Luxury Hotels Worldwide

Archive for October, 2007

Raffles To Manage Historic Le Royal Monceau In The Heart Of Paris

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Raffles Hotels & Resorts has yesterday signed an agreement with Royal Monceau Pte Ltd to manage the historic Le Royal Monceau hotel in Paris. The hotel will join Raffles Hotels & Resorts’ award winning collection of luxury properties in winter 2008.
Le Royal Monceau is jointly owned by Alexandre Allard and Qatari developer, Barwa Real Estate, with Mr. Allard assuming majority ownership. Alexandre Allard is a well respected French entrepreneur, known for his association with luxury brands and his visionary ventures. His heartfelt passion and vision for Le Royal Monceau is an inspiration, bringing together the sophistication of Parisian culture and the inimitable service for which Raffles is renowned worldwide.

Le Royal Monceau is scheduled for refurbishment in 2008 and is greatly anticipated to re-open as a 21st century French masterpiece, fully restored to its former glory under the creative eye of renowned French designer, Philippe Starck. When it re-opens, the hotel will feature 152 of the most spacious and luxurious rooms and suites in Paris, with each guestroom exuding the elegance and residential charm that Raffles hotels and resorts are known for, while maintaining Le Royal Monceau’s unique style which celebrates the French tradition of ‘art de vivre’.

Raffles Hotels & Resorts will also introduce several environmentally friendly practices, such as the use of Hybrid cars, a solar energy heated swimming pool and recycling processes for water, when Le Royal Monceau makes its re-debut in 2008.
 
Le Royal Monceau enjoys an unsurpassed location on Avenue Hoche, just minutes from the famous Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysees. The hotel opened in 1928, and since then has welcomed numerous dignitaries, celebrities and artists.

Each level of the hotel will feature a private lobby and residents will be able to enjoy residency in rooms that offer features unique in Paris, such as rooms with a view of the hotel’s generous landscaped gardens – a rarity in Paris, elegantly appointed duplex suites, and rooms complemented with private balconies. Each room will be individually designed and decorated with modern artwork and contemporary colour palates to exude a timeless feel.

When re-opened, Le Royal Monceau will offer 5 exquisite dining and bar options. From Italian favourites enjoyed al fresco style in the midst of an enchanting landscaped garden, to French cuisine in a fine dining ambience, gourmet aficionados will have much to revel in.

Residents seeking a sophisticated luxury spa experience will find the new Spa at Royal Monceau an ideal sanctuary in which to indulge in the joy of living well. With more treatment rooms to cater for the demand from wellness seekers, a beautifully redesigned indoor swimming pool and a new fitness centre with top of the range equipment, the Spa promises to be a haven of wellness and bliss.

With a team of private butlers, when Le Royal Monceau re-opens, residents will be pampered with attentive and intuitive service, all undertaken in the heartfelt and gracious
manner for which Raffles is renowned. Residents wishing to discover some of the best kept secrets in Paris, the fashion mecca of the world, can also seek the advice of an in-house Fashion Advisor and Personal Shopper.

Le Royal Monceau will make a precious addition to Raffles Hotels & Resort’s collection of heritage properties, which includes Raffles Hotel Singapore, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Beijing Hotel, China. The Group’s approach to the restoration of historic buildings is underscored with a deep respect for each building’s treasured memories. This sensitivity has earned for each of its heritage hotels and resorts global recognition as among the finest in the world.

Said Alexandre Allard, President Royal Monceau Pte Ltd., ‘Raffles Hotels & Resorts is renowned not only for its expertise in hospitality, service and culinary excellence, but also for its appreciation and respect for local culture. Under the Raffles management, Le Royal Monceau will be the epitome of gracious hospitality imbued with true Parisian spirit. We are very pleased to be working with Raffles, and have no doubt that discerning travellers to Paris will find Le Royal Monceau, a veritable Palace of the 21st century.’

‘We are delighted to have been entrusted with this historic property, and to bring the Raffles name to this much sought-after destination. With its array of old and new world attractions, Paris continues to be the destination of choice for millions of visitors each year,’ commented Bill Fatt, Chief Executive Officer, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. “We look forward to working with our partners to fully refurbish and restore Le Royal Monceau to its original grandeur.”

