Radisson Blu debuts in Chicago

Radisson Blu debuts in Chicago

Radisson has been a familiar name in hospitality in the United States for more than 100 years. But last month marked the first time that a Radisson Blu-branded property opened on U.S. soil. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel opened in Chicago on November 1, 2011, promising to be a major player on the Windy City’s design hotel scene.

“The reception has been amazing,” says Fred Khoury, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Radisson Blu Aqua. “The hotel has over $3 million in business booked already. The feedback has been great regarding the hotel and people are very impressed with the design and amenities.”

Radisson Blu Aqua has quite a roster of amenities, owing to the fact that the hotel is located on the lower 18 floors of the the Aqua Tower, an 81-story “Skyscraper of the Year” that doubles as a luxury residential building. There is an 8,000-square-foot fitness center with a basketball half-court and a lap pool, a private art gallery, a roof deck landscaped with gardens and gazebos, an in-hotel movie screening room, and a game room. For dining and socializing, Radisson Blu Aqua has Filini, a contemporary Italian restaurant with a sleek, minimalist look, and a martini bar. Gadling readers will be happy to know that the Blu Aqua also includes complimentary wifi access among the many in-room amenities.

%Gallery-140960%The introduction of Radisson Blu in the United States represents a new direction for Radisson in this country. Blu is Radisson’s “upper upscale” brand, an industry term for the tier that falls right below “luxury” and is one of the best-performing segments in the hotel industry. By comparison, hotels branded simply under the Radisson name, the most common type of Radisson brand in the U.S., are in the “upscale” tier; Radisson Blu’s competition includes brands such as Marriott Hotels, Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt, and Westin. Until this year, Blu was Radisson’s main imprint in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, with 222 properties worldwide. Now Radisson is taking its overseas brand and launching it in the U.S. It’s as if Radisson’s offspring is returning from boarding school abroad, cultured and more glamorous.

Radisson plans to slowly introduce more Blu hotels to the U.S. market. Only one other brand-new Radisson Blu is under construction, to be connected to the Mall of America. That may seem like an odd choice for a new build, especially for a design hotel. However, Carlson, the parent company of Radisson and Radisson Blu, is headquartered in Minnesota, site of the very first Radisson hotel. In addition to the new Blu hotels, Radisson plans to convert two other U.S. hotels into Blu properties. The Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis and the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia will be converted into Blu hotels, but dates have yet to be determined.

In the meantime, Radisson is celebrating the opening of Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua with a massive promotion. The Radisson Big Night Giveaway offers 50,000 gold points in Club Carlson, Radisson’s Global Hotel Rewards Program, for anyone who registers for the promotion AND stays one night in any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel in the U.S., Canada, or the Caribbean by December 30, 2011.

Daily Pampering: Year-round yachting at Radisson Royal Moscow

Feel like taking the yacht for a ride through the ice? Not a problem, if you’re in Moscow.

The Radisson Royal Moscow just introduced a fleet of specially commissioned river yachts now equipped with ice breakers — just so that winter travelers can still see the [snow-capped] sights while in Russia.

The yachts provide year-round, private cruises along the Moskva River, where guests can take in the likes of the Kremlin, Christ the Savior Cathedral, etc. River yachts can also be reserved for private parties and events, vodka likely on board.

To celebrate the arrival of the new yacht, the Radisson Royal Moscow is offering a new holiday package that includes a spin around the waters:

  • Two nights in a Superior Room, with upgrade to Deluxe pending availability
  • Daily Super Breakfast Buffet for two in Veranda Restaurant
  • Two-hour private sightseeing cruise on the Moskva River in the hotel’s custom river yachts
  • Access to the Royal Wellness Club and its Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool
  • Festive Sunday Brunch in Veranda Restaurant
  • Early check-in and late check-out, pending availability
  • In-room holiday welcome gift

Rates start at RUB 10,400 per night (approximately $350), based on double occupancy and the package is good through Jan. 16, 2011.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Mall of America gets luxury hotel on the Fed’s dime

Good news for mall junkies: Bloomington, Minnesota’s vaunted Mall of America will get a luxury hotel in the near future — thanks in part to federal stimulus funds.

