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Travel Agent's Hot New HotelsMarch 9, 2012 By: Joe Pike, Jena Tesse Fox, Susan Young, Meagan Drillinger, Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent
This resort on Oahu’s Ki’Olina coast is arguably the biggest grand opening Hawaii has seen in years, and a game changer for family travel to the islands. The hotel’s authentic Hawaiian touches (never kitschy) make it notable as both a genuine island experience and a safe choice for the whole clan. Many of the rooms connect, making a two-bedroom suite an easy option. Parents and teens will love the Laniwai Spa, while kids can spend days in Aunty’s Beach House. Visit www.disneytravelagents.com for booking anything at Aulani.
|Lexington Suite at Hyatt 48 Lex|
This hidden gem in midtown Manhattan has easy access to the city’s big attractions, but is intimate enough to offer a quiet escape. The Lexington Lounge is a gathering space for all guests to enjoy free coffee and snacks, and wine is available (for purchase) in the evenings. The Presidential Suite has a balcony that could double as a private yard. Contact: Lindsey Sears, [email protected], 212-838-1234.
After a $275 million redesign and revitalization, this Big Easy icon is virtually a new hotel. The entryway is now on Loyola Avenue, meeting space has doubled, the towering atrium is refreshed with modern décor and the new Vitascope Hall offers private seating areas with 25 flat-screen TVs. Borgne is the hotel’s signature restaurant by John Besh, with Brian Landry, formerly of Galatoire’s, as executive chef. Regency Club accommodations offer access to a 31st floor lounge with panoramic city views. Contact: Melissa Masitto, director of sales and marketing, [email protected], 504-613-3906.
|Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa, Cabo San Lucas|
Located at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula, Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa Cabo San Lucas was the only new resort that opened in Los Cabos last year. All suites offer impressive views of the Pacific, but we recommend the two- to four-bedroom Penthouse Suites, which offer balconies that overlook the ocean and the iconic Land’s End rock formation. These rooms are also the most popular for family reunion and multi-generational groups. Contact: Israel Gatica, director of sales, E-commerce and marketing, at [email protected]; 011-52-624-145-7575, ext. 74112.
Following a $100 million facelift, the Iberostar Cancun became the brand’s ninth property in Mexico. Guest will not lack for dining options, which include the new Gran Buffet and four specialty restaurants: gourmet, Japanese, steak house and Mexican. To further enhance activities and entertainment for its guests, future updates may also include the construction of a new stage/amphitheater for shows, in addition to a kid’s “Miniclub” water park and “Teenieclub” for youths. Contact: Ashley Parden, marketing manager, [email protected].
The Riu Plaza Guadalajara is a modern 42-story building in the heart of the city. Rooms are divided into categories including Deluxe, Executive, Junior Suites, Senior Suites, Presidential Suites, and the Penthouse, occupying the top two floors and offering views of the city. Ideal for both business and leisure travelers, the Riu Plaza Guadalajara is focused on clients who attend meetings, trade shows, family and social events, as well as anyone who travels for pleasure and seeks luxury and comfort in a modern atmosphere. Contact: Homero Villanueva, sales director, [email protected], 011-52-33-3880-7532.
The Westin Guadalajara
The Westin Guadalajara began welcoming guests in September but the official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on March 23. Offerings include the Casa de las Rosas restaurant with cuisine created by Eduardo Osuna, one of the world’s most recognized Mexican chefs. The hotel’s top room, height-wise and luxury-wise, is the Presidential Suite. The hotel has 20 floors, so this suite offers an impressive, 270-degree view of Guadalajara. The Westin Guadalajara is an ideal hotel for business travelers, and its location in front of the Expo Guadalajara convention center makes it a prime choice for groups and meeting attendees. Contact: Walter Harbich, general manager, [email protected], 011-52-33-3880-2700.
|Magdalena Grand Beach Resort, Tobago|
All rooms at Tobago’s first new resort in 12 years have ocean views, but we recommend the one- and two-bedroom suites. Amenities include a PGA-designed, 18-hole golf course, Dive Center and training pool, and multiple dining options. The complimentary Club Cee Cee for kids and spacious suite configurations made it a good fit for families, and it’s equally well suited for weddings and honeymoons, bird-watchers and ecotourists, and, of course, golfers and divers. Contact: Vince Angelo, general manager, [email protected], 868-660-8500.
