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The spirit is actually a specially distilled Charbay vodka crafted exclusively for AKA by Marko Karakasevic, a 13th generation master distiller. But AKA doesn't just let the vodka hang out on a shelf above the bar. Instead, they keep a.vod stored inside a special "Vodka Vault" at the AKA Central Park. The doors to the Vodka Vault can only be opened with a special AKA a.key--a large, chrome-shaped key in the shape of the letter "a"--and there are only 12 keys in existence.
Sadly, you can't buy a.vod on your next trip to the liquor store. But you can sip on cocktails made with a.vod when you visit the a.lounge at AKA Central Park and other AKA spots with a.lounges such as AKA Sutton Place, AKA White House and AKA Beverly Hills. Wanna try out a.vod in a more romantic setting? Then consider the AKA Central Park's outdoor bedroom package on the 17th floor's 1,000-sq.ft. terrace.
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The brand has joined with culinary wunderkind Wolfgang Puck to create Spago in-Suite. This is the first "room-service" type venture for the chef. Now, Each AKA full-service suite will include a menu featuring items from Puck's flagship Beverly Hills restaurant Spago. In addition to the well-loved favorites (pizza!) there will be a rotating list of daily specialty entrees (perhaps the liberty duck breast with pear-mustard raisin compote) to commemorate Puck's 30 year anniversary and Spago's new menu.
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There's tons of hotel news flying around and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
Tomorrow morning Westin Hotels is having a 5K run in New York to celebrate the launch of their exclusive New Balance gear lending program. Both Westin, New Balance associates (and now Top Chef-host, Padma Lakshmi) will run to benefit Soles4Souls, an organization that provides shoes to adults and children around the world. A majority of the donations will support Hurricane Sandy victims. The run starts and ends at the new Westin New York Grand Central where there will also be a Soles4Souls donation station the public can drop off gently used or new footwear throughout the day. After the run, Westin and New Balance will donate more than 15,000 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls. For more info, visit westinnewbalance.com
Sandals Resorts International has purchased Grenada’s all-inclusive LaSource Resort for an undisclosed sum. This is the brand’s first property in the country. The hotel will be renamed Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa, and will add 100 more guest rooms to its current space for a total of 200 private cottages and bungalows. Many of these will be concierge- and butler-level suites, as is common in the Sandals brand, and also the famous octagonal-shaped Rondoval suites. We wonder if Sandals will keep LaSource’s former amenity of one free spa treatment a day. Sure it was only a 25-minute teaser, but it was something. A part of us believes they’ll be cut, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised before.
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We saw President Obama on “The View” this morning just as we were taking a look again at the AKA White House's “Presidential Pampering Package” that had landed in our inbox. We’d been going back and forth on it because the price tag is just so hefty, it’s just one of those things where you 1) you wish you were friends with someone who could afford it 2) know there are people who can afford it, and you hate them.
But, as we begin our own Presidential-election hotel coverage, we thought we’d kick it off with this bit of fantasy for your daydreaming pleasure.
The AKA White House’s “Presidential Pampering Package” is designed for 12 guests to take over the Washington D.C. residential-style hotel’s entire penthouse floor during the presidential inauguration. Four suites comprising of two, one-bedroom suites and two, two-bedroom suites, and a 1,100-square foot outdoor terrace are just the living basics, but it’s the perks that dazzle enough to make one wonder if they have $57,000 (in honor of the 57th inauguration) to blow on a seven-day stay with 11 of their closest friends.
Let’s list them, and you do the math:
*Daily continental breakfast served en-suite
*Personal 24/7 on-call butler
*Personal 24/7 chauffeur
*A private two-hour en-suite cocktail party with open bar and appetizers
*Daily housekeeping service & turndown service
*Twelve plush AKA robes
That's because we just got word that AKA Hotels will open a spot in London's West End this October in a historic 1920s building in the Marylebone neighborhood. And much like the upcoming AKA Beverly Hills, these serviced residences will require a 30-day minimum.
However, there will be only be nine residences with some of the studio and one-bedroom apartments occupying their own floor. Here's what else will be inside:
Each suite will feature bespoke furniture; gourmet kitchens with grey lacquer cabinetry, charcoal caesarstone countertops and stainless-steel appliances, as well as full marble baths. Artwork, which will be unique to each suite, will complement the overall design. Sumptuous linens, central air conditioning, washers/dryers, complimentary Sky TV, complimentary wireless internet access and complimentary local telephone service with direct dial and personal voicemail will ensure residents are comfortable in their AKA home away from home.
The other week we popped into the AKA Beverly Hills with our camera eager and ready to snap pics of one of our favorite long-term stay hotel brands. (AKA actually prefers the term serviced apartments to extended-stay.) Yet upon meeting AKA execs in the stylish, residential apartment lobby, we were told that "all of this" was going to be redone.
