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'Would You Like Some Ice?' More Hotels Take The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 29, 2014 at 4:39 PM | by | Comments (0)

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is showing no signs of slowing down. The viral video campaign has gone from your Facebook friends to friends of your Facebook friends to kids of your Facebook friends to celebrities, athletes, pop stars and anyone else who feels like getting noticed for pouring ice water over their heads. And hotels always want to be noticed.

We wrote about the Novotel Times Square's ice bucket challenge the other week and it set off a flurry of other hotels doing ice bucket challenges. There is literally no end in sight for the ice bucket challenges. But here are a few of the notable hotel ones:

For starters the SOFITEL NEW YORK answered the challenge from the Novotel, made a donation and then went onto challenge a couple more sister properties.

THE PENINSULA PARIS had their Peninsula pages submit to the challenge.

They then went onto challenge PENINSULA BEVERLY HILLS who, since California is in a drought, used leftover ice cubes from the restaurant and pool water.

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The Stafford London Splits with Kempinski, Moves on to Preferred Hotels

Where: 16-18 St. James's Place, London, United Kingdom, SW1A 1NJ
August 29, 2014 at 9:04 AM | by | Comments (0)

It’s time for something new at The Stafford London: after a four-year relationship with Kempinski Hotels, the hotel is calling it quits and standing on its own legs as an independent property.

The keys were handed back last week, but you can still make reservations through Kempinski until September 10. If you have a booking for a future date, don’t worry – all existing reservations will be honoured as made. All staff remains with the property as well.

The Stafford isn’t going at it completely alone; by September 10 it will join Preferred Hotels & Resorts. The addition of The Stafford will take the total number of Preferred hotels in London to nine; existing properties include the ME London as well as the upcoming Beaumont Hotel.

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Mario Batali to Bring His Italian Dishes (and Orange Crocs) Into NYC's Maritime Hotel

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 363 West 16th Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10011
August 28, 2014 at 7:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

La Bottega at Manhattan's Maritime Hotel has long been a HotelChatter favorite spot, thanks in part to their killer outdoor dining spot. But now, La Bottega is on the way out and coming in is chef Mario Batali and his partner, Joe Bastianich.

The duo and their B&B Hospitality Group will take over the entire food and beverage program at the hotel, featuring "cooking of the Italian coast and islands." Here's what Batali said in a statement:

“The Maritime has just as much, if not more, outdoor space than any other hotel in Manhattan. It’s the sort of place I like to spend time. We’ll bring our perspective on Italian food and a little old-school New York to this Chelsea landmark,” Batali says. “The neighborhood is ready for a new hangout. I look forward to working with Richard Born and Sean MacPherson and their expert team.”

(FYI: Richard Born and Sean MacPherson are the hoteliers behind The Maritime.)

This is not the first time Batali and Bastianich have opened a restaurant within a hotel. The two run Carnevino, B&B and the Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

According to Eater, La Bottega has not announced an exact closing date but it's probably pretty soon. The new B&B resto should open at The Maritme sometime next year.

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Graduate Hotels Want You to Relive Your 'Glory Days' of College

August 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM | by | Comments (6)

UPDATE: We've received more room photos below. Give your Cliff Notes in comments below.

In recent years, we've seen major hotel brands rushing to grab the attention of Millennials as the young, design-savvy, and tech-centric crowd enters the workforce and begins to travel, whether for business, leisure or (most likely), bleisure.

Marriott Hotels is ramping up their Moxy and AC Hotels by Marriott brands, while Radisson Hotels have gone and created Radisson Red. Thompson Hotels are queueing up their Tommie brand while Virgin Hotels is getting closer and closer to opening their first hotel. All these brands are offering amenities that are important to Millennials, such as--great design, social spaces, useful tech, free WiFi and reasonable prices. Which, really, any modern traveler will like these days.

But now there's a new brand of hotels ready to compete with the big boys--Graduate Hotels. Surprisingly, the brand is not aimed at Millennials but we don't believe them. Here's what Graduate promises to be about:

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Don't Forget: The Delano Las Vegas is Opening This Weekend

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 3940 Las Vegas Blvd South [map], Las Vegas, NV, United States, 89109
August 27, 2014 at 5:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

All eyes were on the grand opening of the SLS Las Vegas last weekend, but now the spotlight is heading down The Strip to The Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, which will officially open on Tuesday, September 2.

Back in May, we admired the "different yet still designer" look of the Vegas version of the Delano Hotel in South Beach, one of the original boutique hotels created by master hotelier in the '90s with designer Philippe Starck, who recently put his mark all over the SLS.

But this is by no means a literal translation of the South Beach hotel. If anything, the Delano Las Vegas actually feels more luxurious and warmer than the original. Sure, there is all-white furniture in the bedroom but out in the sitting room, there's furniture that you can actually sit on and feel comfortable doing so.

