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Browsing through our photo archive, we come across many hotel memories: some fond, some we wish to forget, and some that stand out for being just that little bit different. One of the latter relates to The Plaza New York, which has had a rather tumultuous decade or so: from its controversial acquisition and disgruntled owners suing the developer over the sight-unseen acquired apartments, to struggles at both the restaurants and the food mall. Then of course there was that whole Charlie Sheen disaster.
Way before all of this went down, we found ourselves inside The Plaza on a sweltering early summer day when its contents pre-renovation were on sale, for anyone who wanted to take a piece of hotel history home. The truly fancy stuff had already gone by auction, so we’re talking everything that was left. And we do mean EVERYTHING: from maids uniforms and iron boards to linens and individual strands of the chandeliers, if it was there, you could buy it.
We were fascinated by the strange experience of walking through the ornate public spaces and the long corridors, all packed with piles of sometimes rather questionable stuff. But it didn’t stop there.
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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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As the grand finale to cocktail week here's Part 2 of our round-up of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. Don't forget to let us know what’s going on in your section of the world!
Beer is the new wine: Before some of you get stressed out, we’re not saying that wine’s going away, but we have noticed that beer is getting more attention these days. Some hotel bars are making beer their “thing,” some are making their own and some are getting it made for them.
Most of us tend to only hang out at airport hotels when we’re going to and from a place, but the Four Points by Sheraton LAX has a 100-beer beererie called Brewster’s that includes an ever-changing tap list of craft and microbrews. They have an on-staff Director of Brewer Relations who ensures the beer list is fresh and filled with rare brews, monthly beer appreciation nights, beer pairings such as Smoked Stone Porter with smoked salmon, beer turndown service that includes a beer-stocked minibar, and a recently-launched Hoppily Ever After package that lets the happy couple-to-be create their very own custom, brewed-to-taste beer for their big day—isn’t that just so romantic?
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As the grand finale to cocktail week here's a round-up of some of the nifty things we see going on in the world of hotel bars and bevvies. What do you see goin’ on out there? Let us know!
A salad in every sip: Complementing the trend we told you about in our What’s Out, What’s In column where the drink IS the meal, we’re finding that crafty mixologists are making our drinks a wee bit healthier and sneaking veggies into them to make sure that we’re getting all of our daily recommended vitamins.
Splashes at Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach has a VegGin’ on the Rocks made with Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, agave nectar (which is said to have a low glycemic index, BTW, which means your blood sugar won’t spike), lime juice, and baby arugula–-all muddled together and topped with house made soda water. You can really taste the goodness.
The Fairmont Chicago’s Green Goose Cocktail features a trio of super foods: kale, celery and granny smith apples. The juiced greens are mixed with Grey Goose, fresh lime juice, chartreuse, and simple syrup for a nutrient-filled flavor explosion.
The appropriately-named Salad Cocktail from the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a heart-healthy concoction of juiced celery, spinach, beet, apple and pear combined with 1.5 oz of gin. To top it off, it’s garnished with sherry vinaigrette soaked raspberries and sous vide beets and crisp romaine leaves. We’re getting into the realm of “drink as dinner” with this one.
At Caesars Entertainment Resorts and Casinos in Atlantic City you can find the savoury Red Pepper Margarita–-a mix of red pepper juice, jalapeno rings, five-spice simple syrup and tequila with a smoked salt rimmed glass. Next trend below!
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Cory Monteith, star of the popular TV show, "Glee", was found dead in his hotel room on Saturday afternoon at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver. He was just 31 years old.
According to Vancouver Police, Monteith was expected to check out on Saturday after a weeklong stay. However, after he failed to do so, housekeeping went into his room on the 21st floor and found him lifeless. Paramedics were called to the hotel but Monteith was declared dead at the scene. Vancouver police said no foul play was suspected yet Monteith did just complete a stint in rehab for substance abuse this past April, leading to speculation across the internet that drugs were to blame.
