St. Regis launches ‘E-Butler’ application for guests

st regisNeed a last-minute wake-up call or tickets to a sold-out Broadway show? No problem, if you’re staying at the St. Regis New York. The luxury hotel recently launched the St. Regis New York “E-Butler,” a PDA application that allows guests to interact with the hotel’s butlers and concierge via their iPhone or iPad.

This application will offer guests the ability to “chat” directly with The St. Regis E-Butler in real-time via their iPhone or iPad, before and during their stay. The hotel also included the help of New York personalities including André Leon Talley, Jason Wu, Alexis Bittar, Alain Ducasse, Doug Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy, Danny Meyer, David Rockwell, Dale DeGroff, Harold Koda, Michel Musto, Peter Som and Preston Bailey to share their favorite shops, restaurants and city landmarks.

Once guests have made their reservation at The St. Regis New York, they will receive an email confirmation, including a link to download the St. Regis New York E-Butler application directly to their iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Andriod or other smartphone. Guests will also be able to download The St. Regis E-Butler application via iTunes. The St. Regis New York E-Butler will allow guests to speak directly with their butler prior to and during their stay.

The best part? The E-Butler is a complimentary service offered to all guests in residence at The St. Regis New York. The St. Regis does have plans to launch a version of this E-Butler to the general public, which will include a number of features such as the Insider’s Guide to New York and the seasonal calendar of events.

Daily Pampering: The Halele’a Spa at The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Hawaii

Speak the words “St. Regis” to any traveler and their mind is suddenly filled with endless luxury and pristine decor and design. Add on a resort in Hawaii and the dream is almost too much to handle.

The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Hawaii has a new addition: the Halele’a (“House of Joy”) Spa. This new bundle of joy opened last fall after the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar restoration, and since then has become one of the top spa destinations and was recently named to Conde Nast’s 2010 Hot List.

To honor its natural surroundings, Halele’a Spa focuses on the Hawaiian concept of the Ahupua’a, a philosophy of living in balance with nature. Halele’a Spa uses products created from local ingredients, many of which are exclusive to The St. Regis Princeville and have been developed by Hawaiian based beauty company Malie. Unique spa experiences include the Kaua’i Taro clay wrap, the Taro butter Pohaku hot stone massage and the Voyage from the Sea Signature Four Hands massage.

The spa encompasses an 11,000 square foot space, boasts 12 treatment rooms, personal VIP Maile rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center and salon and offers poolside and ocean-side services.

Want more? Get your dose of daily pampering right here.

Luxury hotels still discounting in 2010

If you didn’t book a luxury trip last year, don’t worry; you didn’t miss your big opportunity. Without a doubt, 2009 was hell on the luxury travel market. It was rough on just about every luxury business, frankly. And while the economy looks like its taking a step in the right direction this year, it’s not doing so fast enough for luxury travel providers. Look for another year of discounts, according to industry tracking firm Rubicon. Properties like the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental are going to have to bite the bullet again in 2010.

According to Rubicon, luxury hotels are booking more business at this point in the year than they did in the same period in 2009 – but only 4.6 percent more. Meanwhile, the average rate they’re fetching is off 13.2 percent. Clearly, the upscale properties are buying guests with discounts. Of course, luxury on sale still isn’t cheap. You’re looking at $325 a night instead of $389 a night a year ago, Rubicon reports, based on bookings made as of February 1.

“Hotel companies are not rushing to lift the rates and slow that tide of recovery,” Rubicon CEO Steve Swope told USA Today. “So the other good news is: there are some real bargains out there for consumers. Now’s a good time to get out and travel. In another 18 to 24 months, the rates seen today are not going to be there anymore.”

Starwood accuses Hilton of corporate espionage

Two of the largest hotel chains in the world are locked in battle — legal battle. Starwood Hotels has accused 44 of Hilton‘s top executives of stealing trade secrets. Christopher Nassetta, the CEO of Hilton, is alleged to have known about this activity, according to an amended complaint that Starwood filed with the Manhattan federal court. The object of affection thievery was the luxury category of Starwood’s portfolio, including the St. Regis, W and The Luxury Collection.

According to Starwood’s complaint, Nassetta is said to be under “intense pressure” to deliver the financial returns expected by the Blackstone Group, the private equity firm that paid $26 billion for Hilton in 2007. The complaint further states, “Intense pressure — whether from Blackstone or otherwise — is no excuse for corporate espionage, and it is no excuse for the massive theft and widescale use of confidential and proprietary Starwood information.”

According to a USA Today report, Hitlton’s spokesman, Aaron Radelet, declined to comment, because the company doesn’t discuss pending litigation.

Starwood is looking to appoint monitors to make sure that Hilton complies with all injunctions, and it’s also seeking a court-imposed “time out” period during which Hilton wouldn’t be able to move forward with its luxury brands.

[Photo by p c w via Flickr]

Missing your pet when you travel? Just borrow one

I love my two cats and I miss them dearly them when I travel for extended periods of time. Though there are more and more options for traveling with a pet, I’m still not about to bring them with me. It’s just too expensive, too much of a hassle, and too much stress on the pet to fly them with me for a two-week jaunt. So they stay home and I snuggle-attack any furry friends I happen to make along my travels.

For dog lovers, there’s another option available. As Peter Greenberg showcases in a video posted on his site, several hotels around the country are now offering special pet “rental” programs. At select Fairmont hotels, guests can borrow a dog for a day to take it out on a walk around town.

At the Fairmont Tremblant in Quebec, Gracie the canine ambassador is available for walks. At the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, Catie the former guide-dog fills the role. Other hotels offer similar programs, like the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek. Greenberg also highlights a program run by a shelter near Aspen. The shelter “rents” out dogs up for adoption for play dates. Many local hotels like the St. Regis and The Little Nell even allow the dogs to stay overnight. Of course, as Greenberg points out, the hope is that the temporary owner will then become a permanent one.

So next time you are traveling and missing your pets at home, you may not be out of luck. Just look for a hotel that offers one of these innovative pet-lover-friendly programs.

[via Peter Greenberg]