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Well, that took a long time. Three and a half years ago, the Hotel Verta – riverside in London’s Battersea neighborhood, with a heliport outside the front door – went looking for someone new after its Von Essen hotel group went into administration. That was only a year after it opened in a location that was enough out of the way for it to struggle pretty much from day one.
We’ll admit things have been so quiet we wouldn’t have been able tell you with certainty the Verta was still open, but evidently it was, with the news that it is now the Crowne Plaza London – Battersea. Together with the Crowne Plaza that is being developed near Albert Embankment and the existing City hotel, that will give IHG three Crowne Plazas on or next to the river between Battersea and Blackfriars.
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When we looked at the number of hotels leaving the Concorde group last month, we asked the question how long its remaining properties would stick around for. Now we know the answer for at least one of them: not very long.
Kind tipsters let us know in the comments and via email that Hotel de la Cite Concorde in Lyon (one of the largest French cities outside of Paris) would become the Crowne Plaza Lyon – Cite Internationale on March 1st. What’s more, while the website for Concorde Berges du Lac in Tunisia is still live, the hotel has since also disappeared from the group directory, and online reservations takes you to a booking system that doesn’t even include Tunisia as an available destination.
Keeping the group website up to date no longer seems to be a priority either: various Google links take you to a directory page that lists a generous 25 properties, and sub-pages liberally link to hotels now with Hyatt or elsewhere. Are we watching the demise of a hotel group here?
Looks like Indian group Taj Hotels is grabbing 2014 by the horns and using a new year to clean up an old oddity in its London portfolio. For years it has owned two hotels on Buckingham Gate: 51 Buckingham Gate, with its Jaguar and Cinema Suites, and the Crowne Plaza St. James next door. Yes, that is Crowne Plaza as in the InterContinental Hotels Group brand.
Together, the two hotels occupy parts of eight six-story houses from the late 1800s: King’s, Queen’s, Prior’s, Falconer’s, Minister’s, Almoner’s, Duke’s, and Regent’s House, surrounding a shared courtyard. While the hotels will remain separate, the Crowne Plaza name is officially disappearing from the doors as of this week, with the hotel being reflagged as The St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel.
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We've already had a busy morning as far as new hotels news goes. But there's even more. Here's a short list of new hotels coming to a city near you:
· Hotel Van Zandt, Austin: Kimpton Hotels will open a new hotel in Austin in 2015 in the city's historic Rainey Street District. The 16-story hotel will feature 322 guest rooms, over 12,000 square feet total event and meeting space, achef-driven restaurant, lobby cafe and pool deck and bar. Interior designer Mark Zeff will oversee the interior design of the Hotel Van Zandt and its restaurant. Kimpton has also made announcements for new properties in Savannah, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Palm Springs, Sedona and Grand Cayman so there will be lots more Kimptons to choose from in the coming years.
· Fairmont Austin: Speaking of Austin, construction should begin on the new Fairmont Hotel at 101.Red River Street later this fall, according to this report. The 1,000-room hotel will cost nearly half a billion to build and should open sometime in 2016.
· The Archer Napa: The Archer in New York City hasn't opened yet (that's happening early next year) but already they've announced a second Archer Hotel for Napa Valley. The Archer Napa will be a new-build luxury hotel at the First Street site of the former Merrill’s building, adjacent to The Shops at Napa Center. LogdeWorks and Zapolski Real Estate have partnered up on the seven-story property which will reflect "a casual elegance, organic to the Napa aesthetic. " No opening date has been set yet.
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Update: It was these guys.
Ugh. Yet another example of professional athletes behaving badly in hotel rooms. This time it happened at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The incident took place in February but word only just came out via Yahoo! Sports. They reported:
National Football Scouting president Jeff Foster, who runs the NFL scouting combine, confirmed that a hotel room was left trashed during the February 2013 event in Indianapolis. However, Foster refused to identify the two players who shared the room for three nights, though sources have indicated that one of the two prospects is a potential first-round pick in next week's NFL draft.
So how bad was the damage? Like Lohan or Courtney Love bad with cigarette burns everywhere? Or 80s hair band bad with broken bottles of alcohol littered on the floor and TVs thrown out the window? Judging from the description below, it's a new kind of bad. Very bad:
NYPD cops made the bust of a lifetime last month, when 104lbs of cocaine was seized from traffickers who were staying at the Crowne Plaza Times Square (aka the hotel that sits on top of the Hershey's Store.)
