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Much like Bali, the hotel openings keep coming for Marrakech, no matter how crowded it is already. A year after we looked at that long list of options, here are four big name hotels that will open in the next few years: Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, W Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton.
First up: the second attempt of Mandarin Oriental, which should arrive this year after missing a planned 2014 opening. Like Milan, the hotel now has a dedicated website, with a first few interior images. The hotel will have 54 villas, 7 suites, and 2 spa suites – all with their own pool. The seven suites have rooftop plunge pools and are part of the main hotel building, with the spa suites giving over 4,000 square feet and infinity lap pools.
But aside from lounging by the pool, grabbing drinks at the bar at State Fair or napping in your guest room, there's something else you must do during your stay--hit up the spa.
We realize that for serious jet-setters and luxury hotel enthusiasts, this was already on your agenda for Palm Springs as desert retreats and massages go hand in hand. However, the Ritz-Carlton is serious about not just relaxation but tranquility and inner peace.
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Not only did a kind tipster point us to The Ritz-Carlton Bali missing from our list of hotels opening this month, he also provided us with a set of photos of the days-old hotel. We first looked at the beachfront / cliff-side hotel last summer, now we have much more detail on the return of Ritz-Carlton to the Indonesian island and can compare rendering to reality. Speaking of Ritz-Carlton, Bali, and renderings, we also have a whole bunch of new ones for Mandapa, the Ritz-Carlton Reserve that will open in Ubud next summer.
Our tipster was at the resort a day after the first guests arrived, but noted that while it looked stunning, quite a few rooms and the spa weren’t ready. The above shot is taken from the top of the cliff overlooking the majority of the resort down to the beach, and construction is still visible on the left, although in the aerial view we saw last year all there was meant to be were trees.
It is always a bit surreal to step inside a hotel or resort that you've spent months or years hyping up--you know how we do it--poring over renderings, searching for possible opening dates, hunting for room amenities and cycling through the reservations system to find out the opening rates for different room types.
But when we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs last month, that strangeness was heightened because the resort took more than seven years to open.
In fact, the resort was mostly finished in 2008 but then the financial crisis hit and since one of the hotel's backers just happened to be Lehman Brothers (RIP), the Ritz-Carlton was put on hold. The hotel was locked up--but fully secured and with air conditioning--for the next seven years until new owners (and money) were found to finish up the resort.
It finally opened for real in May. And yes, some of the rooms look exactly like the initial room renderings we saw back in 2007.
Yet despite all those years hidden away, half-finished and neglected, the resort has emerged as a bright, shiny desert gem.
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The Merrion Dublin's two Christmas trees pales in comparison to the holiday spectacular that the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte has put on, which includes three Christmas trees, a gingerbread cottage, and an edible sleigh pulled by edible reindeer. Best take out your handkerchief to wipe up the drool.
Let's start with the 17-foot-tall tree made of 789 recycled green bottles and bathed in equally green lights. Obviously, this one is strictly for admiring, not for eating. (It's also a nod to the hotel's LEED Certification.)
Rich, er Ritz Chocolate Cake
We've learned which Four Seasons Hotel you heart the most, as well as your favorite and least-favorite W Hotels, Kimpton Hotels, Sofitel Hotels, Andaz Hotels and the Le Meridien Hotels. Now, we're getting ritzy with it.
We want to know where in the world is your favorite Ritz-Carlton Hotel? This may be a tough question considering that Ritz-Carlton has opened up all over the world lately from Palm Springs to Kyoto, alongside expensive renovations of existing properties. But there's got to be a Ritz-Carlton you prefer above all the rest.
Maybe it's because your favorite TV show films there or maybe it's because they spoil your leather shoes or perhaps you just like their funky bar concept. Heck, maybe you just like their signature cake.
Whatever the ritzy reason, share your favorite Ritz-Carlton hotel in comments below. Don't have a favorite but instead have a Ritz-Carlton you wouldn't visit again? We want to know that too!
The new TV show, "Jane The Virgin" is not just the answer to the prayers of "Ugly Betty" fans, who have been in mourning since the show went off the air a few years ago. "Jane The Virgin" is also extremely clever and funny, yet unabashedly apologetic about its soapy premise.
That premise involves Jane, a virgin who's about to get engaged, getting accidentally inseminated by a distracted gynecologist, who just happened to use her brother's last surviving sperm which he had frozen before his chemotherapy treatment. (It's the brother of the gynecologist, not Jane's. No one is ready to see a show about accidental incest. No one.)
Further complicating matters is that Jane happens to work for the brother, named Rafael, and they even shared a kiss once upon a time. Obviously, her fiancée is not pleased. About the baby and about her job working for the baby's daddy.
