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It’s Monday morning and there is tons of hotel news flying around, so to get the week off to a good start we have the latest for you from Philadelphia to Bermuda and Indianapolis to Kuala Lumpur.
The debate on which Philadelphia hotel has the best view we think may permanently shift in a few years’ time, with the announcement that Comcast is building a second skyscraper – 59 stories tall – that will house a new Four Seasons Hotel on its top fifteen floors. Furthest up is the above top-floor restaurant, in what we assume is one of 13 three-story “sky gardens” the building will feature. Located at 18th and Arch, it will be the tallest building in Philadelphia, and the tallest in the United States outside New York and Chicago.
It's that time of year again: the 2013 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
With so much great hotel news to choose from, narrowing the entire year down to one city was by no means easy. The Big Apple is forever in the running with all its hotel activity year in and year out, and Denver made an awful lot of noise out west as this year came to a close, projecting large growth and several big projects for 2014. And we can't forget London and Paris too where there were not just new hotels opening, but plenty of renovations (several of which will be revealed next year.) Even Down Under in Sydney we saw a bit more activity than we have in past years.
But this year's shocking big winner is Philadelphia. The city's hotel scene sometimes gets lost in the mix behind busier cities like New York and Chicago, but Philly has really impressed us from all angles this year, from its line of luxury hotels (that all sport iconic views) to the way it spruced up Old City with a Kimpton property that overlooks the Liberty Bell.
While the newly-opened Rad Blu lived up to the hype, we are most pleased with how the city's plans are falling into place on a whole, and we feel it is now reaping the rewards of its good decisions the past two years.
[Photo: Visit Philly]
Yesterday, we highlighted three luxury hotels in Philly that have killer views, and one of them, the Rittenhouse Hotel in Center City, is currently in the midst of a $10-million, 12-month refurbishment in anticipation of the hotel's 25th anniversary next year.
The facelift will feature new 1,000 square-foot park-view suites (for some reason, people refer to Rittenhouse Square as "the park") and a new health club. Earlier this year, the hotel opened a lobby bar called the Library, which currently features a Grace Kelly cocktail.
Most are familiar with Grace Kelly as an actress, princess, and public figure, but Philadelphians remember her and her family for their influence on the City of Brotherly Love. Not only was Kelly grow up in Philly, but her mother was the first woman to head up the Physical Education Department at the University of Pennsylvania and her father was an Olympic rower and once ran for mayor of the city. Her brother, John Kelly Jr, was a Philly councilman and was memorialized when East River Drive was renamed Kelly Drive in the 1980s.
Killer Views / Philadelphia Hotels / Ritz Carlton Hotels / Four Seasons Hotels / Rittenhouse Hotel / → All Tags
When it comes to the upper echelon of hotels in Philly, there is a common denominator that goes beyond their luxe accommodations and service: Epic views of the city's top landmarks.
Three hotels in particular stand out thanks to their great locations: The Rittenhouse Hotel overlooks Rittenhouse Square (bottom); the Four Seasons Philly provides views of Logan Circle and down the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum (top); and the Ritz Carlton Philly sits right next to City Hall and the infamous perch of William Penn (center).
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Looks like SLS isn't the only new hotel coming to the City of Brotherly love. Philadelphia is getting two brand new luxury hotels -- a W and an Element -- thanks to a $33 million tax break measure passed last week that will allow for construction to begin on a $280 million building in Center City. (W Hotels had hoped to open in Philadelphia way back in 2006 but the project was later scrapped in 2008.)
The measure was opposed by a group of the city's hotel owners, but Mayor Michael Nutter and the city council saw things differently. "It's a big winner for the city," Nutter said. "1,800 construction jobs over a three-year period of time, 450 permanent jobs and a signature headquarters hotel right in the heart of Center City."
The site for the project at 15th and Chestnut, which has been vacant for years, is between City Hall and Rittenhouse Square and a half-mile from the convention center. Competing hotels in the area will be Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, the new Rad Blu (which we dished on a few weeks ago), the Four Seasons on the Ben Franklin Parkway, and the Rittenhouse Hotel, among others.
Hotel News / Hotel Hype / SLS Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / Sam Nazarian / Dranoff Properties / → All Tags
Something lovely's starting in Philadelphia--an SLS Hotel.
We first heard mention that hotelier Sam Nazarian's SLS brand would open in Philadelphia over the summer when SLS announced expansion plans in China and subtly dropped a list of future U.S. locations that included Philly. Today, the company is going public with the plans, partnering with Dranoff Properties to open the 47-story SLS International Hotel and Reisdences at the intersection of Broad and Spruce Streets in Center City, directly across from the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
(Apparently, there's already an SLS Philadelphia, a Spanish Language School, but Carl Dranoff told the Philadelphia Inquirer the International name is also an homage to the Philadelphia International Records building, home to the birthplace of Philadelphia Sound and the site of the new SLS hotel.)
Cyber Monday Hotels / Cyber Monday Hotel Deals / Radisson Blu Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / Room Rate Gimmics / Hotel Deals / → All Tags
Black Friday and Cyber Monday always brings out the crazy in people. We've all seen the reports of people fighting at the store for discounted merchandise and of people staying up until midnight in front of their computers to drop items into their virtual shopping carts. But today's Cyber Monday promotion offered by the Radisson Blu Warwick in Philadelphia has people up in arms for a very good reason.
The hotel's Cyber Monday deal, one of our favorites in our ultimate guide, promised "newly redesigned business class rooms for just $19.26, the year the historic hotel opened." The deal would only be available for 24 hours or until the deal sold out. But when many folks signed on to get the deal at midnight, it was already sold-out. So what in the world happened?
A tipster let us know that the hotel had put up an incorrect auto-populated code of STEAL when it was really CYBER, thus not allowing people to book the rooms. The hotel's booking link is now saying CYBER but an upset Facebook fan posted a screengrab of the wrong code on the Radisson Blu's Facebook page. Oops. You can read more of the angry Facebook reactions if you dare.
The good news is that the deal is still very much valid.
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Philadelphia Hotels / Pennsylvania Hotels / Radisson Hotels / → All Tags
The 301-room Raddison Blu Philadelphia just put the finishing touches on its lobby last week (they were literally pressing the letters on the wall during our stay), finalizing its $20 million conversion and celebrating its full opening. Looking for a new hotel to check out in Philly? Here are five things to know before you check in:
2. It's the first repurposed Radisson Blu property in the States: While the aforementioned properties were all new construction, the Rad Blu Philly was the first conversion project, originally opened as the Warwick Hotel in 1926. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which means that the exterior and structure of the building could not be altered. The top few floors of the hotel have remained as private residences.
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.
Weekend Getaway Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Catskill Hotels / Philadelphia Hotels / Marriott Hotels / Four Seasons Hotels / Pennsylvania Hotels / San Diego Hotels / California Hotels / → All Tags
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.
Philadelphia Hotels / Football Hotels / Home2 Suites / Sofitel Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / Extended-Stay Hotels / → All Tags
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.