Millennials have dominated the hotel scene for at least a year, now. Will the trend burn out soon? Who knows? But in the meantime, one lot of savvy hoteliers is going for the next generation – enter the Toy Story Hotel, due to open in Shanghai next year.
Who is this company thinking of the kids? It’s Disney, natch – the hotel will form part of the Shanghai Disney Resort (Disney’s sixth on the globe). This is Toy Story full immersion: the exterior will be done up to resemble the clouds-n-sky wallpaper of Andy’s bedroom, and there will be a gigantic Pixar ball at the porte cochere.
Toy Story Hotel will have 800 rooms, and, according to Disney, will “immerse guests in a world inspired by the toys from the Disney Pixar series of Toy Story animated films”. Which could be a little creepy.
Throwback Monday to… a time when Aleppo was a popular tourist destination.
The Baron Hotel was one of the finest hotels in Syria when it opened in 1911. Charles de Gaulle stayed here. So did Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express in room 203. “Hotel Baron, the only first-class hotel in Aleppo” says a poster from the 1930s strung up in reception. It’s the oldest hotel in Syria.
Or, rather, it was until last week, when its owner revealed he’s closed it.
“It's been nearly four years since the war began and I see nothing that inspires any optimism in me, quite the contrary,” Armen Mazloumian told AP. “Honestly, the hotel will never go back to how it was.”
Some terrible news out of London just as the weekend was starting a few days ago: around 11.40pm on Friday night, a gas explosion occurred in the basement of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, injuring twelve hotel employees.
All guests were evacuated and accommodated at nearby hotels. Various news outlets, including the BBC, are referring to a few people being hospitalized, with the total number of guests evacuated at around 500. No guests were injured, according to a Hyatt spokesperson.
While The Telegraph opens with the blast having caused “part of the building to collapse”, the main structure of the building is intact. The London Fire Brigade, which responded to the incident, believes it due to a suspected gas leak, resulting in “extensive damage to the basement and the ground floor”.
We hope the injured will recover soon. We’ll keep you posted if there is a longer-term impact on the Hyatt, but leave you for now with the official statement from the hotel’s website:
It's our weekly wrap-up, Check-Out Folio where we round up the best (Credits in folio-speak) and worst (Charges) hotel news of the week. Got a scoop? Or just want to share a recent hotel story? Tell us all about it!
We already gave you a brief look at the rooms inside the first ever AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. and we had you salivating over the croissants flown in from France (well, the frozen dough was), but now it's time to take you all around the AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans.
We like to let the pictures do most of the talking but here's what you need to know:
The History: The AC was built out of two historic buildings--The Cotton Exchange and The Security Homestead Association--although the buildings have been used as hotel for quite some time. The hotel, which is one block from Canal and two from Bourbon Street, suffered some severe damage after Hurricane Katrina, but it was kept mostly to the first two floors.
The layout of the lobby has changed a bit structurally, and of course, everything inside is brand-new but the hotel retains a historic set-up especially on the guest room floors which have smaller hallways and many twists and turns.
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You use already use Amazon.com to do everything you need from buying books, diapers and shoes to streaming TV shows and movies so it makes sense that the e-tailer will start allowing you to book hotels through them. But this won't be just another massive web hotel deals aggregator.
According to Skift's exclusive report about the forthcoming Amazon Travel service, hotel options will be curated and independent hotels. Here's how it will work from the hotel side:
Properties would load their room types, availability, pricing information, and photos into an Amazon extranet and would pay a standard 15% commission to Amazon for the prepaid bookings, the hoteliers at the independent properties said.
The properties would get notified by Amazon via email of bookings, hoteliers said, and they would update calendars on the extranet.
The hotels would generally list their properties at rack rates, but would be free to discount, one hotelier said.
Hoteliers would receive their payments from Amazon for the stays in two installments and could obviously attempt to negotiate a lower commission than the standard 15%.
Did you catch that part? Pre-paid bookings. But if the discounts are good and more importantly, the hotels are hand-selected, rather than being just hundreds of big hotel brands, this could be very attractive when searching for a reasonably-priced hotel that still has some personality.
Skift reports that Amazon Travel will start around January 1 in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle with other cities to roll out soon.
A B Hotel!
This is an interesting turn of events. The other day we reported that the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, formerly The Yankee Clipper, would stop being a Sheraton on December 1 but there was no clue as to who or what brand would go in its place. Now, we have an answer. A tipster tells us that the hotel will be a B Hotel. And indeed, it's been confirmed on the B Hotels website with an opening date of December 1.
You might remember the B brand opened its very first hotel in Fort Lauderdale, but that has now changed into a Sonesta Hotel. B went onto open a spot in Orlando as well as Savannah and they launched their b2 brand in Miami.
No doubt all the B programming will be installed in their FLL spot, including mood lighting, free WiFi and variety of amenities and services that all start with B. Hopefully they will let the Yankee Clipper's Wreck Bar and the Dos Caminos restaurant just "b."
