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We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
We told you last year that Omni Hotels was taking over the King Edward Hotel in Toronto and would be spending $40 million on renovating the hotel, from guestrooms to the 17th floor Crystal Ballroom that has been closed since the 1970s. While its 20-foot ceilings and four-way skyline views will make for a dramatic addition to the hotel, we’ll start today with a look at the before and after of the guestrooms.
The move to Omni last year marked 110 years since the hotel first opened in 1903, so it’s probably no surprise the rooms had a rather classic feel, but how have they changed?
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If you’re not only a hotel geek but kinda a science geek too, you probably already know that March 14 is Pi Day (because the mathematical constant π, or Pi, which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is approximately equal to 3.14, but with 1.2 trillion digits after it).
If you didn’t know that, you might want to know this: Some hotels are using this as an excuse to bring out their best pies for the occasion. And who doesn’t like a nice pie?
The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC is offering a scrumptious-looking Apple Pi Tartlet (that's it above) that’s made with 3 Pi (9.42) Granny Smith apples. The tartlet is topped with decorative apples made of white chocolate—can you stand it?
Hotel Loyalty Programs / Google / Loyalty Program News / Omni Hotels / Omni Select Guests / Hotel News / → All Tags
Not familiar with Google Wallet? It's a mobile app that allows consumers to store their loyalty cards from various places in one spot. Not only convenient, it allows you to ditch all those loyalty cards you've been carrying around in your real-life wallet.*
Omni is one of the first hotel groups to sign up with Google Wallet and in celebration of doing so, they are offering Select Guest members and new customers a 20 percent discount on a two-night stay at participating Omni hotels. Members who link their current account to Google Wallet or new members who sign-up for the Select Guest program, can book now through January 31, 2014 for stays through March 31, 2014. There are some restrictions (namely it can't be combined with other offers so read the fine print carefully.)
Google Wallet can be downloaded for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store. Also free to join is the Omni Select Guests program which you can join up right here.
*(We actually keep all these random loyalty cards in a separate pouch that we keep in our purse. It's maddening to carry around all the time, so we should probably get on this Google Wallet train.)
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No pressure or anything, but you only have 7 days to shop for the folks on your list before Christmas Eve arrives. But never fear, we're here to help you out with 7 Gift Ideas for the Hotel Lover in Your Life. Give this list a look and then get shopping!
1. GIFT CARDS: Let's be real. It's not the most thoughtful option but it is easy. And damn, wouldn't you be psyched if someone gave you a gift card for a hotel stay? Totally beats a gift card from Barnes & Noble.
2. ACE HOTEL LONDON's QUILT, $720: You can sleep assured knowing that you're the only person who has touched this blanket.
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Omni Bedford Springs
While hotel holiday decorations are pretty to look at, they don't do much to relax you during the holiday season, which let's be honest--can be crazy stressful with all the parties, the shopping, the relatives. So if you need a breather, we’ve put together a list (and we’re checking it twice) of hotel spas across the US who have put together some holiday-themed treatments that you can give to yourself because, contrary to popular belief, sometimes it is better to receive than to give.
The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego normally uses seasonal ingredients and this winter is no exception. From December through January you can indulge in the Chocolate Candied Orange Treatment, and indulge you will! This treatment starts with a hazelnut and orange scrub; then comes a chocolate comfrey wrap and cinnamon scalp treatment; an Acai butter massage follows, as does a mulled cider drink. The spa then sends you on your way with a take home recipe for hazelnut and sea salt shortbread cookies. The cost for this extravagance is $175.
At Lake Arrowhead Resort’s Spa of the Pines (an Autograph Collection hotel) there is a new holiday-themed menu of treatments. The resort is offering a hot stone Holiday Pedicure, a Holiday Swedish Massage using their own special holiday-scented oil (cloves and cinnamon), and a Holiday-Scented Body Scrub using an organic vanilla and brown sugar scrub followed by a rich body cream. For the most bang for your buck go for the Holiday Duo: the body scrub followed by the massage for $165.
L'Auberge de Sedona is offering guests a Warming Gingerbread Sugar Body Scrub and Gingerbread Wrap that are good enough to eat. Using organic sugar and warming ginger oil there are also notes of cinnamon and orange. To tempt you further, we’ll just tell you that after the scrub, the body butter is applied to your skin, you’re wrapped in warm blankets and receive either a scalp and neck massage or a foot massage. You can just lie back and hear the heavenly choir. The scrub and wrap are $145 for both treatments.
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Looking at cocktails menus these days, it’s clear bartenders (or mixologists as they like to call themselves), are shaking and stirring drinks intended to warm your insides—perfect for the crisp, fall weather many of us are experiencing.
These are some seasonal sips from some of our favorite hotel bars.
If you’ve never heard of “Movember” before, you can read about the male mustache-focused charity here. This year the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is supporting the cause with its Whiskey & Whiskers drink served at their Bernard’s bar. 20% of the proceeds from the $16 drink will be donated to the Movember Foundation. We love the mustache-stencil garnish created with sprinkles of ginger-cinnamon powder.
Omni will assume management of the hotel from Skyline Hotels and Resorts on August 1 and will also oversee the completion of the $40 million renovation to the hotel, which was built in 1903. The transformation will update the guestrooms, the fitness center, the meeting spaces and most importantly, the hotel's rooftop Crystal Ballroom which has been closed since the 1970s. This ballroom has 20-foot ceilings and views of the skyline in all four directions.
For the most part, the TripAdvisor reviews of the hotel have been kind. Although, one reviewer griped that the WiFi was not free. That will change as Omni Hotels offer free WiFi to members of their Omni Select Guest loyalty program which is free to join.
Right now, rates are going for $199 a night on August 1 but we say wait until the renovation is complete which should be sometime next year.
