Hotel News We Noted: September 7, 2012

Greetings from Toronto, where we’re visiting our fair neighbor to the north during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF, for short). There is much to be enjoyed in this bustling capital, where hotels like the new Shangri-La, Trump, Ritz-Carlton (can you believe that’s what has opened only in the last year?) and soon-to-launch Four Seasons are dominating the luxury hotel scene, and buzzy up-and-comers like ALT near Pearson Airport and boutique-chic The Drake (no relation to the Chicago property), which rocks on in Ace Hotel-like hipster fashion on the trendy Queen Street West.

But enough about Canada, as there’s plenty of hotel news to be had around the world this week. Welcome to the first fall edition of “Hotel News We Noted.” As always, send us a note if you have tips, comments or suggestions.

Viral Video: Ritz-Carlton Showcases “The Art of the Craft”
Ritz-Carlton is showcasing their commitment to service and their “staff as family” approach with a new YouTube series that goes behind-the-scenes to highlight the work of hotel staffers. From shoe shiners to housekeepers, the videos showcase the level of commitment that each staffer has for their jobs. We love how employees at every level within the company take such a sense of pride in their job and the organization as a whole.
Hotel Openings: Four Seasons Baku and Pudong
The Four Seasons has had a big week with the opening of two new properties, Four Seasons Hotel Baku, the brand’s first in Azerbaijan, as well as the second property in Shanghai, Four Seasons Pudong. Once a well-kept secret among oil industry executives, Baku, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is attracting interest of a much broader range of travelers, especially with its rich cultural history, vibrant art scene, designer shopping and developing wine industry. The Shanghai property is primed for business success, located in the newly built, 55-story 21st Century Tower. Is anyone heading that way who will report back on how these hotels look in person?

Hotel Revamp: Peninsula Hotels
YouTube videos must be all the rage this week, as Peninsula has also launched their own series, dubbed “Peninsula Moments,” offering a more film-like approach to what it looks like to go behind-the-scenes at the hotel. Part of a new brand campaign and revamp for their flagship Hong Kong property (to the tune of a cool $450 million), here’s what else you can expect:

  • Cool new city guides from LUXE, designed exclusively for the hotels.
  • The re-launch of the Hong Kong property, which features the same designer as the Getty, new rooms and suites, and upgraded technology and design enhancements. These include touch screen tablets pre-set in one of five languages offering full control of all room technology, complimentary long-distance VOIP phone calls from guest rooms and, from the hotel’s Rolls-Royce fleet, upgraded in-room technology including memory-card readers and the now ubiquitous in-mirror bathroom TVs.

Hot Amenity: Find Your Chi At Palace Resorts
This change alone is enough to let us book a stay at a Palace Resort (an all-inclusive brand located throughout Mexico) – they’ve added Chi amenities to all of their rooms. Not a woman? This means the industry’s best hair dryers (plus flat irons) in all rooms, as well as the brand’s own line of amenities. Looking good while traveling AND keeping our suitcase from going over the required weight limit? We’re all about it.

Sleeping Beauties: Westin and Diamond Resorts
People have long loved their hotel beds, and many brands, both luxury and mid-range, sell their sleeping products online so that you can enjoy the same comforts at home. If you’re a Westin fan, snag their signature “Heavenly Bed” online through September 22 for 20% off. If you’re not in the market (or the budget) to replace your mattress, we’d suggest a stay at a Diamond resort, which just launched the heaviest pillow in the hotel industry, a 51-ounce pillow that feels more like a memory foam than the typical “must fluff all night long for a good night’s sleep” variety. At just $27 on the hotel site, they won’t break the bank, either.