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According to the Wall Street Journal, the company laid off one-third of its workforce, including 20 top executives and longtime employees. Clearly, this was done to save money and indeed Jason Kalisman, the acting CEO and chairman of Morgans (who spent a good portion of last year tussling with Ron Burkle) publicly said last month the company was going to "reduce costs and corporate overhead."
Meanwhile, after losing the Delano Marrakech and The Ames in Boston, not to mention an ongoing feud with the owners of the Mondrian Soho, the hotels of Morgans Hotel Group seem to be business as usual. We hopped over to the Morgans site today and saw that plans for the Delano Las Vegas were still intact, as were the plans for the Mondrian Bahia Mar in the Bahamas and the Mondrian London.
We also noticed quite a few expansions for the Mondrian and Delano brands. But will they actually happen? It looks like Morgans is trying hard to clean up its act and find a sure footing again but only time will tell.
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London has had a few big years in hotels, including our best opening for 2013, but the next twelve months should give us plenty to pore over too. Just like the five worldwide openings we lifted out of our Master List of Worldwide Hotel Openings, here are 6 London hotels you should keep an eye out for this year.
Firmdale's Ham Yard Hotel : we’ve been taking pictures for a long time of the construction site, but this year should really be the year when Firmdale adds a new flagship to its quirky collection of individually Kit Kemp-styled hotels. Located just off of Piccadilly Circus with 90 rooms and suites and a whole range of amenities (bowling alley anyone?), the hotel will complete a piece of the puzzle in this revamped area between Regent Street and Soho. Recruitment has started, and based on the website, we think it will actually be called the Ham Yard Hotel when it opens in May.
Update: Morgans Hotel Group has sent over this statement regarding the situation:
"Morgans Hotel Group reached the difficult decision to terminate its management agreement for Delano Marrakech and discontinue all affiliation with the hotel, including the removal of the Delano name and management of the property, effective November 12, 2013. This unprecedented action was taken as a result of severe and recurring breaches of contract by the ownership group. Morgans Hotel Group took this necessary recourse to preserve Delano’s reputation, the integrity of the company and the high standards that our guests expect from the Delano brand."
Just a little over a year after the Delano Marrakech opened, we've now got word that the Delano Hotels brand is OUT at the property. The hotel 71-room hotel has reverted back to its original, pre-renovation, name--The Pearl.
We're not sure of the details behind the departure (if you've got them, let us know) but Delano Marrakech has been removed from the Morgans Hotel Group website. Interestingly, Delano still has plans to expand to Las Vegas, Cesme (Turkey), Moscow and Cartagena.
In other Morgans Hotel Group news, the company still hasn't officially appointed a new CEO since Michael Gross stepped down in early September. Jason Kalisman, whose investment firm OTK Associates, is the company's largest shareholder, has been appointed interim CEO. This, after he led a takedown of the Morgans board and its celebrity investor, Ron Burkle. Now, Burkle has offered to buy the hotel group for $8 a share. No word yet on whether Morgans will accept.
So with all that going on, we can kind of understand this recent development. But what does it mean for all those future Delanos? We're not sure and we're not so sure we want to find out.
[Photo: Delano, er, The Pearl Marrakech]
Some uplifting news for Morgans Hotel Group today. The boutique hotel collection has recently launched a spiffy website that promises a "seamless booking process that takes the guest through the reservation process in less than four clicks".
In addition to the super-fast reservation system that will get you into the sleek Delano, Mondrian and other hot spots, guests can view hotels by brand or location and compare rates and availability at properties within the same city all on one screen.
The site, which comes behind the company's "Back of House" online lifestyle magazine, will also help guests navigate their way around their chosen destination. This comes by way of a Google Map feature which has interactive guides to attractions, museums, restaurants, nightlife destinations and shops and provide step-by-step directions to and from the hotel. The list will detail key local landmarks and hidden gems hand-selected by the hotels' expert concierges.
In addition, guests can instantly post travel plans on their social media platforms using the Morgans Hotel Group's Instagram feed or their own generated photos.
The site works across all platforms including desktops, tablets and mobile devices.
