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Inside the cozy, casual Balsan at Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Ever since chef Danny Grant left Ria at Waldorf Astoria Chicago last July (mere months after being named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2012, we've wondered about the future of the restaurant, which also closed in sync with Grant's departure for "reconcepting." Six months later, and the former Ria remains in an odd sort of limbo.
One would think the deserted dining space would weigh heavily on the shoulders of a hotel just named last year as the #1 Large City Hotel in the U.S by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards. But as far as we can tell, no one seems to be in a hurry to do anything with Ria. An insider tells us it's currently being used for private events and meetings, and may remain that way indefinitely.
Another idea we caught wind of several months ago was transforming Ria into a partially-enclosed rooftop space, a great move given the Rush Street/Gold Coast views below. But no official word has been released yet from Waldorf Astoria.
When we took an early look at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam last week, we promised we’d follow up with more details on its sister hotel in Berlin, which is now officially open. Set within the brilliantly named Zoofenster skyscraper in West Berlin, the Waldorf Astoria Berlin first popped up on our radar four years ago this month.
We won’t spend much time dwelling on their missed 2011 opening and move right on to what you can expect at the 232-room hotel.
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The past few Fantasy Friday's have been so completely downright dope and expensive that, at first, we pushed the $5,000 a night Villa Retreat at the Boulders Resort outside of Phoenix to the other side of the desk. We'd been talking $60,000 New Year's Eve packages and $20,000 diamond desserts, and $5,000 seemed a lot closer to reality than fantasy.
Well, guess what? We can't afford five grand a night any more than we can afford fifty grand, and if it's good enough for Lady Gaga, we suppose it's good enough for us.
The Villa Retreat is a Bali influenced five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home situated amongst the boulder piles (dated at 12-million years old) on property, and floor to ceiling windows help take it all in. There's an infinity-edge pool, jacuzzi, fire pit, and two patios to go along with two kitchens, an elevator, a private driveway and a courtyard. Obviously, you get some service perks, including a butler. Oh, and on-property helicopter access should you need a quick getaway.
We’ve told you the luxe Waldorf Astoria brand of the Hilton group is going on a little expansion spree in the next few years, kicked off with the recent re-opening of the historic Caledonian Edinburgh.
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We have been spending so much time on cocktail culture (well, it has been a rough few months), we figured we should be a little more balanced with our beverage coverage.
We started a bit by paying some attention to another one of our favorite pasttimes--afternoon tea. That can mean a simple cuppa for some of you--a jolt of caffeine to carry you through the day, or for more leisurely sorts, a more elaborate weekend high-tea filled with all sorts of yummy delights. We want to focus on that one--so much more fun, yes?
Now that chillier climates prevail in many parts of the country, the call for afternoon tea is in full demand and these hotels put out what we think are mighty fine spreads. We’ve seen quite a few people duck in to a hotel around the 4’o clock hour and chill over a demitasse of Darjeeling, a curried-chicken finger sandwich, and a jam-filled tart. We heartily approve.
Just remember, pinkie's up!
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Did you know it was Repeal Day? Sadly, we got through this whole entire Hump Day without being none the wiser. A tragedy, to be sure. Not that we haven't been loving autumn cocktails, we're not completely out the loop, ya know.
But, all is not lost. It's dinner time on the East coast, and the West Coast hasn't hit quitting time yet, so there's still time for everyone to take advantage of today's festivities. But, first, we'll clue you in on what Repeal Day is, just in case you didn't know.
To make it short (obviously time is of the essence) back on this day in 1933 Prohibition was ended in America after 13 years of (supposedly) dry living. Americans celebrated the "Repeal" of Prohibition by basically drinking their behind off. It has been celebrated every December 5th, since.
So in recognition of this "holiday", we guide you to some hotel bars that we think are serving some choice spirits.
The first 100 rooms have been stripped of the “Art+Tech” design, left over from the time Le Méridien managed the hotel, and have now changed their stripes.
But, let's have a reminder of what it looks like today, shall we?
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Deals: you want 'em, and surprisingly, everyone has 'em. Today, we've got a few to tickle your fancy before we unveil our Fall Package Specials next week! As usual, don't forget to tell us about your stay!
