Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hotel Trends in 2016

1. Hotel restaurants get interesting

Michelin stars and hotels have long been an apposite pairing (Paris and London hold constellations), but in 2016, many hotels are saying goodbye to cloches and cheese carts and turning the idea of a resident hotel restaurant on its head.

Following Rene Redzepi’s successful Noma residency at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo last year, chefs of similar acclaim are setting up temporarily at hotels. Grant Achatz, three Michelin-starred chef at Chicago’s Alinea, will take over at the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach, while Albert Adrià, of the inimitable elBulli in Spain, will host a 50-day dining concept at London’s Café Royal.

Over in Dubai, the new Palazzo Versace opens restaurant Enigma in January, where the chefs will change four times a year. Likewise, east London hotspot the Town Hall Hotel is planning to host a rotating list of global mixologists at their award-winning cocktail bar Peg + Patriot, alongside their existing ‘bed and beverage’ offering, whereby rooms are stocked with homemade cocktails straight from the bar.

2. Hotels go smart

2015 was the year that saw Japan successfully pull off a hotel manned solely by robots. Hotels will continue in a techie vein this year, focusing on a smoother experience for guests.

Arrive hotel, opening in Palm Springs, is the creation of Facebook millionaire Erza Callahan. It’s a hotel for the social media age, with easy check-in at the hotel bar, multi-functional staff (all will be able to do check-ins, park your car or deliver room service), and in-room Netflix and Apple TV. Rooms won’t, however, include landline telephones – instead all services will be available by text message. Similarly, in Baja California, guests of new hotel Mar Adentro will have personalised tablets in rooms which control everything from the air-con, to ordering room service, to declaring any dietary requirements. Wi-Fi will also be as strong on the beach as it is in the hotel.

Hopefully stronger Wi-Fi will trickle down into the mainstream: Best Western, the first hotel brand to introduce free Wi-Fi, is leading the industry once again with its new Li-Fi technology. Showcased last year, it would mean that 5g technology could be transmitted through lights, meaning an unprecedented connection speed in rooms – and no more having to visit the hotel lobby to get a decent connection.

Check-in and out will also be a big focus. Late check-outs for no extra charge are becoming more popular (Only You in Madrid already live by this rule, alongside an all-day breakfast), and hotels will start experimenting with the 24-hour blocks (already adopted by The Patina hotel group). This would mean that if you check in at 4pm, for example, you will not be asked to check out before 4pm the following day.

3. The year of the Palaces

Luddites will be glad to hear that it’s not all about technological advancements in 2016. It’s also going to be about appreciating historic hotels, too. Most notably is The Ritz Paris reopening in March. After it was declared unsuitable for ‘Palace distinction’ – a plus-five-star status enjoyed by hotels such as Le Bristol and Le Royal Monceau – it began a three-year, €200 million refurbishment. It includes a full update on rooms and suites (especially bathrooms), subtle technological improvements, a new chef, Nicolas Sale, and the arrival of the world’s first Chanel spa. Loyal fans of the hotel will be relieved to know that the hotel’s Bar Hemingway remains largely untouched.

The city’s Hôtel de Crillon underwent a similar demotion and will also reopen this year, after an intensive restoration, under the management of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

Although it does not apply Palace status to its hotels, New York sees a similarly noteworthy grand opening this year in The Beekman, one of the first high rises in the city, while The Ritz London will be celebrating its 110th anniversary.

4. More beds for millenials

As hotels continue to fight against the popularity of Airbnb, they are expanding their appeal to ‘millennial’ travellers (18-35 year-olds). And we’re not just referring to emoji room service. Big-brand hotel groups are tapping into the youth market by launching diffusion brands which come at a cheaper price point, and often have a strong focus on lifestyle, locality and insider knowledge, compared to their bigger siblings. They’re more likely to be located in Brooklyn over Manhattan, for example, or in up-and-coming destinations.

Hilton’s younger brand Canopy opens its first outpost in Reykjavik this year; Hyatt Centric will open in Uruguay; while Viceroy’s hotel Proper, envisioned as a ‘grand hotel for the modern age’, will open in San Francisco. On top of that Generator, the ‘posh hostel’ group, have announced new openings in Rome, Amsterdam and Stockholm.

5. Hotel group shake-ups

At the end of last year it was announced that Marriott and Starwood are merging to create what will be the world’s largest hotel company. The union of the two industry mainstays means that the gamut of hotel brands will range from the EDITION and Autograph Collection to the W and St Regis. The newly created group will have more than 1.1 million hotel rooms worldwide.

