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The Regent Montenegro
There’s tons of hotel news flying around at the moment, so we have another roundup of news bites for you today to get you up to speed on the latest from Oman to Cambodia and China to Argentina.
Starting with the Arab sultanate of Oman, its newspaper Muscat Daily (Muscat is the capital) reports that the country will have the first Aman Resort in the Middle East, in the remote coastal town of Shuwaimiya. The developer of the eco-resort has confirmed Aman Resorts will open, with the hotel group so far taking a confirm-nor-deny approach. Whether or not it will be the first in the Middle East remains to be seen, based on what we hear about an opening in Jordan.
We’ve past the midway point of 2013 already, and the hotel world still has some substantial work to do if it is going to live up to all the planned/promised openings for this year. Park Hyatt did its part at the beginning of this month with the opening of its hotel in Siem Reap, the gateway city to the Angkor region in Cambodia.
While it may have shortened the list of openings by one, it has just as fast made our personal list of hotels to visit longer: fashioned out of the classic Hotel de la Paix, there are 108 super stylish rooms around a central courtyard with an ancient Banyan Tree, and gardens that contain an equally stylish free-form swimming pool.
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It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local" bar. So all this week, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our first-ever Hotel Cocktail Week. All this week, we'll be posting specialty drinks, booze trends, mixology tips and most importantly, drinks recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. Everyone will be getting tipsy this week! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Raffles Singapore, the place where the famed Singapore Sling was created, has launched a cocktail menu designed to take you around the world while you still remain seated and sipping in their Long Bar, god bless ‘em.
Resident mixologist, Randolph Velasco, has come up with eight spiritus drinks inspired by a Raffles hotel destination, so come join us as we embark on our virtual journey through time and space. First stop? Seychelles.
The Seychelles conjures images of an island paradise with deep blue skies, sultry breezes and emerald seas. No surprise, then, that the Raffles Seychelles cocktail is an emerald green beauty created by combining Smirnoff Vodka with melon-flavored Midori and tangy Apple Sourz, then topped off with apple juice. Garnished with slices of star fruit and a lemon wedge, this is a sipper meant to be sipped in a rattan chair with one of those tropical ceiling fans swooshing slowly overhead.
Next, we go to Raffles Cambodia –- specifically, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Using the Kingdom’s national fruit, the five finger banana (who knew?), this golden concoction consists of rum, banana and pineapple juice, but it’s the finishing touch of zesty kaffir and fresh, green pandan leaves (a herbaceous tropical plant) that gives this drink its aromatic and mysterious character.
The Raffles Philippines takes you to the newly-opened Raffles Makati in the heart of Manila’s financial district. A mix of Bacardi rum, juicy mango and pineapple are enhanced by a mere suggestion of basil and the tart, citrus flavor of calamansi, a wee fruit that bears a resemblance to a lime but is about the size of a kumquat. Calamansi is supposed to have some health benefits, so drink up.
Raffles Istanbul anticipates the opening of Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center in late 2013 (no date as of yet) with a cocktail that evokes the complex flavors of Turkish coffee. Rich Kahlua is layered with potent Pisco, fresh lime juice and anise to create a boozy drink not quite appropriate for the morning but it does kinda taste like coffee, so we’ll leave it up to you. (Recipe below!)
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We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Hotel-recommended city tours
What’s In: Hotel-led cultural immersions
Hotels are taking a lead in ensuring guests remember that they’re actually in a foreign city when they travel. Except for some solid holdouts, gone are the days when you walk into your hotel in Amsterdam, say, and you could just as easily be in Istanbul or Portland. Whether through design details, cuisine or cultural tours, hotels are proudly showing their roots.
The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui offers guests a full gamut of authentic Hawaiian experiences led by the hotel’s full-time Cultural Coach. Not only can you explore some historical sites, you can learn the basics of Hawaiian paddling and the canoe's importance to the culture, the uses of native and non-native plants by the Hawaiian people, plus the history of the Hawaiian language, which you can then try to pronounce what seems to be unpronounceable. Rates at the resort start at $519.
The Goring –- the hotel with the Royal Warrant –- is launching their High Days and Holidays walking tours. Six tailor-made tours, all celebrating special occasions (or High Days in London-speak), were designed by Art History UK’s founder Rose Balston. Art’s on the menu but, as Rose says, “Think juicy tales, conversation, challenging ideas and plenty of hidden corners of London, past and present…” We’re talking tours that include dragons, pagan rituals, ghosts and treason. Does it get any better? Rates for the package start at 595 GBP ($902).
After a weekend of snow and cold, you might be looking for your escape to warmer temps and relaxing atmosphere. Imagine trading your snow shovel for a snorkel and boots for a bikini (or board shorts) and head to a private island off the coast of Cambodia. The ultra-luxury Song Saa Resort has your cure for not only winter doldrums, but year round stress.
Cambodia's first private island luxury resort will be setting the tone for resorts to come with their private villas perched over a marine reserve. Technically, it isn't a private island since it spans over 2 separate islands that are connected by a foot bridge, but it most definitely is private and luxurious.
