NC Travel Guide
AC Hotels by Marriott are working towards opening their first hotel in New Orleans in October, followed by South Beach, and Kansas City with JFK Airport and Chicago on the (tentative) horizon as well. And now, AC will open in Asheville, North Carolina too.
According to the Citizen-Times newspaper, design review approval was given to the owners of the BB&T building's parking garage. The garage will be razed and in its place a nine-story hotel--with 132 guest rooms, a restaurant and a bar--will be constructed.
Yay, exciting and that jazz. But what's also interesting, is that the BB&T building itself will be turned into an upscale, boutique hotel topped with six floors of condos. Naturally, we assume this brand has to be a Marriott-branded hotel as well. And if we had to place our bets, we'd put our money on a Renaissance Hotel which is definitely Marriott's boutique brand, after Edition of course. But the condo element has us a bit thrown off. So...what will it be? We're gonna go with Renaissance but only time, and maybe a loose-lipped developer or designer, will tell. Hint, hint.
[Rendering via AC Hotels]
Kimpton can't get enough of Southern hospitality. Fresh off opening The Brice Hotel in Savannah, the friendly boutique hotel chain is now taking over a historic office building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The R.J. Reynolds Building, the longtime headquarters for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, was built in 1929 by Shreve & Lamb, the same architects who designed the Empire State Building. The lobby is decorated with ornate murals, gold leaf millwork in the ceilings, and nickel and brass elevators throughout. You can see some photos of the building's Art Deco interior design here.
The building has been vacant since 2009 but now PMC Property Group will turn the office space into 175 hotel rooms, 36 suites, a hotel fitness center, and a 120-seat restaurant and bar, along with plenty of meeting and event space. Of course, the developers and Kimpton will do what they can to preserve the building's original design but we're gonna guess they won't be bringing back the museum of tobacco that once graced the tobacco building's ground floor. Heck, Kimpton probably won't even allow smoking in the guest rooms. Ain't that funny?
The Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks of North Carolina has some rather clever culinary presentations that they do for wedding receptions and other events at their beachfront property (check out the I Love Bacon station here.) But with everyone else but us (or it seems like) kicking back on Spring Break this week, we're really loving this Beer Canoe.
Yup, a canoe filled with bottles of beer. So simple and yet so right. The hotel will also do a seafood buffet out of a canoe too. Hello there, lobsters!
More pics below!
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Not long ago, we wrote about the growing trend of the dual-branded hotel property. When a combined Hampton Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites opened in Denver last May, it reflected the tendency of these new-ish hotel concepts to pair an extended stay property with a limited service hotel. Starwood’s announcement last week,however, was the first we have heard of upscale brands getting in on the act.
The hotel company is planning to open a combined Sheraton and Le Meridien in Charlotte’s uptown business district, with each hotel occupying one tower each of a massive hotel complex that is currently operating as the Blake Hotel (run by Amsterdam Hospitality.) The two hotels will each have their own separate entrances and lobbies, but will share the fitness center, spa, pools, and meeting space. The two towers will have a total of six restaurants, and Le Meridien will feature a rooftop bar offering views of the Charlotte skyline.
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Not long ago we reported on the Capella Georgetown which has no check-in or check-out hours. The concept has even made its way all the way to Australia and its Art Series hotels where Serena Williams tweeted about the hotel's policy of not kicking you out if there isn't a guest scheduled for your room. We thought this kind of perk would be limited to small, quirky hotels, but imagine our surprise when we received a news bit letting us know that The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte (apparently a favorite of Lenny Kravitz!) is now offering a guaranteed 24-hour stay for guests who check in on Saturdays.
That's right, with the new "Stay and Play 24" package, the hotel will accept check-ins at any hour on Saturday and allow departure a full 24 hours later – even if that means a Sunday evening check-out. For guests who check-in early on Saturday, check-out will be after 24 hours have passed or at noon on Sunday – whichever is later and offers more convenience for the guest. Let's hear it for a lovely leisurely weekend!
And, to top it off, the "Stay and Play 24" includes a $100 food and beverage credit that can be redeemed in the hotel's Bar Cocoa, lobby lounge, room service, or the Urban Sip restaurant. We're told that Bar Cocoa has a banging Sunday Brunch, so keep that in mind.