Following that, Accor Hotels, who own affordable brands such as M Gallery, Mama Shelter and Novotel, will join forces with a hotel group at the other end of the spectrum, luxury group FRHI Holding (owners of Fairmont, Raffles and Swisshotel). Elsewhere Morgans Hotel Group have just announced they are putting the Hudson New York and Miami’s Delano up for sale.

6. Wellness reaches new heights

Yoga retreats and lavish hotel spas are nothing new, but hotels are getting serious about their health offerings this year. Equinox, the premium gym group, is reported to be launching a hotel brand for ‘health-conscious travellers’ with its first property slated for Manhattan, followed by Los Angeles. A standard gym offering this will not be, considering that their campaign is shot by fashion photographer Rankin, and that many of their outposts are in architecturally impressive buildings. Expect cream of the fitness crop, with interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg, a 60,000 square-foot gym and indoor/outdoor pools.

Well-established hotels are also offering new, and more serious, spa experiences focusing on the mind over the body. Mandarin Oriental have launched a yearly ‘Silent Night’ whereby all of their spas, worldwide, will transform into peaceful retreats, responding to the growing trend of mindfulness. In London, the subterranean Akasha spa at Café Royal has added to its comprehensive treatment list by employing an intuitive counsellor, reiki master and a cognitive and emotional coach.

7. Everybody loves a concept

In a world of countless choice, hotels are making themselves stand out. A tight theme helps. The newly opened Book and Bed in Tokyo joined the city’s coolest independent book publisher, Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers, to curate its 1,700-strong library, which you can read in your ‘bookshelf bed’.

A Barcelona hotel has gone one step further with its niche Margot House, inspired by fashion icon Margot Tenenbaum of Wes Anderson’s film The Royal Tenenbaums, while an underwater hotel in Key West, Florida, has also been approved for next year.

8. Eco gets serious

Long gone are the days when reusing towels and automatic lights rendered a hotel eco-friendly. The standards are, sensibly, a lot higher now, as hotels continue to commit to sustainable practices. 16 New York hotels have just signed a commitment to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent in the next decade.

One of the aforementioned 16, 1 Hotel Central Park, has already started to educate guests in sustainability – all showers have a five-minute hourglass in order to remind guests of wasted water consumption. Closer to home in Cornwall, the Eden Project will welcome a fully sustainable hotel this year, in nearby St Austell.

9. Exclusivity is the new luxury

Two Parisian nightclubs with cultural cachet reopened as hip hotels in 2015. Once largely inaccessible to the regular common folk, they are now readily bookable – Les Bains, a former hangout of 80s and 90s hipsters and rockstars, is now a boutique property, while former 1950s jazz-turned-nightclub Le Montana (popular with the likes of Grace Jones and Jerry Hall) reopened as a six-suite hotel designed by fashion polymath Vincent Garré.

In London, exclusivity still reigns, with members clubs acting as the crème de la crème of city accommodation. Last year saw the Arts Cluband The Hospital Club open hotel rooms, while next year will see the Devonshire Club members’ club in Mayfair open its doors to a comparatively large 68 bedrooms. The Green Room, in Wood Green, also slated for next year, will be even more selective: it’s a hotel specifically for actors and artists.

15 Hot new Hotels to Check out

Whether it’s an island escape or an urban retreat, the world’s top hotels are tailoring their treats to suit ever more discerning travelers.
As the most exclusive resorts go to even greater lengths to differentiate their offerings, we pack up the designer luggage to find the best new properties to check into in 2017.

1. Soneva Jani, Maldives

With 24 over-water villas and one sprawling island villa set on a private lagoon in the Maldives, the newest Soneva resort might just be the best yet.
Each of the resort’s multilevel water villas has its own private pool and a retractable roof that allows guests to sleep beneath the stars. Many villas also have slides that transport guests directly from the top level into the lagoon below. Other hotel highlights include a spa, an observatory — home to the largest telescope in the Indian Ocean — and an outdoor cinema.

2. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam

Set on a half-mile stretch of private beachfront near several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Four Seasons’ latest resort has the best address in Hoi An, a coastal city in the central part of Vietnam.
Formerly The Nam Hai hotel, the resort features 60 beachfront villas with private outdoor terraces. There are also 40 pool villas which each have their own private swimming pool. Also on site: three communal pools, four tennis courts, a spa, two restaurants and a beach bar.

