Hotels Group has agreed to sell its ownership interest in InterContinental Hong Kong to Supreme Key for $938 million.

Supreme Key has made a further commitment to invest in a significant refurbishment of the hotel. This is expected to commence in 2017 and will take place over a period of approximately 18 months.

intercontinental hong kong

IHG will retain a 37-year management contract on the hotel, with three ten-year extension rights, giving an expected contract length of 67 years.

InterContinental Hong Kong infinity pool

The hotel is internationally-acclaimed as one of the world’s most famous hotels, with a five-star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, three Michelin-starred restaurants, and a wide range of meeting and banqueting facilities.

intercontinental hong kong

It is situated on the Kowloon waterfront, with unrivalled panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong’s skyline. The Hotel opened in 1980 and has 503 guest rooms, including 87 suites, and has been wholly owned by IHG and operated under the InterContinental brand since 2001.

Mandarin Oriental Milan

Mandarin Oriental Opens in Milan

Mandarin Oriental Milan

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the inauguration of The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s newest addition in Milan.

Mandarin Oriental Milan bedroom

The new hotel, located on Via Andegari, features contemporary Italian décor, the work of interior designer Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Interiors, whose previous projects include the Bulgari Hotel in Dubai.

Mandarin Oriental Milan bathroom

Offering 73 rooms and 31 suites, the hotel is home to the Mandarin Bar and the Seta restaurant, headed by Antonio Guida, and offers a selection of food that fuses Tuscan flavors with French and Asian influences.

Mandarin Oriental Milan bar

The new hotel’s amenities include a spa that’s nearly 10,000 square feet in size, with a gym, indoor pool and hair salon.

Facade Ritz Hotel Place Vendome

The Ritz Paris Takes Reservations [VIDEO]

Travelers can now book rooms at the newly renovated Ritz Paris for dates starting next year.

The reopening of the five-star hotel looks set to roll out at the end of 2015, but travelers wanting to make reservations may have to wait, as bookings are now available for dates starting March 14, 2016.

The Ritz Paris has been undergoing renovations since July 2012, and the project is the biggest makeover in the hotel’s 117 year-old history.

The refurbishment includes a new spa by luxury fashion brand Chanel, called “Chanel au Ritz Paris.” Rooms start at $985 per night.

Facade Ritz Hotel Place Vendome