Shortly after the police held their press conference on Saturday night, Fairmont tweeted their condolences:
Together with our friends in the @VancouverPD we express our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Mr. Monteith— Fairmont Pacific Rim (@FairmontPacific) July 14, 2013
Classy and respectful. Unlike the Beverly Hilton after Whitney Houston died.
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Just yesterday we heard that Philadelphia would be getting a hip SLS Hotel and now today, we hear the City of Brotherly Love may get a new luxury hotel too. But first, a few hotel brands are duking it out to see who will win the gig.
Philly.com reports that a group of developers are working to transform the the 72-year-old Family Court building at 18th and Vine Streets. Each developer has paired up with a hotel brand. In the race for the property are, Fairmont Hotels, Starwood's Luxury Collection Hotels and Kimpton Hotels.
Fairmont's proposed project would cost $180 million, include 332 hotel rooms,44,000 square feet of event and meeting space. restaurants, bar, shops and a spa. The Luxury Collection would put forth 267 hotel rooms; a 4,000-square-foot ballroom; 10,000 square feet of meeting facilities; and a restaurant and bar while Kimpton's project would cost $85 million with 199 hotel rooms, a 3,500-square-foot ballroom; meeting and board rooms; spa and fitness center; and restaurant and bar.
When one has the likes of Sir Tom Jones, the dapper Don Juan of the 70’s music scene, as a star-judge on ones television show, it’s expected that expenses may get a little pricey. That’s what the BBC has learned as they pay £695 ($1,076) a night for Jones to stay at London’s luxurious Savoy Hotel while he’s in the city filming the British version of The Voice television show.
Jones has been in town (he normally lives in L.A.) for 21 days, which as of today brings his bill to $22,596! And he hasn't even left yet as filming wraps up this Saturday. Plus, his rate is room only, so goodness knows if he's ordering breakfast or racking up mini-bar charges! Yikes.
Interestingly enough, while the former crotch-shaking crooner negotiated to have his accommodations taken care of by the show’s production company in addition to his £300,000 ($465,000) appearance fee, fellow judge Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas pays for his own hotel rooms like the Park Lane Hilton from his show fee. However, Will.i.am doesn’t actually collect a paycheck from The Voice as he donates his £500,000 ($775,000) fee to the Prince's Trust. So it really is coming out of his own pocket. What a swell guy! But we’ll see what happens when Will gets knighted and becomes 73 years old, like Mr. Jones. Perhaps he too, will get a little divo-like in his demands. The other Voice judges live in London, so don’t get the pleasure of a hotel allowance.
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What’s Out: Chocolates on your pillow
What’s In: Over the top, fun and experiential turn-down services
Everyone loves coming back to their room after a nice dinner out to find that little chocolate sitting on their pillow, right? If you like that, though, you’re going to love this. Some hotels are going out of their way to make sure that you have really sweet dreams with these OTT nighty-night rituals.
Hotel Vermont offers a special “bedtime menu” that includes such delights as a selection of Vermont flannel pyjamas to snuggle up in on a brisk night, local Lunaroma aromatherapy products from which you can choose, a Vermont teddy bear (your choice of six) to sleep with or take home, a selection of bedtime stories for the little ones, a locally-inspired Hot Toddy selection, and 10-15 minute in-room meditation sessions via TV or download.
In Fairmont Gold rooms at Boston’s Fairmont Battery Wharf, you get a message in a bottle with top things to do in Boston during that particular time of the year.
Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles International Airport is more than an ordinary airport hotel. It’s known by some to be the original beer hotel and has an enormous beer selection featuring over 100 beers, a poolside bar dedicated solely to local beers, monthly beer appreciation nights and it even has a Beer Advisory Board and a Director of Brewer Relations. If all of that beer surrounding you has made you thirsty for more, you can order a Beer Club Package that includes stocking the in-room mini fridge with your choice of three of your favorite beers and a nightly beer turndown with souvenir glass.
Three more hotels with bedtime treats follow!
