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It scares us sometimes when it turns out hotels we thought we talked about just a few months ago were actually on our radar closer to a few years ago. How time flies. Such is the case with Six Senses hotels, which we looked at in late 2013 for its expansion plans in all sorts of places: far from its usual Southeast Asia habitat in the French Alps near Mont Blanc, in the remote kingdom of Bhutan, and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Opening dates in 2015 and 2016 seemed so far away at the time, and yet here we are, with the first two resorts scheduled to open on July 1: Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, a half hour outside Chengdu in China. Chengdu is one of the largest cities in China and the capital of the Sichuan province, home to 80% of the world’s panda population. The resort will have 113 suites and villas (above a rendering, which shows an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional design), and not surprisingly, a serious spa with locally-inspired treatments and “sensory journeys”. Scheduled for July 1 as it may be (the May date on the website we've been told will be July), we can’t seem to make reservations yet.
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The pool at Pousada de Crato
Poor little Portugal is a country that’s often woefully overlooked, but here are some new openings that should earn it a second glance… All three of these pousadas are new signings for the Small Luxury Hotels of the World umbrella.
Pousada Mosteiro de Amares (above) used to be a 12th-century Cistercian monastery in the countryside of Minho, near Peneda Gerês National Park. These days it’s been transformed into a stunning modern-rustic hotel with extensive gardens, designed by Eduardo Souto de Moura. Rates are even more extraordinary than the hotel itself, starting at a mere €83 ($94) per night.
It's been a while since we've heard from Viceroy Hotels but today's announcement is rather grand--Viceroy Algarve at Quinta Da Ombre will open in Portugal in 2017.
The resort will have 147 "stylishly-curated hotel guest rooms" along with 99 Viceroy-branded residential units in apartment, villa and townhouse configurations. There will also be seven dining venues, two outdoor swimming pools, an 18-hole golf course with designated clubhouse, a spa, a children's center a library lounge and over 6,000-sq.ft. of event and meeting space. The property will be designed by architectural design firm WATG, with interiors done by Wimberly.
All we have right now to look at is a watercolor painting of the area but Viceroy promises the resort will mix a "classic villa aesthetic" with "sleek, modern decor." As for Quinta da Ombria, it's a major development project by Pontos Group in the Algarve region, Portugal which is about two hours south of Lisbon and just 25 minutes from the Faro airport. It's still under construction but Viceroy is already hyping up its proximity to neighboring villages which are described as "centuries old." And that's what this Viceroy seems to be about--mixing the very old with the very new.
Now that Viceroy has broken into the European market, we expect more locations to be announced. We've also heard a rumor that Viceroy Hotel Group might be creating another brand.
We've seen all sorts of themed hotels over the years. Space, celebrity, wine, hell... even dinosaur. Lord knows they can be hit or miss, but despite that uncertainty, we always find them really difficult to pass up. One thing is for sure: They are guaranteed to be loaded with personality.
The hotel industry is no stranger to its rock and roll music themes, but Porto's Hotel da Música goes a little different direction by taking a classical angle on its theme. Instead of bright, bold colors and loud artwork, a polished, clean interior evokes feelings of a symphony rather than a rock show. It has 85 rooms, their modern look nicely contrasted by walls donning musical scores from famous composers.
This subtle approach continues throughout the entire hotel, but once you start paying attention, you realize there's no absence of character. The violins behind the front desk and the cello in the common area can't be ignored, but don't miss the music-stand menu holders and the vinyl record coasters at the lobby bar.
View of the Avenida dos Aliados and the main square in Porto's Old Town from the Intercontinental
Yesterday, while featuring one of the coolest hotel beds we've come across, we wrote that the Yeatman's advantage over its competing hotels is its position on the hillside in Gaia, with its rooms looking back across the river at the Porto skyline. That is indeed the most killer view when it comes to expansive landscape scenery, but those who wish to stay in the city center can still enjoy a trip to the window upon waking up in the morning.
The InterContinental Porto Palacio Das Cardosas couldn't be more in the center of the city, and it takes advantage of this by having all 105 rooms overlook the Avenida dos Aliados in the middle of Old Town Porto. The exterior of the building fits in quite well with its surroundings. The hotel has been outfitted into a remodeled 18th century palace, the Cardosas. Built in 1788, it is the oldest building on the square.
It might be a wine-themed hotel, but it wouldn't even take a glass to get us into this bed.
The Yeatman is the most luxurious hotel in Porto, located across the Douro River in Gaia amongst the wine lodges on the hillside. The fact that it is not actually in Porto proper gives it something the hotels downtown can't offer: An absolute knockout of a view, which you can take in from the infinity pool, your private terrace, or the bar and restaurant.
But good luck getting out of bed if you end up in the Taylor's Master Suite. Paying tribute to its associated winery, this room is outfitted with a wine-barrel bed. Dare we say we are drunk in love with this thing? If you can believe it, there's even a mirror attached to the underside of the top of the barrel. Yee haw.
