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It seems like the tony beach towns found along the nearly 30-mile stretch of scenic Highway 30-A in Northwestern Florida’s Walton County are a sort of well-kept secret. Outside of Florida and select southern states like Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, this area doesn’t seem to be on the radar of many travelers, especially those from the East Coast.
But it should be.
Gleaming white sand beaches -- better than those in many Caribbean destinations -- and coastal dune lakes are a beautiful setting for the hip towns they occupy. In areas like Rosemary Beach, Watercolor and Seaside, funky beach bars, oceanfront eateries and cool boutiques dot the coastline. A bike path runs all along 30-A, and for many visitors biking is the main mode of transportation.
Gorgeous beach houses are available for rent by the week, but if you prefer a hotel or your visit will be a short one, these are three favorites:
Retro right down to its window frames. That’s the verdict on The Marker, which just opened in Key West – in fact, it’s the first new-build hotel to open in the Old Town in 20 years.
Yes, new-build. Not that you’d know from the photos. Coffered, whitewashed ceilings, art deco-style stucco around the windows, rattan sofas and leopard print armchairs. It’s deco meets 1950s meets the present day, and the result is 100% delicious. In fact, can we say Kimptony?
More photos after the jump!
Hotel Toiletries / Hotel Amenities / Florida Hotels / Oklahoma Hotels / Belize Hotels / Charleston Hotels / → All Tags
Who would have thought 20 years ago – even 15 – that we would go so ga-ga over hotel toiletries that savvy hotel marketers would list what brand they carry on their websites? Now there’s a new player (playuh – you have to say it right) in town and their products are all American-made.
William Roam was created to take on the task of making hotel toiletries that were not just promoted and sold in the US, but were thought of, sourced and made in America. They currently offer three lines from their head office in Indianapolis: Roam, Float and Sense, each made with fresh ingredients sourced across the country.
Their signature line, Roam, is made with blueberries from Maine, wheatgrass from Kansas and red wine grape extract from Napa Valley and products are packaged in classy-like square bottles. The soap even contains bits of grape fiber and root to gently exfoliate your nutrient-needy skin.
Hotel News / Military Hotels / IHG Hotels / Holiday Inns / Florida Hotels / Holiday Inn Hotels / → All Tags
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it (fittingly) a giant beach ball on the roof of this beachside Holiday Inn?
Nope, none of them. It’s a military radar thingy.
Taking working with the military to a whole new level beyond giving servicemen and women discounts, the Fort Walton Beach Holiday Inn in, you’ve guessed it, Florida, has joined forces with the military to create a beach resort-military base combo. Why hasn’t Vegas thought of this before?
According to the Miami Herald, in a story that made us triple check it wasn’t April 1 today (until the hotel confirmed the news on its Facebook page):
The combination resort hotel and military test site opened in late May in an unusual partnership between the military and private business in a time of tighter military budgets. In exchange for allowing the Innisfree Hotel company to build the 152-room resort on Air Force land, the military was able to construct a rooftop station that receives radar signals and a secure conference room for classified meetings. The dome hiding the military equipment is painted red, white, blue and yellow like a beach ball.
The Hotel Zamora, the first new hotel in more than 20 years on St. Pete's Beach, is slated to make its debut next month.
Influenced by the architecture, design, and feel of the rocky hills of the Spanish province of the same name, the waterfront hotel will feature Mediterranean-style rooms and suites with high ceilings, crown molding, arched windows, and Spanish-influenced details in the form of wooden doorways and artwork. Outside, the hotel has a marina with space for seven boats, a fresh-water pool, and access to the Gulf of Mexico’s white-sand beaches to the west of Tampa Bay. Both regular and suite rooms feature walk-in spa showers and soaking tubs to mirror a spa retreat.
Hotel Construction / Hotel News / Hotel Openings / Miami Hotels / Atton Hotels / Florida Hotels / → All Tags
Seeking to tap into the ever-growing Latin American market in South Florida, Chile’s Atton Hotels has announced that it will build its first U.S. property, a $65 million project to be named the Atton Brickell Hotel, in Miami. Scheduled to open in 2016, Atton says it will instantly become the chain’s flagship hotel due to Miami’s ties to Latin America and its growing international business community.
The property will be the company’s fifth overall and will be located in the Brickell Financial District of downtown Miami. It will be 12 stories high and have 275 rooms, offering free buffet breakfast, an outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant and bar concepts (specifics have yet to be announced).
Hotel Food / Hotel Restaurants / Loews Hotels / Montage Hotels / Florida Hotels / California Hotels / Beverly Hills Hotels / New York Cities Hotels / Boston Hotels / → All Tags
Yes, ladies and gentlemen — April is National Grilled Cheese Month (who’s coming up with this stuff?).
Some hotels have embraced the concept as a means to reinvent this American classic, some even going so far as to create over-the-top versions of what’s, already, a delectable comfort food.
The Seagate Hotel & Spa, for instance, is celebrating the month by offering a new specialty grilled cheese available at the hotel’s Beach Club. Are you ready for it? The Lobster & Pork Belly Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich, created by Chef Chris Schaefer, features pickled green tomato on Texas toast.
