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We've already had a busy morning as far as new hotels news goes. But there's even more. Here's a short list of new hotels coming to a city near you:
· Hotel Van Zandt, Austin: Kimpton Hotels will open a new hotel in Austin in 2015 in the city's historic Rainey Street District. The 16-story hotel will feature 322 guest rooms, over 12,000 square feet total event and meeting space, achef-driven restaurant, lobby cafe and pool deck and bar. Interior designer Mark Zeff will oversee the interior design of the Hotel Van Zandt and its restaurant. Kimpton has also made announcements for new properties in Savannah, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Palm Springs, Sedona and Grand Cayman so there will be lots more Kimptons to choose from in the coming years.
· Fairmont Austin: Speaking of Austin, construction should begin on the new Fairmont Hotel at 101.Red River Street later this fall, according to this report. The 1,000-room hotel will cost nearly half a billion to build and should open sometime in 2016.
· The Archer Napa: The Archer in New York City hasn't opened yet (that's happening early next year) but already they've announced a second Archer Hotel for Napa Valley. The Archer Napa will be a new-build luxury hotel at the First Street site of the former Merrill’s building, adjacent to The Shops at Napa Center. LogdeWorks and Zapolski Real Estate have partnered up on the seven-story property which will reflect "a casual elegance, organic to the Napa aesthetic. " No opening date has been set yet.
If there was a Guinness World Record for "fastest time from arrival in wine country to having a wine glass in-hand," the Andaz Napa would easily snag the title. Walking into the lobby, being greeted by Andaz staff, and having some complimentary local red or white poured while you set down your luggage takes all of maybe one minute. Once you've had a sip or two, the quick check-in process begins and you're upstairs stretching out fireplace-side in under ten minutes.
The Andaz Napa, formerly the AVIA Napa (Hyatt purchased the AVIA brand in 2011 and transitioned this into the Andaz) sits in a very fortunate location at the center of downtown Napa, placing the main shopping and dining (may we suggest Oenotri?) only a quick walk out the front door, while further destinations like Yountville and the entire Napa Valley spread of wineries are simply a short drive.
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The outdoor terrace at the new Andaz Napa
A few days after the expected open date, which felt like an eternity but at last,Andaz Napa opened its doors yesterday in Napa’s burgeoning West End, effectively vaporizing the former Avia Napa. While we love Andazsms pretty much anywhere, having one in Napa is dreamy, not only because the brand is as locally focused as the town, but also because bringing Andaz's vibrant, stylish design to downtown Napa makes it a great option for those who find traditional wine country B&Bs a snore.
Last month, we mentioned a few of the changes to expect at this new Napa hotel, including an Andaz Lounge in lieu of a traditional front desk. Essentially replacing the lobby, the Lounge transforms the check-in process to a more social, casual experience where guests are greeted, checked in by iPad and offered a glass of vino while they sit or plot out their wine country adventures on the wall-length map of the Napa Valley.
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While we wait for the Andaz Amsterdam to open its Wanders-ful doors in October, there's another Andaz Hotel opening closer to home--The Andaz Napa.
Formerly, an AVIA hotel in the city's "West End" neighborhood, the property has been undergoing an Andazformation over the summer and is now expected to reopen on September 7th. Right now on the hotel's website, we were only able to find rooms for September 28 at $299 a night for a classic king, but the hotel will definitely open sooner than that.
Now here's a rundown of what has changed at the hotel:
· Instead of a traditional front desk, the hotel now sports an Andaz Lounge where guests can check-in either via iPad, tabletop computer or on the way to the room. A host will greet them and give them a galss of wine to enjoy as they take in the new, regionally-inspired design elements from California architecture and design firm Bishop Pass, including a wall-length map of Napa Valley.
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The idea is simple: have a cocktail while enjoying your treatment. Now this may go against the holistic idea behind getting spa service in the first place, but, eh, we don’t mind. At Napa's Auberge du Soleil guests signing up for the Summer Thyme Bliss Treatment ($350/2hrs) soak in a warm chamomile milk bath infused with fresh thyme, lemon verbena and orange zest.
Afterwards, they'll receive a full body massage bwith special scalp and foot attention. This is followed by a glass of "Free Thyme" a fragrant cocktail made with Pinot Gris, camomile grappa, mandarin napoleon, fresh thyme and lemon juice.
