Luxury Hotels Worldwide

Archive for November, 2010

Is it really them and us?!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

There can be no doubt that life with TripAdvisor makes deciding on our chosen hotel just a little easier… so why do some hotels take such a negative view?

Daniel Craig takes a look into the world of hotels, TripAdvisor, relationships and trust and asks hotels to put ‘A Positive Spin on Negative Reviews’

…..So your hotel gets a nasty review. Do you: a) call out the reviewer as a lying, rotten toad; b) sue the reviewer; c) sue TripAdvisor; d) hold a blame-storming meeting and fire a scapegoat; or; e) listen, respond and move on?

Hm…

As the controversy surrounding fraudulent reviews rages, with a consortium of hotels and travel suppliers represented by KwikChex threatening to sue TripAdvisor and reviewers for defamation, hoteliers are beginning to sound as petty and vindictive as the very reviewers they’re protesting.

No question, bad reviews can be damaging to business and harmful to morale, and fake reviews are simply evil. Hoteliers are perfectionists, and our inability to control what is said about us online makes us feel helpless. Yet we still retain full control over how we react. That can mean throwing good energy after bad or using negative feedback to effect positive change.

Traditionally, hoteliers have taken the high road with guest complaints, rising above false claims and unfair criticism to declare with equanimity, “The guest is always right.” Even when the guest is wrong. Or certifiably insane. Social media shouldn’t change that.

It’s ironic that hoteliers are up in arms over a small minority of travelers who stretch the truth in reviews when we’ve been doing exactly that for years in our glossy brochures and carefully worded websites. It’s no wonder travelers have tuned us out, and instead seek the whole story, warts and all, from other travelers and trusted social networks.

And yet out of this “non-troversy” will rise positive change. Travelers are learning that reviews should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. With any luck, travelers and hoteliers will think twice about posting false and fraudulent reviews for fear of reprisal.

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is making greater efforts to be open and communicative with the hotel community. And hotels are finally waking up to the importance of managing their online reputation. According to TripAdvisor, seven percent of negative reviews now receive a hotel response. It’s still a paltry amount, but a promising increase over last year’s four percent.

But if you’re holding out for travel sites to banish anonymity and require proof of stay, don’t hold your breath. Not only would this discourage candor, it would reduce the number of reviews posted. Reviews are powerful search engine juice, and in the battle for visitor traffic no travel site is likely to risk the drop in volume.

So we might as well accept that the playing field has changed. Social media gives a voice to all travelers, from the wise and worldly to the petty and clueless—and yes, to the occasional lying, rotten toad. It’s free speech at its best and worst; to filter out what we don’t like to hear is a form of censorship.

We can’t allow the folly of the few to ruin the benefits of the wisdom of the crowds.

Like high-definition TV, social media shines a bright spotlight on hotels and is callously unforgiving of our flaws. Transparency and authenticity are the order of the day. So we’d best be channeling our energies toward adapting to this new order.
About Daniel Craig
Daniel Edward Craig is a former general manager turned hotel consultant and the author of the Murder at the Universe. His articles and blog about issues in the hotel industry are considered essential reading for hoteliers, travelers and students alike. Visit www.danieledwardcraig.com or email dec@danieledwardcraig.com. Twitter: dcraig.

Holiday Offers at the Ballantyne Hotel, Charlotte

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

A luxury hotel in North Carolina is celebrating the spirit of the season with a glittering array of offers and events. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge features an assortment of signature events such as holiday brunches, Tea with Mrs. Claus and the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge, as well as brand new additions such as Brunch with Santa and New Year’s Day Brunch. In addition, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge recognizes that the holiday season is the perfect time of year to give back to the community with a portion of the proceeds from Tea with Mrs. Claus to benefit the Lift Up Foundation, as well as the proceeds from Gingerbread Village and the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge going to Levine Children’s Hospital.

Holiday Room Rates
For visiting family and friends or an escape from a hectic holiday season, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge is the place to stay with a special rate starting at $179. The holiday rate is available November 19 through November 30 and December 17 through January 9, 2011. To make a reservation, visit www.theballantynehotel.com or call 1-888-627-8048.