The hotel's flashy facade and central location was likely seen by the traffickers as an advantage: what better than sugar-crazed tourists bustling around a Times Square hotel to throw the cops off your scent?
Except the cops were very much onto their scent.
The NY Post reports that cops had been parked outside the hotel, waiting for the traffickers to make their move. Sure enough, on October 25 at around 6pm, the first man exited the hotel, wheeling a suitcase packed with 30lbs of pure cocaine, which he then lifted into a silver BMW. And then another guy came out with an 8lb suitcase. And then another, with 66lbs. We're telling you, it was a real cocaine suitcase factory line down there last month!
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You know the deal: you excitedly check into a hotel in a brand new city, ready to see all the sights and take all the tours. But sightseeing doesn't come cheap, and soon enough you're blowing an extra $20 or $50 just to be shown a landmark that, with a little more planning, you might have been able to see for free from your hotel room.
PARIS— We've been a fan of Shangri-La Paris for a while now, and it was just recently, back in May, that we poked around inside an Eiffel Duplex Suite. Balcony? Check. Free WiFi? Check. Killer Eiffel Tower view? Yessir.
Could there be actual good news on the horizon for Detroit and its (lack of) hotel scene? The Free Press reports that a hotel developer is working with IHG to create a Crowne Plaza Detroit in what was once the Hotel Pontchartrain/Hotel Riverside near the convention centre.
That's 413 rooms to come back onto the market possibly next year, though the bigger news is still the in-development Aloft Downtown Detroit. At 136 rooms, the Aloft won't have the bulk of the Pontchartrain, but will have a position in a landmark, Burnham-designed building and an overall fresher design.
If both plans come through, the Aloft and Crown Plaza will debut around the same timelate-ish 2013. Fingers crossed that it coincides with the beginning of a boom in interest in Detroit. We already don't mind going to hang out in Motown; now it's time for others to follow.
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You may never have given it much thought, but for the seriously wealthy, requesting a hotel room that comes with its own private sauna can be as commonplace as checking to see whether the hotel offers free WiFi. And just like with the whole WiFi issue, certain hotels do a better job of it than others.
Like, for instance, the Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown (we're talking about saunas now, not WiFi). A local news channel ran a piece on which Orlando hotel suites are favored by the area's richest clients, and why. Not exactly the type of article that makes you feel good about your own finances, but fun to read nonetheless. Lo and behold, on the hotel's fourteenth floor, inside the Presidential Suite, is an en-suite sauna (above), included along with a steam shower, wet bar, and spare bedroom.
Now, how much would you pay for the luxury of a sauna two steps from your bed?
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Crowne Plaza Birmingham, UK
Have you stayed in a Crowne Plaza Hotel lately? Yeah, neither have we. But this bit of news from InterContinental Hotel Group's Annual Investors & Leadership Conference today has us thinking a CP could be in our very near future.
IHG has announced that Crowne Plaza is will undergo a three-phase repositioning strategy, starting with a new brand identity and a modern look and feel for its U.S. properties (Crowne Plaza is way savvier abroad.)
This first phase, also known as the "Freshen Up", will also expand the brand's Sleep Advantage program which offers guests rooms in designated Quiet Zones and lots of pillows to get comfy with. As we type, Crowne Plazas are already getting freshened up and the makeover should last through 2012.
We'll be the first to admit that even when we aren't staying in hotels, we're all for hanging out in them. Heck, that's what the all the restaurants, bars and shops are forguests aren't the ones having all the fun. For this reason, nothing delights us more than discovering a secret little niche, an oasis of calm within a hotel within a metropolis.
And we just found one, and we're sharing it with you because you likely feel the same way about these secret hotel places. It's The Espresso Bar at the Crowne Plaza London - St. James in London, and it's cute and quiet and just around the corner from tourist and business centers like Buckingham Palace, St. James' Park and Victoria Station.
There's no free WiFi (shame on you, Crowne Plaza), but if you'd like to take your cappuccino outside, the hotel also hides a lovely little alfresco garden you've got to walk all the way through the lobby and the hotel bar to reach.
If you've always dreamed of marrying your special someone inside a Crowne Plaza, then this is without a doubt the promotion for you.
And just in case you didn't know: the address of Crowne Plaza Times Square 1605 Broadway. That's 1-6-0-5. As in, 16 minus 5 is—oh my gosh!—ELEVEN! This auspicious mini-mass-wedding will almost certainly open a powerful energy vortex into other Crowne Plaza dimensions, where no mortal has ever ventured. Needless to say, our RSVP is already in the mail.