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There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· Andaz Tokyo Will Aim High: If you thought Andaz Amsterdam and Andaz Savannah and Andaz Maui were the last scraps of Andaz news for a while, think again. Hyatt has just announced a brand new Andaz property opening in Tokyo's Toranomon business district in summer of 2014. The 164-room hotel will occupy the top six floors of a 52-story tower currently under construction, and, yes, there will be a rooftop bar. The hotel will also take over the 37th floor, which will be dedicated to an infinity pool, spa and fitness center. Though this location will be a first for Andaz, it will be Hyatt's fourth in Tokyo, and its ninth in Japan.
For the rest of today's hotel news, read on!
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Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Given all the news that’s flying around, it’s time for another update today, including the first sub-Saharan opening, departures and arrivals in Japan, and the fresh announcement of a future resort in Turkey.
Design Hotels opened their second member hotel in Tokyo (the first is the Park Hotel Tokyo) in August: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon. We’re excited about this. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s a given that it's a sleek and 'purty' hotel with some great design features, but also because it's located on the edge of one of the city’s oldest heritage districts known as Asakusa, and the thriving, dizzying modern metropolis.
On one side you have the Kaminarimon entrance gate (Thunder Gate), which stands approximately 38 feet high by 38 feet wide, and, on the opposite end of the scale, there’s the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest freestanding broadcast tower in the world at 2,080 feet.
To make the most of this amazing view, the hotel has its minimalist lobby on the 13th floor (we hope none of you are toooo superstitious). There is also a 14th-floor terrace that’s open 24/7 to take in the scene.
Final stop after the stretch
Sunrise yoga. Noontime meditation. Rush hour water aerobics. Really, we thought we'd heard of everything when it comes to lower impact fitness classes offered at hotels. That is, we thought we'd heard of everything until we got wind of the "Good Night Sleep Stretch" at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Sure, the hotel may be more famous for its cloud-high New York Bar where pivotal scenes of Lost in Translation were filmed, but unlike the bar with its evening cover charge, the Sleep Stretch is a free amenity for guests.
So what happens? Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9pm in the Aerobics Studio of the hotel's Club On The Park, guests come together with an instructor to "relax and stretch [their] entire body before bed to promote a restful sleep." Simple and relaxing. And did we mention it was free?
Signature at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
So let's say you're flying long-haul from the US to Japan, and you're looking forward to a stay at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. After arrival, you'll have a quick shower, a quick nap and then head down to the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant to fill up and recover from jet lag, right?
Right. Except you can now begin that experience in advance of landing, since Japanese airline ANA just announced they've redeveloped their onboard menu to include offerings from Signature, the Mandarin Oriental's French-inspired restaurant. They'll hit the traytables of Business Class flyers from December through February, following September-November specials from a Michelin 2-starred ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in Yugawara Onsen.
ANA won't be the first airline to partner up with Mandarin Oriental, either. German flag carrier Lufthansa signed up the Mandarin Oriental New York's Asiate chef to do something similar, but they were first with it. Still, better food in the skies is always the best news, especially where it involves Michelin-starred hotel restos.
[Photo: Mandarin Oriental]
It's always 11pm somewhere in the world...
We like it when hotels tell us what to do. After all, they're the experts (or at least should be) on local activities, when to drink, where to visit—plus, it's always good to add a bit of structure to your hotel stay. And that's just what the newly refurbished Palace Hotel Tokyo is offering on their website—the home screen makes subtle itinerary suggestions like the best times to eat sushi, have a cocktail, visit the spa...or just laze in bed (one of our favorites).
Opening next month (May 17 to be exact), the 290-room Palace Hotel Toyko will be a re-envisioning of the original Palace Hotel, which opened in 1961 as Japan's first ever mixed use office-hotel building. That hotel was then razed in 2009 to make way for this newer, sleeker, more modernized version. Ten restaurants and bars, a Club Lounge, an Evian spa and free WiFi are some of the amenities the hotel is advertising, though we're mainly interested in the fact that all rooms supposedly have views of the gardens at Tokyo's Imperial Palace.
A quick tip for a stay at the ridiculously well located Peninsula Tokyo: pay the extra to secure a Deluxe Park View, because that "Park" bit actually means Imperial Palace gardens. They may be out of focus in the photo above, but can you blame us for being far more focused on a large Japanese breakfast spread at the moment?