Holiday Events at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge
From elegant ballrooms to Gallery Restaurant’s intimate Ardissone Room, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge offers a variety of exceptional event space options for social events. Holiday brunch, lunch and dinner packages start at $30 per guest. In addition, the hotel is offering 10% off parties hosted Sunday – Thursday as well as a complimentary room for the planner. Food & beverage minimums do apply. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge’s staff of experienced catering managers will plan the event from start to finish, taking care of all details to ensure that this holiday season is as stress-free as possible. For more information, please call 704-248-4035 or e-mail celebrations@theballantynehotel.com.

Thanksgiving Brunch
Join The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for a favorite tradition with Thanksgiving Brunch on Thursday, November 25, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Leave the cooking to The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, and enjoy an endless array of seasonal salads, decorative displays, carving stations with regional accompaniments and decadent desserts. Cost is $55 per person, $28 for children, ages 5-12, and complimentary for children ages 4 and under (pricing does not include tax and gratuity). Private dining rooms are available for larger groups.  Reservations are required. To make a reservation, please call 704-248-4100 or visit www.gallery-restaurant.com.

Hot Chocolate & Toddies
Get cozy at the Veranda on Friday – Sunday, 3 pm – 5 pm throughout December. Enjoy hot chocolate with the option to add Godiva liqueurs and a selection of garnishes. The cost is $5 and $8 with liqueur.

Tea with Mrs. Claus
On Sunday, December 5, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., celebrate the holidays with all things girly at this year’s Tea with Mrs. Claus honoring Ellie Potvin, a beautiful little girl who lost her courageous battle with pediatric cancer earlier this year. This perfectly pink tea will be the ultimate tea gathering for little ladies and their mothers with sweet treats, crafts and story time. Children are encouraged to wear their holiday best or favorite princess dress. An adult must accompany children. Cost is $40 per child and $20 per adult, with 10% of the proceeds benefiting the Lift Up Foundation, dedicated to supporting families fighting against pediatric cancer. Reservations are required at 704-248-4100.

Gingerbread Village Professional & Amateur Competition
The gingerbread house competition offers two independent categories for professional and amateur entries. The grand prize in both categories is an overnight stay in the luxurious presidential suite at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge with breakfast in bed and dinner for two in Gallery Restaurant. Entry forms are available online at www.theballantynehotel.com. Please contact Erin Hunter at 704-248-4038 or ehunter@theballantynehotel.com for more information. Gingerbread house applications must be submitted by Saturday, December 4 and houses need to be delivered by Friday, December 10. Judging will take place on Saturday, December 11 at 5 p.m.

Gingerbread Village
Enjoy an enchanting collection of gingerbread houses throughout the holiday season. From December 11 through December 26, the creative display is open daily to the public. Attendees may vote on their favorite gingerbread house with $1 minimum donation per vote. All proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital, dedicated to caring for the physical and emotional needs of children and their families. 

Cooking School – No Place Like Home for the Hollandaise
On Saturday, December 11, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., learn how to prepare hearty sauces for the holiday season. The cost is $65 inclusive per person. To make a reservation, please call 704-248-4100.

Brunch with Santa
Santa Claus is coming to The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for brunch on Sunday, December 12, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Children of all ages will enjoy sitting on Santa’s lap and a delightful brunch buffet including breakfast items, a carving station and decadent desserts. Please bring cameras for photos with Santa Claus. The cost is $39.95 for adults, $19.95 for children, ages 5-12, and complimentary for children ages 4 and under (pricing does not include tax and gratuity). Reservations are required at 704.248.4100 or www.gallery-restaurant.com.

Handbell Choir Performance
The Chancel Handbell Choir from First United Methodist Church in Gastonia will perform in the Main Lobby providing holiday cheer for hotel guests and locals on Saturday, December 18, 10 a.m. – Noon.

Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge
The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to showcase a favorite holiday treat or special family recipe at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. On Sunday, December 19, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., enter a homemade cupcake or cookie in the Ultimate Cupcake & Cookie Challenge. The cost for entry is $10, which will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge’s culinary team will select three winners in each category based on taste and presentation. The grand prize for each category is an overnight stay in a Parlor Suite with breakfast in bed. To enter a recipe, please complete the entry form available online at www.theballantynehotel.com. Registrations are due by Thursday, December 9. Contact Katie Saunders at 704-248-4007 or ksaunders@theballantynehotel.com for more information.

