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UPDATE, 9.30.14:The wedding was held at the Aman Canal Grande with a brunch to celebrate the couple the following day at the Belmond. As you were.
Lately, our issues with the water world city that is Venice, Italy have been centered around lackluster hotel design and obscene prices. But when you're George Clooney on the eve of your nuptials, none of that even enters your mind. Or so we imagine.
Clooney and his betrothed, Amal Allamuddin, are set to marry this weekend in Venice and according to the Telegraph UK, speculation about where the couple will marry is in "overdrive." Here's the top contender for the wedding site:
We highlighted both the rooms at Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and St. Regis San Clemente Palace Venice recently as examples of luxury hotels that failed to inspire with their design. The Waldorf landed on a palette of browns that escapes us and the St. Regis didn’t look like we’d expect it after a €25 million do-over.
Turns out we weren’t wrong to be disappointed: while the Venetian island resort has joined Starwood under the St. Regis brand earlier this year, the closure period that will see those €25 million making a splash starts this October and lasts until spring 2015.
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Scouring around for information about the forthcoming JW Marriott Venice yesterday, we stumbled upon a rather exciting piece of news: Rocco Forte is planning to open a hotel in Venice.
According to La Nuova, RF himself said that Venice is “attractive” (no, really?), and that he’s looking for a property. The only problem is:
Venetian palazzos are small, and it’s difficult to find space for a 60-room property, which is what we’d like.
Simples, Rocco – buy an island.
That article is from 2012, so let’s hope they’re close to finding something by now. In the meantime, here are three other recent Venice openings (all 2013) that’d be worth a shot:
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The last time we heard anything about the JW Marriott Venice, it was March 2013 and it had an expected opening date of this year.
It was not to be. But the good news is that it’s now expecting to open in March 2015 – and the website is taking reservations from 12 March.
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Maybe the very du jour white sheets are a bit of a giveaway, but would you honestly think that this is a luxury hotel room less than four months old? We just can’t muster up any excitement for a design that strikes us already as dated and if anything seems intent on incorporating every shade of brown imaginable.
Brand-new the room is though, and you find it inside the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, a hotel we were very excited about when it opened in April, nearly a year late. The image is displayed both for a King Superior room and a Twin Deluxe Room, the latter seeming somewhat implausible, but a look on TripAdvisor at some traveller photos confirms this is very much their “contemporary opulence” look, as the hotel describes it. They’re not cheap either, with rates starting over $600 a night (that does include free Wifi).
We have a similar sense of disappointment when we look at what turned out to be true photos of the rooms at St. Regis San Clemente Palace; photos we dismissed two months ago as being generic placeholders.
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The Hotel Des Bains in its heyday
Che fortuna amici, che bella notizia. This is big news. Huge! Venice’s historic Hotel des Bains, the grande dame of the Lido that inspired Death in Venice, hosted a bajillion movie stars for the film festival, and was shuttered in 2010 and sentenced to be redeveloped as luxury apartments (vomit) – will most likely be refurbished into a hotel once more.
According to local paper La Nuova, the Des Bains and its sadsack teammate, the Excelsior, are no longer for sale. The owner? The Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – a government-owned company. Regent and Starwood are still battling it out to run the properties (Raffaele Costa is out), but whoever wins will be the operator, not the owner.
But most exciting of all is the news that it looks likely that the Des Bains will make a spectacular return. From La Nuova (our translation):
It seems probable that the Des Bains, after its refurbishment, will return to being exclusively a hotel, putting a stop to the project that would have transformed part of it into hotel-residences – as was the initial plan – because the market conditions and the convenience of taking it forward are no longer in existence.
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The Excelsior, up for sale
Last week we learned that one struggling Venice island hotel had finally had its prince come along, in the shape of St Regis, and it got us thinking: what’s happening with the grande dames of the Lido?
The glorious old Hotel des Bains – which was the setting for Death in Venice and, more recently, one of the venues of the Venice Film Festival – closed in 2010, to be redeveloped into luxury apartments within a year.
But in Venice a few months ago, we couldn’t help noticing that it was still a building site.