Diana Ee-Tan, Managing Director, Raffles Hotels & Resorts added, ‘We have always wanted to extend the presence of Raffles to Paris, and we are thrilled that we now have this opportunity to be a part of this vibrant city. Le Royal Monceau will be distinguished by the heartfelt service, refined ambience and residential charm that Raffles hotels and resorts around the world are known for, to become the favoured home-away-from-home for privileged travellers to Paris.’

The Verandah Resort & Spa Debuts in Antigua

Monday, October 29th, 2007

The Verandah Resort & Spa Debuts in Antigua and is in the process of receiving green certification

“This is a very special place. We’ve only built on 12 of the resort’s 30 acres, making the resort one of the most spacious Caribbean properties,” says Steven E. Heydt, Elite Island Resorts president. “We designed the property with an emphasis on environmental responsibility and sustainable tourism, while not sacrificing the luxury aspects of an upscale resort.”

Overlooking the calm, reef-protected waters of stunning Dian Bay, the resort features hiking trails and is bordered by Devil’s Bridge National Park with its dramatic landmark rock arch. The tranquil waters of the resort’s two sheltered beaches invite guests to swim and enjoy non-motorized water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and snorkeling. The resort has the island’s largest free-form swimming pool, a dedicated kid’s club with its own pool and restaurant, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a mini-cinema, as well as a choice of restaurants and bars. Plus, the signature Tranquility Spa draws on rejuvenating and exotic techniques from around the world, including Thai Yoga massage and Sabai Stone treatments.

Its 200 villa-style suites all feature the resort’s glorious namesake verandahs with incredible views of the crystal clear sea. Suites have indulgent touches such as flat-screen TVs, king-size beds, Internet access, and romantic soaking bathtubs built for two, plus homey touches such as a microwave, mini-fridge and a living room area. Built on pier and post construction that resembles stilts, the suites afford unobstructed ocean or bay views and enable greenery to grow under and around each structure to blend with the environment.

Sandals Resorts Introduces ‘Luxury Included Experience’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Known for their leadership in Caribbean travel, Sandals will once again raise the bar among distinctive resort destinations with the introduction of the Luxury Included Vacation and a collection of luxury suites in Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia and the Bahamas. The new luxury experience at Sandals will feature unprecedented services and amenities including private plunge pools and Jacuzzis, exclusive dining options, and celebrated partnerships with celebrity designers Preston Bailey and Sylvia Weinstock, Rolls Royce; the London-based Guild of Professional English Butlers, Beringer Wines, Waterford Crystal and Red Lane Spa.

Perched on a west facing hilltop overlooking the sea in Antigua, Sandals Resorts’ new Mediterranean Village at the Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa is the first all-suite property to welcome guests for the luxury included experience. The Mediterranean Village features 180 spacious suites in six room categories, all boasting spectacular ocean views and a Mediterranean flair.

“This is a defining moment for Sandals Resorts.  We have moved beyond the all-inclusive category and the often maligned all-inclusive connotation,” says Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Sandals Resorts Chairman. “The opening of the Mediterranean Village signifies and celebrates a new direction for our 26-year-old company. We are a resort company dedicated to choice, style, service and uncompromising standards.  With ever-more spectacular suites, uncompromising service, enhanced food & beverage, lavish spas, luxury amenities and our social conscious programs – no other Caribbean resort transforms vacation fantasies into memorable realities better than we do. We are the Luxury Included vacation.” 

EXPERIENCES
The Arrival

From the moment a guest steps out of their luxury transfer and into a Sandals Luxury Included resort they are transported by the commanding views of the ocean and beyond. Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts, envisioned a complete experience from arrival to departure for guests at each one of his unique Caribbean properties. Guests who select Sandals’ top suites are met upon arrival by their personal butler, who whisks them away to their lavish suite, and ensures that every whim is catered to throughout their stay.  From retreating to your cliff-top sanctuary in St. Lucia to diving into your private plunge pool or relaxing in your two-story loft set within a coconut grove, Sandals encourages guests to interact with the surrounding nature without compromising luxury.

