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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.
The new uniforms have been designed by Jermyn Street Design (who’ve done bespoke uniforms for other hotel brands including Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn). This was a rather more upmarket task, though – the designers visited the hotel and took inspiration from the scallop shell symbol of St James of Compostela (on the hotel gates, and in the hotel logo), and the Taj peacock feather. They’ve been incorporated into the silk (100%!) scarfs and ties, and F&B staff aprons, respectively.
The uniform comprises two versions for ladies – a draped dress with asymmetric detailing, or a bias-cut, slightly peplum (they claim - it doesn't seem inordinately peplumy to us) jacket-skirt-blouse combo. The scarf features that scallop, with gold, teal and grey tones.
Hotel Cocktails / Hotel Drinks / Hotel Amenities / Boston Hotels / New Tork Hotels / Preferred Hotels / Taj Hotels / → All Tags
What says, “Let’s snuggle in from the cold” better than a cup of hot chocolate? The hot choco cups coming from these three hotels should give Hershey's Cocoa Powder an inferiority complex.
The Mark Hotel in New York (a Preferred Hotel) has opened up their Mark Cocoa Kiosk just outside the hotel’s doors. The festive Kiosk has their signature Jacques Grange black and white stripe and serves The Mark Glazed Gingerbread to go along with their decadent, over-flowing with whipping cream, Jean-Georges Cocoa concoction. If you’re in the neighborhood and need a break from shopping on Madison, stop in and enjoy: the price is $8 for the cocoa and $4 for a two-pack of the cookies (guests enjoy them at no cost). Open daily throughout the holidays.
That’s an additional 125 hotels where you can get online without incurring an annoying daily fee, ranging from an historic palace in Jaipur (above Rambagh Palace) to the Pierre in New York. The change covers Taj Hotels, Vivanta by Taj, Gateway Hotels, and Ginger, for the duration of your stay on up to three devices.
The set up sounds very much like what we’ve seen at Four Seasons, with basic internet for emails, social media, and surfing the web included. If you need higher bandwidth, or want to connect further devices, you can upgrade to a “premium tier” for a fee.
Double departure this summer from Indian group Taj Hotels: as of last week, it has said goodbye and farewell to the Taj Palace Hotel in Marrakech, which you’ll perhaps remember was conveniently located in Abu Dhabi for the purpose of Sex and the City 2 (when in real life it was meant to be a Mandarin Oriental).
A very short statement has replaced the former hotel website, and as of now we can’t see what name the hotel will carry going forward. We’re curious what caused the breakup of this marriage though; perhaps it’s the overcapacity of luxury hotels in the Moroccan city?
The exit in Marrakech comes after a change on the other side of the world in July, when Taj sold Blue Sydney (what once was the W) to the Ovolo Group. While it’s still operating as Blue Sydney at the moment, the hotel will officially become an Ovolo by the end of October.
[Photo: Taj Hotels]
Hotel Rebrandings / Hotel News / Taj Hotels / Vivanta By Taj / Langkawi Hotels / Private Island Hotels / → All Tags
When a decent hotel that was good quality and excellent value rebrands as an überluxury property, is that something to celebrate, or commiserate? That’s the question we’re pondering with the news that Taj has just rebranded its Rebak Island Resort as a Vivanta by Taj property.
Taj hotels are already really nice. Vivanta by Taj – of which this is the 29th – are super duper nice. And this one certainly has potential – it’s set on its own 390-acre island 4km off Langkawi proper with its own mini beach. The journey to the Langkawi ‘mainland’, on the hotel’s private launch, is a languid 15 minutes.
Our problem is that it feels like really posh hotels are everywhere in Malaysia (the Datai is just round the corner on the mainland, after all), and we don’t really need another one. In fact, when HotelChatter stayed before, we loved it for its “luxury on a budget” feel: it had the amenities of a seriously top hotel (private island, excellent service) but kept prices affordable by not being ridiculously luxurious. Rooms were relatively simple, and the resort was reasonably priced. We’d be sad to see that go.