Little but important luxury touches in the rooms include a robe and slippers, Malin + Goetz bath amenities, flat-screen TVs, a well-stocked bar, plug panels at the desks and this most excellent phone on the nightstand.

Downstairs, there will be more of Delano to experience. See how!

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All Those Hidden Hotel Fees are Adding Up

August 27, 2014 at 12:04 PM | by | Comments (4)

Every so often, the mainstream media gets fired up about hidden hotel fees. This usually happens when it's revealed how much hotels are making off these miscellaneous yet maddening fees. This year it will be about $2.25 billion, according to a new NYU report.

Us, being both regular hotel guests and hotel trend watchers, have become somewhat accustomed, but no less outraged, to the random fees that pop up during a hotel stay.

Back in 2010 we detailed 10 Most Ridiculous Hotel Fees, included the heinous WiFi charges, the confusing room service charges and the annoying resort fees.

The next year, we followed that up with 5 Hotels That Are Acting Like Airlines with Extra Fees and made it clear we did not like the fees for making a reservation over the phone, nor the early check-in fee and certainly not the baggage storage fee.

Just last year, we uncovered more hidden fees, including the fee for the bottled water on the night stand, the towel at the pool and the safe in the closet. And soon after that, we were blindsided by a random newspaper charge. #GRR. Most recently, we uncovered another sinister type of fee creeping around London, the minimum spend fee during peak hours at the bar.

But hotels want to make money, so fees for things you would expect to be free have long been how they do business. The only way to avoid these fees is to assume that everything you use inside your hotel room, save for the water, towels, and toiletries, will cost extra. Study the little notes placed around the room by the hotel, whether it be the mini-bar menu, or the note about WiFi placed on the desk, to see if there is a charge and how much it will be.

And of course, if a fee pops up unexpectedly on your bill, head right down to the front desk to dispute it. Just make sure you know how to effectively complain to them.

[Photo: Cynthia Drescher/HotelChatter]

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Game Changer? Next Week, Portland Begins Issuing Permits for Home Rentals

August 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM | by | Comment (1)

Legislation that was passed at the end of July will officially go into effect this weekend in Portland, Oregon, legalizing short-term home rentals. As AirBnb has come under attack from the hotel industry and city governments across the country, Portland has decided to legally address how residents can use their house as a source of income.

Emphasis on the world "house," as the law includes individual houses, duplexes, and accessory dwelling units but excludes condos and apartments, even if the unit is owned. The reason for this, according to Oregon Live, is that "under the city's interpretation of the state building code, [apartment and condo buildings] would have to meet similar safety requirements as commercial hotels. Few apartment and condo buildings would live up to that standard." The law also does not include the renting out of the entire home - only a portion of it, such as a bedroom or two.

The law requires that the renter file for a permit from the city, which will cost $180 per year. The owners of the property must live on-site for at least nine months a year, limit the length of stays to less than 30 days, and agree to 1) inform their neighbors of their rental contracts and 2) allow for safety inspections by the city. The owners of the home get to keep the profits of their rentals, minus an 11.5% occupancy tax that is collected and paid to the city by the rental agency (AirBnb, for example).

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Amsterdam, New York, and Paris Are All Next For The Hoxton

August 27, 2014 at 8:31 AM | by | Comments (0)

Having just taken you inside The Hoxton Holborn, opening on September 25, we’re continuing as promised with an update on the international expansion of the brand, which will include Amsterdam, New York, and Paris within the next two years.

First up is The Hoxton Amsterdam, which as we looked at earlier this year will open in what was the Rembrandt Classic Hotel on the city’s Herengracht canal. While our January snap showed guests walking in and out, the hotel has been closed since April for its much-needed renovation to Hoxton standards. Opening should be in 2015.

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10 Ways to Do The SLS Las Vegas (Without Spending The Night)

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2535 Las Vegas Blvd South [map], Las Vegas, NV, United States, 89109
August 26, 2014 at 7:02 PM | by | Comments (5)

We've just taken you inside a World Tower room at the SLS Las Vegas but the beauty of this casino, and all casinos in Vegas really, is that you don't need to stay the night to take it all in. Here are 10 ways to see, like and savor the SLS Las Vegas without spending the night.

1. Werk Your Arrival: The grand entrance to the SLS is rather spectacular. After admiring the Philippe Starck-designed sculpture/caricature of SLS Hotels CEO Sam Nazarian out front, you walk through simple glass doors into an entryway that features a mirrored ceiling (perfect for #selfies!) and light-up floor squares which make you feel a little like Michael Jackson in the "Billie Jean" video. This "stage" of sorts then gives way to the casino floor. Overall, it just gives you a baller sense of arrival.

