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: 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?

Hotel News We Noted: May 31, 2013

It’s the last “Hotel News We Noted” of May, and we have lots of news to report. If you’re just tuning in, each Friday, “Hotel News We Noted” brings readers the latest, most interesting and downright oddest news of note from the hospitality world.

Have a tip or a comment to share? Leave a note below or shoot us an email.

Wellness Lovers Unite: Miraval Comes to … New Jersey?
When we envision a wellness retreat, New Jersey might not be the location we’d choose, but Miraval is betting that its loyal clientele will want to take their retreats east. Earlier this week, the brand announced plans to open a second resort in Somerset County on a property formerly owned by the King of Morocco. Dubbed “Miraval at Natirar,” the property should open in 2014.

New Brand Alert: Tommie Hotels
Commune Hotels & Resorts, the parent company behind Thompson and Joie de Vivre hotels, this week announced the launch of Tommie, a value-oriented brand for stylish young travelers. Rooms are called “crash pads,” meeting spaces are “incubators,” and lounges are called “reading rooms.” Self-check in, eclectic retail and gourmet grab-and-go foods should appeal to on-the-go travelers. The first location will be on 31st Street in Manhattan, and a West SoHo location is also planned, both of which anticipate a 2015 opening. What do you think?Hotel Opening: Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts will open its third Traders Hotel in Malaysia on June 1. The 283-room property is a 20-minute drive from downtown Singapore and is ideal for family or business travelers as it is located near two theme parks and the state administration center. It’s pretty cheap too – starting room rates begin at $123 per night.

Hilton Gets A Jolt: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® Coffee Added to Hilton Hotels
Travelers love (or love to hate) the in-room coffee amenities at most hotels, and, of late, many chains have moved away from big brands to select specialty or local roasters for their in-room brew. Hilton has done the same, announcing a partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®, to provide an exclusive new in-room assortment of coffee and teas at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Embassy Suites Hotels properties across the Americas. The blend is called the “Hilton Morning Blend.” Purchase a 12-ounce bag on Hilton at Home to test for yourself and get 20 percent off your entire order. As Hilton heiress Paris would say, “that’s hot.”

Cool Contest: Four Seasons Goes After Brides
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is celebrating wedding color palettes with the launch of the second annual issue of Four Seasons Weddings magazine with a Pinterest contest. Brides to be can enter to win a $1,000 Four Seasons gift card redeemable at any Four Seasons hotel or resort worldwide by creating their own wedding palette pin board. A panel of expert judges, including Style Me Pretty and Bridal Guide, will select the winner the week of June 24, 2013. We aren’t getting married, but we sure would like a $1k gift card, wouldn’t you? If you qualify, enter the “Pin Your Wedding Colour Palette” Pinterest contest here.

Hotel News We Noted: May 25, 2013

Welcome to the long weekend, “Hotel News We Noted” readers. It’s time for three days of sun, fun and relaxation – or, in our case, a wedding.

But before you jet off (or drive away, as the case may be), we wanted you to have your weekly dose of the best news from in and around the hotel world.

As always, send comments, questions and feedback to our inbox, or leave a note below.

Luxury Hotel Amenity: Gold-Plated iPads for Everyone
Dubai’s Burj Al Arab has just upped the ante on the in-room iPad trend, The Telegraph reports. The hotel, which already is one of the world’s tallest, might also offer the most expensive guest device, a 24-carat gold-plated iPad worth £6,715, upon check-in. The iPads have a special app that acts like a virtual butler. Of course, guests only have use of the technology while they are staying in the hotel.

Money Saver Alert: Room Service Gets Cheaper
According to a new article in Bloomberg Business Week, room service is one hotel amenity that’s actually decreasing in price. Room service is becoming simpler – both in delivery and in the scope of offerings. Hotels like Public in Chicago actually deliver items in a brown paper bag, a streamlined concept that fits with their chic, yet price conscious model.

Hotel Opening: Margaritaville Atlantic City
Parrotheads everywhere will want to head to the Jersey Shore this weekend for the grand opening of the Margaritaville entertainment complex at Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel. The new addition to the property includes a Margaritaville restaurant, LandShark Bar & Grill, a Margaritaville-themed casino, Five O’clock Somewhere bar, a retail store and coffee shop. The coffee shop is a new addition to the Margaritaville brand, and the casino will feature 12 themed tables and more than 150 slot machines. Governor Christie himself was present to cut the ribbon for the opening ceremony yesterday.

Cool Contest: Do The DTour
Think you have what it takes to be a travel writer? Now you can test your writing and producing chops. DoubleTree by Hilton is hosting a contest, dubbed the “DTour,” encouraging fans to share a video describing a nearby landmark, unique culture or not-to-be-missed travel spot in a destination of your choosing. The video and accompanying description will be entered in a contest to win a travel assignment to one of six continents where DoubleTree hotels are located. The winners will take in local culture, the hotels and much more, all while sharing their experience for the brand for trips that will last between two weeks and two months. The final entry date is May 31.