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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:
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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.
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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.
UPDATE, 3.24.14: FHRI Hotels and Resorts, parent company of Fairmont Hotels, have made it official today.
The new owners will begin work on a multi-million dollar capital investment project to update the hotel’s facilities and enhance the Claremont’s stunning architecture, while at the same time preserving and protecting the character and local charm of the Bay Area landmark. Once the revitalization work is complete, the hotel will join the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts collection, an unrivalled portfolio of hotels that includes famed landmarks such as New York’s The Plaza and The Fairmont San Francisco.
Berkeley, California, known as a haven for free-spirited thinking and the intellect to back it up, may soon have a new sign on the door of one of its best-loved hotels. The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa, a dedicated landmark about to celebrate its 100th birthday, is being courted by Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
That sounds great right out of the gate. We’re thinking… the Fairmont Claremont…..catchy name, yes?
This really could be a match made in hotel heaven. Fairmont Hotels has a legacy of giving new life and 21st-century luxury to its historic hotels. Comfortably nestled in the Berkeley Hills and within the City of Oakland, the 279-room Claremont Hotel, referred to as the “Elegant Lady,” is indeed a catch.
Designed by architects Charles W. Dickey and Walter Reed, it was to be a grand resort destination and a pride of the East Bay. Locals say it still is. The building is part Tudor Revival, part Classic Revival -- or put another way – all bets are off on designing the interiors. The hotel has a prominent park-like setting with serious views to San Francisco, where Fairmont can proudly point to its other property, The Fairmont San Francisco.
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It’s Monday morning and there is tons of hotel news flying around, so to get the week off to a good start we have the latest for you from Philadelphia to Bermuda and Indianapolis to Kuala Lumpur.
The debate on which Philadelphia hotel has the best view we think may permanently shift in a few years’ time, with the announcement that Comcast is building a second skyscraper – 59 stories tall – that will house a new Four Seasons Hotel on its top fifteen floors. Furthest up is the above top-floor restaurant, in what we assume is one of 13 three-story “sky gardens” the building will feature. Located at 18th and Arch, it will be the tallest building in Philadelphia, and the tallest in the United States outside New York and Chicago.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is upping its game in the amenities department, partnering with gourmet food and wine shopkeepers Dean & DeLuca to offer a gourmet wine club membership available exclusively to their President’s Club members (which is free to join, by the way, and gets you free Wi-Fi at all Fairmont properties).
Called Fairmont Vintages, every three months wine club members will receive six rare and highly-rated California wines curated by Dean & DeLuca's Napa-based Wine Director, Kerrin Laz, along with access to private tasting sessions at Dean & DeLuca in Napa Valley.
Membership is tiered and starts at $400 for the Vintage Select program, $575 for Vintage Reserve and a princely $1,125 for Vintage Marquis. Note that the Fairmont Vintage membership is only open to those of you in the US.
[Photo: Dean & Deluca]
Browsing through our photo archive, we come across many hotel memories: some fond, some we wish to forget, and some that stand out for being just that little bit different. One of the latter relates to The Plaza New York, which has had a rather tumultuous decade or so: from its controversial acquisition and disgruntled owners suing the developer over the sight-unseen acquired apartments, to struggles at both the restaurants and the food mall. Then of course there was that whole Charlie Sheen disaster.
Way before all of this went down, we found ourselves inside The Plaza on a sweltering early summer day when its contents pre-renovation were on sale, for anyone who wanted to take a piece of hotel history home. The truly fancy stuff had already gone by auction, so we’re talking everything that was left. And we do mean EVERYTHING: from maids uniforms and iron boards to linens and individual strands of the chandeliers, if it was there, you could buy it.
We were fascinated by the strange experience of walking through the ornate public spaces and the long corridors, all packed with piles of sometimes rather questionable stuff. But it didn’t stop there.
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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.