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Fiji is paradise; end of conversation. In this super tropical location in the middle of the South Pacific, you can only imagine that a hotel will capitalize on the best it has to offer: lush terrain, crystal blue beaches and sunset that make you look forward to the sun going down. In the island nation, there are only a few better locations for catching all of those points mentioned and more, Sheraton Fiji Resort.
Most of the resorts on the island have beach frontage, but the Sheraton is lucky enough to be placed on the corner of the island so it can brag about having double beach-front property. Each room is positioned to take the best advantage of, at least, patio views of the Pacific; and while ours was a bit interrupted, it was still nice to wake up and see the surf.
One of the best parts of the entire resort, besides the Flying Fish restaurant, is the open-air lobby that opens up to a gigantic pool, then on to the beach and then on to the open Fijian waters. Perfectly positioned to frame the breath-taking sunsets that casts an orange and red light onto the pool and outdoor diners.
Another amazing part is a little-slice of Fiji, a group of beautiful ladies selling their jewelery, clothing and wood-carvings right on the lawn. On agreement from the hotel, the pop-up shop is full of not only great Fijian souvenirs, but a warm "bula!" and a peek inside the local culture.
Hotel Trends / Hotel Beaches / Hotel Health / Tablet Hotels / Raffles Hotels / Westin Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Fairmont Hotels / Thailand Hotels / Hawaii Hotels / Las Vegas Hotels / Cayman Island Hotels / Caribbean Hotels / → All Tags
We've started a series of what’s trending in hotels these days: What’s Out, What’s In. Do we like what we see? Think it's a dud? You be the judge!
What’s Out: Windsurfing and jet skis
What’s In: Stand up paddle boarding (SUP)
As synchronized swimming fell out of favor after the 1950s and windsurfing mania waned in the 1990s, another wet trend has emerged: Paddle boarding. And with so many hotels getting in on the action and upping the game (yoga paddle boarding, anyone?), we think it may just be here for awhile.
For the luxury crowd, Raffles Praslin Seychelles offers complimentary stand up paddle boarding so guests can take in the stunning Indian Ocean scenery. If your main goal is to simply enjoy the Seychelles' waters aboveboard and not below, the resort also launched hourly lessons for new users, with an expert teaching you the proper way to stand on the board, keep balance and paddle (what -- all at the same time??).
Another luxe resort, the Paresa Resort in Phuket, Thailand offers straight-up SUP, but then raises the challenge level by combining stand up paddle boarding with yoga. Their “Yoga on the Ocean” program begins at sunrise or sunset when you paddle your board out on the indigo Andaman Sea and enjoy a yoga class floating on your watery yoga mat.
Rio may be in the spotlight as it adds 16,000 rooms in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games, but ask Starwood Hotels and they’ll tell you that of Latin America is “under-hoteled,” not just Brazil.
They’ve said it out loud, and they're doing something about it. Citing a "strong commitment to the Latin American market," Starwood has opened 12 properties in the past two years and plans to reach 100 total hotels by the end of 2013. Seven hotels are scheduled to open by the end of this year and another 20 are already in development beyond that.
Currently, Starwood has 71 Latin America hotels with 15,300 rooms in 13 countries.
Hotel Openings / Paris Hotels / Luxury Collection Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Thankfully after the Biebs (and his Beliebers) had moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere, did we arrive in Paris earlier this week, where we had a chance to preview the soon-to-open Prince de Galles hotel.
Starwood’s entry into the highly competitive Parisian palace hotel market, the Prince de Galles is part of its Luxury Collection, and one of a number of their historic European hotels that's been on the receiving end of many a million for restoration and renovation the last few years.
Hotel Bars / Manhattan Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Luxury Collection / Morgans Hotel Group / Rosewood Hotels / Hotel Cocktails / → All Tags
Menus are great and all, but sometimes you want to feel like you're ordering something really special. We hunted around for Manhattan's best "secret" hotel cocktails. You won't find any of these listed on the menu, but they exist alright. Now, can you keep a secret?
Upstairs at The Chatwal, the red leather booths and jazz trio humming along in the corner certainly set the mood, but our favorite part about the Lambs Club bar is definitely the cocktails. Next time you go, try something different and order the Guillermo Wallace ($18), a tangy blend of Milagro Blanco tequila, lime, grapefruit, honey, a spritz of peated Scotch and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yes, part of this cocktail's charm is watching the bartender add the final 'spritz and a sprinkle'—the other part is drinking it!
3 more off-the-menu cocktails after the jump!
Hotel Amenities / Hotel Tech / Hotel TVs / In-Room Movies / Tech Hotels / Aloft Hotels / California Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Here's one advantage to being located next to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA: Aloft Cupertino, which opened yesterday, is now the first Aloft hotel to feature Apple TV devices in all 123 guest rooms. This is great news for anyone not interested in paying $15-$20 just to watch an in-room movie (ie, us, and pretty much everyone else).
The ingenious little box-shaped devices (pictured) basically allow you to stream music, TV shows and movies on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or MBL.com straight from your Apple device onto an HD TV.
So while it's a handy thing to keep around the house, it works just as well—if not better—in a hotel. Wanna order room service while running through all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Or watch the Angels vs. Giants game in your bathtub? Or sing (loudly) along with the cast of Glee? The possibilities are endless.
And if being able to stream all your favorite media for free wasn't enough, the hotel will make things easier by resetting the boxes each time a guest checks out (that way, your account settings won't be compromised). Aloft will even go ahead and sync up iTunes to match whatever country you're from
Of course, you'll need reliable WiFi to actually access the content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. And luckily, Aloft is one of the upstanding brands that offers it free.
