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The Ritz-Carlton Closes MoBay: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is certainly making big moves these days. First vacating Palm Beach and Dublin, and today after nearly 13 years in operation, the corporation ceased management of the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica. The 427-room Montego Bay hotel, one of the region’s most famous, was originally rumored to be sold to Playa Resorts. However, in May, the company issued a statement saying the information was premature.
Word on the street is the hotel will open in the 2013-2014 winter season as a Park Hyatt, the first Hyatt brand in Jamaica and renovations will include adding more than 100 suites. However, at this time there is no mention of the property or this news on the Hyatt website. It appears this is as much of a mystery as the legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall, a famous Jamaican ghost story.
Kimpton Hotels have long been open in the big cities--San Fran, NYC, Miami, Chicago, DC, etc--but the friendly boutique brand is getting serious about its resort offerings now that they've just announced their first-ever Caribbean property in the Cayman Islands.
Set to open in 2016, the 263-room hotel will sit on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman and will feature a whopping five restaurants and lounges, a cascading oceanfront pool, a destination spa, six beachfront bungalows and 56 residences. Dart Realty (Cayman), Ltd., a subsidiary of Dart Enterprises, is the developer behind the project with SB Architects, Powerstrip Studio and Mark Zeff Design handling the architecture and interior design.
While Kimpton will have some serious competition from the nearby Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Westin, they will have an advantage if they continue to offer up free WiFi for their Kimpton InTouch members. The other hotels currently charge for internet through resort fees. We're not sure if Kimpton plans to charge one of those pesky fees but this will be a resort and it is the Caribbean and hey, someone's gotta pay for that cascading oceanfront pool. We just hope the rates stay "friendly" as well, like $200 a night.
Is The Olive Hotel Spicy Enough For You? A HotelChatter Review
Nearly a year ago to the day we wrote about a new boutique hotel coming to Puerto Rico and we were super excited. It had been a while since the popular island introduced a new development, so it was most welcome. Since then, the Olive Hotel has remained one of those hidden secrets, which we can appreciate. Still, people ought to know more about this sexy spot that was recently visited by brunette bombshell Roselyn Sanchez, who just launched a television series produced by Eva Longoria and starring Judy Reyes, Ana Ortiz and Susan Lucci, called 'Devious Maids'. Oh, and we stopped by, too.
Lobby Layout: Upon walking in the Olive, you get the feeling you’ve just stepped into someone’s living room. And in a way you have. The small, but heavily decorated space is filled with treasures from the owners travels. We were looking right, left, up and down at the paintings and unusual artifacts. It also happens that the Olive has a sister hotel, the budget-friendly Hostería del Mar, where you can find more of the owners eclectic collection.
Checking In: Check-in was swift and accompanied by a glass of wine (hola!), which we weren’t mad at. We were handled an old-fashioned tasseled key and led via elevator up to our room.
Room Reaction: When we first mentioned the opening of this hotel and showed the first images, we thought the rooms would be huge. Well, our room was a mite smaller than what we expected. In fact, it was called a petit chambre . One could touch the shower wall from the bed, and the sink was outside of the toilet. Definitely the European style the website described, still, the open-design did take us off guard at first.
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Matachica in Belize is all about the chill, at a great rate...
The great thing about traveling to the Caribbean now through December is that rates are least 40%, below high season rates. Sometimes even more than that. And face it, this is the time of year when most folks are taking their vacations anyway, so you may as well go somewhere that’s inexpensive, right?
We've got 5 Caribbean hotels that are pretty easy on the budget year-round, but are an even better deal now. So, pack your strongest SPF (those sun rays are HOT) and shades and get island bound with the quickness.
This Starwood brand is new to Cancún, and opened just a week ago, so things are likely in tip-top condition. This is pretty important in hotel-glut filled Cancún, where choices can sometimes be hit or miss. We’re also happy to see the Aloft favorites such as the w xyz bar, the 24/7 pantry fuel by Aloft and re:mix lounge, where we are certain the DJ will make sure to remind you you’re in Mexico with some serious salsa beats (and don't forget to drink tequila too!) It should go without saying—but the free WiFi is a plus. Coming soon will be a rooftop pool, but for now you’ll have to walk about five minutes to the beach and the sparkling blue sea. But at these rates, it’s no problema. Rates from $99 per night.
