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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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Six Senses Bhutan
If you are familiar with Six Senses hotels, you're probably thinking "spa" and locations like Thailand and Vietnam. While the focus on spa and wellness isn't going anywhere, you’ll likely find Six Senses closer to home in the future, with planned openings in places like the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and the French Alps near Mont Blanc.
Six Senses is also pulling an Aman, if we can say there is such a thing, in the remote kingdom of Bhutan in 2016. Its resort here will be split across five lodges in Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang and Paro, allowing you to travel through Bhutan much like Aman Resorts’ Amankora. Did we mention that there is Taiwan, China, Bali, and Tunisia too?
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Oh, we love when hotels give us a little extra treat in our rooms. We're not too particular--heck, we've been excited with everything from toothpaste to contact solution. It's the small things that count, especially when some hotels won't even supply a bottle of water in case of midnight hour parchness.
So, imagine our delight upon discovering even more amenities available at these properties. Some of them are nice gestures to show appreciation, others are yours with a simple request. As always, keep your eyes peeled for perks--you never know what you could be missing out on!
Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.: Each evening, the hotel features a different president's favorite cookie in the hotel lobby along with a recipe that guests can take home. Examples include Barack Obama's white & dark chocolate chip to Abraham Lincoln's lemon squares. Happen to be staying at the Georgetown property? Look forward to the butler who serves s'mores every evening by the wood burning fireplace.
Reality TV Hotels / The Layover / Celebrity Chefs / Anthony Bourdain / Taipei Hotels / Taiwan Hotels / → All Tags
Anthony Bourdain is back for another season of “The Layover”, and we like it because he names the hotels in the cities where he'll be spending his precious time. We figure, he won't be laying his salt-and-pepper head just anywhere, after all, he's big time now.
So, for entertainment and a dose of travel value, we’ll give you some details on the properties he picks, just in case you find yourself looking for a place to stay in a city that’s sanctioned by this travel personality/chef.
In this episode, our guy gets 48 hours in Taipei. But once again, Bourdain has taken us by surprise. He's gone for what we’d consider a pretty hip hotel for his Taiwanese takeover. And we're loving him for that.
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When we posted your hotel check-in rituals, some commented on Twitter and Facebook that ordering room service is the first thing they do when settling in. We're a bit nosy, so we asked a few hoteliers and Food & Beverage folks what y'all are ordering--hoping there would be some extreme weirdness going on like anchovies on PB&J. But, bearing a little skepticism about the guest who asked for live tarantulas, you're just like us! You love a simple club sandwich. You crave a grilled cheese! Our mini-survey shows your faves.
Hyatt Regency Atlanta: Folks love to order the strawberry-stuffed French Toast, a breakfast dessert that is a Southern quiet riot made with brioche, toasted pecans, fruit, and sea salt.
Beau-Rivage Palace, Switzerland: Europe can be such a complex place, and this Lausanne, hotel shows us that their guests demands are no different! The most popular items? The pricey duck foie gras terrine at CHF 39 ($40.10) and on the complete opposite spectrum, chicken nuggets at CHF 18 ($18.50)!
Let them eat burgers
It must have been a difficult request for the hotel to accommodate. On Friday afternoon, hundreds of fans waited outside the Regent Taipei for the arrival of their queen, Lady Gaga. And though the Turquoise-Haired One managed to enter the hotel unseen, she made it clear that her commitment to her fans is as strong as ever.
Hours after she arrived, hotel staffers were instructed to deliver 100 burger-and-fries combos to the crowd waiting downstairs. Not every hotel is equipped with their own hidden hotel burger shop, so we're guessing some bellhops had to dash to a local fast food chain. But it sure beat Lady Gaga having to maneuver around the hotel in those mile-high platforms!
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
The window might be a touch dirty but we're loving this arty shot of the Taipei 101 Skyscraper from the Le Meridien Taipei. HotelChatter Flickr member Ken Lee dropped in this shot back in December and while not as shiny and new as the W Taipei which opened in February, the Le Meridien did just open last year. So it's got all the important shiny and new amenities we like such as flat-screen TVs, rain showers, separate bathtubs, white leather ergonomic desk chairs and Nespresso machines--hence the espresso cup.
Rooms are predictably modern and muted but totally affordable at around 6,900 TWD a night, or $237.