Daily Dream – Enchantment Resort, Arizona

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Enchantment Resort

Sedona, Arizona, USA

Luxury Hotels Arizona

Luxury Hotel, Fearrington House receives top award

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The Fearrington House Country Inn has received the 2010 Forbes Five Star Award by Forbes Travel Guide. This is the 12th consecutive year that Fearrington House Country Inn has been awarded their Forbes five star rating.

“We’re so thrilled to receive Forbes’ top award again this year. It’s the result of a team effort; everyone is dedicated to creating the best possible experience for our guests. It’s great to receive this affirmation,” said Theresa Chiettini, General Manager of the Fearrington House Country Inn.

President and CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, Shane O’Flaherty said: “As in years past, the 2011 Five-Star properties share an uncompromising commitment to the highest standards of guest service”

The Fearrington House Country Inn and Restaurant is a member of Relais & Chateaux, an association of the finest restaurants and hotels in the world. The Fearrington House Restaurant is recognized for its sophisticated, European influenced regional cuisine. This celebrated farmhouse restaurant is also a Green Certified Restaurant™. Adjacent to the restaurant is the 32-room Fearrington House Country Inn, which was voted the second best small hotel in the U.S. by the  readers of Conde Nast Traveler in its 2010 readers survey. Rooms are individually decorated and enjoy views of extensive gardens and pastures. Guests also enjoy restaurants, boutique shops and, as of October 2010, a 4,000 square foot spa overlooking the Village Center.

Daily Dream – Vanderbilt Hall Hotel

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Vanderbilt Hall Hotel

Newport, Rhode Island, USA

Luxury Hotels Newport

Peninsula Hotels take a ‘Mini’ Adventure

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

MINI TAKES MANHATTAN AND CHICAGO AS THE PENINSULA WELCOMES NEW BESPOKE MINI COOPER S CLUBMAN CARS

The ultimate accessories for city shopping and sightseeing, suite guests can enjoy the complimentary chauffeur-driven MINIs which continue The Peninsula tradition of customized vehicles

The holidays will bring more than just good tidings beginning in November when The Peninsula New York and The Peninsula Chicago each unveil two customized MINI Cooper S Clubman vehicles. Offered as a complimentary amenity to suite guests, the high-performance head-turners will be a treat for those guests seeking some motoring thrills as they are whisked away for a shopping spree or sightseeing adventure around town.

At The Peninsula New York, guests who book a suite will have access to a MINI for up to three hours per day during their stay. The chauffeured vehicles can be used for shopping excursions or sightseeing around Manhattan. The hotel’s Chef Concierge, Frederick Bigler, has developed a series of self-guided three-hour motoring tours that highlight city sights, from a trip to the famous Cloisters museum located at the very northern tip of Manhattan to a shopping tour of the Meatpacking District, and each experience can be paired with directions and customized tips available on the guest’s choice of an iPhone or iPad, which are available for use during the duration of their trip. As an added enticement, The Peninsula New York is offering The Suite Life promotion providing guests a complimentary second night when booking a two-night suite-level stay.

The Peninsula Chicago offers complimentary use of the chauffeured MINIs to suite-level guests for up to three hours per day. The hotel’s Chief Concierge, Todd Nelson, has designed a series of selfguided tours focusing on popular themes, including: family, culture, romance, outdoor excursions, entertainment, dining and of course, shopping sprees. Guests can direct the driver as they wish within the city limits, or simply use the sample tours provided by the Concierge. Examples of adventures include Famous Chicago Movie Scenes, Chicago Neighborhood Tours, an Engagement Surprise Ride and a Holiday Season Tour. An iPhone is available for guests’ use during their trip and provides directions and information for the various excursions.

“We are pleased to introduce these delightful additions to our transportation fleet,” said Peter Borer, Chief Operating Officer of Peninsula Hotels. “At The Peninsula Hotels, we believe the journey is part of the adventure. With transportation options ranging from rooftop helicopters and helipads to rare vintage cars and our bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms, we have made innovative and luxurious transportation part of the Peninsula signature experience. Our new MINIs offer Peninsula signature style along with that extra bit of flair and fun.”

