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Hallo! There's a bunch of news flying around and we're having trouble getting to it all, so we've packaged the tidbits up nice and neat for you to read about here. Enjoy!
· BEHIND-THE-SCENES STRUGGLE IS HAPPENING AT ACE HOTELS: Alex Calderwood, the man who founded Ace Hotels, passed away last November, shocking those close to him and those who like us, just loved his hotels. His presence can still be found throughout the Aces, including in illustrated format at the Ace Hotel DTLA. But now his estate is asking for a bigger presence. We received a media alert which said the following:
The estate of the late Alex Calderwood has filed suit against Ace Group International LLC (“Ace”), its member Ecoplace LLC, and board member Stefanos Economou. Calderwood’s estate is the majority stakeholder in Ace and is asking the court to declare that it, not Ecoplace or Economou, has the right to control and manage Ace under the Ace membership agreement and Delaware law. The case is pending in the Supreme Court of New York for New York County.
Calderwood, who passed away in November 2013, was the founder and creative force behind Ace and its collection of successful Ace Hotels. Aspen Ace LLC, with Gordon Sondland as President, was established to advise and represent the estate on behalf of the Calderwood family.
Ay, yi, yi. We hope this ends amicably.
UPDATE 1.20.15, 5:00PM PST: A rep from Ace Group International has sent over this statement on the lawsuit.
Upon Alex Calderwood’s death, his interest in AGI passed to his estate which is administered by his father Thomas Calderwood. AGI’s operating agreement states that the estate's interest is a profit/distribution only interest and that it has no management rights. Stefanos Economou and the rest of Ace’s management team have been operating the company since Alex’s death. A lawsuit was filed which requests a broader role for the estate. We believe that this lawsuit is without merit.
Miami. Remember when it used to be "God's Waiting Room?" Or perhaps more relevant for the pop culture obsessed--the place where "Golden Girls" was filmed (and where the girls once ran their own hotel?) No longer.
We've just got the official opening date for one of the several anticipated openings of 2015--the upcoming 150-room AC Hotels by Marriott Miami Beach.
Opening in April, the hotel will be the third AC Hotel for the U.S., after New Orleans and Kansas City, which opens next month. So far it looks like it will have all the same amenities as the AC New Orleans--from the AC Lounge to the AC Kitchen to the free WiFi. However, it will be the sexiest AC thanks to its rooftop pool. Not to mention, the beach is across the street. #bringyourflipflops
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The other day we did a quickie round-up of the expected AC Hotels By Marriott, which include Kansas City, Chicago and Miami Beach, and now there are two more ACs to add to the list--Des Moines and Minneapolis.
A tipster sent us the information, pointing to a couple of news articles for each property. In Des Moines, the AC Hotel will go up at the southeast corner of East Fourth Street and East Grand Avenue. It will have 108 rooms and should open as early as this spring. There was/is some issue concerning the "over saturation" of hotels in downtown Des Moines (a Hampton Inn and a Residence Inn by Marriott will also open in the area) but the AC should make it worth it with their French croissants and their signature AC cocktails. (Cornhusker martini, anyone?)
In Minneapolis, a nine-story, 244-room AC Hotel will go up at 401 Hennepin Av. S., across 4th Street from the Minneapolis Central Library. It will be near the light-rail line, Target Field and the all-important Target Center. The developer, M.A. Mortenson Co., said the AC brand was "a natural fit for the culture and vibrancy of the downtown Minneapolis market." If all goes well, the hotel should open in 2016.
Now that we've gone inside and all around the AC Hotel by Marriott in New Orleans (above), we can confidently say that we are extremely excited for more AC Hotels to open across the U.S. But also, selfishly, we're hoping that AC doesn't adopt a super aggressive expansion model. It's ok to take it nice and slow. Like a fine wine, and that's important to the Spanish heritage of the AC brand, right?
Nevertheless, there are several more AC Hotels in the works and their opening dates are coming up soon. Here's how it's looking right now:
We already gave you a brief look at the rooms inside the first ever AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. and we had you salivating over the croissants flown in from France (well, the frozen dough was), but now it's time to take you all around the AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans.
We like to let the pictures do most of the talking but here's what you need to know:
The History: The AC was built out of two historic buildings--The Cotton Exchange and The Security Homestead Association--although the buildings have been used as hotel for quite some time. The hotel, which is one block from Canal and two from Bourbon Street, suffered some severe damage after Hurricane Katrina, but it was kept mostly to the first two floors.
The layout of the lobby has changed a bit structurally, and of course, everything inside is brand-new but the hotel retains a historic set-up especially on the guest room floors which have smaller hallways and many twists and turns.
Yesterday, we gave you a brief look at the first AC Hotel by Marriott to open in the U.S. We'll have more on the rest of the property and the AC experience next week but we thought we'd leave you with this snapshot of a staple breakfast item at all AC Hotels going forward--croissants.
The buttery, perfectly flaky breakfast pastry is served daily in the AC Kitchen along with other sweet and savory fare, as well as the all-important coffee. (You can get it hot or iced.) But these aren't any old croissants. The dough was made in France, frozen and shipped to New Orleans. It is near perfection. (Perfection is obviously a croissant made and eaten in Paris.)
Breakfast at the AC Kitchen costs $14 for all you can eat. There's no lunch at the kitchen but in the evenings, the adjacent AC Lounge serves up small plates alongside specialty cocktails. We'll have more on that next week as well. Stay tuned!
