Hotel News We Noted: May 18, 2013

 Hotel Pain Dei Palais
Courtesy of Hotel Pain Dei Palais

Are you ready for the weekend, “Hotel News We Noted” readers? We sure are – and we can’t believe that it’s almost the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day! This week is jam packed with your usual hotel news, plus a special addition in some of our favorite packages, promotions and last-minute deals for the long weekend.

If you’re a new fan, “Hotel News We Noted” tracks the best, most interesting and downright weird news of the week in the hotel world. We welcome reader comments, so feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email.

STEALS N’ DEALS: MEMORIAL DAY EDITION
Stay cool with these special offers and packages.

  • Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts are offering great specials with their “Sunsational Savings” package (actually, it’s available beyond the Caribbean too, but we find these deals particularly great). We love this time of year in the Caribbean, as it’s not as expensive as the winter, but not yet hurricane season either. Starting at $149 per night (a savings of more than 30 percent!), travelers heading to the sunny destinations of Aruba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will enjoy resort credits, free nights and more.
  • Kick off the summer with a Sazerac at the newly opened Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville. Rates start at just $109, a great deal for a new hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, and the offer is good for stays between now and September 30 if you book before the end of the month.
  • Dive in and chill out at The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel in Washington, D.C. Walk-able to historic Capitol Hill and easily accessible to monuments, museums and more, one of our favorite parts about this hotel is its open-air rooftop pool and bar. Their special package includes two cocktails per adult daily, a morning yoga class and a “Sun Yourself” kit, with rates from $165.
  • The luxe “I’m on a Boat!” package at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro is a bargain, and the weather in Chicago during the summer months is definitely a draw. Enjoy overnight accommodations in three deluxe rooms (10 person maximum), a three-hour private chartered boat ride throughout Lake Michigan, a picnic basket filled with Italian cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, (a tasty spread of cheeses, charcuterie and wine) and round-trip transportation to the dock, starting at just $2,570. Book this one by calling 1.800.643.1500.

HAUTE HOTELS: CANNES SPOTLIGHT

Film and luxury lovers know that there is no better place to be this month than in Cannes, France. The small seaside town is overwhelmed by jetsetters visiting for the Cannes Film Festival. We got the inside (infographic) scoop on how one of the area’s posh hotels – The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez preps for fest, here.

There are a number of hotels that we’d suggest keeping an eye on during the Cannes fest – Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc being perhaps the most famous. But one of the nearby area’s we’d also name as a must visit is St. Tropez, about a 20-30 minute car ride away from the main hubub of the festival. Also known as a location for the glitterati during this time period, we’d love a trip to the Hotel Pain Dei Palais, a 12-room mansion-style hotel and member of Relais & Chateau. They just launched a brand new Cellcosmet Spa, a Swiss skincare brand known for having exceptional anti-aging treatments.

GREAT GATSBY BUZZ: HOTEL PACKAGES

We held off on talking about this buzz-worthy film for some time, mostly because everyone else was doing so. But now that we’ve seen the epic production, we can’t help but have the urge to travel back to the Gilded Age. Here are a few hotel packages where doing so gets a whole lot easier:

  • Soak in some literary inspiration in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s room, #441 at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Turning 100 this July, the historic resort has hosted many celebrated individuals, including the famed Gatsby writer. While at the Inn, the author even attempted suicide by swallowing a vial of morphine, but was revived by his physician and a nurse.
  • The Trump International Hotel & Tower is offering the Trump “Great Gatsby” Package. Guests are invited to spend three nights in a suite overlooking Central Park, enjoying some over-the-top perks. Men receive a custom-tailored suit and shirt from Bergdorf Goodman and Art Deco cufflinks, while women go home with Ivanka Trump Art Deco jewelry. The package also includes dinner at Jean Georges, a magnum of champagne and chauffeured car-service. The extravagant package set Gatsby fans back a cool $14,999.

Bushtracks Expeditions Lets You Build Your Own Safari From Scratch

Bushtracks Expeditions offers fully customizable safarisFor more than 20 years Bushtracks Expeditions has been helping travelers visit Africa to experience the classic safari to its fullest. After two decades in the business, it is safe to say that they’ve learned a few things about organizing an unforgettable excursion into the remote corners of the continent. Now, they’ve taken all of that knowledge and experience and placed it online in a new tool that makes it a breeze to customize every element of your own personal safari, which they’ll then organize to your exact specifications.