"All of this?" we asked. "But it looks so good!" All of it, they told us. So it was pointless to take photos of suites and spaces that weren't going to be around much longer. Indeed, construction has already begun on the former apartment/townhome complex.
Up in the suites (which were formerly one and two-bedroom apartments), the major fixtures in the kitchens and the bathrooms as well as the in-unit laundry machines will not be changed but all the furniture, carpets and cabinets will be upgraded to reflect a more modern sensibility.
The furniture will actually be custom made for AKA. Plus, there will be new light fixtures put into the kitchens and the bathrooms. Renovations will also be done to the bi-level townhomes and penthouse suites that AKA will have on-hand as well.
We were cruising around Beverly Hills this morning when we noticed a very interesting sign on a building at 9355 Wilshire Blvd.
The sign said, "Coming Soon, AKA Serviced Residents". We had heard that extended-stay brand AKA was coming to Beverly Hills back in December but we had no idea where. Now we know.
Despite the location of the sign, the hotel will open inside 155 N. Crescent Dr., just behind this office building.
According to the hotel's website, AKA Beverly Hills will have 88 one and two bedroom furnished apartments and bi-level townhouses with gourmet kitchens, custom furnishings and private balconies. As with other AKA hotels, the Beverly Hills spot is intended for folks staying a month or longer. And apparently, a Spring 2012 opening is still expected. We shall see.
AKA Sutton Place
The Los Angeles hotel scene keeps getting better and better. There's been a slew of new hotels that have opened in the city in the past year and it won't stop in 2012. The high-end, East Coast-based extended-stay brand of AKA Hotels is planning a Beverly Hills hotel in the spring of 2012, according to this recent WSJ article.
Indeed when we hit up AKA's own website, Beverly Hills was listed as one of their locations. Exciting! Now the only problem is, we have no idea where this hotel is going to be in Beverly Hills. If you know, then please let us know!
In the meantime, if you've never heard of AKA hotels before, check out our video interview with the "K" of AKA Hotels--Larry Korman. And when you're done, take a tour of the AKA Hotel in Central Park.
Tired of playing Craigslist Roulette to find a New York crash pad with the three Cs—Cheap, Clean, Convenient? Look, we're down with renting apartments when traveling for a week or more, but we've also seen friends visiting New York subjected to unrelenting bar noise and questionable bathroom options when they've gone the sublet route. Which is why today we're going to get behind that most uncool of concepts: the extended stay hotel. With AKA Hotels' latest deal, it's pretty hard not to.
The AKA Summer in the City promotion offers 20% off for stays of seven nights or more between July 1—September 6. But it does require booking 21 days in advance, so start planning your summer sunning in Central Park pronto.
Ok, so the AKA Central Park is not as tall as The Plaza Hotel next door but the view from AKA's Penthouse suite does give you the chance to spy on hotel guests and gawk at the tourists milling about the front of the hotel. (If you see us in the window at The Plaza, yes, we're wearing pants.)
Another cool part of this killer view is that you're able to see the iconic Apple glass cube which is actually the entrance to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue.
The only downer here is that you need serious dough to spend the night, about $2,500.
So just in case you aren't flush with that kind of cash these days, we've decided to show you a mini-gallery which includes a shot from the wrap-around terrace's seating area. It's a Sweet Suite, a Killer View and a Hotel Rooftop story, all in one!
Welcome to our regular feature, Pitch Your Hotel, where we let hoteliers, general managers and other hotel execs tell us on-camera what makes their hotels so different from all the rest. And believe us, the competition is fierce these days. So sit back, relax and listen to them explain why their hotels are worthy of your hard-earned dollars or rewards points.
After we spent the night in the AKA Central Park, we got a tour of the hotel from the K in AKA, Larry Korman, who launched AKA Hotels in 2006. AKA is a play on the expression "also known as" but it can also stand for "Another Korman Accommodation" as it's a division of Korman communities, a larger real estate company.
As the founder, Larry is obviously very passionate about his properties but we were pleased to see that he was also extremely excited about them too. It's rare that you meet a hotelier who wants to show you every little nook and cranny of his hotel and can talk with just as much excitement about the small fitness center locker rooms as he can about the killer view from the AKA Central Park's penthouse suite, which overlooks the Plaza Hotel and Fifth Avenue.
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AKA Hotels --there are five in New York, one in Philly and two in the DC-area-- are hotels for the extended stay/business traveler and the room sizes range from studio suites to two bedroom suites with either half or full kitchens. Even better, just because you get more room doesn't mean you have to pay more as room rates start at $295 a night.
So what do you get for all this space? Let us tell you now.
Check-In: We arrived close to midnight in the pouring rain. There was no bellman to open the door or assist with luggage since the hotel has somewhat limited services at night. But this was fine with us. We lugged that bag through two airports and to the taxi stand at JFK. We were perfectly capable of pulling it through the hotel lobby. The front desk then checked us in with no problems and we were on our way to the 12th floor.