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Having scoped out the other big Amsterdam opening that starts (and ends) with a W, we kept on walking and turned down the city’s Herengracht canal until we hit up the row of patrician houses that is being transformed into the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.
About this time last year we gave you the first preview of the 94-room hotel, which is planned for a March 2014 opening. What we could see through the windows does not tell the full story of the hotel’s progress of course, but the public spaces and the downstairs kitchen we spied certainly seemed to need some work still. Let’s just hope that March opening will be happening, especially as it should kick off three consecutive months of openings for the brand, with Beijing and Jerusalem scheduled for April and May.
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The Regent Montenegro
There’s tons of hotel news flying around at the moment, so we have another roundup of news bites for you today to get you up to speed on the latest from Oman to Cambodia and China to Argentina.
Starting with the Arab sultanate of Oman, its newspaper Muscat Daily (Muscat is the capital) reports that the country will have the first Aman Resort in the Middle East, in the remote coastal town of Shuwaimiya. The developer of the eco-resort has confirmed Aman Resorts will open, with the hotel group so far taking a confirm-nor-deny approach. Whether or not it will be the first in the Middle East remains to be seen, based on what we hear about an opening in Jordan.
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Looking at cocktails menus these days, it’s clear bartenders (or mixologists as they like to call themselves), are shaking and stirring drinks intended to warm your insides—perfect for the crisp, fall weather many of us are experiencing.
These are some seasonal sips from some of our favorite hotel bars.
If you’ve never heard of “Movember” before, you can read about the male mustache-focused charity here. This year the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is supporting the cause with its Whiskey & Whiskers drink served at their Bernard’s bar. 20% of the proceeds from the $16 drink will be donated to the Movember Foundation. We love the mustache-stencil garnish created with sprinkles of ginger-cinnamon powder.
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Based on its setting within the Zoofenster skyscraper, the views to be had from Waldorf Astoria Berlin already looked good on paper, but having seen a number of rooms ourselves recently, we can tell you that the hotel does indeed serve up some killer views.
These particular vistas, stretching all the way across the city’s Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag in the distance, come courtesy of one of its Tower Suites, recognisable even from the outside as being located in the all glass block within the limestone façade. Accessible only by a separate set of lifts, which need a key card to be activated, they each measure 900+ square feet with living and dining room, powder room, master bedroom and bathroom, and kitchenette. More pictures after the jump.
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The Mystery Room at Arizona's Biltmore Resort is a mystery no more.
As we told you back in February, the Waldorf Astoria resort's historic Mystery Room has reopened as a speakeasy, which is actually what the Mystery Room initially was during Prohibition. Back then, it was called the "Men's Smoking Room" and required a secret password to enter. Inside was a well-stocked liquor cabinet that converted into a bookcase in the event of a raid. Men could purchase a "set up" of glass, ice and mixers for bootleg liquor. (The 20s version of bottle service, we suppose.) The resort even kept watch for police and would shine their high-powered spotlight into the Mystery Room if they ever saw patrol car outside.
Today, the speakeasy is open to both men and women and it's totally legal. Yet it's only open on Sunday evenings from 8 to 11pm. And it requires a password which will change weekly. The hotel's Twitter feed, @Arizona Biltmore, will post clues every week . Here was last week's passwordg:
“I am looking for the blind pig this evening” #speakeasy— ArizonaBiltmore (@ArizonaBiltmore) July 26, 2013
Fun fact: Speakeasies were also called "blind pigs."
If you've ever wandered the legendary Arizona Biltmore Resort, you've likely stumbled upon a photo of the "Mystery Room," though never the room itself as the location has long been — you guessed it — a mystery. That's all about to change; last week we were among the first to learn that this mysterious room will soon be revealed and restored to a version of its former self as a speakeasy lounge.
Back in the day, the cozy club masqueraded as a "Men's Smoking Room" requiring a secret password for entry and accessible only through a secret passage that started behind the resort and traveled up a hidden staircase from the kitchen. In many ways it was a true man cave, where gentlemen could kick back to smoke cigars and pipes, swap news about the stock market and sip on bootleg setups of gin and juice.
A clever fuzz buster was in place, too, with a spotlight that was officially known to guide guests at night, and unofficially used to search the desert for police raids. Whenever a raid approached, the spotlight would shine through the Mystery Room's stained glass roof, signaling guests to return to their rooms and the booze to be tucked back into the room's hidden bookshelf.
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We're only two months into 2013 and while we've had our share of disappointments, there's still a bunch of new hotels to start saving your pennies for. So because we can't get enough of that new hotel smell, here are 10 More Hotel Openings To Get Psyched About:
W VERBIER: There are only two W Hotels opening in 2013 and this winter wonderland in Switzerland is one of them. This will be the very first "alpine escape" from W and will feature 123 rooms and suites, each with their own fireplace, balconies and signature W beds. Being cold has never gotten us so hot.
Go shorty, it's your birthday, Arizona Biltmore's gonna party like it's your birthday…
We'll warn you now: this song may be playing in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore when you check in.
This historic Waldorf Astoria property totally digs you getting one year older, so they're offering a free room for you during your birthday month (a minimum of two nights booking is required). To make it a serious party, they're also throwing in a cupcake and balloons delivered straight to your room. Bring your own party hats, though.
We suggest rounding up an active crew as this birthday bash is going to be off the hizzle: there's eight swimming pools, including a 92-foot-long water slide; 18-hole PGA golf course; seven tennis courts; mountain biking; hiking; life-size chess lawn and a 22,000-square-foot spa.
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.