Spain Travel Guide
Cancun, Cabo, Madrid ... and, er, Vienna ... ME Hotels sure do love to set up shop in the party places, so we are not surprised to hear where they will be making their next move: the Balearic Islands. Rave on!
ME will be bringing their super-cool vibe, minimalist design, Aura Managers and, we hope, 4AM DJ's to Ibiza in June 2014 and to Mallorca in May. The 200-room Ibiza property will be situated bayside in Santa Eulalia and will have direct access from boat to the hotel. There will be 21 ME+ Suites, which usually means a dedicated host looking after you and a complimentary spa treatment, and the hotel will have two pools, Bali beds, an on-site fitness centre and roof top Skinc spa. Don't expect to sleep because DJs at the rooftop cocktail bar will be playing Ibizan classics deep into the night. Rates start at £200 ($320).
We've long fantasized about keyless hotel rooms where we could use our smartphone instead of a key card to enter the room. But the Hotel Alma in Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter is going way beyond that with a fingerprint recognition system.
It works like this--you arrive to check-in and in addition to collecting your credit card for incidentals and telling you about the room amenities (free WiFi, breakfast and access to the spa are included), the hotel takes a scan of your fingerprint. Then you can use your finger to open the door to your room at any time. No key cards needed and no worries about the card getting demagnetized in your purse or wallet. So. Cool. And it's also available at the hotel's sister hotel in Pamplona.
Of course, you can opt for a regular key if you think is too fancy for your tastes but we think it's a no-brainer. Rooms at the trendy, high-tech boutique hotel start at about 200 Euros a night. The hotel's website also has a voyeuristic video showing a hunky grey-haired "guest" (an actor, we think) doing various things in his room--waking up, putting on his shirt (!!!) and sitting down at the desk to do work. Hopefully, the fingerprint access will keep out peeping Toms.
[Photo: Hotel Alma/Facebook]
Design Thursdays / Hotel Design / Hotel Renovations / Boutique Hotels / Great Hotels of the World / Barcelona Hotels / Spain Hotels / Europe Hotels / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Three words come to mind when viewing the newly-reno’ed rooms and public spaces at the Hotel Barcelona Princess, re-done by Barcelona-based clothing designers Desigual: “kooky,” “quirky” and “vivid.” These are not rooms for lovers of cool minimalism but, rather, for hipster bohos looking for an eccentric room to call their own.
The 363-room Barcelona Princess Hotel, a member of London-based Great Hotels of the World, is located at the foot of Avenida Diagonal, about a 10-minute walk to the beach and next to the International Congress Centre. It was designed by Oscar Tusquets Blanca and opened in 2004.
Now, eighteen of the hotel’s rooms and two of their junior suites on the 23rd and 24th floors have been taken over and redecorated by Desigual to launch the Desigual Living Collection, created to fulfill the company's goal of bombarding homes with outrageous patterns and over-the-top color — the antithesis of neutral purity.
More pics below!
It took a while but today, hotels have fully embraced social media--posting photos of their properties on Instagram, updating their events and promotions on Facebook, answering customer service issues on Twitter and even allowing reservations to be made right through their Facebook pages.
And we've seen hotels use social media to let guests engage with other guests like the The Pod Hotel in New York which we dubbed The Facebook Hotel back in 2008 for its social networking ways via their Pod Community forum.
But today, there's news about a hotel that is actively facilitating Twitter meet-ups in special Twitter-themed suites.
The Sol Wave House in Mallorca from Melia Hotels is billing itself as the first "Twitter Experience Hotel" (we wonder what Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams think about that.) The hotel boasts of a special Twitter-themed suite, known by its hashtag #partysuite. Here a bunch of friends can party down at the #TweetPoolParty, get 20 percent off drinks, lounge on VIP sunbeds and have the services of a dedicated Twitter concierge, who will answer to requests via Twitter hashtags. If you look at their Twitter stream, the tweets are littered with hashtags.
But it goes both ways. If you look at the @replies to @SolWaveHouse you will see guests tweeting for service requests using hashtags. This might be our new favorite hashtag:
Needless to say, you need a Twitter account to enjoy the fun.
Hard Rock and The Palladium Hotel Group made the announcement this morning to transform two fomer Fiesta hotels into The Hard Rock Ibiza in 2014. The Club Don Toni and the Hotel Don Toni will be connected to each other through a remodeled lobby and multi-purpose space which will house various dining, shopping and entertainment. Upstairs will be a total of 480 hotel rooms, including 235 suites.
The rest of the hotel will be outfitted with Hard Rock Hotel standards such as the Rock Spa, the Body Rock fitness center, the Rock Shop, rock memorabilia as well as a beach club and a kids and teen club. Yes, kids and teens will be welcome here.
But the real focus here is will be the live music and DJ performances especially since Ibiza is pretty much the birthplace for electronic dance music. And foam parties. Do not forget about the foam parties. We'll be tracking the property's transformation from Fiesta to Hard Rock. In the meantime, rates at the Hotel Don Toni start around 300 Euros a night this weekend.
[Photo of Fiesta Club Don Toni via Facebook]
We've gone over the fact that space hotels in space aren't going to happen anytime soon, but what about space hotels on earth?
An agreement was signed recently with Mobilona LLC to manage the financing of a space hotel on Barcelona Island off the coast of Catalonia, Spain. Details are few and far between at this stage, but we will admit that what we're reading sounds pretty damn cool.
The proposed project will have about 2,000 rooms and residences, each equipped with "immersive wall and surface displays that provide panoramic impressions of the universe."
When we think of Spain, immediately thoughts of a sun-scorched land, sweet sangria, and tasty tapas come to mind. No doubt that we indulged in all of those a lot on a trip to the Iberian Peninsula, but once we walked into Hotel Tres on the Balearic Island of Mallorca Hotels, we knew we had arrived in paradise.
The hotel is tucked away down a cobblestone street behind an unassuming stone archway and an iron gate. In fact, we may not have been able to find it if we hadn't Google Mapped prior to arrival, but the hidden hotel was worth the search. After check-in we walked through a secluded courtyard and headed to our room, but the real jaw-dropper was the roof-top deck.
Break out the jugs of sangria! The very first Four Seasons will start taking reservations in one of Madrid's most historic and cultural areas, Puerta del Sol. The brand's first presence in Spain marks a milestone and pays respect to the city's history.
Spanning over 4 historic buildings, the newest luxury hotel will boast one of the most prestigious addresses in Madrid. Aside from 215 rooms, the location will not only offer guests a slice of the past, but feature high-end boutiques, trendy restaurants and luxury residences. So don't worry about the tapas fix, it should be just around the corner.
Construction is set to begin by the end of the year and will take the building's historic significance into careful consideration. During the revitalization, the facade will be cleaned and refreshed, still maintaining its presence over the center court ready to impress guests with its full rehab by 2014. Perhaps by then we won't need to a Four Seasons for recommendations and we can just book there.
[Photo: Four Seasons]
Finally we conclude our several-week-long dilemma of where to stay in Madrid for just one night, for a first timer to the city. After settling on the Hotel de Las Letras based on your strong recommendations, we checked in (right behind another couple who had also been on our same flight from Istanbul!) and hunkered down.
We booked the lowest room category for 112 Euros, but adding 20-30 more would've bumped us up to a category with an ornate balcony overlooking the Gran Via. As it was February with near freezing temperatures, this would have been a waste. One night's stay, when we expected to spend much of the time out at museums and restaurants, doesn't call for much.
Two weeks ago, we stepped down off our hotel know-it-all podium to ask for your help in selecting where we'd sleep in Madrid. Your tips and recommendations flooded in, mostly via social media, and gave us much to consider.
Alas, eventually the night arrived and we had to make a decision. Based on sheer volume of recommendations, we booked into the Hotel de Las Letras, right on the Gran Via and costing only 112 Euro for the night (not including breakfast, but including WiFi).
UPDATE! Thank you so much for your recommendations on Twitter and elsewhere. See where we stayed.
Okay frequent traveling friends and readers, here's your chance to help us have an awesome time Madrid, Spain. We need your best hotel recommendation for our upcoming trip, because we want to see the best Madrid has to offer, room-wise, for what will be this HotelChatter writer's first visit to the city.
We'll be in town for such a short period thanks to some flight itinerary weirdness, but luckily it's just enough time to enjoy the "Cliffs Notes version" of Madrid. Help a fellow hotel geek out and share where you think we should stay in the comments!
· A nightly rate of 200 Euros or less is ideal, but we could be flexible if WiFi & breakfast is included
· We don't care about getting points, so independent properties are very welcome
· Bonus for ease of getting to/from airport, though no airport hotels, please.
You'll then find out which hotel won out when we hit the city just over a week from now and share all the juicy details...
Meanwhile, in October, a second Renaissance opened in Barcelona, the 357-room Renaissance Barcelona Fira, with a great deal more pizazz.
Why do we use the word pizazz? Because of an extremely original design by French architect Jean Nouvel. The hotel's two towers are connected by a lush, 27-story vertical garden, filled with over 300 palm trees, running up the center of the building. Now, there are 'green hotels,' and then there's this. We like!