Hotel News We Noted: March 8, 2013

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Hotel News We Noted,” where we round up the week’s best, most interesting and just downright odd news of note in the hospitality world. Have a tip? Send us a note or leave a comment below.

The hotel world has been buzzing this winter with new and planned openings, extreme amenities and packages galore. Here’s our take on what you need to know this week:

Shangri-La Goes After Saudi Princess Who Skipped Out on $7.5 Million Hotel Bill
The Shangri-La hotel in Paris is going after the Saudi princess who left in the dead of the night and skipped out on her $7.5 million hotel bill, Business Insider reports. The princess spent six months on the 41st floor of the hotel, and her father, the King, has refused to pay her debts. The king has since confined the princess to a palace in Saudi Arabia after she left a trail of unpaid debts across Europe. Nothing quite says “princess” like palace confinement, hmm?

Hotel Openings: ME London
The first ME by Melia hotel in the UK and the fifth in the brand opened last week in one of the world’s hottest cities for hotel growth – London. ME London is located in the heart of the West End, on the site formerly inhabited by the famous Gaiety Theatre. The 157-room property will feature a rooftop bar, Radio, offering panoramic views of the city, as well as the brand trademark penthouse, SuiteME – a two-level superlative experience offering a fire-pit warmed private terrace, a private lounge, separate dining room, three 3-D televisions, a pillow menu and much more. (Remember the crazy Cancun penthouse from the Real World Cancun?) NYC-based The ONE Group is the hotel’s official F&B provider, with two of its iconic brands opening venues within the property – STK London and Cucina Asellina.

Luxury Hotels Coming Your Way: Four Seasons Madrid, An Aman In Venice and Multi-Billion Dollar Las Vegas
While much of our hotel news is often focused on newly opened or revamped properties, this week seemed to have much to offer in the way of “soon-to-come” luxury hotels. Four Seasons announced their first property in Spain, Four Seasons Madrid, in the next four years, Aman is coming to the Grand Canal with a new ultra-luxury property opening on this summer boasting 24 suite-style rooms, and a Malaysian investment firm has paid $350 million for a multi-billion dollar hotel complex to come in the former Echelon site in Las Vegas, USA Today reported.Tech Tips: Eventi Offers Hi-Tech Amenities For Travelers
Sick of traveling with tons of gadgets? Eventi, a New York City Kimpton property, now has a “Business Bar” where travelers can rent gadgets ranging from iPads and MacBook Pros to Kindles, Nooks and even digital cameras. This free service is geared to help travelers who like to pack light, but who would love to sample some of these gadgets as a trial before buying, particularly the cameras!

Sleep Better: Accor’s Ibis Offers a Sleep App
We’ve certainly written about hotels with great sleep programs before, but this is the first time we’ve seen a hotel brand unveil their own sleep app. ibis Styles and ibis budget are transforming your restful night into a digital work of art. Every morning, it allows iPhone users to see how their night’s sleep has been transformed into an original digital work of art. Once the Sleep Art app has been programed, the iPhone becomes a sensor that captures movements and sounds. This data is converted real-time into a virtual “work of art” as the user sleeps. Every night is different. These virtual works of art are stored in the gallery and users can therefore compare each night’s sleep and share results by email or on Facebook, so that as many people as possible can also find out about this unique digital experience.

The President Dines at The Jefferson in Washington, DC
Much buzz has been heard in the news this week about President Obama’s dining with 12 republican leaders. But we’ve got the inside scoop on where he dined – most outlets only called it a “discreet” Washington hotel. The property was, in fact, The Jefferson, a Preferred Boutique property in downtown Washington. The congressmen and President dined on everything from Blue Crab Risotto to Lobster “Thermidor” to Peanut Butter Crumble. We hear that the president picked up the tab!

[Image Credit: The Jefferson Washington, DC]

5 Hotels With Unique Sleep Programs

Any traveler will tell you that a good hotel bed is a key component of traveling. Hotels have recently gotten wise, hawking their beds, pillows and sheets on their websites as well as via new programs designed to help you sleep better – anything to save us from Ambien.