Looks like Indian group Taj Hotels is grabbing 2014 by the horns and using a new year to clean up an old oddity in its London portfolio. For years it has owned two hotels on Buckingham Gate: 51 Buckingham Gate, with its Jaguar and Cinema Suites, and the Crowne Plaza St. James next door. Yes, that is Crowne Plaza as in the InterContinental Hotels Group brand.
Together, the two hotels occupy parts of eight six-story houses from the late 1800s: King’s, Queen’s, Prior’s, Falconer’s, Minister’s, Almoner’s, Duke’s, and Regent’s House, surrounding a shared courtyard. While the hotels will remain separate, the Crowne Plaza name is officially disappearing from the doors as of this week, with the hotel being reflagged as The St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel.
Our resident celebrity hotel hopper, Josh Flagg, star of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing recently completed a trip to India. One of the stops on his luxury hotel itinerary? The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai which has rebounded incredibly well after 2010's terrorist attack. Here's his elevator review of the place:
If the English dictionary had one picture to describe the word sophistication, The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai would be upfront and center. Few hotels in the world really hit that nail on the head. The George V in Paris, The St. Regis in New York, The Peninsula Hong Kong all have it down, and now that I have stayed in the Taj Mumbai, I realize why it has stood the test of time.
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Just ten days from now, Award Season will reach its peak during Oscar weekend. We’ve already given you a set of drink recipes courtesy of hotel bartenders, and today we’re following up with five hotels with Oscar-worthy screening rooms.
Over in South Beach, the Delano only opened its fancy Media room last summer. Those sofas look perfect for curling up and settling in for the long haul (and we know that telecast gets a little wordy sometimes), and it’s already done a Weinstein Screening Series, which featured Oscar winners like The King’s Speech.
See four more schmancy hotel screening rooms after the jump!
Nearly three years ago the movie (or borderline international incident – sorry, SJP, but just. no.) Sex and the City 2 came out. Way back when, we reported on the backdrop for all the hotel-room scenes in the movie being the (then) future Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma, Marrakech, which substituted for Abu Dhabi in the film.
One delay to the first quarter of 2011 later and the hotel was taken over by Indian group Taj Hotels, still optimistically scheduled for the fall of that same year. Now, another year plus later, the Taj Palace Marrakech is finally ready for all those people who have been saving for an SATC-themed journey to Morocco.
Hotel News / Hotel Rumors / Hotel Buyouts / Orient-Express Hotels / Tata Group / Indian Hotels / Taj Hotels / → All Tags
Will the Orient-Express hotels in Cusco keep their names? In three weeks we'll know for sure
This news appeared in our inbox this weekend from an unknown source and we weren’t sure whether it was fact or fiction. Orient-Express Hotels up for sale? Really? Trouble in paradise?
Add the news that the unsolicited all cash offer from Tata Group’s Indian Hotels of $12.63 Per Share (a 40% premium on that day’s closing share price), was a tad on the bold side and we were even more uneasy--why go so high? Yet that would mean a cool $1.86 billion sale for Orient-Express. At least they're getting a higher bid, unlike the discount Jetsetter.com had to offer for its company sale.
Subsequent news briefs confirmed the proposal was definitely real, bold, and that U.S.-listed Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., while in $615.6 million debt wasn't seeking bailout. However, in a statement the company said it will evaluate the proposal carefully and respond in due course in accordance with the best interests of the Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. and its shareholders.
You know what the beautiful thing about celebrity Twitter accounts is? Oftentimes, they actually are controlled by the celebrity, and wethe listening publicget to know what they really think. Very occasionally this even includes hints on hotels. Last week, Dita Von Teese shared her favorite Paris address, and this week it's designer Diane von Furstenberg with her favorite hotel...in the world?
Lake Palace in Udaipur could be the best hotel in the worldlove Diane— DVF (@DVF) March 26, 2012