Hotel News We Noted: July 5, 2013

four seasons st. petersburg
Image Courtesy of Four Seasons

Happy Friday, everyone! We hope that most of you are reading this as you enjoy an extended long weekend and that everyone had a great Fourth of July yesterday. We’re back from Arizona and, after a brief stop home in Washington, D.C. (see us on Instagram again this week), we’re headed to Richmond for the weekend.

Opening Sunday: Four Seasons St. Petersburg
The first Four Seasons in Russia opens this weekend when a 19th-century palace officially becomes The Four Seasons St. Petersburg. Immortalized in Alexander Pushkin’s poetry, the 177-room hotel is located inside an iconic, triangular-shaped building in the city center, just steps from the Winter Palace. Nearly all rooms boast impressive views, and guests can enjoy numerous on-site amenities, including a Russian Tea Lounge, a bar with (what else?) vodka tasting flights and an Asian-inspired restaurant opening soon called Sintoho. A luxe spa will also open later this year. A second property in the country, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow, will open in 2014.

Hotel Deals: SniqueAway becomes Jetsetter
As we reported a few weeks ago, the flash sale site formerly owned by Gilt Groupe was sold and merged with SniqueAway, a TripAdvisor company. Today, the platform is called Jetsetter, the better known of the new brands. While this news isn’t particularly exciting in and of itself, the $100 incentive credit the brand has given to members of the site is. Use that cash to book a reservation at some of your favorite luxury hotels for more than 40 percent off. At some properties, that’s like a free night! Need a code? Join here.

Hotel Opening: Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai
Shangri-La hotels has opened its third luxury property in the city in the heart of the city’s most fashionable neighborhood on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River. The 508-room hotel is located inside the Jing An Kerry Centre, a high-end mixed use property featuring shopping, offices, restaurants and more. In addition to an impressive art collection, the hotel features four restaurants, (including a New York-style steakhouse) and the largest Horizon Club lounge in the Shangri-La collection.

Hotel Review: L’Auberge de Sedona
We spent several days last week visiting L’Auberge de Sedona in the lovely city of Sedona, Arizona. The AAA Four Diamond property is tucked just below the city’s main strip of shops and restaurants and is conveniently nestled against the hillside with impressive views of both the famed Red Rocks and the charming Oak Creek. (A car is definitely necessary, but the gratis car service to nearby hiking trails and shops was definitely a plus, as this resort is more walkable than most.) We stayed in a Creekside Cottage, a perfect choice for the super hot days. Overall, the property is an ideal choice for guests visiting the Sedona area – rooms are spacious, rates are reasonable, and the on-property restaurant is voted one of the best in the area, offering fine dining on the banks of Oak Creek. We’d also suggest a sampling of the resort’s spa, where treatments are inspired by the desert setting. Overall, this resort is definitely worth a return visit.

#OnTheRoad: Gadling Instagram From Washington, DC

instagram lincoln
Image via Nick McKeta Photo

Happy Holiday week, everyone! My name is McLean Robbins and this week I’m taking you on a photo tour of my hometown of Washington, D.C. during one of its most popular weeks of the year – the Fourth of July! I’m taking you along for the ride on Instagram, where you’ll see all that the Nation’s Capital has to offer. From iconic monuments to my favorite city eats, you’ll see some of the area’s best sights.



Follow along on Gadling’s Instagram account, @GadlingTravel and #ontheroad, as I discover what the area has to offer through late Sunday evening.



Of course, we love to hear from you as well, readers, so any suggestions of places to visit, must-eat foods or travel tips are warmly welcomed!

Move Over, Starbucks: Marriott Offers Workspace On Demand

renaissance dupont circle flexible workspaceAttempting to pierce the burgeoning flexible work and meeting space market, Marriott has launched a new program called Workspace on Demand, currently at more than 30 hotels, primarily in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco but also at select locations in Atlanta, Houston and St. Louis.

Here, workers can reserve meeting spaces, lobby seating areas and communal tables to enjoy an afternoon of meetings or a quick catch-up between colleagues.

This may be an untapped opportunity for the hotel market – Marriott is the first we’ve seen to both publicly advertise lobby space to non-guests and to charge for its use. According to research firm IDC, the number of mobile workers – those without a fixed office space – will increase to nearly 1.2 billion globally this year.

“Younger workers are changing the work dynamic. They are mobile and global, living lives untethered to the traditional work environment, and we are evolving with them,” said Paul Cahill, senior vice president, Brand Management, Marriott Hotels & Resorts in a release.

Workers can book these spaces through an app/website collaboration with LiquidSpace, which already offers flexible work spaces on a limited term basis.

We tried to book a meeting space for Washington, D.C., and found the system simple to use, if the work spaces themselves a bit sparse in selection. We could reserve a communal table for eight at the Renaissance in Dupont Circle for $38.50 per hour or $150 for a half-day. The venue was closed for today, but available for Monday, Jan. 14.