2. Gamble In Style: The casino is smaller than most Vegas casinos, but it's filled with shiny, new things like flat-screen TVs in the gambling pits and funky Starck-inspired figures atop some of the slot machines. There's also a throwback slot machine for the Sahara in the center of the casino if you're missing the good old days.

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Virgin Hotels are Spreading Rumors...About Virgin Hotels

August 26, 2014 at 12:19 PM | by | Comments (0)

At long last, Virgin Hotels are getting ready to strip down for guests.

Since 2011, we've been not so patiently awaiting the opening of the Virgin Hotel Chicago, which will be the first hotel for the brand. Making the wait more frustrating, aside from the repeated opening delays, is that we're still rather in the dark about what the Virgin Hotel concept is about.

We did learn 6 important things about the Virgin brand this past spring and about their 6 F&B concepts in Chicago, but largely, we've just been speculating as to what will be inside the Virgin Hotel. In true tease fashion, Virgin wants us to keep guessing.

Today, Sir Richard Branson himself is spreading rumors about the Virgin Hotel and wants you to spread some of your own too.

The Branson-sanctioned rumor-mongering is all part of a gimmick to drum up attention for the Virgin Chicago property as well as give fans an opportunity to win a two-night stay at the hotel. Here's how it works:

Branson has shared some Virgin rumors here in this video including one that says he personally tucks in every guest at night and that the hairdryers have a "beard setting."

You can submit your own Virgin rumors over the next five weeks by tweeting here on the Virgin Hotels website. Be sure to hashtag this entry with #virginrumors. Whoever submits the best rumor will be win the two night stay at Virgin Hotels, plus airfare and transport to the hotel's opening party. A rep for Virgin also cryptically said the "rumors will play out on the streets of Chicago this week" so we'll be sure to report on that as we see them.

Alas, there's no hint as to when the actual hotel opening will be but if the contest is running for five weeks, then we know the hotel won't be open before then. Ooo, did we just come up with our own entry for #virginrumors? Indeed we have.

Another sign Virgin Hotels is getting closer to opening? You can follow them now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Tonight, Reno Will Be Getting Weird

August 25, 2014 at 5:43 PM | by | Comments (0)

The opening of Burning Man, the weeklong yuppie hippie festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, has been cancelled due to rainstorms which have flooded the dried-up lake where the festival is usually held. "Burners" headed to the festival, some in expensive, custom RVs, are being turned away at the gate and sent back to Reno, the closest major city, until at least tomorrow morning. And boy, are the Reno hotels and casinos, happy to have them.

Here's a list of the hotels that are open to the Burners. Fortunately, all of these options are pretty affordable and there are even reports that the hotels will not be price-gouging the dejected burners, just because they can. Also, doing a quick look on Expedia, we see plenty of hotel rooms open with the most expensive one being the Peppermill Resort for about $150 a night. In short, if you're going to be in Reno tonight, it's probably going to be a little weird.

Reno is an interesting "biggest little city", with many believing that lowkey Reno is what Downtown Vegas used to be like--loose slots, good bargains, relaxed atmosphere etc--before Downtown Vegas got all Vegas-ified. But at the same time, Reno might just be a little too lowkey for the techies that frequent Burning Man.

Our sister site, VegasChatter, also explored Reno earlier this year. You can read about those adventures here and here.

[Photo: Flickr]

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Inside a Room at the Just-Opened SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 2535 Las Vegas Blvd South [map], Las Vegas, NV, United States, 89109
August 25, 2014 at 3:54 PM | by | Comments (3)

Now open! Say hello to this caricature of Sam Nazarian, designed by Philippe Starck.

If you followed our live-blog on Friday, then you were privy to one of the first images from inside a room at the SLS Las Vegas, which officially opened at midnight to the public. Today, we're showing you all around that room.

This here is a superior room in The World Tower, which is standard SLS fare in terms of design and amenities. The Story Tower has smaller, budget-type rooms with bright yellow-tiled bathrooms, while the Lux Tower has larger plusher rooms and suites, with more of designer Philippe Starck's ethereal elements like mirrors on the ceilings, peekaboo bathrooms and illustrated draperies.

The decor in the World Tower is simple but with alternating soft and bold touches like a white sofa at the foot of the also white and extremely comfortable king bed, an armchair with a silver tree stump table next to it, baby pink and black wallpaper design, and giant mirrors on three walls, including one which lights up.

The minibar amenities offer up SLS Saints and Sinners goodies (including SLS's Culinary Director Jose Andres' brand of potato chips!) along with fancy cocktail glasses to use. In the bathroom are SLS's Ciel Spa toiletries which are thankfully gentle on your skin and hair. There's an open closet and an open shelf for storing your clothes as well as an ironing board and iron to crisp up for a night out.

Our favorite part, however, was the desk.

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