Mystic Ridge Resort overlooks Ocho Rios, minutes from beaches, shops and attractions such as Mystic Mountain Rainforest Adventure Park. Loft suites are spacious, yet cozy and offer views of Ocho Rios and the Caribbean. Formerly known as Crane Ridge, the hotel closed early last year and reopened in December under the Mystic Mountain brand with an upgrade of the facili-ties. Contact: Marsha Mattos, sales manager, [email protected], 876-974-9831.
|Bedroom at Mystic Ridge Resort, Jamaica|
This all-inclusive resort–located in the RIU Punta Cana Complex–has only suites and junior suites, including a dozen deluxe villas. High-end clients will want the Jacuzzi Suites, considered the most elegant, with fantastic sea views, free Internet, a Jacuzzi in the terrace and a hydro-massage tub in the room. Business meets pleasure with spacious meeting and convention facilities (capacity: 1,000 people) complemented by four swimming pools and a spa. The lobby bar serves ice cream and pastries, one of the many family-friendly touches. Contact: Larissa Morias, sales manager at [email protected], 809-731-6816.
Sandals Grande Riviera Beach & Villa Golf Resort completed a $60 million makeover in December that transformed it into a virtually brand new property. It now boasts various types of villas including ones with new interior tiling featuring glass and mosaic accents, and new landscaped surrounding gardens. There are also private villas with shared pools and refinished pool decks with new teak patio furnishings. The ultra-luxury Butler Suites sport kitchenettes, king-size four- poster beds and large en-suite bathrooms with double vanities and sunken baths. Contact: Suelin Simpson, sales manager, [email protected].
Central and South America
This elegant boutique hotel’s highlights include luxury rooms, each including its own French balcony; custom-designed furniture, flat-screen LCD TV with international programming and movie channels; and both on-site and e-concierge services. Palermo Place is ideal for clients who wish to explore all that Buenos Aires has to offer, including exclusive shopping, restaurants, historical and cultural sightseeing and outstanding nightlife. Contact: Piper Alexander, vice president of operations, [email protected], 334-787-6367.
|Standard king room at The Singular Patagonia|
After nearly a century, the landmarked post-Victorian (circa 1915) Bories Cold Storage Plant breathed new life in December, reborn as The Singular Patagonia, the southern Chilean region’s newest luxury retreat. The result of a meticulous 10-year restoration and renovation, Singular’s rooms all feature 18-foot wide windows overlooking the Fjord of Last Hope; suite windows are twice as wide. The Singular has its own private expedition team offering more than 20 different experiences, many of which provide clients access to otherwise restricted/private land. The hotel owns two boats that are faster than most tour boats on the Fjords, allowing clients to get to the Serrano glacier an hour before any other tourists. Contact: Daniela Orellana, commercial manager, [email protected], 011-506-56 2 9540480.
The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama is 70 stories high, making it the tallest and largest building in Latin America. Guest rooms located on the architectural “curve” of the building afford some of the most impressive views of the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, suite No. 3422 on the 34th floor has a private terrace facing the Pacific, where guests can watch the ships head toward the Panama Canal. Thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom, the cityscape is also in view from the soaking tub. Contact: Thierry Baurez, director of sales and marketing, [email protected], 011-507-215-8877.
|Guest room at the TRYP San Jose Sabana, Costa Rica|
The TRYP Medellín on Calle Colombia is in the heart of the Colombian state of Antioquia’s capital city. The hotel’s opening reflects Wyndham Hotel Group’s strategy of introducing the TRYP by Wyndham brand in key urban markets throughout the Americas. If nightlife is what your clients crave, the hotel is just a 10-minute walk to the 70’s Street Corridor, where bars, discos and restaurants can be found. The best accommodations are the Fitness Rooms, which include exercise machines right beside a window that affords a spectacular view. Contact: Santiago Agudello, sales and marketing director, [email protected], 011-574-604-06-86, ext 110.
Wyndham Hotel Group introduced its TRYP by Wyndham hotel brand to Central America with the TRYP San José Sabana, in the heart of Costa Rica’s capital city. The ambiance and decor is trendy and very modern; it‘s the authentic Costa Rican hospitality, however, that make this hotel a cut above the rest. It has some impressive standard accommodations with panoramic views of the city and the mountains, especially the corner rooms that have a double set of windows. The hotel also has a Family Suite with bunk beds. There is no pool or spa, but there is a Fitness Suite. Agents should contact Rebecca Zúñiga, director of sales and marketing, [email protected].
