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Should You or Shouldn't You? A HotelChatter Review
We decided it was high time to check out one of the newest hotels that make up Vancouver’s skyline, the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Opened in 2010 for the Olympics, this beautiful “ode to glass” building is not only chic, but is a happening destination unto itself.
Check-In: We took advantage of the hotel’s car service and had a great chat with our driver about the hotel and living in Vancouver. When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by dapper doormen whose uniforms can best be described as a cross between Armani and 1940s movie gangster in a very fashionable grey. It was a very good start.
As we were ushered into the long, cool and white marble lobby we noticed immediately the hotel's bespoke Indian Jasmine fragrance. Our driver, who was part of the concierge team, never left our side. Once given our keys we were escorted to our room, passing the serene-but-not-for-long Lobby Lounge that spans the entry space.
Room Reaction: We entered our room on the Fairmont Gold floor and were immediately dazzled by the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Vancouver harbor and port. We were introduced to the iPad2 waiting for us and the hi-tech lighting system (which also controls the drapes) with its pre-set mood makers – Day, Evening, Relax – and in the bathroom, there’s a setting for Groom or Spa.
Hotel Fitness / Hotel Rooftops / Hotel Yoga / James Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Killer View / Hotel Amenities / → All Tags
A rooftop yoga class is making waves in New York, and it's taking place at none other than The James Hotel. Led by a local NYC yoga teacher, the class was launched last year and has been slowly gaining momentum, no thanks to the jaw-dropping views seen from the top of the hotel.
Another reason the class stands out? It's women-only.
Twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 8am, ladies gather up on arguably the most scenic rooftop in the city and breathe and stretch and go 'ohm' in the company of other ladies. As in, all the mamas without the papas. As in, girls not guys. As in, the rooftop is called Jimmy, but he's the only dude allowed to the party.
The answer is: of course not! But this is The Burj Al Arab and whatever their high-paying guests want, or think they might want, they will get. Hence the new 24 carat gold iPads that are now available in all guestrooms. (No doubt, these will show the Emirates Palace just how silly their gold Christmas tree was!)
The iPad will be loaded with the Burj Al Arab's own virtual concierge software, enabling guests to order up whatever they wish through the iPad. The glittering iPad is just one of the latest high tech amenity additions to the Burj which already has iMacs in each room, plasma TVs and private butler service. Fortunately, the WiFi is free.
But as Business Insider points out--the starting room rate is $1,500 so perhaps offering up gold iPads is the least the Burj could do.
Hotel WiFi / Hotel Technology / Dallas Hotels / ZaZa Hotels / Hotel Amenities / Free WiFi / → All Tags
Often times, when we plead our case for free hotel WiFi, we hear that setting up a network or upgrading an existing network is an expensive investment for hotels and in order to recoup the costs, they need to charge guests to use the WiFi.
Now, every hotel is different but there are plenty of hotels out there that have been updating their networks to provide faster speeds and more bandwidth to guests and they still aren't charging for WiFi.
For example, The Hotel ZaZa in Dallas which recently added a new fiber data network throughout the hotel. Hotel president, Benji Homsey, explained the reason for the network upgrade saying:
We designed this network with special attention to the increased presence of Apple iPad, iPhone and Google/Android users in conjunction with the typical laptop usage. We want every Hotel ZaZa guest to have the best, from coverage and access points to best of breed fiber data network to the newly installed bedside power docks in every room.
And the charge to access the internet? It's still totally free.
Hotel Amenities / Hotel Spas / Hotel Check-In / Manhattan Hotels / Plaza Athenee Hotels / Hotel Packages / → All Tags
Nothing is worse than showing up bleary-eyed to your hotel and being told your room isn't ready yet. Worse still if your bones ache from sitting on a plane all day and you've been dragging around your suitcase for so many hours that your hand has become permanently locked in claw grip position.
Thankfully, the Plaza Athenee in New York has come up with a solution to the whole early check-in conundrum: the "Rest and Refresh" package. By reserving ahead of time, guests can kill time in their own private Spa Suite, which comes with a marble bathroom and private steam shower. In addition, they can request a facial or massage, and even sneak in a quick breakfast or lunch at the hotel's Arabelle Restaurant.
With pampering like this, who needs the guest room?
It's a truth universally acknowledged that luxury hotel guests are extremely picky about their bath toiletries. After all, no one wants to pay top dollar for a hotel room only to find a mall-store brand of shampoo and conditioner waiting for them in the shower. We ourselves are especially partial to Kiehl's, Red Flower, Bulgari or Asprey when we're paying over $400 a night.
Fortunately, guests at the No. 11 Cadogan Gardens, a former private members club turned boutique hotel, won't have to worry about the in-room toiletry selection. That's because a Sloane Street perfumery, Ormonde Jayne, is now supplying the 54 guestrooms with a variety of amenities.
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We brought you the 2013 WiFi Report last week, and today we're here to tell you which hotels in NYC you can count on for free WiFi. Here are a few of our faves…
Indigo Chelsea: This isn't the kind of place you go for a buzzing lobby scene or super luxe rooms. However, with a super-friendly staff and great midtown location, you can't go wrong. Rates from $293/night.
