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About a month from now, Shangri-La Hotels will finally cut the ribbon on its long in the works skyscraper hotel at the Shard in London. Ahead of the May 6 opening, we packed ourselves into a construction lift - high-visibility gear, hard hat and all - for a first look at what you can expect between floors 34 and 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed landmark.
As we heard when reservations opened a few weeks back (opening rates start at £450 / $750), the ground floor lobby facing St. Thomas Street looks nearly finished, but some changes to furniture and set up are still to be made. We saw the sky lobby at level 35, which hits you with head-on views of the City and St. Paul’s, all the way west towards Westminster, the second you step out of the express lifts.
Finding a hotel room is easy. Simply go on the Internet or use your smartphone and voila! You're booked.
But if you are only interested in new hotels, then that's a different story. Luckily, you have us. And we're obsessed with new hotels. Here's a list of hotels that have opened or are opening this month (and a few that aren't going to make it.) Got a new hotel to add? Send it to us!
HOTELS OPENING IN APRIL 2014
· CITIZENM TIMES SQUARE: Technically the hotel opened on March 25 but things weren't exactly ready so they have moved the opening date to April 12. And they've moved the price point too. A reader points out rates for April 14 and the priced jumped to $336 a night. Keep in mind, these are tiny rooms. Let's hope everything is fully operational then.
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It takes a long time for a hotel project to go from idea to groundbreaking, from construction to first check-in. So even as we luxuriate (hopefully) in new openings and exciting upgrades, we’re already looking into our crystal ball (AKA the Internet) for buzz on what’s coming down the pipeline. Herewith, we present the three Boston hotel openings in 2015 that have us most excited right now — and why.
1. Envoy Hotel
Why we’re excited: Because a hot neighborhood needs a hot hotel. Nothing makes something sound less hip than using the word hip.” But if you’ll allow us to don our verbal Mom Jeans for a moment — Boston’s Fort Point is hip. It’s hot. It’s very “now,” a little sliver of a neighborhood bordering the Seaport that happens to be filled with some of the most buzz-worthy restaurants in recent years: from legendary chef Barbara Lynch’s fine dining flagship, Menton, to the self-professed “working man’s oyster bar” (if you’re a “working man” in finance, maybe) that is Row 34.
Now the transformation from industrial area to hot hospitality ‘hood is nearly complete, with word that the $70 million Envoy Hotel (a rendering shown here) will open in 2015 on Sleeper Street near the Barking Crab restaurant. The six-story property is an entry in Marriott’s luxury Autograph Collection which also includes Maine's upcoming Press Hotel. Expect 136 rooms, plans for a pedestrian plaza that will link to the Boston HarborWalk, a rooftop terrace with skyline and harbor views, and 4,000 square feet of space on the ground level for – what else? – restaurants. Hip.
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The singsongy sounding Marriott Marquis Washington DC is still planning to open on May 1, but right now, reservations are being accepted online only for June 1 at a grand opening rate of $269 a night.
Yet in an effort to capitalize on the summer travel to DC (did you know this summer will be the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner?), the soon-to-be-largest hotel in DC (with 1,175 rooms) has put together three opening packages and they are actually deal-worthy. Here they are:
· Summer Weekends Deal: From June 1-September 1, the hotel is offering 40 percent off two night stays and 50 percent off three-night stays from Thursday-Sunday nights. Suites are exempt. All stays must be purchased in advance and are nonrefundable. Still, you can get a two night stay for just $108 a night or a three-night stay for just $90 a nigt. Book by May 23 to score the best rate. Use code NEW to book.
And so the list of new London hotels continues to grow, with this time two new properties from a local brand that might not be familiar to many: Montcalm Hotels. The group currently has a total of four hotels in the West End and the City, but seems to be set on expanding with one hotel in Shoreditch and one on Finsbury Square, just west of Liverpool Street.
The latter, The Royal London House by Montcalm London City (there’s a mouthful), appears and disappears depending on where you look on the website. The former, M By Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City, is headlined as “one of London’s most notable hotels, […] essentially the spot to be in London”, which is a big statement for a hotel that isn’t open yet. According to Montcalm, it should also open near the “Silicone Roundabout”. Is that the plastic surgery equivalent of the Old Street tech area we don’t know about? Perhaps a little better copy writing is all that is needed.
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As we told you last fall, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios would be opening on March 31st and today, the property lived up to its promise as the resort's first guests began checking in.
You can learn more about what the guest rooms have to offer here but for now, check out this dive tower water slide that drops you out into the 10,000-sq.ft. zero entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard ("Castaway" is the name of one of the guest room towers.)
The hotel will also unveil a lazy river experience, a first for the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, on June 16th (along with Hideaway Bar and Grill, the Tower family suites and standard rooms.)
Right now the hotel is offering a special opening offer for a family suite at a standard room rate. Rooms were sold-out this weekend but we did find a family suite for $239 a night next weekend. That room can sleep up to six people (it is kind of cramped, you've been warned) and it gives the family early access to Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, along with a few other benefits.
[Photo: Cabana Bay Beach Resort]
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New Brunswick’s Grande Dame of a hotel, The Algonquin Resort, reopened last week after a one-year “rafters to registration” refurb to become Canada’s first hotel under Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand of independent hotels.