Flanked by a rainforest and a stretch of Pacific shoreline just 20 minutes outside Panama City, this $100 million beach hotel has an array of luxury suites, international restaurants and the largest meeting space in Panama. The open-air 19th floor VIP Lounge showcases views of the Pacific Ocean and ships awaiting entrance to the Panama Canal, as well as plush cabanas for rooftop lounging. The hotel’s central location makes it a good base for exploring the canal, nature reserves and the Casco Viejo historic district. The Pearl Club & Spa and Westin Workout gym are both scheduled to open in April. Contact: Antonio Manfredonio, corporate sales and marketing director, [email protected], 507-206-8800.
The Andaz Shanghai sits in history central in the Xintiandi neighborhood on the edge of the former French Concession (think antique walls, tiles and facades of the traditional stone-gate houses). Cool touch: LED lighting on the ceiling allows guests to choose the color and mood of their room. The hotel’s main dining venue, Hai Pai, is a four-level hub housing two restaurants, a bar and private dining rooms. Guests can work off their meal with a swim at the indoor pool (which glows with internal LED lighting) or a session at the 24-hour gym. Contact: Jenny Soo, director of sales and marketing, [email protected].
This resort on the Cotai Strip–Asia’s “Vegas of the East”–comprises three hotels: Banyan Tree, Hotel Okura and Galaxy. The Banyan Tree Macau offers both suites and villas, each with in-room relaxation pools overlooking Macau’s skyline. Each of the 10 pool villas on Galaxy Macau’s beach resort deck has its own personal resort host. Hotel Okura Macau brings classic Japanese service and style to the resort complex, highlighted by the Yamazato Japanese restaurant, where guests can sample authentic kaiseki meals, sushi, grilled dishes, complemented by Japanese garden views. The Galaxy Hotel is a world-class luxury hotel offering five-star amenities throughout and stunning views that stretch to the city or water landscape.
The Galaxy Macau complex has the world’s largest sky wave pool and an expansive white-sand beach, which together cover a full acre. Five other swimming pools, oasis gardens, five themed gaming areas, over 50 food and beverage outlets and shopping areas are also on the premises. Contact: Deon Wong, executive manager of hotel sales, [email protected].
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts debuted its newest five-star brand, Kerry Hotels, with the opening of the Kerry Hotel Pudong, soaring 31 stories over Shanghai’s new Kerry Parkside complex. Seven of the hotel’s floors are devoted to Club accommodations, including 33 suites. Guests are entitled to 24-hour butler and Club concierge services. The hotel offers a three-in-one dining concept. Our favorite touch is the craft brewery with signature beers (created by the resident brew master), pub-style dining and live music. Contact: Christopher King, director of sales and marketing, +86 (21) 6169 8888 ext. 6801.
|Le Méridien Koh Samui, Thailand|
This luxury island resort sits on Lamai Beach and its rooms reflect the style of a traditional Asian seaside village. The best rooms in the house are the large Ocean Front Pool Villas that have open-air salas, sitting rooms and a stretch of private beach facing the infinity lap pool. In-villa dining with a private chef can also be arranged.
Le Méridien Koh Samui features three distinct epicurean experiences: Latest Recipe, all-day dining in a casual setting; Latitude 9, a colorful bar great for coffee and pastries; and Plunge Bar, for swank barefoot relaxation. An onsite spa, fitness center, and beachside and ocean swimming pools are also available. Contact: Ben Strother, director of sales and marketing , [email protected]; 011-66-0-2665-3297.
The Oberoi, Gurgaon in New Delhi’s business suburb has ultra-spacious rooms with floor-to-ceiling window throughout. The theme at the property is “urban oasis” (think acres of landscaping with fountains and pools). The architecture centers on a “Jewel Box,” a building of glass and shining stainless steel that houses the lobby, overlooking a vast reflecting pool. The resort is also home to the city’s first 24-hour spa. Contact: Stephen Fernandez, head concierge, [email protected].
