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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.
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In its earlier days as The Elysian, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago was originally designed with the little black dress and Coco Channel in mind. On a recent visit, we were happy to see that none of this changed when The Elysian became the Waldorf Astoria this past February.
There’s the sunburst-shaped lobby chandelier inspired by a Channel brooch, touches of black in the furniture and artwork (really beautiful stuff hangs on the walls here), Tiffany-esque analog clocks on the bedside tables (a nice break from iPod madness), and everyday objects somehow beautifully amplified against muted backdrops.
But the crème de la crème was discovered in the bathroom beyond the shower door, where a simple nook in the shower wall sang out like a choir of angels.
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Here's a tale that's sure to warm your hearts on this dreary Friday morning, and then perhaps make you a little jealous: a New England couple that's been married for 60 years just celebrated their anniversary at the Waldorf-Astoria, the same place they spent their wedding night in 1952. The price they paid back then? $16.80. The price they'll pay this weekend on their anniversary visit? $16.80.
Apparently, old lady Waldorf has a policy of charging only the original room rate for returning guests who are celebrating a special event. According to the NY Daily News, who wrote Wednesday's piece on the New England couple, about two or three couples make use of the perk every year.
Which tells us there must be plenty of happily married couples out there who have a super cheap stay waiting for them at the Waldorf-Astoria, and who aren't making use of it. But we know someone who might be interested in taking the reservation off their hands...(us!)
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Barring the possibility that you're a former President—or that you don't mind spending $10,000/night—then you've likely never caught a glimpse of the Waldorf-Astoria's Presidential Suite. Why? Because until recently, the hotel has never allowed photography inside the suite.
Lucky for us, the NY Daily News has taken on the oppressive task of video touring the entire space—from gleaming top (the crystal chandelier in the master bedroom) to well-polished bottom (the black-and-white tiled bathroom floor).
Now, the goods are out in the open for all to see. So, what do you think?
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Remember the guys who brought you the sperm-shaped urinals at Trump Panama? Well, in the spirit of our recently-launched (and super hot topic-y) 2012 Master List of Hotel Openings, we were a little curious to see what else the design wizards at HBA had cooking on the stove.
Though their total project list spans 21 properties, a few in particular stand out: Four Seasons Guangzhou, Park Hyatt Hyderabad, Sheraton Fuzhou, and Waldorf-Astoria Ras Al Khaimah are all places we'll be keeping a close eye on as they gear up for their respective 2012 grand openings. We love nothing more than unique, well-executed, culturally-relevant design, and these places have it all.
Though we can't quite make out the white sculpture at the far end of Park Hyatt Hyderabad's atrium (above)—some sort of cat? or god?—we love the scale of those high black marble columns and curvy chandelier over the low rounded bench below. Proving, once and for all, you don't need urinals with tails to really make a lobby pop.
Waldorf is wiping the Elysian name from every nook and cranny, starting with the front entrance sign and then working their way up into the guest rooms to include the stationary, the bathrobes and literally anything else that says Elysian on it.
The good news is that the Chicago Tribune reports that pretty much everything else inside the hotel, as well as all the services, will remain the same.
What will stay the same is nearly everything else that has cemented the hotel's reputation for refinement: heated cobblestones in the courtyard, staff members who greet guests with platters of Evian bottles and a stunning, sunburst-shaped chandelier in the lobby modeled after a brooch by Coco Chanel.
That should please all those TripAdvisor members who voted the hotel the best in the U.S. If you're looking to be the first to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria Chicago, room rates start at $395 on February 1.
Maybe it's all the bangin' new hotels popping up on the scene (Public Chicago, Radisson Blu, the forthcoming Virgin). Or maybe it's just Chicago's general swagger. Whatever the reason, Waldorf-Astoria has just added a Chi-town hotel to its collection. Specifically, the Elysian.
The style-conscious hotel, which opened a year and a half ago, was reportedly having money issues, and one of its investors wanted out. According to USA Today, billionaire Sam Zell stepped in to purchase the property for $95 million—with hopes that Waldorf-Astoria, and, as an extension, Hilton Worldwide, can get the place back on its feet.
Sadly, Marc Jacobs himself displayed no interest in scooping up the hotel.
Japanese-born chef Alan Wong has spent years building a legacy as one of the most talented and innovative chefs in Hawaii. His Oahu restaurant, Alan Wong's, was ranked twice by Gourmet magazine as one of the top ten best restaurants in America. Now, the master will be turning his attention to the Grand Wailea Resort for a new "Asian street food"-inspired upscale restaurant—to be named, awesomely, Amasia.
The name refers to the possible future merging of the Asian and North American continents. Which is actually fitting for Wong's style, which likes to borrow a little from both cultures. Wong recently entered into an agreement with Grand Wailea to take over their Japanese kaiseki restaurant Kincha, which closed in 2009. Currently undergoing a $2 million renovation, and with Wong's team set to arrive in January to start experimenting in the kitchen, the restaurant will re-open as Amasia in February.
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Waldorf-Astoria's new amenities collection is redolent of "tangy citrus" and the "Italian lifestyle" (whatever that means)
It's Eau de Luxury you'll be catching a whiff of in landmark Waldorf-Astoria hotels by January of next year. Italian label Salvatore Ferragamo may be best known for it's gold-accented bow shoes and buttery soft leather satchels, but for their partnership with Waldorf-Astoria they're trading accessories for amenities and launching Tuscan Soul, a line of in-room bath items meant to evoke "a touch of Italian lifestyle [for guests]." That's a hazy description at best, but we're willing to bet the products sure do smell nice.
Hilton just announced that a 324-room resort on Palm Jumeirah in Dubai will become a Waldorf Astoria Resort by the end of 2013. Hilton is teaming up with Al Habtoor Group, who had originally bought the land but ran into major delays when the economy went down the drain in 2008, affecting all imminent Dubai properites.
Not only is Al Habtoor now re-starting construction on the $272 million resort, they are funding the entire project out of their own pocket. Apparently, the city's banks are so hard-pressed that receiving funding is virtually impossible. Al Habtoor also told Arabian Business that it is working on "other projects, which we are going to announce soon."
Click below to see a (not very visible) artist's rendering of the upcoming resort.