The Suites

According to Chairman and Founder of Sandals Resorts, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, when guests of Sandals Resorts arrive at a resort, they look to find amenities and an aesthetic that exceeds that which they enjoy in their everyday lives.  The look and feel of the new suites debuting this year at Sandals in Antigua, St. Lucia and Jamaica were developed with these design-savvy customers in mind.

“We’ve watched the luxury trend very carefully and have transformed the suites at Sandals – investing over $200 million in the last three years alone to meet these demands,” says Stewart. “Across the Sandals brand, suites comprise forty four percent of all room inventories, well above industry standard. As our company has evolved, so too has the Sandals Resorts customer.”

Every appointment and every last detail of these suites reflect a passion for luxury and romance that sets Sandals Resorts apart as a leader in the industry. Customary to the world’s finest resort and hotels, accommodation at all Sandals Resorts provide four-poster king size mahogany beds, ceiling fans, amenity kits, private baths and showers, CD clock radios, cable TV, coffee & tea makers and fully-stocked mini refrigerators.  To this, Sandals has enhanced the layout of its resorts’ top category suites to deliver accommodations that are not only exotic in design, but also provide luxurious paradise and a fantasy-like atmosphere that guests look for in a Caribbean getaway. 

Sandals Grande Antigua’s new Mediterranean Village, where suites in six categories feature palatial marble bathrooms with his and hers vanities and mosaic tiling, Jacuzzi tubs built for two with separate shower areas and overhead rain showers, additional living areas and large plasma televisions.

Sandals Grande St. Lucian, the resort’s new Rondoval Suites, circular cottages first introduced at Sandals Grande Antigua, offer guests 1,400 square feet of luxury, complete with a 50″ plasma television, separate sitting area with a sofa and desk, in-room Jacuzzi tub and separate shower area with glass mosaic tiling. Outside, on the suite’s private pool deck, two people in love can dip into their private outdoor Jacuzzi or sparkling plunge pool, complete with its own waterfall. 

Sandals Regency in St. Lucia will debut six lavish Million Dollar Suites in late 2008.  Each Mediterranean-style suite will combine 700 square feet of living space and 400 square feet of outdoor space to make one dramatic and very indulgent private villa.  A spacious and welcoming living room with plush sofas and a 42″ plasma television will open to the outdoor terrace through plantation-style pocket doors offering full 180-degree views of the emerald isle.

Sandals Negril and Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica recently unveiled soothing new Swim-Up River Suites.  These new suites are set upon a relaxing lazy river and pool.  The ground floor of the Swim-Up River Suites at both resorts feature a secluded patio surround by lush Caribbean vegetation that opens onto the resorts’ lazy river where lovers can dip their toes into the soothing waterway.  Indoors, the suites feature expansive living rooms complete with 42″ plasma televisions and separate bedroom areas with 37″ plasma televisions.  Each extravagant suite is outfitted with custom furnishings and tropically inspired décor, with a spacious bedroom with a four-poster mahogany bed, a marvelous bathroom with marble and hand-cut mosaic tile accents, plus a Jacuzzi tub and his and her vanities.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island Located on a pristine 13-mile stretch of the stunning white sand crystalline shores of Nassau’s world-renowned Cable Beach in The Bahamas.  The resort offers luxurious accommodations in thirteen categories. 

Exclusive Suite Concierge Service is available in nine categories including the Royal Windsor Beachfront One Bedroom Suite. These extravagant suites offer oceanfront views and exquisite furnishings, large master bedroom, substantial living room with private patio or balcony and decadent bathrooms complete with romantic Roman soaking tub and large vanity area. Guests staying in the Royal Windsor suites enjoy VIP Rolls Royce airport transfers, 24-hour room service and members only dining at Gordon’s on the Pier Restaurant.

SERVICE

Sandals Resorts has embarked in an exclusive partnership with the Guild of Professional English Butlers to become the only Caribbean resort member. The London-based Guild is renowned for its training of individuals worldwide for careers in Five Star hotels, Royal Palaces of Great Britain, Embassies in various capital cities and private households. 