Located on the top floors (102-118) of the International Commerce Centre, the new Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong soars 1,575 above the city, higher than the Park Hyatt Shanghai or Armani Hotel Dubai in the Burj Khalifa. All rooms have views across Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. Guests can also dine while gazing out over Hong Kong at one of six dining venues starting on the 102nd floor. Guests can unwind with a drink at OZONE, the rooftop bar, or a massage in the Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA. Contact: Ivy Kwan, director of sales and marketing, [email protected].
The first luxury resort on Cambodia’s coastline, this all-villa resort spans two private islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago. Built with respect for the natural environment, each villa has its own pool. In fact, the owners are all about sustainability, taking steps to protect the surrounding marine reserve (filled with seahorses and exotic species of tropical fish) and introduce projects for the local community. There’s also an infinity pool, a world-class restaurant helmed by chef Neil Wager (formerly at North Island in the Seychelles), a spa suspended in the rainforest, a water sports center and a yoga and meditation center. Contact: Seth Hoeger, director of sales and marketing, [email protected]; +855 12 679 502.
|Over-the-water villa at Six Senses Laamu, Maldives|
Six Senses Laamu is an all-villa property sitting on white sand overlooking tropical vegetation and a blue lagoon on the Maldivian island of Olhuveli. We hear the location is a surfer’s paradise with 10-foot swells. Surfing lessons are offered along with diving, water-skiing and snorkeling from the Ocean School. The resort also has a multi-tiered bar built over the water and its own wine “cellar,” Altitude, which is a tower of spun glass that rises out of the sea. An outdoor spa and a yoga pavilion face the sea. Contact: Roberto Arganese, director of sales and marketing, +960 680 0800.
All rooms and suites at The St. Regis Shenzhen in China have floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the city. Decanter, on the 100th floor, is a sky-high urban wine bar offering one of Shenzhen’s largest selections of wines and, on the penthouse level, Malt and Library specializes in single-malt whiskies and Cuban cigars. Contact: Sammy King, director of sales and marketing, [email protected]; 0755 22914096.
|Suite at London’s 45 Park Lane|
The Dorchester Collection’s newest property is decidedly futuristic, with touch-screens and USB ports throughout to enable easy tech upgrades down the line. Nice touch for the wellness-minded: The hotel has an in-room yoga channel and each room has a yoga mat. Purple Brompton bikes are available for guests to tool around Hyde Park. Minibars are stocked with complimentary organic beverages. Contact: General Manager Marie-Laure Akdag via her assistant Neringa Railaite, [email protected].
The Corinthia’s gut renovation preserved its historic façade of what had been a Victorian hotel before becoming an office building, and brought it back to its original classic grandeur. The hotel’s bedrooms are huge and the seven Penthouses all have large terraces and views of almost every major London landmark. Contact: Marianne Kassapian, director of sales, [email protected]; or Kathrin Wesenauer, senior sales manager, [email protected].
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
This classic Four Seasons was reborn early last year after a massive renovation. The result includes quietly elegant interiors by Pierre-Yves Rochon and a sky-high spa on the top floor overlooking the park and the city beyond. The restaurant/bar/lounge combination, Amaranto, spreads one menu across three different zones, making it easy to eat and drink whatever, wherever. Contact: Marion Ryan, [email protected]; 011-44-20-7499-0888.
The Ian Schrager/Marriott partnership may have hit a snag in Hawaii, but the Istanbul Edition seems to be doing just fine, with a ranking of 26 out of 727 Istanbul hotels on TripAdvisor. Top perks include a Cipriani Restaurant, an aptly named Billionaire Night Club and a massive ESPA. Contact: Onur Kademoglu, travel trade sales manager, [email protected]; 011-90-212-317-7700.
Mandarin Oriental Paris
We hear the Mandarin has some of the largest hotel rooms in the city. The space is located in a prime location on Rue Saint-Honore in the very heart of Paris. Gourmands can rejoice: Culinary Director Thierry Marx is a judge on the French version of Top Chef. Contact: Alexandre Michaud, assistant director of sales, [email protected], 011-33-1-7098-7025.
Inspired by the nearby Medina, this 40-acred walled resort is a modern take on traditional Moorish architecture next to the Menara Gardens. Each room or suite has a private furnished balcony or terrace. The hotel is ideal for families, with two pools in the gardens as well as the city’s only fully supervised facility for children. Other kid-friendly perks include complimentary strollers, cribs and high chairs. Contact: Youssef Sinkou, concierge supervisor, [email protected], 011-212-524-359-261.