Each of the 27 villas are inspired by Cambodian fishing villages, and the resort features beach-side, rainforest and over-water buildings. Unique in their own way, every one boasts thatch roofs, rough-hewn natural timbers and driftwood furnishings. Imagine waking to the gentle sound of the sea directly below your bed and soaking up the 360-degree views of the Gulf of Thailand. Yeah, this is paradise.
...the Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia! We got sent a photo yesterday of their colorful, bright, silk-adorned tree, which manages to make our tree at home look about as elegant as a bundle of twigs with a star on top.
But then again, we don't normally hire a Paris-educated couturier to design our tree, now do we?
Internationally-acclaimed designer Eric Raisina, who relocated to Siam Reap because of the region's native silk, and who has created textiles for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix, decided to use the lotus flower as his inspiration for the tree, citing its associations with "purity." Hats off to him, because this is definitely one of the coolest trees we've seen yet, with its bright blossoms and irregular shape, looking like it sprouted straight out of the hotel lobby floor.
All this week, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen will be taking us on a guided tour of the globe’s most exclusive, luxurious, over-the-top vacation retreats in our new Private Islands Series. We’ll venture from the Bahamas to Fiji, from Africa’s crystalline Lake Tanganyika to the emerald waters of Cambodia, and everywhere in between. That is, everywhere you can be ruler of your own little island.
Last month we told you about a resort in Cambodia's jungle hinterlands in our Glamping Series, but since this week we're heading to the tiny country's undiscovered islands for a preview of the next exclusive resort in our series on Private Islands. Song Saa started construction last March, and won't be open until November, but that doesn't mean we can't tell you all about it and stoke your wanderlust with a few choice photos.
All this week, we’ll be trekking across the globe with HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen as he tells us about the most exciting new glamping experiences out there. From the savannahs of Africa to the shores of Western Australia to the peaks of Patagonia, this is a full-fledged, five-star adventure to the most thrilling and luxurious camping resorts in the world.
So far this week, we’ve been to the savannahs of Africa, the Western Australia beach, the mountains of Patagonia and the Dubai desert. For the final installment of this edition of our Glamping Series we travel to the jungly hinterlands of the Cambodia-Thailand border…and the watery wonder that is the Four Rivers Floating Lodge.
A few weeks ago, we discussed the merits of Hotel De La Paix from afar. This week, we had the chance to step inside the hotel and snoop around. Despite a distinct feeling of inferiority like only the French can impose, the experience was pretty sweet.
Our takeaway? Other than enjoying the avant garde installations in the hotel's swank lounge and discussing with a cocktail waitress the myriad wildlife living in the giant Bayon tree in the center of the hotel's courtyard, the thing we most enjoyed about the place was its pool. This thing is ridiculous.
Hidden on the hotel's second floor, it has everything: a bridge, an infinity ledge overlooking the ground-floor courtyard, poolside beds and cabanas, benches and tables in the water, and a series of tree-laden canals that made us wonder how many lovers have taken advantage of the privacy all the nooks and crannies afford.
Whereas the rest of the hotel has this understated, Egypt-meets-Art-Deco feel to it, everything about the pool is over the top. And we like it.
Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor provides what's expected of it...no more and no less. Like Amansara nearby, the hotel focuses on understatement to liken itself to royal tastes and emphasize its subtle class. The hotel's sterile, colonial exterior continues inside the building's hallways and guest rooms. The result is a removed feeling from the air and bustle of Siem Reap--welcome to some and disconcerting to others.
Still, it's the best way to see how high society of yesterday (and today) experience Angkor, from a safe, removed distance. The newly-built extension continues the hotel's austere feel that the more critical might (and do) call "uninspired." The rear gardens resemble a place where Queen Elizabeth might let her basset hounds roam. And the buiscuits served at tea resemble something she might serve her guests, though the confections seem a bit too rich for such a disciplined woman.
La Residence D'Angkor is Siem Reap's greenest and wettest hotel. And as of August 1, the place just got greener and wetter. La Residence reopened after a three-month revamp. Orient-Express, which owns the hotel, brought in Pascal Deyrolle, a 16-year veteran manager with the company specializing in "troubled properties."
Pascal added even more trees to the already dense foliage, he says, updated the grounds' many ponds, redecorated the outdoor lounge terrace, and added a new outdoor BBQ spot (complete with $50 imported Australian steaks). To hammer the theme home, guests receive complimentary coconut-flavored, green welcome cocktails.
And Pascal has more grand plans for the hotel, he tells Hotelchatter. While a few guests right now have to suffer through the adjacent construction, by next year, the hotel will feature a multi-story spa with VIP treatment rooms.
He's also adding eight new suites, with indoor/outdoor spa bathtubs. And with all the new trees, nobody swimming down at the saltwater pool below can see how you choose to use this amenity.
More than eight million tourists visit Angkor Wat annually. The innumerable hotels in Siem Reap, the neighboring town that houses and feeds these visitors, all seem to shout for market share. Cheapest! Priciest! Best Golf Course!
Undoubtedly, Angkor Century Resort & Spa, yells the loudest. It's by far the largest hotel in Siem Reap, in terms of the size of its ground--2.4 hectares--and its number of rooms--190. Even the swimming pool is the biggest in town, the hotel's friendly Malaysian manager informed us.