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A Brand New Experience

March 1, 2007 By: Erin Sternthal Home-Based Travel Agent
 

A look at some new hotel brands to consider for your next trip


Even if you have a favorite hotel brand—always looking first for say, a Starwood, wherever you travel—you should know about new hotel brands as options, as some might be part of your lodging company of choice. Here's a look at some of the industry's newest brands boasting chic designs, gourmet cuisine and luxurious high-tech rooms. The Paradise Pool at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix

If you want an outstanding meal, chances are you don't even have to walk outside your hotel's doors. Top-rated restaurants are becoming the standard in many properties, with celebrity chefs making their mark in the hospitality arena. For LXR Luxury Resorts' newest brand of "cosmopolitan urban hotels," The London, the company teamed up with Michelin chef Gordon Ramsay, who opened his first U.S. restaurant in the brand's New York hotel, The London NYC. The restaurant has a chef's table for eight in the kitchen as well as a seven-course Menu Prestige so culinary enthusiasts can sample a variety of dishes including his signature lobster ravioli. Lobby of the Qasr Al Sharq in Saudi Arabia, a Waldorf=Astoria Collection Hotel

And in addition to gourmet cuisine, The London NYC offers a luxurious bath experience by Waterworks with apothecary products, double rain showerheads and plush robes. If you need to snatch up tickets to one of the hottest shows on Broadway or secure a dinner reservation at one of the city's trendy new restaurants, it's a cinch with personal concierge service provided by Quintessentially. The expansive pool area at Maui's Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa

If trendy hot spots are your style, check into ME by Melia, the newest experienced-based personality brand by Spanish hotelier Sol Melia. Fusing contemporary design with international cuisine and world music, ME by Melia opened its first location in October when the Hotel Reina Victoria in Madrid's Plaza de Santa Ana was transformed into ME Madrid Reina Victoria. You'll never miss a view, as every suite has a private terrace along with plasma TVs, pre-programmed iPods and CD and DVD libraries. Rooms are also outfitted with Wi-Fi, down pillow-top mattresses and organic Aveda amenities. If you're a night owl, you'll be able to experience one of Rande and Scott Gerber's lounge and restaurant concepts. The Gerbers, who put their signature touches on hotel bars at W Hotels and Ian Schrager properties, have teamed up with the brand.

If you prefer a resort over the hustle and bustle of the city, hit the brand's first resort property in Cancun. The former Melia Turquesa is now the 448-room ME Cancun, which has a VIP floor dubbed The Level with complimentary cocktails and breakfast. Here, the Gerber brothers partnered with Maxim magazine to open the first Maxim Beach at the beach and pool areas, where music is spun by world -famous DJs and seating consists of Balinese-style daybeds. And for a peaceful, serene environment, book a spa treatment at the 11,000-square-foot Yhi Spa, centered around the five senses.

Pampering is also on the menu at Solage Hotels & Resorts, created by Auberge Resorts, which operates Auberge du Soleil, Esperanza, Calistoga Ranch and The Inn at Palmetto Bluff. The new brand is a contemporary, more affordable alternative to its popular romantic luxury properties. Solage promises to deliver energetic, design-focused hotels and has selected Napa Valley for its first property, which is slated to open in June. Showing a sense of place, Solage Calistoga serves grape martinis and flavored sangria along with wine by the glass. The property has live music by the pool and lounge area and bikes for rides into town. The brand is also focusing its efforts on environmental sustainability, with water and lighting conservation and a Green Team of employees.

Of course if you're an environmentally conscious traveler, you may also feel right at home at "1" Hotel and Residences. The Starwood Capital Group and Barry Sternlicht, the former head of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and creator of the stylish W Hotels, are launching the first ecologically friendly global luxury brand. In addition to following green construction and operating principles, each property will donate 1 percent of revenue to local environmental organizations. "1" has also signed on exclusively with famed restaurateur Stephen Hanson of BR Guest to head up the food and beverage departments. (BR Guest operates such hot spots as Ruby Foo's in New York, David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago and the Blue Water Grill in New York and Chicago.) The first "1" will open in Seattle in late 2008.

Sternlicht's former company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is kicking off its newest innovation, aloft, a version of W Hotels. Using the DNA of W Hotels, aloft hopes to put a "sassy, refreshing" twist on the everyday travel experience. If you're a traveler who likes to be in control, you'll appreciate the grab-and-go food and beverage station open around the clock, the "recharge" gym and pet-friendly policy complete with pet amenities. High-tech rooms will feature nine-foot ceilings, oversized windows, wireless Internet access, high-definition TVs, VOIP phones and a plug-and-play connectivity device for electronic equipment.

Yet, if you're in the market for pure luxury, check out Hilton's Waldorf=Astoria Collection, named after the iconic Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. In order to be included, properties are required to have "architectural significance, unique décor and original artwork, historic or landmark status and a reputation for product and service excellence." If you've recently stayed at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui in Hawaii, the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix or La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, CA, you've already experienced one of the brand's properties.


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