Ace Hotel: Sure, there's free WiFi. But with all the action going on at this hotel (lobby bar, Breslin restaurant, shops, and basement performance venue), will you actually get any work done? Rates from $289/night.
Andaz Fifth Avenue: Fifth Avenue shoppers will love this WiFi-enabled gem, where you can spend the day hitting up Louis Vuitton and Bergdorf Goodman, and then come home and play with those awesome welcome amenities. Rates from $432/night.
We recently stayed at a large chain hotel (erm, kinda rhymes with chariot) and everything was fine until we went into the bathroom and took a shower. Not only was there no shower gel, but there wasn't any lotion! Only shampoo and conditioner and two skimpy bars of soap.
Now, we weren't that upset about the lack of shower gel, we get some hotels don't use it. But lotion? C'mon. When we went to the front desk the next day we were told that you just have to simply ask someone at reception for lotion. Um...what fresh hell is that?
Flash forward to an unpleasant TSA experience where they wanted us to show them our quart-size baggie full of our liquids. We haven't done that in ages. We've just simply put the appropriate size products in our Dopp kit and sailed through the scanner. After all, if it's over 3.4 oz they'll nab you anyway, right?
So, after our fit returning home, we wondered how could we ensure we'd never be caught in a hotel without essentials, but also bring with us amenities we wish hotels had so we could cut down our liquid lugging.
Luckily, we found some solutions!
Hotel Trends / Hotel Amenities / Utah Hotels / Hyatt Hotels / Atlanta Hotels / Hawaii Hotels / Concorde Hotels / Paris Hotels / UK Hotels / Ireland Hotels / Shangri-La Hotels / Boutique Hotels / → All Tags
We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Hotel-branded pens and notepads as keepsakes
What’s In: Souvenirs inspired by the history and culture of the hotel
Fess up: The last time you stayed in a hotel, did you take the little pad of paper and pen with the hotel’s name on it? Everyone takes the toiletries, but if you’re a serious hotel geek, that cheap pen disappeared too. We get it. And so do hotels.
If you want a more lasting or glam souvenir though, these hotels have what you need.
The Washington School House hotel in Park City, Utah was a former school built in 1889 that even has its own motto: "Where old school is the new cool". As a playful nod and a wink to their educational roots, guests will find a notebook and pencil set waiting when they check in.
The Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown recently completed a $65 million transformation that included the opening of Market – a self-serve, around-the-clock stop for all your snacking needs (including a fancy-dancy touch-screen soda fountain that dispenses 126 different drinks). Food in Georgia trends towards down-home goodness, and the Executive Chef’s homemade BBQ rub, at $5 a pop in Market, lets you experience that Southern comfort all over again.
The sleek Yabu Pushelberg-designed Modern Honolulu likes to serve a little quirk with its chic. The hotel leaves complimentary sarongs and ukuleles in each guest room for you to use during your stay. But if you like them so much you can’t live without them, the sarongs and ukuleles are available for purchase so you can strum away ‘til your heart’s content.
We should preface this by saying: we don't consider ourselves mooches. Far from it. We're loyal, paying, upstanding hotel guests. However, in all our years of hotel sleuthing, we've picked up a few tricks on ways to use a hotel without ever actually staying there as a guest. You'll be amazed at all the things you can get done (or not) without ever setting foot in a room.
So, without further ado, here's why you should go to a hotel the next time you have to…
Use a printer: Whether you have some urgent Facebooking to do, or simply need to print out a boarding pass, many hotels have business centers that you can use for a small fee—or, if they're nice, for free.
Freshen up: Three reasons you're better off sneaking into a hotel bathroom rather than the nearest Starbucks? One, they're cleaner. Two, there's usually music playing. And three, they're cleaner.
Tech-related amenities have been a huge part of the hotel industry for some years now, though you'd never know it from a recent NY Times article that ran last week, titled "Electronic 'Smarts' at Hotels Attract Guests." In it, the writer marvels at hotel features like loanable iPads, anti-towel-theft devices, and, of all things, Twitter—concepts that might once have had our ears perking up, but these days make us go, 'Yeah. So?'
The article cites Webby Media Group president David-Michel Davies, who "found that hotels were using technology as a substitute for human hospitality." Not to rain on his parade or anything—this is indeed good news (digital room amenities like the SLS "Bring Me Bubbles" app always make us smile); the trouble is, it's not really news.
One woman referenced the bonus SPG points, free cocktail, and spa discount she received just by "checking in" to the hotel via Foursquare. She was quoted as saying, "It's a clever way for hotels to get guests to explore the hotel." Clever, yes. But novel? Hardly.
As anyone who has ever stayed at a Kimpton hotel knows, 5-6pm is the magic hour, when all Kimpton lobbies across the country break out a few bottles of vino and let guests guzzle gratis. (It's a tradition we can really get behind.)
Manhattan's Ink48 has faithfully been pouring glasses of red and white each evening since the program launched several years ago. But now, the hotel is giving other Kimpton properties a run for their money with a new menu of local New York wines, which will be served during wine hour on Wednesdays throughout the month of May.