Rooms on the park side of the hotel have commanding views of the Imperial Palace and its acresbring mini binoculars to watch the processions, full of pomp, without having to even venture outside and join the throng of photo-snapping tourists.
At night the view is just as pleasant, since having all of these private gardens next door means it's one of the only areas in the metropolis to get truly darka luxury on its own.
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Are wireless hot spots the next hot hotel amenity? Judging by these two recent reports from luxury hotels in Asia, they just might be!
YES has a table in the lobby, adjacent to the Front Desk, where guests can borrow (deposit, but no rental charge) a 4G station, called a “Huddle”. Then, for RM50 per day (USD15/day) you get all the wifi data you can eat. That includes downloading their app and turning your iPod Touch or iPhone, or iPad, into a VOIP phone for free… and, you can connect up to 5 devices at one time.
I’m on it right now with my laptop, and have also connected an iPad and my US iPhone 3GS. I now have all the data and calls I can consume, all at a flat rate.
The Huddle is slightly smaller than the iPhone, and would easily slip into my pocket. I now have a wifi hotspot with me, throughout KL… It just needs to plug in and recharge overnight.
Right now, this is only of value in KL, but what a great connectivity platform! Is this what 4G can do for hotels? No more data roaming overseas at randomly high rates?
Believe it or not, this shot of the Shinkansenthe Tokyo bullet train (versus a regular, slow train)was taken from 33 stories above the tracks, from our room at the Park Hotel. We've already showed you all around inside the place, but the magic of the property isn't just its affordable rates (for Tokyo!) and up-and-coming location surrounding by the big media skyscrapers in Shiodome, but its views.
Looking down, it's thisthe bullet train tracks and a reminder of that fact that this capital of Japan is always on the move. Looking up and out, it's this, a glittering still shot you otherwise only see on postcards.
Rooms at the Park Hotel average $250 per night, but a $12 upgrade scores you the prime views.
Before you can step into the preserved 1960s modernist environment that is the grand lobby of the Hotel Okura Tokyo, you first must arrive. For many that means being driven up and around to the hotel's off-the-street- entrance, where there'll be one valet for each door that needs opening, and more still to whisk away your bags.
Anyone who has experienced classic 5-star service at a Japanese hotel can tell you that this is par for the course; the need to touch anything mundanedoors, luggage, room keyscan be erased completely by some attentive hotel staffs, and if you chose to stay at the Okura then you likely already know this.
This attention to detail, which starts at the arrival of your car, continues all the way through to the teacakes served at the hotel's patisserie. Essentially it's the art of perfection at practice.
It's been a trying weekend for Japan, and the situation still remains dire with entire towns wiped out and massive rescue efforts under way. In Tokyo, life is attempting to return to normal, but limited public transportation schedules and the threat of electricity blackouts has stunted business. True to Japan's culture, however, the hotels of the city seem to be handling the crisis as gracefully as possible.
Last night, while routinely reading Twitter, we noticed that @thebaghag was relating her friend's story of being a tourist in Tokyo during the earthquake. It happened while he was staying at the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, a popular hotel with amazing views, located in a Shibuya high-rise.
Naturally guests were evacuated, but hotel staff went above and beyond to pack for guests with departing flights:
Is the WiFi free? Does the gym have good machines? All these things get noticed when checking into a hotel, but what about the atmosphere of the placespecifically the art on the walls or on the floor? We're highlighting properties around the world that do their artwork right, and the specific pieces you should stare long and hard at when next you drop by.
Today: The The Park Hotel Tokyo's atrium piece by Kaïdin-Monique Le Houelleur.
Perhaps it's no surprise that, in a city so full of modern skyscrapers and buzzing technology, the artwork in Tokyo's hotels leans toward the organic. It can be a reminder of nature that re-center the guests. This is the way at the Park Hotel, where you reach the lobby half-way up the Shiodome Media Tower by traveling in an elevator with a view outside to the city quickly falling away beneath you.
The largest piece at the hotel is the handmade tree, by the self-taught French-Vietnamese artist Le Houelleur. She has done all of the art for the hotels, from the rooms straight down to little pieces near the elevators at the Park Hotel. Regardless, it's this patchwork tree that commands attentiona bit like the "tree of life" in The Lion King.