The Sandals Butlers, trained and certified by the Guild, take pride in knowing guests preferences prior to their arrival at the resort.  They attend to guests’ every need including private in-suite check-in, unpacking and packing of clothing, providing specialized services such as drawing a scented bubble bath or even orchestrating in-suite gourmet dining on their private terrace

EXPLORE

Sandals Cay Private Island

Just minutes from Sandals Royal Bahamian lies the exotic, tropical isle of Sandals Cay, the resort’s very own private offshore island. Pristine beaches of silky white sand await guests who want to sneak away from the main resort to spend some time exploring the natural Bahamian paradise.  Two beaches offer two diverse settings for guests – one beach is the perfect hideaway for sunbathers and the other is a snorkeler’s paradise offering some of the most exquisite underwater displays in all the Caribbean.  The island boasts its own restaurant, Café Goombay for authentic Bahamian cuisine, a freshwater pool complete with swim-up pool bar and a bubbly Jacuzzi.  Ferries run every hour on the hour beginning at 10am. Private charters can also be arranged.

RELAXATION

Red Lane® Spas

Red Lane® Spas, available at ten Sandals Resorts, combine traditional spa services with a distinctive Caribbean flair.  As part of the new luxury included experience, guests can enjoy lavish spa treatments on the beach or in the privacy of their suite. Treatments utilize ingredients indigenous to the region, like Jamaica’s-own Blue Mountain coffee, exotic sweet Ortanique oranges, local honey and almonds, natural island cane sugar and other tropical delicacies in its therapies.  Treatment venues can be tailored to personal preference from the beach and garden gazebos, to in-room services. In addition to pampering and wellness programs, Sandals Resorts provide guests with an extensive fitness center offering yoga and state-of-the-art equipment and personal training/nutrition counseling.

DINING

Gordon’s On The Pier

A fresh concept in custom-made cuisine, Gordon’s on the Pier is a brand new dining experience designed for guests of Sandals’ highest-level suites.  With an emphasis on the freshest seafood, Gordon’s elevates the al fresco dining experience to new heights. Open at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island and Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort, Gordon’s on the Pier is part of the luxury included dining experience exclusively available to Butler Service Level guests serving exceptional selections from international to seafood fare in a private atmosphere.  The innovative menu complete with white glove service features fresh local ingredients and a variety of hand selected steaks.  All other resort guests are invited to make a reservation (based on availability) and enjoy this impeccable world-class culinary experience at an additional cost.

Private Dining

Beyond the traditional, Sandals also offers guests several unique dining options, including the new ‘Water Dining’ experience at Sandals Montego Bay in Jamaica, where guests can dip their toes in the Caribbean sea while partaking in a spectacular feast of local cuisine. In addition to 24-hour room service, private dining has become an increasingly popular option with guests selecting from pre-set menus or giving free reign to Sandals’ award-winning chefs. Candlelight beachfront dinners can be arranged on a private terrace, under a canopy on the beach or poolside. Additional gourmet adventures include market tours, cooking classes and “Vineyard Dinners,” inspired by Sandals’ fresh relationship with Beringer Wines and featuring multiple-course meals paired with extraordinary wines.     

CELEBRATION

Preston Bailey Signature WeddingMoons®

Preston Bailey, the internationally celebrated event designer and wedding planner, partnered with Sandals Resorts to create Preston Bailey Signature WeddingMoons®, a selection of four exceptional wedding packages available exclusively at Sandals and Beaches Resorts through the WeddingMoons® program. Author of Design for Entertaining and Fantasy Weddings, Preston personally created one-of-a-kind events for celebrity clients such as Donald and Melania Trump, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matt Lauer, Donna Karan and Oprah Winfrey, and now WeddingMoons® guests can enjoy a Preston Bailey wedding experience in the idyllic island setting of Sandals and Beaches Caribbean properties. The packages, offered as an enhancement to the standard WeddingMoons® program, include inspired settings for the ceremony, striking bouquets and flowers, elegant table décor and innovative keepsakes – all designed by Preston Bailey.

