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When was the last time you sat inside the lobby of a major city hotel, sans open windows, and heard birdsong? Yeah, we couldn’t remember either, but it’s exactly what happened to us at Rosewood London last week. Our first reaction was one of dismissal, but when it persisted and we went exploring, it turned out to be real (admittedly, that made us feel a little bit better about our own sanity).
Make your way through the rose-bronze entrance gallery, which we still unreservedly love, turn left past the reception desk and by the set of elevators you’ll find a cage with finches and budgerigars. It’s one of many unexpected little things you’ll find around the hotel, now open just shy of two months on High Holborn, an area between the West End and the City that is rather incongruously being relabeled as “Midtown” by, among others, Mayor Boris Johnson.
Just as we suspected back in March, Paris' iconic Hotel Crillon will become a part of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts when it reopens in 2015. Here's a statement from the hotel's owners on why they chose this luxury brand for their precious hotel:
“It was essential for us to find an operator who was able to grasp the uniqueness of this iconic property,” says Ramzi Wakim and Laurent Dusonchet, managing partners of Avangard Advisory, the owner’s representatives. “We were seduced by Rosewood’s tailor-made approach, its A Sense of Place® philosophy and its understanding of true luxury.”
Currently, the Crillon is undergoing a major restoration project that will preserve its late 18th century history but add some much-needed new interiors. Perhaps they will be more lax about letting folks into their lobby when they reopen.
Meanwhile, Rosewood continues to expand its luxury brand. They just opened in London and have plans to open hotels in Beijing, Riyadh and Baha Mar in 2014. More hotels are also planned for Phuket, Bali and Bangkok. Everything is coming up Rosewods it seems!
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The Regent Montenegro
There’s tons of hotel news flying around at the moment, so we have another roundup of news bites for you today to get you up to speed on the latest from Oman to Cambodia and China to Argentina.
Starting with the Arab sultanate of Oman, its newspaper Muscat Daily (Muscat is the capital) reports that the country will have the first Aman Resort in the Middle East, in the remote coastal town of Shuwaimiya. The developer of the eco-resort has confirmed Aman Resorts will open, with the hotel group so far taking a confirm-nor-deny approach. Whether or not it will be the first in the Middle East remains to be seen, based on what we hear about an opening in Jordan.
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Looking at cocktails menus these days, it’s clear bartenders (or mixologists as they like to call themselves), are shaking and stirring drinks intended to warm your insides—perfect for the crisp, fall weather many of us are experiencing.
These are some seasonal sips from some of our favorite hotel bars.
If you’ve never heard of “Movember” before, you can read about the male mustache-focused charity here. This year the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is supporting the cause with its Whiskey & Whiskers drink served at their Bernard’s bar. 20% of the proceeds from the $16 drink will be donated to the Movember Foundation. We love the mustache-stencil garnish created with sprinkles of ginger-cinnamon powder.
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Not only did we ogle Rosewood London last week (hopefully just phase one in Europe for the group), we also picked up some additional news: a first few snapshots of the rooms at Rosewood Beijing (coming next year) and the exciting update that another hotel is being planned for Bangkok.
Both hotels sound like they will be rather unique; the building in Beijing “will recall a mountain profile with contrasting volumes and shapes” and Bangkok promises 650-square foot Pool Sky Villas, with large terraces and private plunge pools (!!).
Two months have flown by since we stopped by Rosewood London in August to get a first impression of what was to come for the 1914 Edwardian Belle Epoque building on High Holborn, and here we are: the hotel is now officially open (on time! It can be done after all).
Having spent an evening exploring the public spaces, from arrival in the dramatically-lit courtyard and the stunning rose-bronze entrance gallery to the book-filled, library-feel Bar and elegant Mirror Room, we are seriously impressed with how that $130 million was spent. It’s a tasteful, luxurious, and, most of all, interesting mix of design, furniture, fabrics, colors, and art that really worked for us. Read on for more.
