European travelers will already appreciate the benefits offered by the stylish Radisson Blu boutique hotel chain and are no doubt eagerly looking forward to the opening of the first US offering later this year. Chicago is hardly short of high-end hotels, but the Radisson Blu boutique hotel will give the neighboring Fairmont and the Park Hyatt on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile a run for their money.
The differences at Radisson Blu are impressive, starting with the price. As the brand begins to establish itself in the U.S., room prices will be around $250 per night compared with similar ranking hotel rates of $425.
Radisson Blu hotels typically include resort-like amenities such as a jogging trail, billiards table, extra-large fitness room and half basketball court. Many basic rooms have a balcony with great views at no surcharge, and WiFi is included in the room rate. Even the public restrooms are out-of-the ordinary with mirrorball tiling and vessel sinks.
Guests can choose a room style to suit their mood and taste. Both designs are very hip and trendy, but “Mansion House” style is rather more “W” with sparkly black granite counters and black lacquer minibars to tone down the electric blue carpet. For a more understated elegance, opt for a “Naturally Cool” room style and enjoy Scandinavian light wood flooring, muted wall colors and white leather seating beside a minimalist block wood table.
If your curiosity is piqued, keep an eye open for the unveiling of the second Radisson Blu boutique hotel, currently under construction at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.
Visitors describing a stay in a top luxury hotel as “out of this world” may have to revise their thinking when Orbital Technologies opens its first hotel in 2016. Their hotel will be just that!
Russia has just announced plans for its first space hotel, orbiting 217 miles above the earth. The hotel will accommodate seven guests in four comfortable cabins, boutique hotel style, and prices will be steep – an estimated £100,000 ($160,000) for the accommodation, plus the cost of Soyuz transport. Rocket transfer will take two days – costing another £500,000 ($800,000). At least when you get there, you won’t have to budget for designer shopping or knocking up high-end restaurant and bar bills.
The restaurant food will be prepared on planet earth and delivered by rocket to the space hotel, a great improvement on the freeze-dried food suffered in the past by astronauts. Alcohol will be strictly prohibited but there will be an assortment of mineral water, fruit juices and iced tea.
Huge windows will look out on space from the hotel rooms and guests will be given cameras and binoculars to marvel at the views – intergalactic ones of course. The self contained Commercial Space Station will recycle waste water, and air will be filtered and then returned to the cabin. Due to weightlessness, guests will sleep vertically in bags attached to the walls and showers could be particularly tricky to manage.
This new idea in adventure travel is aimed at wealthy individuals and companies wanting to send individuals into space to do research. It certainly adds a new aspect to luxury hotel vacations.
Few people would want the job of Offer Nissenbaum, General Manager of the Peninsula Beverley Hills luxury hotel in California. Even he admitted, “We do have demanding guests, and we’re fine with that. It’s OK because they have high expectations.”
However the job does have its upside – he has just been shortlisted as one of the five finalists for the Hotelier of the Year Award. The award ceremony is organized by Virtuoso, the luxury travel agent network, who whittle down the nominees from 900 luxury hotels around the world. The award goes to the person best showing “an unrelenting passion for the industry, an astute appreciation for detail and a keen sense of how to lead and manage a dynamic team of professionals.”
The other finalists are from all four corner of the world. Michel Jauslin is Director General of the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome; Torsten van Dullemmen works for the Oberoi Udaivilas in Rajasthan; Nigel Pace is General Manager of the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town in South Africa and Claudio Ceccherelli represents the Park Hyatt Milan in Italy.
The final award-naming ceremony will take place at the Virtuoso Annual Travel Mart Conference held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas where top travel agents, luxury hotel representatives and hoteliers will mingle and network.
Most business travelers already have their favorite luxury hotels in New York, but the choice will be even wider when the Marriott opens its newest hotel in late 2013. Marriott International together with Granite Broadway Development are making news headlines with their newly unveiled plans for a 68-story hotel which will become the tallest stand-alone hotel building in New York City.
The stunning landmark building will be over 752 feet high and was designed by architect Nobutaka Ashihara. Construction is due to start shortly at 1717 Broadway (at 54th Street).
The luxury hotel will be divided between two distinctly different hotel types to suit the needs of all guests. The Courtyard by Marriott guest rooms will occupy floors 6 though 32 and are aimed at overnight and short-stay visitors to New York.
Floors 36 through 64 will be a Residence Inn, designed for long-stay guests with kitchenettes and larger living spaces as well as stunning city views. Services include complimentary breakfast, free high-speed Internet, grocery delivery, laundry facilities and social get-togethers to make guests feel totally at home.
The hotels will share a main entrance and lobby before being directed to their rooms via separate dedicated elevators. The new lobby will have exclusive Go-Board technology, a huge touch screen packed with maps and local information as well as international business news and sports headlines.
The second floor will offer leased restaurant space. The third floor will have public areas for the Residence Inn while the 4th floor will be dedicated to Courtyard guests. The fifth floor will have a lounge and outdoor terrace with great views of Broadway and both hotels will share state-of-the-art fitness facilities on the 34th floor.
Those planning to attend the London 2012 Olympics would be well advised to book early if they want to stay in a luxury hotel in London. Currently the city only has 120,000 hotel rooms, according to Gadling, and is expecting around 5.5 million visitors. To meet the deficit, the London Olympics organizers are planning to dock cruise ships on the River Thames to act as temporary hotels.
There are suitable docks at Stratford, just three miles from the Olympic Park. Further floating rooms are also planned to cope with the high demand for hotel rooms by leasing berths to private luxury yacht owners. So far there are no estimates on the “floatel” cabin prices, but they are likely to be steep. They city of London is quoting prices of around £150,000 (US$243,000) to lease the docking berths for the three-week period.