Swissotel Berlin – The Science of Sleep
Swissotel Berlin just announced a new sleep package developed by somnologist Dr. Michael Feld. They say you can achieve “bio-psycho-physiologic regeneration” through techniques like light therapy, power napping, mountain-air breathing, aromatherapy, special nutritional supplements and a sound pillow. On request, a polysomnography (detailed sleep analysis) can be booked in combination for 60 Euro per reservation. The package includes:

• wake-up and calm-down drink
• bright-light-lamp session or light-to-go headset in the morning
• aromatherapy in the morning and evening
• use of PowerNap Lounge
• use of mountain-air generator
• sound pillow at night

The Benjamin – Sleep Concierge
Midtown New York’s The Benjamin has the city’s only Sleep Concierge, an in-room sleep menu and a 12-choice pillow menu. Guests can enjoy:

· Complimentary consultation with the in-house Sleep Concierge, who can recommend the right pillow for guests’ sleep patterns or have a bedtime snack sent up

· The Benjamin’s hallmark 12-choice Pillow Menu (any combo of pillows delivered right to your room)
· Accommodations with everything needed to set the stage for a perfect night’s sleep: blackout drapes, double-paned soundproof windows and The Benjamin Bed, a Serta® mattress created exclusively for the hotel

The Setai Fifth Avenue – Spa treatments that promote sleep
The Setai Fifth Avenue’s “City That Sleeps” program plays off of New York’s famous nickname. The hotel’s Auriga spa offers a variety of treatments that are timed to the phases of the moon. Playing off that theme, the “City That Sleeps” program includes a nighttime in-room massage and turndown service with aromatherapy to aid in restful sleep. Guests also receive a calm-inducing elixir crafted from local ingredients.

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport – Quiet Zone floor
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport’s Quiet Zone, 19 guestrooms on a soundproof floor, offers daytime respite from noise for jet-lagged travelers. During “Quiet Zone” hours, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., normal day-to-day hotel operations cease. Guests can snooze in complete silence without the disruption of housekeepers in adjacent rooms or bellmen carting luggage in the halls. Complimentary earplugs and eye masks are also provided. The “Quiet Zone” is available at special rates (for a minimum of four hours) until 8:00 p.m.

The Lorien Hotel and Spa – Dream Menu
In addition to a special pillow menu with options ranging from buckwheat to feather-free, this Alexandria, Virginia hotel offers an entire selection of “sweet dreams” products and services, ranging from things you can add to your room – humidifiers, fans, a hot water bottle or a bedtime story library – to concierge services and deliverables like an aromatherapy sleep kit from amenities designer Kerstin Florien, a teddy bear and homemade cookies with warm milk.

Hotel News We Noted: June 15, 2012

We’re almost officially into summer, friends, and it’s time for this week’s “it’s almost summer” edition of “Hotel News We Noted.” As always, feel free to email us tips and thoughts for next week’s edition.

Luxury Hotels: Four Seasons & Trump
If you’re a Trump hotels fan, you’re in luck. The brand has closed a deal on the Doral Resort & Spa in Florida and planned a $200 million renovation of the property. Four Seasons has also assumed management of a luxury favorite, New Mexico‘s former Auberge property, Encantado. They will rename the property Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe.

Awesome Amenity: Art Concierge
We’ve seen watch butlers, pet sitters and soap concierges, but now Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is taking personalization a step further with their new Art Concierge, who helps guests engage with the local public and community by facilitating interactive arts education and language classes. We’d ordinarily find this a strange service, but the San Miguel de Allende area has long been known as one of Mexico’s premier artist communities.

Hotel Package: Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital
We may be biased because of our “Washingtonian” status, but we can’t help but think that the Nation’s Capital is a pretty great place to spend the Fourth of July. Starting Thursday (June 21) book rates at DC, Maryland and Virginia Kimpton hotels for $109 to $159 per night, a savings of more than 20 percent off. These boutique chic properties are the perfect home base from which to explore the museums, monuments and more. We’d highly suggest coming for July 4 and catching the famous fireworks show on the National Mall. Book here (the page goes live on Thursday) with code: BOOM. This exclusive sale is only 72-hours long, so book fast.