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Ever since we first heard about Marriott International's plans to import the AC Hotels brand from Europe into the United States, we've been incredibly curious to see the finished product. And now we have--at the AC Hotel New Orleans. #hotelnerdalldayeveryday
Since we're still in the midst of exploring the hotel, we're only sharing a few photos today but we'll have more to talk about, a lot more, on Friday and Monday. So far, we can absolutely say the hotel, which was kept very well under wraps during the construction process, is hitting all the right marks.
A former film distribution center for Warner Brothers may become the new Philadelphia address for AC Hotels by Marriott.
As faithful readers of HC already know, AC Hotels originated in Spain by designer Antonio Catalán as an urban contemporary hotel collection. Marriott announced its plans to import the brand back in June 2013, starting with AC Hotel New Orleans (which just opened), followed by Kansas City (December) and Miami (March 2015.) More locations have also been announced for Chicago, Asheville (North Carolina) and Irvine, Calif. And now Philadelphia.
The proposed Philly hotel, located at 13th and Florist Streets, is in the early planning and design stages, and an opening date has not been established. The Warner Brothers building is a two-story, Deco-inspired design dating back to 1947. There's really not much to work with here, so why not just build what you need on top of what you got?
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OhEmGee. There is already so much hotel news flying around this week and it's ONLY MONDAY. Needless to say, we just don't have enough time to focus on all of it. So here's a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
· FAIRMONT NO LONGER IN PLACE AT BOSTON'S BATTERY WHARF HOTEL : The Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston was recently sold and the Fairmont brand was ousted as of October 27. The hotel will now be known as The Battery Wharf Hotel & Spa. It will be managed by a Canadian company, Westmont Hospitality Group.
· FAIRMONT ALSO HAVING ISSUES IN BERMUDA BUT PICKS UP BARCELONA: Just after the $90 million redevelopment of The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, and their brand new marina, The Princess Marina, the hotel's owners are now trying to ditch the Fairmont brand. A report came out today about a lawsuit filed in NYC by the hotel's owners and as expected for these type of owner-manager lawsuits, it's not pretty. Read the full list of accusations, and Fairmont's response, here. Meanwhile, Fairmont has announced they will pick up the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona.
· ANOTHER AC HOTEL BY MARRIOTT IN THE WORKS: We're closing in on the grand opening of the first AC Hotel by Marriott in the U.S. (in New Orleans) but we've got a tip on another AC location. Sorry, it's not as exciting as NOLA. Woodbine Development, Inc is bringing the AC brand to the Park Place Development in Irvine, Calif.
AC Hotels by Marriott are working towards opening their first hotel in New Orleans in October, followed by South Beach, and Kansas City with JFK Airport and Chicago on the (tentative) horizon as well. And now, AC will open in Asheville, North Carolina too.
According to the Citizen-Times newspaper, design review approval was given to the owners of the BB&T building's parking garage. The garage will be razed and in its place a nine-story hotel--with 132 guest rooms, a restaurant and a bar--will be constructed.
Yay, exciting and that jazz. But what's also interesting, is that the BB&T building itself will be turned into an upscale, boutique hotel topped with six floors of condos. Naturally, we assume this brand has to be a Marriott-branded hotel as well. And if we had to place our bets, we'd put our money on a Renaissance Hotel which is definitely Marriott's boutique brand, after Edition of course. But the condo element has us a bit thrown off. So...what will it be? We're gonna go with Renaissance but only time, and maybe a loose-lipped developer or designer, will tell. Hint, hint.
[Rendering via AC Hotels]
It's been a while since we last checked in on the U.S. development plans for AC Hotels by Marriott but boy, are we glad we did. That's because we've discovered that the first AC Hotel for the U.S. won't be opening in Miami Beach.
Instead, Antonio Catalan's design forward boutique hotel concept will open inside the former Cotton Exchange Building in New Orleans in October. Miami Beach will follow in late 2014/early 2015 as will Kansas City.
So now, let's take a closer look at what to expect for the AC in NOLA. Looking at the hotel's website, there isn't much to go on from a visual standpoint. We've got a shot of the exterior of the building--a National Historic Landmark built in 1871, as well as a photo of the lobby, the AC Kitchen restaurant, the bar and the suave AC Lounge area, where all the action should be happening.
We're loving the glass bar that extends from the wall to the ceiling but we're also anxious to see a guest room too. Unfortunately, there aren't any shots of those but we do know that free WiFi will be found throughout the property.
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Millennials at work. And probably a little bit of play. Or at least some tweeting.
How do you solve a problem like Millennials? Well, if you're a hotel company, the answer is "easy"--simply create an entirely new hotel brand for this up and coming, creative class of tech-toting, over-sharing, individuals. Here's a list of new hotel brands that have opened or will open in the coming years aimed at Millennials. These hotels will put a ton of emphasis on social spaces and technology (all have free WiFi) as well as design (carefully curated yet extremely functional.)
But servicing Millennials isn't limited to the hotels that are on this list. Several older brands have been rejiggering their brand standards to cater to Millennials like Courtyard By Marriott with their new Next Gen Rooms. So expect most hotels in the future to be copying some of these new offerings.
Except the old-ass, old-school luxury hotels, that is. It doesn't matter what year you were born, there comes a time in your life when you'd rather just sit in a quiet lounge sipping on some fine wine while LiteFM plays overhead.
The spin-off brand from Thompson Hotels (and parent company, Commune Hotels) should open sometime next year in 2015. Tommies guestrooms will be space-efficient “crash pads” rather than tricked-out hotel rooms with emphasis being given to the communal spaces like the Reading Rooms which will have curated programming and the casual dining experiences, like the gourmet “grab and go” marketplace. Check-in will be done via tablets but given Tommie’s “help yourself” attitude we wouldn’t be surprised if Tommie employed a self check-in process.