Australian hotel brand, Vibe Hotels, is tackling two things at once--expansion and rebranding--when they open their newest property next year, near the Yarra Ranges National Park, outside of Melbourne.
The new Vibe design is a far departure from the lime green and purple color scheme sported at other properties. Those dated hues are being traded for a more sophisticated and modern blue, which is more reflective of the local surroundings.
Tucked away near the Yarra Ranges National Park, this property will be a sub-alpine retreat that features local artwork and locally sourced seasonal produce in its new signature restaurant Radius Bar & Grill. Vibe's riverside location will also make for a perfect escape from the city, thanks to its jumping-off point at the state's pristine wilderness areas. Each of the 101 rooms will feature free WFi, modern design and even, local treats in the mini bar.
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Mingalabar! All this week we've been focusing on one of the fastest changing hotel scenes on the globe: Burma, or Myanmar. (For Burma or Myanmar, see here - as fence-sitters, we'll be using the two interchangeably throughout the week.) We’ve already covered your hotel basics, and looked at Yangon: its most expensive hotel, its most historic hotel and its weirdest. Today, we're moving north, on the road to Mandalay.
This looks like a river, but it isn’t just any river. This is the Irrawaddy River, one of the most evocative names in the world (the Mississippi, the Danube, the Nile, the Irrawaddy, etc etc) thanks to the likes of Rudyard Kipling, who referred to it as the Road to Mandalay.
This is the view from the rooftop bar and restaurant at the Ayarwaddy River View Hotel in Mandalay, Burma (the river bisects the country; Ayarwaddy is the current government's spelling). Myanmar’s second city, Mandalay is far more frenetic and modern than Yangon. Stay in the city center, as we did our first night, and you’ll probably wish you hadn’t come. Staying on the Irrawaddy, however, is like sleeping in a different city.
From the rooftop – and from the river-facing rooms – you can see fishing boats, trawlers, and the little cruisers going up and down to Bagan. You can see people washing in the mornings, and the sun setting over the hills in the afternoon. In the evening, look out the other side at the city – there’s a lively temple right behind the hotel.
This is an instance when you’re really paying for location – our entry level room was $100, with a city view (a river view would have been $20 more). The room itself was basic, three star standard – definitely not on a par with other $100 we stayed at in Myanmar. But the location was everything, and hey, they throw in a free ‘traditional’ puppet show on the roof every evening.
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What was the Regent Bali
Between the friendly rebranding of a property here and some owner-operator drama there, it’s part of hotel reality that the name above the door may change. But we struggle to think of a brand that is guilty of a more continuous stream of, “Whoops, that didn’t work out as planned, we’re leaving” as Regent Hotels. Let’s recap.
Travel back well into the last decade, and there was The Regent South Beach, which became a Vincci, then a De Soleil, before settling on Z Ocean South Beach as a name, while sort of being a Crowne Plaza.
A second, more recent attempt at a Florida hotel was equally unsuccessful, with The Regent Bal Harbour, having tried on its own as One Bal Harbour, now being a Ritz-Carlton. Further north, The Regent Battery Wharf in Boston never made it to opening, arriving as Fairmont, which now has also said its goodbyes to the harbor-side property.
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Karisma. Allure. Caramel. Try to put your discomfort to one side – there’s a nice-looking hotel behind the worst name imaginable.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts, which run properties in Latin America and the Caribbean, has a small boutique arm called “Allure Hotels, by Karisma” – previously limited to two hotels in Colombia. And that’s the story behind the heinously named Allure Caramel by Karisma, which has opened in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It’s the first Europe hotel for the brand.
The hotel is a redevelopment of the Hotel Admiral Club Belgrade, built in 1927 by a well known local, Mayor Vlada Ilic. It’s a stunning, standalone villa in Dorcol, the historic quarter of Belgrade. Think a sweeping entrance route behind a posh lawn, a stately lobby and frilly Corinthian columns and heavy drapes inside – basically, it’s like being in Newport RI, but in Serbia.
It's really happening! Gone is the wraparound red construction board at Chicago's eagerly anticipated hotel and in its place, a real live Virgin. Er, marquee.
That's right. Signage just went up at the Virgin Hotel Chicago and it is looking good. Of course, the entrance is predictably Virgin with its red sign lettering and the Virgin logo on the plaque next to the door, but still looking good. We're also chuckling at the cheeky window signage which says, "Is the plural of cheese, cheese or cheeses? Either way I could use a glass of wine." So could we. And some cheeses while we're at it.
Additionally, signage went up for Miss Ricky's All American Diner at the hotel, and a special VIP with some giant red lips stopped by to admire it. Lovely. And slightly scary.
Rates for the hotel, which opens on January 15 start at $219 a night for a Chamber King room.
Congrats to Virgin. Now just make sure the T, E, and L are always lit up. Otherwise, you'll have a real oxymoron on your hands there.
[Photo: Virgin Hotel]