This new online tool launched recently on the Bushtracks website where travelers are free to join any one of the company’s existing itineraries or completely build their own from scratch. That process can be as easy or as complex as you’d like, as the website gives you the option of starting with one of the preexisting safari options and simply tweaking it to fit your needs or you can begin with a completely blank slate and build the entire schedule into a dream excursion that will create memories to last a lifetime. And for those who don’t like to make too many tough travel decisions, there is even a safari wizard that asks you several easy questions then provides recommendations based on your answers.Of these, the tool that will be the most intriguing to experienced travelers will certainly be the “Build A Trip” option. This tool gives you full control over your entire African adventure, starting with the dates you are planning on traveling and the number of people in your party. From there, you’ll select your arrival destination from such cities as Cape Town, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi and Windhoeck, amongst others. Once you decide where it is you would most like to begin your safari, you’ll then be presented with day-by-day options for the lodges that you would like to stay at and the activities that you would most like to do while you are there. Accommodations range in price but are all very comfortable with some high-end luxury options available as well. Some of the activities that you can choose from include such options as game drives through local wildlife preserves, trekking excursions, cultural experiences, visits to the spa and so on. You’ll fill up each day of your personal itinerary with all of the things that you’d like to do and Bushtracks will take care of organizing those events for you.

If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to have complete control over every aspect of your trip, then you’ll certainly enjoy the level of customization available here. Not only will you be able to build your perfect safari experience, but the expert guides at Bushtracks will do all of the work of putting the trip together. This kind of tool provides the best of both worlds, giving you the chance to design your own optimal experience while still getting full service from a well-respected travel company that has a reputation for delivering top tier service.

What Does A $100,000 Vacation Look Like?

private jet diningIf your summer travel budget is feeling a little skimpy at the moment, then indulge your fantasies for a minute and imagine you’ve got $100K to blow on your upcoming vacation. What does it look like?

Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent is giving 50 travelers the chance to find out. The company, which offers high-end travel services to those with deep pockets, recently relaunched their private jet journeys in which travelers hop across the globe without ever having to come into contact with an economy class seat or gelatinous airplane meal.

In their latest (and most expensive) offering, Abercrombie & Kent’s founder Geoffrey Kent will accompany the passengers on a round-the-world adventure, which will take them to nine countries on a Boeing 757 decked out with plush business class seats, a lounge area, and a bar.Pit stops include an Amazonian river cruise, a visit to the Moai on remote Easter Island, dinner with diplomats in Sri Lanka’s Galle Fort, a game-viewing expedition on the Masai Mara, a swanky party in the wealthy nation of Monaco, and more.

How do you pack for a trip like that? Well, it doesn’t matter what you bring really, because you won’t exactly be wrestling for overhead bin space. Not to mention that joining the tour group is a traveling Bell Boy whose job it is to wheel your handmade Globetrotter suitcase around the planet. Nice, huh?

The 26-day tour departs from Miami next October … so you know, there’s still time to save up.

Hotel News We Noted: May 11, 2013

hermitage bay antigua bar pool at nightIt’s the weekend, and you know that that means – it’s time for “Hotel News We Noted,” your annual wrap up of the best, wackiest and downright odd hotel news of the week. Spring has sprung in the hotel world, and we’re seeing tons of openings from major brands and boutique properties alike, as well as a slew of packages, many of which incentivize travelers to book early for summer stays. Time is running out for Memorial Day bookings in prime locations, but you’ll still find some great last-minute specials in major cities. Of course, don’t forget that Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s not too late to snag a special at an area hotel there either – Saturday night stays and Sunday brunch offerings abound.

So without further ado, here’s the news you need for this week:

Crazy Hotel Package: Cockle Fishing (With your TOES!) at Hermitage Bay in Antigua
We’ve heard of hotels that will take guests out to “catch” their dinner, but never one quite like this. The ultra-luxe Hermitage Bay in Antigua will escort guests cockle fishing in in a hidden mangrove near the property. What is a cockle, you ask? It’s a small saltwater clam that lives in the deep, swampy mud. Desi, the Chef, and a local fisherman named Deon take guests hunting for the sweet things. Guests stand submerged to mid-thigh, calf-deep in mud, and find the clams by wiggling their toes! This sure brings new meaning to the idea of working for your home-cooked meal.

Haute Hotel Openings & Re-Openings
There are so many hotel openings this week and last, we simply can’t whittle down the list. Here are a few of the world’s most notable.

