Hotel News We Noted: June 28, 2013

l'auberge de sedona property
Image of L’Auberge de Sedona Courtesy of Nick McKeta

Greetings from sunny and hot, hot, HOT Sedona, Arizona, “Hotel News We Noted” fans. It’s a bit cooler down here on Oak Creek, where I’m currently typing this from the balcony of my cottage at L’Auberge de Sedona. So far, this AAA Four Diamond resort is full of lovely surprises, from the quaint feeding of the ducks each morning to the outdoor rain shower (complete with a real live tree) inside the room, and the nighttime star gazing lessons where I got my first glimpse of Saturn through a telescope! Expect a full recap of my trip in next week’s column, or travel along with me – I’m Instagramming live from the @GadlingTravel handle for our weekly #OnTheRoad column.

But for now, here’s your weekly dose of all that’s going on in the hotel world. Feel free to leave tips below or send your comments via email. I’d love to hear from you!

Dress The Part: New Orleans’ International House Undergoes Summer Wardrobe Change
Sure, our wardrobe changes with the seasons, but we’ve never seen a hotel do the same. New Orleans’ International House alters its furnishings, staff attire, foliage and overall ambiance to uphold the New Orleans tradition of “Summer Dress.” Dating back to pre air-conditioning days to keep cool during the steamy months, cotton slipcovers and sisal rugs replace formal upholstery and throw rugs, and native banana leaves, palms, fragrant floating blossoms and spiraling topiary decorate the lobby. Hotel staff will change their uniforms as well. The stylists for the hotel include fashion designer Lisa Iacono (who has worked with names like Proenza Schouler and Betsey Johnson) as well as Interior designer LM Pagano, who has worked with names like Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp.

Hotel Opening: Fairmont Baku
One of the hottest areas in the world for new luxury properties is probably not a country you’ve heard of. Baku, Azerbaijan has seen an influx of luxury properties in recent months and years, including Four Seasons, Jumeirah and JW Marriott. Now Fairmont has opened their first property in the area. Located in the Flame Towers, the tallest building complex in the country, the 140-room hotel boasts spectacular views of the city of Baku, the old Inner City or the Caspian Sea. Highlights include a 20-foot glass chandelier formed in the shape of water droplets, a world-class, contemporary art collection and the spacious Fairmont Gold rooms and suites.

Cool Summer Vacation at a Hot New Resort: Topnotch Resort
Fresh from a $15 million upgrade, Stowe, Vermont’s Topnotch Resort has re-opened to the public. While we’d normally shy away from a ski resort in the summer, this newly upgraded property offers plenty to do in the off-seasons, including hiking, biking and more. Topnotch added a new lobby, revamped dining outlets, an outdoor wedding venue, a refreshed indoor tennis center and newly renovated guestrooms.

Smells Good To Us: The Grand Del Mar’s Perfume Sessions
We’ve certainly heard of hotels creating custom scents, but this new package from The Grand Del Mar in San Diego raises the bar even more. Wednesdays in July and August, the property is hosting a two-hour natural perfume making class where a local perfumer will give instructions and materials to blend your own custom scent. Open to the public and guests alike, this program seems like a steal at just $100.

Family Travel Package: Capture the Memories
While we certainly take a lot of photos during our travels, it’s rare that most of those images will ever see a life beyond our computer screen, which explains why we like this new package from Preferred Hotel Group. The Preferred Family collection of family-centric hotels has teamed with Shutterfly to allow every traveler checking into the group’s 41 hotels a complimentary photo book of their trip. It may only be a $30 value, but the idea of having someone encourage us to share our vacation snaps with friends and family seems like a great value.

Hotel News We Noted: September 14, 2012

andaz napa exteriorTemperatures are getting cooler, but the hotel scene is still hot, hot, hot. Here’s your news of the week, courtesy of “Hotel News We Noted.

Hotel Openings: Andaz Napa
Wine country is getting a bit cooler this week with the opening of the Andaz Napa, formerly the Avia Napa. The downtown hotel has the traditional Andaz lobby as well as a cheeky wall-long map of Napa – all the better to help you map out your wine tasting adventure.

Tech Troubles: What Happens to Hotel iPod Docks?
iHome and iPod docking systems have become nearly ubiquitous in hotels around the country, and the release this week of the new iPhone 5 is causing some major headache in the hotel industry. It’s not because they’ll have to update apps or re-vamp websites (although they likely will, in order to match new screen resolutions and the new operational updates) but because of a change in equipment. The new phones will have a different charging port, and hotels are now scrambling to figure out how soon, if at all, they’ll need to have these adapters onsite to connect to their docking stations. A Wall Street Journal article supposes that these adapters “could soon replace bathrobes as the hotel collectible of choice.” At nearly $30 a pop, we’re inclined to agree. Why, Apple, why???

