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For a healthy dose of historic charm, pleasant peninsular climate, and small scale Southern hospitality, Charleston, South Carolina is a tough act to follow. For three consecutive years Charleston has been named the No. 1 U.S. City by Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards, and the demand for rooms is just as hot.
Next Spring, there will be 41 more rooms to choose from with the opening of The Spectator Hotel in historic downtown Charleston.
The hotel, located at the corner of State Street and Linguard Street, is being developed by Jay Keenan and Batson Hewitt of Palmetto Commercial Properties, both longtime residents of Charleston. The hotel’s location is ideal for visitors—or anyone that likes to shop— being within earshot of the historic City Market, one of the oldest public markets in the country.
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Sometimes, hotel spas can get carried away with their descriptions of what they offer, romanticizing the service to death and making it seem like it belongs in land far, far away. Public relations and sales marketing in general is ridiculous, beckoning us to be “whisked away” and all that good stuff.
And that’s fine, because no one really pays much attention to it anyway. While a good sales pitch can certainly draw interest to a service, what we get for our money is what ultimately matters.
But just as we’ve seen examples of this fairy-tale marketing, we’ve also come across some properties that are going with the opposite strategy, offering massages and other treatments that make your eyes widen, your brows raise and for you to suddenly shout out, "You want me to pay for what?!"Below, we've collected a few of the stranger treatments currently being offered around the globe. We wonder: Do these turn you off, or does their extreme/wacky nature only make them more appealing? Geez, between the fire cupping and the snakes, the shrimp and grits facial is sounding better and better.
Because Charleston, South Carolina proper is a peninsula and surrounded on three sides by water, one would assume that setting up pretty much anywhere would put them within walking distance to the beach. A quick look at a map would confirm this belief. But, interestingly enough, those who stay at a hotel downtown will find themselves nowhere near the beach. Not even close.
The city might be on the water, but when it comes to sand between your toes and beach bars, downtown is the last place you want to be. That's not a complaint -- it's just a fair warning for first-time visitors. Downtown Charleston will satisfy historic, dining, window-shopping and nightlife needs, but guests of its hotels will have to make arrangements if it's the sand they're seeking (i.e. a rental car). If you're hanging out on the rooftop of the Market Pavilion Hotel, for example, you're a 20-30 minute drive to the beach in either direction.
But don't worry. Charleston's greater area is definitely packed with beach towns on a series of barrier islands, with lodging that varies across all price ranges. Here's a glance of where to stay at three of the more popular coastal destinations: Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island.
There’s nothing more beautiful than a wedding and we’ve covered many a good story here at HC. But then comes the tales of nuptials that go oh-so-wrong. And stories of nakedness. And when they mix? Whoa, daddy.
Take this OTT “Wedding Crashers”-like episode that occurred at a Charleston, South Carolina DoubleTree Hotel. 20-year old Samuel James Dengel was arrested and charged with indecent exposure after he flashed his genitals to the bride and groom during their ceremony this past weekend, according to the Daily Mail and Philly.com stories.
The mother-of-the-bride told officers she saw a naked man in the window of the hotel room at the DoubleTree Hotel where the wedding party had assembled. Dengel was apparently easy to identify due to a large tattoo on his back which he’d been showing guests earlier that day, even though he supposedly wasn't a guest of bride or groom. Written in Latin, the tattoo "Vi very veniversum virus" supposedly translates to 'By the Power of Truth, I, while living, have Conquered the Universe.' Mmkay. But, wait, there's more.
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Omni Hotels has been busy down in South Carolina securing the re-branding of its newest property: the Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort. Changes to the hotel will come gradually: starting first with the name change.
Though Omni's sibling company, Allegiance Hospitality, has managed the resort since 2003, now the whole place rests in Omni's hands. The current $18 million renovation, which will last through 2013, is intended to better "showcase the natural beauty of the resort." Which could mean anything really, but we're hoping for more windows that look out onto the ocean for better views. Meanwhile, time will also be devoted to the Courtyard area between the resort and the beach, as well as the pool area.
