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Beer Canoe? Don't Mind if We Do at The Sanderling Resort

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  Site Where: 1461 Duck Rd [map], Duck, NC, United States
April 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

The Sanderling Resort in the Outer Banks of North Carolina has some rather clever culinary presentations that they do for wedding receptions and other events at their beachfront property (check out the I Love Bacon station here.) But with everyone else but us (or it seems like) kicking back on Spring Break this week, we're really loving this Beer Canoe.

Yup, a canoe filled with bottles of beer. So simple and yet so right. The hotel will also do a seafood buffet out of a canoe too. Hello there, lobsters!

More pics below!

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At The Belmond Maroma, Turndown Service Happens to The Entire Resort

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  Site Where: Carretera Cancún-Tulum, Km 51, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
April 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM | by | Comments (0)

We thought the Viceroy Riviera Maya had won the best turndown service award with their plunge pool turndown but another resort in the area may just have them beat.

The Belmond Maroma (remember, Belmond is the new name for Orient Express) does a resort-wide turndown service every night. All around the property, candles are lit--along the walkways, in the lobby, at the restaurants, by the beach and around the pool (above.) Did we mention this happens every night?

The Belmond Maroma boasts a more secluded location than other resorts in the Cancun area, set amongst 25 acres of preserved jungle with the beach and ocean in front of it. Of course, you will pay for this. Deluxe rooms start at $815 a night which includes breakfast, coffee in-room, internet and a welcome cocktail. You may be able to score a slight discount by booking Belmond's introductory offer of 15 percent off standard room rates. The deal is valid on bookings made by June 26 for travel by June 30, 2014.

[Photo: Belmond Maroma/Facebook]

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Going Up to the Dizzying Heights of Shangri-La at the Shard London

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  Site Where: 31 St. Thomas Street, London, United Kingdom, SE1 9QU
April 4, 2014 at 9:42 AM | by | Comments (0)

About a month from now, Shangri-La Hotels will finally cut the ribbon on its long in the works skyscraper hotel at the Shard in London. Ahead of the May 6 opening, we packed ourselves into a construction lift - high-visibility gear, hard hat and all - for a first look at what you can expect between floors 34 and 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed landmark.

As we heard when reservations opened a few weeks back (opening rates start at £450 / $750), the ground floor lobby facing St. Thomas Street looks nearly finished, but some changes to furniture and set up are still to be made. We saw the sky lobby at level 35, which hits you with head-on views of the City and St. Paul’s, all the way west towards Westminster, the second you step out of the express lifts.

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This is Exactly What You Want to See on the Back of Your Hotel Room Door

April 3, 2014 at 4:46 PM | by | Comments (4)

We often gripe about housekeeping barging in on us, even though we've put out the Do Not Disturb sign. We've also been concerned about intruders breaking down our door (the likelihood is low but still) so when we saw this on the back of the door at The Bellagio we got excited. You know, in a hotel nerd way.

The hotel door has both a door lock (turn the handle up like in the photo) as well as a latch. Double the protection. It's especially useful when you're stalling in the room after check-out time. Not that we've ever done that or anything. Nooooooo. Not us.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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There's a New Water Slide in Town at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios

March 31, 2014 at 4:12 PM | by | Comments (0)

As we told you last fall, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios would be opening on March 31st and today, the property lived up to its promise as the resort's first guests began checking in.

You can learn more about what the guest rooms have to offer here but for now, check out this dive tower water slide that drops you out into the 10,000-sq.ft. zero entry pool in the Cabana Courtyard ("Castaway" is the name of one of the guest room towers.)

The hotel will also unveil a lazy river experience, a first for the Universal Orlando Resort hotels, on June 16th (along with Hideaway Bar and Grill, the Tower family suites and standard rooms.)

Right now the hotel is offering a special opening offer for a family suite at a standard room rate. Rooms were sold-out this weekend but we did find a family suite for $239 a night next weekend. That room can sleep up to six people (it is kind of cramped, you've been warned) and it gives the family early access to Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction, along with a few other benefits.

