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OhEmGee. There is already so much hotel news flying around this week and it's ONLY MONDAY. Needless to say, we just don't have enough time to focus on all of it. So here's a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
· FAIRMONT NO LONGER IN PLACE AT BOSTON'S BATTERY WHARF HOTEL : The Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston was recently sold and the Fairmont brand was ousted as of October 27. The hotel will now be known as The Battery Wharf Hotel & Spa. It will be managed by a Canadian company, Westmont Hospitality Group.
· FAIRMONT ALSO HAVING ISSUES IN BERMUDA BUT PICKS UP BARCELONA: Just after the $90 million redevelopment of The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, and their brand new marina, The Princess Marina, the hotel's owners are now trying to ditch the Fairmont brand. A report came out today about a lawsuit filed in NYC by the hotel's owners and as expected for these type of owner-manager lawsuits, it's not pretty. Read the full list of accusations, and Fairmont's response, here. Meanwhile, Fairmont has announced they will pick up the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona.
· ANOTHER AC HOTEL BY MARRIOTT IN THE WORKS: We're closing in on the grand opening of the first AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. (in New Orleans) but we've got a tip on another AC location. Sorry, it's not as exciting as NOLA. Woodbine Development, Inc is bringing the AC brand to the Park Place Development in Irvine, Calif.
Charges for keeping your own stuff in the hotel minibar – that’s so Vegas. Our sister site VegasChatter spotted a $50 “restocking fee” at MGM Grand last year, and the story went round again last month at MGM’s sister property Mandalay Bay.
But a “corkage fee” for merely having a bottle of water in your room? Now that’s a new one.
This was a note we saw in the info book at the Fairmont Monte Carlo when we stayed earlier this year. The Fairmont is one of Monaco’s iconic hotels, right on the Mediterranean. At check in, we were impressed that staff went out of their way to tell us that we should sign up for the President’s Club in order to get free WiFi (if you can’t be bothered to do it now, do it at some point during your stay and we’ll take the charge off at check out, they said, which was awesome).
And then we stumbled upon this note. This penny-pinching, parsimonious note. “A corkage fee will be charged on an item purchased outside and consumed at the hotel”, it said. €15 for champagne and spirits. €10 for wine. €5 for soft drinks and water – water! Not bottles illicitly stored in the minibar, remember – bottles merely kept in the room.
There are so many problems with this. For starters, the sign wasn’t prominent – it was buried in the info guide, which is only read properly by geeks like us. Not a peep on the minibar, not a squeak on the bedside table.
For another, how can the hotel distinguish between drinks consumed in-room and bottles from drinks you bought earlier and didn’t bother to throw away? Chuck out that empty bottle of water in your bag you’ve been carrying around all day, and suddenly it’s chargeable.
Celebrity Scoop / Oprah Winfrey / Fairmont Hotels / Sweet Suites / Washington DC Hotels / → All Tags
...keep track of the visions in her eyes?
Spies told the paper that Oprah trooped down to the Balance Gym at the Fairmont Washington DC in Georgetown and hit the treadmill.
Sporting black athletic pants and a pink top, Winfrey was all smiles and friendly to fellow patrons, we’re told. The only clue that this wasn’t your typical convention attendee burning off last night’s buffet dinner in between sessions: the Divine Ms. O wore fashionable dark sunglasses during her session, spies say.
From now on, we will be wearing sunglasses in the hotel gym. Fake it 'til you make it, ladies! At the very least, it will help us feel slightly less mortified about tripping over the equipment in front of everyone (this actually happened to us last week.)
We've been longtime lovers of The Plaza Hotel in New York, even after the hotel was renovated and turned into a branded Fairmont Hotel with residences. But we had no idea The Plaza had such a racy side.
When Donald Trump owned The Plaza Hotel from 1988 to 1995, the Polynesian restaurant in their basement briefly ran a weekly Sunday night GAY PARTY called "GAUGUIN"! I know, because I used to attend it.
