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It’s nearly the weekend, there's lots of hotel news that is worthy of your attention, so here are a few snippets to keep you up to date on the latest from around the world.
Four Seasons Carmelo, Uruguay: we could almost do a weekly feature called the Four Seasons Chronicles, because the news about the Canadian group keeps coming in. Upping its hotels in South America with two new properties in Colombia just a few weeks ago, now it’s down one again by virtue of the departure of the resort in Carmelo, Uruguay by March 31 this year. By early March we should find out which brand will come in its place.
Shangri-La in Mauritius and Sri Lanka: having gotten the opening of its hotel at the Shard in London out of the way in 2014, this year Shangri-La Hotels will have islands on its mind. First, in Mauritius, the former Oberoi Le Touessrok will become Shangri-La Le Touessrok in September following a major renovation. On Sri Lanka, Shangri-La Hambantota Resort & Spa should open just before that, with a second property in capital Colombo to follow in 2017.
Between its inspiration being a “virtual persona” and the oxygenated water we found in our room, we had little doubt about the millennial roots of Hotel Jen. But what is it like to spend the night? Does Jen give us enough of the things we like about millennial hotels (e.g. free and no fuss WiFi) without some of the trends we’d rather see end yesterday?
The WiFi question we can only answer with a resounding yes. Not only was the WiFi free at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway in Singapore, fast, and reliable, it had no limitations on the number of devices. We found ourselves with no less than five on us during our stay, so being able to go beyond the more common maximum of three was very welcome.
In the wave of millennial hotels we greeted in 2014, Shangri-La Hotels decided to join in by throwing out its business-oriented Traders Hotels and repurposing the properties into Hotel Jen, “inspired by virtual persona Jen, a professional hotelier who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places”.
In case we had any doubt about its millennial nature after that description when we checked into Hotel Jen Orchardgateway in Singapore, they were put to rest when we found an orange post-it on the bathroom mirror jauntily telling us to check out the minibar, in which we found two bottles of (complimentary) oxygenated water. Fits right in with things like a focus social spaces and acting impressed over artisanal olive oil, don’t you think?
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Six pictures of six London hotels. Which one is the odd one out? Your time starts…. now.
The Hotel Jen brand is inspired by the virtual persona Jen, a professional hotelier who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places. Hotel Jen takes care of guests with efficiency and care, while also giving them informed access to the best a particular destination has to offer.
Stress-free ease and simplicity will be reflected in the overall Hotel Jen stay experience through the informal and friendly check-in, stay, check-out and on-going contact. A sense of belonging will be reflected through a brand persona concept that positions guests as "friends of Jen," with a caring and respectful service standard communicated by staff in an enthusiastic, helpful and engaging way.
The Hotel Jen "informed and friendly" service style will also guide guests to the best of where they are, through local restaurant recommendations, under-the-radar sights and unusual boutiques. The Hotel Jen team will be a guest’s own personal local lifestyle guide.
(Note: Jen is not to be confused with Marriott's imagined Millennial traveler, Jia.)
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It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local." So all this week and next, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our second Hotel Cocktail Week(s) -- newly-expanded because there’s just so many drinks to share. We'll be posting quirky cocktails, boozy trends, unique menus and even recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. We expect everyone will be getting a bit tipsy over the next couple of weeks! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
There are some cocktails in this world that make you go, “Really?” Here are a few that fall into this category, proving that some things are best left for the experts to come up with.
This savory concoction comes from Shangri-La, At The Shard’s GŎNG. It contains Scotch – good; sherry – OK; blue cheese – what the?; and chocolate bitters. Really? All we can say is that we’re going to London soon and you can bet we’re making a pit stop here to see if it can actually be done.
Black and Blue Swizzle
1.5 oz Talisker 10 Years
1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez Sherry
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz honey-blue cheese mix (method below)
1 drop Mozart Chocolate Bitter
To make the honey-blue cheese mix:
Add 2:1* honey syrup and 200g crumbled blue Stilton into a saucepan over medium heat and let the syrup simmer for a while (do not let it boil). Use a blender to make sure the cheese and honey are combined. It’s recommended to fine strain the syrup before usage.
Pour all of the ingredients into a copper mug and add crushed ice. Use a swizzle stick to blend the drink and crushed ice until the outside of the mug is frosted. A spoon can be used if you can't get hold of a swizzle stick.
Top up with fresh crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves, orange peel and cinnamon crumbles.
*A 2:1 (sugar/honey to water) is often referred to as rich simple syrup. The 2:1 ratio often gives the cocktail a better mouth feel and less is needed since it’s richer. It also lasts longer before spoiling.
Cost to imbibe at the hotel: £17 ($28)
Cost to stay at the hotel because you've imbibed too much: £500 ($834)
It's time for another rousing rendition of Guess The Hotel! Here's how it works--we give you some hotel hints, you drop your guesses in comments below and we'll tell you if you're right or wrong tomorrow. And away we go!