·The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix has an “Autumn Enchantment Package” that promotes reduced room rates, a complimentary night and other extras such as breakfast for two daily, and a reduced resort charge of $10 from $28 (which entitles you to WiFi, fitness center and putting course access, and more). Rates begin at $279 per night with the 3rd night free (3-night min). Use booking code "Autumn" when reserving online or call 800-950-0086.
Air Tahiti Nui has a few five-night value-season packages starting at just $1949 per person, double occupancy. One option:
Magical Moorea with Tahiti! ($1949 pp)
Includes five nights on two islands
•Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui
•One night in Tahiti at the InterContinental Hotel Resort Tahiti in a Standard room
•Round-trip ferry transfers to Moorea
•Four nights in Moorea at the InterContinental Hotel Resort Moorea in a Lanai room
•Daily breakfast for two
•Welcome flower lei, all transfers and all taxes
Must be booked by October 31, 2012, for travel from November 1 to December 14, 2012 and January 7 to March 31, 2013. Reserve through 800-217-3300 or through Air Tahiti Nui.
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Just before the summer, we looked at the many things Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts has up its sleeve, with places as far and wide as Jerusalem, Panama, and Berlin welcoming this luxury brand of the Hilton group in the next few years.
This month however it’s time for Edinburgh, where the historic Caledonian hotel reopened its doors after a £24 million ($39 million) overhaul, and officially became The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
With over a hundred years of history, the restoration seeks to bring back the origins of The Caledonian as a luxury railway hotel. Marble flooring, a sweeping staircase, and the vast chandelier you can see in the picture above dominate the reception and lobby. In a nod to its famous New York sibling, the Peacock Alley is the central meeting place of the hotel and the spot to have a drink or meet for afternoon tea.
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There's even more 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 you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· It's Ok to Be a Geek at This Hotel: There's a new hotel coming to Minneapolis and it's going after geeks. The Commons Hotel will open on 10.11.12 and according to this press release the vibe is "industrial schoolhouse chic." Whatever that means! There will also be a Geek Chic suite and nerdy stay and play experiences and amenities such as alchemist mixology lessons, Book Butlers, Sudoku sleep-ins and a scholarly shopping shuttle for museum shop hopping. More brainiac diversions to the nearby University of Minnesota campus are also planned and even sports fanatics will find ways to indulge at the new hotel. The website is up and running here but rezzies won't begin for another few weeks.
· The Waldorf-Astoria in Panama Gets an Official Name: We already knew that Hilton was taking its luxe Waldorf Astoria brand to Panama but today they let us know that the 248-room hotel will officially go by the name Waldorf Astoria Panama. We like it. Simple and easy to remember. The hotel will open on January 1, 2013 with rates starting at just $219 a night.
Waldorf-Astoria Chicago (formerly The Elysian)
Lately, we've been wondering about what the Waldorf Astoria brand of Hilton Hotels have been up to (c'mon, that's just what we hotel geeks do in our spare time) but when we started snooping around, we were surprised by just how much is happening in the next few years.
Let us break it down for you now. Spoiler alert: it doesn't involve more $16.80 hotel rooms.
Way back in April 2008, we first reported the addition of a Jerusalem property, with only a few months later some local word on construction having been started to transform the historic Palace Hotel, which dates back to 1929.
The projected 2010 opening was not quite achieved, but the 220-room luxury hotel is now aiming to welcome its first guests on March 5, 2013. Details on the hotel website are a bit slim, but refer to two restaurants and a lounge, and two spas, complete with fitness center and pool.
Summer's nearly here and if you're a parent that means you're on the lookout for fun places to take the kids. Yup, once you're a parent, your vacation plans are pretty much ruled by the little ones.
However at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Fla. there might be a way for both you and the mini-tyrants in your life to have a good time. The resort's Boca Beach Club just unveiled their very own Random House Kids Library.
The custom-made library features more than 100 titles including books from Dr. Seuss and Stepping Stones collections. These books are accessible to kids who enroll in the beach club's Camp Boca program but they can also be borrowed by families at no extra cost during their stay.