United States Travel Guide

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Brilliant: A Virgin Hotels Loyalty Program is In The Works

Where: 203 N Wabash [map], Chicago, IL, United States
October 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM | by | Comments (0)

We now know you can FINALLY book a room at The Virgin Hotel Chicago on January 15, starting at $209 for a Chamber king room. We also know that you'll get a room with a sliding partition, an ergonomic bed, an oversized vanity, minibar snacks at normal prices and free WiFi.

Outside of your kinky room, there will be five restaurants and lounges for you to socialize in because ain't nobody leaving the hotel when it's freezing outside.

But given that Virgin Hotels are an extension of Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic airlines, we have to wonder about the Virgin Hotels Loyalty Program.

The good news is there will definitely be one. But the bad news is we have to wait a little longer for the details. A Virgin Hotels spokesperson has told us that the loyalty program will be coming out much sooner that initially reported (well before the first Virgin Hotel opens) and it will be integrated into the airlines' current loyalty programs. Whee!

So while the ins and outs of the Virgin Hotels loyalty program are still under wraps, we bet if you have status on either Virign America or Virgin Atlantic, you will see probably some status perks at Virgin Hotels.

[Photo: Rayme Gorniak for HotelChatter]

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Ace Hotels to Bring Their A-Game to Chicago

October 9, 2014 at 11:51 AM | by | Comment (1)

What is everyone smoking in Chicago? Because hotels want to go to there, badly.

We're still digesting the news that we'll be able to stay at the Virgin Hotel Chicago on January 15 and we're still not quite over the coolness of the new Soho House Chicago. Heck, we're still in love with Ian Schrager's Public Hotel (although a friend tells us the property is starting to show some wear and tear after three years.) Now, our minds are spinning over the announcement of an Ace Hotel coming to the Windy City.

Curbed Chicago has all the pertinent details of the property and its location.

The upcoming Ace will be located literally right across the street from the old Fulton Market Cold Storage building, which Sterling Bay is also developing. The Fulton Market Cold Storage facility, now called 1K Fulton will become the future home of hundreds of Google employees, as well as the new global headquarters of Chicago-based SRAM Corporation.

The area is also home to the Soho House as well as the upcoming Nobu Chicago.

Details are scant on what will actually be inside this Ace but we bet there will be the usual Ace Hotels amenities like plenty of Pendleton blankets, a coffee shop of some sorts , a hipster sort of restaurant and free WiFi. Yet given that the competition in Chicago is getting fiercer by the minute, we suspect Ace will bring their A-game out with a few more special features. We can't wait to see what those will be.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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Inside Look: Le Méridien Design Refresh, Happening Now at Starwood HQ

October 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM | by | Comments (3)


HotelChatter spent the day at Starwood HQ in Stamford, Conn., learning about the coming design refreshes for Le Méridien and Westin Hotel. We completed a full-on design immersion day, which included a guided tour of Westin and Le Méridien model rooms. What did we learn? Well, one brand wants to serve you craft cappuccinos, refreshing booze drinks and elegant eclairs. The other one wants to make sure you have work out gear, super foods and proximity to plants. Somehow this crazy juxtaposition seems to work. Obviously, there are more details to share, starting with Le Méridien.

Le Méridien is in the midst of a design refresh. The theme? Mid century modern. The influences? French film, Monocle magazine, and eclairs.

The LM brand is banking on the fact that people have the desire to experience their destination, and want to do so even if they are in town for 36 hours, most of which will be comprised of business meetings, meaning most guest time will be spent at the hotel.

Here are 5 design details that got our attention as we walked through the model room and new hotel design schemes.

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This is Where Families Should Stay to Escape the Crowds in Hanalei Bay

October 8, 2014 at 12:19 PM | by | Comment (1)

Hanalei Colony Resort, Kauai

The island of Kauai presents a number of resort options up and down its east coast, from the Grand Hyatt at Poipu Beach in the south to the Marriott outside of Lihue. For first timers to the island, this location makes sense for lodging as it puts you between the island's main attractions: Waimea Canyon and Hanalei Bay.