The Peninsula Hotels has a long history of providing stylish rides for their guests, including the Hong Kong property’s legendary fleet of 14 Rolls-Royce Phantoms and four 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom IIs belonging to The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Peninsula Tokyo, The Peninsula Shanghai and The Peninsula Paris, all finished in signature Peninsula Green. The Peninsula most recently collaborated with BMW, the parent of the Rolls-Royce and MINI brands, to create a custom-made bespoke MINI Cooper S Clubman, with the personalization process of these compact, yet dynamic, vehicles taking over two years to perfect. The MINIs first debuted at The Peninsula Hong Kong in December 2009, and the tradition now continues this November at The Peninsula hotels in New York and Chicago, with Tokyo in January 2011.

Taking into consideration the specific requirements of the hotels and their guests, MINI engineers and designers worked closely with The Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, Chairman of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited and Martin Oxley, The Peninsula Hotels’ Fleet Vehicle Manager, to develop a number of dedicated features. These include a custom-illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills, leather finishing to match the existing Rolls-Royce interiors, and the signature Peninsula Green colour that adorns every vehicle in the hotel’s transport fleet. Each car is also specially fitted with a tailor-made rooftop box providing extra cargo space, a mini-fridge offering complimentary refreshments, and an iPhone to add to guests’ comfort and convenience.

The new Peninsula MINIs are evocative of two larger-than-life toys, reminiscent of the much-loved range of Matchbox® cars dating from the 1950s.

The Peninsula MINI Clubman Specifics:
• Exterior finished in Peninsula Green
• The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited crest on both doors
• Mini fridge in rear for refreshments & cold towels
• iPod/iPhone connection in front and rear for guest use
• Mounted rooftop box to carry guests’ shopping, incorporating The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited crest on front and rear, trimmed in Green Everflex leatherette and printed with Peninsula logo
• Illuminated Peninsula logo on door entry sills
• Rear door, windscreen pillars and filler cap painted in Peninsula Green
• Roof rails • Run-flat tires

Daily Dream – Elsa’s Kopje

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Elsa’s Kopje

Kenya, Africa

Luxury Safari Lodges Kenya

Daily Dream – Six Senses Samui

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Six Senses Samui – A SALA Property

Koh Samui, Thailand

Luxury Hotels Koh Samui

Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa joins the Luxury Collection

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The Luxury Collection from Starwood Hotels & Resorts will take over the day to day operation and manage the Chilean Luxury Hotel Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa. The property will undergo renovations to its rooms and suites and will become a part of The Luxury Collection’s exclusive portfolio in December 2010.

Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa is ideally situated in the Araucanía region 435 miles south of Santiago, surrounded by lakes, volcanoes and mountains. Guests can easily arrive by car, or by plane at the Temuco Airport. The Villarrica and nearby Pucón areas are renowned for their unique natural environment, characterized by snow capped volcanoes, crystal clear lakes and rivers, thermal baths, ski centers and vast national parks. Additionally, the area features the archeological remains of the Spanish colonial period blended with the influence of the “Mapuche” Indigenous culture, Chile’s first inhabitants.

Built in 2002, Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa is surrounded by stunning landscapes and vegetation and has spectacular panoramic views from every one of its 70 rooms and suites. The hotel offers spacious meeting rooms for events, conventions or incentive groups, with state of the art technology and access to its 24-hour business center. The hotel was recently named “Best South America Resort–2010″ by World Travel Awards.

“We are excited to strengthen our presence in Chile, one of the Latin American fastest growing economies,” said Osvaldo Librizzi, President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Latin America. “We are proud to welcome international travelers to our second Luxury Collection Hotel in Chile, joining the San Cristobal Tower Hotel in Santiago. Our guests already trust The Luxury Collection for exceptional and highly personal luxury travel experiences.”

“The Luxury Collection is a portal to the world’s most enriching and desirable destinations, where nothing less than an exceptional level of service, perfect location and indigenous personal offerings will do,” said Paul James, Global Brand Leader, The Luxury Collection and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa, with its unrivaled natural surroundings, will undoubtedly offer global travelers unique and spectacular experiences in one of South America’s most culturally diverse and vibrant destinations.”

