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By now, everyone knows that South by Southwest Festival is one of the busiest times of the year in Austin, and that if you want to stay in a hotel while you're there (as opposed to renting a place), you need to get on your horse and book early, probably about six months in advance. And, of course, you should expect inflated rates given the high demand.
But what else should you be considering? Do all the hotels become party venues? Are there nearby resorts within a short drive? Are group options available? We asked Shilpa Bakre of the Austin CVB some commonly asked questions that will help you plan your stay next March:
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / JW Marriott Hotels / Marriott Hotels / Austin Hotels / Fairmont Hotels / Westin Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Let superstition be damned: Marriott Hotels is taking Friday the 13th head on by opening its JW Marriott Austin tomorrow. The largest JW Marriott in the United States (1,012 guestrooms) and second largest in the world (largest being the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, because everything is bigger in Dubai), there are some dazzling stats that come with its size, but we’ve mostly focused on its walk-up burger window.
A King or Double-Queen Room is still available from $299 a night on opening day, of which the website currently only displays the above artist impression. We like the factory-style rolling doors that return in the headboard design, with the rest showing an expected subdued mix of blues, greys, whites, and browns.
The 1,000+ rooms on East Second Street are only the beginning of a highly-concentrated hotel boom for Austin, with another 1,400 rooms arriving within blocks of the JW Marriott. First up is The Westin Austin Downtown, now scheduled for July 16th on East 5th – a relative lightweight with only 326 rooms. It is making good on its promise of a 2015 opening though, which cannot be said of The Fairmont Austin, now pushed back to 2017, half a decade after it announced its 1,000+ room hotel.
Proper Hotels / Viceroy Hotels / Brad Korzen / Brian DeLowe / Austin Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / New Hotels / Hotel Hype / Hotel News / → All Tags
Lo and behold, Skift.com has picked up the official scoop on the new brand from Viceroy's founders. And brace yourselves. The new brand is called Proper Hotels, but surprisingly, it's not for millennials but rather folks used to boutique and lifestyle hotels, but more "high-end."
The new brand was created and is being fostered by Brad Korzen, the founder and former CEO of Viceroy (Proper, however, is not a part of Viceroy Hotel Group.) This is a good thing as everyone knows how much The Viceroy in Santa Monica changed the boutique game on the West Coast, bringing together high design, cool style and a sexy social scene. (Unfortunately, service was way off.)
Korzen is also keeping his wife, Kelly Wearstler, as interior designer for the brand. We enjoy Weartsler's colorful and whimsical style but she may need to dial it back a bit as Proper is going after the start-up crowd, who may not appreciate her luxe decor, oft mimicked by Real Housewife-types.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Let's talk about where Proper will open properly:
The JW Marriott Austin is set to open on February 13 and when it does it will be the largest JW Marriott in North America and the second-largest JW Marriott in the world with just over a 1,000 guest rooms.
That's all fine and good but we are far more excited for the planned Burger Bar on Congress restaurant, which is actually a walk-up food truck-style window . Burger Bar on Congress will be open at lunchtime and in the early evening and will serve the holy trinity of burgers, hand-cut fries and shakes.
Right now, we see no other reason to eat anywhere else when staying at the JW Marriott Austin but the hotel does have a few more restaurant options should you be sick of burgers. (Never!)
Jack and Marcus
If there’s anything that’ll make us fall for a hotel, it’s a hotel pet. And although Norman the Scooter Dog is a tough cute-hotel-doggy act to follow, here’s a worthy successor: Jack, the delectable Australian Shepherd here, who lives at the Lone Star Court, an old-motel-turned-retro-hotel in Austin.
Jack actually lives on site – above the front office with his GM roommate, Marcus Latner. But unlike you and me, Jack actually likes his roommate – so he spends the day on property, doing whatever Marcus is doing. Except, that is, when he’s chowing down on a deer antler (one that Marcus especially got for him, rather than the antler table lamps in the rooms).