I unfortunately cannot remember the exact year it operated this party but I do remember the exotic Polynesian decor & the fruit-infused tropical drinks served. This short-lived party ended after some fights broke out at closing time & the restaurant's liquor license was threatened with being revoked.
That's a fascinating description (oh, how we wish we could have been there if not for our geometry homework!) but it's not quite accurate.
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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." So all this week and next, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our second Hotel Cocktail Week(s) -- newly-expanded because there’s just so many drinks to share. We'll be posting quirky cocktails, boozy trends, unique menus and even recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. We expect everyone will be getting a bit tipsy over the next couple of weeks! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
There are some cocktails in this world that make you go, “Really?” Here are a few that fall into this category, proving that some things are best left for the experts to come up with.
This savory concoction comes from Shangri-La, At The Shard’s GŎNG. It contains Scotch – good; sherry – OK; blue cheese – what the?; and chocolate bitters. Really? All we can say is that we’re going to London soon and you can bet we’re making a pit stop here to see if it can actually be done.
Black and Blue Swizzle
1.5 oz Talisker 10 Years
1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez Sherry
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz honey-blue cheese mix (method below)
1 drop Mozart Chocolate Bitter
To make the honey-blue cheese mix:
Add 2:1* honey syrup and 200g crumbled blue Stilton into a saucepan over medium heat and let the syrup simmer for a while (do not let it boil). Use a blender to make sure the cheese and honey are combined. It’s recommended to fine strain the syrup before usage.
Pour all of the ingredients into a copper mug and add crushed ice. Use a swizzle stick to blend the drink and crushed ice until the outside of the mug is frosted. A spoon can be used if you can't get hold of a swizzle stick.
Top up with fresh crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves, orange peel and cinnamon crumbles.
*A 2:1 (sugar/honey to water) is often referred to as rich simple syrup. The 2:1 ratio often gives the cocktail a better mouth feel and less is needed since it’s richer. It also lasts longer before spoiling.
Cost to imbibe at the hotel: £17 ($28)
Cost to stay at the hotel because you've imbibed too much: £500 ($834)
A strange email popped into our (personal) inbox the other week. The sender called itself “Hotel Naming Study”, and it purported to be from polling company YouGov, on behalf of Fairmont Hotels. “With your input they can continue offering unique experiences designed around your travel needs,” it said. Spam or real? We clicked.
”We are interested in your opinions on potential names that have been created for a new program,” it said. “On the following seven screens, you will see a total of seven names. Please use a few lines to describe what associations come to mind.”
What excitement! What new program, and what new names? We could hardly wait. Until we clicked through. The seven names under consideration were:
Hotel Board Games / Manhattan Hotels / Fairmont Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Eloise / Historic Hotels / Central Park Hotels / → All Tags
Looking for a new board game to play during rainy days this summer? If you're a hotel nerd like us, then look no further than the Plaza-opoly from The Plaza Hotel in New York.
The iconic hotel has created its own version of the famous Monopoly game using Plaza-inspired instructions, themed board spaces, and game tokens inspired by residents and amenities of the hotel (Eloise's dog Weenie, a champagne bottle and a tea cup). Here's how the game kicks off:
After checking in at the Front Desk, players roll the dice to move around the entire board and begin their journey through the wondrous world of The Plaza via The Rose Club, The Eloise Suite, The Plaza Food Hall and even Home Alone 2-- a pop culture favorite filmed at the hotel.
Players can take their winnings straight to the bank and purchase their favorite Plaza destinations such The Champagne Bar, explore The Great Gatsby in The Fitzgerald Suite, The Grand Ballroom and The Shinn Murals. Each space has a corresponding Title Deed Card that provides a value and details of each of the location.
Gamers are further drawn into the world of The Plaza with cards such as “Order Room Service,” “Carriage Ride in Central Park,” The Grand Army Plaza and more. However, gamers have to play their cards right to avoid being sent to Hotel Security.