3. Las Alcobas, Napa Valley, California

Las Alcobas is a wine lover’s dream
Near the Beringer winery and estate in St. Helena, this beautiful boutique hotel is the ultimate wine country getaway.
All 68 guestrooms and suites feature private outdoor terraces outfitted with fireplaces — not to mention sweeping vineyard views. Hotel highlights include a 3,500-square-foot spa and a seasonal Californian restaurant run by Top Chef winner Chris Cosentino.

4. The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa

Built in an historic grain silo complex above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), The Silo is set to be the hippest new hotel in Cape Town.
The ultramodern, industrial-style hotel will have only 28 rooms, each with whimsical interiors and dramatic waterfront views. The hotel, part of The Royal Portfolio hotel collection, will also have a restaurant overlooking Table Mountain, a spa, and a rooftop pool and lounge.

5. Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles, Africa

Located on the secluded granite-rock island of Félicité, this chic retreat is the last word in luxury. Each of its 28 standalone villas is outfitted with a private pool and wine cellar, and comes with a 24-hour personal butler. But all this comfort won’t cost you your conscience: the resort is also eco-friendly.
It has a reverse-osmosis refinery for potable water, a chicken farm and an organic garden to increase sustainability.

6. Rosewood Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang, Laos

Rainforest retreat: Rosewood Luang Prabang
This earthy, Lao-inspired forest retreat is an interesting move for Rosewood — best known for its upscale city hotels like The Carlyle in New York.
Just 10 minutes’ drive from UNESCO World Heritage Site Luang Prabang, the resort is flanked by dense forests, rivers and waterfalls. Its 22 accommodation units include five luxury tents with wraparound decks and private dining areas. The resort also has a bistro serving up French and Laotian fare, as well as Rosewood’s signature Sense spa.

7. W Shanghai – The Bund, Shanghai, China

Perched on the banks of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, this ultra hip hotel will be Starwood Hotels’ third W-branded property in China, after Beijing and Guangzhou.
Its 374 rooms and 35 suites are spacious and modern, blending the W’s eclectic aesthetic with traditional Shanghai decor. Hotel highlights include a sprawling outdoor pool and lounge, and the W’s signature AWAY Spa, specializing in restorative local treatments.

8. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club, Dubai

The St. Regis’ second property in Dubai, built on a world-class polo field in the sprawling Dubailand entertainment complex, is an equestrian’s dream.
The 159-room hotel is home to a 500-stable polo academy, show-jumping and dressage arenas, and a riding school. Adults and children are invited to interact with the horses stabled at the property’s polo fields. Inside, there’s an Equine Library, filled with equestrian statues, artifacts and literature, and an Equestrian Lounge, perfect for winding down with a cup of tea after a long day of riding.

9. Hotel Eden, Rome, Italy

The bedroom of Eden: This hotel was once a favorite of film great Frederico Fellini
After a year of extensive renovations, the 125-year-old Hotel Eden — a favorite of director Federico Fellini — will finally open its doors as a Dorchester Collection hotel.
Rooms have been reduced from 121 to just 98, and have been beautifully redesigned with a more modern and understated feel.
There are a few new additions to look forward to, including a casual all-day brasserie and a hidden library bar. But the restaurant’s iconic La Terrazza restaurant — and its jaw-dropping views over the Eternal City — still remain.

10. Assila Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Rocco Forte’s 10th hotel — and its first foray into the Middle East — does not disappoint. It’s playful and modern, with 147 rooms and 63 suites offering panoramic city views (it’s possible to see the Red Sea from some suites).
There’s a rooftop pool and four excellent restaurants, the standout being Aubergine, which serves Arab and Mediterranean fare. Added bonus: It’s in the heart of Jeddah’s business district, close to Jeddah Mall and just 40 minutes’ drive from Mecca.

11. Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square, London, England

Located in a building constructed in 1922 (it was formerly the headquarters of the Port of London Authority) the new Four Seasons London is one of the handsomest hotels in London.
Its 89 bedrooms and 11 suites are sleek and modern, while common areas are classically decorated with Corinthian columns, ornate plasterwork and crystal chandeliers. Hotel highlights include an 18,000-square-foot, Roman-inspired spa with a hammam, sauna and nail salon, and gourmet French restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic.

12. Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, California

Salad days: The Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills
The Waldorf Astoria’s first West Coast property is fabulously over-the-top — not that you’d expect any less from the ritzy hotel group. Tucked in the heart of Beverly Hills, California, the 12-story Art Deco hotel will feature a 5,000 square foot spa by La Prairie and a restaurant by Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
There are 170 rooms and 51 suites, three of which have private plunge pools. According to the hotel, every room in the hotel will have unobstructed views over the city of Los Angeles.

