The newest boutique hotel in South Beach Miami to open its doors is Lords South Beach on exclusive Collins Avenue. It is the first self-identified gay boutique hotel and describes itself as an “appropriately oriented hotel”. It aims to cater to the gay community that gravitates around this bijou area. Located just around the corner from the former Versace mansion, Lords also welcomes straight guests who are open minded enough to be enjoying the South Beach lifestyle.
On the surface this hotel offers much the same as any other boutique hotel in Miami – Frette linens, well-stocked minibars and the latest high-tech equipped guest rooms. One tweak has given room service a new title, Stay Naked Dining, although robes are thoughtfully provided. The hotel also has Bohemian décor with copies of Out magazine scattered carelessly around.
This is one of 1800 TAG approved hotels which are known to enforce non-discriminatory policies and train staff in LGBT sensitivity.
by Gillian at Luxique
The luxury travel market is suddenly being inundated with a new term – “Pop-up”. While the term is common in temporary pop-up seasonal shops, it is also now being applied to hotels. One British company calling itself the “Pop-Up Hotel” specializes in crafting temporary spaces for events and retreats, and other hotel chains are now joining in.
While temporary usually equates to cheap, in the case of the Papaya Playa Project in Mexico, it is anything but. Priced at up to $675 per night, the hotel group Design Hotels has created a pop-up hotel in a series of cabanas and casitas right on the beach at Tulum. Claiming that it offers a luxury “glamping” experience (being a type of glamorous camping) it does promise high thread count sheets, a spa incorporating Mayan shamanism and food from KaterHolzig, better known for its Berlin Bar 25 fame.
Design Hotel Founder Claus Sendlinger also plans to bring famous DJs and musicians to perform on the natural amphitheater on the beach, introduce an on-site designer boutique and offer the luxury traveler perks such as sustainable and organic food-on-the-go.
Not to be outdone, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas luxury hotel is offering a Pop-Up Wedding Chapel for a short time. There is a choice of ceremonies: the Hitched in a Hurry economy package which includes a photo booth picture and space eraser rings, or the deluxe “Going to the Chapel” package which has a silk flower bouquet, logo tee shirts and party favors.
by Gillian at Luxique
There have been plenty of news articles about the theft of hotel items, but one chain of luxury hotels in Australia is actually encouraging it. Each of the Art Series Hotels in Melbourne is named after a well-known artist and aims to attract art lovers, seekers of culture, corporate travellers and those who enjoy the good life. From December 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012 they are also encouraging those with a slight criminal tendency to book a room.
Guests are being challenged to steal an original artwork by Banksy, best known for his graffiti-style. Those caught in the act will simply have to admit defeat and rehang the painting, but anyone who gets clean away with the painting gets to keep the AUS$15,000 signed masterpiece as the prize. The challenge was to lift the Banksy original “No Ball Games” and two female guests did indeed use all their cunning and guile to persuade the staff to actually load the painting into their car on December 19, claiming it had to be moved to another hotel.
Previous failed attempts including guests hacking into the CCTV system; placing a listening device beneath the Reception desk and countless requests for false housekeeping issues in a vain attempt to get staff to leave the painting unattended.
The Art Theft challenge continues with a second Banksy original now hanging. Guests have until January 15 to make off with “Pulp Fiction”, by fair means or foul!
Luxury hotel chain Hyatt has joined with Michelle Obama, Honorary Chair for Partnership with Healthier America, in creating new healthier menus for children. Currently Hyatt Hotels serves nearly 3 million children as guests in their hotels each year. They now pledge to provide a children’s menu with an “improved nutritional profile” in the fight against childhood obesity.
Changes that Hyatt guests will notice include making non-fat and low-fat milk available with free refills, alongside sodas. The children’s menu will be headed with a meal option that meets the MyPlate Federal guidelines for low-calorie healthy food and Hyatt will ensure that illustrations depict the nutritious options. Other changes in the menu should see fruit and vegetables arriving automatically on a child’s plate instead of fries or chips, and french toast will be made from wholegrain bread rather than white bread as at present.
