Hotel News We Noted: December 7, 2012 (Special Edition)

We write today with bad news. Judging by the amount of press releases in our inbox, the world will end on December 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, and nine days before, on 12-12-12, the publicity world will relish their last ever chance to send out far too many press releases about a holiday that may or may not happen.

And what reporters would we be if we did not bring you such news, interspersed with our favorite “Hotel News We Noted” of the week.

An Over-The-Top 12/12/12 Wedding at Jumby Bay
Book a wedding date to remember at Rosewood’s exclusive Antigua resort. Book the Once in a Lifetime Package and receive accommodations for three nights for 80 of your closest friends, private “White Night” party, cocktail and wedding reception, ceremony and more. Want to know how exclusive this place is? It once denied access to Princess Diana. Rates start at $230,000 for a three-night wedding event for up to 80 persons (40 rooms).

A 12/12/12 Promo You Can Afford
In honor of 12/12/12, Affinia Hotels in NYC and D.C. are treating guests to a special low rate of $112.12 for Sunday night stays available for booking on Dec. 12 between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. only. Those looking to extend their stay beyond Sunday, can also receive 12 percent off any additional nights booked. This limited-time offer is available for travel from Jan. 2, 2013 – March 31, 2013. To book visit and use promotional code TWELVE.

Gamble The Day Away
Packages to top gambling destinations on the last triple-digit date of the century are considered very lucky. has packages bookable by December 9 available for as little as $437 per person for four-night stays in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.End of the World Cocktails at Renaissance Hotels
Celebrate doomsday with decadent cocktail treats at Renaissance hotels throughout the U.S., or, if you’re like us, celebrate in your living room with these delicious recipes!

Mayan Sacrifice
1/3 oz. Patron Silver Tequila
1/3 oz. Bacardi 151
1/3 oz. Grenadine
2 Dash Creole Bitters

Mix ingredients together in a mixing glass over ice. Shake and strain into shot glass. Ensure shot has sufficient red coloring.

Survival Punch
2 oz. Death’s Door White Whiskey
1 oz. Peach Schnapps
1 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Cranberry Juice
¼ oz. Velvet Falernum
Blood Orange Bitters, to taste
Rosemary Sprig

In a shaker over ice, combine all ingredients and shake. Strain using funnel into bottle. Serve full bottle with 2 rocks glasses filled with ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Hallucination Celebration
1 1/2 oz. Lucid Absinthe Superieure
5 oz. Champagne (fill glass)
Gold Flakes or Leaf

Sprinkle desired amount of gold flakes in champagne flute. Carefully add Absinthe. Fill glass with champagne. Garnish with gold flakes.

Hotel Openings: Four Seasons Goes To Africa
A few years ago, we told you that glamping was a thing. Now Four Seasons has gotten on the trend with the opening of Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania, the first of the brand’s properties in Sub-Saharan Africa (two additional properties are planned in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and an exclusive beach resort on the island of Zanzibar). This 77-room lodge features 12 suites with plunge pools, five free-standing villas, two restaurants and two bars. The hotel will offer a full-service fitness center and spa as well as opportunities for game drives. (Psst: Really want to get to Africa? We reported on another brand new lodge from the Singita brand last week.)

Hot Hotel Scene: Miami
We spent a night in Miami last weekend and explored some of what the hottest city on the East Coast has to offer, just in advance of its poshest event of the winter season, Art Basel, going on now. SLS South Beach, a Philippe Stark-designed masterpiece, is undoubtedly the center of Collins Avenue cool, with its Hyde Beach club, Jose Andres restaurant, and old school campground decor. We’ve also heard great things about The James Royal Palm, another boutique brand’s entrance into the Miami hotel world, and the soon-to-open B South Beach. We stayed at Hotel Beaux Arts, a unique hotel-within-a-hotel concept that’s a one-of-a-kind experience within the Marriott brand. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Port of Miami and downtown, this super high-tech hotel has rooms full of Bang & Olufsen amenities. While we couldn’t figure out how to turn on the sink, we sure did feel like a high roller, and, thanks to the in-house (well, in the attached JW Marriott Marquis) basketball court, movie theater, golf school, and virtual bowling alley, you could too. This would be an ultimate bachelor party destination.