These offerings from Preston Bailey allow those seeking the perfect destination wedding, an increasingly popular trend, a higher level of choices for their special day. Each of the four packages – The Floral Elegance Collection ($1,700), The Water Lily Collection ($2,600), The Seascape Collection ($3,600) and The Crystal Collection ($5,000) – includes beautifully designed wedding settings and décor such as fresh contemporary floral screens or a tree filled with orchids, crystals and candlelight. Specialty wedding cakes designed by Sylvia Weinstock complement the exceptional designs and the beautiful surroundings.  For the ultimate in luxury, Sandals Resorts and Preston Bailey are also developing one of the most lavish wedding experiences as the upper tier in package offerings which includes private jet, special location, a once-in-a-lifetime musical performance and more.

One to watch out for: Trump Hotel Collection

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Ten years after Donald J. Trump unveiled his vision for a luxury condominium hotel at Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, the internationally renowned developer and his three grown children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — are taking the concept worldwide.
Trump Hotel Collection represents the next generation of luxury hospitality — one that promises to raise the bar on the top-end travel experience with a style of customized service that is unmatched.

The brand’s forerunner, Trump International Hotel & Tower New York, will soon be joined by distinctive new sister properties: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (December 2007) and Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas (early 2008). Several additional hotel projects are under development in locations ranging from downtown Manhattan, where the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York is slated for a Spring 2009 opening, to Dubai.

“The creation of the Trump Hotel Collection is a natural extension of our brand in the luxury sector of the hotel industry,” announced Donald J. Trump, chairman and president of The Trump Organization. “Each hotel will be distinguished by outstanding architecture created by some of the finest architects in the world and complemented by the highest level of personalized service. These are great hotels in established and emerging destinations, and we are very proud to launch them around the world.”
 
“The preeminence of the Trump name in the real estate market makes us uniquely qualified to succeed in the luxury hotel arena and bring it to a global market,” added Jim Petrus, chief operating officer of Trump International Hotels Management LLC. “As a new brand, Trump Hotel Collection offers a unique opportunity for the Trump family to make its mark on the international luxury hospitality market. It is an entrepreneurial venture that is a true project of passion for two generations of Trumps.”

Each hotel in the Trump Hotel Collection will be new construction, with distinctive architecture that will add a bold statement and a sense of intrigue to the local landscape. And each will be further distinguished by world-class dining experiences, the personalized services of a Trump Attache, and the unprecedented pampering of The Spa at Trump. Several current developments have a residential and/or condominium component, combining luxury residences with spacious hotel accommodations.

Trump Attache

Introduced at Trump International Hotel & Tower New York a decade ago, Trump Attache is expanding into a brand-wide program that dedicates an entire department to delivering uncompromising, individualized service to every hotel guest upon request. Complementing the concierge and going beyond butler service, the Attache meticulously records individual preferences and maintains a detailed guest history to ensure that no stay feels like the first and no request needs repeating. This includes everything from arranging for an in-room chef or personal trainer to stocking kitchens with favorite groceries, printing personalized business cards and stationery, shopping for gifts, arranging special in-suite appointments for children, and meeting transportation needs from limousines to private jets.

The Spa at Trump

The Spa at Trump will make its brand debut at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago. Each spa will be distinguished by world-class facilities and an unprecedented level of luxury and personalization. Signatures of The Spa at Trump will include a choice of Trump-inspired Personal Intentions with corresponding signature treatments, an exclusive line of skin-care products and services by Kate Somerville, a selection of treatments designed for each location, and a personal Spa Attache to guide each guest through the spa journey.

