02210 Travel Guide
An improved Seaport needs a prettier Seaport Hotel. Here it is.
The Seaport District sure has come a long way since the four-diamond Seaport Hotel opened as the neighborhood’s first hotel in 1998. Back then, the area was sort of a no-man’s-land: just tumbleweeds, grizzled fisher-folk unloading their traps of lobsters, and on occasion, lanyard-wearing convention attendees meandering through empty streets, like zombies in a post-apocalyptic science-fiction movie. (Okay, we’re being dramatic. But seriously, there was really nothing much to see.)
But now the Seaport is hot, filled with restaurants, bars, restaurants, and option for arts- and culture-based outings. (Did we mention restaurants?) To keep up, the Seaport Hotel has just completed a major modernizing renovation of its 428 guest rooms and newly expanded TAMO Restaurant & Bar. Above is what the new guest rooms look like.
Pretty! (Also, look how perfectly that flag is positioned. Photoshop magic, anyone?)
When this writer checked into the 428-room Boston Seaport Hotel, one of the first things the clerk went out of her way to tell me was that there was no tipping at the hotel. I figured I'd heard her wrong, so I asked her to repeat it. She smiled. The craziest part is when she told me it's not a new thing - the hotel has had a no tipping policy since it opened in 1998.
Fifteen years ago, it put its then 260 employees through 35,000 hours of training on all aspects of guest service, from opening doors to room tidiness, and taught them to do it all without expecting a tip.
We've talked a lot about tipping on this site in the past, and there's always a debate about who should be tipped and for what. I found the no tipping policy at the Seaport to be extremely refreshing and impressive. Two reasons stand out in particular. 1) When receiving help from the staff, I didn't immediately feel like I owed them money and 2) I felt like the employees genuinely wanted to help me, and when it comes to the travel industry, that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when money is involved.
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The InterContinental Boston is a newer addition to the Boston waterfront, nestled between the Financial District and booming Seaport District. Looking for a room with a view during a recent trip to Fenway Park, we checked into the new kid on the block.
The Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel has shown off its green credentials before, by ferrying passengers around on pedicabs. Now, it wants to make sure its guests are being eco-friendly before they even land on its doorstep. Thus, a partnership with Bolt Bus.
To encourage folks traveling to the hotel from New York, New Jersey, Philly, Baltimore or D.C. to leave the car at home, the hotel is offering a bunch of extras to anyone who flashes their Bolt Bus ticket once they check in.
We seriously hope this isn't a recurring thing every weekend. Last week it was the W and Willard InterContinental hotels in DC that were evacuated due to an electrical fire and this week it's the InterContinental Boston. But unlike the DC incident, this fire occurred in the early hours of the morning, forcing guests to evacuate at 2am. They were not allowed to return until 9am. The Boston Globe reports:
The fire started in a garage electrical room about 2 a.m. and guests were evacuated to nearby hotels about 3:30 a.m., Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said. By 9 a.m., guests were allowed back in the hotel on Boston’s waterfront at 510 Atlantic Ave., and everything was “business as usual,’’ Stephanie Loeber, the hotel’s director of public relations, said in a statement. No injuries were reported.
Gift guides are starting to come out in full force, but here’s a category you don’t often see: the dancer (and no, we don’t mean SYTYCD wannabes). Well, loved ones of ballet buffs, feel free to thank us in advance. Voila! A behind-the-scenes package offered by the Intercontinental Boston and Boston Ballet.
Indeed, the Intercontinental Boston is offering a “Behind-the-Scenes” Boston Ballet package to coincide with the brand-new, never-before-seen photography exhibit called “From the Wings” by Boston Ballet soloist, Sabi Varga.
Heavenly beds at the Westin Bonaventure in LA.
Most of us agree that the Westin Hotels Heavenly Bed feels quite nice and those of us who have tried the hotel brand's new Heavenly Bath toiletries would agree that the shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, et.al, go above and beyond what we would expect from hotel toiletries. But when it comes down to Westin WiFi, the experience is more hellacious than heavenly.