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Forgot something? No worries! These hotels have got you covered with the basics and more.
Not long ago we discussed what would be the ultimate hotel in-room amenities. Some of our desires may have been a bit dramatic, but hey, one can only dream. However, more and more hotels these days go beyond a complimentary dental and razor kit. Most of these items are free, others may have a nominal charge--but we're just excited that if we've left something at home, all is not lost!
Here's what you can ask to be delivered to your room at these hotels:
For a small fee, Kimpton can bring these other amenities:
What else can you get just for the asking? Read on!
Contact the housekeeping department for these items:
*Feminine hygiene products
*Crayons & Coloring books
*One hour of steaming service
The brand's "Forgot It? We've Got It!" program is awesome and has expanded to include these oft-left home products:
*Fashion Tape (no nip-slips happening on their watch)
*Heating Pad (oh, this is a gooood one)
*Collar Stays (hmm..this is a puzzler?!)
Contact Lens Solution
Spray Wrinkle Remover
Nail File (anyone find it odd a nail file isn't free, but a humidifier is?)
For a small fee, Kimpton can bring these other amenities:
What else can you get just for the asking? Read on!
We’re still recovering from a major week in London hotels; who wouldn’t be when it was book-ended by the likes of Ace Shoreditch and The London Edition? That’s not so say of course we’re taking our eye of the ball when it comes to the future, as we know the list of openings is long - and continues to grow for that matter.
A recent walk by the Mondrian London on Southbank showed some interesting progress, with scaffolding starting to come down the front façade. Even more, an entire wing has shown up on the western side of the building, with a rather different design than the original Sea Containers House. We have a before and after picture for you after the jump.
UPDATE: We've just got word that THE WIFI IS NOW FREE! Glorious!
Back in early June, we learned that the Mondrian Soho was in danger of losing its Mondrian name, thanks to the behind the scenes drama going on with parent company, Morgans Hotel Group. We also reported then that the Ames Hotel in Boston was in peril of losing its management contract with Morgans Hotel Group. And just like that, POOF, it's gone.
We received a press release today announcing that StepStone Hospitality, a Rhode Island-based hospitality management firm, has taken over The Ames Hotel.
“This unique property contrasts modern style with historic sophistication to provide a unique guest experience,” added Blair Wills, StepStone Hospitality president and chief operating officer. “We’re committed to assuring that the level of service matches the quality of the surroundings.”
StepStone currently manages a Hampton Inn and a Springhill Suites in Massachusetts so having the Ames in their portfolio is certainly a stepping stone to greater things.
So far, we don't anticipate many, if any, changes to happen at The Ames. However, it would be excellent if the Ames decided to offer free WiFi under their new management. Currently, the hotel charges $15 for 24 hours.
Update 11:50AM, 6.14.13: The board has voted! See results below!
Man, the Morgans Hotel Group cannot catch a break.
The parent company to such hip hotels like the Delano South Beach and The Hudson in New York has been sued again. This time, the lawsuit's been filed in Istanbul by a company called JMJ Development, LLC who is claiming Morgans Hotel Group, its CEO and a property owner engaged in "breach of contract, tortuous interference with existing and prospective contracts, intentional misrepresentation, conversion, fraud, and conspiracy." That's some serious stuff. You can read all the nitty gritty accusations on the press release but here's a snippet:
Without JMJ's knowledge or participation, Morgans and Coruk created a new Turkish company to own and develop the hotel, Morbel Hospitality, in which Michael Gross and Richard Szymanski, CFO of Morgans, are directors. According to a December 2011 press release, Morgans released $10 million to the new company under terms remarkably similar to the terms negotiated by JMJ. The parties conspired to circumvent the agreements to JMJ's detriment.
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To quickly get you up to speed, OTK Associates (one of the largest shareholders of the Morgans stock), has sued fellow board members to stop them from doing a deal with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa company and from recapitalizing assets. It’s an extremely complicated situation but a Delaware court recently ruled in favor of OTK, who is now trying to replace the exist boardmembers with picks of their own.
