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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]
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We were lucky enough to be in Vienna last month and get first looks at the new Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, which officially opened today with a 700-strong party attendance. At the time, the place was a huge construction site and we were doubtful that the company would be able to pull off their anticipated opening date. Looks like we were wrong!
As we donned surgical coverings over our shoes and made our way through the historical Renaissance Revival-style building that was built in 1873, in Vienna's first district, we knew this place would be something special. From the cafe wall made of real plants to the intricate details of each space, it seemed that Viennese architect Boris Podrecca and designer Jean-Claude Laville had serious visions for this hotel. And it would be necessary to stand out in a city that's been seeing a host of new hotels lately including the Ritz-Carlton, Vienna and has competition to come in the form of the ME Vienna and the Park Hyatt Vienna. So yes, they had to bring the bling to the 152 room, suites, and common areas, and it took almost three years to get it done, but they still managed to keep much of the heritage intact--from the chandeliers, wrought iron staircases, and ceiling windows that bring in natural light.
First and foremost, the building is huge--well of course it is--it's a former palace. Still, it seems like the areas are never ending, especially when spread across seven floors. It'll take more than one night to absorb its splendor. In fact, our site-inspection was nearly two hours long and this was pre-opening. Here's what's in store for lucky guests.
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We’re used to seeing fab hotels open the world over (and don’t get us wrong –- there’s still a thrill with every one) but not many can boast being blessed during their opening by the Buddhist spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Well, the Kempinski Ambience Hotel Delhi can make that claim for their newly-opened modern property in east Delhi's Shahdara district.
Literally meaning “door of kings” in Urdu, Shahdara is on the banks of the Yamuna River and was established in the 16th century. It’s the second oldest locality of Delhi after Chandni Chowk and is home to the popular Chhota Bazaar, the second oldest and one of the busiest markets in the city known for its spicy street food, if you dare to try it. Many attractions are found nearby including the Akshardham Temple, the Buddh International Circuit F1 Grand Prix Track, and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
The hotel has a substantial 480 rooms and suites in two towers that are connected by a sky bridge. Each tower has a dedicated entrance, pre-lobby, main lobby ('cause you can never have too many lobbies), concierge and fitness center. Décor is a calming up-to-the minute palette of greys, browns and whites with shocks of color thrown in for good measure.
When thinking of the most luxurious places on the top of our list for traveling and soaking up a little slice of paradise, the Ghanaian capital of Accra doesn't jump out. That might need to change after Kempinski opens its newest hotel next year, called Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra.
The Munich-based luxury hotel chain is claiming stake on central Africa's seaside city with plans to welcome guests as soon as April. Located in the heart of the city in close walking distance to the State House, museums and the main sports stadium. The 269-room hotel will be focused around an central local cedar garden that is overlooked by various private decks and balconies.
The warmth of the African sun is a key decor element for each of the rooms. Local artwork and wood carvings pay homage to the country's heritage, while the luxurious baths and complimentary WiFi will keep with the European standards. Hardwood floors trimmed with lush textiles will not only stay cool in the tropical climate, but prove to be very African.
Better late than never, eh?
That must be what North Korea is telling itself after the announcement late last week—right around Halloween, in fact—that the world's scariest hotel is set to open sometime next year. Aaaahhh! Even better, Munich-based luxury chain Kempinski has been chosen to manage the hotel.
Given Kempinski's gorgeous properties in Europe and beyond (we're particularly fond of London's The Stafford), the brand will be adding some much-needed credibility to Pyongyang's 105-story pyramid-shaped "monster hotel."
Though, the execs at Kempinski aren't fools. With all the buzz this hotel has had over the years (as they say, there's no such thing as bad press!), they stand to make a fortune in sales. In the words of Kempinski CEO Reto Wittwer:
"I said to myself, we have to get this hotel if there is ever a chance, because this will become a money-printing machine if North Korea opens up."
Spoken like a true hotelier.