The "Stay and Play 24" package costs $379 a night and regular Saturday rates are $299 a night, so we're thinking with the $100 F&B credit and extra hours, this is a pretty decent deal.
[Photo: Ritz-Carlton Hotels]
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Forget, for a minute, the glowing reviews of Michelle Obama's and Bill Clinton's speeches at the DNC. It turns out another thing reporters' minds were the rotten hotels they were assigned for the event, which took place this past week in Charlotte, NC. But cramped rooms and bad service were the least of it—we're talking drug dealers, prostitutes, and bed bugs.
The bed bugs in particular were an issue, as the Washington Times reported that several of the DNC media-hosting hotels have dealt with bedbug infestation complaints in the past year.
The scene was enough to make radio talk show host David Webb comment:
"It comes down to organizing a good event, and frankly, that says something about how they do things here."
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Ready or not, Aloft is slowly infiltrating every corner of the world—India, China, and the US are all in line for multiple openings this year. And it was announced last week that South Korea is even set to get its first Aloft by 2014.
But in the more immediate future, we're looking at two US openings this month: Aloft Asheville on Aug 23 and Aloft SFO on Aug 30. One will be a place to retreat from (or invite back to your hotel room) all the ukulele-strumming Blue Ridge Mountain hippies. The other will be a place to lament your delayed flight. Both will spoil you with free WiFi.
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We know, we know. What a random acting role for musician/hotel designer Lenny Kravitz! Just in case you haven't been up and up on the "Hunger Games" madness, Lenny stars as Capitol stylist, Cinna, in the movie which premieres this weekend.
Yet what befuddles us hotel geeks more than this role for Lenny is rather where he and the cast were staying during filming.
According to the NY Post, Lenny's "ritzy" hotel digs became the "unofficial hangout" for his co-stars.
“My hotel room became the after-hours joint,” Kravitz tells The Post. “Any given night there you’d see me, Stanley [Tucci], Gary [Ross], Woody [Harrelson], Elizabeth [Banks], Josh [Hutcherson], Jennifer [Lawrence.] It was fun.”
You know what this means--it's time to Guess the Hotel!!
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Move over recycling bins and bulk shampoo dispensers: the hottest new green accessory, at least at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, is an electric vehicle charging station, available to guests free of charge. The LEED-certified hotel unveiled the new gizmo last week in collaboration with local electric car company Li-Ion Motors, which brought out an Inizio roadster to show off.
The property is the first Ritz-Carlton to install a guests-only electric car charging station. The two power ports will fuel up cars that are completely tapped out in 10-12 hours and also top off in under an hour rides that still have some juice. There are plans to add additional, similar charging stations around Charlotte.
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Fayetteville, North Carolina, may not be high on your travel list, but what may be is Hilton's new hip, extended-stay brand, Home2 Suites, which opens there today.
If you need somewhere to bunk up for a longer period of time, you won't have to worry about emptying out your checking account. The budget-friendly hotel's rooms are going for $116 a night.
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But now it looks like the hotel will be opening on February 3. (Yes, we've already added it to The List.) That's the official word we got from Home2 Suites but online, we couldn't find rates until February 25.
So, what do you get at a Home2 Suites? For $129 a night, you can get a studio suite with a king bed, a full kitchen, a sitting area, 42" flat-screen TVs and free WiFi. (If you book in advance, you can even get that sweet suite for just $116 a night.)
We're also excited about Home2 Suite's promise of a "working wall" that runs the full length of the suite and provides extra room for personal storage and place to work. You can even print documents wirelessly from your room which can then be retrieved from the lobby's Oasis area, a common hangout space/modern business center.
Cooking classes at hotels? So yesterday! The latest spin on hotel restaurants educating guests is happening at North Carolina's Sanderling Resort and Spa: artisanal butchering workshops.
Oh, yes. Vegetarians look away now. The resort is offering guests to "meet their meat", under the guidance of German Master Butcher Frank Meusel and executive chef Joshua Hollinger. The classes will show guests how to break down cuts of a whole animal and prepare primal cuts.