In their recent letter to shareholders with their boardmember suggestions, OTK Associates revealed that foreclosure proceedings began in January for the Mondrian Soho. But that's not all:
In February 2013, the owner of Mondrian SoHo, a joint venture in which Morgans Group owns a 20% equity interest, gave notice purporting to terminate our subsidiary as manager of the hotel. It also filed a lawsuit against us seeking termination of the management agreement. We intend to vigorously defend our rights to continue managing the property under our management agreement and related agreements, but we cannot assure you that we will be successful.
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Will this be the Hudson London?
If you thought London would be taking a break when it comes to hotel openings after a rather frenetic Olympic year, think again: the next few years look to be filled with all sorts of exciting stuff to keep us happy. We’re listing the hotels we have our eyes on for you below, and stay tuned as we will be taking you inside when we can.
- A rebirth rather than a brand new hotel, the former St. John Hotel became One Leicester Street on May 1, including a refurbished restaurant and outdoor terrace
- Over in King’s Cross, the Great Northern Hotel also got a new a lease on life as part of the revitalization of the entire station, with sleeper compartment-inspired rooms called Couchettes
- South Kensington got a new boutique hotel contender this month in the form of the 99-room Xenia Hotel on Cromwell Road, not far from the Ampersand we showed you last year
- Affordable-chic brand base2stay is re-branding itself as Nadler Hotels, and its flagship The Nadler Soho will open on June 1, a stone’s throw from the likes of Dean Street Townhouse and Firmdale’s the Soho Hotel
- This isn't really a new hotel but it is newsworthy--The Waldorf-Astoria Syon Park has now been downgraded to just the Hilton London Syon Park. A Hilton Worldwide spokesperson told Business Insider that, "Having operated the property since March 2011, we've mutually agreed with our owner that the new positioning will be the best fit for the local market."
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The hotel that launched a thousand
ships pages of court filings
According to Bloomberg News, investor Ron Burkle threatened to "crater" some of the hotel group's other deals (like in Moscow and Las Vegas) if the Morgans board members did not approve the Delano South Beach buyout bid from his Yucaipa companies as well as his proposed recapitalization plan.
One of Morgan's largest shareholders, OTK Associates, has already filed a lawsuit against other Morgans board members to stop this arrangement. OTK also wants to overhaul the board and in effect, the company. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports that Morgans with its 13 hotels has lost money in every quarter since 2007.
If this sounds terribly confusing, it is. Essentially two board members are fighting each other over direction of the company and who gets most of its assets. Like we said last month, this may not immediately affect your experience at a Morgans Hotel right now, but it certainly could in the future.
More importantly, if the hotel group hasn't turned a profit since 2007, we're not so sure how many of their new hotel projects will actually come to life. To be continued....
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As summer nears, hotels are going to start up with the usual warm-weather offerings: rooftop bars, poolside cabanas, and those awkward tanning concierges. But as far as we're concerned, it all boils down to one question: where can we ride a bike for free?
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below hotels offer free bike rentals on a first-come, first-served basis (that means no reserving the night before!), and all bikes come with a helmet and a lock.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the public bikes at Public Chicago, and we recommend you do the same! Guests can grab a Trek Bicycle and take out for a spin down to Lake Shore and cruise along the beach's bike path—which are just three blocks from the hotel. Oh, and did we mention it's free?
In time for the first shoots of spring in London, £1-favorite Hoxton Hotel is now offering guests four custom UK-made Mango Bikes in the hotel’s colors to tool around town in. Both Sanderson and St. Martin’s Lane counter with equipment from the home of cycling, with Dutch bikes by Public J7.
Santa Barbara's El Encanto Resort has something special for adventuresome guests: electric bikes! The electric component can be turned on or off, so if you don't feel like cheating, you can pump all the way to the beach and back. But when it comes time to head back to the hotel (which sits in the Santa Barbara hills), that motor is going to come in pretty handy.
Sofitel So Bangkok offers three bikes for rent—a number suitable for the cast of Three's Company, but hey, free is free! Head across the road and pedal your heart out around Lumpini Park, the city's answer to Central Park, where you can ride along the Komodo Dragons basking in the sun on the banks of the lake.
For 12 more hotels (and hotel brands) with free bike rentals, read on!