The 26-year old employee, who is from India and worked in the reservations department, admitted to the crime and apologized. He was tried in Dubai’s Criminal Court and sentenced to six months jail time yesterday.
The crime occurred on September 27th when the Kempinski Hotel guest asked his bank about an unrecognized charge on his credit card bill from the airline. It was determined that the purchase date was the same as his stay at the Kempinski, located in the Mall of the Emirates. The guest then reported the incident to the police, who then tracked the name on the ticket and subsequently arrested the hotel employee. He will be deported after his prison term.
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What comes to mind when you think about yummy food in Indonesia? Nasi or Mie Goreng probably, and that's cool, but the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski wants you to know it's more than all that. There's also...chocolate.
The hotel and its Executive Pastry Chef, Kevin Curry, have reserved the month of May to be a spotlight on chocolate...but with a local flavor. We're talking about chocolates with a little spice, or pandan-flavored marshmallows.
If, for some reason, you find yourself in Jakarta this month (as we did), then all the goodies can be had at the Kempinski's own Kempi Deli inside the attached Grand Indonesia Mall. Or, you know, there's always a few special events to sign up for:
Staying at a hotel that's 3+ stars in Jakarta, Indonesia means you'll likely have a view of the city; many of the central high-rise buildings house hotels. That said, it's rare to have such a straight shot view to the iconic Wisma 46, Indonesia's tallest building nicknamed the "Fountain Pen."
Hopefully you can see why this pointy, 48-story skyscraper looks as though it's ready to write its John Hancock on the Jakarta smog layer. And, hopefully, you're checking it out from inside a cushy room at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, which sits smack dab at the traffic circle around the "Bundaran HI" welcome monument.
The Hotel Indonesia itself is a landmark relic from the 1960s, and now that it's managed by Kempinski the vintage exterior is countered by a seriously modern interior; we're talking designer furniture in the lobby and guestrooms that look like they're in Manhattan, versus a chaotic capital in Southeast Asia. Rooms at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski being around $250 per night.
It's not huge news in the US, but over in England, the News of the World phone hacking scandal and paper closure is all anyone can talk about. Thus, it's no surprise that paparazzi have been trailing both News Corp head Rupert Murdoch and News International chief Rebekah Brooks over the last few days, watching their every move during this stressful period. One stop on the Murdoch-Brooks itinerary was the five-star Stafford Hotel, just near Murdoch's London residence.
The Stafford is a properly British hotel, discreet and exclusive, so it's no wonder Murdoch, Brooks and James Murdoch retired here to dine and discuss the fact that they've just put over 200 people out of work and shut Britain's oldest paper amid controversy and police inquiries. We're assuming they reserved a private dining room, otherwise they'd risk having entrees pitched at them. Oh wait; we forgot. This is Britain and therefore the most intense a confrontation would get is maybe dirty looks and snotty tsk-tsking from across the room.
Now that the royal couple is married and in our neck of the woods, we can focus on some other London hotel news, like the new renovations at the Stafford Hotel .
The hotel just finished a £6 million makeover, leaving it with a spiffed-up new lounge, reception area, restaurant and more.
Well well well, the folks at the Stafford are getting serious now that it’s been taken over by Kempinski. Maybe it’s a reaction to Big Brother, maybe they’re offering us a cunning excuse to drink away the evenings, but they’re launching a new series of lectures called Pub Talk in their American Bar.
When we say “lectures”, we mean it in the loosest sense. The official description is “evenings filled with fine pursuits” – by which they mean drinking, eating, and having a little conversation. They call it an “interactive lecture” – by which they probably mean they’re expecting boozy heckling. And at the helm will be “in-house experts and luxury brand ambassadors discussing some of the finer things in life” (think booze).
Now that pretty much nobody in London cares about the World Cup anymore, it’s time to put those big screen TVs to another use (than hurling abuse at). At the Stafford Hotel, that use would be screening Wimbledon. How very genteel!
But far better than the big screen is the Lawn Tennis Afternoon Tea that they’re serving up with it.