13. The Fontenay Hamburg, Germany

Set on the tranquil banks of Lake Alster, The Fontenay will be the first new luxury hotel in Hamburg in 18 years. It was designed by local architect Jan Stormer to mirror the fluid lines of the lake and surrounding parkland, and reportedly cost more than $100 million to build.
Each of its 131 rooms and suites feature a private balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows with Lake Alster views. The property, which is already a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, will also offer a 10,000-square-foot spa with an indoor-outdoor infinity pool.

14. Raffles Europejski, Warsaw, Poland

After three years of renovation and reconstruction, this landmark hotel — originally opened in 1857 — will finally re-open its doors as a Raffles Hotel.
Located in Warsaw’s historic district, next to the Presidential Palace, it will feature 103 elegant suites, a seasonal Polish restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a cigar lounge and a spa with six treatment rooms.

15. SLS Brickell, Miami

Starck style: the SLS Brickell is Miami at its best
This new Philippe Starck-designed hotel isn’t your typical Miami Beach hotel.
For one, it’s not on Miami Beach, but in the nearby neighborhood of Brickell — an up-and-coming area filling up quickly with bars, restaurants and museums. Unlike its flashy, beachfront counterparts, the SLS is understatedly stylish rather than painfully hip.
Its 124 rooms feature clean lines, subdued color palettes and a minimalist aesthetic. The hotel’s pièce de résistance? A rooftop deck with an infinity pool and views over downtown Miami.

Hotels and resorts to be opened in Asia and Europe

This year promises some interesting and unusual new – and renewed – hotels and resorts.

The biggest hotel event in Paris this year will be the long-delayed (or “much-anticipated”) reopening of the Hotel Ritz. Closed – for its first significant renovations since the 1970 – in August 2012, this historic property was originally due to be unveiled back in 2014. It’s now accepting reservations from March 15. Another of the French capital’s grandes dames, the Hotel de Crillon closed for a major refurbishment in 2013 and was expected to be relaunched under the management of Hong Kong-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts last spring, but is unlikely to reopen until sometime next year.

One Rosewood property that should be ready in 2016 is the genuinely anticipated Rosewood Phuket, but until then the big news on the Thai island is the return this year of the Royal Phuket Yacht Club in the shape of the Nai Harn Resort (below). Phuket’s first luxury resort when it opened in the mid-1980s, it has been managed in the past by both Mandarin Oriental and Le Meridien, and sits right above TripAdvisor’s Best Beach in Thailand 2015. Closed in 2014, it was expected to reopen on January 16, but it bucked the worldwide trend for lengthy hotel delays and actually got a jump on 2016 by welcoming its first guests last week.

Over on Koh Samui, the award-winning Akaryn Samui was sold last year, leaving the Akaryn brand with no hotels or resorts to its name. This year the Thai-owned company will be making a comeback with The President by Akaryn, in the Lao capital, Vientiane, in March, and Arovada by Akaryn, Private Island, Cambodia (below) in June. Located on Koh Krabey, a 20-minute boat ride south of sleepy Sihanoukville, Arovada promises “a private island sanctuary unlike anything you have experienced before … wrought from the fertile imagination of world-renowned designer Kenzo [Takada].”

Speaking of famous designers, the Oberoi Sukhvilas will no doubt be the best hotel in town when it opens in Chandigarh later this year. Often claimed to be India’s safest and cleanest city, Chandigarh is special in that it was planned and designed from the ground up by Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier in the 1950s. It’s also the starting point for the popular and scenic narrow-gauge train up to Shimla, in the foothills of the Himalayas. New Oberoi properties are also promised for Marrakech, in Morocco, and Dubai this year.

Down south in Sri Lanka, Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa – originally expected to be ready by 2013 – looks set to open on the south coast sometime in the next couple of months or so. The Anantara Kalutara, 40km south of Colombo, should be ready by April 1, joining Anantara’s Peace Haven Tangalle (top), which opened on the south coast last month.

Another Anantara property due to open early this year is the Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, in Oman. This mountain-top hideaway, claimed to be the second-highest five-star resort in the world, at 2,000 metres above sea level, is a few kilometres (as the hawk flies) from the similarly named and similarly situated Alila Jabal Akhdar(above), which opened a couple of years ago.

