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JW Marriott Kicks Off Austin Hotel Boom Tomorrow

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  Site Where: 110 E. Second St. [map], Austin, TX, United States, 78701
February 12, 2015 at 8:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

Let superstition be damned: Marriott Hotels is taking Friday the 13th head on by opening its JW Marriott Austin tomorrow. The largest JW Marriott in the United States (1,012 guestrooms) and second largest in the world (largest being the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, because everything is bigger in Dubai), there are some dazzling stats that come with its size, but we’ve mostly focused on its walk-up burger window.

A King or Double-Queen Room is still available from $299 a night on opening day, of which the website currently only displays the above artist impression. We like the factory-style rolling doors that return in the headboard design, with the rest showing an expected subdued mix of blues, greys, whites, and browns.

The 1,000+ rooms on East Second Street are only the beginning of a highly-concentrated hotel boom for Austin, with another 1,400 rooms arriving within blocks of the JW Marriott. First up is The Westin Austin Downtown, now scheduled for July 16th on East 5th – a relative lightweight with only 326 rooms. It is making good on its promise of a 2015 opening though, which cannot be said of The Fairmont Austin, now pushed back to 2017, half a decade after it announced its 1,000+ room hotel.

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Aloft Manhattan Financial District is Grounded for Another Month

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  Site Where: 49-53 Ann Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10038
February 2, 2015 at 1:51 PM | by | Comments (0)

The newest Aloft Hotel for Manhattan--the Aloft New York Financial District--was set to debut this week (according to our Master List of Hotel Openings) but now the fun, select service hotel from Starwood Hotels will open instead on March 5. This is a bummer but not surprising given Starwood's regular delays.

If the March 5 opening date still holds, then guests can expect all the usual Aloft accoutrements like funky but comfortable rooms; the w xyz bar and lounge; the re: charge gym; the re: fuel 24-hour pantry for quick bites; free WiFi; and a slightly north of Wall Street location, across from a Pace University campus and about a 15-minute walk to the September 11 Memorial and Museum.

However, we wouldn't put all our money into booking a room just yet. The website says the hotel will open on March 5, with reservations being taken for June 5. Eep. In the meantime, there's always the new Residence Inn. Or you know, one of the many other Starwood properties in Manhattan.

[Photo: HotelChatter]

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St. Regis and JW Marriott Will Duke it Out Private-Island Style in Venice from April

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  Site Where: Venice, Italy
January 26, 2015 at 8:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

The setting: Venezia, Queen of the Adriatic. The contenders: Starwood v. Marriott. The prize: best new hotel in the category “private islands”.

That’s what’s on the menu this spring in Italy, where both Starwood (by way of St. Regis) and Marriott (by way of JW Marriott) are entering the Venetian hotel scene with a splash (ha!) on Isola di San Clemente and Isola delle Rose, respectively. But who will be victorious? Let’s look at what each brings to their corner before things get real around March / April time.

We’ve established they're fighting for your attention in the same category: private islands, ensuring the ultimate Venice experience of hopping on a complimentary shuttle when you want to be whisked away from the crowds on San Marco. We’ve known for a while that the JW Marriott would be opening in March, but the St. Regis is now confirmed for the month after. If all goes as planned, then Marriott will have a (minor) head start.

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Four Big Name Hotels On Their Way to Marrakech

January 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM | by | Comment (1)

Much like Bali, the hotel openings keep coming for Marrakech, no matter how crowded it is already. A year after we looked at that long list of options, here are four big name hotels that will open in the next few years: Mandarin Oriental, Park Hyatt, W Hotels, and Ritz-Carlton.

First up: the second attempt of Mandarin Oriental, which should arrive this year after missing a planned 2014 opening. Like Milan, the hotel now has a dedicated website, with a first few interior images. The hotel will have 54 villas, 7 suites, and 2 spa suites – all with their own pool. The seven suites have rooftop plunge pools and are part of the main hotel building, with the spa suites giving over 4,000 square feet and infinity lap pools.

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Starwood Will Be Next for Kyoto With Suiran, a Luxury Ryokan

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  Site Where: 12-1 Susukino-baba-cho, Kyoto, Japan
January 12, 2015 at 9:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

There was a time when the Hyatt Regency was considered the high-end Western hotel in Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan. That changed with the opening of The Ritz-Carlton last year, where a more traditional Japanese experience is still very much possible though in its Tatami Suite. Four Seasons should have been there even before the Ritz, but these photos showed it is years behind schedule, which means the next big brand moving into ancient Kyoto will be Starwood Hotels.

Suiran, part of its Luxury Collection, should open already on March 31 and will be a ryokan-style hotel (a traditional Japanese inn) with just 39 rooms. Above a rendering of the hotel, set within the grounds of the Tenryū-ji temple, which will combine new accommodation with the restoration of historic structures “Enmei-kaku” and “Hasshoken”.

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St. Regis Istanbul Is Delayed Until March 1, But Photos Are Here

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  Site Where: Mim Kemal Oke Cad No 35, Nisantasi Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey, 34367
January 9, 2015 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

We optimistically wrote in June last year that both Raffles and St. Regis would be opening an Istanbul hotel before the year was out (and questioned what was happening with Viceroy as well). Raffles may have made good on that promise, but St. Regis Istanbul certainly didn’t: the hotel is now delayed until March 1 (at least).

As a consolation prize, we do have some actual photos from inside the hotel, which will have 118 rooms and suites in the Nisantasi neighborhood. Above a Superior Room, starting at 450+ sq ft. While the overall style is fairly inoffensive luxury, there is some interesting art on the walls, and bathrooms strike a bit bolder note – check it out below.

