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.

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.

Hotel News We Noted: June 28, 2013

Greetings from sunny and hot, hot, HOT Sedona, Arizona, “Hotel News We Noted” fans. It’s a bit cooler down here on Oak Creek, where I’m currently typing this from the balcony of my cottage at L’Auberge de Sedona. So far, this AAA Four Diamond resort is full of lovely surprises, from the quaint feeding of the ducks each morning to the outdoor rain shower (complete with a real live tree) inside the room, and the nighttime star gazing lessons where I got my first glimpse of Saturn through a telescope! Expect a full recap of my trip in next week’s column, or travel along with me – I’m Instagramming live from the @GadlingTravel handle for our weekly #OnTheRoad column.

But for now, here’s your weekly dose of all that’s going on in the hotel world. Feel free to leave tips below or send your comments via email. I’d love to hear from you!

Dress The Part: New Orleans’ International House Undergoes Summer Wardrobe Change
Sure, our wardrobe changes with the seasons, but we’ve never seen a hotel do the same. New Orleans’ International House alters its furnishings, staff attire, foliage and overall ambiance to uphold the New Orleans tradition of “Summer Dress.” Dating back to pre air-conditioning days to keep cool during the steamy months, cotton slipcovers and sisal rugs replace formal upholstery and throw rugs, and native banana leaves, palms, fragrant floating blossoms and spiraling topiary decorate the lobby. Hotel staff will change their uniforms as well. The stylists for the hotel include fashion designer Lisa Iacono (who has worked with names like Proenza Schouler and Betsey Johnson) as well as Interior designer LM Pagano, who has worked with names like Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp.

Hotel Opening: Fairmont Baku
One of the hottest areas in the world for new luxury properties is probably not a country you’ve heard of. Baku, Azerbaijan has seen an influx of luxury properties in recent months and years, including Four Seasons, Jumeirah and JW Marriott. Now Fairmont has opened their first property in the area. Located in the Flame Towers, the tallest building complex in the country, the 140-room hotel boasts spectacular views of the city of Baku, the old Inner City or the Caspian Sea. Highlights include a 20-foot glass chandelier formed in the shape of water droplets, a world-class, contemporary art collection and the spacious Fairmont Gold rooms and suites.

Cool Summer Vacation at a Hot New Resort: Topnotch Resort
Fresh from a $15 million upgrade, Stowe, Vermont’s Topnotch Resort has re-opened to the public. While we’d normally shy away from a ski resort in the summer, this newly upgraded property offers plenty to do in the off-seasons, including hiking, biking and more. Topnotch added a new lobby, revamped dining outlets, an outdoor wedding venue, a refreshed indoor tennis center and newly renovated guestrooms.

Smells Good To Us: The Grand Del Mar’s Perfume Sessions
We’ve certainly heard of hotels creating custom scents, but this new package from The Grand Del Mar in San Diego raises the bar even more. Wednesdays in July and August, the property is hosting a two-hour natural perfume making class where a local perfumer will give instructions and materials to blend your own custom scent. Open to the public and guests alike, this program seems like a steal at just $100.

Family Travel Package: Capture the Memories
While we certainly take a lot of photos during our travels, it’s rare that most of those images will ever see a life beyond our computer screen, which explains why we like this new package from Preferred Hotel Group. The Preferred Family collection of family-centric hotels has teamed with Shutterfly to allow every traveler checking into the group’s 41 hotels a complimentary photo book of their trip. It may only be a $30 value, but the idea of having someone encourage us to share our vacation snaps with friends and family seems like a great value.

Hotel News We Noted: First Day of Summer Edition

Welcome everyone to the first official day of Summer and, of course, your weekly dose of Hotel News We Noted, where we track the best, the most buzzy and the downright oddest news of the hospitality industry. As always, send us a note or leave a comment below if you have a timely tidbit.

Las Vegas, Now Easier to Visit Than Ever
MGM Resorts in Las Vegas has really upped the ante with their loyalty program. The brand, which has more than 40,000 hotel rooms in Vegas across a dozen properties, has announced a new tie-in with Hyatt Gold Passport so that members can redeem their points at the brand’s properties in Las Vegas. This is on the heels of partnerships earlier this year with Southwest Airlines and Royal Caribbean cruises. Good news for savvy points hounds!

IHG Supports our Military with “Army Hotels
It’s always nice to see a hotel brand giving back to our men and women in uniform. IHG is expanding their portfolio of Army Hotels, adding 18 more military installations to their portfolio, making more than 110,000 hotel rooms available on 39 military posts worldwide. The company also supports veterans through the , helping train veterans for hospitality careers, as well as the which donates “comfort homes” to families whose loved ones are being treated at far-away military medical centers, and (S2S) non-profit, a program that helps wounded service men and women overcome personal barriers.

Haute Hotel Suite: The Gwyneth Paltrow Penthouse
Stay at The Capri Palace Hotel & Spa and live like a movie star. That is, if you check into the hotel’s penthouse suite. Spanning 1,620 square feet on the top floor of the hotel, the penthouse combines Art Deco decor with historic elegance and features a special skylight above the bed as well as a separate rooftop garden that’s more than twice the size of the suite itself. The garden features a heated swimming pool with a panoramic view, enabling guests to admire the green slopes of Monte Solaro hill, the village of Anacapri, the islands of Ischia and Procida, as well as the enchanting bay of Naples. A smaller plunge pool is accessible from the second bedroom. We’re just wondering if organic food delivery comes standard with the room charge?

A Great Way to Celebrate Your Golden Anniversary
We love this fun hotel promo to celebrate the Waldorf Astoria property Rome Cavalieri. Check into the hotel at any point this month and five lucky guests will find that their room has been gift wrapped in gold embroidered linens. Those guests will find themselves upgraded to the hotel’s VIP Petronius or Penthouse Suite, both of which are furnished with incredible artwork (think original Andy Warhol pieces and a Karl Lagerfeld sofa) and impressive views. We’d love a Roman holiday, how about you?