It's always a gift to find a local hotel with a good "story." Here in Charleston, SC, where we've spent the past weekend island-hopping (unfortunately, not hotel-related), we were tipped off to a small, 15-room hotel on King St—the city's main shopping strip—known as Restoration on King. And despite other, better-known places located nearby, Restoration on King has been making waves based on one major advantage: huge, loft-style rooms that actually resemble lofts.
Certain NYC hotels have claimed to model their rooms on basic loft designs—in some cases, even incorporating the word into the name of the hotel. But here's the main difference: the rooms at Restoration on King, were originally built as private condos, and only later re-purposed as hotel rooms. So between the washer-dryer machines and full kitchens, guests have more space than they could ever know what to do with. Click below for pics of the rooms!
You know the scene. You open the door to your brand new hotel room, run over to the window, open the blinds and bam, you are hit with the anti-view. Maybe you are looking down a dirty alley, witnessing a drug deal, staring at an air shaft in the face, or seeing a brick wall. Whatever you are viewing it is not extremely pleasurable. Help out your fellow hotel mavens by uploading your anti-views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number with the not-so-easy-on-the-eyes view.
Truthfully, this view from the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel in South Carolina is not horrendous, but we were disappointed to see that a hotel in the historic district of a picturesque city like Charleston can't avoid the dreaded rooftop view.
That's what Flickr member Mr. T. in DC saw during his stay at the Renaissance last year. But aside from a typo on a note from housekeeping, Mr. T. in DC said his stay was "quite pleasant." Room rates at the Renaissance start at $209 a night.
We've kicked off our Summer Cocktails series where we profile fun new summer drinks that hotels are making. Got one we should know about? Send us the recipe with a photo of the drink. Otherwise, enjoy and @reply us when you're wasted!
This drink is the kind of drink that makes us wanna head to Charleston and the spend the afternoon just soaking up the Southern sunshine and hospitality. The Endless Summer is served at the Peninsula Grill at the Planters Inn, a luxury boutique hotel (only 64 rooms!) set within a restored historic building in the middle of Charleston.
The Endless Summer is mostly sweet (as it should be), made with Bacardi Silver, watermelon juice, lemon juice and a little bit of sprite. And it's only $10. So you could almost make this an endless drink as well. (Not that we here at HotelChatter advocate binge-drinking or anything!) Once you've had your fill at the Peninsula Grill (named “Charleston’s Best Restaurant” nine years in a row) get a room at the hotel. Summer specials start at $199 this summer for a superior queen room.
Wanna take the Endless Summer home with you? We've got the recipe for you below.
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We spoke to Brian Harris, the General Manager of the Aloft Charleston who said:
"We had well over 500 guests throughout the night, who all loved the hotel. A lot of people said it reminds them of being in New York City or Miami and is a nice change from the more traditional hotels that Charleston is known for."
The cocktail-sipping, scooner-sailing prepsters up in New England have nothing on the quail hunting, plantation dwelling WASPs living south of the Mason Dixon line. Charleston, S.C. could claim their headquarters. As famous travel writer Bill Bryson remarked of the city in his road-trip book The Lost Continent:
I walked away the afternoon, up and down the peaceful streets, secretly admiring all these impossibly happy and good-looking people and their wonderful homes and rich, perfect lives.
Where do the southern elite stay when visiting their Mecca? Well, HarbourView Inn, of course. They provide the hourly feedings that the aristocracy needs to maintain its indulgent lifestyle. Complimentary treats include flavored ice teas in the lobby, an afternoon wine and cheese reception, and freshly baked cookies and milk every evening.
Rooms come with four-poster beds with tempur-pedic mattresses, flat panel LCD TVs, and original artwork throughout. Best of all, it's only a few blocks from the restaurants, historic homes, and tour companies of Market Street.
· WASP Hotels [HotelChatter]