Hotel News We Noted: Summer Cool Down Edition

Happy Friday, everyone. We’re reporting live from East Hampton, where the beach town is currently under the same oppressive heat wave as much of the East Coast. In that spirit, we’re attempting to cool things down with some chill hotel news of the week.

If you’re new to “Hotel News We Noted,” this weekly column tracks our favorite interesting, wacky, weird and wonderful news of each week in the hospitality space.

Cool Opening: Hotel Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach
Accor’s upscale brand, Pullman, has launched their latest property and fifth in Thailand, Hotel Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach. Nestled on Naithon Beach, one of the prettiest parts of the West Coast of Thailand, the property offers some spectacular vistas – waterfalls and vantage points over the Andaman Sea, plus amenities like gratis Wi-Fi, Nespresso machines, a spa, two restaurants and four bars. Plus, there’s plenty of room. The hotel offers 277 rooms, including seven spacious suites.

Big Booking News: Stayful, A Cool Approach To Boutique Hotels
Love boutique hotels? Try Stayful, a new online travel site focused exclusively on booking stays at independent boutique hotels. Through a proprietary bidding system, Stayful offers last-minute discounts on boutique properties and is backed by former executives from Expedia, and Joie de Vivre. Properties included in the initial beta include some of our favorites – New York’s Standard High Line, Hotel on Rivington and Gansevoort Park Avenue, as well as San Francisco’s Hotel Diva and Hotel Fusion. The site just launched on July 17, but we’re excited to see how it continues to develop.

What Summer Travelers Want In A Hotel: Pools, AC
A new study by Kayak shows the top amenities that summer travelers want in a hotel. Not shockingly, pools and air-conditioning top the list – and the order is flip-flopped for those traveling internationally. Not all European hotels are air conditioned, so it’s well worth checking on that tidbit of information. Other top amenities include an airport shuttle, parking and Internet.

Cool Hotel Perk: Bacon Paintings
Our colleague Libby Zay reported on this a few days ago, and it’s too good not to include in our weekly roundup. Check out what The Woodlands resort in Texas recently did for guests – hint, hint, it involves bacon art. Kudos for great service, and for actually reading the “comments” section of a rooms request. We prefer this to last year’s blanket fort request, for sure.

This will be our final “Hotel News We Noted” column on Gadling. Please stay tuned via Twitter to see if Hotel News pops up in a new iteration soon.

Hotel News We Noted: July 13, 2013

Happy Saturday, hotel fans. It’s time for your weekly dose of the wild, wonderful and just plain weird “Hotel News We Noted.” It’s a big week for hotel news, so we’ll jump right into it:

Sweet Slumber: An LA-Based Hotelier Designs Her Own Sheets
Frette, Sferra, Pratesi. There are many brands of luxury sheets in the hotel industry, but none of these were good enough for Armella Stepan, a 25-year veteran of the hospitality industry (think Shutters on the Beach and Casa Del Mar) – so she created her own. INTENTIONS linens take a great night’s sleep a step further and feature “intentional” words woven into the fabric themselves. The concept is fascinating: words we find calming to read, see or hear while awake are said to trigger our psyches to achieve deeper tranquility and rejuvenation as we sleep. While we’re not 100 percent sure that these linens will let us sleep as soundly as we do in a hotel bed, the concept of bringing the hotel home certainly can’t hurt. What do you think? Would you test these out for yourself?

Haute Hotel Opening: Domaine de la Baume Hotel
We’ve long been fans of the French countryside, and so when we heard a new luxury property had come to Provence, we needed to get the scoop. Domaine de la Baume opened just last week in what was once the home to French Expressionist painter Bernard Buffet. The 99-acre property includes an olive grove, horses, waterfalls, formal gardens and more. Feeling more like a private retreat than a hotel, the Tourtour property is the third in Provence from MAISON & HOTELS Sibuet’s.Ice Cool: Hotels Celebrate National Ice Cream Month
What better month to celebrate a sweet treat like ice cream than in July? Some of our favorite hotels have gotten in on the action for National Ice Cream Month with unique promos and fun flavors. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • At Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, guests enjoy tequila ice cream poolside.
  • At the Waldorf Astoria New York, sample honey ice cream, made with honey from the hotel’s own rooftop hive.
  • Four Seasons hotels and resorts have gotten really into the ice cream trend, but we’re particularly impressed by the Miami property’s liquid nitrogen ice cream bar cart.
  • In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Amway Grand Plaza hotel gives a new take on s’mores with ice cream sundaes made with tableside flamed vanilla-bean marshmallows on top of molasses and honey-infused graham cracker ice cream, topped with chocolate ganache and almond tuille.
  • Head to Maui and try inventive flavors like Kauai Pie, Mango Sorbet, Kona Coffee and Caramel Coconut Macadamia Nut at the Grand Wailea.

Hotel Review: Embassy Suites
We spent our first night at an Embassy Suites in ages this past weekend when we were in Richmond for a wedding and were pleasantly surprised by this Hilton brand property. The rooms were spacious, the service friendly, the beds comfortable and the complimentary hot breakfast plentiful and fresh. An evening Manager’s Reception would have included complimentary drinks and snacks – had we not been otherwise occupied with wedding prep. While this particular property could have used a facelift – the rooms did look a bit worn – we were pleasantly surprised by the quality for the value: a mere $125 per night.

These Shoes Are Made For Traveling: Lonely Planet Partners With TOMS

In celebration of Lonely Planet’s 40th anniversary, the famed guidebook publisher has launched a stylish partnership with traveler favorite shoe brand TOMS. The limited edition shoe features a variety of passport stamps on a neutral canvas, making it perfect for fashion-forward male and female travelers alike.

The shoe also celebrates the launch of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Responsible Travel, a mini-guidebook that offers tips for having a positive influence on the world while traveling.

We love TOMS shoes for travel, ourselves. They are lightweight, easy to pack in our carry-on, and most of all, comfortable. The brand is also famous for donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, so it’s easy to feel good and give back while looking stylish.

There’s a catch, however. The shoe will only be available for winners of competitions on both brand’s websites and via social media between now and August 15.

Hotel News We Noted: July 5, 2013

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.

Luxury Travel: Uber Launches UberCHOPPER, Hamptons Rides Just In Time For July Fourth

What says “patriotism” more than a long Fourth of July weekend in the Hamptons? For luxury seeking beachgoers, not much. Unless, of course, that beach trip comes with a private driver and a helicopter transfer.

Uber is launching a special UberCHOPPERS service exclusively on July 3, offering SUV service (for you and up to four friends) for transport to the helipad, to East Hampton, and on to your final destination. The cost? A cool $3,000 for the entire deal, all pre-paid via credit card, tips included. Considering a standard trip is around $3,500 on other charters, not including rides to and from the helipad, this is a good deal.

Should you prefer a slightly less pricey mode of transport, flat fare transport in Uber cars that seat between four and six cost between $300 and $500, depending on the level of service selected.

Additionally, Uber is running its network of cars all the way from Southampton to Montauk this July Fourth and during weekends this summer.