Hotel News We Noted: April 5, 2013

Hola and buenos tardes from sunny and warm Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, “Hotel News We Noted” readers. 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.

Stay tuned next week for a special edition, including a full recap of our Cabo exploration. We welcome your feedback and comments, so feel free to shoot us an email or leave a note below with ideas and thoughts.

Hotel Wi-Fi: IHG Announces Free Global Wi-Fi for Travelers … An Innovative or a “Finally, What Took You So Long” Moment?
Late last month, InterContinental Hotels Group announced that they were offering free Wi-Fi to all loyalty members worldwide, regardless of whether or not a guest was staying at the hotel. The announcement bandied about terms like “first in the hotel industry.” We wanted to do some digging before reporting this to you. The statement was bold, and in some respects, it’s true. When we asked, IHG told us the following:

While some of our competitors do offer free Internet in some of their hotels or in some regions, IHG is the first and only global hotel group to offer free Internet to all of our loyalty program members in all hotels, regardless of whether they are staying with us, conducting a business meeting with colleagues, or simply stopping in for coffee. In other words, our IHG Rewards Club, as the program will be named come July, members do not have to be staying in the hotel to take advantage of free Internet access.

Another key factor that separates IHG from our competitors is our sheer global scale – more than 4,600 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories – and likewise for our loyalty program, which has more than 71 million members (the largest of all hotel loyalty memberships).

They are right: IHG is the first global hotel company we can find to offer free Wi-Fi to loyalty members, although there is a caveat: Wi-Fi is free to Elite status members from July 2013 on, and for all members beginning in 2014.

That said, they aren’t first to market. Luxury brand Capella offers gratis Wi-Fi to all travelers, as do most Four Seasons. Kimpton, which currently has only U.S.-based hotels, offers free Wi-Fi to loyalty members (without requiring a stay) and has since 2009. While we’re glad to see IHG touting their new benefit, perhaps they shouldn’t be so excited to push that they are offering a service that several of their competitors have been offering for years.
Hotel Openings: The Sirtaj Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills’ newest boutique hotel destination is now open. Marketed as a “chic, sexy retreat with a scent of spice and a nod to the east,” the SIRTAJ is named for the Indian word meaning “highest crown.” The 32-room hotel features contemporary decor and luxurious touches like 42-inch smart TVs and Lavazza espresso makers in each room. The indoor-outdoor restaurant dishes up organic cocktails and craft beers, and nice touches like complimentary breakfast either in-room or in the hotel restaurant are welcome perks.

Haute Hotel Package: Pie Camp at Paws Up
We’ve loved this ultra-luxe Montana resort ever since we visited a few years back to explore the glamping trend, and now Paws Up is at it again with a new “Upper Crust” weekend for baking enthusiasts. By day, visitors will enjoy baking, wilderness and food photography lessons from Kate McDermott, of the famed Art of the Pie in Seattle, and New York Times photographer Andrew Scrivani. At night, they’ll retreat to the resort’s private vacation homes and enjoy food prepared by Robin Leventhal (of “Top Chef” fame) and wine pairings. The event doesn’t take place until October, but spots fill fast. Three all-inclusive nights are $5,361 for two or $3,102 for one.

Luxe Hotel Amenity: Ritz-Carlton Turns to Asprey
The Ritz-Carlton has made the shift from Bvlgari in-room amenities to Asprey’s Purple Water fragrance. The ultra-luxe Brit-based brand boasts a purple jacquard print tube and will now be found in all guest rooms and suites. It’s a notable change for the brand, and, to the best of our knowledge, Ritz is the only hotel partnering with Asprey for in-room amenities.

Green Hotel: Fiji’s Turtle Island Goes Almost 100 Percent Solar
Fiji has always been an escape for travelers seeking extraordinary natural experiences, but now the island nation is better than ever. A multi-million dollar renovation has rendered Turtle Island the greenest place in Fiji, with nearly 1,000 solar panels providing, on average, an island powered by 85 percent solar power. The new solar installation on Turtle Island produces 1 mega watt of power a day, enough to cover 100 percent of the power needs of the island on a sunny day. Even on rainy or cloudy days, the backup generator reduces the total solar power to about 85 percent, maintaining outstanding energy efficiency. As if we needed yet another excuse to visit the all-inclusive luxury retreat.