Plans for the hotel have been in the works for several years, but had to be quashed two years ago due to lack of funding, says USA Today.

Now, Hennepin County officials have granted the Bloomington Port Authority the ability to issue $40.3 million in tax-free bonds to help fund the $130 million venture. The hotel is set to be 12 stories, and connected to the MOA via a skyway. And though it’s not yet clear who will manage the property, Starwood, Radisson and Marriott are all up for the gig.

The federal stimulus funds were made available to projects that were “significant and shovel ready” and located in economically depressed areas. Proponents of the hotel say it will bring much-needed jobs to the area, and will pay for itself in revenue. But critics argue that building a luxury property probably isn’t the best use of federal funds. What do you think, Gadling readers?

[photo by Flickr user cliff1066]

Hotels sued for enabling peeping tom

ESPN sportscaster (and third place winner of Dancing with the Stars) Erin Andrews has filed a civil lawsuit for $1.2 million against seven hotels (including both Marriott and Radisson) for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress as they enabled an ambitious peeping tom to film her naked.

Illinois insurance salesman (creepy!) Michael David Barrett stalked Ms. Andrews as she traveled the country, learning which hotels the reporter was staying in–as well as her room number–from hotel staff. Barrett would then check into the adjacent hotel room and alter Andrews’ peephole in order to film her naked and distribute the clips on the internet. He has since been charged, found guilty of interstate stalking, and sentenced to more than two years in jail.

Typically, hotels brandish non-disclosure agreements and front desk employees will refuse to give out names or room numbers of guests. Andrews says she is suing the hotels “for making my most personal moments public.” The hotels named in the suit include the florid Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University, the Radisson hotel in Milwaukee, and an another unnamed hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Regardless of the success of the case, the hubbub is likely to increase enforcement of privacy policies at such middle-rate hotels.

Until that day, here’s a small travel tip for hotel guests: if you don’t want people peeking into your room, cover the peephole with a piece of tape, a wad of used chewing gum, a clump or wet tissue, a post-it note covering the peephole, or whatever. It’s that simple.

For further reading, check Robert K. Cole’s excellent analysis of this situation.

(Photo: Flickr/Steve Garfield)

New Moscow luxury hotel opens in historic “Seven Sisters” structure

If you’re Russia-bound soon, this hotel is a must-see: Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow recently opened in one of Moscow’s legendary “Seven Sisters” skyscrapers after a three-year renovation of the former “Hotel Ukraina.”

The Seven Sisters structure, built between 1949 and 1957 and combining neo-classical, Russian Baroque and Gothic architecture, is now home to a new 506-guestroom Radisson.

“This hotel is a milestone in Rezidor’s history. It combines Moscow’s rich historical and cultural heritage with the international first class standards Radisson Blu is known for,” commented Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Brussels-based hotel management company The Rezidor Hotel Group.

The interior of the hotel features restored ceiling frescoes and murals as well as over 1,200 original master works by Russian artists from the first half of the twentieth century. Art on display include paintings by Vasily Polenov, Julius Klever, Alexander Deineka, Dmitry Nalbandian, Max Birstein, Michael Suzdal’tsev, Nicholas Romadin, and Mikhail Kupriyanov. On the ground floor, a 1977 diorama “Moscow: the capital of the USSR” presents a 1312-square-foot, scaled representation of the historical center of Moscow from Luzhniki to Zemlyanoy Val.

The hotel’s guestrooms and suites combine traditional mid-century Russian furniture and architecture and also feature bath amenities by Penhaligon’s, Frette robes, and signature Radisson Blu services such as complimentary high-speed internet. If you splurge for the 1,200-square-foot Presidential Suite, you’ll stay in style with two bedrooms, a living room, full kitchen with Nespresso machine, dining room, and views of the Russian White House and Moscow skyline.

The Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow features five restaurants and lounges ranging in menus from Italian to Mediterranean to Iranian cuisine. The hotel also offers culinary boat tours on the Moskva River. Take advantage of the 11,000-square-foot Royal Wellness Club, which includes a 164- foot heated indoor pool, fully equipped gym, Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, beauty parlor and massage rooms.