Adult guests are not exempt from the new healthier standards as Hyatt vows to revamp recipes to reduce calories, sugar and sodium. They already serve cage-free eggs in all restaurant and room-service options. All Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt properties will have the new improved menus in place by the end of 2012 and the hotel aims to reduce calorie intake by 10% across all its menus within three years. Kimpton Hotels has a Healthy Choice Menu with all choices under 500 calories and the Pierre in New York is also featuring lower calorie dishes.
While promoting these new healthy options is commendable, will it really impress loyal guests? And will other movers and shakers in the luxury hotel industry follow the Hyatt’s lead?
As airlines cut back on VIP services, luxury hotels are stepping in to fill the gap by offering new airport services to their valued guests. One of the first luxury hotels to see the need for a resident airport concierge was the Peninsula Beverly Hills. They now employ a team of five staff to meet guests at Los Angeles International Airport and help departing guests by securing better seats or helping with minor emergencies. The airport concierge service is free on arrival but departing guests are charged $100 per family for speeding them through security and giving them access to private airport lounges.
Luxury hotels in Jamaica, including the Island Outpost Hotel and Round Hill Hotel and Villas offer a similar Club Mobay service at Montego Bay Airport. For $30, departing guests can enjoy speedy processing through security and immigration and can relax in the private hotel lounge with Wi-Fi internet access, a mini-spa and a kid’s corner. The Four Seasons Marrakesh goes one better and whisks its guests out of the line at immigration to a VIP lounge where their passports are checked in comfort. Guests are catching on and are choosing to stay in luxury hotels which offer these valued extras.
As in-flight food becomes an optional extra, luxury hotels are also offering meals-to-go. The Jefferson in Washington D.C., the Four Seasons Seattle and the Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah are all offering delicious lunch boxes for passengers to enjoy in the airport lounge or onboard. Treats include sandwiches made with Creminelli salami, homemade granola bars and honey pops made by the hotel’s resident beekeeper!
Condé Nast Traveler has just released the results of its annual Readers’ Choice survey for the Best Hotel in the World. It revealed that the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai luxury hotel is the 2011 winner of this prestigious title.
In second place was Peninsula House in the Dominican Republic, just ahead of the Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. Luxury hotels in South Africa, which have done very well in tourism awards so far this year, was represented by the Safari Lodge at Phinda Private Game Reserve which was given fourth place.
The awards are chosen by a large cross-section of business and leisure travelers as over 28,000 readers submitted their top choice. The same process was used for readers to vote for the best city in each country. Here the United States winner was Charleston, South Carolina. Quebec City was voted top city in Canada and San Miguel de Allende won for Mexico.
Further awards were given for each continent, giving travelers more ideas for some great city trips. Sydney, Australia was voted the top city to visit in the Oceania section, Buenos Aires won for Central and South America, Kyoto won in Asia and the lovely city of Florence, Italy won the award for best city in Europe.
Despite an onslaught of hype and billions of dollars invested, Dubai did not get a mention until #49 when the Park Hyatt Dubai was named, well behind more modest offerings in England, New Zealand and Greece.
How do you fancy staying in a luxury hotel in Dubai with plasma TV, luxury suites, indoor and outdoor gym, personal limo and gorgeous outdoor swimming pool? The latest luxury resort to open in Dubai is Urban Tails and unfortunately it is just for pets! However no expense is spared in giving them the same top-notch service that their owners might expect from a similar luxury hotel.
Custom-built to keep pets happy while their owners are away, the hotel offers 70 suites for dogs and 40 for cats. Plasma TVs in each room are tuned to familiar programs so the pets don’t feel homesick. Pampered pets are offered beauty treatments in the pet boutique, exercise in the gym and even a day at Doggie Boot Camp. Treadmills and agility courses provide challenging fun for energetic dogs, with their own personal trainers of course.
If transportation is required it is provided in a chauffeur-driven limo. This ultimate pet resort destination has been ranked the world’s first seven star pet destination, with rates from $31 per day to $105 for the Royal Suite. It will certainly ease the guilt trip as doting owners jet off to their own luxury resort destination.
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.
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.