Tag: 2006 AwardsView All Tags
Thanks for joining us on the last working days of 2006 for the 2006 HotelChatter Year-End Awards. And thanks to all those Hotel Mavens out there who have contributed to our site with their reviews, photos, tips and gossip this year. No wonder you are TIME's person of the year.
As always, there are at least four ways to contribute:
·Become a HotelChatter member and submit stories, releasing your inner travel writer.
·Become a HotelChatter member, comment on stories, and review hotels.
·Send us snapshots of your favorite and least favorite hotels.
·Shoot us an email tip.
Now for your viewing enjoyment, here is our complete list of winners. We will be back in full effect on Tuesday to kick-off the new year of stories.
· Best Celebrity Performance: Britney Spears
· Best Hotel Hell: Bed Bugs
· Worst Hotel Hype: Nicky Hilton's Nicky O Hotels
· Best Hotel Renovation: Sofitel Los Angeles
· Best Killer View: Casa Las Brisas
· Best Anti-View: Wyndham Garden Hotel
· Best Hotel WiFi Improvement: W Hotels
· 2006 Must Have Amenity: Flat-Screen TVs
· 2006's All-Star Map Hotels
· Best Hotel Opening: Gramercy Park Hotel
· People's Choice Awards: Hooters Casino Hotel
· Hotelier of the Year: Jeff Klein
· Best Hotel Scene: The Maldives
Overwater bungalows, sea-plane transfers, deserted beaches. C'mon, no one can resist the Maldives resort scene can they?
This year the Maldives hotel scene popped onto our for many reasons--W Maldives opened, Maldives fly overs via Google Earth, TomKat honeymooned there briefly, and there was a post-tsunami new resort boom on the islands.
Expect the Maldives hotel fascination to continue, at least through the long, not-as-cold-as-it-used-to-be winter in the North East.
Socialite-turned-hotelier Jeff Klein's first project, New York's City Club Hotel, which opened back in 2000, was met with a bit of ho-humness by guests and media alike. We checked in back in April and were equally nonplussed. However, earlier this year Mr. Klein reopened the Argyle hotel as the Sunset Tower. Before Klein this once proud, historic hotel was just as polluted with Lohan's and Hilton's as any other Sunset Strip hotel, but Klein promised to change all that.
Back in 2005 Klein was quoted saying things like, "I'm the new Merv Griffin", as he moved into Howard Hughes old suite at the Argyle with his beagle. We figured this socialite was in over his head--the Argyle was a massive project. It would only be a matter of time now--then something strange happened--Klein started talking with vision.
I think the whole trendy nightclub lobby ridiculousness is so over, and people are so over it. I don't want to be the next Ian Schrager. I don't want to be known as trendy or hip, that's not what I'm doing. My market is someone who used to stay at a Schrager property, but wouldn't anymore.
My goal with the whole property (the Argyle) is to return it to its rich, turn-of-the-century past but infuse the design with a modern twist.
And finally, he dropped this:
I don't believe in buzz. Word of mouth is the buzz I want, but not by creating a fake scene. Consumers will be fooled by that for a couple months, but eventually you need to deliver good service, good food and good beds -- and you just can't mask it with ridiculousness.
2006 was the year Klein had to put up or shut up. And he put up. Though the Sunset Tower Hotel had its share of troubles early in the year, by the time we visited in November, it afforded us one of the most memorable hotel experiences we had this year. Unfettered WiFi, turn-of-the-century architecture with a modern twist, a calm, sceneless lobby with super helpful staffers, and the place somehow felt elegant in a town of excess.
Rumor is Klein's next project is in Paris, another location where "design without service" hotels have frustrated plenty of guests. At this point, we are not going to bet against Klein coming through.
Thanks to an outrageous package option, Hooters Hotel Casino had a successful inaugural year and the hotel received the most readers, hence the People's Choice distinction.
Back in February, the opening festivities were counted down on the Hooters Girls very own blog, then Gene Simmons arrived for the opening day on the orange carpet and Dan Marino set up his restaurant inside. But aside from pretty girls in tight t-shirts walking around and dealing blackjack, the hotel came up with an extra-special service for its guests.
You see, hotel packages that offer champagne upon arrival, breakfast for two and a $25 spa credit just weren't going to cut it in 2006. We wanted something bolder and crazier and at the same time something tailored to our needs.
That's why Hooters Build-A-Bash service piqued our interest. The hotel will create any type of package you could dream of, and anything that Nevada law allows, from divorce parties to bachelor parties to "I just found out that ain't my baby" parties. Just simply ask party guru Allen Oakley at Hooters to put together the best possible Vegas weekend for you and your friends and you're all set.
It's a party that even Ricky "If you ain't first, you're last" Bobby wouldn't want to miss.
No other hotel opening got as much press this year as Ian Schrager's long-awaited and supposed game-changing Gramercy Park Hotel, which surprisingly did open on time on August 8.
We were able to spend a night there during the hotel's opening week which we live-blogged for you all. Our time there was largely uneventful. We got the keys to the park, we took lots of photos, we had great service and even though the scary gothic sex dungeon theme scared the crap out of us, we slept pretty sound. With the lights on of course.
However, things really kicked into high gear around NYC's Fashion Week where the hotel hosted several parties and Ian sent down the decree that Paris Hilton and "her ilk" were not welcome there. Then he let in a convicted felon, a shoplifter and some girls with dubious dieting habits.
