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Istanbul Hotels / Bosphorus Hotels / Waterfront Hotels / Hotel Architecture / Hotel Boats / Killer View / → All Tags
The house launch and the Bosphorus Bridge, from the garden at Sumahan
A converted alcohol factory on the Asian side of Istanbul, right on the bank of the Bosphorus. There’s little not to love about Sumahan on the Water, which we mentioned last week as one of our favorite Bosphorus hotels. Today, we’ll take you through the keyhole.
First impressions are key, of course, and Sumahan does a blinding one: it sends its wooden boat to fetch you at the little dock in Tophane, on the European side. From there, it’s a 15-20 minute chug up and across the Bosphorus to Çengelköy, where you’ll dock just beside the ground floor rooms.
Sumahan was designed by its Turkish-American architect owners, Nedret and Mark Butler (Nedret’s family originally owned the factory, and transforming the abandoned space was the subject of her thesis). You can tell it’s a labor of love: each of the 24 rooms is named after a different village around the Bosphorus, and a huge amount of thought has gone into the design.
JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, Calif. recently underwent a $25 million top-to-bottom renovation that saw the spiffing up of its 884 guestrooms and suites as well as the vast lobby atrium and upgrades to its two championship golf courses. But don't worry, the quaint boat rides that go around the resort's lakes remain, dock and all, at the far edge of the lobby. Oh and of course the exotic birds that line the bottom of the lobby are still there, providing endless entertainment for passerbys.
The resort also introduced a few new dining concepts including the Rockwood Grill (previously the LakeView Grill), the Blue Star Lounge, and a Fisherman's Landing outpost. While Rockwood serves an out-of-this world breakfast buffet and the Blue Star Lounge has cozy outdoor seating and fire pits, it's still Mikado's Japanese Steakhouse, which will be packed on weekend nights (seriously, do not go without a reservation.)
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Traffic. It's the the worst, and always when you're trying to get somewhere quickly. Many hotels in traffic-prone cities like New York and Jakarta can't do a thing about the congestion, short of sending a private helicopter transfer. But then there's Bangkok, Thailand, specifically The Peninsula Bangkok, which not only has solved the problem of traffic but made the solution free to guests. That solution? There's two Peninsula Piers on the Chao Phraya River, complete with Peninsula-branded boats going between them.
You see, the Peninsula sits on the Thon Buri side of the river, across from where all the action is happening. To connect this very active part of the city over the river, there is the Taksin Bridge. During rush hours, forget it. Therefore, The Peninsula has a Pier Lounge on the Bang Rak side of the river for you to arrive at, be welcomed, checked in and directly transferred by boat to the hotel on the Thon Buri side. It's quite a dramatic way to make an entrance, really.
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Here's why Hard Rock Orlando is a great home base for a visit to Universal Orlando: The vibe is "cool parents", at least that is what we liked to tell ourselves while we were on the grounds.
The giant pool, complete with sand and water slide is such a hit with kids it may be hard to drag them away from the pool and get them to the parks, so save the pool for an end of day activity.
Real rock music, not "Kid's Place Live", permeates the lobby and the common spaces, as it does at all Hard Rock's, however, as expected, this property is far more family friendly than some of the other Hard Rocks. Aside from the pool, kids will also be treated to magic tricks at dinner (Thursday nights) if you eat at Kitchen, the on site restaurant. Oh, and most important? Your room key serves as an express pass at the parks allowing you to avoid the lines -- sweet.
For almost three years now, we've had a burgeoning obsession with hotels that have their own boats. it began with with luxury launch at the W Maldives and even stretched to the Universal Studios water transfers at the Portofino Bay in Florida. Now, hotel boats head to Europe and we drool over the luxury boat The Muze of The Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam.
The Muze is a restored 19th century salon boat, of which you'll find few plying the canals these days. Hop on from The Dylan's personal dock in front of the hotel and onboard, The Dylan can arrange a live cooking session and full meal from their Michelin-starred restaurant Vinkeles.
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We've heard of water features in the lobby, but this takes the biscuit… a full on harbor with boats available for guests. Amazing! In fact, as heavyweight Vegas connoisseurs, we thought we'd seen all the ostentatious look-at-me posing a hotel could do - but then, this weekend, we checked into the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert.
Yes, we probably should have guessed something special was on the cards from the flock of flamingos in the palm tree lined drive on arrival. And we'd seen the huge waterway with vaporetto-style boats on the website. But nothing prepared us for the vision that was the boat dock in the lobby.
Yup, there's a mini harbor as part of the massive lobby, with a bar looking over it. And the boats are at your disposal! Hotel guests can catch a free ride between 3-6pm every day or, come the evening, you'll be chauffeured to the restaurant of your choice. It's kind of like how we imagined the Venetian in Vegas would be, until we realized those gondolas are only for paying customers and your $16 scores you a boring little five minute trip on a ride to nowhere. These boats have a purpose, and that purpose is awesomeness.
Driving from Bal Harbour to Key Biscayne--where the Sony Ericsson Open takes place from next week through early April--takes around 35 minutes. Unless traffic is a killer. But by yacht? Well, we don't know for sure because Google Maps isn't offering the boat icon for its directions yet.
What we imagine, however, is that it would be a leisurely sail, and one helluva lot lovelier than cruising down I-95 or A1A. The reason we're having this daydream in the first place is because ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa is offering a special package for guests wanting to get their Ericsson on and, yes, it involves a yacht.
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Yea, we totally snapped this photo and the best moment between storm and sunset
You may arrive to your hotel by limo, taxi, subway or even helicopter, but nothing beats the romance of gliding up to a magnificent hotel by boat. Naturally, when you think of hotel boats, your thoughts first turn to Venice's gondolas and the Hotel Danieli or the tender out to the W Maldives, but we found something a little bit closer to home.
As part of the attempt to inject Universal Studios' Loews Portofino Bay Hotel with all the charms of Italy, the hotel boasts its own water taxi for direct transport over the Universal CityWalk area, which you don't need to have a ticket to the amusement park to enter. Okay okay, so the other two Universal HotelsLoews Royal Pacific and The Hard Rockalso have this, but only the Portofino actually tries to make it look like you're off the Italian Riviera. Oh yea, and it's free.
A friend of ours was fortunate enough to be able to make the trip to the W Maldives a few months ago and of course the green-eyed monster came out when looking at her vacation pics.
The W seems to be everything it promises on the website, in the magazines, in the ads and more. We will go there someday. Oh yes, we will go there someday.
In the meantime, check out this sweet W boat that ferries guests around where they need to go--like the airport. Do you think they would sell that in the W online store?