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When you arrive on an island, the first thing that comes to mind is to set up shop as close to the water as possible. This makes complete sense, and it explains why Ponta Delgada’s harbor is the busiest part of the small city. There are a number of hotels to choose from along the waterfront, including what is considered the nicest hotel in town, the Marina Atlantico, but if you want the best room in the city, we recommend you head inland a few blocks.
For the most part, the São Miguel Park Hotel is just like any other. In fact, the rooms themselves are nothing to write home about, simply on par with the rest of the offerings found throughout Ponta Delgada. Two specific rooms, however, have earned our pick as the best rooms to book in the entire city. Despite the hotel’s location away from the water, it has everything to do with the view.
When you walk down the hall towards the ocean on the sixth (top) floor, you’ll notice that it dead ends into a glass door. Upon inspection, you’ll notice that it no longer opens. That’s because what was presumably once a public terrace has been converted into private balconies for rooms 625 and 628, which are located across from one another at the end of the hall.
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You may or may not know Neal’s Yard Remedies, the original organic, slightly hippy UK skincare brand. If you have, you don’t need us to sell it to you. If you haven’t, get hold of some, now –it produces some of the most wonderfully scented, naturally made products you’ll ever find, as well as herbal teas, supplements and all that hippy jazz.
Although a few of the Neal’s Yard branches in London do spa treatments, it’s more of a buy-to-use-at-home range, which is why this news is so important: The first non-UK Neal’s Yard spa has just opened at Vivenda Miranda on the Algarve in Portugal.
The hotel is on a bit of an eco crusade, focusing its food on local and seasonal produce, introducing vegan, gluten free and raw food dishes, and revamping the spa, which opened June 1. They’re also introducing “lifestyle retreats” focusing on meditation and raw food, in conjunction with Neal’s Yard – from £1395 for a week, see here for further details.
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Are you a parent who prides themself on being cool, not frumpy? Does your heart sink if you check into a family-friendly-but-mediocre resort? Do you have too much self-awareness to run the gauntlet of wrathful looks if you chance it with the kids in a trendy place?
If so, you need to get to Portugal. Specifically, Praia Verde, in Castro Marim, on the eastern coast of the Algarve. It’s the latest property for the Design Hotels portfolio, and it’s family friendly. No, apparently that’s not a contradiction in terms.
The all-suite property opened in April, and goes for a look that will complement, rather than dominate the landscape: a low-rise building with neutral colors and natural materials – wood, slate, even straw – to keep the focus on the outside, even when inside.
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Usually major metropolitan areas are where you’ll find every hotel brand under the sun close together, but in a few years’ time there might be a very unlikely contender for having one of the largest concentrations of different hotel brands in the world: a master development in Portugal, roughly 50 miles south of capital Lisbon.
If one day a reality, we couldn’t name anywhere else that boast hotels from Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Raffles, Fairmont, Aman, and Six Senses, all cosily together on the peninsula across the water from Setúbal and further down the Alentejo coastline – yet that is what the above map calls for.
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Earlier this week, we gave you an inside look at the Four Seasons Ritz in Lisbon and its partnership with the Martinhal Beach Resort in southern Portugal. We liked the unique agreement because of its efforts to show visitors two different sides of the country, and we also stumbled across something else at the Four Seasons Ritz that we think is a damn good idea: An online city guide that serves as a concierge.
Now, the hotel still has a real-life concierge who is happy to go the traditional route and make suggestions on the fly, but due to the availability of consumer reviews online, the days of walking down to his or her desk and a making a restaurant choice in 30 seconds is without question a thing of the past. The recognition of this online movement, combined with a growing skepticism from guests about a concierge's objectivity, has inspired the Four Seasons Ritz to put all its recommendations in writing for guests to peruse before and during their trip. The hotel is figuring that guests still want the staff's input -- aka insight from the locals -- but might want the chance to do their own research before making a reservation at a restaurant or dedicating a day to an experience.
As travelers who always seek local advice, we dig the balance that this provides. We think it's a great idea and a nice compliment to guide books and services such as Yelp. You essentially get the concierge's recommendations up front, and then you can go off and investigate them (as opposed to making a split-second decision standing at the desk with a line behind you). The hotel said its recommendations are constantly reevaluated for quality control and based on what it believes to be the best fit for its clientele, so in this case, it points guests to higher-end restaurants around Lisbon.
One of the challenges of visiting a country for the first time is deciding where to spend your time. Do you hit the big cities, small towns, or cruise to the coast?
Jaunted recently filled us in on the gory deets surrounding American travelers' lack of love for Portugal, but two hotels have teamed up to help visitors get the best of both worlds on their first trip to the country: The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon and the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel in Sagres (South Portugal).
The package is a total of eight days/seven nights and includes three nights at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, four nights at Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, one 25 minute massage at Martinhal and free breakfast at both.