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
The Four Seasons Austin got a jump on the holiday decorations last week, when they unveiled their Dr. Seuss-themed Gingerbread WhoVillage, a gingerbread replica of the town of Whoville from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Conceived by the hotel's pastry chefs back in August, the WhoVillage features a Mt. Crumpet, Cindy Lou Who's house, a giant Town Center Christmas Tree, a Welcome to Whoville Sign and a train that looks like the Grinch's stolen bag of toys.
All in all, the village features ten houses made entirely out of edible materials (each one also takes the team of pasty chefs about 30 hours to construct.) Additionally, each house is sold to a sponsor and the proceeds are donated to the Seton Shivers Cancer Center. Sorry, we don't think sponsors can eat the house until the display comes down on January 1st.
Hotel Deals / Hotel Promo Codes / Chicago Hotels / NFL Hotels / Austin Hotels / Music Festival Hotels / San Francisco Hotels / Maui Hotels / → All Tags
Deals: you want 'em, and surprisingly, everyone has 'em. Take a look at some of the latest hotel deals going around the internet today from booking sites, social media sites, flash sale sites and more. Don't forget to scroll down to see the HotelChatter-approved deal either. Who knows? You might just find what you're looking for. (But don't forget to tell us about your stay!)
DEALS, DEALS, DEALS*
· Bear Down Package at The Amalfi Hotel, Chicago: This one's for Da Bears...fans and enemies. The Amalfi Hotel's "Bear Down Package" includes overnight accommodations, complimentary deluxe continental breakfast before the Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field, a CTA pass (optional), a bucket of 6 domestic beers to celebrate (or mourn), a signature snack trio and a nightly manager's reception with complimentary Italian hors d'oeuvres. The package is available through January 4th. Go here to book or call the hotel at 312.395.9000 (Toll Free: 877.262.5341.) Use code BEAR-DOWN to book. Oh and here's the Chicago Bears home schedule just in case. We found a room for $294 next weekend when they take on the New Orleans Saints.
· Wander & Wonder at the Hotel Monaco San Francisco: The newly redesigned Hotel Monaco has a new Cal Academy package to go along with their new look. In addition to a pretty new room, the hotel will give you two adult general admission tickets to the California Academy of Sciences to check out the penguins, parrots and the albino alligator named Claude. Also included is two 3-day MUNI passes and a 20 percent discount off food at the Grand Cafe, adjacent to the hotel lobby. Go here to book an use promo code WANDER. The deal is valid until December 31st but a two-night minimum stay is required.
· Moment in Time at The Plantation Inn, Maui: The 19-room Plantation Inn is the sister B&B to the Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel, which features turn of the century architecture with modern amenities such as air conditioning and soundproofing. Plus, it's just two blocks from the beach. Now, the inn is offering a "Moment in Time" package that includes three nights in a Lanai category room, daily breakfast for two, dinner for two at Gerard's Restaurant, a bottle of champagne on arrival, his and hers Hawaiian robe keepsake and daily compact car rental (rental policy here.) The total for the package is $877 which is a savings of $237. But it's only available through December 19th. Go here to book.
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We've already had a busy morning as far as new hotels news goes. But there's even more. Here's a short list of new hotels coming to a city near you:
· Hotel Van Zandt, Austin: Kimpton Hotels will open a new hotel in Austin in 2015 in the city's historic Rainey Street District. The 16-story hotel will feature 322 guest rooms, over 12,000 square feet total event and meeting space, achef-driven restaurant, lobby cafe and pool deck and bar. Interior designer Mark Zeff will oversee the interior design of the Hotel Van Zandt and its restaurant. Kimpton has also made announcements for new properties in Savannah, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Palm Springs, Sedona and Grand Cayman so there will be lots more Kimptons to choose from in the coming years.
· Fairmont Austin: Speaking of Austin, construction should begin on the new Fairmont Hotel at 101.Red River Street later this fall, according to this report. The 1,000-room hotel will cost nearly half a billion to build and should open sometime in 2016.
