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Checking In On / London Hotels / Dorchester Collection Hotels / Hotel Reviews / TripAdvisor / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
Last summer, we watched some pretty big-time hotels open all around the world. London made a contribution to the ultra-luxe Dorchester Collection. New York got its first unofficial skateboard hotel. Trump invaded Panama. And now, twelve months into the game, we can't help but let our curiosity get the better of us. What are these hotels up to a year later?
Right off the bat, we had a pretty good feeling about 45 Park Lane when the announcement was made, pre-opening, that the hotel would be housed in London's old Playboy Club. But this hotel has managed to wow in all the right places: excellent service, Hyde Park views, fully pimped out bathrooms, and free WiFi.
And the rates ain't bad, either.
Hotel News Briefs / Hotel Fees / Hotel WiFi / Hotel Sick / Chicago Hotels / TripAdvisor / → All Tags
There's even more 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.
· Hotels to Rake in $2 Billion in Fees: The next time you find yourself shelling out money for WiFi or to use the fitness center access during your hotel stay, remember, it's ok to be really pissed off about it. That's because hotels are set to take in about $2 billion in fees this year. That's up 5.4 percent from last year, according to the Tisch Center at New York University. While the annual take-in from fees isn't expected to keep growing, that's still a crazy high number. All the more reason to raise a fuss if that WiFi connection shorts out. Grrr.
· Seriously Sick at The JW Marriott Chicago: The new-ish JW Marriott Chicago is under investigation as a total of seven people who stayed at the hotel this summer have contracted the sometimes deadly Legionnaires’ disease which is found in water. The Chicago Tribune reports that the hotel has drained its pool, hot tub and fountain and even closed part of its spa. We're guessing that chlorine-free pool might not have been such a good idea after all. While the city's health department said there is "no ongoing health risk at the hotel", the JW Marriott is still working to alert the 8,500 guests who stayed at the hotel between July 16 and Aug. 15. Ugh. UPDATE: Two people have died from the outbreak.
Looking for a cheap new place to stay in NYC? You might want to take a look at newcomer Tribeca Blu, which opened back in May and has slowly been building itself up as a basic, convenient option for folks needing lodging near Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, or any other of Manhattan's trendy downtown nabes.
The hotel's amenities are what we'd call..."limited." No restaurant, no bar, no business center, no refrigerators, no fitness center. But the one perk TB does have going for it is low rates—and for many cash-strapped travelers, that's a big perk.
We logged onto the website this morning and found rates of just $169.15 (WiFi included). For that kind of money, who needs room service?
Just the other day, we were planning out an upcoming trip through Arizona, and we decided to browse some hotel reviews on TripAdvisor; specifically, places in Tucson. But just as we were about to scroll down through the list of results, we noticed a row of boxes at the top of the screen with labels like "business," "romantic" and "trendy," each of which corresponded to different categories of hotels.
Or, as TA calls them, "styles" of hotels.
We dubiously clicked on the seventh one, which yielded four results. And, while we can't say anything bad about them, by no stretch of our imagination would we hasten to call any of these places "trendy."
During a routine sunrise Twitter-browsing session this morning, we came across this story about employees from the Irish-based Carlton Hotel Group being instructed by their managers to post fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Needless to say, the reviews had to be positive, posted from non-hotel IP addresses, and include photos that were "not professional" but "good quality." Because you've got to be subtle with these things!
Which is impossible to do when said staff memo, which was originally sent by one of Carlton's sales and marketing directors, gets leaked all over the internet. The wily, conniving underbelly of hotel management: exposed!
But this made us think. How many times have you been co-erced (or simply asked) by a hotel to post positive TripAdvisor reviews after your stay? Would a free upgrade or restaurant voucher give you more incentive to say something nice? Or do you generally not make a habit of posting reviews in the first place? We want you to weigh in, fellow lodgers!
TripAdvisor is doing away with their infamous dirtiest hotels list and is instead focusing on their Traveler's Choice lists like the "Top 25 Hotels in The U.S." as decided by the most favorable reader reviews.
Topping the list is the luxury Chicago hotel, The Elysian, which is now a part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Taking the #2 spot is The Grand Del Mar in San Diego who won us over with their less stuffy teatime. Coming in with the bronze is the perennial award-winner Four Seasons Maui.
Also making appearances on the list are the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (which we called a semi-secret, super luxe option in EssEff back in 2010), The Hotel Palomar Chicago (see our gorgeous photos of the hotel here) and the Sky Lodge in Utah where we fell in love with their freestanding waterfall bathtubs.
And while we are certainly familiar with most of the hotels on the list, we haven't actually stayed the night at many of them. But maybe you have? Please, fill us in.
Miami Hotel Mambo / New Year's Eve Hotels / Hotel Renovations / TripAdvisor / Menin Hotels / Hotel Cabanas / Hotel Design / → All Tags
Hotel makeovers: fun when they're finished but hell in the meantime? That may have been the case for the Shelborne South Beach, but the hotel has almost finished its massive overhaul, with 50 of its guest rooms now renovated to look like this.
