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Having scoped out where both W Hotels and Mandarin Oriental will be landing in Milan, we turned down the city’s Via Montenapoleone to make our way to the Four Seasons, and check in on some of the work that has been going on to keep the hotel fresh and ready for whatever competition will show up in the next few years.
For the 15th-century former convent that houses the hotel, that means renovation of its 68 guestrooms has started, and the addition of a brand new spa. Resident Four Seasons designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has put his name on the new look of the rooms, and Patricia Urquiola is responsible for the spa. No matter what happens within the hotel's walls, one of its loveliest features is actually outside: its pretty courtyard, a space so quiet in the middle of Milan that you can reportedly sleep with the windows open, something we can easily believe based on the silence we experienced here.
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As much as we wanted to believe that Mandarin Oriental would open its Milan hotel this year, no one will be surprised that’s not happening. Unfortunately, we’re going to rain on your – and our own – parade even further, since it was whispered in our ear that it will more likely be sometime in 2015.
2015! That demands at least another year of patience for the 104-room hotel on Via Monte di Pietà, around the corner from the W Milan. It seemed rather quiet when we walked by recently, but who knows what hive of activity it was inside. The MO announcement from way back in 2007 talks about three 19th century buildings, but we counted four distinct facades, which also pop up in an architectural rendering we found in the wonderful treasure trove that is the internet.
So we were all sorts of excited when W Hotels announced it would be opening its first Italian hotel in Milano, but had not even a hint of an image to go with it. Now we do, if only of the exterior of the five-story structure on Via Brera, in the middle of the city’s artsy and nightlife quarter.
To get the worst news out of the way: that 2013 opening that floated around at the time did not quite work out – obviously – and if you’re eager to check in, pace yourself. It’ll be another two and a half years until April 1, 2016 (no April Fool’s joke, we hope) before that will be possible.
Not a photo of the W Milan (it's the W Chicago Lakeshore), though we don't doubt Milan will have its share of paparazzi snaps soon enough
It's crazy to think that in a city where the Armani Hotel, Maison Moschino and Hotel Bulgari fill their beds with the fashion-foward set year-round, that a W Hotel hasn't claimed a single cobblestone as its own.
Oh waitwe take that back! The W Milan has announced that it'll be opening in the Italian metropolis as soon as May 2013 and guess what? It'll not only be the first W in Milan, but the first W in the entire country of Italy. Che meraviglia!
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There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· Mandarin Oriental Milan is coming in 2013: The luxury brand, Mandarin Oriental have long had their eyes set on Italy but now we've got word that the MO Milano will open in 2013. The hotel will have 104 guestrooms including 34 suites set throughout three 19th century buildings on Via Monte de Pieta, a rather swank address. A GM has just been appointed for the property which is a good sign that the 2013 opening date will stick.
· Trump Lands in Miami: It's finally happened. Trump Hotels have officially assumed management of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa outside Miami. Over the next 18 months, Trump will put in about $200 million in renovating the almost-800-acre resort. The place will be fully re-branded when the new look is complete.
“Imposing” is the word we probably would have used. Or “magisterial”, maybe. But definitely not “like a psychiatric hospital”, which is how Roberto Cavalli just described the Armani Hotel Milan.
“Between Armani and me there is an abyss. Have you seen that new hotel? It looks like a psychiatric hospital” were the exact words he used when talking to La Repubblica newspaper.
The most embarrassing thing for Armani in the whole affair is that you know what? Now that he’s said that, we look at pictures and go “You know what, it kinda does.” But then again, it’s hardly out of place in Milan, a city whose buildings are way more severe than the flouncy terracotta stuff you expect in the Italy of your textbooks.
Everyone knows that the first stop for fashionistas on a jaunt through Italy is Milan. It's got designers. It's got Fashion Week. And it's got the man himself, Giorgio Armani.
