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So much hotel news, so little time – here are a few snippets to keep you up to date with the latest news from around the world!
· DEBUT HOTEL GROUP TO MANAGE LIVE AQUA HOTELS IN THE US: This brief is a bit of a doozy but here's what's happening--Grupo Posadas, Mexico’s largest hotel operator, is bringing its premier luxury boutique hotel brand, Live Aqua, to major U.S. cities, courtesy of benefactor/private equity group, Bighorn Capital, Inc. Debut Hotel Group, a Hampshire Hotels Management company, who are in charge of the Dream, Night and Time Hotel brands, will manage the Live Aqua U.S. hotels which are expected to "debut" in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Washington, D.C. Interestingly, Chicago will be the first U.S. city to get a Live Aqua in 2017. Keep reading as the next brief is connected to this one.
· DREAM HOTELS TO OPEN IN CHICAGO: The Live Aqua hotel mentioned above will open in an 82-story high-rise in the West Loop area, which will actually be dual-developed as a Live Aqua and Dream Hotel. Yes, Dream Chicago is now happening. However, do not confuse this building with the other Mexican hospitality group Grupo Habita who are opening a hotel in Wicker Park, nor should you confuse it with the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Meanwhile, a Time Hotel is expected to open in Nyack, NY. We'll have more on that later this week.
· INTRODUCING THE HOUSE COLLECTIVE: Forget luxury homes, when you can stay in luxury "Houses" from Swire Hotels. The Opposite House in Beijing, The Upper House in Hong Kong and the just-opened Temple House in Chengdu have always been united but now they've been consciously branded as The House Collective with a new website to boot.
More news briefs below!
Hotel Rebrandings / Best Western Hotels / Tryp by Wyndham Hotels / Times Square Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / New York Hotels / Hampshire Hotels / → All Tags
The Best Western President Hotel in Times Square used to be one of our favorite Best Western hotels ever with its purple hued decor, high design and free WiFi. We say "used to be" because the Wall Street Journal has reported that the hotel will soon change into a Tryp by Wyndham Hotel.
The owners of the hotel, Hampshire Hotels & Resort (who also own the Dream and Night brands, which are licensed by Wyndham), have modified their mortgage due to the increased competition in NYC which has seen the hotel occupancy rates rise but not the actually price of the rooms. (Sidenote: how is this possible? It seems like all NYC hotels are charging insanely higher prices these days.)
Anyways, Tryp is planning a renovation of the property that will make it more millennial-friendly.
It’s planning a “multimillion-dollar” upgrade at the Times Square property which will include adding “lobbyfriend,” a social networking system for hotel guests, and making the hotel’s public spaces more inviting places to hang out, says Bill Hall, a senior vice president (of Wyndham.)
The rebranding should happen early next year. In the meantime, you can check out the Tryp Times Square South at 345 W. 35th St. where rates start around $400 a night on the weekends in December. Rates at the Best Western are about $430.
[Photo: Best Western President/Facebook]
Hoteliers / Sant Singh Chatwal / Vikram Chatwal / Hampshire Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Woes / → All Tags
Usually when we hear of a Chatwal hotelier in the news, it's often about Vikram Chatwal, the troubled hotelier behind The Dream Hotel brand. But today, it's Vikram's father who's in the news. And it's pretty serious.
The Daily News reports that Sant Singh Chatwal, the chairman of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts which includes his namesake, The Chatwal Hotel, pleaded guilty to "recruiting straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to three federal candidates." He also pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness who he allegedly told to lie to the FBI and the IRS.
Chatwal stepped down as CEO of Hampshire Hotels earlier this month (probably because of the charges) but remains on as chairman. Eric Danziger, formerly CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, took Chatwal's place. Wyndham franchises the Dream and Night hotels which were started by Chatwal.
Meanwhile, Chatwal faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $200,000 when he's sentenced on July 31. He also offered to pay the U.S. government $1 million in restitution.
This is not the first time Chatwal has been in trouble with the government. Back in 2012, it was discovered that The Chatwal Hotel pretended to be a church for several years to avoid paying taxes. (It's a long story but the hotel was previously a church and the hotel never changed that status.) Let's hope this is the last of the Chatwal crimes.
[Photo of Chatwal and Danziger via Rediff]
Dream Hotels / Hotel Hype / Hampshire Hotels / Wyndham Hotels / Dubai Hotels / Hotel News / Tallest Hotels in the World / → All Tags
Dreams do come true...in Dubai, where Vikram Chatwal's Dream Hotels will open in late 2014. But this won't be some regular old hotel on a city block. No, this is Dubai, where everything is done not just bigger and better, but biggest and bestest.
So in following that logic, the Dream Dubai will be housed in the Marina 101, which is on track to be one of the largest super towers in Dubai and which will make the Dream Hotel the tallest hotel tower in the world when it opens. (Sorry, JDubs. You've got competition.)