Accommodations

All guest accommodations in the Trump Hotel Collection — ranging from spacious guest rooms to expansive, three-bedroom suites — will be residential in style, luxurious in appointment, and supremely comfortable, with custom-designed furnishings and the latest technology for business and entertainment. Premium bedding will include fine linens such as 500-thread-count Bellino Italian sheets, feather/down comforters and pillows, and Trump signature sleep systems by Stearns & Foster. Gourmet kitchens will be fully equipped with elegant wood cabinetry and top-of-the-line appliances by such world-class names as Subzero, Wolf and Miele, while sumptuous bathrooms will pamper with deep soaking bathtubs, separate showers, and elegant details from premium fixtures to custom vanities. Each location will offer special amenities such as fresh flowers, in-suite coffee service, local books and magazines to enhance the elegant, residential ambience and provide a sense of place.

Future Developments

Trump Hotel Collection is poised for a global expansion. Currently under development are projects in Baja, Mexico, Cap Cana, Dominican Republic, Chicago, Dubai, U.A.E., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York’s SoHo, Panama City, Panama, Toronto, Aberdeen, Scotland, and Waikiki, Hawaii. Trump Hotel Collection, a division of The Trump Organization, is headquartered at Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

Sheraton Seattle Now Largest Hotel In Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

$130 Million Expansion and Renovation Project Complete Making the Sheraton the Largest Hotel in the Pacific Northwest 

The Sheraton Seattle, located in the heart of downtown Seattle, Wash., is excited to announce the completion of its $130 million multi-phase expansion, making it the premier meeting and convention hotel destination in the Pacific Northwest. The hotel now boasts 1,258 guest rooms – 420 of those rooms in the new 25-story Union Street Tower – as well as 75,000 square feet of flexible meeting and banquet space, a contemporary new lobby featuring the Link@Sheraton, a lobby lounge and a Daily Grill restaurant. Since the Sheraton Seattle opened in 1982, it has hosted numerous world leaders, presidents and entertainers, and with this new renovation will continue in that tradition of providing an exceptional experience for events and guests from around the world.

To celebrate this milestone and the hotel’s 25th anniversary, the Sheraton Seattle hosted a full day of exciting events beginning with a free concert with Kool & The Gang in the porte cochere for thousands of downtown businesses and Seattleites to show their appreciation for their continued support. Celebration events continued into the evening with a VIP party where the new Union Street Tower lit up the new Seattle skyline.

‘We are thrilled to be welcoming our guests to the new Sheraton Seattle,’ said Keri Robinson, general manager of the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. ‘This major milestone builds on the hotel’s premier status as a destination and allows us to continue to be an international gateway to visitors of this incredible city.’
 
The expansion project included 420 new guest rooms complete with flat panel televisions and modern furniture creating an overall feeling of warmth and comfort. The lobby was renovated with classic and rich textures with inviting seating around a centrally located fireplace for an upscale ambiance. Two new entrances to the hotel were also created on Pike Street and Union Street, allowing easier access to and from the Washington Convention & Trade Center. Original artworks by renowned glass sculpturist, Dale Chihuly, are featured throughout the hotel. The Sheraton Seattle is recognized as being the first large hotel in the nation to feature original artwork in all its guestrooms and public areas, and that tradition continues in the form of paintings, lithographs, sculptures and photographs – a collection of art valued well over $1 million.

‘We are extremely excited about this grand opening and the new opportunities that the Sheraton Seattle will bring,’ said Hoyt Harper, Senior Vice President – Sheraton Brand, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. ‘This enthusiasm from the entire Starwood team stems from the continued growth of the Sheraton Seattle, and its wonderful staff that embodies the values and customer experience of Sheraton.’

The addition of the guest rooms and the expansion of the ballrooms and meeting space have already enabled the Sheraton Seattle and Seattle’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sales teams to book over $275 million in convention center business for 2007. As the Pacific Northwest’s largest hotel adjacent to the convention center, the Sheraton Seattle now has the ability to commit group blocks of 1,000 rooms.

“The eagerly-awaited expansion to the Sheraton Seattle Hotel offers another major convention selling feature for Seattle,” said Don Welsh, President and CEO of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. ‘With the Sheraton now offering 1,258 rooms and suites, we now have the ability to offer convention planners the convenience of a 1,000-plus room block within a minute’s walk to the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. This is a great enhancement to the convention and meetings market in Seattle.’