[Photo: Ken Lee]
Hotel Openings / W Hotels / Taipei Hotels / Taiwan Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
Here’s a Friday treat: the first pictures of the W Taipei, which opened on Monday. We’ve been itching to see the place since it opened without, shock horror, updating its Facebook page, and we’re not disappointed.
From what they posted on their Facebook page in their album of opening night shots, the interior looks pretty nice, too. The Lounge looks a little bare (although we love the lofty ceilings) and could maybe be jazzed up a little, but we like the entrance, the DJ corner complete with bookshelves, and the rooftop pool looks both spacious and lush.
Hotel Openings / W Hotels / Taipei Hotels / Taiwan Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
Nature electrified. In progress.
Ok, so all the attention in hotel opening world yesterday may have gone on the W London Leicester Square, thanks to its stellar guestlist for its pre-opening party, but hey, technically the W Taipei stole London’s thunder by opening on a time zone eight hours ahead.
The hotel is in the Xinyi district, by the massive Taipei 101. In fact, according to Incentive Travel, it’s the only hotel in the city with a “panoramic vista” of the tower. There are two restaurants – The Kitchen Table, serving international food, and Yen, a Cantonese restaurant and bar.
The decor sounds pretty groovy – according to the hotel,
Upon arriving at W Taipei, guests will marvel at “The Chain” - made of the strongest stainless steel with a mirror finish – that symbolically anchors the energy of the W Taipei into the ground and is juxtaposed with a gigantic green wall filled with plants organically grown throughout Taiwan. W Taipei showcases a cutting-edge collection of design installations that bring to life the hotel’s design concept of “nature electrified.” For instance, an interactive light installation interacts with guests as they enter the building, by changing shape, look and feel in sync with its surroundings.
Sounds gorgeous, right? Sadly the hotel’s Facebook page has yet to be updated with any new pictures, and the website only shows renderings. Sad face! We’re imagining something awesome, though. And we’ll keep checking in on them until they get something up.
There’s a Whole lot of W news going on at the moment, what with free nights at the W Vieques Resort, Istanbul’s makeover and the imminent arrival of W London, and obviously the forthcoming W Taipei is feeling left out, because it’s announced an opening date of Valentine’s Day (stealing London’s thunder, seeing as Taiwan’s slightly ahead than the UK, when it comes to timezones).
Or rather, that's the official plan, and that's what the website says. Having said that, the website isn’t taking reservations for 14 February. Or the day after. In fact, the first date you can book is 26 February, nearly two weeks after scheduled opening date (we say “scheduled” but don’t forget it was originally down for a December 2010 opening).
The theme this week seems to be the expansion in Asia, and Starwood continues the charge with the first W Hotel in Taiwan, opening in Taipei on December 28, 2010.
If you don't already recognize the skyscraper looming in the background of the rendering above, that's Taipei 101, once the world's tallest building and still the most recognizable in the country. The W won't be next door exactly, but they're hoping the sleek glass facade will make it an attraction all its own in the energetic Xinyi district. It also helps that the W Taipei will boast two scenester restaurants, a W retail store and a rooftop WET pool and bar.
This version vaguely resembles a Western breakfast--in so far as there's tea, juice and some food--but then the similarities end, and the interesting cultural influences we go on holidays for begin. Some of the less-easily-identified components include the cucumber gelatin concoction (bottom left of the plate) and in the second cup from the left, the Thousand-Year-Old Egg (which we hope is not too accurately named).
Then there's a few versions of rice, starting with the congee in the far left cup (a kind of porridge), the fairly standard riceball and the Zong-zi (rice dumpling), which comes complete with a nice story:
Qu Yuan, a well-loved poet, drowned himself in the river and to prevent the fish from eating his body, people made rice dumplings (zong-zi) and threw them into the river.
All this learning, and you haven't even left the hotel yet, or even finished breakfast. Just for the record, recent visitors to Taipei's Grand Hotel have left incredibly mixed reviews, from those who loved it and considered it fantastic value, through those who appreciate the architecture but not the service, right down to some who think it's faded and past it (perhaps like the thousand-year-old-egg). All we know for certain is the breakfast looks pretty cool.
· Grand Hotel Taipei reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Taiwan Airport's New Name (And Nickname) [Jaunted]
· Taiwan's Lantern Festival Goes Porcine [Jaunted]