Starwood first to launch user ratings and reviews on its hotel websites

Reader-generated hotel reviews – and the sites that host them – have gotten a bad rap lately. But, it’s for a good reason. In July, TripAdvisor came under scrutiny when it was revealed that some hotels were paying TripAdvisor users to post positive reviews of their properties. There have also been concerns that hotel employees and management were posting positive reviews of their properties in order to improve their online ratings and, thus, improve their rankings and visibility.

Knowing that a few bad reviews can break a hotel, hotel companies understandably have been resistant to allow customers to post reviews on their websites. This week, however, Starwood announced that it will be the first hotel company to host reader-generated ratings and reviews on its websites. Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the parent company of such brands as Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, and Le Meridien, will allow hotel guests to post both positive and negative reviews in order to provide a more honest and transparent relationship with its customers, particularly members of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. In turn, potential reviewers must have verified hotel reservation confirmations in order to post a review. Customers will be able to post reviews and ratings on room comfort, staff helpfulness, cleanliness, and SPG recognition, among other factors, as well as provide context to their reviews, such as purpose and frequency of travel. Users also will be able to share Starwood reviews on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Starwood’s move to allow reviews on its websites is a way to bring more customers directly to the source rather than via third-party booking and review sites. Says Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Starwood Preferred Guest, “Our goal is to provide everything a guest needs to select and book their best hotel experience and there’s no better place to offer this information than on our own websites.”

Daily Pampering: St. Regis Washington DC warms up with Washington Ballet

The St. Regis Washington, DC is getting artsy this year, thanks to a partnership with the Washington Ballet.

Celebrating the spring 2011 performance of Carmen on May 19th, the exclusive hotel offer includes VIP, behind-the-scenes access with The Washington Ballet’s Artistic Director Septime Webre, viewing of dress rehearsals as well as a stay at the St. Regis Washington, DC.

Available from May 17, 2011 through May 21, 2011, the package includes:

  • Access and transportation to a private afternoon dress rehearsal which will offer a sneak peek of the Opening Night performance
  • Limousine service to and from the Harman Center for the Performing Arts on Opening Night
  • Attendance to the Opening Night showing of Carmen, with an exclusive backstage tour led by Septime Webre himself during intermission
  • An invitation to the celebratory Opening Night Party, attended by company dancers, Ballet VIP’s and board members
  • An intimate lunch at Adour at The St. Regis Washington, D.C. with Septime Webre to discuss his creation
  • Accommodations for four nights in a luxurious St. Regis suite
  • Spanish wine accompanied by light tapas waiting for guests in-room upon arrival
  • A signed copy of the ballet’s Wonderland coffee table book, which offers dramatic glimpses of life backstage and photos of the dancers in landmark Washington locations
  • Access to signature St. Regis Butler Service throughout the stay

The price of this prima ballerina pampering? $5,000, and 20 percent of the proceeds from the booking will be donated to The Washington Ballet.

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St. Regis launches ‘E-Butler’ application for guests

Need a last-minute wake-up call or tickets to a sold-out Broadway show? No problem, if you’re staying at the St. Regis New York. The luxury hotel recently launched the St. Regis New York “E-Butler,” a PDA application that allows guests to interact with the hotel’s butlers and concierge via their iPhone or iPad.

This application will offer guests the ability to “chat” directly with The St. Regis E-Butler in real-time via their iPhone or iPad, before and during their stay. The hotel also included the help of New York personalities including André Leon Talley, Jason Wu, Alexis Bittar, Alain Ducasse, Doug Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy, Danny Meyer, David Rockwell, Dale DeGroff, Harold Koda, Michel Musto, Peter Som and Preston Bailey to share their favorite shops, restaurants and city landmarks.

Once guests have made their reservation at The St. Regis New York, they will receive an email confirmation, including a link to download the St. Regis New York E-Butler application directly to their iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Andriod or other smartphone. Guests will also be able to download The St. Regis E-Butler application via iTunes. The St. Regis New York E-Butler will allow guests to speak directly with their butler prior to and during their stay.

The best part? The E-Butler is a complimentary service offered to all guests in residence at The St. Regis New York. The St. Regis does have plans to launch a version of this E-Butler to the general public, which will include a number of features such as the Insider’s Guide to New York and the seasonal calendar of events.

Daily Pampering: St. Regis Princeville Resort anniversary package

What better to celebrate the anniversary of one of the most luxury resorts Hawaii than with a luxurious anniversary package.

In celebration of the St. Regis Princeville Resort’s one-year anniversary, the Kaua’i, Hawaii, resort is offering The Quintessential Anniversary Experience – an indulgent offer that celebrates the hotel in one of the world’s most remarkable island retreats.

The Quintessential Anniversary Experience (available until March 31, 2011) offers everything from luxury accommodations to chilled champagne and truffles. The package includes:

  • Five nights in premium ocean view accommodations
  • Daily breakfast at Makana Terrace
  • Around the clock access to the legendary St. Regis Butler Service
  • Private ocean side dinner for two
  • Romantic couple’s massage at the Halele’a Spa

The cost to celebrate the one-year of anniversary of the St. Regis Princeville? $5,500.00. But, can you really put a price on true love?

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Daily Pampering: The Halele’a Spa at The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Hawaii

Speak the words “St. Regis” to any traveler and their mind is suddenly filled with endless luxury and pristine decor and design. Add on a resort in Hawaii and the dream is almost too much to handle.

The St. Regis Princeville Resort in Hawaii has a new addition: the Halele’a (“House of Joy”) Spa. This new bundle of joy opened last fall after the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar restoration, and since then has become one of the top spa destinations and was recently named to Conde Nast’s 2010 Hot List.

To honor its natural surroundings, Halele’a Spa focuses on the Hawaiian concept of the Ahupua’a, a philosophy of living in balance with nature. Halele’a Spa uses products created from local ingredients, many of which are exclusive to The St. Regis Princeville and have been developed by Hawaiian based beauty company Malie. Unique spa experiences include the Kaua’i Taro clay wrap, the Taro butter Pohaku hot stone massage and the Voyage from the Sea Signature Four Hands massage.

The spa encompasses an 11,000 square foot space, boasts 12 treatment rooms, personal VIP Maile rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center and salon and offers poolside and ocean-side services.

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