Westin is part of Starwood Hotels and while the WiFi is free in the lobbies, in-room guests have to pay. Usually the fee starts at $9.95 and goes up from there, depending on the hotel.
Paying for WiFi is akin to those ridiculous checked baggage fees that airlines charges, but if we pay for it we want that internet connection to be faster than Usain Bolt. Unfortunately, many hotels just take your money and leave you surfing the web at a snail's pace. But the worst is when you call down for help and they tell you to contact their service provider.
Artist Shepard Fairey (right) with David Keamy, Renaissance Boston's Director of Marketing.
Shepard Fairey, a name we recognize as the now-famous LA street artist whose claim to commercial greatness is the ubiquitous Obama "HOPE" poster, is in Boston for the opening of his new exhibit at Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. The exhibit, "Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand," opens today and runs until mid-August and features his "screen prints, stencils, stickers, rubylith illustrations, collages, and works on wood, metal, and canvas."
And where does one of the most famous living artists stay when hitting up Beantown? Apparently, the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel and, in celebration of the exhibit opening, the hotel is offering the full Shepherd Fairey experience (well, short of meeting him) to guests.
This photo landed in our inbox recently showing off the recent free “green machine” pedicab service at everyone’s favorite newish hotel in Boston, the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. In honor of Beantown’s 2008 Greenbuild Expo, which was held last week, the hotel offered free transport to and from the conference to its tree-loving attendees.
But of course, there’s no such thing as a free ride, really. As they rode in style, guests were educated all about the hotel’s eco-friendly initiatives. Like, did you know 278 trees have been saved in eight months because of the new hotel recycling program? And the new composting program has turned eight tons of composted material into sustainable fertilizer that’s been sold locally. And last but not least, the hotel meets 22 of 26 LEED benchmarks required for a new hotel.
Then again, the riders were on their way to a green expo, so they probably ate up all that green goodness. And they sure do look cozy in their Renaissance robes.
[Photo: Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel]
With a soft opening in January, a grand opening in February, a party in June, and lots of fun fall packages, we've been keeping our eye on Marriott's break-out new Renaissance complete with nautical-themed decor, the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.
And they have finally arrived with a review in the New York Times. If you're in a hurry, we'll ruin the surprise ending for you:
If you're in town for a convention or to do business in South Boston, the Renaissance would be a no-brainer -- convenient, with high-end tech toys and a friendly, helpful staff. For families or those looking for a classic Boston scene, the out-of-the way location may override the positives.
If you can stick around, we've got the Times' pros, cons, and dirty details after the jump.
We've already covered a good hotel to check out the fall foliage in Boston: Hotel Marlowe, with its farm getaways and kayaks.
The Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel is also offering a cool-weather weekend special, although it's a bit more romance than leaf-peeping.
Called a "Sweetheart's Staycation," starting at $599 per person, you'll get two nights' stay, bubbly and chocolates, a dinner cruise around Boston Harbor on an Odyssey Ship, breakfast and bed, and late check-out.
The fine print didn't say if there are any windows for booking, but it sounds like a good deal for lovers of love and leaves.
[Photo: Renaissance North America]
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The opening party for the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel has received all sorts of love and attention from its corporate parent, Marriott. From its own Flickr set, to a YouTube video, the hotel's opening is probably one of the most-promoted Marriott openings in recent history.
But what we were even more pleased to learn about was the creation of Celtics-inspired cocktails that were served at the party:
Two signature martinis were also created in celebration of the Boston Celtics' 17th victory in the NBA's Championship. Downstairs at the party, the Celtics' 3 Point Shot featured Stoli Blakberi, fresh cranberry and orange juice, served with a fresh orange and blackberry garnish. Upstairs, the Seventeeni (pictured on the left) combined vodka, Midori and fresh pineapple juice, straight up in all its green glory.
What? No "Anything is Possible" Cosmo or "I Am Certified" shots? Also, we think Ray Allen deserves his name on that 3 Point Shot drink but we won't bicker about that now.
Rooms at the hotel are available now, starting at around $249 a night.