Hotel Visits: NYC’s 6 Columbus and The Standard East Village
We spent a quick weekend in New York City where we checked in and checked out of two boutique hotels in different areas of the city – 6 Columbus, a Thompson property, as well as The Standard East Village, formerly the Cooper Square Hotel. We loved the boutique vibe of both hotels – spare and minimalist but with luxe touches – Frette linens (both), designer bath amenities (Red Flower for The Standard, Kiehls for 6 Columbus) and piles of hard-to-find design and shelter magazines (both) for our in-room reading pleasure. Worth noting at 6 Columbus: in addition to chic restaurant Blue Ribbon Sushi, which was hopping even at nearly one in the morning, we loved the FourSquare special, which waived the $15 Wi-Fi fee for those who “checked in.” We were particularly interested in the new Standard, which is slowly renovating its public spaces and rooms from the old Cooper Square property. They’re not quite there yet – a room mishap at check-in took more than an hour to rectify (and required a few firm phone calls) – but fans of the Meatpacking property will be pleased to know that this hotel also offers floor-to-ceiling windows. We’re not sure if this was intentional, given the other location’s infamy for peep show like performances from guests, but we can say that we’re looking forward to seeing more changes down the road throughout the year.

Hester Nights Brings Night Market Atmosphere To New York City

A night market in “the city that never sleeps” might seem like a no-brainer, but somehow the concept has never really caught on in New York City – that is, until now.

Tonight marks the kickoff of Hester Nights, a stylish new night market from the team behind the Lower East Side‘s popular Hester Street Fair. The weekly Thursday night event will bring Hester’s renowned selection of food vendors to the courtyard of the Hotel Eventi, a Kimpton property located in midtown Manhattan’s red-hot NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood. Offerings will include a mix of global foodie favorites like Taiwanese lunch boxes from Bian Dang, Jamaican jerk chicken wings from Spur Tree and French macarons from Macaron Parlour, as well as a lineup of film and multimedia installations focused on fashion and design. The Hester team has also announced that it will be curating a new lifestyle concept shop at the Eventi, which is slated to open later in the summer.

Hester Nights will run every Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., until October 25. The Hotel Eventi is located at 851 Sixth Avenue.

Update: Due to thunderstorms, the Hester Nights opening event was moved to Thursday, May 31.

Kimpton Adds 11th Hotel To DC Area Portfolio With New Donovan House Property

Washington, DC‘s only Thompson hotel quietly re-branded under the Kimpton umbrella last week, bringing the total number of the hotel chain’s properties in the DC area to 11, the largest concentration of any geographic area for the boutique lifestyle brand.

Rumor has it that the Thompson name was dropped because the hotel didn’t meet brand standards.

With the takeover, Kimpton has already set their signature amenities into place, including animal print robes, a pet-friendly policy, complimentary wine happy hour and free Wi-Fi.

The ideally located hotel sits between Washington’s downtown and the hip Logan Circle neighborhood. It’s a logical fit for a hotel brand known in DC as much for its signature restaurants as for its hotels – Donovan House already boasts Zentan, an acclaimed Asian restaurant. This will also bring the hotels’ first accessible rooftop and pool to the DC-area portfolio.

A future “light refresh” is in the works for the rooftop and the guest rooms, but firm dates have not been set yet, says Sarah Horner, regional director of hotel public relations.

“Washington, D.C. continues to be one of the most important and thriving markets for Kimpton, and Donovan House – with its metropolitan vibe and ideal location – is a perfect fit for the brand,” said Kimpton CEO Mike Depatie. “With the addition of this fantastic property, which happens to feature one of the liveliest Washington, DC, restaurants and an unrivalled rooftop lounge, we are adding to the variety and diversity of our collection for avid Kimpton fans here.”

We’re excited to see what happens when Kimpton finalizes all changes – the hotel, despite its location and huge potential, always seemed to lack in the buzz we hoped it would have. Under the stronger (in DC, anyway) Kimpton name and more accessible, open brand background, the hotel is well poised for success.