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Every month, we tell you which hotel openings you need to know about (and which, inevitably, miss their deadlines). While we have a healthy list of arrivals around the world, there are a few places that are either consistently popular or having a bit of a hotel moment, so “new hotels for…” gives you a rundown of the openings you will want to know about for a particular destination. Looking at the first YOO Hotel recently, on its way to tropical Boracay Island in the Philippines, got us thinking about the country’s capital, Manila. Perhaps not a city that surfaces very often on our radar, there are a few big openings in the works that will add nearly 2,000 new hotel rooms over the next five years:
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Well, that didn’t go as planned. Early last year, we were happy to see that Philippe Starck’s YOO Hotels was making its proper debut in Istanbul (half a decade after we first learned about the brand, mind). That was Yoo2 Taksim Square, with Yoo2 being the more affordable branch of YOO Hotels, as opposed to more luxury-oriented YOO Collection. Debut or not, we’re back to square one: Yoo2 Istanbul is no more (it’s now part of a local group called the Avantgarde Collection), and the line-up of future hotels has gone through a reshuffle as well.
Hotel Renovations / Aman Resorts / Amanresorts / Philippines Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Green Hotels / → All Tags
So you’ve checked out the brand new Aman Tokyo and are in need of some tropical island R&R after the metropolitan overload that is the Japanese capital. Where do you go? Head south to the Sulu Sea in the Philippines and you will find sister resort Amanpulo, which offers that mix of blinding white beach-azure blue sea that makes us want to crawl through our laptop screen in the depth of January, but now also has a bunch of new things to check out.
The 42 casitas on the island have gotten a makeover, bringing in new bathrooms (a shot of those below), natural timber ceilings with ceiling fans, new environmentally-friendly recycled polymer roof shingles, and new lighting resulting in four times more light at a 25% reduction in energy consumption. Repairs to the reef on the Eastern side of the island’s lagoon will encourage coral growth and improve the marine life’s habitat.
Looking for a hot beachfront getaway that will knock your socks off, and quite possibly the cell phone right out of your hand? Check out Bulabog Beach on the eastern shores of Boracay, Philippines, a small and heavenly island that is gaining momentum as the next "it" beach destination. And guess which seriously stylish hotel group will open the first branded resort on the island? "YOO" guessed it, it's YOO, whose design-driven brand will debut later next year as Aqua Boracay by YOO.
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It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local" bar. So all this week, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our first-ever Hotel Cocktail Week. All this week, we'll be posting specialty drinks, booze trends, mixology tips and most importantly, drinks recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. Everyone will be getting tipsy this week! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Raffles Singapore, the place where the famed Singapore Sling was created, has launched a cocktail menu designed to take you around the world while you still remain seated and sipping in their Long Bar, god bless ‘em.
Resident mixologist, Randolph Velasco, has come up with eight spiritus drinks inspired by a Raffles hotel destination, so come join us as we embark on our virtual journey through time and space. First stop? Seychelles.
The Seychelles conjures images of an island paradise with deep blue skies, sultry breezes and emerald seas. No surprise, then, that the Raffles Seychelles cocktail is an emerald green beauty created by combining Smirnoff Vodka with melon-flavored Midori and tangy Apple Sourz, then topped off with apple juice. Garnished with slices of star fruit and a lemon wedge, this is a sipper meant to be sipped in a rattan chair with one of those tropical ceiling fans swooshing slowly overhead.
Next, we go to Raffles Cambodia –- specifically, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Using the Kingdom’s national fruit, the five finger banana (who knew?), this golden concoction consists of rum, banana and pineapple juice, but it’s the finishing touch of zesty kaffir and fresh, green pandan leaves (a herbaceous tropical plant) that gives this drink its aromatic and mysterious character.
The Raffles Philippines takes you to the newly-opened Raffles Makati in the heart of Manila’s financial district. A mix of Bacardi rum, juicy mango and pineapple are enhanced by a mere suggestion of basil and the tart, citrus flavor of calamansi, a wee fruit that bears a resemblance to a lime but is about the size of a kumquat. Calamansi is supposed to have some health benefits, so drink up.
Raffles Istanbul anticipates the opening of Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center in late 2013 (no date as of yet) with a cocktail that evokes the complex flavors of Turkish coffee. Rich Kahlua is layered with potent Pisco, fresh lime juice and anise to create a boozy drink not quite appropriate for the morning but it does kinda taste like coffee, so we’ll leave it up to you. (Recipe below!)
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It's no surprise that the upcoming Conrad Manila will share intimate relations with its neighbor, the sprawling Mall of Asia complex. Why? The manager of the upcoming hotel, which is set to open in 2015, is a company called SM Group. And as Wikipedia so eloquently points out, the Mall of Asia "is a shopping mall owned and developed by SM, the largest mall chain owner and developer in the Philippines."
So, yeah. Conrad's first property in the Philippines will be pretty much just a place for Hilton HHonors members to spend lots and lots o' dollars at the fourth largest shopping mall in the world, which gets a reported 200,00 visitors per day.
We're guessing Hilton is pretty stoked to get a piece of that pie. And after all, mall hotels can be kind of exciting (Minnesota's new Radisson Blu would likely agree). So...what else can we expect from Conrad Manila when it opens?
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Located in Makati City, the area of Manila known as the "Wall Street of Manila", the 30-story hotel will offer guests a choice of a short or long stay. No matter your length of stay, you'll sleep in the lap of luxury because this place only offers suites. In fact that's the smallest unit you can get, with 32 suites for short stays, 110 apartments and 127 residences for extended visits.
It's 'firsts' all around as this is the first hotel-residence for Manila and the first new hotel to open in the city in 20 years, so you can imagine how exciting the news is. Interestingly, the building will also house a Fairmont, another first.
We sometimes spend time talking about off-the-beaten-path locales, and we're positive you can relate to daydreaming about getaways that make it feel like you've actually, well, gone away. Call us crazy, but fighting for pool space with families and tanned singles doesn't scream "vacation" as much as it resembles the hotel version of a mall. For the more ambitious travelers wanting to go off-grid for a short while, the Philippines is a destination that may not immediately come to mind, but that doesn't make it any less worthwhile—the opposite, actually.
We discovered Sonya's Garden, a lush bed and breakfast, when a local led us into Tagaytay, a small city not far from Manila. The website uses descriptions that are too easily thrown around by most island hotels and resorts: "private paradise," "exotic," "idyllic." Yeah, we've heard it all before. Hyperbole or not, Sonya's is still a comfortable, clean, and actually quiet place to spend your holiday; if you've traveled to the traffic and business congested center of Makati City, you know how valuable this is.
This is the case with the newest addition to the Shangri-La hotel family, the Shangri-La Boracay in the Philippines. To reach the 219-room, 36-villa exotic wonderland with 3,800 feet of secluded beach, guests must first fly into Manila, then take a hopper flight 45 minutes south to Caticlan airport, from where another 30 minutes of land and sea transfers launch. Once you hit the sand, however, the Boracay enclave sets out to envelop you in 5-star luxury with one of the Philippines' largest free-form swimming pools, activity pavilions, and the peace of a surrounding nature preserve.
You may be removed from civilization, but get this: the in-room broadband internet is free! It better be too, as we looked into room rates for April and they're looking to start around 20,580 Philippine pesos, but don't let all those digits fool you; that's $428.58 USD. At least you'll still be able to check your bank account balance online and do currency conversions on Google.
[Photo: Shangri-La Boracay]