This hotel might be a favorite amongst old men named Larry like Larry King and Larry David as well as The Fonz, aka Henry Winkler (the latter two we actually spied in the lobby of the hotel), and many, many, many others. However, we were struck by the hotel's relatively feminine guest rooms. They just looked so darn pretty. Which makes sense since we know how much those old, powerful men like pretty things.
Here are some more hints about this oh-so-lovely hotel:
· The new feminine look was recently unveiled earlier this year. Some specialty suites should be rolled out in the next few weeks.
· The hotel's restaurant and bar remains the place to see and be seen in this particularly hoity part of NYC.
· The rooms all feature a large full-length mirror on the wall so you can see exactly what your outfit looks like. Very important for both women and men.
· The lobby has free WiFi and plenty of luxurious places to lounge so you can charge your phone, check your email and text your mom that you just saw The Fonz.
Yeah, this one shouldn't be that hard but we still want to see your guesses! So drop them in comments below!
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Introducing our newest hotel guide--HotelChatter's Must-Stay Hotels--where we pick four hotels for four different types of travelers in a particular neighborhood of one major city. This is also a seasonal guide so the options may change depending on when you're going. Got a question about where to stay and when? Email us.
Looking for a hotel in Toronto? You can troll online review sites, crowdsource on Facebook and comb through endless Best Hotels” lists but why do all that when we’ve done all the work for you already?
Here are four different hotels to try when you head south of the border to one of Canada’s largest metropolises, all located in Toronto's downtown area. Whether you’re going for pleasure or work and whether you’ve got cash to throw around or have pennies to count, these hotels will fulfill your wants, needs and desires.
Riverside room in the Krungthep Wing
Like Los Angeles, Bangkok is a city that seems to go on forever, sprawling out over a total area of over 600 square miles. This means that there’s no shortage of hotels and no shortage of neighborhoods. But if you’re looking for the finest lodging in the city, it doesn’t get much better than the Shangri-La.
Although its location puts you well outside the city center and quite far from many of the attractions (such as the Grand Palace), cheap taxis, nearby river taxi and public transit stops allow guests to maintain their mobility while indulging in the five-star comfort of the Shangri-La. We don’t need to say much more in that sense – the Shangri-La’s reputation for luxury definitely precedes it – but given that the property in Bangkok has two separate wings with two separate entrances, you might be wondering which is the best room to book.
When Shangri-La at the Shard finally opened in May, the highest bit of London’s first hotel high up was still a work in progress: the 52nd floor with bar Gŏng, swimming pool, and gym. While the pool will arrive mid-August, bar Gŏng (derived from dougong, a Chinese architectural element of interlocking wooden brackets) is now open and has claimed its title as the city’s highest hotel bar.
We headed over earlier this week to see it for ourselves, arriving without a reservation – something that, given the capacity restriction at 90 people, we wouldn’t recommend during weekend peak times. You make your way up to the 35th floor first, where you switch elevators to complete the journey to level 52. Once there, you’ll find two main sections: a cocktail bar facing north with a range of seating, and a larger section facing east with a champagne bar towards the back.
Back in January, we got in a cab in front of our hotel and took it across town. A few minutes after arriving at our destination, we realized that our phone was no longer in our pocket and had fallen out in the cab. What ensued next was about an hour of panic and scrambling, calling the cab company and trying to get in contact with the driver. Because we didn't have the cab number, we were completely out of luck, never able to get in touch with the driver to see if the phone was still there in the back seat.
It was an experience that happens to the best of us when traveling, and it was obviously not something to blame on anyone else. But this week, a simple gesture by a hotel helped to make sure it didn't happen again. We bunked up at the Shangri-La in Bangkok, and every time we hopped in a cab, the bellman handed us a little card with all our cab's information on it. Luckily, we never had to use it, but we thought it was a really solid move, and one that would be a lifesaver if we forgot something in a cab. It would have certainly helped us back in January.
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¡Mira! There is so much hotel news flying around this week, we just don't have enough time to focus on all the new hotels news. So here's a quick rundown to get you up to speed on the latest.
· KONNICHIWA ANDAZ TOKYO: The newest Andaz Hotel, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, is now officially open! Check out the room shot above. Swoon. Hopefully, we'll more from inside the property for you to see next week.
· HILTON HOTELS TAKING OVER MYANMAR: Only a few years after opening its country to tourism, Myanmar has been prepping for some major growth. And now it needs to brace itself for the onslaught of Hilton Hotels. The hotel chain has partnered up with the Eden Group Company to rebrand two of the Group's recently opened properties in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and on Ngapali beach in Rakhine State. Those hotels will now be known as Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali Beach Resort. Hilton is also planning three more hotels in the next three years, namely: Hilton Bagan and Hilton Inle Lake in 2016 and the Hilton Mandalay which will open in 2017.