Hotel Rumors / Dream Hotels / Chatwal / Manhattan Hotels / Wyndham Hotels / Hampshire Hotels / → All Tags
Update: We just want to reiterate that the Dream Downtown's possible sale to the Sahara Group is just speculation at this point. Now get back to your regularly scheduled Dreaming.
Everyone's going down, down, down downtown, including some deep-pocketed Indian investors who recently fronted $570 million for a controlling stake in the Plaza.
The Sahara Group, who also picked up the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in late 2010, is reportedly on a spending spree, and New York hotels are hot, so hot right now. The NY Times reports that Sahara Group may be about to acquire Chatwal's Dream Downtown.
Hotel News / Dream Hotels / Night Hotels / VIkram Chatwal / Hampshire Hotels / India Hotels / → All Tags
Last we heard, Hampshire Hotels & Resorts, which manages all the Chatwal properties, was being taken over by Wyndham (yeah, it all gets a little confusing after a while, doesn't it?), which was going to help take the brands "to the next level." The way we see it, Chatwal was so pleased with the success of Dream Downtown, he just couldn't wait to bring a little (or a lot) of that same sexiness to Indian hotel guests. Aiming to pump out 52 new hotels over the next five years (40 Nights, 12 Dreams), now Hampshire/Wyndham just have to convince Indian investors and franchisees to share the 'dream' (get it?).
Hotel Hype / Dream Hotels / Los Angeles Hotels / Hampshire Hotels / Hollywood Hotels / Hotel News / → All Tags
Looks like Hampshire Hotels will be "hopping off the plane at LAX with a dream and their cardigan." Ok, well maybe not the cardigan but definitely a dream...a Dream Hotel, that is.
The LA Times reports that construction on the 148-room hotel will begin in the spring at Selma Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard, right in the middle of Hollywood (and closest to the W Hollywood and The Redbury.)
Not many more details have been released but the hotel will have a rooftop swimming pool, a restaurant and a lounge. It should open in the fall of 2013. Is it us or does that just seem like forever away? Let's hope we don't forget about this dream in the meantime. But considering how long we waited for the Dream Downtown in NYC, we guess we'll be able to tough it out.
[Photo rendering: LA Times]
Every so often we feature a hotel review from our readers that we feel should be shared with the rest of you dear hotel guests. These reviews are highlighted because they are timely, about cool hotels in cool places and are relatively level-headed. Think you can submit one just like this? Send it in.
The Four Seasons Hampshire is located about an hour outside of central London. If you are looking to experience London but also want to escape to the countryside for a day or two, the FS could be a good option.
No need to rent a car; trains from London Waterloo station take you to Fleet in about 40 minutes, add a 10-minute cab ride and you are there.
The property combines the original Georgian manor house with a few modern wings and offers enough activities to never leave the grounds for a few days (fishing, horse-riding, clay-pigeon shooting, crocket, tennis, biking, hiking, etc).
Hotel Services / Hotel Packages / Four Seasons Hotels / Hampshire Hotels / England Hotels / → All Tags
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that horses come between toys and boys when it comes to the upbringing of a lady. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the dough to support a horse, or a spare field to fling it in.
When it came to our requests, our mothers just ignored us. But those who are a bit more indulgent might like to take their offspring to the Four Seasons Hampshire and shelling out on an Own a Pony Experience.
Uh-oh. Something's goin' down at Dream NYC, and it ain't nearly as good as those $113 room rates we were seeing for the summer: The Real Deal reports that a $100 million loan secured by the hotel "was put on a special servicer status," which, TRD says, indicates "the possibility it may become delinquent." In April, the loan payment was late but the note wasn't in default.
But what do the possible financial issues have to do with you? Nothing yet:
Though the special servicer status is worrisome, very few loans have gone from special servicer status to default in New York City. There were just nine delinquent securitized loans in New York City totaling $272 million from a total of 1,886 loans valued at $58.6 billion as of the end of April
Hampshire Hotels owns the building but not the underlying property, though it does control that property through a long-term lease.
As usual, money gets in the way of Dreams. Ha.
Vikram Chatwal / Dream Hotels / Dream Downtown / Hot Hotelier News / Hotel Hype / Hampshire Hotels / → All Tags
Is what you see above: A) another nautical building sticking off the back of the Maritime Hotel? B) a homeless shelter? Or is it C) Vikram Chatwal's $70 million dollar chunk of the Meatpacking District?
As is only proper in the business of building New York hotels, ALL THREE crazy statements are very true. The property at 346 West 17th Street, formerly The Covenant House homeless shelter, was purchased by Vikram's father's company Hampshire Hotels late last year.
Looking like The Maritime in drydock, the Downtown Dream so far has a gutted interior, a fully painted mud-grey exterior and construction that appears to be moving right along...for now.
According to Vikram's company website, his Downtown Dream is due to debut in early 2009, just in time to give The Maritime a run for its summer rush. And yes, just in case you need to hear it again, the Downtown Dream is right next to the Maritime Hotel so that should be a very interesting situation when it opens.