Executive Chef Gabriel Ask of Parq Bar at Montage Beverly Hills serves up a more traditional Brioche and Aged English Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich, and kids staying at Gramercy Park Hotel can try their own version with brioche by having an American or Gruyere on Brioche Grilled Cheese Sandwich with French Fries from the Room Service menu.
And then there’s the Grilled Mac ‘n Cheese at Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa, created by Sous Chef Chris Salazar, which combines homemade mac ‘n cheese, ham, grilled balsamic tomato and guacamole on grilled sourdough bread.
See what Loews Hotels are doing for National Grilled Cheese Month after the break!
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Select Loews properties have revved up a partnership with super-cool car brand, FIAT.
Five Loews Hotels & Resorts across the U.S.—Loews Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C., Loews Regency Hotel in NYC, Loews Hollywood Hotel, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Loews Miami Beach Hotel—will ensure you keep your very important appointment in a chauffeured 2014 FIAT 500L.
Plus, three of the properties—Loews Miami Beach, Loews Hollywood and Loews Santa Monica Beach—really go the distance by offering two complimentary FIAT loaner vehicles (the Fiat 500L and either the Fiat Cabrio or the all-electric Fiat 500e depending on location)—for you to tootle around town on your own for up to three hours a day.
Rooms at Loews Hotels & Resorts go for approximately $209 per night depending on the individual property.
[Photo: Loews Hotels & Resorts]
Hotel Renovations / Before and After / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Naples Hotels / Florida Hotels / → All Tags
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
When we visited the The Ritz-Carlton Naples in Florida as a tween back in the early 90s, we're pretty sure the rooms looked similar to what you see above. Fortunately, the hotel has undergone a multi-million dollar makeover that will impress everyone, even those critical tweens.
Keep reading to see how the resort looks after the renovations!
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Omni Bedford Springs
While hotel holiday decorations are pretty to look at, they don't do much to relax you during the holiday season, which let's be honest--can be crazy stressful with all the parties, the shopping, the relatives. So if you need a breather, we’ve put together a list (and we’re checking it twice) of hotel spas across the US who have put together some holiday-themed treatments that you can give to yourself because, contrary to popular belief, sometimes it is better to receive than to give.
The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego normally uses seasonal ingredients and this winter is no exception. From December through January you can indulge in the Chocolate Candied Orange Treatment, and indulge you will! This treatment starts with a hazelnut and orange scrub; then comes a chocolate comfrey wrap and cinnamon scalp treatment; an Acai butter massage follows, as does a mulled cider drink. The spa then sends you on your way with a take home recipe for hazelnut and sea salt shortbread cookies. The cost for this extravagance is $175.
At Lake Arrowhead Resort’s Spa of the Pines (an Autograph Collection hotel) there is a new holiday-themed menu of treatments. The resort is offering a hot stone Holiday Pedicure, a Holiday Swedish Massage using their own special holiday-scented oil (cloves and cinnamon), and a Holiday-Scented Body Scrub using an organic vanilla and brown sugar scrub followed by a rich body cream. For the most bang for your buck go for the Holiday Duo: the body scrub followed by the massage for $165.
L'Auberge de Sedona is offering guests a Warming Gingerbread Sugar Body Scrub and Gingerbread Wrap that are good enough to eat. Using organic sugar and warming ginger oil there are also notes of cinnamon and orange. To tempt you further, we’ll just tell you that after the scrub, the body butter is applied to your skin, you’re wrapped in warm blankets and receive either a scalp and neck massage or a foot massage. You can just lie back and hear the heavenly choir. The scrub and wrap are $145 for both treatments.
Lost and Found / OpenThread / Customer Service / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Florida Hotels / Hotel Staff / Ritz Kids / Hotel News / → All Tags
We've all had horror stories when it comes to staying in a hotel, especially if we just happened to forget something in the room. While some might think that their article is lost forever, that's not always the case. Here's a story in great customer service by a hotel, restoring our faith in not only hotel staff far and wide, but humankind on a whole. Prepare to have your heart warmed.
The whole situation went down when the Hurn family decided to spend their vacation at Florida's Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Upon returning home after a few days soaking up the sun, living in luxury and scoring some rest and relaxation, their 8-year old son realized he had left his stuffed toy giraffe, Joshie, back at the resort.
Like any good father would do to buy some time, Chris Hurn told his son that the toy needed some "extra vacation time and would be home soon". He then called the hotel with the hopes that Joshie was sitting in a lost-and-found box somewhere in the backroom. To much surprise, Ritz-Carlton's staff informed him that Joshie was safe and sound and offered to send the plush animal home free of charge.
While Hard Rock Hotels might be the perfect place to party, it's not a brand that we usually associate with free WiFi. Typically, it's an additional charge or folded into a resort fee.
But lo and behold, when we signed on to the network at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, this is what greeted us:
Hard Rock Unplugged: Free Wireless Internet Access for Our Guests
Party on! For us, working nerds anyways.
In the mood for a quickie tonight at the Seminole Hard Rock? The property is actually sold out this weekend (weekends are typically sold-out at this resort.) But a deluxe room is available on Monday for $189 a night and there's no resort fee. Rocking.
We'll have more on the other rock star touches at the Seminole Hard Rock for you next week.