Hotel News We Noted: May 18, 2013

Are you ready for the weekend, “Hotel News We Noted” readers? We sure are – and we can’t believe that it’s almost the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day! This week is jam packed with your usual hotel news, plus a special addition in some of our favorite packages, promotions and last-minute deals for the long weekend.

If you’re a new fan, “Hotel News We Noted” tracks the best, most interesting and downright weird news of the week in the hotel world. We welcome reader comments, so feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email.

Stay cool with these special offers and packages.

  • Starwood Caribbean Hotels & Resorts are offering great specials with their “Sunsational Savings” package (actually, it’s available beyond the Caribbean too, but we find these deals particularly great). We love this time of year in the Caribbean, as it’s not as expensive as the winter, but not yet hurricane season either. Starting at $149 per night (a savings of more than 30 percent!), travelers heading to the sunny destinations of Aruba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will enjoy resort credits, free nights and more.
  • Kick off the summer with a Sazerac at the newly opened Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville. Rates start at just $109, a great deal for a new hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, and the offer is good for stays between now and September 30 if you book before the end of the month.
  • Dive in and chill out at The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia Hotel in Washington, D.C. Walk-able to historic Capitol Hill and easily accessible to monuments, museums and more, one of our favorite parts about this hotel is its open-air rooftop pool and bar. Their special package includes two cocktails per adult daily, a morning yoga class and a “Sun Yourself” kit, with rates from $165.
  • The luxe “I’m on a Boat!” package at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro is a bargain, and the weather in Chicago during the summer months is definitely a draw. Enjoy overnight accommodations in three deluxe rooms (10 person maximum), a three-hour private chartered boat ride throughout Lake Michigan, a picnic basket filled with Italian cuisine prepared by Executive Chef Luca Corazzina of 312 Chicago, (a tasty spread of cheeses, charcuterie and wine) and round-trip transportation to the dock, starting at just $2,570. Book this one by calling 1.800.643.1500.


Film and luxury lovers know that there is no better place to be this month than in Cannes, France. The small seaside town is overwhelmed by jetsetters visiting for the Cannes Film Festival. We got the inside (infographic) scoop on how one of the area’s posh hotels – The Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez preps for fest, here.

There are a number of hotels that we’d suggest keeping an eye on during the Cannes fest – Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc being perhaps the most famous. But one of the nearby area’s we’d also name as a must visit is St. Tropez, about a 20-30 minute car ride away from the main hubub of the festival. Also known as a location for the glitterati during this time period, we’d love a trip to the Hotel Pain Dei Palais, a 12-room mansion-style hotel and member of Relais & Chateau. They just launched a brand new Cellcosmet Spa, a Swiss skincare brand known for having exceptional anti-aging treatments.


We held off on talking about this buzz-worthy film for some time, mostly because everyone else was doing so. But now that we’ve seen the epic production, we can’t help but have the urge to travel back to the Gilded Age. Here are a few hotel packages where doing so gets a whole lot easier:

  • Soak in some literary inspiration in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s room, #441 at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Turning 100 this July, the historic resort has hosted many celebrated individuals, including the famed Gatsby writer. While at the Inn, the author even attempted suicide by swallowing a vial of morphine, but was revived by his physician and a nurse.
  • The Trump International Hotel & Tower is offering the Trump “Great Gatsby” Package. Guests are invited to spend three nights in a suite overlooking Central Park, enjoying some over-the-top perks. Men receive a custom-tailored suit and shirt from Bergdorf Goodman and Art Deco cufflinks, while women go home with Ivanka Trump Art Deco jewelry. The package also includes dinner at Jean Georges, a magnum of champagne and chauffeured car-service. The extravagant package set Gatsby fans back a cool $14,999.

Hotel News We Noted: May 11, 2013

It’s the weekend, and you know that that means – it’s time for “Hotel News We Noted,” your annual wrap up of the best, wackiest and downright odd hotel news of the week. Spring has sprung in the hotel world, and we’re seeing tons of openings from major brands and boutique properties alike, as well as a slew of packages, many of which incentivize travelers to book early for summer stays. Time is running out for Memorial Day bookings in prime locations, but you’ll still find some great last-minute specials in major cities. Of course, don’t forget that Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s not too late to snag a special at an area hotel there either – Saturday night stays and Sunday brunch offerings abound.