As one commenter pointed out last time we got an update, the hotel's TripAdvisor reviews have not been kind during the construction phase. Not having stayed at the hotel, we can't speak for the service, but we can say that if the photos of the new rooms and the poolside cabanas are true to life, then the new Shelborne is nothing if not pretty. If you want to book a room that pleases the eye, though, make sure you ask for a Premiere Room (above). These are the renovated rooms.
Hotel Woes / Hotel Scandal / TripAdvisor / Hotel Reviews / Tennessee Hotels / Cockroaches / → All Tags
Hotel owners, take note: when you're trying to build credibility for your brand, it might not be a good idea to let over eight years' worth of god awful customer reviews pile up on your TripAdvisor page without taking action. Kenneth Seaton, owner of Pigeon Forge Grand Resort Hotel in Tennessee, is suing TripAdvisor for $10 million for placing him smack at the top of their Dirtiest Hotels 2011 list, citing 87% percent of reviewers gave the place a thumbs down.
According to The Mountain Press, Seaton's lawyers are referencing "flawed" rating systems that "distort" the actual performance of the hotel—further, they accuse TripAdvisor of "contriving...to cause respected customers to lose confidence" in the hotel.
Um, right. We bet all of those "respected customers" were just clamoring to stay another night here after browsing through the pre-existing reviews and photos. Roaches in the door frame? No thanks.
We gave you the complete lowdown on Ian Schrager's brand new Public Chicago hotel the other week but today we decided to check in with the rest of the general public on TripAdvisor to see what their reactions are. And so far, so good. Or as good as it can be with just three reviews.
The first reviewer claimed to stumble across the hotel by accident but is now a devoted fan, especially of the delicious The Pump Room: The other thing...I don't often eat in hotel restaurants, and I've NEVER done this before but I stayed two nights and ate lunch and dinner in the hotel both days. The Pump Room may very well be my favorite restaurant, so even if you aren't staying there definitely go for lunch or dinner. There's a great bar on the other side of the lobby too where you can get some some of the lunch entrees.
The other thing...I don't often eat in hotel restaurants, and I've NEVER done this before but I stayed two nights and ate lunch and dinner in the hotel both days. The Pump Room may very well be my favorite restaurant, so even if you aren't staying there definitely go for lunch or dinner. There's a great bar on the other side of the lobby too where you can get some some of the lunch entrees.
Concierges / Tips On Tips / Yelp / TripAdvisor / Tips / Concierge Corner / → All Tags
He's known as @ConciergeCorner on Twitter who's not afraid to dish on all the crazy things that guests ask concierges. But he also might be the concierge fielding your requests during your next hotel stay and he's got a few tips on how to get the most out of your concierge contact. This week, here are his thoughts on How Much To Tip the Concierge. (And no, that's neither @ConciergeCorner or his hotel in the photo above.)
To tip, or not to tip: an age old question in the hospitality industry. In an industry where at times over 50% of one’s pay is derived from gratuities, tipping is always appreciated. That said, my HR department pays each (hourly) position differently depending on what they feel we likely receive in gratuities. Sadly, their gratuity estimates are quite high and unrealistic.
Yelp ain't got nothing on us.
In the past, boarding passes, dinner reservations and transportation arrangements would be some of the most common concierge requests, but the emergence of sites like Trip Advisor, OpenTable and Yelp has changed this. Today, many guests will skip the concierge, opting instead to utilize websites. There are still some who will utilize our services, especially in the luxury segment. You can imitate the human touch, but you can't duplicate it. When it comes to a last minute dinner reservation at a popular restaurant or a sold out performance, I'm far more likely to be able to secure them for a guest than a website is. Given that this is something that only I, the concierge, may be able to accomplish; common gratuity is $5 or $10. For me at, I'd say the most common gratuity left is $5.
Yesterday, The Economist wrote about a new study showing that the majority of online hotel reviews are—believe it or not—positive. But does this come as a surprise?
Guests are less likely to take the time to post a review on TripAdvisor than, say, a hotel-employed PR person, or a General Manager, who find ways to talk up their hotel in carefully chosen, seemingly trustworthy language. According to TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer, however, people talk about a positive experience in order to "give back to the community." But do we trust the good reviews as much as the bad ones?
Checking In On / Home2 Suites / TripAdvisor / Utah Hotels / North Carolina Hotels / Hilton Hotels / → All Tags
It's been almost two months since Hilton's contemporary Home2 Suites brand launched in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the second hotel just opened March 10 in Layton, Utah. So we figured it was a good time to check in to see what people have been saying about the stylish all-suite hotels, which comes with free WiFi, iPhone and iPad iHome docking stations and a complimentary continental breakfast.
We checked in on TripAdvisor to see what the buzz is. But there's only one TripAdvisor review, likely because the hotels aren't in major cities.