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We've been waiting on this one for a while, and now, over a year behind schedule, the Waldorf Astoria Panama is finally here. The 130-room hotel is in its soft opening phase right now (meaning, fancy private parties for rich people), but that'll all change by the end of this week when the hotel officially opens on Friday.
The hotel is located on a quiet little side street in the center of the city, just two blocks from Cinta Costera, a popular pedestrian strip that hugs the Pacific coastline. Close to it are other hotel neighbors like the InterContinental and Le Meridien, though in terms of luxury service and design, this place is definitely doing something those other two hotels aren't.
Take a look at more photos after the jump!
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People do funny things when they're in love. And hotels do funny things when they want more followers on Twitter.
In an effort to gain more social media buzz, the folks at Waldorf-Astoria in New York have launched a new campaign asking old guests to return anything they've stolen from the hotel. The stolen goods will then get displayed on the hotel's Facebook page—ideally, with a little background story on each item—and then showcased in a special exhibit inside the lobby.
The klepto-guests themselves will remain anonymous. So what's in it for them? The chance to set things right.
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We thought we heard some funny noises coming from the Waldorf-Astoria last time we visited, and it turns out the hotel does indeed have some rackety new residents who have set up shop on the roof. The NY Post reports that 48,000 honeybees have been installed to make Waldorf-Astoria-branded honey, which will then be served to guests during meals as well as packaged and sold.
We would normally expect this from other, balmier destinations (like, for instance, Grand Wailea, whose honey we've tasted and enjoyed), but we guess there's no reason why New York can't get in on the fun. Come to think of it, this is something that's been done for a while now—we spotted this emerging trend back in 2010 in places like Toronto, Chicago and Charlotte. And as the saying goes, if bees can make
it honey in New York, they can really make it anywhere.
Here's a fun fact for today: Did you know that the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was in the spot where the Empire State Building now stands? It's true! The first version of the ritzy hotel was a combination of the Waldorf and the Astoria Hotels at 5th Avenue and 33rd/34th Streets, which stood and welcomed the most well-heeled guests from 1893 to 1929, when it was knocked down to begin the skyscraper ESB we now know and love.
You won't hear much about that first building of some 1,300 rooms (with bidets) unless you pick a nice documentary from your Netflix queue; we recommend "Modern Marvels: The Empire State Building."
Of course, history is history and we all know that the Waldorf-Astoria found a new home further uptown, in its art deco digs at Park Avenue and 50th Street. Craving a little more NYC hotel history? Check out our category for it.
While some people raise money with bikini car washes, like Octomom and some fame-hungry celebrity mistresses, Grand Wailea's Managing Director Matt Bailey really gave something of himself for charity—his hair.
To inspire the Maui resort workers to donate money to the annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk, which aids Hawaii nonprofits, he vowed in the beginning of the year to shave his hair if they hit a fund-raising goal of $32,000. Not only did they raise the money, they exceeded it, with donations totaling $50,000—the most raised in the state.
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The Waldorf=Astoria isn't exactly the first place that comes to mind when we think of rock and roll. Their restaurant is named "Peacock Alley," for chrissakes. But a ballroom is a ballroom, and, as it turns out, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has made use of the Waldorf=Astoria ballroom since the first induction ceremony in 1986.
If you're interested in catching a glimpse of this year's seven inductees (among them are Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Leon Russell, Alice Cooper), you're probably out of luck. Hey, a closed-door, invitation-only event is a closed-door, invitation-only event! But, for the music lovers among you, there is a silver lining to this VIP-only cloud.
Peacock Alleywhich incidentally is currently celebrating its 80th anniversaryhas arranged a rock and roll-themed cocktail and small plates menu to coincide with the RRHOF's 25th annual induction ceremony.
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The Grand Wailea Resort in Maui is having quite the turbulent February. First, it filed bankruptcy and was bought by new owners, despite its almost $2 billion in debts, and then it was featured in the movie Just Go With It. There's even a contest open now to win a good vacation stay at the resort as a tie-in with the movie.
Finally, the Grand Wailea is again the center of attention, as today it was announced that it was the temporary Hawaii home of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue's bevy of models, stylists and photographers when they stayed in Maui to shoot the 2011 issue, hitting newsstands today. We've visited the Grand Wailea before and found it a bit too family-oriented for our luxury tropical relaxation tastes, but all those models and famous photogs could've shifted the balance for at least a weekend.