The century-old plus Algonquin Resort’s guest rooms and public spaces were completely redesigned by Toronto designer, Robynne Moncur of Moncur Design. The hotel’s décor reflects its Victorian origins but is re-styled for a modern sensibility, with a living room-style lobby that invites lingering around the two-sided fireplace. The lounge now opens to an outdoor patio that takes in the nightly sunsets over Passamaquoddy Bay in the awesomely-named St. Andrews-by-the Sea.
Each guest room and suite in the 233-room resort includes comfy pillow-top mattresses and bathrobes, radiant heat flooring in the bathrooms so that your tootsies don’t get cold, MP3 players, 32-inch flat screen TVs, in-room coffee, and complimentary in-room movies and WiFi. Select rooms and suites even feature a balcony or patio for you to while away an afternoon with a book — something like Michael Martin’s Lost in Hotels seems appropriate!
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Tennis pro Andy Murray is about to open his very first hotel next week in Dunblane, Scotland, but lest you think he's throwing in his tennis career to become a full-time hotelier, he will actually be missing opening ceremony to prepare for the Davis Cup quarter-final in Italy.
In true behind every great man ... tradition his mum, Judy, who actually handled much of the design herself, will be there instead.
The hotel has just 15 rooms including five suites, as well as a one-bedroom gate lodge. All have all been named by Andy in recognition of famous Scots: poet Robert Burns; Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who became Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Robert the Bruce, medieval King of Scotland, Eden, the family who previously owned Cromlix, Sir Alex Ferguson, former football manager and player and Sir Chris Hoy, Olympic cyclist.
Most suites feature hand-painted freestanding baths in gold, silver and copper, and all rooms feature Peter Reed 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton bed linen and Cromlix’s bespoke range of Arran Aromatics toiletries. On-site activities include tennis (of course), falconry, snooker and fishing.
The second location of the upscale brand makes a pilgrimage to Plymouth.
There’s more than an ocean between Plymouth and Paris. Yes, the Massachusetts city holds a pretty important place in history. (Which, if you passed seventh grade, you hopefully recall involves a very important boat crash-landing on a very famous rock.)
But with all due respect to the Pilgrims’ first stomping grounds, most people would probably choose a vacation sipping wine by the river Seine than pounding beers in a South Shoh-wuh bah.
But when it opens in June, The Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills (a rendering seen here) may offer the area’s best approximation to a French getaway.
Like its sister property in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, the Plymouth Mirbeau is modeled in the style of a romantic country manor house and inspired by the Impressionist art of Claude Monet: think picturesque grounds with covered wooden bridges, waterfalls, lush gardens, placid ponds, and grounds filled with beret-wearing French hens strutting with cigarettes in their beaks and baguettes tucked under their wings. (Okay, everything but the last, obviously. Birds are notoriously anti-smoking.)
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It looks like CitizenM Hotels were getting ahead of themselves when they opened up bookings for their Times Square property. When we stopped by earlier today to take a peek, we were told that, while a few guests are staying tonight (the projected opening date) opening date has now been pushed back to April 12. Given that this is the rather unwelcoming scene we were greeted with at the front door, we'd say that's a wise decision.
Not much longer to wait!
The Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills will officially open its doors on June 11, making it the first Andaz in Japan and the 12th Andaz hotel overall. Here are a few words from the hotel's general manager:
“We are thrilled to introduce the Andaz brand to this exciting city to become a bridge between Tokyo’s fascinating past and dynamic future,” said Arnaud de Saint-Exupéry, General Manager of Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills. “We look forward to offering the boutique lifestyle hotel concept to both guests and locals, which is something quite new for the Japanese hotel market. The Andaz brand is deeply rooted in local culture, and we are committed to providing an unscripted, Japanese-inspired experience to guests that will help them feel truly connected to the heart and soul of Tokyo.”
We couldn't find a room online for June 11th (it said the hotel was sold-out) but we did find a special opening offer for June 16th for about $375 a night for an Andaz King. Remember, this is Andaz, so complimentary WiFi, minibar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are included.
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Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski Riyadh
Yet another list of hotel openings to get excited about. Today, we have a short list of Kempinski Hotels opening this year. Actually, it's kind of a long list when you look at it. Kempinski is Europe's oldest independent luxury hotel group which now operates 75 hotels in 32 countries. They'll be adding 11 new hotels across Africa, China and The Middle East (along with one serviced residences property in Switzerland) by the end of 2014. Starting with...
Kempinski Hotel Fleuve Congo Kinshasa (Republic of Congo)
Opening Date: Opened on March 01, 2014
Highlights: 237 rooms and suites, views of the Congo River, three restaurants, three bars, outdoor tennis courts, swimming pool and billiard and snooker rooms.
Burj Rafal Kempinski Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
Opening Date: Opened on March 02, 2014
Highlights: First hotel in Saudi Arabia for Kempsinski, closest luxury hotel to King Khalid International Airport, 349 rooms nd suites, a cigar lounge, three cafes, two restaurants, and a Resense spa with separate wellness centers for ladies and gentlemen.
Hôtel des Mille Collines managed by Kempinski, Kigali (Rwanda)
Opening Date: Q2 2014
Highlights: Made famous in the movie, "Hotel Rwanda", the Hôtel des Mille Collines will be managed by Kempinski; 112 rome and suites, an outdoor swimming pool, six boutiques and a fitness center Located in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and made famous in the movie “Hotel Rwanda”, Hôtel des Mille Collines managed by Kempinski features 112 rooms and suites, meeting and conference facilities, including a conference room for 120 people, an outdoor swimming pool, six boutiques and a fitness centre.