“This is an enormous step in the history for our Company. Joining Starwood Hotel’s & Resorts’ acclaimed Luxury Collection brand will significantly increase the recognition of the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel as well as give broader international exposure to the uniqueness of the Aracucania Region located in southern Chile. Additionally, the renovations already underway in anticipation of joining the Luxury Collection Brand will allow us to even better deliver to all our guests the highest level of service which they have come to expect when visiting the hotel,” said Tamara Kaufmann, Executive Director of Grupo Hotelera Aguas Verdes S.A.

Dining at any of the 3 restaurants featured at the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa indulges the senses with diverse menus ranging from modern interpretations of authentic Chilean cuisine to exceptional international dishes. The gourmet restaurant, “Aguas Verdes”, which offers it’s up to 120 guests a spectacular view of Lake Villarrica, serves both local and international cuisine delights.

The hotel’s bar lounge, and both swimming pools also directly look out onto the lake, inviting guests to further relax amidst breathtaking sunsets. Guests are invited to unwind at the hotel’s luxurious spa, featuring a variety of indigenous treatments, fully equipped sauna and steam room, as well as a fitness center and indoor/outdoor pools.

With the opening of the Villarrica Park Lake Hotel & Spa, Starwood Hotels & Resorts operates 7 hotels in Chile including the San Cristobal Tower, A Luxury Collection Hotel, W Santiago, Sheraton Santiago Hotel & Convention Center, Sheraton Miramar Hotel & Convention Center in Viña del Mar Four Points by Sheraton Santiago and Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles. In Latin America, Starwood is proud to feature 11 stunning and unique Luxury Collection Hotels in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru, among its 64 properties located in 12 Latin American countries.

The Langham Xintiandi Opens in Shanghai

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

In Shanghai all roads lead to Xintiandi, a collection of glamorous stores, international restaurants and historic Shikumen houses and now the city’s ultimate lifestyle destination is home to The Langham, Xintiandi - a five star luxury hotel with 357 elegant guest rooms and suites.

The Langham occupies a landmark building in the heart of Xintiandi and is also adjacent to Huai Hai Road, home to international designer boutiques. The 24-storey hotel pays tribute to the city’s heritage while at the same time embracing the best in today’s luxury interior comforts designed by leading hospitality designer Peter Remedios.

As part of a phased opening, the hotel will introduce a selection of Grand rooms offering panoramic views over the renowned Shikumen storefronts of Xintiandi. Blending traditional elements with modern décor, Grand rooms exude an effortless elegance combining dark woods, chic furnishings and innovative extras that create an environment that is both sophisticated and stylish. With floor-to-ceiling windows, each Grand room is imbued with natural light, creating a bright, open environment. The spacious bathrooms include a dual-basin vanity and an inviting oversized bath. Hotel-wide entertainment extras include a 40″ flat-screen TV, an interactive digital audio system that includes an iPod docking station and wall-to-wall wireless broadband internet access.

The Langham, Xintiandi also features a modern high-ceiling grand ballroom and an additional eight meeting rooms which can be tailored to ensure every event captivates the senses.

Guests can also savour international cuisine in the hotel’s Cachet All-Day-Dining restaurant which offers a gourmet selection of fine dishes exquisitely prepared by The Langham’s team of talented chefs. Step outside the hotel and an exciting array of restaurants, bars and outdoor cafes await at Xintiandi.

The hotel is also just a short distance from leading Shanghai landmarks such as The Bund, People’s Square, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai Museum and Yu Garden.

For a limited time only, the hotel is offering a unique opportunity to be the first to experience the enchanting hospitality of The Langham, Xintiandi with a special introductory offer for RMB 2,700+ per night * which includes:

  • Return airport limousine transfer
  • Langham welcome gift
  • Unlimited laundry and dry-cleaning during stay
  • Complimentary mini-bar
  • Complimentary breakfast at Cachet
  • Complimentary wired and wireless internet
  • Complimentary international SKYPE telephone calls

Terms and conditions:

  • Offer valid for minimum stay of two nights
  • Valid for stays until December 30th, 2010
  • Offer is subject to availability
  • Offer is subject to 15% surcharge