Food & Beverage: Fairmont Gets Saucy
Fairmont is putting the focus on food, encouraging their chefs to get in with the craft food movement. We’re pretty sure that means good things for us, at least for those of us who don’t count on being able to steal the mini-bottles of Heinz from in-room dining. Is there a theme of theft in this column? Perhaps. Anyway, at Fairmont Pacific Rim, expect house-made condiments (Sake Kasu Cream Cheese Aioli, anyone?) and pickled veggies, Empress peanut butter with honey and milk chocolate at the Fairmont Princess or peanut miso with local Virginia peanuts at the Fairmont DC. In this case, being “saucy” sounds like a very delicious thing.

Celebrity Hotels: Gordon Ramsay Does Hotel Design?
Answer: only when he’s getting paid to do so. Celebrity chef turned television personality turned suite designer Gordon Ramsay has launched his very first room at San Diego’s Keating Hotel. Dubbed the “Victory Suite,” the room is really more of a promo ad for his series, “Hotel Hell,” but it’s pretty darn awesome nevertheless. The suite features exposed brick walls, vaulted ceilings and glass-encased bathrooms. The hotel and suite will appear on a future episode of the series, where Ramsay redesigned the lobby, the Victory Suite and also offered up a new menu for the hotel’s MerK Bistro. Thanks to Elite Traveler for the tip.

Gastronomy And Great Spas: Four Hotel And Resort Spas With Luxurious Culinary Tie-Ins

cornelia at the surreySpas have long been mixing natural and food-quality ingredients into their treatment offerings, but spa cuisine menus have often been relegated to the true destination spa resorts – the Miravals and Canyon Ranches of the travel world. While these spots are lovely, travelers often don’t have time to get away for a week of relaxation. Today, however, more and more hotels are offering healthy cuisine options to tie in with their spa menus, allowing travelers seeking relaxation for an hour or an afternoon to enjoy high-quality yet healthy options. Here are a few of our favorite easy escapes, below:

The Cornelia Spa at The Surrey
The Cornelia Spa, the newest addition to The Surrey in NYC is now offering guests small bites at The Botanical Bar, an experience integrated into the spa’s “Relaxation Library” to create a destination within the spa for lingering, lounging and experiencing tasty bites and beautiful books. Guests are served a sweet and savory refreshment that are flavorful, healthful and inspired by the botanical ingredients in the Cornelia products including herbs, flowers, fruits and spices. Post treatment, enjoy a sweet treat – The Surrey’s Signature Botanical Cookie with a lavender drizzle. The savory tasting will rotate to include amuse bouche delicacies such as orange-spiced salted almonds and a selection of orange-minted olives.

The Spa at The Mandarin Oriental, Boston Located just off prime shopping on Newbury Street, The Mandarin Oriental Boston is a top pick for leisure and business travelers alike. Those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of city living can enjoy pampering treatments at the 16,000-square-foot spa, and head to the spa cafe for post treatment lunches or snacks.
Lake Austin Spa at Lake Austin Spa Resort
This well-known spa offers a number of culinary inspired treatments, including a number of body treatments that use local and food-based ingredients. Test the “Best of the Southwest” scrub using local mesquite, jojoba oil and pure sugar, plus a ginger tea tree mango butter foot cream or a pear and fig body polish with turmeric root. Don’t worry if you’re hungry post treatment – the resort is also well known for their superb spa cuisine, much of which is made using Texas-based ingredients or sourced from the resort’s own gardens onsite.

Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spa Brand
The energizing Willow Stream Spas, the signature spa brand of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, offer spa goers a range of signature and local spa treatments but also places a strong emphasis on food. All spa destinations offer Spa Bento Box spa cuisine as part of Fairmont’s Lifestyle Cuisine, prepared with non-processed food, as healthy, locally grown and organic as possible. They also offer Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, a new menu available upon request catering to spa guests with specific diet-dependent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and gluten free needs, as well as unique dietary preferences including macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.

Hotel News We Noted: July 13, 2012

nantucket hotelIt’s Friday the 13th! Let’s hope nothing too scary happens today. How the time has flown – it seems hard to believe that we’re nearly halfway through summer. While July is often a slow month, the hotel world has stayed hot, hot, hot with openings, trends and promotions. Here’s what we’ve got on tap for you this week in “Hotel News We Noted.”

Hotel Opening: The Nantucket Hotel & Resort
The quintessential summer town has a new resort; The Nantucket Hotel & Resort opened officially yesterday and has an equal emphasis on the luxe and family-friendly. Featuring both guestrooms and family suites, a casual eatery with a decadent lobster-stuffed burger and two heated swimming pools, this is a great option for families looking to escape for a week or two. The 60-room hotel starts at $395 for regular rooms and $660 for family suites, with a special opening promo of 20 percent off for three nights in a one-to-four bedroom suite.