Hotel News We Noted: November 17, 2012

Happy weekend, hotel lovers. We’ve made it to the end of the last full week before holiday madness begins, and let us say, it’s been a doozy. Stay tuned next week for a special “Hotel News We Noted” edition, full of Black Friday and Cyber Monday packages galore.

Until then, here’s your weekly dose of what’s hot (and what’s not) in the hotel world. As always, send us tips and newsy bits to this email address.

Hotel Package: They’ll Toss In The Turkey Too
Extended stay hotel brand AKA is sweetening the deal this Thanksgiving. If you join in the hotel’s Great Turkey PhotoFest on November 22, the hotel will give you a complimentary turkey. In order to receive the free turkey, guests must commit to post a photo/twitpic the finished product on AKA’s Facebook page or use their @StayAKA handle or hashtag #TheGreatTurkeyPhotoFest via Twitter. All hail the bird at the brand’s North American properties in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Beverly Hills. , are encouraged to participate

Movember Madness at Renaissance Times Square
Participating in Movember? Recap: Men grow mustaches in November to support the Prostate Cancer Foundation. If so, hit up R Lounge in the Renaissance New York Times Square hotel on November 30 to enjoy Movember-themed food and drink (mustache-shaped cookies and foaming cocktails), with all of the proceeds going to cancer initiatives. We’re fairly confident that this seems like a good cause, although we’re also fairly sure that that many mustaches in one room is going to be either epic-ally awesome or awesomely awful. We figured we’d give a few week’s notice if you want to grow a handlebar or a fu man chu and participate … oh, and we never turn down gratis food. All men attending with a ‘stache get a free Blue Ribbon appetizer.Sub-Standard: Woman Sues The Standard After Giving Birth In The Hotel
The Standard’s former manager is suing the hotel for $10 million after giving birth in the hotel last year, Yahoo! is reporting. Manager Tara Kimkee Tan went into labor on a Saturday evening while on duty and gave birth in a hotel guest room without medical assistance. Afterwards, Tan claims that she was ushered unceremoniously out a side door and denied maternity leave. But that isn’t why she’s suing. Tan was fired for allegedly stealing hotel property, and claims that she is not only innocent, but that she was fired because she doesn’t fit the hotel’s “image” of young, tall and blonde. Oh brother – this case sounds like a not so “standard” mess.

Sweet Romance: Four Seasons #IgniteTheSpark
It may not be the month for romance quite yet (we’ll give that honor to February), but Four Seasons is doing their very best to “ignite the spark” with a series of packages at their properties around the world. Ranging from gratis cocktails to spa treatments, these packages are perfect for holiday proposals or just getting away from it all during an otherwise busy season. The add-ons vary: at the Chiang Mai property, couples can make a traditional wish on a banana leaf and release the leaf into the resort’s pond. In Boston, they’ll get a Porshe Panamera rental for a day, and in Costa Rica, they’ll enjoy surfing lessons. The saying “whatever floats your boat” or “revs your engine” was taken literally here, we see!

[Image Credit: Renaissance Hotels]

Birth Of A Hotel: Farm To Table Is Here To Stay

This week, we’ve been busy talking to hospitality experts for our upcoming feature on hotel food and beverage trends. Simultaneously, our featured hotel, Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown, has been preparing their own F&B offerings.
Capella’s soon-to-be-announced restaurant won’t feature a celebrity chef (like their neighbor The Four Seasons, with its Michael Mina restaurant) but it will draw on a major trend in the restaurant world: local cuisine. Much of the hotel’s produce will be sourced from local farms. Guy Rigby, Four Seasons Americas vice president of food and beverage, says that local foods are more than just a passing trend – the use of local foods and high-quality ingredients has become an expectation of the discerning diner.

Trends do play an important role in menu development, however, as shown by the craft beer selections being considered for the restaurant. Hospitality expert Steven Kamali told us that the beer market is nowhere near its saturation point, and, in Washington, beer bars have made waves in the community in recent years, including the opening of the District’s first brewery, DC Brau.