Tokyo will, quite surprisingly, be getting its first luxury ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn, this July, when the Hoshinoya Tokyo opens near the Imperial Palace. Hoping to challenge the many recently arrived upmarket international hotel brands in Tokyo, Hoshino Resorts specialises in breathing new life into struggling old ryokans around Japan, and this will be its first urban project. Down in Kyoto, the long-awaited Four Seasons Hotel is expected to finally open sometime this year after several years’ delay, while Aman Resorts’ luxury onsen resort, Amanemu(below), in Ise Shima National Park, to the south of Nagoya, is taking reservations from March 1.

The last of mainland China’s old backpacker havens to be “discovered” by an international hotel company, the town of Dali, in Yunnan province, will be welcoming a Hilton on January 15. Dali was, from the 1980, a little oasis for travellers on the hippy trail and in search of banana pancakes, muesli and used Lonely Planet guides – as were Lijiang to the north and Yangshuo, near Guilin. Lijiang is now home to the likes of InterContinental, Hyatt and Aman Resorts and the Banyan Tree Yangshuo opened in 2014. The arrival of the Hilton Dali Resort & Spa will, then, see the New Year start with the end of an era. At least for some.

Best New Beach Resorts

Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort

In the 1980, Malliouhana was an iconic hotel on the island of Anguilla, a secluded escape for the rich and famous. The original closed and sat idle for years, but in November 2014, Auberge Resorts opened this modern iteration in the same location, so elite guests can once again luxuriate amid Moorish pavilions, high atop a panoramic bluff, overlooking the pristine white sand beaches of Meads Bay and Turtle Cove on the west end of the island.

Ritz Carlton, Bali

Opened in February 2015 in the Nusa Dua area of Southern Bali, The Ritz-Carlton, Baliboasts a unique two-level design, with one section of the hotel high atop a sea cliff and the other along the sands of the beach. Guests can ride a soaring glass elevator between the two.

Dreams Las Mareas

Located in Guanacaste, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, the Dreams Las Mareas resport opened in November 2014 in an enviable location along the palm-studded Playa El Jobo, backed by lush tropical jungles. It’s the perfect jumping off point for deep-sea fishing, zipline canopy tours through tropical rainforest or simply lounging by the region’s largest swimming pool.

Bahia Vik José Ignacio

Spanning 10 acres of beach dunes in the bohemian town of José Ignacio, Uruguay, Bahia Vik José Ignacio offers a natural and relaxed beachfront retreat in one of the world’s hottest up-and-coming beach destinations. The boutique resort has a mere eleven bungalows tucked into the dunes around a central building with 26 rooms.

Paradise Beach Nevis

The newest resort on the unspoiled Caribbean island of Nevis is Paradise Beach Nevis, a chic boutique resort that opened in February 2015. Guests stay in the island’s only beachfront villas, which have hand-woven thatched roofs, privacy walls enclosing lush gardens and waterfall pools overlooking the Caribbean.

Westin Jekyll Island

The Westin Jekyll Island opened on April 20, 2015, along the remote and wildlife-rich beach of Jekyll Island, Georgia. The island itself was once the private retreat of the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Pulitzers, and it remains a secret escape where 65 percent of the land is protected state park offering great opportunities to spot birds, dolphins and nesting sea turtles.

Beyond Benguerra Island

For the ultimate beach getaway, the newly opened &Beyond Benguerra Island offers barefoot luxury from beachfront lodges on a tropical island in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago. The Indian Ocean retreat sits within a protected marine conservation area, where guests can explore pristine beaches and unspoiled African coral reefs.

CHIC by Royalton Punta Cana

For an adults-only escape, the CHIC by Royalton Punta Cana, newly opened in December 2014, is an over-the-top resort along Uvero Alto Beach on the Dominican Republic’s eastern shore. What makes the resort unique are a bevvy of Las Vegas-style features, including a mermaid pool, poolside cabanas, an oxygen bar and a restaurant with an exclusive chef’s table.

Swissôtel Resort, Bodrum Beach

Opened in June 2015, the Swissôtel Resort, Bodrum Beach is the latest addition to this jet-set enclave along Turkey’s Aegean Coast. Situated on a private beach near the Turgutreis marina, guests can dine al fresco on authentic Turkish mezze and hit the spa for a relaxing treatment in a traditional Turkish hammam.

Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres

Just a short boat ride from Cancun, Mexico, Isla Mujeres is home to the new Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, an intimate boutique property from Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts with only 35 oceanfront rooms. Guests arrive via private catamaran and can enjoy an unrivaled view of the Caribbean from their balcony Jacuzzi.