[Photo: Cabana Bay Beach Resort]

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Oui! Rechargez Votre Mobile With This Machine at The Pullman Hotel

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  Site Where: 18 avenue de Suffren, Paris, France, 75015
March 13, 2014 at 5:47 PM | by | Comments (0)

We've seen phone charging stations pop up in airports but they aren't as common in hotels. While most hotel rooms now offer a USB charging component in their plug panels, if you're not a guest of the hotel, then you're out of luck. So when we saw this charging station just off the lobby at the Pullman Hotel Paris Eiffel Tower, we had to snap a photo.

The machine can refuel several types of phones from iPhones to Blackberrys, HTC, Samsung, Nokia and LG. The machine can even charge your iPod, PSP or Nintendo DS. Pretty cool.

Of course, it's not gratis. The cost is 2 euros for 30 minutes, 3 euros for an hour and 4 euros for 90 minutes. But that does beat the $20 we sprung for on an iPhone 5 cord at the airport.

Read more about what else is inside the Pullman Eiffel Tower, which is currently finishing up some major renovations, here.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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At The Berkeley, A Modern Way to Use Hotel Room Keys

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  Site Where: Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, United Kingdom, SW1X 7RL
March 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM | by | Comments (0)

While we're on the subject of hotel room keys today (or lack thereof), we noticed this super cool key system when we stayed at The Berkeley Hotel in the Knightsbridge neighborhood of London last week.

At check-in, (which is discretely done at individual desks off the lobby, with cushy chairs for the guest to sit in), we were handed two small plastic black keys. At first we thought, "Cool, old-school door keys." But when we arrived up to our room, the keys weren't used the way we expected.

Just off to the right of the door handle is a mirrored plate which has the room number. Below that is a little slot for the key, which is actually wired to the door. Once your key goes into the slot, a green light will appear at the top of the key, letting you know the door is ready to open. You can leave the key in the slot too so you don't have to simultaneously insert the key and push the door open.

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Spying on The CitizenM in Paris at Charles De Gaulle Airport

Where: Paris, France
March 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM | by | Comments (0)

Speaking of airport hotels that appeal to Millennials, we spied the CitizenM Paris the other day. We've been so eagerly awaiting the arrival of the CitizenM in Times Square, we nearly forgot about their Parisien edition. And yes, that is a photo we snapped on our iPhone through the back of a taxi. Do we get an "A" for effort? Oui.

According to the website, the hotel is due to open sometime in 2014. When we drove by it last week, the exterior of the building--done in the standard CitizenM blackish-gray color--looked completely finished. So we guess all that's left is what's on the inside which should be about 230 futuristic capsule-style hotel rooms and generous public spaces with our fave hotel amenity ever, free WiFi.

So far, CitizenM doesn't seem to be letting loose with any opening dates for Paris but we hope it's before the summer crush of travelers. If not, well, we'll just have to make a special trip to Paris to check it out. For what it's worth, the hotel is hiring a few key opening team positions.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Iconic Hipster Hangout, The Drake Hotel

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  Site Where: 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM | by | Comments (0)

The Drake Hotel was one of, if not THE, first boutique hotel in Toronto when it opened. When we heard that dot-comer Jeff Stober was opening The Drake west of Queen West, we thought it impossible for the hotel to survive in the then downtrodden boonies. We were wrong, so wrong—not only did The Drake persevere but it quickly became a hotspot for locals who lined up to get into its basement band venue and kickass lounge. Now, ten years on, we set out to discover whether The Drake Hotel still had true cachet.

We walked in on a wintry Saturday afternoon and the place was overflowing with bohos and hipsters alike, most waiting for a table in the recently-reno’ed (and enlarged but still full to capacity) restaurant and lounge. If you ever wondered what the Canadian design aesthetic is, you need to come here. There’s lots of natural wood, industrial lighting, earth tones, forest motifs and—to take it one step further—The Drake has a kitschy camp feel that reminds us of every camping trip we ever took as kids, sans mosquitoes.