Speaking to the local community will also be a critical part of opening this new restaurant. Located along the city’s scenic C&O Canal, hotel managing partner Bruce Bradley expressed his desire to showcase the restaurant as a place welcoming to the local community as well as hotel guests. Kamali and Rigby also spoke to the importance of this marketing segment, stating that hotels must carefully consider the local market when developing their restaurant concepts.

We look forward to bringing you a larger feature – just in time for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, catch up on all of your “Birth of a Hotel” coverage here.

[Image Credits: Capella Washington D.C.]

Hotel News We Noted: November 10, 2012

It’s official, and hopefully you’re not too blue about it. We’re in for four more years of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean Washington (hotels) are any less excited about inauguration. We’ve been tracking what our favorite properties are doing to prepare, but also what’s going on in the hotel world at large for this week’s “Hotel News We Noted.”

As always, send us questions and comments via email, and don’t forget that our annual Black Friday / Cyber Monday roundup is fast approaching. If you know of a great deal, sent it out way.

Hotel Openings: The James Miami, Four Seasons Beijing, Kukui’ula Club Cottages, Andaz Amsterdam
It’s a big week in the world of hotel openings! Here are the highlights:

  • The James has expanded their brand to the hot, hot, hot Miami with the opening this week of The James Royal Palm. The renovated property (formerly The Royal Palm) will join The James’ brand of boutique hotels in New York and Chicago.
  • Prefer something a bit more exotic? Four Seasons has opened their first hotel in China’s capital this week. The 313-room property is close enough to be useful to downtown business travelers and leisure guests seeking access to China’s many cultural attractions too.
  • We’ve had our eye on Hawaii for some time now, as airfare from the East Coast has been unusually affordable. On our next visit, we’re excited to check out the new Kukui’ula Club Cottages on Kaua’i, 15-single family cottages right next to the main Plantation House. Hello, if the President rents a private home while in Hawaii, why shouldn’t we?
  • Hyatt’s most hip brand just got a bit cooler, thanks to the opening of the new Andaz Amsterdam. What makes it a haute hotel opening? Awesome art (think in-room video art installations), a bicycle repair shop on-site (the city’s first) and a new step forward for the brand, as it’s the first Andaz in mainland Europe.

Hotel of the Week: Secrets The Vine Cancun

It takes a lot for us to express a desire to visit Cancun, a city better known for spring break than relaxing resort vacations. We’re intrigued by the new Secrets The Vine Cancun, an upscale take on the all-inclusive option. The adults-only resort is inspired (as The Vine name suggests) by wine, and includes a bar with 3,000 wine varietals, sommelier-led classes and tastings, wine-inspired spa menus and private chefs dinners. It’s not a trip to France, but it’s still pretty cool.

Happening Hotel Package: Bond, James Bond at Trump Toronto
In celebration of Toronto’s special “Designing 007: Fifth Years of Bond Style” exhibit and the newest Bond film, “Skyfall,” Trump Toronto has launched a totally over-the-top package we’re dying to try. The $17,007 “Shaken Not Stirred: Bond on Bay” package includes a two-night stay in an Executive Suite on the hotel’s 30th floor, offering fantastic downtown views, access to a Continental Bentley GT for duration of stay, all meals, including dinner with champagne at STOCK™ Restaurant Bar & Lounge for two for the duration of the stay, admission for two to the exhibition and two movie passes to a Bond film at TIFF Bell Lightbox, as well return limousine service, designer cocktail dress and Hugo Boss tuxedo with private fitting at The Room, courtesy of The Hudson’s Bay Company, a spa experience at Quartz Crystal Spa™ that includes a couples massage, hair and makeup for her and manicure for him, a martini “Shaken not Stirred” lesson at Suits Lobby Lounge and an in-room bespoke chocolate from the Chocolate Lab at STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge, as well as complimentary fruit and cigar box. Stays are available through January 20 using code PKG007.

[Image Credit: Secrets The Vine Cancun]

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.