As for the game-changing, eh not so much. Now, the hotel is dealing with a predictable decline in service, too-high room rates and the Park Chinois restaurant has yet to open. The high could only last so long....
2006 Awards / HotelChatter-Hollywood-Star-Map / Downtown-New-York-City-Hotel-Scene-Map / Viva-Las-Vegas-Hotel-Map / → All Tags
This year, HotelChatter launched its first ever Google mash-up maps. Three to be exact and each map had a stand-out hotel we are awarding as the All-Star Hotel.
On the Hollywood Hotel Star Map, the Hollywood Roosevelt stands out because its celebrity scene has been off the hook since the day it opened. Then this year the whole Amanda Scheer-Demme fiasco happened. But even when her VIP club Teddy's reopened again without her, celebs still flocked to the place.
When it came to do a map for NYC, we chose only the downtown hotels because let's face it, who wants to stay in Midtown? The All-Star here is The Hotel on Rivington or THOR. How could we ignore the hash-hammock suggestion from the "Director of Luminous Detail" Nemo Librizzi? Then we found out from our Super Secret Insider that I-bankers are worse guests than touring rock stars. The hotel also rounded out its year by opening up a members-only lounge, the restaurant and the eclectic boutique Annie O. Of course, how could we forget the place has see-through shower windows?
On the Viva Las Vegas map, picking an all-star was difficult because all of the high roller hotels in Vegas we profiled are big stand-outs. But we're going to go with THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. The Alain Ducasse restaurant on the top floor is superb and the strip views are unbeatable. When you venture outside of this boutique hotel within a hotel, hit up the pool area where an employee named Moses is in charge of parting the water at the giant water park.
Forget a remote-controlled butler or an iris-scanning key card. Hotel guests still want simple things. Simple being a flat-screen high definition TV of course. Most luxury hotels are jumping on this train and throwing out the chunky black TVs of the early 00s. Which is why when we checked into the Tribeca Grand and found a broken black box, we were extremely surprised, what with room rates topping out at $400.
Of course, free WiFi also ranks as a must-have amenity and let's face it, if we had to choose that would be tough. Still, nothing says obsolete then one of those boxy TVs. Another way to put it? If the gym down the street has a better TVs attached to its elliptical machines than in your hotel room, that hotel is in trouble.
When we launched our Annual WiFi Report in March 2006, W Hotels was on our Worst Hotel WiFi List because while they appear to set the standards for boutique hotels, we found they were often charging $10 or more for internet access and in some places, they didn't even have wireless.
Yet as 2006 draws to a close, we have to give some improvement props to W for offering WiFi for free in most of their hotel lobbies, or living rooms as they prefer to be called. This is great news since we like W Hotels and we like being able to have wireless internet when we travel. And in 2007, W Hotels just might be taken off the Worst Hotel WiFi List.
We used to think getting a room view of scaffolding, brick walls or air shafts were the worst types of views you could get. However, men with skimpy bathing suits, like this man of leisure pictured here, take the cake.
What's worse about this, according to Hotel Maven Courtney May who sent it to us, is that the Wyndham Garden Hotel is also next to a children's hospital meaning those sick kids get to look at this too.
Funnily enough, this view seemed to be almost repeated in Croatia and then in San Francisco, one guest paraded around nude in his hotel room where workers across the way had a prime view. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they didn't snap this Ugly Naked Guy on camera.
It was a close call between this video and the other one he sent from the Villa Premiere in Puerto Vallarta. Of course, we don't expect everyone to upload a video for Killer View these days. For instance, this view from the St. Regis Bora Bora also made us hot.
Hotel Hype is one of our biggest pet peeves. Hoteliers and hotel corporations will endlessly hype a hotel that has not even been built but they insist on going full-court press with all the hotel's latest developments. Like who's designing the uniforms, what new amenities they will have, or who's behind the restaurant and nightclub. All of this makes you want to visit the hotel like now but then you find out the joint ain't opening until 2009. Or even worse, they tell you August 2006 but they really mean August 2008.
The worst offender of this was Nicky Hilton and her Nicky O Hotel in South Beach. The slightly smarter Hilton sister announced back in July that she would be opening the first of her two Nicky O hotels in South Beach in Fall of 2006. Then we heard December...New Year's Eve...February for Super Bowl and now possibly Spring.
We also learned that Nicky Hilton who claimed to be a hands-on hotelier didn't design her actual hotel. And despite posing with nude models atop the proposed hotel building, we actually went to the Nicky O site and found that girlfriend still has a lot of work to do. Er, we mean her people have a lot of work left to do. And don't even think of asking when the Chicago property will open.
With the hotel industry going through as many changes as a pubescent teenager, it's definitely hard for all the older, established hotels to measure up. Which is why more and more hotels are investing in big-time renovations. We saw a lot of these in 2006 and no doubt, more will come in 2007.
But the renovation we liked the best was at the Sofitel Los Angeles. Anyone who had seen this place before will be amazed at what the hotel has turned into. Everything top to bottom inside and out has been redone in this place. The lobby was redone in black and filled with minimalist furniture often found in a boutique hotel. In place of the Gigi Brasserie we now have the Simon LA restaurant ("serving both cotton and eye candy") and the Rande Gerber lounge and popular celeb hang-out, Stone Rose.
If you don't believe us, then check out the video for yourself.