[Image Credit: The Sirtaj]

Hotel News We Noted: June 8, 2012

Each week, we explore the newest news and notes from the hotel and resort world. Feel free to write us and submit a tip, or just get your fix below in this edition of “Hotel News We Noted.”

Hotel Openings: Hot in Miami with SLS South Beach Opening

Big news in the hotel world this week as SLS Hotel South Beach finally opens the SLS brand’s first hotel property on the East Coast in a historic Art Deco building on Collins Avenue. The location features luxe penthouses designed through a collaboration between some of the hotel world’s buzziest names – designer Philippe Starck, restaurant mogul Jose Andrés, nightlife empresario Sam Nazarian and celebrity Lenny Kravitz. The property has 130 rooms and 10 special villas, all using Starck’s signature whites with vibrant pink accents to “reflect the sophistication of old French aristocracy.” The restaurant, Andrés The Bazaar, offers a mixture of Latin and Spanish flavors, along side sushi hotspot Katsuya from famed sushi chef Katsuya Uechi. The property also features Hyde Beach, the fourth location of a club from renowned nightlife team sbe Entertainment Group, which includes oceanfront access, indoor and outdoor spaces, two pools and Miami’s signature cabana culture. Of course, guest rooms include the latest in technology as well, with in-room iPads that deliver room service and reservations with a single touch, and a special connectivity that allows you to stream your own iPhone or iPad direct to the TV. The “Start Living Sexy” opening package includes 15 percent off the best available rate, a complimentary room upgrade and a complimentary food and beverage experience at Hyde Beach. The introductory package is subject to availability and blackout dates do apply. Rates start about $350.

Family Travel: Preferred Hotels’ New Family Travel Website

Just in time for the summer travel season, Preferred Hotels has launched a new family-focused travel website, Search by destination, find highlighted family blogs and take advantage of one of our favorite features, “Three Days In,” which offers up a three-day itinerary in cities like New York, Paris and more.

Promo We Love: National Lobster Day at the Boston Marriott

June 15 is National Lobster Day and the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel is celebrating with a great promotion. To celebrate, 15 parties who arrive the weekend of June 15 will receive special New England treats with the “Lucky Lobster” promotion. As an ode to this local delicacy, anyone who finds a Lucky Lobster in their guestroom will receive a voucher for free lobster rolls and a free flight of local beer at the hotel’s Waterline restaurant. If you’re in Boston and planning a getaway – for Father’s Day, perhaps – this might be worth checking out.

Summer Savings: Thailand to Telluride

Want to take a summer vacay? We’re loving these great deals.

  • The all-suite Bangkok hotel featured in last summer’s “The Hangover Part II,” lebua at State Tower, is offering 30 percent off best rates through September 30. Rates start at just $112 per night and include breakfast, Wi-Fi and access to lebua’s SkyBar, a Bangkok hotspot and the world’s tallest outdoor bar.
  • London’s hip hangout, The MayFair Hotel – which still has availability during this summer’s Olympic Games – offers guests 20 percent savings when they book 10 days in advance.
  • Mountain Lodge Telluride is offering 30 percent off lodging and golf starting from $135 per round. The Telluride Golf Course is surrounded by the highest concentration of 14,000-foot mountains in the United States.
  • The Grand Hotel Maine, which overlooks Kennebunkport, has a package valid through July 15 that includes a two-night stay with complimentary cocktail and late checkout for $399.
  • The Regent Berlin, a celebrity favorite in Mitte, has an extravagant auto package that includes access to a limited-edition Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster for two days, a picnic basket stocked with Champagne for road trips, two nights in a Premier Suite and a six-course dinner at the two-Michelin star restaurant Fischers Fritz. Rates start at 2995 EUR, and the Mercedes is available through October 31.

Hotel News We Noted: May 11, 2012

Welcome to our first weekly roundup of “Hotel News We Noted,” a compendium of our favorite clicks, posts and fun packages we spotted each week. If you have a tip, send if over – we’re hoping to target this column to the news and notable events you as readers find most interesting.

Opening Spotlight: Hipster Cool at Chicago’s ACME Hotel Company
A new trendsetter is in town, thanks to Chicago’s newest hotel, ACME, which opened this month in River North. Boutiquey-chic is the name of the game with an offbeat, retro vibe and tech-friendly amenities, like Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin wireless sound systems, lipstick printed in-bathroom nightlights and album cover-plastered elevator interiors. It’s not totally ready yet – the restaurant won’t open until fall, but we’d suggest taking stock of the rates, starting in the $150 range, before they go up.