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What’s Out: Chocolates on your pillow
What’s In: Over the top, fun and experiential turn-down services
Everyone loves coming back to their room after a nice dinner out to find that little chocolate sitting on their pillow, right? If you like that, though, you’re going to love this. Some hotels are going out of their way to make sure that you have really sweet dreams with these OTT nighty-night rituals.
Hotel Vermont offers a special “bedtime menu” that includes such delights as a selection of Vermont flannel pyjamas to snuggle up in on a brisk night, local Lunaroma aromatherapy products from which you can choose, a Vermont teddy bear (your choice of six) to sleep with or take home, a selection of bedtime stories for the little ones, a locally-inspired Hot Toddy selection, and 10-15 minute in-room meditation sessions via TV or download.
In Fairmont Gold rooms at Boston’s Fairmont Battery Wharf, you get a message in a bottle with top things to do in Boston during that particular time of the year.
Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles International Airport is more than an ordinary airport hotel. It’s known by some to be the original beer hotel and has an enormous beer selection featuring over 100 beers, a poolside bar dedicated solely to local beers, monthly beer appreciation nights and it even has a Beer Advisory Board and a Director of Brewer Relations. If all of that beer surrounding you has made you thirsty for more, you can order a Beer Club Package that includes stocking the in-room mini fridge with your choice of three of your favorite beers and a nightly beer turndown with souvenir glass.
Three more hotels with bedtime treats follow!
While one part of the country seems to still be suffering with snow, the other part is at last enjoying decent weather. What does that mean? Everyone's in the mood to think about vacations.
We have our handy-dandy Caribbean Guide, fantastic European picks, and even the most anticipated hotel openings, so you've got a lot of choices to fantasize over. But be honest, many of you are dreaming of sun, sand, and sea. We are too, so that's why we're excited for a new resort--Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa.
Technically this is a renovation of the old all-inclusive LaSource resort, which we visited a few years ago. Honestly? We're happy it's getting new blood pumped into it because it was looking pretty damned sad. Big Daddy Caribbean company Sandals slapped a cool $19 million on the table offered to take over the resort. LaSource was smart enough to say "yeah, mon".
Sandals CEO Adam Stewart said in a conference that this resort will "blow your mind." We believe him, and here's why.
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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: Windsurfing and jet skis
What’s In: Stand up paddle boarding (SUP)
As synchronized swimming fell out of favor after the 1950s and windsurfing mania waned in the 1990s, another wet trend has emerged: Paddle boarding. And with so many hotels getting in on the action and upping the game (yoga paddle boarding, anyone?), we think it may just be here for awhile.
For the luxury crowd, Raffles Praslin Seychelles offers complimentary stand up paddle boarding so guests can take in the stunning Indian Ocean scenery. If your main goal is to simply enjoy the Seychelles' waters aboveboard and not below, the resort also launched hourly lessons for new users, with an expert teaching you the proper way to stand on the board, keep balance and paddle (what -- all at the same time??).
Another luxe resort, the Paresa Resort in Phuket, Thailand offers straight-up SUP, but then raises the challenge level by combining stand up paddle boarding with yoga. Their “Yoga on the Ocean” program begins at sunrise or sunset when you paddle your board out on the indigo Andaman Sea and enjoy a yoga class floating on your watery yoga mat.
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Who says beer-drinking beach bums can't be productive? Jimmy Buffett continues to turn his passion into a profitable career, one that looks like it will outlast his singing voice (love the guy, but man, he's really going on reputation now, don't you think?).
Buffett announced on his website last week that he has teamed up with Wyndham to open a 262-unit timeshare resort on the USVI island of St. Thomas, at the former location of the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort in Smith Bay. While Buffett has two other properties - the Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola and one coming in Louisiana - this will be his first in an area that has been the bread and butter of his image: The Caribbean.
And it makes sense, essentially since Buffett specifically said that it was all about appealing to his fan base, aka his "Parrot Heads." "We sell escapism," he told the Virgin Island Daily News. "(Fans have) been escaping through our music for so long, this is a real place on the beach, Margaritaville. It's about appealing to the people who've been fans for so long."
