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Polaroid this: Grace Santorini
Keyless entry. Google Glass. Fancy apps. Things move fast in the world of hotel technology and what seemed fancy a year ago (Glass concierges, anyone?) now feels a little sad.
Which is why one genius hotel chain is taking a step back - really far back. Grace Hotels is starting a Polaroid Program, putting a refurbished Polaroid camera and a free roll of film inside each of its suites this summer. Not staying in a suite? No biggie – each hotel will also have Polaroids at the front desk which you can use for free. All you have to do is buy the film: $20 + tax for an 8-exposure film. Remember when you had to really choose what to snap because you’d have to pay for it?
Stay at Grace Santorini, help children in need
We already told you that Grace Hotels are one of our favorite Greece-based small hotel brands. But prepare to love them more – they’re the latest hotel chain to do good, by launching a charity initiative to help children at risk.
Under the Give with Grace initiative, Grace will donate $1 for every night a room is occupied in each of their hotels. That’s them playing their part – and they’ll ask you to do the same, inviting guests to contribute $1 per night of their stay. They’ll also donate money from the sale of certain food and drink items sold in the restaurants, as well as Give with Grace-branded things in the stores.
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Grecotel’s Mykonos Blu
So Greece’s new Prime Minister doesn’t want you to stay in all-inclusive hotels. And although his new Syriza government came swiftly out and reassured us that they won’t take any action against them, he still has a point. All-inclusives do nothing for the local communities they’re based in, and they do nothing for broadening the minds of their guests.
Greece, of course, is chock full of delightful independent hotels. But if you’re an all-inclusive type who’s keen to step out of your comfort zone, but not to the extent of booking a one-off place, here’s a halfway house – some of our favorite Greek hotel chains.
Bar crawls: Boozy. Lobster crawls: Bougie.
We’re not complaining. After all, this is something you'd expect in Kennebunk, the coastal Maine playground for the really rich and not-necessarily-famous. (Power is not measured in Twitter followers, dahling.) New Englanders heading up for a summer retreat at The White Barn Inn will now be able to book the “bespoke experience” of a customized “Crustacean Crawl” with the Relais & Chateau property’s esteemed chef Jonathan Cartwright. (He’s also the toque behind the fine dining Muse restaurants at two other tony Grace Hotels properties, Newport’s Vanderbilt Grace and Connecticut's Mayflower Grace.)
Following an extensive refurbishment, this month Grace Hotels formally takes over Washington, Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa — and introduces an impressive new dining destination that would put the first Thanksgiving to shame. The 58-acre property, a favorite respite for moneyed New York power brokers and politicos, is now the Mayflower Grace: the second American location for the luxury hotel group.
The centerpiece of the acquisition involves the launch of a fine dining restaurant, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, showcasing modern European cuisine: pretty contemporary plates that you probably wouldn’t expect in the quintessential Yankee environs of rural Connecticut. For instance, smoked lobster served in small, clear, egg-shaped orbs with screw tops is a bit more “Lady Gaga” than “First Lady,” but coming from Cartwright, a five star-awarded grand chef Relais & Chateux, the results remain unsurprisingly sophisticated and polished for the teeth-gnashing upper crust clientele.
It hews to the formula of his muse at The Vanderbilt Grace in tony Newport, Rhode Island. (Next: Kennebunkport’s White Barn Inn is re-launching as White Barn Grace later 2014, according to a press statement, though it has already adopted the new name on its website.)
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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.
If you aren't familiar with them already, Grace Hotels is a privately owned group of hotels in the upscale boutique class. The brand has properties Mykonos, Santorini, and Beijing, but, besides the Vanderbilt Hotel in Newport RI, which opened two years ago, we haven't heard a lot about them in the U.S.
That looks set to change, however, as Grace has made a quick expansion into the New England area by acquiring the 30-room Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, CT, and the 26-room White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, ME. The Mayflower will take the new name, The Mayflower Grace later this year, while the White Barn Inn will become The White Barn Grace early next year -- although a look at their website reveals they are already displaying the Grace logo.
Grace Hotels has come up with a good way for you to remember to bring the toothpaste on your trip. The hotel group launched a new app that is a packing check list and task reminder.
Appropriately dubbed Saving Grace, the app offers preset lists for various trip types, including winter, summer, activity holiday or short break. It also breaks it down with specific lists for surfing, cycling, golfing, fishing and camping.