It seems like it’s worth a shot if you need a set amount of space for an important meeting, but we might just consider a flexible office space’s conference room where we’re guaranteed peace and quiet, or the option of taking our chances in the hotel lobby.

What do you think? Will you try out the service?

[Image Credit: Renaissance Dupont Circle]

Martin Luther King Memorial Inscription To Be Modified

Martin Luther King Memorial
The Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., was unveiled on August 28, 2011. It has since proved hugely popular, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million visitors in its first year. It has also proved controversial.

As Art Daily reports, several public figures complained about an inscription on the memorial that reads, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” The inscription is not in quotes because it’s actually a paraphrase of what King said. His actual words were, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Leading poet Maya Angelou told the Washington Post that the paraphrase makes King look like “an arrogant twit.” She went on to say that the civil rights leader was anything but arrogant and the paraphrase “minimizes the man.”

Now the full quote will be included. In September or October, after the summer tourist rush is over, two sculptors will change the quote.

The statue’s other inscription hasn’t caused any controversy. It reads, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

JFK’s Georgetown

John F. Kennedy was one of the greatest orators in American history. But as a single congressman and then senator, his Sunday morning routine in Washington involved food and newspapers and no chit-chat. Each week, the magnetic politician would occupy a tiny, one-person booth called a “rumble seat” (see photo right and video below) at Martin’s Tavern, his favorite restaurant and watering hole in Georgetown, the neighborhood he lived in for nearly 15 years.

JFK liked to have his breakfast alone, poring over the Sunday papers in the rumble seat. He liked Martin’s so much that he asked Jacqueline Bouvier to marry him in the same place; today that booth bears a plaque and the moniker “the proposal booth.” Nearly sixty years after he popped the question in booth three, men from around the D.C. area who want to propose in this historic spot call ahead to reserve the same booth.

Georgetown is D.C.’s most celebrated neighborhood. It was founded in 1751, nearly 40 years before the city of Washington was established, and it remained a thriving, independent town, distinct from D.C., until it was annexed by the city in 1871. The neighborhood has long been a magnet for tourists but sadly many of them just walk up and down M Street, Georgetown’s commercial strip, which is filled with overpriced cupcake shops, chain stores and traffic, both human and vehicular.
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But venture up the hill, north of M Street and you’ll find Georgetown’s real treasure: a grid of quiet streets filled with historic homes built mostly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. JFK once very accurately called D.C. “a city of “Southern efficiency and Northern hospitality,” but he loved Georgetown. The Kennedys lived, worshipped and played in the neighborhood between 1946, when JFK was elected to the Congress at 29, until 1964, when Jackie moved out, nearly a year after her husband was assassinated.

For a wealthy family, the Kennedys moved often while in D.C., but didn’t stray beyond Georgetown. They lived in nine different homes, ranging from a humble row house to a 7,394 square foot mansion. Today, these homes are worth between $1.2 and $3.8 million dollars. (See gallery for details) The Georgetown Business Improvement District has established a self-guided walking tour that allows visitors to see these homes (now all in private hands and not open to the public). I’ve made some slight modifications to their route and included a stop at Martin’s Tavern.

Even if you have no interest in JFK, the walk, which takes about 90 minutes depending on your pace, provides a great introduction to D.C.’s most iconic and historic neighborhood. Nearly all of the homes on the tour look the same now as they did when the Kennedys lived in them. If you look at this photo of the Kennedys, for example, you can see that their home at 3307 N Street, looked the same then as it did now.

And this video of Jackie and the kids moving into a home at 3038 N Street after JFK was assassinated will give you an idea of what this stately home looked like in 1963. Even today, the house has a bit of a somber look to it.

According to The Washingtonian, JFK was a foodie before his time who favored French cuisine. But other than Martin’s, his other dining haunts are all long gone. That said, he is still remembered as the man who revolutionized drinking in D.C. In 1962, Kennedy signed a bill that repealed the city’s archaic drinking regulations, which mandated that bar patrons drinking beer or wine be seated on a stool and those drinking liquor be seated at a table.

JFK was back in the news earlier this month when Mimi Alford, a 69 year-old woman who interned at the White House, published a book claiming that she had an 18-month affair with JFK that began when she was 17. The revelation that Kennedy was a playboy isn’t front page news, but he was also a devout Catholic, and you can visit Holy Trinity Church, founded in 1792 as the city’s first Catholic church, where he and his family worshipped. It’s a small, square room with no confession booths.

The 11 stop JFK in Georgetown self-guided walking tour: (see slideshow for details on each stop)

1. 3260 N Street, NW
2. 3307 N Street, NW
3. 3513 N Street, NW
4. 1400 34th Street, NW
5. 3271 P Street, NW
6. 3321 Dent Place, NW (just north of Q Street, between 33rd and 34th)
7. 1528 31st Street, NW
8. 2808 P Street, NW
9. 3038 N Street, NW
10. 3017 N Street, NW
11. 1264 Wisconsin Ave, NW