For those who have been to Kauai before, or who simply don't feel the need to zip around the island, Hanalei Bay is a great place to set up shop. It's a prime spot to learn to surf and, officially, home to only one resort, the Hanalei Bay Resort. Still, that doesn't mean there are no crowds. The small town is the main attraction for those staying in neighboring Princeville and remains a top draw for all visitors to the island, including those passing through on their way to the Na Pali Coast in the northwest.

View from Hanalei Colony Resort looking towards Wainiha Bay

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The Virgin Hotel Chicago Will Open, At Last, on January 15 at $209 a Night

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 203 N. Wabash [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60601
October 8, 2014 at 12:26 AM | by | Comment (1)

We had hoped Santa Branson would deliver a Virgin Hotel by Christmas but it seems like we’ll have to wait just a tad longer. However, now we can sneak a peek at the mysterious Virgin.

Earlier tonight, Virgin Hotels, at long last, unveiled their new website with actual information, not just rumors, about their hotels. Even better, reservations are now open for the Virgin Chicago starting on January 15. Rates for a “Chamber King” start at $209 a night.

We're still undressing the Virgin Hotels site but here are the pertinent details. Before we go any further, we strongly suggest you watch the video above to get a clear sense of what the hotel has to offer and how they plan on doing it.

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Bar Boulud: A First For Boston and a Second For Mandarin Oriental

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 776 Boylston Street [map], Boston, MA, United States, 02199
October 7, 2014 at 4:16 PM | by | Comments (0)

Renowned chef, Daniel Boulud has just opened his 18th restaurant worldwide but his first for Boston--Bar Boulud Boston, at the Mandarin Oriental Boston.

With eight dining establishments already in New York City alone, including the two-Michelin starred DANIEL, this is great news for Bostonians, visitors, and all self-proclaimed foodies. This also marks the third Bar Boulud after New York and London and the second partnership for Boulud with Mandarin Oriental Hotels (there is also a Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.)

The design of the new Bar Boulud was handled by Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design. From the looks of the restaurant now that it’s completed, we think it’s quite simply, spectacular.

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Inside an Even-Numbered EVEN Hotel Room

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 426 Main Ave [map], Norwalk, CT, United States, 06851
October 7, 2014 at 2:59 PM | by | Comment (1)

Have you ever gone to the gym and seen those guys with biceps bulging like just-fed anacondas, chests broad enough to land a small plane — and legs as thin as angel hair spaghetti?

In fitness, as with everything, it’s all about the details. Miss a spot, and “sexy” becomes “silly.” Fast. Luckily, Intercontinental Hotel Group’s newly launched brand, EVEN Hotels, sweats the small stuff.

It could have coasted on its concept: A line of properties that is designed entirely around wellness, from in-room mini-gyms to an onsite restaurant, Cork & Kale, that offers healthy meals worlds apart from the calorie-loaded grub you’ll find at most lobby bars. (The cocktails even use organic spirits.)

It’s sort of shocking that no one thought to do this already, and there’s assuredly a huge market out there for a fitness-focused hotel chain. I mean, somebody’s watching “Dr. Oz.” EVEN could have phoned it in. Thankfully for us, they worked hard to get it done right.

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Lanai Update: All Three Resorts Could Be Closed to Tourists For Parts of 2015

October 7, 2014 at 12:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

Pool at the Four Seasons Manele Bay

So much for Larry Ellison's plans being on hold. Right now, he is a permit away from closing down all three hotels on the island of Lanai for a substantial part of 2015.

We already told you last week about how the Hotel Lanai is going to be used to house construction workers for the next year, and now it appears the Lodge at Koele - one of the two Four Seasons properties - will also contribute to the cause. Multiple outlets are reporting that Ellison plans to close the 102-room Lodge to vacationers for nearly all of 2015 to accommodate workers.

What are all of these workers going to be doing? It's all about the other Four Seasons property, the Resort at Manele Bay. It's currently undergoing renovations to its restaurants and west-wing rooms, and an additional proposal introduced last week would see a new round of renovations begin in January, culminating with the resort closing completely for about five months from June to October. Pulama Lanai's spokeswoman, Lori Teranishi, gave Pacific Business News an overview of the island-wide effort:

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Branson, Baby, Hurry Down The Chimney With The Virgin Chicago This Christmas

October 6, 2014 at 3:32 PM | by | Comment (1)

Virgin Hotels have put an end to the rumors they willingly helped others spread about themselves, but there's still a while to go before the hotel actually opens to the public. Yet if you continue to be good little boys and girls, you should be able to sleep with a Virgin by Christmas.

The unofficial opening date for the Virgin Hotel Chicago is now December. And boy, do we hope Santa Branson and his elves can pull this off. Work is still obviously underway at the hotel and we've yet to see an actual website for the property. But they do have a general manager and a chef on board.

So we hope the rest is just a matter of making lists, checking them twice, finding out what's naughty and nice, and then, finally, crossing them off.

[Photo: Virgin Hotels/Facebook]

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The Waldorf Astoria To Be Sold But Will, Of Course, Remain a Hilton Hotel

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 301 Park Avenue [map], New York, NY, United States, 10022
October 6, 2014 at 2:50 PM | by | Comments (3)

The legendary Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, the hotel that spawned an entire collection of luxury hotels, is about to be sold to a Chinese insurance company for a whopping $1.95 billion.

But don't worry. It will remain a Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Hilton Worldwide, who unloaded the property, will remain in charge of the hotel's operations for the next 100 years.

Despite the property leaving Hilton's hands, the best news to come out of this sale is that THE HOTEL WILL FINALLY, AT LAST, GET RENOVATED. We've long known that the regular rooms at the hotel are total dogs. The Waldorf Tower rooms are more luxurious but still look a little stale and stuffy. No word on when the renovations will begin but we hope it's ASAP.

[Photo: HotelChatter Flickr Pool]

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Funky Friday: An Ice Cream Sundae At The Langham Chicago Will Cost More Than Your Room

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 330 North Wabash Avenue [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60611
October 3, 2014 at 6:22 PM | by | Comments (0)

Welcome to Funky Friday, a new segment we’re trying out which features one photo that we think singularly expresses a hotel’s inner psyche. We look for, and often find, a lot of wacky, wild and wondrous designs that seem to have one thing in common: a Type A personality. So why not have a bit of fun as we all wrap up our week by taking a quick look at some hotels that quite frankly, want our attention.

We love hearing about a hotel’s latest dessert creations – more so directly experiencing — and when chocolate’s involved, they’ve got our attention. If it’s outrageous enough, for example, the 'Chicolate Room' at the Four Seasons Milan, we give it a friendly does of Funky Friday. Equally outrageous and jaw dropping, so to speak, is the series of high-end desserts, and their high end price tags, presently offered at The Langham Chicago.

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So, How is That Boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel Going?

October 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM | by | Comments (4)

The Dorchester Collection Boycott came in like a lion in the spring, with high-profile celebrities vowing to never step foot again in the hotels so long as the homophobic (to say the least!) Sultan of Brunei owned them. Given that most celebrities frequented The Beverly Hills Hotel, the Pink Palace became the prime target of the hotel boycott.

But now a few months on, we hardly hear much about the boycott. Could it be that it has quietly died down? Or perhaps, the celebrities have just considered the boycott a part of their every day normal (ok, not-so-normal) life. Thus, this editor decided to stop in at the hotel and see for herself.

When I pulled up to the hotel at around 12:30 on a sunshiney Monday, the entrance was just as busy as I've always known it to be, with folks hopping out of their expensive cars to walk the red carpet into the hotel while town cars were picking up departing guests and their many pieces of luggage. Dignified doormen were, as always, accompanied by studly valet boys in light pink polo shirts, as they directed the light traffic in the narrow porte cochere.

Self-parking, already quite limited, was not available so I drove my car around to the other side of the property and parked on the street. As I walked along a winding walkway along the hidden pink bungalows and amongst lush greenery (vividly green even though Californias is in a severe drought), I passed by two people. A good sign, perhaps?

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