Destination Spotlight: Acapulco is Hot Hot Hot, Thanks to J.Lo
Jennifer Lopez chose Acapulco as the latest destination for her new music video (which made waves because she released it via Twitter) and hotels in the area are clamoring for a piece of the marketing pie. Hotel Encanto, the hotel where she stayed during filming, is offering a special three-day, two-night package for just $825 per person, including daily breakfast, suite upgrade, ground transportation and a late check-out.

Social Media: Four Seasons Gets All About the Bridal Buzz
According to industry data, Four Seasons is the world’s buzziest hotel brand. Its recent website overhaul and prolific social media accounts across multiple platforms ensure that they set the gold standard for other brands to follow. Now, the brand is taking note with a special weddings-focused website, iPad app, magazine, Twitter and Pinterest presence, all geared towards making real brides want to tie the knot at a Four Seasons hotel. We’d be all about that, if we could only afford it. Still, the sites are a fun perusal for wedding and hotel enthusiasts. FYI, if you’re on Pinterest, share your best pins and enter to win a $2,500 gift card.For the Travel Searcher: RoomKey Expands out of Beta, the hotel search engine founded upon a partnership from leading hotel companies like Marriott and Hyatt, has officially gotten out of beta. What does that mean for travelers? More partners, and an expanded suite of tools, including comparison features, social sharing and consumer reviews. Soon, the site will even expand to include independent and boutique brands. This is one site we’re definitely keeping an eye on.

Luxury Travel: A Custom Trip to the Scottish Highlands Combining Shooting and Style
Owning a custom bag or piece of luggage crafted by one of Europe’s finest luxury brands is something that is enjoyed by only a select few. Traveling to the heart of Europe’s famous wild estate lands in the Scottish Highlands to experience a sustainable wild red deer hunt with a third-generation deerstalker, resulting in the leather to create your own bespoke bag with a designer kicks it up a notch, as Emeril would say. Nestling into the down covers of Relais & Chateaux property’s Inverlochy Castle, a home-cum-hotel that kings and queens have praised for over 100 years, makes this a journey one would never forget.

Social Media: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Hops on Instagram with #LovingTheMoment Campaign
Instagram is arguably one of the hottest social trends right now, and Shangri-La Hotels is hot on the campaign with its new initiative, which encourages guests to submit photos of their location using the hashtag #LovingTheMoment. The brand is also adding its own photos that showcase the unique aspects of each hotel. You’ll also find that the brand has upped the ante with expanded presences on other social sites, including Facebook and Twitter, plus new easier-to-use mobile sites.

New Amsterdam hotel opens in former music conservatorium

One of our favorite spaces for hotels? Old buildings. News broke last week that Washington DC’s former Post Office Building will become a new Trump Hotel, and today we bring you Amsterdam‘s premier music conservatorium, recently re-launched as the aptly-named Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam, Design Hotels™ newest member property.

The hotel mixes old and new in a layering of of classic and contemporary, with new additions such as a glass-covered atrium and exposed beams.

The property, which is part of the new luxury hotel collection The Set, pays tribute to the Amsterdam Conservatorium’s legacy by playing soothing classical music selections throughout the hotel. Whimsical names such as the “Tunes Restaurant” pay homage to the building’s musical past.

The hotel’s 129 rooms and suites provide a respite for the weary while an Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Center serves as a spa.

Check out the gallery, below:


Westin opens first hotel in Panama to the tune of $100 million

Panama, ranked the number one travel destination by The New York Times and an emerging destination by pubs like Fodor’s and Travel + Leisure, has just gotten a little hotter with the opening of its first Westin hotel.

The newly-opened Westin Playa Bonita Panamá is 20 minutes outside Panama City, flanked by both rainforest and beach. The hotel boasts 611 luxury rooms and suites, six fine dining restaurants, four bars and an open-air VIP Lounge on the 19th floor, which boasts panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, rainforest and Panamá Canal.
While 600-something room hotels aren’t always our preference, it’s a great way to get a tropical escape on the calendar for a reasonable price or for a moderate number of SPG loyalty points.

This opening falls on the heels of other major hotel announcements in the fast-emerging must-visit destination, including the opening of Trump Ocean Club Panama earlier this year.