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On a recent jaunt to Portugal, we discovered what we thought was a great split-hotel package that allowed guests to experience two sides of the country: A few days in Lisbon and a few days on the south coast soaking up rays. For travelers who are adventurous but still desire structure, the concept takes out a lot of the planning but still leaves you more independence than, say, a full-on "put your bags outside the door before you go to sleep" tour operator type of thing.
Since being introduced to the idea last month, we've been thinking about where this "best of both worlds" partnership might be a good fit in the States. Despite driving distances and train services being what they are in our country in general, we were able to come up with a bunch of places where this type of package could go over well (some of which have tried it at times in the past). Think San Francisco with Napa or Sonoma, Denver with Breckenridge, Park City with Salt Lake, New York City with the Finger Lakes/Hamptons, or Philly with Atlantic City.
We focus on the latter in this column for two reasons: 1) While visitors to San Fran or Denver most likely already have their sights set on wine country and the mountains, we're not sure many realize how close Philly is to the shore and 2) Atlantic City could certainly use a little love these days, and a package that gave city dwellers the chance to check out Atlantic City, a place they've certainly heard about given all the press Revel has attracted the past two years, could help boost tourism.
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The Emerson Resort is a close-by chill-out spot for New York City residents
The seasons are changing in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate away. In fact, fall can be the best time to explore cities that were too hot to handle in the summer, or quaint country inns too filled with weekenders.
Whether you want to be a city or country mouse, we’ve got some great spots waiting to welcome you with open arms, a cup of hot cider or perhaps a glass of bubbly.
Now's the right time to choose your great escape.
Town: New York City
Many families heading to NYC for the holidays will be pleased by this month’s opening of the 95-room Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan Downtown. Located at 95 Henry Street in the Chinatown and the Lower East Side area, the hotel has convenient access to the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and World Trade Center Memorial/Freedom Tower. Besides the free hot breakfast and WiFi, guests will dig the in-room microwaves and mini-fridges as well as the swell price point starting at $169 per night (rates will vary).
Country: Mt Tremper, New York
The Catskills are a go-to destination for weary New Yorkers seeking refuge from their 9 to 5's. The Emerson Resort, a Kingston-area resort, has two sections—an adults-only Inn where fireplace and canopy-bed laced suites provide a serene scene, and a pet and family-friendly Adirondack-style lodge so everyone can let loose without worry. But all guests get access to the first-class restaurant, spa (pumpkin body scrub, anyone), hiking, and soon coming skiing at nearby Hunter Mountain. Plus, the price is right starting at $159 per night.
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It's no secret the Philadelphia Eagles aren't repping the NFC East to the fullest these days--their offense is so bad Benjamin Franklin has risen from the belly of Lincoln Financial Field to harness some electricity (and bifocals) for the teams key players. We kid! Still, what the city is lacking in football fortune it's making up for it in the hospitality sector.
Not only did they bring the fab Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Philadelphia last year to the historic area of Center City, but they've created what can be described as a seriously grown and sexy rooftop scene with their Stratus bar. It's open year-round, so if you haven't been, they've got heated banquettes and a now working fireplace which will keep you toasty. Plus Kimpton has introduced the "Raid the Bar" amenity for their loyalty program. Now Kimpton InTouch members can use their $10 credit per visit toward a delicious craft cocktail or drink of choice at a Kimpton bar. And remember, there are two Kimptons in Philly. (Rates from $199)
If you're looking for luxury, there's the Sofitel Philadelphia, which seems like the sophisticated European secret near Rittenhouse Square. It's all French, all the time right down to bell staff wishing you a "bonjour". And taking inspiration from Paris, they're bringing the French Art of Living to your home this month with #SoBoutique, their bed and linens line. So that fluffy duvet is yours if you want it, madam. (Rates from $156)
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We've been keeping a close eye on the fast expansion of Hilton's Home2Suites brand, a hip extended stay concept, but their newest hotel in Philadelphia (the 20th overall for the brand) has us crazy excited.
We first wrote about the property back in 2011. Back then, all we knew was that the hotel would have all of the Home2 Suite brand standards such as a kitchenette, free WiFi, free breakfast and an iPad docking station. Fast forward two years and the Home2 Suites is way more than that.
Located at 1200 Arch Street in Center City near the convention center, Home2 Suites has "distinctive Philadelphia and urban flair" with natural woodwork, quarried wall stone and and oversized historical Philly map in the lobby. We also love that the hotel features an energy-efficient roof, chairs made from recycled Coke bottles and tables made from recycled bowling alley lanes. All in all it has 248 guestrooms, making it the largest Home2 Suite hotel yet.
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Just yesterday we heard that Philadelphia would be getting a hip SLS Hotel and now today, we hear the City of Brotherly Love may get a new luxury hotel too. But first, a few hotel brands are duking it out to see who will win the gig.
Philly.com reports that a group of developers are working to transform the the 72-year-old Family Court building at 18th and Vine Streets. Each developer has paired up with a hotel brand. In the race for the property are, Fairmont Hotels, Starwood's Luxury Collection Hotels and Kimpton Hotels.
Fairmont's proposed project would cost $180 million, include 332 hotel rooms,44,000 square feet of event and meeting space. restaurants, bar, shops and a spa. The Luxury Collection would put forth 267 hotel rooms; a 4,000-square-foot ballroom; 10,000 square feet of meeting facilities; and a restaurant and bar while Kimpton's project would cost $85 million with 199 hotel rooms, a 3,500-square-foot ballroom; meeting and board rooms; spa and fitness center; and restaurant and bar.