The Tequila Soother ($335/2 hours) at Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas starts with a salt and lime body exfoliation, follows with a aloe vera and honey mask, a tequila agave body wrap, then another facial with yogurt and oats, and ends with a massage. The reward for all that work? A Paloma, made with white tequila, grapefruit and lime juice--aka the original "skinny margarita".
This morning we got an announcement that Best Western Hotels recently opened two new Best Western Premier hotels (one in Melbourne, Australia and one just outside of Moscow) and it got us wondering--have you ever stayed in a Best Western Premier hotel before?
In case you aren't familiar, BW's Premier brand offers guests upscale amenities, personalized guest services and an overall luxury hotel experience but at a value price point that folks come to expect from the Best Western name.
The Best Western folks are so gung-ho about this Premier brand they are plotting quite a busy and exotic expansion path with openings for Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nairobi and Oman expected for this year. In the next 12 months, the number of BWPs (can we call them that?) in North America will increase by 50 percent thanks to the opening of nine hotels throughout US, Canada and the Caribbean.
So if you haven't stayed in one yet, you very well may in the next year.
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The Sun Palace, Cancun
We at HotelChatter know Spring Break exists even though our school days are long gone. March and April seems to be the months when kids from elementary to college age are let loose upon the world, meaning vacation time for some lucky adults too. So you know what? We decided we want in, too. There’s still enough time to book a getaway, so with that in mind, here are some vernal equinox escapes, in case you want to get on the bandwagon.
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Major news for Andaz Hotel lovers--there's going to be a few new Andazes to check out pretty soon.
The 141-room Avia Napa in the area's "West End" will get a new look from California architecture and design firm Bishop Pass before it turns into an Andaz. The guestrooms will offer "modern furnishings in an earthy color palette, complementing the surrounding landscape." Bathrooms will feature white marble, walk-in showers and waterfall shower heads.
The lobby will also get a reno to showcase design inspired by the region. The hotel's signature restaurant and bar will offer a "Napa-to-table" menu, sourcing its ingredients directly from the plentiful ranches, orchards, mills and farms in the area.
Rounding out the hotel amenities are a 24-hour fitness center and a rotating art gallery with works made by local artists. And as with all Andazs, the minibar will offer complimentary snacks, non-alcoholic beverages and free WiFi.
Everyone all together now, "Awwww...." Yes, these babydoll sheep at the Calistoga Ranch in Napa are so adorable. But they actually serve a very important purpose at the resort. The sheep have replaced lawnmowers as a way to reduce the resort's carbon footprint.
No more lawnmower emissions, noisy machines, or a large carbon footprint--the Babydoll Sheep munch their way through the tall grasses behind the lodges and near the Valley View Trail. They'll be surrounded by a solar-charged electric fence that will protect them during their stay at Calistoga Ranch.
The sheep are less than two feet tall and are extremely docile in nature known to be extremely docile. And um, incredibly cute!
The resort has also replaced water bottles at turndown service with handmade glasses and pitchers made by a local artist and potter and last week on Arbor Day, guests were greeted at check-in with their own individually potted miniature olive tree.
Travelers to Napa Valley are used to the finest wines and freshest foods around, so in order to keep up with the gourmet competition and cater to its demanding guests, even the Embassy Suites (which in the town of Napa itself) is taking its food and beverage operation upscale.
Starting now, the 205-room all-suite hotel, which is managed by Hilton, has brought in a new food and beverage management team headed up by Napa native Christy Gianelli, who has worked with a who’s who of Napa hospitality including Wine Adventures, the ultra-luxe Silverado Resort, and the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau.
The city of Napa, gateway to the famous Napa Valley has long been the angry stepchild to the illustrious Napa Valley destinations of Yountville, Rutherford and St Helena.
However, the city of 75,000 has been making a dedicated effort to gussy-up their river front downtown area. With the recent opening of foodie-heaven Oxbow Market and mainstay food and arts center Copia already in place, it was only a matter of time before a major hotel player came into the cards and that prayer was answered this spring by Ritz-Carlton.
Having Chef Thomas Keller cook you and 9 of your most intimate friends dinner sounds grand beyond all expectation, however, the 5 rooms and suites that make up Poetry Inn embody a classic simple elegance that speaks to quality and homeyness above all else.