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W Paris Opéra Opens Their New Bar Brûlé Cocktail Bar

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  Site Where: 4 rue Meyerbeer, Paris, France, 75009
January 8, 2015 at 10:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

W Paris – Opéra, the W brand’s one and only property in France, has opened their new cocktail bar focused on American whiskeys, Bar Brûlé. This Thursday-Saturday soon-to-be hotspot is tucked away on the first floor of the hotel and overlooks the grand Garnier Opera house.

Bar Brûlé, which the hotel is dubbing the “embassy of American whiskeys,” takes its name from the French word for burnt, which was sparked by the entire hotel’s creative concept of "a spark triggered by the fusion of the energy of New York and the city of light."

Headed up by chief barman Emeric Aguilar, the bar menu features over forty rare American whiskeys from micro-distilleries and cocktails that are divided into three categories: Old-Fashioned, Modern Classics and Originals.

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From Belgrade to Baku, Europe's Your Oyster with These New Hotel Openings

January 7, 2015 at 9:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

Radisson Blu Belgrade

It’s new year, new Europe by the looks of things in chain hotel-land. There’s a bunch of new places either just opening, or just being announced.

Radisson Blu is entering Belgrade and Bordeaux, having opened the Old Mill Hotel in Belgrade’s Old Town in December (perfect for your quick plastic surgery trip), and with Bordeaux on the cards for 2017. There’ll be a huge spa and balneotherapy center for that last one – cannot actually wait.

Intercontinental hasn’t put its feet up since taking over the Four Seasons Dublin; it’s announced a Baku property, its first in Azerbaijan, to open 2016. There’s a theme here, because Autograph Collection is also plotting four Azerbaijan hotels – two in Baku, and two in the Shahdag mountains, with the latter two opening at the end of this year.

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2014 Must-Have Hotel Amenity: Free WiFi

December 30, 2014 at 1:30 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's that time of year again: the 2014 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...

It’s almost as if they knew. We (and you) have long been advocates of free WiFi being essential to hotel stays; but many of the big chains didn’t want to know.

But the tide is turning, and 2014 will go down as the year the WiFi revolution really came to pass. In the last two months alone we’ve seen Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Sandals and Taj all announce they’re freeing the WiFi (with a couple of easily taken care of caveats from Marriott and Starwood). And free WiFi is the most important factor in choosing a hotel for British guests, according to a slightly-biased-but-we’ll-take-it-anyway survey for Amba Hotels, which is promising the fastest connection speed in the world.

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W Amsterdam Is Busy Adding Its All-Glass Rooftop Floor and W Signage

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  Site Where: Spuistraat 175, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1012VN
December 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM | by | Comments (2)

Nearly a year has passed since we last walked by the upcoming W Amsterdam, right behind the city’s Dam Square, due to open sometime in the Fall of 2015. We’re glad to report that aside from news about expansion into an additional building (more on that in a second) W Hotels is making lots of progress.

On the left the 1903 Telephone Exchange Building as it was twelve months ago, on the right what it looks like today: a series of windows has been removed (you can just about make out the brick inserted on the right), the all-glass rooftop floor that will house Living Room, restaurant, and bar is clearly visible (go here for a rendering), and of course, the W is proudly displayed on the corner. More photos, including of the KAS Bank Building next door the hotel will spread out to, below.

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Well, It's About Time: All SPG Members Who Book Through Starwood Will Get Free WiFi

December 17, 2014 at 3:03 PM | by | Comments (0)

Go ahead. Update your TPS report from your guest room.

The time we champions of free hotel WiFi have longed for has finally, FINALLY!, come. No longer do you have to put down the Snickers bar, hurriedly throw on sweatpants and scurry down to the lobby to access the free WiFi to answer an important work email at Starwood Hotels.

The company just announced they will be offering property-wide complimentary WiFi to all SPG Members, of all levels, starting on February 2. Previously free WiFi was only given to Gold or Platinum members.

But there is a catch. You have to book your stay through Starwood, whether it be the website, the mobile site or the SPG app. Which really you should be doing anyways so you can earn points to your SPG account.

We've been waiting for this moment for a long time, or well, since rival chain Marriott announced they would be giving free WiFi to all their Marriott Rewards members at least.

Now travelers looking to stay at Starwood Hotels, which include W, Westin, St. Regis and Le Meridien, will have to decide what's a better deal--the discounted rate on a booking site or a last-minute booking app or paying the rack rate on Starwood and getting free WiFi. We say, the latter. Always. We just hope the WiFi is fast.

[Photo: Starwood Hotels]

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Why Was The W London Leicester Square All RED?

December 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM | by | Comments (0)

The W London always brings a bit of color to its Leicester Square location, whether frosty white during the day, or something more vibrant at night, but the bright red you see above was for a specific occasion: World AIDS Day on December 1.

Now W Hotels have taken things a step further, with a collaboration with (RED), the organization founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. At the Ws in London, Paris, Barcelona, Istanbul, or Verbier, there have been and continue to be a number of things to see and do, and a number of ways to add your support, from film screenings and art installations to drinking a (RED) cocktail, the proceeds of which will to the Global Fund.

If you upgrade your room at the W London, 15% of the difference in price will go to the Global Fund, and you’ll get two cocktails to boot. At the W Paris, a (RED) suite package comes with a whole range of perks and goodies, with 20% of all proceeds going to the Global Fund. Check out the W Facebook page for more.

Rooms at the W London start at a hefty £400 ($623) a night this coming Friday. That is super steep but just try to remember it's for a good cause.

[Photo: W Hotels]