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We can hardly keep up with all the new SLS Hotels that have been announced. So far, we've got New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle and a second hotel in Miami in Brickell. And now we must add Shanghai, Beijing, Wuxi, and Kunming to the list. Oh yes, hotelier Sam Nazarian is taking his SLS brand to China.
The SLS hotels will launch in China by 2015 as part of a partnership with the Chinese company, Palace Hospitality, who have a proven track record for growing hospitality projects. Hence, the four planned hotels and not just one.
The SLS hotels in China probably won't look the same as the ones in the U.S. as they are being tailored for the Chinese market (at least from a design standpoint) but you can expect the SLS trademark combo of restaurants + nightclubs to remain. If all goes well, SLS could open in more additional Chinese markets after the initial four.
Meanwhile, in the China announcement, we noticed a bit on SLS Philadelphia which is expected to open within the next three years. Sheesh. We knew Sam Nazarian had grand plans for 2013 but we really weren't expecting all this. Now, we just need to wait for opening day. That should happen first in Las Vegas sometime next year.
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The Graham's new rooftop is guaranteed to be Georgetown's summer hotspot
Mother Nature has played serious havoc with the weather. Suffice to say, those of us located in climates where partying on rooftops is limited to a few months of the year? We are giving M.N. serious sideeye. It's May. It's time for us to sip dranks on the rooftop of a cool hotel that has glorious views of the place we happen to live in or visiting at the moment. Don't hate us for being selfish and not being more concerned about global warming. We have priorities!
So we declare that Rooftop Season Has Officially Begun. Weather gods need to get on board (or the hotels will just put out heat lamps, whatevah, it takes).
The places listed have recently opened, want to let the sunshine in, and help you let your hair down. And you don't even have to be a guest to partake in the fun!
Here's where we want to tipple at some top rooftop bars around the world.
Though it's only been open several months, Hotel Monaco Philly is already the hottest ticket in town, as far as rooftops are concerned. The hotel's 11th floor Stratus has become legendary for its outdoor patio, indoor bar, two private lounge areas, and outdoor fireplace*.
Most days of the week, it's possible to head up to Stratus, enjoy a few cocktails and be on your merry way. But the lines to get in on Friday and Saturday can get pretty long, and once you enter the bar, it can be difficult just finding a seat.
As a result, Monaco will soon start issuing membership cards just to access the bar. We heard from an employee that a designated number of seats will be set aside each night for card-holders. Of course, hotel guests get priority automatically, but when it comes to random people walking in off the street, Stratus members will definitely have the upper hand.
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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.
· The Next Radisson Blu Will Be In Philly: In other Radisson news today, the Radisson Plaza Warwick in Philadelphia is undergoing a $17 million renovation that will see the hotel converted into a Radisson Blu property by this summer. This will be the fourth Radisson Blu to open in America, after this month's Mall of America opening. The Warwick, which originally opened in 1926, contains 297 rooms, 4 suites, a fitness center, 3 dining venues, and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more juicy hotel news, read on!
A man is dead, and one hurt after a shooter opened fire on rapper French Montana’s tour bus outside of the Holiday Inn Express on Penn's Landing late last night. We hope this isn’t the hotel HC just wrote about that recently opened. If so the property certainly isn’t off to a good start!
French, the man behind the popular club and radio banger “Pop That” had just finished a show at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia and was not hurt.
According to NBC Philadelphia News, when the artists’ tour bus arrived around midnight on Christopher Columbus Boulevard near the Holiday Inn Express where he and his group had rooms reserved, a crowd formed outside the bus. A car then pulled up and opened fire on the crowd, hitting a 27-year-old man in the abdomen and a 29-year-old man in the shoulder, according to Chief Inspector Scott Small.
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The Holiday Inn Express at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia is now officially open for business after a four-million dollar renovation converted the property over from a Comfort Inn. All 184 guest rooms were retouched while the lobby was completely remodeled. A business center and exercise room were also added.
We told you before how we were a little disappointed that the area didn't draw a sexier hotel, but that all said, it doesn't change how good the location is. In addition to the views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, guests of the Holiday Inn Express will be in good shape when it comes to visiting Independence Mall, Old City, and Penn's Landing -- all are within walking distance or a short cab ride. The area is also prime lodging during the summer when concerts are held at Festival Pier or across the river in Camden (you can take a ferry right to the venue).
Here's what the new hotel looks like now according to its website, but we'll try to swing by soon and check it out for ourselves.
If Philadelphia is indeed a blue-collared industrial city, someone better let the artists and curators in town know about it. So far, all they've done is improve the scenery with a top-tier arsenal of murals and museums. From the brains in jars at the Mutter Museum to the infamous Rocky-run steps of the Art Museum, Philly is stacked with artistic and historical culture.
The latest promotion out of the City of Brotherly Love is centered around this strength. Ten hotels are participating, including the Four Seasons on the Ben Franklin Parkway and the new Hotel Monaco at Independence Hall, with a two-day With Art Philadelphia pass and two trolley tour passes included in the rate. The With Art Philadelphia package gives you access to the Barnes Foundation, Museum of Art, Rodin Museum, Perelman Museum, Academy of Fine Arts, and the Penn Museum. You can see all the hotels along with the fine print here.