And whoever picks up the most expensive suites and other themed spaces, wins.
Hotel Renovations / Fairmont Hotels / Hotel Design / Canada Hotels / Quebec Hotels / Quebec City Hotels / → All Tags
If you’ve never been to this Gothic revival-style grand hotel dominating Québec City’s skyline, you should know that renovating Le Château Frontenac would be like renovating a castle (the hotel even has ramparts!). But renovate they did and paid the princely price of $75 mill to revamp the 611-room, 120-year-old property. Wowza!
Compared to when this writer last stayed at the hotel about seven years ago, the lobby-to-roof reno looks to have kept the property’s elegant classical interior while updating textures and adding a more contemporary color palette.
Some of the nifty new things include the changes made to the Fairmont Gold level, Fairmont’s version of the Club Level. The room count went from 45 to 60 rooms and the private lounge – with dedicated concierge, morning breaky, evening hors d’oeuvres, and honor bar – has been consequently expanded and gussied up.
Given that both companies share a common investor--Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal--a merger isn't that surprising. Indeed, whispers on the inside of one of the tony hotel brands is that the merger is likely, although still nothing's been confirmed.
But when it does happen, we're extremely curious about how it will happen. Our source says the two companies will operate separately but does that ever really go as planned in a merger?
And what about the guest experience? We're guessing that stays separate too since Fairmont and Four Seasons have some wildly different properties (and not so wildly different ones.) But will Four Seasons guests have access to the Fairmont loyalty program and vice versa? (FS doesn't have a loyalty program per se but they do have an "By Invitation" program that gives regular, loyal guests some perks.)
So many questions and so little answers. If you've heard some "chatter" on this possible luxury union,let us know!
No, this is not a joke but the rumors of a merger are definitely not confirmed. Yet a source tells us the process is in the works and the merger could be revealed later this year with both companies operating independently of each other.
Two of the top names in luxury (three if you count Raffles) merging together? Why, we're just going to need a moment here.
There is a big part of us that is still hoping this is just an April Fool's Day joke but the reality is that the possibility of Four Seasons Hotels and Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (which also includes Swissotels) merging together is more likely than we thought.
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The other day, Fairmont Hotels made it official that they would take over the management of the historic Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Calif. And their first order of business might be kicking out some ghosts.
According to San Antonio Spurs player, Tim Duncan, the hotel is haunted by a 6-year-old girl who died at the hotel long ago. Here's what he and teammate Jeff Ayres recently told the San Antonio Express News:
Ayres: “You get in at whatever time. I took my room key. I could hear stuff in the hallway, like people in their rooms. So I’m thinking people are watching TV or whatever. So I get to my door, and my key doesn’t work, but it sounds like there’s somebody in my room. Like I hear a little baby, not crying but making noise. I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ I keep trying my key and it doesn’t work. So I go downstairs to get a new key, and I tell them (somebody’s in the room.)
“So they call the room, and nobody answers. They’re like, ‘We can get you a new key and send you up with security and make sure nobody’s there, because there shouldn’t be anybody in there.’ Then they’re like, ‘We’ll just get you a new room.’ It was the creepiest thing. I heard a couple of other guys heard babies in the hallway, kids running down the hallway. Creepy. I really heard voices and a baby in the room, and there wasn’t anybody in there. It was crazy.”
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Usually major metropolitan areas are where you’ll find every hotel brand under the sun close together, but in a few years’ time there might be a very unlikely contender for having one of the largest concentrations of different hotel brands in the world: a master development in Portugal, roughly 50 miles south of capital Lisbon.
If one day a reality, we couldn’t name anywhere else that boast hotels from Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Raffles, Fairmont, Aman, and Six Senses, all cosily together on the peninsula across the water from Setúbal and further down the Alentejo coastline – yet that is what the above map calls for.