London hotels are not cheap at any time, but the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper estimates that hotel room prices may be hiked tenfold during the Olympics. Pity the poor business traveler or regular visitor wanting to see London’s sights during that period.
Have you ever considered how much you pay to cover other people’s dishonesty? Luxury hotels worldwide are now finding it is financially worthwhile to add miniature high-tech tags to their fluffy towels, plush bathrobes and high-thread-count sheets.
Apparently up to 20 per cent of hotel stock goes home with guests, who clearly feel that the room price includes a couple of souvenirs. Somewhere down the line the cost of that missing stock has to be paid for – by all travelers.
More and more hotels are now using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to implant a tiny chip inside duvet covers, bed sheets, bathmats and pool towels. The cost of tagging is around a dollar per tag and the items can then be monitored using inventory tracking technology. The tags are well able to stand the rigors of the washing machine, being both flexible and washable. The ultimate systems can track each item from its removal from a housekeeping closet, making both staff and guests accountable.
What was most surprising to me was that following the press release, the idea of tagging hotel items was roundly condemned by the general public, who cited that “the price [luxury hotels] charge, we deserve the towels” or one wag who joked “I never stay in a newly opened hotel. The towels are too fluffy and I can never close my suitcase!”
Hopefully the threat of micro-tags may be a sufficient deterrent to light-fingered guests so that towels and sheets stay behind when guests check out and losses are minimized.
The hotel and tourism business is looking at new ways to attract the growing market of Chinese travelers. They are taking a leaf out of Far East hotels’ books and are doing pretty much what Chinese hotels mastered decades ago – respecting the difference in cultures.
As more nouveau-riche Chinese travelers are expected to plan trips abroad, the US Travel Association sees a potential $10 billion boost to the hotel industry if the US can attract as many Chinese visitors as Western Europe. However, making a meaningful gesture has to go beyond putting up a “Huanying” welcome sign in Mandarin.
Staff fluent in Chinese will be highly sought after for concierge and front desk jobs. Tea kettles and a selection of Chinese teas will be provided along with Chinese TV channels. A wider range of Chinese cuisine will be available, and not just for dinner. Congee, chopsticks, chopsticks rests, Chinese spoons and condiments will all be part of the breakfast buffet.
Slippers are traditionally placed at the bedside in China. Hotels popping them into closets have found they get a steady stream of queries about slippers as the closet is apparently the very last place they should be placed. It’s all about knowing the nuances of the Chinese culture and Hilton Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites and Starwood are all keen to make the grade. No doubt the increase in business will be all the xiexie (thank you) they need, from both Chinese and American guests.
An interesting new formula has been created by a travel advisory company, called TripIndex. Basically it is the travelers’ equivalent of the standard shopping basket where the price of identical goods is compared from different sources. TripIndex adds together the cost of one night in a four star luxury hotel, a large cheese pizza from a global pizza chain, a dry martini in the bar of a top-ranking hotel and a five mile taxi ride in various international cities. It looks something like this:
4*Night + Pizza + Martini + Taxi = ?
They ranged widely across the globe from Bangkok at $85.71 to Paris at $362.28.
There is no surprise in the fact that there is a wide difference between costs in an Asian city and the pinnacle of European class, Paris. However, the index was applied to cities in the U.S. which also showed almost as wide a difference. Las Vegas produced all four items for $121.30 while the same four items in New York City cost $324.38 – over $200 more!
Those looking for a good value location to host their next business conference or family reunion should look at Dallas ($173.37), New Orleans ($177.23), Atlanta ($177.34), Minneapolis ($189.69) or Orlando ($200.89).
The most expensive U.S. cities for a weekend away, besides New York, would be Boston ($301.32), Washington D.C. ($291.12), Chicago ($257.82), San Francisco ($254.69) or Honolulu ($238.78).
It certainly pays to do your homework, although hotel booking companies that specialize in luxury hotels, such as Luxique.com will always offer the best deals wherever in the world you choose to visit.
Destined to become one of the most comprehensive entertainment resorts in the world, Magic World Russia is Moscow’s answer to western theme parks which attract millions of visitors every year. It is planned as a collaborative effort between Russia and a consortium of California based companies with a proven track record in entertainment and leisure. The Goddard Group’s latest success is the Ferrari Park in Abu Dhabi and it also has weighty clients such as Universal Studios, Six Flags theme parks and Warner Bros. in its litany of successful ventures.
The 600-acre park will have rides and resorts promoting Russia’s rich history and cultural heritage. Located 50 km from the center of Moscow, the projected annual visitor number is 10-12 million Russians per year and the project will create thousands of jobs in this “first” for Russia.
Highlights of Magic World Russia will include a few unique areas including:
• World Without Boundaries – a park specifically designed for Special Needs Children
• Extreme Sports Park – indoor sky diving, rock wall climbing and more
• Winter Garden Magic Fountain Park – think Bellagio with a symphony of fountains
• St Petersburg City Street – shopping and dining surrounded by classic St Petersburg architecture
• Nanopolis – an edu-tainment experience where children try out various careers
• Hollywood Studios where visitors can visit their favorite films through rides and interactive experiences
• Magic Family Park for families with children
• Waterparks with enclosed beach resorts
• Park Russia – highlighting Russian cultural heritage, folklore and accomplishments in space
• Thrill Ride Park – adrenalin-pumping activity and gravity-defying rides
All these attractions will be within easy reach of some of Europe’s finest luxury hotels in Moscow.