Meanwhile, Jane's mom, a wannabe singer, has recently been in bed, er, in touch with Jane's father, who Jane has never known about. And Jane's father just happens to be a big time novella star of a show that Jane is addicted to watching. Ay, Yi, Yi!
But for us hotel nerds, we like a different kind of drama in play on, and off, the show.
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Question: What do you get the person who has everything? (This is the question which possibly, probably foxed Brad Pitt as he debated whether to go to a certain celebrity wedding.)
Answer: A ticket to Barcelona for a meal at Hotel Arts. (Shame Brad didn't think of this, he might have got a Venetian holiday out of it.)
Why? Because it’s truffle season, and the hotel’s two Michelin-starred restaurant, Enoteca, is running a special white truffle tasting menu throughout November. It’s not just special because it involves white truffles – the dishes come with wine pairings, and those wines include the award-winning Miraval rosé. Not familiar with said rosé? It’s from Brangelina’s estate in Provence, and is not publicly for sale. Enough said.
Last week, we touched on what really goes on when an item of yours goes missing at a hotel. But over at the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya in Israel, it looks like there's a complete different protocol for staff to follow. Especially when Italian shoes are involved.
A recent guest of the hotel forwarded us this story about a different guest who left his pricey Salvatore Ferragamo shoes behind. When the guest called the hotel to tell them he left his shoes behind, the hotel had trouble finding them since they were in the midst of opening and things were chaotic in the back of the house.
Nevertheless, they did find the shoes and returned them to the owner but not before photographing the shoes in different places around the country like the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. They even penned a letter from the shoes to his owner. (Shown above.) Our favorite line? The last one:
Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island did something similar with a child's stuffed animal last year too. We only hope the owner of the Ferragamos didn't mind his shoes going everywhere in Israel without him. Like, we're kind of jealous of those shoes right now.
"I could have gone more and more but I was missing you like hell and I was afraid you replaced me with some brown Gucci pair so I am rushing home and hope we meet soon."
[Photo via HC tipster]
Frank's Bar, pre Japanese makeover
What’s better than a pop-up restaurant? A Michelin starred pop-up restaurant. So book your tickets to Barcelona, where the Hotel Arts is bringing over Kabuki – a highly rated Japanese restaurant, and not just by the Michelin men – for a week from 13-19 October.
Checf Ricardo Sanz already has Kabukis in Madrid (two branches, including the Hotel Wellington) and Tenerife (at the Ritz-Carlton), and next week he’ll be at Frank’s Bar at the Arts. Expect Michelin-worthy sushi, sashimi and salads from the bar-turned-sushi-counter; sake pairings guided by Kabuki’s own sake consultant; and a selection of Kabuki’s “Asian cocktails”. The décor of the bar will also get a Japanese feel.
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Just as we suspected, Ritz-Carlton Hotels is taking over the 124 rooms and suites at the luxury resort, One Bal Harbour in October and here's official proof that the takeover is happening: Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour website is up with a note that reservations will be accepted starting October 2.
Maybe there is something in the water at this hotel. The property first opened in 2008 as a Regent Hotel.
So far, it looks like nothing will change, at least not superficially. Mister Collins, the all-day dining restaurant, will remain open as will the spa. Guestrooms start at 510-sq.ft. and most have full or partial ocean views. One and two-bedrooom suites are also available, starting at 1,657-sq.ft. with private terraces and full kitchens. Ritz will, however, bring in both their Ritz kids and Ritz pets programs.
We weren't able to make a reservation yet on the Ritz site but rooms were still available on the One Bal Harbour site for $549 a night on October 2. There was no mention of the Ritz switch so we'd be careful about making a reservation right now.
The other day we were tipped off to a rumor that Ritz-Carlton Hotels would be taking over the swank One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Miami on October 1. (The hotel is currently a part of the Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels portfolio. Previously, it was a Regent Hotel.)
Before you get your La Perla and/or Hugo Boss undergarments in a bunch, nothing has been confirmed. Indeed, when you make a reservation on One Bal Harbour's website for next month, there is no mention of the RC takeover. Similarly, Marriott's Find a Hotel search function has no Ritz-Carltons listed in Bal Harbour. And combing random pages on the internet is also turning up nothing. But usually when we hear a whisper on the hotel grapevine, it turns out to be
a done deal true. Now, we'll just have to wait and see.
Currently, One Bal Harbour charges no resort fee. Meanwhile, Ritz-Carlton South Beach is going to start charging a $25 fee on October 1.
[Photo: One Bal Harbour/Facebook]