The rooms carry on that mid-century modern campground feel but with modern ModCons. You can see inside the rooms in the photo gallery, but there are a few things that deserve an extra shout-out. First, let’s hear it for “Hairy Chest Man.” This particular doll for adults with leather studded collar is handmade and you can find a different doll in every room. Next, the “pleasure menu”: The Drake purports to be the first hotel in the world to carry one and while we can’t vouch for that, we can say that it is probably the most extensive menu of its kind that we’ve had the “pleasure” of seeing (yuck yuck). We also loved the owl light and the toiletries by Malin + Goetz.

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A Peek at The Beverley Hotel in Toronto

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  Site Where: 335 Queen Street W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 2A1
February 13, 2014 at 3:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Next up in our Toronto tour is the 18-room hotel, The Beverley, found on hipster hangout, Queen West. After some initial confusion as to whether to head up or down the stairs (go up to check-in and down to go to the popular restaurant and lounge), we met up with GM Scott Newnham who showed us around this tasteful minimalist boutique property.

The hotel’s motto is, “Everything you need and nothing you don’t,” and we think this is a pretty accurate depiction of what the hotel’s all about. Cool, white minimalism takes over the rooms — with a happy shock of vivid color coming from the bathrooms — and what’s there is luxurious: Frette linens; local spa Body Blitz toiletries; fluffy cotton robes; and flat-screen TVs mounted on the ceiling or wall.

Have a look at the photo gallery below to see for yourself!

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A Peek Inside Toronto’s Hotel Ocho

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  Site Where: 195 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2C5
February 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM | by | Comments (0)

We popped in to 12-room boutique Hotel Ocho during our recent excursion to T.O. We found an industrial-style crash pad with Danish minimalism and shabby chic décor thrown in for good measure.

The hotel opened in May 2011 in an area underserviced by the big-name brands. Next to Chinatown and in the trendy Queen West area (you can rent a bike right outside the hotel to get around), it attracts the creative class with its basement restaurant and lounge offering martini and wine nights. The hotel’s reception is also in the basement level, although you might just miss it if you're not aware, since check-in is located behind the stairs leading up to the second level (as you can see, there’s some quirk here too!).

Once you hit the rooms—on the top two floors of the four-storey building (and yes, there is an elevator)—you’ll have a choice of a Standard Room, Superior Room or Deluxe Room. All have wood-plank ceilings, flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. We had a peek at a Superior Room and it also had a little desk, an open bathroom concept and walk-in shower, and La Source toiletries. The Standard Room also had the open concept bathroom and was... cozy.

The hotel showcases local artists and rotates the work about every two months, giving the hotel a lot of character. See for yourself in the Photo Gallery below!

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The Iberostar Playa Mita is a Work of Art

January 28, 2014 at 5:20 PM | by | Comments (0)

Last month we attended the grand opening of the new Iberostar Playa Mita on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit. The 452-room all-inclusive resort is the Spanish brand's first property on Mexico's Pacific coast and features 120 oceanfront junior suites, 18 adult-only Spa Rooms, two Presidential Suites, two pools and a spa. Guests also have preferred access to the nearby Greg Norman-designed course at the Litibu Golf Club

What really caught our eye, though, was the pieces of Huichol art displayed throughout the hotel, in rooms and public space. Huichol art is a traditional folk art form by the native Huichol people who live in Nayarit and Jalisco made with intricate designs, vibrant colors and sacred symbols to express deeply held spiritual beliefs.

Like this jaguar head in the lobby (pictured above), which has three million beads in it and it was made by one family -- grandparents, parents and children -- and took about three months to make. For Huichol Shamans, the jaguar is a power animal, considered messengers of the god of fire, Tatewari.

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