So without further ado, here’s the news you need for this week:

Crazy Hotel Package: Cockle Fishing (With your TOES!) at Hermitage Bay in Antigua
We’ve heard of hotels that will take guests out to “catch” their dinner, but never one quite like this. The ultra-luxe Hermitage Bay in Antigua will escort guests cockle fishing in in a hidden mangrove near the property. What is a cockle, you ask? It’s a small saltwater clam that lives in the deep, swampy mud. Desi, the Chef, and a local fisherman named Deon take guests hunting for the sweet things. Guests stand submerged to mid-thigh, calf-deep in mud, and find the clams by wiggling their toes! This sure brings new meaning to the idea of working for your home-cooked meal.

Haute Hotel Openings & Re-Openings
There are so many hotel openings this week and last, we simply can’t whittle down the list. Here are a few of the world’s most notable.

Located on the southwest coast of Bali, Starwood Le Méridien Bali Jimbaran is housed in a tranquil location that once was home to a small fishing village. The property features 119 guest rooms and suites that open around a unique 1,300-square-meter saltwater lagoon-style pool, as well as four restaurants and bars onsite. The hotel also features a six-room spa, a kids club and an exclusive rotating art program.

Istanbul is hot, hot, hot this year. The latest luxury property to hit the scene is Shangri-La Bosphorus, opening tomorrow. Located on the European side of the Bosphorus Strait, the hotel is housed in a former tobacco warehouse from the 1930s boasting a six-story Neo-Classical facade and a 350-year-old Sycamore tree in the courtyard. Expect a three-story Atrium, an 18-foot silk painting commissioned for the hotel, a CHI spa with eight private spa suites and the most spacious guest rooms in the city, ranging from 452 to 646 square feet, plus 17 suites with large private terraces.

In renovation news, the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice is re-launching this year after a 15-month, $55 million restoration. Part of an overall $200+ million renovation for The Luxury Collection’s hotel’s in Europe, the newly revamped property features 61 rooms and 21 suites all carefully redone with an eye to the hotel’s historic beauty.

In New York City, the Langham Place has opened their first hotel in North America in the building that was The Setai Fifth Avenue. While at the start, the hotel, dubbed Langham Place Fifth Avenue, will look much the same, the well-known British name in hospitality brings an exciting new brand into New York City and a potential for further acclaim for the property. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates, which include the re-launch of the hotel’s spa in 2014 and a new bar, Measure, later this year.

Great Gift: Hotel Stories
Need a great gift for the luxury travel lover in your life? Luxury book publisher Assouline has just launched the latest in their collection of amazing coffee table books. Part of a partnership with The Luxury Collection, the book, called simply “Hotel Stories,” tells the tales of some of the world’s most famous hotels and their celebrity inhabitants.

Have a question, comment or hot hotel tip? Leave a note below or shoot us an email. We love mail!

[Image Credit: Hermitage Bay]

Hotel News We Noted: April 26, 2013

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Hotel News We Noted,” where we discuss the best trends, openings and news of note in the industry. We love to hear from you, so please leave comments below or alert us to tips via email.

Kimpton Gets Quirky With Wellness Marketing
Hotels across the country have jumped on the wellness marketing trend, but Kimpton does it better than most, offering fitness rooms and gratis workout equipment for guests. We love the new video (shown above) featuring a day with Mat. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking, but it is clever and creative!

Reno News: Westin Hilton Head Is Ready For Summer
A $30 million renovation at the Westin in South Carolina’s Hilton Head has put the property in tip top shape, just in time for summer guests. Highlights include a new lobby, six enhanced restaurants, three pools, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a spa just named the #1 in South Carolina (and one of the 100 best in the U.S.).Hotel Opening: Generator Hostels
We normally restrict this column to hotels, but today we make an exception for Europe’s fastest-growing hostel brand, Generator. Chic and playful, these fun and budget-friendly lodgings are design-led and perfect for the younger or more adventurous traveler. The brand has just launched their new Barcelona property, and a Berlin Mitte property will open May 14. What do you think? With rates starting at just €12.75, we’d be excited to check one of these out next time we cross the pond.