The expanded ballrooms and meeting spaces, along with several midsize meeting rooms, three new kitchens and expanded service elements, allow the Sheraton flexibility to host a large number of events, galas and meetings simultaneously. The ballrooms have also been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology allowing for multi-media presentations and expanded meeting capabilities.

‘We have always enjoyed a great relationship with the Sheraton for our technical events,’ said Forrest Ward, director of global readiness programs, Microsoft. ‘And we were very pleased with the beautiful expansion that’s currently come on-line and what’s planned for the future. It’s important for us to keep our events in Seattle, close to our corporate and product group speakers, and adding extra hotel and meeting capacity will support this goal.’

Seattle-based Callison was selected to handle the architectural design of the tower and Skanska USA Building Inc. serves as the project’s general contractor.

‘Offering a winning combination of signature warm, welcoming service, superior amenities and a prime location the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the Sheraton Seattle truly represents the future direction of the Sheraton brand,” said Hoyt Harper, senior vice president, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. ‘It is wonderful to stand here today and celebrate this milestone with the entire Sheraton Seattle team.’

About Sheraton Seattle Hotel
The Sheraton Seattle Hotel, recipient of Meetings and Conventions Gold Key Award, is located at 1400 Sixth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 850 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.

For the love of nature: Thanda a finalist in 2007 Imvelo Awards

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Thanda Private Game Reserve in Hluhluwe has been selected as a finalist in the 2007 Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism for its social commitment to uplifting its surrounding communities. Imvelo, which means ‘nature’ in the Nguni languages, supports the guidelines framing the concept of responsible tourism and encourages establishments within the tourism industry to adopt social and environmental awareness campaigns. Since its inception in 2002, Thanda Private Game Reserve has committed to the ethos, ‘for the love of nature, wildlife and dear ones’ to ensure that the creation and running of the five-star lodge has had minimal impact on the surrounding communities and ecosystems.

In true celebration of nature and its impeccable timing, someone must have switched the switch for Spring “on”, as Thanda welcomed an elephant calf and three lion cubs to its ever-increasing stock of game this September.

“On the morning of September 26th our guides saw the Lioness with the 3 cubs for the first time. They didn’t stay on the road for very long, but the guests did manage to get a picture of one of the cubs. I can’t wait to see them myself. I was only able to go out in the afternoon and saw the big elephant bull close to Base Camp. He didn’t even look at the vehicle when he walked passed. It’s the same Bull that was up at the Lodge the other night. I got a message a little later that the male lion was at the bomas again with the
cheetahs”.
(Mariana Venter, Wildlife Researcher)

Sky’s the limit as luxury hotels find prime locations in Union Square

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Two of the world’s leading luxury hotel groups have booked prime locations at Union Square to serve people using the ICC Tower and visitors to Hong Kong as a whole. The W Hotel chain, the boutique hotel wing of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, will take up residence in one of The Cullinan towers alongside the ICC, while the Ritz-Carlton will occupy the top 16 floors of the 118-storey International Commerce Centre (ICC) to make it the tallest hotel in the world.

For the Ritz-Carlton, it also means a farewell to the Hong Kong Island side of the harbour, where its premises in Central will be redeveloped into offices, and a venture into a new era with a six-star hotel helping to form the centrepiece of the West Kowloon project. The new hotel’s ballroom, for instance, would be able to accommodate 500 people compared with 280 in the Hong Kong Island ballroom, Mr Lettenbichler, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong general manager, said.

The district offers W Hotel what Sherwood sees as the best possible location for the brand’s first foray into Hong Kong when it opens its 400-bedroom premises in the first quarter of next year. The 300-bedroom Ritz-Carlton will have to wait until 2010, when the ICC Tower is completed, for its grand opening. “It’s true that there were very few suitable locations in Hong Kong. But looking around the whole of Kowloon, this [location] is definitely ideal,” said Stephen Ho, vice-president with Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts, which also runs the Sheraton chain. Mr Lettenbichler said the location would provide the 300-bedroom hotel with more space and enable it to target a modern, trend-driven clientele without losing its traditional customer base and reputation for comfort.

