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The Hotel Des Bains in its heyday
Che fortuna amici, che bella notizia. This is big news. Huge! Venice’s historic Hotel des Bains, the grande dame of the Lido that inspired Death in Venice, hosted a bajillion movie stars for the film festival, and was shuttered in 2010 and sentenced to be redeveloped as luxury apartments (vomit) – will most likely be refurbished into a hotel once more.
According to local paper La Nuova, the Des Bains and its sadsack teammate, the Excelsior, are no longer for sale. The owner? The Cassa Depositi e Prestiti – a government-owned company. Regent and Starwood are still battling it out to run the properties (Raffaele Costa is out), but whoever wins will be the operator, not the owner.
But most exciting of all is the news that it looks likely that the Des Bains will make a spectacular return. From La Nuova (our translation):
It seems probable that the Des Bains, after its refurbishment, will return to being exclusively a hotel, putting a stop to the project that would have transformed part of it into hotel-residences – as was the initial plan – because the market conditions and the convenience of taking it forward are no longer in existence.
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The Excelsior, up for sale
Last week we learned that one struggling Venice island hotel had finally had its prince come along, in the shape of St Regis, and it got us thinking: what’s happening with the grande dames of the Lido?
The glorious old Hotel des Bains – which was the setting for Death in Venice and, more recently, one of the venues of the Venice Film Festival – closed in 2010, to be redeveloped into luxury apartments within a year.
But in Venice a few months ago, we couldn’t help noticing that it was still a building site.
According to Il Sole 24 Ore, everything is up in the air. There’s some complicated real estate fund stuff going on, but basically Est Capital, which bought the properties off Starwood, has foundered, and they’ve been passed to Hines Sgr, which is mulling over the options.
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If there were one major European city where we’d pick a hotel for its far out, rather than central, location, Venice would probably be it. La Serenissima, as everyone who’s elbowed their way through the crowds on the Riva degli Schiavoni or queued to walk across the Rialto bridge will know, is anything but calm in the touristy bits.
That’s why the San Clemente Palace – far from the madding crowd on a private island, only accessible by its own shuttle – has always sounded ideal to us. A 17th-century monastery (though island life dates back to the 1100s), it sits in the lagoon between Giudecca and the Lido – about a 12-minute boatride to San Marco on the hotel’s private shuttle.
And now it’s got a little more ideal with the news that, following an 18-month, €25m refurbishment after it ran out of money in 2012, it’s reopening as a St Regis property – mmm, butler service – on June 15. (Somehow, Starwood has won out over Four Seasons, which initially was slated to take it on.)
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Something tells us we’ll need a recurring feature on new Four Seasons Hotels if the expansion strategy under its new CEO is going to take off even more than it has already; the list of potential future openings we have based on what floats around on the internet gets longer by the minute.
We mentioned Cabo last week, we’ve known about Disney for a while, there is Madrid, Turkey, and everything from Japan to Brazil as well. Today we are adding Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to that list, and tentatively, Venice.
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The Regent Bali
While we continue to recover from last week’s ma-jah announcement of Tommie Hotels, the lovechild of Commune and Thompson, we have a roundup of news bites from around the world for you this Monday morning. Join us as we hop from Bali to Venice, Amsterdam to China, and Switzerland to Australia, for updates on everything from brand new Chinese brand Ahn Luh to the old school Gritti Palace.
Starting in Southeast Asia, Regent Hotels delivered on the promised opening of its new resort on Bali this past weekend, with 94 suites, one Regent Villa, 25 residences, and that inviting-looking infinity pool above. The Bali resort follows last year’s arrival in Phuket, which we swung by recently to see for ourselves how Regent’s first opening in years would stack up – more on that to come.
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Here's a new reason to love one of Venice's most lovable hotels, the Hotel Cipriani. Next month, guests can sign up to have "Dinner In the Sky," a one-off experience that literally involves a 22-seat dining table being raised 164 feet in the air.
According to The Daily Mail:
"A total of 22 guests can be seated around the table, which will be suspended over the swimming pool of the hotel, located on the island of Giudecca.
Thrill-seekers will have the choice of a one-hour three-course meal prepared by the hotel's chefs or a 30-minute aperitif, during which they can drink in views that stretch to St Mark's Square on the opposite side of the lagoon."