Sweet Suites: The Cliffs Suites at Oil Nut Bay
As part of a luxury residential partnership with fashion house FENDI, the ultra-luxe Oil Nut Bay in Virgin Gorda (BVI) has just announced the opening of their latest rooms, The Cliff Suites. Set into the beautiful and rocky southeast cliffs of the 300-acre private peninsula, the new offerings are composed of two, 890-square-foot deluxe rental suites and a 1,334-square-foot penthouse featuring huge glass windows, open air showers and private plunge pools. Our favorite? The penthouse, of course, which features FENDI Casa decor and furnishings, a wrap-around outdoor terrace and full-size infinity swimming pool. What do guests get for the starting from $1500-a-night rate? In addition to full use of the property’s facilities, they’ll enjoy a dedicated electric golf cart and personal concierge.

Hotel News We Noted: April 19, 2013

As we bring you this week’s “Hotel News We Noted” column, we must first take a moment to share our thoughts with the people in and affected by this week’s events in Boston and in West, Texas.

If you’re joining us for the first time, “Hotel News We Noted” is a weekly column bringing readers the best, oddest and most interesting news of note from the hotel world each week. We welcome reader tips via comments and email, so feel free to send us a note!

Hotel Security: Hotels In Boston Tighten Security
Earlier this week, we shared some basic safety tips for travelers both home and abroad, but we also have word that hotels in the Boston area have tightened security in response to the bombing earlier this week at the Boston Marathon. Hotel Management has reported that the Mandarin Oriental underwent a forced evacuation and, due to an “abundance of precaution,” Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, Loews, InterContinental and Westin have upped security measures. Nearly all hotels have waived last-minute booking fees as well. Hotels in New York and Washington, D.C., have also upped security to some degree.

Unique Hotel: World’s First “Chocolate Hotel” Opens
A 13-room hotel in Bournemouth, near Dorset, has opened, featuring cocoa-themed rooms, cooking classes and a chocolate bar serving boozy cocoa-inspired cocktails, the Daily Mail has reported. The family run hotel is dubbed perfect for “hen nights and girlie get-togethers.” Guests paint their portraits with chocolate and enjoy sugar-high inducing amenities like chocolate fountains installed at the foot of each bed. The hotel is relatively affordable as well – £170 gets guests the “best suite” and single rooms start at just £65.Fit for a Princess: The Goring Wins “Top Afternoon Tea” Award
The Goring hotel, perhaps best known to Americans as the hotel where Kate Middleton stayed on the night before her wedding, now has a new honor. The hotel was awarded one of the highest accolades from the UK Tea Guild, The 2013 Top London Afternoon Tea Award. Now in its 28th year, The UK Tea Council’s Tea Guild Awards are considered to be The Oscars of the tea world. The Goring was judged by anonymous tea inspectors on 16 categories including décor, efficiency of service, tea appearance and flavor. Want to try for yourself? It’s relatively affordable, starting at $49 per person USD.

Hotel Opening: The Graham Georgetown
Washington, D.C., has had a busy few weeks with hotel openings, and now the Georgetown area boasts a new boutique hotel, The Graham. The revamped and renamed hotel offers just 57 rooms (all suites) plus a rooftop lounge called The Observatory, which will be the only public rooftop lounge in Georgetown. Expect a popular cocktail lounge, A.G.B., Bvlgari spa products, a 24-hour gym and a prime location off to M Street.