Omni Hotels has just added five resorts to their portfolio, thanks to a recent sale with private equity firm, KSL Capital Partners, LLC, including one hotel that will feature one of the original luxury wellness centers, Canyon Ranch.
The following hotels are now being rebranded with the Omni name and brand standards, which include free WiFi for all Omni SelectGuest members:
· Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Austin, TX)
· Omni La Costa Resort & Spa (Carlsbad, Calif.)
· Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa (Rancho Mirage, Calif.)
· The Omni Grove Park Inn (Asheville, NC)
· The Omni Homestead Resort (Hot Springs, VA)
We've got more detes on each of the hotels below (courtesy of Omni Hotels) should you want to know more but this is a pretty major acquisition for Omni Hotels. And if you're an Omni loyalist, you just got five new vacation options.
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Deals: you want 'em, and surprisingly, everyone has 'em. Take a look at some of the latest hotel deals going around the internet today from booking sites, social media sites, flash sale sites and more. Don't forget to scroll down to see the HotelChatter-approved deal either. Who knows? You might just find what you're looking for. (But don't forget to tell us about your stay!)
DEALS, DEALS, DEALS*
· OMNI HOTELS "SUMMER PASSPORT" DEALS: Omni Hotels has just launched their new "Summer Passport" deals which give 15 percent off rates at all their hotels. If you're a member of the Omni Select Guest program, you'll get up to 25 percent off room rates. The program is free to join so we say sign-up and then book your summer vacay. The deal is good from June 3-August 25 but there is limited availability and blackout dates do apply, depending on the hotel.
· W NEW YORK FOR UNDER $200 A NIGHT: We thought finding a hotel room in NYC for under $200 was damn near impossible. Yet we stumbled across this great deal on Expedia for the W New York on Lexington for June 14-17 for just $187 a night. Clearly, midtown on a weekend in the summer is the way to go if you want a hotel deal. Yes, it's in a small aka "Cozy" room and you will have to pay $15 and up for WiFi but still, it's well under $200 a night.
· TEACHERS, TREAT YOURSELF AT THE SAGAMORE IN MIAMI BEACH: Sagamore, The Art Hotel, in Miami Beach is offering teachers 20 percent off room rates with their "Teachers and Educators" package which is available through September 30. The deal also includes free WiFi. Rates start at as low as $175 a night. Teachers must show their teacher ID card upon check-in in order to get discount. The offer is also based upon availability and subject to blackout dates.
· EXPERIENCE AC HOTELS BY MARRIOTT BEFORE THEY COME TO THE STATES: Heading to Europe? Specifically Spain, Italy, Portugal or France? You can stay at an AC Hotel by Marriott for 15 percent less if you book within two weeks of your stay. That way, when AC Hotels open here in the U.S., you can tell everyone you were an "early adopter" of the brand.
Interested in losing weight but not so keen on staying at one of those Biggest Loser Resorts? Then stick with Omni Hotels since they just hired the Biggest Loser's nutritionist to put healthy choices on all the hotel restaurant and in-room dining menu.
Cheryl Forberg R.D. is a James Beard award-winning chef as well as a nutritionist and she's been tasked with creating delicious yet good-for-you meals for all Omni Hotels. She's even revamping the Omni Kids Menu which we hope will be free of chicken nuggets, pizza and mac n' cheese. Or at least, she'll find a way to sneak some veggies into those options.
Hiring a nutritionist to work on their menus is just the latest action Omni Hotels has taken in healthy hotel living. Back in 2007, Omni was one of the first hotel brand to eliminate trans-fat cooking oil from their kitchens and start exclusively using cage-free eggs. Omni has also added gluten-free breakfast stations in their hotels and have included more locally sourced items like condiments, jams and honeys and even a special sausage patty with blueberries made exclusively for Omni. To learn more about Cheryl Forberg, check out the Omni's Q&A with her.
While we're still believe in treating yourself at a hotel, we're actually keen to stay at an Omni on our next trip because we know we won't totally go off the rails as far as our diet is concerned. What about you? Does the new nutritionist make you want to stay at an Omni Hotel next time you go away? Tell us in comments below!
[Photo: Omni Hotels]
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If you can’t make it to Shanghai or Hong Kong for Chinese New Year on February 10, all is not lost. From an authentic “Year of the Snake” Cantonese culinary experience in London to an authentic Chinese Carnival in Paris to VIP access at San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade, hotels around the world are celebrating Chinese New Year in style.
The Dorchester Hotel in London is celebrating with a special “Year of the Snake” menu at the China Tang restaurant. If Snake Soup with Fish Maw is on your list of most favorite things to eat, then this is the place for you. The restaurant is reputed to have some of the best and most authentic Cantonese food outside of China, so you can bet that Peking Duck and Shanghai Smoked Fish are also on the menu. When you’re finally stuffed to the gills (we couldn’t resist!), then head over to the China Tang Bar for a classic digestif or a contemporary Asian one such as the yummy-sounding Xiao Mi Mi with Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh ginger root, a slice of orange, fresh lemon juice, cinnamon and orange syrup, and strawberry liqueur.
The Chinese New Year Package is only available on Sunday, February 10 and starts at £1,260 ($1,973) in a Junior Suite.
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We're not sure how this one managed to fly under our radar, though this isn't exactly the kind of thing we receive media alerts about, either. Turns out an employee at Omni San Diego was recently caught planting a hidden camera inside one of the hotel's public bathrooms. Ick!
The good news? The camera was found within hours of being installed. The bad news? Well, we're not sure which is more troubling: the act itself, or the fact that, because of what happened, Omni staff had to conduct an "exhaustive search" throughout all the hotel's bathrooms looking for other possible hidden devices. Ick again!