We'd probably opt for the 30-minute aperitif, since we're almost positive the dizzying height would make us lose our appetite. Then again, we'd also have to watch how much we drank. Wouldn't want to have any bathroom emergencies at that kind of altitude!
According to the Daily Mail, the platform can be rotated 180º, offering each guest at the table a panoramic view of Venice.
If this idea sounds more romantic to you than terrifying, then plan on booking a seat at the table (50 EUR per person for the aperitif; 250 pp for dinner) for the event, which takes place June 19-23.
[Photo: Daily Mail]
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If you're feeling wistful this weekend, a good way to kick back and set out on a magical hotel journey—without ever leaving your home—is to flip through Assouline's new 160-page Luxury Collection book, which is part of their Hotel Stories series.
The Luxury Collection: Hotel Stories devotes a mini-chapter to each of the 80+ hotels under Starwood's chi-chi Luxury Collection brand. There's history, and celebrity interviews, and design details—but you can technically find those things anywhere on the internet. What really makes the book stand out are the photos. Rich, full-color, splashy images of ITC Mughal, Gritti Palace, Al Maha and tons more.
While drooling over the images, we managed to scan a bit of text too. Here are five takeaway facts about Luxury Collection we didn't previously know:
The 266-room JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa is set to open on a private island located in the Venice lagoon in 2014. This will be Marriott’s first hotel in Italy under the luxury JW moniker.
The hotel is just a short boat ride from the historic heart of the city, St Mark’s Square. There’ll be an array of restaurants and bars, of course, a health club and spa, and pools galore--one outdoors, one indoors, and one on the roof.
We think the renderings (more after the jump!) look impressive, with a Mediterranean vibe thing goin’ on–-all white and seafoam green--right in keeping with the whole “private island” business.
If you're familiar with Aman Resorts at all, it'll be no surprise that Aman Canal Grande will be an extravagantly luxurious affair, and with only 24 suites, an exclusive one as well. Set in the 16th century Palazzo Papadopoli, the hotel will be midway between the Rialto and Accademia Bridges in the San Polo district.
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Aman New Delhi
As of February 1, Aman New Delhi will be rebranded as The Lodhi, leaving the Aman brand behind. You wouldn't expect it perhaps based on the hotel’s exterior, but the nine-story building contains just 31 rooms and eight suites, all in a very contemporary and subdued style. Each room comes with its own private terrace, while suites sprawl out over 1,800 square-feet. A lower structure contains an additional 14 Lodhi suites, and Lodhi Pool suites, with up to three bedrooms, have access to their own private pool (prices for these come with the label "on request").
We’ve been hearing it forever—Venice is sinking. Well, right now it certainly is…wet. The city is enduring the Acqua Alta, aka the period when higher than normal water levels rise over the city, causing the lagoon's water to overflow over the canals and flood the walkways.
When it does happen, it's usually between the months of October through December when high tides affect Venice thanks to strong southerly winds and heavy rain. The resulting rising waters causes more than half of the city's low-lying cafes, shops and hotels to become a water-logged. This year, it has brought the sixth-highest tide in 150 years.
We’ve visited Venice in October and managed to dodge the Aqua Alta, but we packed a pair of rainboots just in case the weather gods decided to bring the rain and the funk (the canals, that act like sewer systems, can get quite pungent).
So what does this mean for people already in Italy, or who've made plans to visit Venice soon?
Roses are red, violets are blue. Kimye invaded Venice, here's a photo for you!
After just one month, it seems Kim Kardashian is already bored of her temporary Miami digs. The jetsetting reality star was whisked off to Europe over the weekend by boyfriend Kanye West to celebrate her 32nd birthday.
The pair—photographed nearly every step of the way—made their way around Venice on Sunday, with Kardashian tweeting at one point: "Italy is so beautiful! Best birthday ever!!!"
Well, all we have to say is, it's easy to have that kind of reaction when you're staying in a place like the Hotel Cipriani, where the Daily Mail reports they crashed. Located on Giudecca Island, rooms at the hotel start at around $1,300/night, though we're guessing Kimye splashed out on a suite. You know, to accommodate the camera crews.