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As ever, there is more hotel news out there than we could possibly cover. Here are a few short updates to keep you up to speed with what’s happening in Asia.
citizenM Taipei: the first Asian citizenM, the Dutch group will open in Taiwan’s capital in the last quarter of 2016 with 260 rooms in the Ximending neighborhood. Future Asian cities on the radar are Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok. Yes, please.
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While we still have to wait a little longer for a hotel in its entirety by the hand of Karl Lagerfeld, we can show you exactly how his touch comes to life at Sofitel So Singapore, having toured the hotel just a week after it first opened.
His Lion’s Seal can’t be missed, whether you enter the hotel through the So Heritage Wing (the historic half facing Robinson Road) or through the newly added So Hip Wing’s main driveway you see above. Read on for much more, including what pearl of wisdom Karl included on the “BooKube” in every room (and what it is, for that matter), a preview of the gold-tiled Hi-So rooftop pool opening in July, and a gallery bursting with photos of the quirky hotel.
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Just over a year after we first looked at the classic 1927 building on Robinson Road, Sofitel So Singapore has finally opened its doors this past weekend. We don’t think Choupette will be there to greet you in the lobby in the end, but the Lion’s Seal Karl Lagerfeld designed is around, down to an appearance on the hotel's bathrobes.
Those bathrobes are inside the 118 rooms and 6 suites, ranging from entry-level So Cosy Rooms (in the new So Hip Wing behind the original structure) to larger So Lofty Suites (above, with step-out balconies) and So VIP Suites. All are tricked out with Apple in-room technology, including iPad minis and iPhones.
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After November came March, and after March now comes May as the time when Sofitel So Singapore will start welcoming guests, albeit as a soft opening. Having heard this straight from the pre-opening team, we’ll take their word for it – and, we have some additional guestroom renderings to look at while we wait.
We had shown you what entry-level So Cosy Rooms look like, with 3-metre high ceilings, domed skylights, and a mix of modern design and classic wall paneling. Those skylights come courtesy of light boxes, featuring images of glass domes right above the bed. So Cosy rooms will be located in the “So Hip” wing, which is being added behind the "So Heritage" wing, the original 1927 structure on Robinson Road.
That’s where you’ll find the above So Suite, which has some of the same basic elements (ceiling height, wall panelling, skylight), but brings in herringbone floors and an unexpected princess canopy above the bed that we’re a little unsure of, with fabric draped down to the nightstands. The pink/purple-hued window treatments are pretty bold too.
Since New Zealand is really, really, really far away, one of the best ways to beat jet-lag is to head to the spa to work out your sore and fatigued muscles. Not surprisingly, this Sofitel's SoSpa has developed a massage specifically for weary travelers.
Before we get into the serenity of the treatment, we should let you know that the Sofitel's spas are re-branding to SoSpa as an extension of the luxurious and trendy brand, Sofitel So. (Coincidentally, Auckland will get its own Sofitel So hotel next year.) But in the meantime, the Sofitel Viaduct Harbour is still Auckland's first SoSpa and better yet, it still has the new-spa smell since it opened its doors just a few months back.
Tucked away in a back corner of the hotel and utilizing two floors, the spa is a the center of all things rejuvenation with cool blue colors, dark woods and Kiwi design elements. Upon check-in guests are greeted and allowed to change in separate change-rooms then treated to some fruit-infused mineral water. After a few sips, we also got to choose the scented essential oil that we would tickle our olfactory glands during the massage.
There are about 120 Sofitel Hotels, in about 40 countries, so that's a lot of Sofitels to get talking about. But with all major hotel brands, not all the individual hotels are created equal. We've had some great experiences at Sofitels in Asia and Europe and then just so-so ones here in America. Meanwhile, Sofitel is also expanding their So brand which is more design-conscious and art-centric while at the same time remaining luxurious. So Sofitel is a mixed bag indeed.
Now in the spirit of Thanksgiving, tell us which Sofitel Hotel you're most thankful for in comments below!