Social Hotel News: Hotel Tonight Goes European (and Canadian)
One of our all-time favorite travel apps, Hotel Tonight, has expanded in the past few weeks with the launch of a London edition. The app-only product, which offers (as you would guess), discounted hotel rooms for “tonight” is now in more than 40 cities, including Toronto and Vancouver. I used the app to book a last-minute hotel room in Newport, Rhode Island, over Memorial Day, paying just $99 for a great suite at the adorable Architect’s Inn, when rates were well over $300 at most other places. Easy to use and usually a pretty good deal, this is one of our top app picks and great news for those looking for London hotel rooms in this admittedly very busy summer overseas.

Hotel Perk: Ride In Style
We’ve heard about gratis BMWs and the one-off Aston Martin rental, but Fairmont Hotels and Resorts have gotten some cool perks for transportation of late that are a bit more out-of-the-box. Fairmont properties around the world offer guests the use of BMW Cruise Bikes to hop on and explore, but Fairmont Miramar Hotels & Bungalows in Santa Monica offers Dregs 37 Ditch Surf skateboards. For guests staying in one of the 32 bungalow rooms, the skateboards (or long boards) are available to cruise around Venice beach, the pier, Third Street Promenade and anywhere else you’d want to go. Guests looking for a high-flying mode of transportation can head to The Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver or The Fairmont Empress, Victoria. The hotels share a Helijet that is available to transport guests to and from each respective location in 35 minutes. Fairmont has also expanded its complimentary chauffeured car service with BMW to its hotels throughout the United States. Awesome perks!

Hot Hotel of the Week: Kura Hurlanda
It’s been a busy week and we just got around to watching “The Bachelorette” last night, where we got an insider’s look at Kura Hurlanda Lodge in Curacao. We’re planning a whole feature on hotels of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” but we couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of this Caribbean gem. Did you see the tree house mansion used in her date with Jef? How romantic! If you want to live like Emily, they’re offering two different Bachelorette packages, starting at $1,696.

5 Hotels With Unique Sleep Programs

the setai new yorkAny traveler will tell you that a good hotel bed is a key component of traveling. Hotels have recently gotten wise, hawking their beds, pillows and sheets on their websites as well as via new programs designed to help you sleep better – anything to save us from Ambien.

Swissotel Berlin – The Science of Sleep
Swissotel Berlin just announced a new sleep package developed by somnologist Dr. Michael Feld. They say you can achieve “bio-psycho-physiologic regeneration” through techniques like light therapy, power napping, mountain-air breathing, aromatherapy, special nutritional supplements and a sound pillow. On request, a polysomnography (detailed sleep analysis) can be booked in combination for 60 Euro per reservation. The package includes:

• wake-up and calm-down drink
• bright-light-lamp session or light-to-go headset in the morning
• aromatherapy in the morning and evening
• use of PowerNap Lounge
• use of mountain-air generator
• sound pillow at night

The Benjamin – Sleep Concierge
Midtown New York’s The Benjamin has the city’s only Sleep Concierge, an in-room sleep menu and a 12-choice pillow menu. Guests can enjoy:

· Complimentary consultation with the in-house Sleep Concierge, who can recommend the right pillow for guests’ sleep patterns or have a bedtime snack sent up

· The Benjamin’s hallmark 12-choice Pillow Menu (any combo of pillows delivered right to your room)
· Accommodations with everything needed to set the stage for a perfect night’s sleep: blackout drapes, double-paned soundproof windows and The Benjamin Bed, a Serta® mattress created exclusively for the hotel

The Setai Fifth Avenue – Spa treatments that promote sleep
The Setai Fifth Avenue’s “City That Sleeps” program plays off of New York’s famous nickname. The hotel’s Auriga spa offers a variety of treatments that are timed to the phases of the moon. Playing off that theme, the “City That Sleeps” program includes a nighttime in-room massage and turndown service with aromatherapy to aid in restful sleep. Guests also receive a calm-inducing elixir crafted from local ingredients.

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Quiet Zone floor
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Quiet Zone, 19 guestrooms on a soundproof floor, offers daytime respite from noise for jet-lagged travelers. During “Quiet Zone” hours, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., normal day-to-day hotel operations cease. Guests can snooze in complete silence without the disruption of housekeepers in adjacent rooms or bellmen carting luggage in the halls. Complimentary earplugs and eye masks are also provided. The “Quiet Zone” is available at special rates (for a minimum of four hours) until 8:00 p.m.

The Lorien Hotel and Spa – Dream Menu
In addition to a special pillow menu with options ranging from buckwheat to feather-free, this Alexandria, Virginia hotel offers an entire selection of “sweet dreams” products and services, ranging from things you can add to your room – humidifiers, fans, a hot water bottle or a bedtime story library – to concierge services and deliverables like an aromatherapy sleep kit from amenities designer Kerstin Florien, a teddy bear and homemade cookies with warm milk.