Hotel Loyalty Programs / Starwood Hotels / Marriott Hotels / Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest / → All Tags
Marriott, Hilton, and Starwood Hotels have all made changes to their reward/loyalty programs as of late, and while there may be a silver lining here or there in terms of hotel participation and member benefits, the long and short of it is that your points won’t go as far. Here’s the down and dirty:
Citing pricing and popularity as the main motivations, Marriott rearranged its tier structure, moving 36% of its hotels into a higher point category while making only 1% less expensive. Marriott also created a new category for its 12 most popular properties, raising the cost of a night’s stay to 45,000 points from 40,000. These changes will go into effect on May 15th.
Changes are coming much earlier for Hilton on March 28th when it will add a 10th category for its top hotels and charge approximately 95,000 points per night. Stays during peak periods (i.e. the holidays) will see the harshest increases in point requirements, but Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will enjoy a 5th night free when they book consecutive nights.
Hotel News / Hotel Reopenings / Hotel Renovations / Le Meridien Hotels / Atlanta Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
After months of renovation work, costing around $20 million, Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter has officially opened inside the former Atlanta Perimeter Hotel and Suites. Of course, you remember the back story on this place, right? It originally opened as the W Atlanta Perimeter back in 1999, then Starwood sold it off in 2012, and it became an independent hotel.
Lots of work went in to transforming the hotel—including top-to-bottom renovations of all guest rooms, suites and public spaces, as well as a new Club Lounge, two club floors, and a new restaurant and bar. Biggest of all, the hotel took away all the balconies and replaced them with floor to ceiling windows.
But the hotel is nearing the end of its metamorphosis: on Thursday, the hotel officially re-opened as Le Meridien, with four out of twelve floors now open to guests. Though the restaurant is still under construction, the Longitude Bar is open, and the rest of the property is set to be completed by early June.
The 611-room Westin Playa Bonita got plenty of attention when it opened in 2011 as Panama City's newest beach resort—no thanks to an all-night, Carnival-style grand opening party on the beach, complete with fireworks, Latino pop stars, and an estimated 3400 guests (ourselves included!).
The biggest reason to head back there now, however, is the resort's new Sensory Spa by Clarins, which debuted in October and has spent the last four months living up to its name by offering guests what it calls the "Tropical Rainforest Circuit," an hour-long hot-and-cold treatment featuring herbal saunas, ice fountains, an amethyst crystal steam room, and a Raindance Rainmaker shower. In fact, the whole thing is supposedly so relaxing, the spa lets you do the circuit twice.
Wondering what a "Raindance Rainmaker shower" is exactly? We scratched our heads over that one too: apparently it's a chamber with jets of water and air installed on the walls and ceiling that can re-create a "thick, thin or swirling warm rain experience." Err…sounds nice? We don't know, maybe we need to try this one out for ourselves….
Hotel News / Boston Hotels / Aloft Hotels / Element Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Convention Hotels / → All Tags
A new $140 million development project in South Boston will feature a double whammy hotel, comprised of a 330-room Aloft and a 180-room Element. Designed specifically for visitors of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the new Aloft-Element duplex will be located on D Street, only half a mile away from the convention center.
But in addition to cheaper rates, we also know that Aloft and Element generally tend to have a cooler, more modern feel than Westin, and will be able to offer convention visitors a lively place to get an after-work drink (w xyz bar), as well as plenty of fitness-oriented amenities (free bike rentals, in-room gym equipment).
Though there is currently an Aloft Lexington and an Element Lexington, this will be the brands' debut in Beantown proper. Though, not that Boston hasn't seen its fair share of hotel action over the past year. With the recent opening of The Revere and the newly-renovated Langham Boston, travelers to the historic city ought to have plenty of tough decisions ahead when it comes to booking a room.
Celebrity Scoop / Fashion Week Hotels / W Hotels / Starwood Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel Parties / Hotel Clubs / Florence Welch / → All Tags
As quickly as it came, NY Fashion Week is now but a memory, with the final runway shows, VIP hotel events, and Victoria Beckham sightings all coming to an end today. Shortly, the fashion herds will drift east for London Fashion Week, so it's fitting that flame-haired British pop star Florence Welch was on hand to send off NYFW with a bang.
Plenty of parties peppered NYC hotels last night, though we managed to find one in particular that made us feel more Studio 54 than Devil Wears Prada. Over at W Union Square's basement club Lilium, Welch was the feature presentation, decked out in her trademark white, gauze-y nightgown and daisy chain crown, presiding over the crowds not as a singer but as a DJ. And she sure got folks dancing.
The tunes were hip-hop-y, ranging from Justin Timberlake to Drake, but by far the best part of the evening was Welch's infectious cheer. Not only was she frequently seen jumping up and down on the dance floor along with everyone else (good thing there was a backup DJ), she even joined us for a few quick drunken snapshots inside the club's free photobooth.
Oh, and she managed to go the entire evening without setting fire to the hotel. Best NYFW ever!
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Though the Westin New York Grand Central officially opened (in what was formerly the New York Helmsley) back in October, it took a little longer for the accompanying restaurant to launch, but it's finally here, and we're happy to report it's every bit as charming as the press release would have you believe.
The LCL Kitchen & Bar, as it's known, is a cafe, restaurant, and wine bar all rolled into one, serving boldface comestibles like Stumptown Coffee, Organic Avenue, Balthazar Bakery—all of which are guaranteed to lure a notoriously picky New York foodie crowd. And considering The LCL is open from 6am-2am during the week (6am-4am on weekends), it casts a wide net. Whether you're staying at the hotel or not, it's the kind of place you can go for a quiet breakfast, a business lunch, dinner with friends, a post-work cocktail, or a mid-afternoon cookie break.
In fact, we happened to try their chocolate chip cookies (served warm out of the oven and slightly gooey) recently, and, uh, yeah...two thumbs all the way up.