[Photo: JasonD For HotelChatter]
The hotel in May
We don’t really mean that of course: who are we to suggest the Kaiser would ever be late? But we couldn’t resist the alliteration, and the delay is very real for Sofitel So Singapore, now not opening until March 2014.
When we had a proper look around in May, we tried to give the hotel the benefit of the doubt when it came to a planned November opening (given the breakneck speed of construction in Singapore). Unfortunately, our innate skepticism was justified; now we are looking at another five months before this emblem, by the hand of Lagerfeld, will greet guests upon arrival.
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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. 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.
Mixology is masterful skill to have and bespoke bevvies are all the rage right now so it's no wonder that hotels around the world are putting together Create Your Own Cocktail offerings. We remember Tom Cruise flamboyantly throwing around bottles of liquor in "Cocktail" and thinking we could do that. It didn't turn out so well. Luckily, these hotels have come to the rescue.
Yesterday we gave you some of the best cocktail recipes to imbibe on your favorite hotel drinks in the comfort of your own home. What happens if you want to shake up your own concoction while on the road? Hit up these hotels who will happily welcome you behind the bar to create your own poison.
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Fans of design hotels will rejoice with the latest news of an ultra-hip, uber-trendy Sofitel So Hotel set to open in Auckland. The Pacific's first hotel of the brand will have all of the "So" details and elements for which we've been know to go a little gaga.
The Sofitel So Auckland, the fourth of the So brand, will be smack in the middle of the central business district, putting visitors within close proximity to everything the Kiwi metropolis has to offer. Setting up shop in the former New Zealand Reserve Bank, design junkies will be able to walk one block to the city's harbor and still be just five minutes away from the Auckland Viaduct, the hot entertainment district.
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We've been wondering what Karl Lagerfeld has up his sleeve over at the Sofitel So in Singapore, which we looked at mid-construction a few months back. Due to open in November as the third So property by the French group (there’s Bangkok – which we loved – and Mauritius so far), details are coming out painfully slow, but one thing we now know is his design for the hotel’s emblem: “The Lion’s Seal”.
Linking back to the origin of the Asian city-state, it references the 14th century folklore of Sumatran Prince Sang Nila Utama spotting what he believed to be a lion on the island, and naming it Singa Pura, or the Lion City, as a result. While it’s most likely the creature was a tiger, as lions never lived in this area, the Lion City name stuck. Singapore’s mascot, the Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, can be found about ten minutes’ walk from the hotel.
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So Worth It? A HotelChatter Review
After giving you a peek at the hotel couture the Sofitel So Bangkok serves up with their uniforms, now we can reveal the full details of the property, and we have to say, this Sofitel is a doozy. Allow us to break it down for you:
Lobby Layout: The main lobby is located on the ninth floor and after being a bit confused how everything worked, we finally walked into a large room with a giant wooden slab reception desk and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lumphini Park. With plenty of cozy seating, the lobby doubled as the bar featuring bespoke cocktails in a super chic lounge setting.
Check-in: Keeping up with current trend of having a seat while checking-in, we settled into one of the plush sofas and sipped our welcome drink of lemongrass and cucumber while handing over our passport and credit card for incidentals. The process was speedy and efficient and still warm and welcoming.
When we heard Karl Lagerfeld was going to be involved in the design of Sofitel So Singapore, our minds were racing with questions: would there be chocolate versions of muse Baptiste Giabiconi to take a bite out of? Would Choupette be luxuriating around the lobby, recovering from its strenuous private-jet lifestyle (and tweeting about it)? Would the Kaiser himself take centre stage near the entrance, giving side eye to anyone who deigned coming in wearing - dare we say it - crocs? So many possibilities…
Naturally, we had to use the opportunity of being in Singapore to walk by the construction site on Robinson Road, but in order to ensure we got all the scoop for you, we also stopped by its pre-opening office for a chance to sit down with the hotel’s General Manager and Director of Sales. Read on for more on what’s being prepared behind the building’s neo-classical façade, scheduled to come together for a November 1st opening.