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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 here is a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
Four Seasons goes to Seoul: the Canadian group just announced it will be adding a 317-room Four Seasons hotel in the Sejongro area of South Korea’s capital, due to open in May 2015 in a brand new 25-story building
One&Only goes Down Under: we had heard the rumor before, but it’s official now. Australia’s Hayman Island will be managed by One&Only, with a full re-launch in April next year. The resort, in the Whitsunday Islands near the Great Barrier Reef, will undergo extensive renovations. Private residences will be added as well
Having closed the doors of the former Chancery Court Hotel last week, Rosewood Hotels is putting the pedal to the metal on its $130 million investment to create Rosewood London. No guests means free range over the 1914, Grade-II listed building on High Holborn, which should come out the other end looking shiny and new - and as envisaged by designer Tony Chi - by mid-October.
Renderings were all we had seen so far, but now we can take you inside for a glimpse of what’s to come, having donned our hard-hat to see both massive construction as it was happening and a completely done-up Premier Suite. If you knew the Chancery Court in its Renaissance days, you will have to erase whatever notions or visuals you had of the hotel from your memory. From what we’ve seen, it will be quite something else later this year.
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Back in February, we received word that Rosewood Hotels would be planning its return to both the United Kingdom and Europe with the opening of Rosewood London in October this year. New hotel announcements usually aren’t followed by an opening in the same year, but Rosewood is achieving this by overhauling the (formerly Renaissance) Chancery Court Hotel on High Holborn.
That overhaul is now one step closer, with the hotel closing down as of end of July, ready to start feeling the full impact of the $130 million the group is spending on the transformation of the 1914 Grade-II listed building. How long it will take to spend that money? Just three months, as re-opening is promised for early October.
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Remember the old days where hotel art usually consisted of a bland landscape painting that was reproduced a hundred times over and hung in the same spot in every guest room? Thankfully, over the past few years, hotels have been paying close attention to the artworks they hang in their rooms and public spaces--choosing original art instead and even better, works from local artists instead of some mass-produced Van Gogh imitation.
But in the past month or so, we've noticed some hotels that are stepping it up even further when it comes to the art on display. Giant murals, entire galleries, and even live-in artists are among the trends we've begun to see.
For us, it's moreso about the overall vibe and decor of the hotel than it is about temporary art promotions and exhibits, although we do acknowledge that the latter can certainly contribute to the former. The personality of a property is as much of a selling point as, say, the hotel's location or the quality of its food, so it's no surprise hotels are quick to market their artistic aspects. Below, we've provided a roundup of what's happening this spring and summer at a variety of properties.
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The Westcliff Johannesburg
You guys, the hotel news keeps rolling in so fast we can barely keep up with it. In order to get us all up to speed, we’ll give you a brief rundown of some of the latest news & rumors for Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Rosewood and SBE that have us mighty intrigued.
Starting in South Africa, Business Traveller reported last week the venerable Westcliff Johannesburg will move from Orient-Express to Four Seasons, and based on our own investigation, that does look to be happening. If you’ve had Sunday brunch at the glorious La Belle Terrasse, spent time at the pool, and wandered its cobblestone streets and lush gardens, you know this place is easy to fall in love with. If indeed ‘substantial’ renovations will be part of the transition, things will only get that much better.
Surprising as it might be, late next year will be the first time Four Seasons will get in on the luxury hotel action in Dubai, with a 237-room resort at the northern end of Jumeirah Beach. More in the Middle East should follow in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah, and Kuwait. Like Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons is also planning on Kyoto and Casablanca, and if that wasn’t enough, we’re hearing about South America (with a number of hotels in Brazil) and various rumors elsewhere as well.
And here's another one to add to the list: last Wednesday, Rosewood Abu Dhabi opened as the first Rosewood property in the UAE (though there are three others in the Middle East, with a Dubai property on the way). The 189-room hotel no doubt hopes to profit from an expected influx of visitors to AUH thanks to the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2015, and the Guggenheim in 2017 (both designed by Frank Gehry).