· The Archer Napa: The Archer in New York City hasn't opened yet (that's happening early next year) but already they've announced a second Archer Hotel for Napa Valley. The Archer Napa will be a new-build luxury hotel at the First Street site of the former Merrill’s building, adjacent to The Shops at Napa Center. LogdeWorks and Zapolski Real Estate have partnered up on the seven-story property which will reflect "a casual elegance, organic to the Napa aesthetic. " No opening date has been set yet.
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In honor of St Patrick's Day coming up this Sunday, we thought we'd take a look back at a few hotels that just can't seem to catch a break. If any leprechauns are reading this right now, take note. You've got your work cut out for you!
#7: Le Parker Meridien.
We thought it was bad enough when a random construction accident managed to flood the entire Knave Cafe at LPM. But it turned out the hotel had more bad luck coming, when Hurricane Sandy tore through Manhattan, toppling a nearby crane, and causing Le Parker Meridien to be evacuated. Here's to a cheerier 2013.
#6: JW Marriott Chicago.
The JW Marriott Chicago made plenty of headlines (though not the good kind) this past fall when an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease claimed the lives of three guests who stayed there over the sumer. The Chicago Dept of Public Health reported that the hotel "fully cooperated with the ongoing investigation," and concluded by saying there was no further health threat at the hotel. Still, we're probably going to lay off those hot tub parties for a while.
#5: Revel Resort.
This $2.6 billion resort was supposed to be the saving grace of Atlantic City, but after barely a year of being open, it announced it was planning to file for bankruptcy. Ouch! Hurricane Sandy couldn't have helped things either. We feel like they need a lucky charm or something to bring them back from the dark side, but then again, if a four-night Beyonce run during opening weekend didn't manage to do it, we're not sure what will.
Four more unlucky hotels after the jump!
Hotel News / Austin Hotels / Historic Hotels / SXSW Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Hotel Rebrandings / → All Tags
As many people already know, Austin, TX is currently in the midst of the South By Southwest festival, in which music venues, event spaces, and, yes, hotels, are overrun with artists, musicians, filmmakers, tech start-up hopefuls, and pretty much anyone with a bent towards modern-day media culture.
Which makes this a pretty good time for Hyatt to announce their recent acquisition of the city's historic Driskill Hotel. The Statesman reports that Hyatt bought the iconic hotel (and classic SXSW celeb hangout) for $85 million, and plans to spend another $8 million renovating the place over the next two years.
Comprised of 189 rooms, and originally built in 1886, the Driskill occupies a bustling corner of downtown Austin and remains the city's most beloved historic hotel.
According to hotel lore, the original structure was named after Jesse Driskill, a cattleman who wanted to build the "finest hotel south of St. Louis." Looks like he had the right idea, as 126 years later, the hotel is not only thriving, but also incorporates its colorful past into its current identity (case in point: the Cattle Baron Suite).
A room at the Westin Austin at the Domain
2015 will be a busy year for Austin, Texas. We’ve looked at the 50-story Fairmont Austin that will add 1,000+ rooms on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Red River Streets, promising views-galore over Lady Bird Lake and the city. Another 1,000+ rooms come courtesy of the JW Marriott Austin, on Congress Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Starwood has just announced the Westin Austin Downtown, on East 5th and San Jacinto, opening in spring 2015. With its 326 rooms, that means hotel capacity will increase by a staggering 2,400 rooms within a five-block radius.
After a drawn-out renovation process that completely overhauled the top five floors of the building, Omni Austin has reconfigured its suite options, creating twenty-five new one-bedroom suites.
Though the hotel had previously offered suites, it nixed a bunch of the pre-existing two-bedroom suites in order to cut down on space that guests apparently weren't even using. Which sounds a little strange when we put it like that—Texas is generally known for doing everything bigger than the rest of the country. However, if it's a space efficiency issue, then we totally get it. Bigger is better, most of the time. Until, that is, you end up paying for extra beds you're not even sleeping in...