Located on the southwest coast of Bali, Starwood Le Méridien Bali Jimbaran is housed in a tranquil location that once was home to a small fishing village. The property features 119 guest rooms and suites that open around a unique 1,300-square-meter saltwater lagoon-style pool, as well as four restaurants and bars onsite. The hotel also features a six-room spa, a kids club and an exclusive rotating art program.

Istanbul is hot, hot, hot this year. The latest luxury property to hit the scene is Shangri-La Bosphorus, opening tomorrow. Located on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait, the hotel is housed in a former tobacco warehouse from the 1930s boasting a six-story Neo-Classical facade and a 350-year-old Sycamore tree in the courtyard. Expect a three-story Atrium, an 18-foot silk painting commissioned for the hotel, a CHI spa with eight private spa suites and the most spacious guest rooms in the city, ranging from 452 to 646 square feet, plus 17 suites with large private terraces.

In renovation news, the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice is re-launching this year after a 15-month, $55 million restoration. Part of an overall $200+ million renovation for The Luxury Collection’s hotel’s in Europe, the newly revamped property features 61 rooms and 21 suites all carefully redone with an eye to the hotel’s historic beauty.

In New York City, the Langham Place has opened their first hotel in North America in the building that was The Setai Fifth Avenue. While at the start, the hotel, dubbed Langham Place Fifth Avenue, will look much the same, the well-known British name in hospitality brings an exciting new brand into New York City and a potential for further acclaim for the property. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates, which include the re-launch of the hotel’s spa in 2014 and a new bar, Measure, later this year.

Great Gift: Hotel Stories
Need a great gift for the luxury travel lover in your life? Luxury book publisher Assouline has just launched the latest in their collection of amazing coffee table books. Part of a partnership with The Luxury Collection, the book, called simply “Hotel Stories,” tells the tales of some of the world’s most famous hotels and their celebrity inhabitants.

Have a question, comment or hot hotel tip? Leave a note below or shoot us an email. We love mail!

[Image Credit: Hermitage Bay]

Northern Lights Best Viewed At Sea, On A Yacht, French Style

northern lightsConsidering a trip to see the Northern Lights? This year may very well be the best time to go. 2013 is the height of the 11-year solar cycle. September and October offer peak activity. They can be seen in Alaska, Norway, Finland and Canada on a clear night. Better yet, try viewing on a ship at sea.

Common tips for viewing the Northern Lights say to go North, inside the Arctic circle, bring along a good guide and get away from light produced by cities and towns. That’s exactly what Compagnie du Ponant, a little French-flagged cruise line is doing this autumn for one of the best aurora borealis viewing opportunities possible.

Specializing in expedition sailings to the poles, Compagnie du Ponant sails small ships that feature custom technology designed to preserve fragile marine ecosystems.
northern lightsThe 15-day sailing begins in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on September 5, 2013 and ends in Quebec, Canada, whose old town is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Bringing along naturalists and experienced guides, passengers will get prepared for what they are about to see with background information and lectures about the origins, myths and mysticism on the way.A 10-year veteran of the Arctic, Compagnie du Ponant knows the best places to see the northern lights. Their luxury 264-passenger yacht Le Boreal will sail to the heart of the northernmost territory in Canada where passengers will view the polar lights from the bridge of the ship.

As if viewing the Northern Lights in near-absolute darkness was not enough, the voyage will visit a number of other trip-of-a-lifetime quality places like the village of Sisimiut in Greenland as well as the Inuit land of Nunavut, also a prime viewing location. There will be whale watching in the Baffin Sea and Saint Lawrence, white bears to see on Akpatok Island and a stop in Perce, known for its rock and Northern Gannets. To see all that, the state-of-the-art Le Boreal is complemented with a fleet of expedition Zodiac boats outfitted with satellite tracking.

On board, passengers will find five-star French service, including a choice of 132 staterooms or suites with sea views and private balconies, restaurants offering dining from casual to fine, a bar and lounge, and 24-hour in-room dining. There is also an outdoor pool with bar, panoramic terrace adjoining the indoor bar and lounge, library with Internet stations, medical center, Wi-Fi, in-room and on-board flat screen satellite TV with complimentary on-demand movies.

The all-inclusive experience is priced from $8,922 per person, based on double occupancy, flights included.

Want more on the Northern Lights? Check this video taken from the International Space Station:



[Photo credit – Flickr user Moyan_Brenn]