[Image Credit: The Graham]

Hotel News We Noted: April 13, 2013

Welcome to spring, “Hotel News We Noted” readers. If you live on the East Coast like we do, you’ve been experiencing downright balmy weather and it’s making us crave summer resort escapes, ocean breezes and open-air roof terraces. Lucky for you, we have lots of that kind of info in this week’s column. This week, as always, we round up the best, the worst and the most interesting news in the hotel industry, tracking resort openings, pampering packages and other reportings from our travels – which this week includes a recap of our recent trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Have a hotel we must visit or a tip you can’t wait to share? We welcome your feedback and comments, so feel free to shoot us an email or leave a note below with ideas and thoughts.

Over-The-Top Hotel Package: Viceroy’s $500,000 Once-In-A-Lifetime Wedding
Television and magazines have shown us that a wedding can certainly be a lavish affair. But by just about anyone’s standards, a $500k wedding package is over the top. As part of a celebration of their new experiential video, Viceroy Hotels and Resorts is offering a Destination Wedding Package for just that price. But what do you get for half a million? The package includes:
· A Marchesa bridal gown
· Fitting and alterations by exclusive couture tailor Madame Paulette in New York
· A complete Marchesa for Lenox china set (12 settings)
· A three-night destination wedding for up to 75 guests at the Viceroy Hotel or Resort of your choice, which includes a Welcome Reception, Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding Ceremony and Reception
· 60 Guestrooms at any Viceroy Hotels and Resorts property for the three nights of the wedding

While this package seems quite expensive, it does include an all-expenses paid wedding for you and 75 guests, plus your gown and china. What do you think? Would you buy this once-in-a-lifetime offer, or get a house instead?Travel Recap: The Latest On Cabo’s Hotel Scene
Cabo has long been a playground for Hollywood’s rich and famous, a safe yet tropical jaunt down from LA that’s known for its high-end hotels and discreet service. It’s also one of our favorite vacation destinations, and we just returned from a five-day trip.

This time, we stayed at Capella Pedregal. The area’s newest ultraluxury resort opened in 2009 and doesn’t disappoint. With fewer than 100 rooms and a spa ranked as one of the top ten in the world, the hotel features amenities that most would deem celebrity worthy, including private plunge pools in every room, personal assistant service and entrance through a man-made tunnel carved into Pedregal Mountain. It’s no wonder that A-listers like Reese Witherspoon have made this a regular stop in their vacation rotation. Visitors seeking a true VIP experience should opt for the Estrella Suite, which overlooks the resort and offers prime sunrise views, or a beachfront Casita, which features a private beach area, oversized pool and bathrooms that open directly to the outdoors.

We also visited two of the area’s other grande dame hotels: Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, a Rosewood property, and Esperanza, an Auberge property. Both have their own loyal followings, and also boast fewer than 100 rooms. Notable updates at Las Ventanas include a newly re-launched spa menu focused on holistic treatments, a new menu at their fine dining restaurant focusing on high-end specialty dishes from around Mexico and plans to close the property in May for several weeks to complete new luxury villas on the beachfront. Esperanza also has made recent updates to their spa and fitness center, and continues to boast one of the best fine dining restaurants in the Cabo area, Cocina del Mar, located on a rocky outcropping with exceptional sunset and views of crashing waves.

In other notable Cabo hotel news, San Jose del Cabo just got a new boutique hotel opening of its own. This slightly quieter and more traditional town is located about 30 minutes from Cabo San Lucas. The 72-room Hotel El Ganzo (which translates to “The Goose”) boasts a rooftop bar, three farm-to-table restaurants, a Film Club, a recording studio accessible through a trap door in the lobby floor, a full-service spa and a cool line-up of artists and musicians in residence. Located at the base of the marina in an old fisherman’s wharf, the property offers exceptional views of the Sea of Cortez as well. At just $193 per night for the opening rate, this property’s a steal and well worth a visit.

Want more Cabo news, plus images of the trip? Check out our photos on the Gadling Instagram from this past week.

Article Update: Hotel Wi-Fi
Last week, we told you that IHG had made a big deal over the advent of free Wi-Fi for their loyalty program members, and we mentioned a few other hotels that also offer a similar benefit. We inadvertently forgot to mention that Canadian-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts also has offered complimentary Wi-Fi for their President’s Club loyalty program members worldwide since 2006.

[Image Credit: Capella Pedregal]