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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*
· Passover Pick in Miami: Last week we focused on some Easter hotels. This week we have a spot for Passover which begins on March 24-The Alexander Hotel in Miami Beach. The all-suite hotel Passover package includes two lavish seders, three upscale meals and tea daily, late night buffet, a BBQ extravaganza, a daily minyanim, a Shabbat elevator and more. You can see the entire breakdown of rates and dates (especially what it will cost if you have kids) on this helpful PDF. Once you've made up your mind, go here to book.
· Viceroy Hotels Flash Sale: The Viceroy Hotel Group is in the midst of a seven day sale for nearly all of their properties from Anguilla to Beverly Hills, San Francisco, New York, Maldives and even Abu Dhabi. Most deals start with 15 percent off the best available rate and include varying amounts of hotel credits per night. The sale ends at 11:59EST on March 24. Go here to book.
· $83 April Fool's Rate at Sheraton New Orleans: No kidding, the Sheraton New Orleans is dropping its pants, er, rates to $83 a night on April 1. For real! Why the $83 rate? That's because the hotel first opened to guests on April 1, 1983. Now the Canal Street hotel is sporting a grand new look thanks to a recently completed a $50 million renovation. To get your $83 room rate, call 1-888-627-7033 and mention promotion code NOFOOL. Regular rooms start at $129. Oh and if you somehow saved your receipt from your stay at the hotel in April 1983, you will get a three-day stay at the $83 rate. You must show your historic receipt upon check-in to redeem the offer.
· Soft Opening Discount at New Caribbean Resort: Las Verandas Hotel and Villas on the Western Caribbean island of Roatán (off the coast of Honduras) just opened on March 1 with 60 luxury rooms, 32 free-standing villas and a 6,000-sq.ft. spa. The resort will fully open in July but from now through May 31st, you can score a 30 percent discount. Rates for golf course rooms start at $295 a night before discounts. Ocean view rooms are $325 a night, also before discounts. So when you call 1-855-224-6620 to book, ask for the soft opening rate to get the 30 percent off. 30% off all rack rates for stays during March 1 to May 31, 2013.
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We pumped up its waterpark and appeal to children in our , but now the family-oriented Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa is continuing its expansion, opening a new Key West Luxury Village on May 22nd, just in time for the summer-vacation set.
The new area will join the already existing Caribbean, French, and Italian villages, and add approximately 150 rooms, suites, and villas along with three additional restaurants. Given the three other themes, one thing that jumps out is that 'Key West' is a pretty specific location.
If Beaches Turks & Caicos keeps this up, it'll be the Caribbean version of Dubailand in no time. They opened the Italian Village in 2009 and the French in 2000. Beaches said families are still its target with Key West's multi-bedroom villas that "can accommodate growing families, multi-generational travel, and trends of friends vacationing together with their family."
Here are a few first-glimpse photos of the new Key West Village.
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Last week we started a new weekly 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: Cooking classes
What’s In: Creative classes
Not so very long ago, we realized that more and more hotels the world over were bringing in art concierges to help guide you through their hotel’s art collection, or to steer you in the right direction if you wanted to take in the local art scene or perhaps buy a couple of noteworthy pieces from local artistes. Well some hotels have taken this further and are hooking their guests up with local artists to give them a hands-on experience with the added bonus of giving you a pretty nifty souvenir to bring home.
Here are some prime examples:
Readers of Jaunted know that Maho Beach in St. Maarten is well known for being an aerial playground of sorts, for giving visitors a close encounter with aircraft unlike any other thanks to Princess Juliana Airport's short, beachside runway. First-time visitors flock to see it for themselves, and most tend to return because it is, truthfully, a really amazing experience.
Last week, we set out to find the best spot to "plane spot" in the area. While standing on the beach as a 747 lands on your head is thrilling and a must-do (as well as standing behind one as it takes off), it turns out the best place might be the least social: Our room at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort.
As you see, the view from our 8th floor room was more than incredible. Not only could we see the entire property (great people watching), but Maho Bay and the incoming planes were also right in our line of sight. Don't even get us started on the sunset -- ridiculously epic.