According to Il Sole 24 Ore, everything is up in the air. There’s some complicated real estate fund stuff going on, but basically Est Capital, which bought the properties off Starwood, has foundered, and they’ve been passed to Hines Sgr, which is mulling over the options.
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If there were one major European city where we’d pick a hotel for its far out, rather than central, location, Venice would probably be it. La Serenissima, as everyone who’s elbowed their way through the crowds on the Riva degli Schiavoni or queued to walk across the Rialto bridge will know, is anything but calm in the touristy bits.
That’s why the San Clemente Palace – far from the madding crowd on a private island, only accessible by its own shuttle – has always sounded ideal to us. A 17th-century monastery (though island life dates back to the 1100s), it sits in the lagoon between Giudecca and the Lido – about a 12-minute boatride to San Marco on the hotel’s private shuttle.
And now it’s got a little more ideal with the news that, following an 18-month, €25m refurbishment after it ran out of money in 2012, it’s reopening as a St Regis property – mmm, butler service – on June 15. (Somehow, Starwood has won out over Four Seasons, which initially was slated to take it on.)
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Something tells us we’ll need a recurring feature on new Four Seasons Hotels if the expansion strategy under its new CEO is going to take off even more than it has already; the list of potential future openings we have based on what floats around on the internet gets longer by the minute.
We mentioned Cabo last week, we’ve known about Disney for a while, there is Madrid, Turkey, and everything from Japan to Brazil as well. Today we are adding Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to that list, and tentatively, Venice.
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The Regent Bali
While we continue to recover from last week’s ma-jah announcement of Tommie Hotels, the lovechild of Commune and Thompson, we have a roundup of news bites from around the world for you this Monday morning. Join us as we hop from Bali to Venice, Amsterdam to China, and Switzerland to Australia, for updates on everything from brand new Chinese brand Ahn Luh to the old school Gritti Palace.
Starting in Southeast Asia, Regent Hotels delivered on the promised opening of its new resort on Bali this past weekend, with 94 suites, one Regent Villa, 25 residences, and that inviting-looking infinity pool above. The Bali resort follows last year’s arrival in Phuket, which we swung by recently to see for ourselves how Regent’s first opening in years would stack up – more on that to come.
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Here's a new reason to love one of Venice's most lovable hotels, the Hotel Cipriani. Next month, guests can sign up to have "Dinner In the Sky," a one-off experience that literally involves a 22-seat dining table being raised 164 feet in the air.
According to The Daily Mail:
"A total of 22 guests can be seated around the table, which will be suspended over the swimming pool of the hotel, located on the island of Giudecca.
Thrill-seekers will have the choice of a one-hour three-course meal prepared by the hotel's chefs or a 30-minute aperitif, during which they can drink in views that stretch to St Mark's Square on the opposite side of the lagoon."
We'd probably opt for the 30-minute aperitif, since we're almost positive the dizzying height would make us lose our appetite. Then again, we'd also have to watch how much we drank. Wouldn't want to have any bathroom emergencies at that kind of altitude!
According to the Daily Mail, the platform can be rotated 180º, offering each guest at the table a panoramic view of Venice.
If this idea sounds more romantic to you than terrifying, then plan on booking a seat at the table (50 EUR per person for the aperitif; 250 pp for dinner) for the event, which takes place June 19-23.
[Photo: Daily Mail]
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If you're feeling wistful this weekend, a good way to kick back and set out on a magical hotel journey—without ever leaving your home—is to flip through Assouline's new 160-page Luxury Collection book, which is part of their Hotel Stories series.
The Luxury Collection: Hotel Stories devotes a mini-chapter to each of the 80+ hotels under Starwood's chi-chi Luxury Collection brand. There's history, and celebrity interviews, and design details—but you can technically find those things anywhere on the internet. What really makes the book stand out are the photos. Rich, full-color, splashy images of ITC Mughal, Gritti Palace, Al Maha and tons more.
While drooling over the images, we managed to scan a bit of text too. Here are five takeaway facts about Luxury Collection we didn't previously know: