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We know, we know. The Ryugyong Hotel saga has gone back and forth so many times now, we're beginning to just stop caring. In November, we told you (with some surprise, we admit) that Kempinski was set to become its daddy.
Well, that's not happening anymore.
Not that you really needed to hear it from us, though. As big bad North Korea keeps the whole world watching on the edge of our seats, the city of Pyongyang (or any other in the nuclear state, for that matter), is hardly a place major hotel chains want to be investing in right now.
A WSJ article states that Kempinski's plans for the Ryugyong Hotel (which, apparently, were never formalized) are "on indefinite hold." A spokeswoman for Kempinski said:
"There is no possibility to enter the market right now."
Of course, the world has bigger fish to fry than worrying about whether a pesky hotel will open or not, but we've got to hand it to the Ryugyong: we can't think of a single other hotel that's managed to cause such a stir for so long without a single guest ever having checked in, or even a single room having been completed. Let's just hope when this hotel does open, it'll be a sign that tempers have cooled and neighbor South Korea no longer has to worry about rogue rockets from the north. The sooner, the better.
[Photo: Ryugyong Hotel]
Hotel Renovations / Hotel News / Manhattan Hotels / Historic Hotels / Hotel Construction / Hotel Delays / → All Tags
Two years ago, we showed you all, in excruciating detail, just why the Milford Plaza Hotel was in need of a renovation. Well, here we are in 2013, and the hotel's 1,300 rooms are looking waaay better (thanks to a $140 million renovation), with bright neon headboards, iPod docking stations, and 32" flatscreen TVs. But we're still wondering when that dang scaffolding will ever come down.
We're not the only ones losing sleep over this, either. The NY Post recently hinted that the hotel "could set a record for the city's longest-standing sidewalk sheds…with permits for the hideous covering going back to 1990." Come on, Milfy P! There are kids graduating college now who were born after that!
One of the reasons this place is on our radar again is, the other day we were walking back to the subway from Paramount Hotel, which we've been unabashedly having a mini love affair with all week. And after being enchanted by the latter's museum-worthy lobby and light-filled Italian cafe, the Milford Plaza's hulking, wooden plank-shrouded exterior seemed almost offensive.
Lately we've been taking a closer look at abandoned hotels, and recently on a walk through Panama's historic Casco Viejo district, we spotted a place in desperate need of some
loving deep-pocketed investor to get the ball rolling again.
The crumbing Antiguo Club Union on First Street was built in 1917 and functioned for years as an exclusive members-only club for Panama's elite—former dictator Manuel Noriega even took over the club during his reign in the 1980s. However, since then, the historic building has fallen into disrepair, and these days, its shabby, weed-choked exterior is mostly just an eyesore along one of Panama's most scenic streets.
So, what's the deal?
When we released our Master List of Worldwide Hotel Openings for 2013 we promised we'd be keeping tabs on these hotels throughout the year. And we weren't playing around.
Aside from giving 5 hotel openings we're excited for and putting some hotels on the naughty delayed list, along with another 10 hotels to get psyched about, we're now doing monthly check-ins on the hotels listed on that master list. We'll also be highlighting some new properties that didn't initially make the list. As usual, we could always use your help. So drop in your hotel openings, hotel delays and new hotel tips in comments below!
· Added 3.12.13 The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal opened on March 12.
· The ME London finally opened on March 1.
· The Kempinski Ambience Delhi opened in late February (with the Dalai Lama's blessing too!)
· Holiday Inn Express in Philly opened in late February.
· Hotel Zetta in San Francisco opened on February 18.
· The Jade Hotel NYC opened on Valentine's Day.
· Nobu Las Vegas opened on February 4.
· 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville opened in early February.
· The Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou opened in early February.
· The Hotel San Souci in Vienna opened in late January.
· The Parkroyal Pickering in Singapore opened in mid-January.
· Tune Hotel Edinburgh opened in mid-January.
Last week, we looked at a number of hotel projects that we fear may have little hope of ever being completed, from Fontainebleau Las Vegas to Pyongyang’s Hotel of Doom. This got us thinking about the long-running plans for Art’Otel Hoxton, over in London’s artsy but increasingly (some will say mostly) gentrified Shoreditch neighborhood.
Way back in the summer of 2010, we reported on protests taking place against the demolition necessary to make way for the hotel on the corner where Great Eastern, Rivington, and Old Street intersect. At the time a 2013 opening seemed ages away, but here we are today, with the hotel still being in planning phase and no projected completion date.
Given how excited we get for new hotels and how annoyed we become at delayed openings, you can understand how abandoned hotel projects -- that is, those that have been indefinitely placed on the shelf post construction but pre completion -- tug at our heart strings. It's no good for us as consumers, and it's certainly no good for the cities who have to live with their fallout.
Some abandoned projects end up working out for the city (like the Ambassador Hotel project in Los Angeles that turned into a school), but most don't sit so pretty, becoming eyesores or, worse, stagnant reminders of what could have been, as in the case of Vegas' Fontainebleau.
As we look around the world at some of the unfinished hotel business, we really get a sense for how hard the economy has been over the past few decades for the hotel industry, even for established and successful brands like the Ritz Carlton. Below, we've put together a list of examples. We'll keep an eye on these suckers, but we don't advise getting your hopes up.
This year will be the five-year anniversary of the big crash of 2008, a financial crisis that hit the hotel industry – like so many others – hard. All the hotel openings these days notwithstanding, many a project was scrapped as a result, long before they started breaking ground.
Yet, some others got caught in the middle, stuck in a weird kind of hotel-limbo: well on their way to completion, but without any sight of the moment when the finishing line, and paying guests just beyond, will be reached. Case in point: The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage.
We just drove by the newest hotel to open in Hollywood, The Moment Hotel, and it was not the moment we'd been waiting for.
The site, initially expected to open this month, is still heavily under construction. It did look like one wing of the former 1950s motel known as the Sunset Inn & Suites was completed and we even spied curtains in the windows. However, the entrance and the funky rooftop bar are still taking shape.
A sign out front is now saying The Moment will open sometime this spring but according to the hotel's website, reservations open as early as March 1.
We're guessing the hotel and its 39 rooms will soft-open around then as there's no way the entire spot can be finished in 10 days. But with rates starting around $220 a night, we say save your $$ and wait until it's completely finished before spending the night.
[Photo: Juliana Shallcross for HotelChatter]
Among Chicago’s — and possibly the world's — most eagerly anticipated hotel openings is Richard Branson’s first ever Virgin Hotel, originally slated for Chicago. But rumors are swirling that it’s not going to happen. We cringe and die a little inside whenever we hear it, but more than anything, we're just anxious to get to the bottom of things.
In 2011, Branson first announced plans to open the hotel in a 27-story Art Deco gem, the Old Dearborn Bank building located in Chicago’s Loop. Construction was set to begin in May 2012 with a tentative opening date of fall 2013.
Well, that got pushed to a more ambiguous late 2013/early 2014 opening. And then, just yesterday, Virgin CEO Raul Leal confirmed an early 2014 opening with Hotel News Now. So what exactly is the deal with this place?
The other month we dropped a massive list of Worldwide Hotel Openings for 2013, a list which we are constantly adding to and updating. Out of this list of hundreds of hotel openings, we cherry-picked 5 that we are really excited for.
But it's not all roses and rainbows in the hotel world. There have been quite a few hotels whose opening dates have been pushed back. Some were only pushed back by a month, others by a little bit longer. We'll continue to see this throughout the rest of the year but here are some Notable Hotel Delays...So Far.
Know of a hotel delay? Drop it in comments below and we'll update it on our list.
Hotel News / Starwood Capital / Baccarat Hotels / 1 Hotels / Brooklyn Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel Openings / Hotel Delays / → All Tags
Quick history lesson: in 2006, we first learned about 1 Hotels, a newly conceived brand by Barry Sternlicht, head of Starwood Capital (which is different from Starwood Hotels, though Barry was a former exec at Starwood, and founded the W brand). Locations were planned for Seattle, New York, Washington DC, Scottsdale, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Fort Lauderdale. Lots of hype was made. The NY Times wrote about it.
Then, bad things happened to the economy, Sternlicht's grand visions unravelled like a sweater caught on barbed wire, and pretty much all of the projects sadly collapsed.
Fast forward to last night, when we received an email from Starwood Capital officially announcing the revival of both brands (1 Hotels and Baccarat Hotels). And not just that: a new timeline has been put in place to open five properties over the next two years.
Well, it was supposed to happen today, but it looks like the St. Regis Abu Dhabi's opening will be delayed--this time until April 15th.
Guess you shouldn't rush what promises to be one glam piece of property with 283 gussied-up guest rooms including 40 grand suites, including one actually located on a bridge that offers second-to-none Arabian Gulf views. Then there's the 24-hour butler service that each guest is entitled to.