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If you consider yourself a true hotel nerd, pack your bags: You’re going to Vancouver! The Vancouver Art Gallery has an installation so perfect it ain’t even funny. It’s called Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life (on until September 15) and it’s broken out into four themes: Travel, Social, Cultural and Design (see our full-blown review of the exhibit on sister site, Jaunted).
Not to get too arty on you, but here’s our take on how these themes play out in real life using the fine Fairmont Pacific Rim as our specimen.
Travel: Yes, travel can be getting from Point A to Point B but the underlying driver for most is adventure and escape.
Everything about the Fairmont Pacific Rim says “escape,” particularly the amazing Willow Stream Spa with its outdoor sun deck, where you can hang out with your pampered peeps around heating lamps and fireplaces, or in the whirlpools with flat-screen TVs above you to catch your favorite show.
Social: Hotels are social hubs full of interpersonal machinations.
We told you about the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s hot-spot Lobby Lounge earlier this week, but then there’s their Oru Restaurant or their hopping giovane café: coffee bar by day (reputed to have the best in the city) and wine bar by night. To say these spots are popular with locals and guests would be the understatement of the day. Social hubs? Absolutely!
Stay with us -- two more themes to go!
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Should You or Shouldn't You? A HotelChatter Review
We decided it was high time to check out one of the newest hotels that make up Vancouver’s skyline, the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Opened in 2010 for the Olympics, this beautiful “ode to glass” building is not only chic, but is a happening destination unto itself.
Check-In: We took advantage of the hotel’s car service and had a great chat with our driver about the hotel and living in Vancouver. When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by dapper doormen whose uniforms can best be described as a cross between Armani and 1940s movie gangster in a very fashionable grey. It was a very good start.
As we were ushered into the long, cool and white marble lobby we noticed immediately the hotel's bespoke Indian Jasmine fragrance. Our driver, who was part of the concierge team, never left our side. Once given our keys we were escorted to our room, passing the serene-but-not-for-long Lobby Lounge that spans the entry space.
Room Reaction: We entered our room on the Fairmont Gold floor and were immediately dazzled by the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Vancouver harbor and port. We were introduced to the iPad2 waiting for us and the hi-tech lighting system (which also controls the drapes) with its pre-set mood makers – Day, Evening, Relax – and in the bathroom, there’s a setting for Groom or Spa.
It’s midnight when we return to the Fairmont Pacific Rim after a night out on the town in Vancouver. When we walk into the Lobby Lounge, the place is overflowing with well-dressed lookers--locals, guests and residents of the hotel. And we know why.
Yes, it’s partly because of the atmosphere – West Coast cool with loads of glass, some woody features and a clean white background overall – but mostly, ladies and gentlemen, it's because the cocktails are to die for.
We took it upon ourselves to try a few of the bevvies on order but we kept coming back to the seriously tasty Absolut Beta Martini. This cocktail was created by the oh-so-charming head bartender Grant Sceney. With it, he won the Absolut Vodka Martini Competition and is carrying the flag to compete in Sweden. If it’s not the winner, we think the competition’s fixed.
The cocktail is both tart and sweet but with complex flavors that make it impossible to discern any one element over another. If you think you have the wherewithal to re-create it yourself, here’s what you’ll need:
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Chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa andChef Philippe Joannès, the Executive Chef of the Fairmont Monte Carlo
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has been a busy man this year. Aside from running his chain of Nobu restaurants around the world and opening his first hotel in Las Vegas, he's carved out some time in his frenetic schedule to open a pop-up restaurant at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.
Open from now through June 9, the pop-up Nobu is serving lunch and dinner daily inside the hotel's existing restsaurant, l'Argentin Monte Carlo. A special terrace has opened up just for the Nobu tables too, allowing guests to take in the killer views of France, Italy and Monaco while noshing on the Nobu specialities such as Black cod yuzu miso, the Wagyu gyoza, and the King crab leg with shiso salsa.