A man, who, as much as he's making a name for himself now in the hospitality biz, first got introduced to the world as a fashion person. Clothes, retail, couture: those are his roots, not necessarily beautiful hotels. But the new Milan property, with all its 95 textured monochrome guest rooms and eighth floor "hat" lobby, actually manages to contain both those worlds under the same roof—the hotel is built right on top of an Armani store. How convenient!
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Though we took a quick look last month at what Tripadvisor reviewers were saying, we still feel a little out of the loop about the new Armani Hotel Milan, which has been open for almost two months now.
What kind of fancy Armani unforms do the staff wear? Are the rooms really that big? How do the hotel's Lifestyle Managers fit in, exactly?
Sadly, the hotel provided little in the way of a response—choosing only to reiterate Giorgio's vision of creating a "precisely defined ambiance of total comfort." But we have managed to scrap together at least a fragmentary sense of the interiors. For starters: similar to the property in Dubai, the Armani Milan's rooms are homogenized in soft beiges, tans, and dark browns. Emphasis here is more on texture—with limestone bathrooms, backlit shingled headboards, and cabinets that vanish into walls. All of which, hopefully, don't get in the way of comfort.
We can hardly believe it ourselves, but the Armani Milan is over the one month mark, as it finally made its debut back on November 10. It may still be piping hot and fresh out of the hotel-baking oven, but it's time to start reading what people are saying about it.
One thing is important to remember, however, and that's that Italy doesn't have it all together on the social media/online sharing front. Case in point: the place has been booked up, but both Hotels.com, Expedia, Venere, etc have not a single review of it (barring this nice photo gallery).
Thus, for now we turn to Tripadvisor:
In just over two weeks, the world will have a second Armani Hotel to drool over. At least, that's the hope. After delaying and missing the hubbub of Milan Fashion Week earlier this season, the Armani Hotel Milan has posted an official opening date to their website: November 10.
Okay, so actually we've known this for a little bit, but the magic of it is that the hotel seems to be sticking to the day. When we snooped around the property earlier this year, we noted that the place looked very much finished from the outside, but that filling out the 96 roomsboasting the largest hotel room sizes in the whole cityis likely the cause of the autumn date.
Despite the fact that it's totally crunch time at the Armani Milan, they are not yet taking reservations. That, however, doesn't mean you can't add it to your holiday wish list.
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"Quiet and calm, yet strong and spicy"
Five skilled European fashion designers are going head-to-head this week for a $40,000 prize, handed out by Dorchester Collection Hotels. To mark the occasion—and to keep things light-hearted—a cocktail has been created for each of them.
Between champagne-soaked raspberries and espresso-whiskey concoctions, each drink was created to mimic the personality (and name) of each lucky fashionista. So instead of wearing their clothes, guests of the hotels get to consume their creations in drink form. Convenient, no?
Though they were made through collaborations with different Dorchester hotel bartenders, each of the five drinks—the Elisir di Giulietta, the JL, the Anndra Neen Ruby, the Starry Sky and the Silent Thunderbird (above)—are all available at any of the hotels (45 Park Lane, The Dorchester, Hotel Principe Di Savoia, Le Meurice, and Plaza Athenee Paris). We personally would go for the Andra Neen Ruby, but probably just because we're drawn to brightly-colored things.
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Have you ever heard the famous Italian
phrase mantra "Fare una bella figura?" It translates to something like "to make a fine figure," but the gist is to always put forward a physical appearance that makes you look good. Usually this involves dressing well and behaving appropriately, but for this moment we're going to apply it to the under-construction Armani Hotel Milan.
We checked in on the construction ourselves pretty recently, but it seems as though work is progressing nicely as the hotel has set down an official opening date of November 10, 2011. So it will make it yet this year!
So how is the Armani Milan putting its best foot forward? By waiting until well after all the Fashion Weeks have finished. This way, the property and all its opening kinks aren't immediately tested and exposed to who would likely be A-list fashion guests, had the hotel pressured itself into opening for the pomp of a Fashion Week debut in late September. Whew. Instead it will enjoy a leisurely month or so before holiday shopping crowds really stretch its legs.