“It is going to be unique occupying the top floors of a 490-metre high building, not only from a view standpoint but in the direction we are going as a hotel group,” said Mr Lettenbichler, who is also regional vice-president of the Ritz-Carlton Group, and chairman of Hong Kong Hotels Association.

“Within the ICC Tower itself there will be massive office space and the area is already being seen as posing a big chance for the corporate finance community to move out of Central,” he said. “It is not just the hotel which is an attraction, but the whole complex and its relationship with retail, the workplace, and leisure and entertainment.”

Mr Ho and Mr Lettenbichler pointed to opportunities offered by the transport network with the Union Square’s proximity to Kowloon Airport Express Station, future rail links to the New Territories and the mainland, and bus and taxi ports beneath the complex and pick-up and drop-off points on the approaches to the ICC entrance and The Cullinan. “We look at it as the future with a lot of activities once the whole cultural hub complex comes about,” Mr Ho said. 

Marriott International Introduces Executive Apartments Brand to South Korea

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Third Marriott Property Opens in Seoul

Marriott International has opened the 103-room luxury hotel Yeouido Park Centre, Seoul – Marriott Executive Apartments in Seoul, South Korea under a management agreement with re-plus corporation, based in Tokyo.

The general manager is Ty Collins. Chung-Ki Kim is the director of sales and marketing.

Yeouido Park Centre, Seoul – Marriott Executive Apartments is located in the burgeoning financial and economic area of Yeouido, located on the Han River. The area is home to numerous international companies such as 3M and LG electronics. In distinct contrast to the lively metropolitan location, the hotel is situated next to the Yeouido National Park, offering running and bicycle trails amid the delicate Japanese cherry blossoms.

The hotel offers 103 elegantly furnished studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments offering stunning, technologically enhanced apartments with unexpected pleasures like heated floors, blissful rainfall showers, gourmet restaurant and wine bar and a luxurious full-service spa. Other amenities include a fully equipped kitchen with microwave and dishwasher and separate dining area. Each apartment features a home entertainment system with large LCD television in both the living room and master bedroom. In addition, each apartment is equipped with its own washer and dryer.
 
Yeouido Park Centre, Seoul – Marriott Executive Apartments will entice guests with delectable cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, Park Café. Park Café will offer a full menu throughout the day with tantalizing offers from the grill. A lounge bar completes the dining experience with a festive glass wine bar offering an impressive list of vintages.

To complete this luxurious experience, the hotel will feature an incredible SOO Spa. The nine treatment room SOO spa will treat guests to lavish spa treatments featuring Elemis and Pure Fiji spa products. The hotel’s fitness center 6600 square meter fitness center will boast a five-lane pool, equipped with an underwater sound system enabling guests to listen to soothing music as they swim laps.

‘We are thrilled by the continued expansion of our Marriott Executive Apartments brand and to introduce the brand to Seoul,’ said Paul Toner, regional vice president of sales and marketing for Asia-Pacific. ‘This property offers a true haven to business travelers who have a need to be in a market for an extended period of time and expect the unsurpassed amenities this hotel offers.’

Mr. Hirofumi Kang, chief executive officer and representative director of re-plus corporation said, ‘It is our great pleasure to introduce this new hotel and we are delighted to work together with Marriott International on this remarkable property.’

Marriott Executive Apartments are upscale apartments designed to meet the needs of business and leisure travelers planning to stay for an extended period of time. Offering studio to three-bedroom furnished apartments, Marriott Executive Apartments offer the privacy and comfort of a residential environment with the convenience of hotel services and amenities. Each property is influenced by local design elements and feature state-of-the-art facilities and technology.

Currently there are 15 Marriott Executive Apartment hotels throughout the world. They are located in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Prague, Budapest, Brussels, Dubai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai London, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Seoul and Beijing. Nine future openings are scheduled including the 95-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Bahrain (2007) and the 120-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Doha, Qatar (2007).

Yeouido Park Centre, Seoul – Marriott Executive Apartments, along with over 2,500 Marriott-affiliated hotels worldwide, participates in Marriott Rewards, the guest reward program that allows members to earn their choice of points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay.