Alongside the increasing amount of luxury boutique openings, the popularity of luxury hotel also seems to be on the rise, as a string of high profile brands open their doors in time for the holidays and announce their plans for 2011.
The iconic Chateau de Versailles announced plans this week to develop one of its satellite buildings, the Hotel du Grand Controle, into a prestigious hotel. The traditional home of the chateau’s treasurers will be transformed into 23-room establishment, featuring rooms overlooking the Orangery and ornamental Swiss lake. The independent remarked that such a move both ‘exploits the economic potential of listed buildings while securing their renovation’, a modern approach to conservation and preservation of one of France’s most famous estates.
Just across the channel, plans were announced for a luxury hotel by the Tower of London, following the £100 million purchase of 10 Trinity Square, the listed former Port of London Authority headquarters. The purchaser, a consortium from Singapore, plans to open the hotel for the London 2012 Olympic games.
Finally in New York, hotelier Ian Schrager will sell the famed Grammercy Park Hotel to concentrate on building two new luxury lifestyle hotel brands and continue working alongside Marriott on their Editions brand. His first project will open in Chicago in 2011, with plans to build the new brands in New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Paris, Istanbul and London.
Opening in the discreetly opulent 16th arrondissement, housed in the former home of Prince Roland Bonaparte – Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, the Shangri La offers some of the most breathtaking views of Paris. From Sacré Cœur to the Trocadero, over the Grand Palais, Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Invalides and most spectacularly, the Eiffel Tower, the hotel boasts 81 rooms and suites, three restaurants, one Bar and four reception rooms. Richard Martinet directed the architectural renovations and Pierre-Yves Rochon designed the interior style, a combination of ‘Empire’ and ‘Luxury minimalist’
The Parisian launch marks the beginning of their entry into the European market, with their second hotel opening in Vienna in 2011 and at an iconic property near London Bridge in 2012. Amongst development projects in their domestic market, such as mainland China, India, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines and Mongolia, Russia and Turkey have also been selected as future sites. The group currently owns and/or manages 70 hotels under the Shangri-La and Traders brands, with a rooms inventory of over 30,000.
French five-star brand Sofitel has opened four properties in late December, including a new flagship for Europe in Vienna. The Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom features art by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist and a living garden all by landscape architect Patrick Blanc, while the 18 storey, glass and steel ‘futuristic’ tower will host a restaurant by Michelin-starred French chef Antoine Westermann.
The brand also commissioned renowned designer Kenzo Takada, of Kenzo fame, to collaborate with Thai architect Lek Bunnag to design the Sofitel So Mauritius, a collection of 90 suites and villas with private gardens, patios and ponds. The resort also hosts a spa, two restaurants and a bar looking over the Indian Ocean. Finally the Sofitel also opened the Phokeethra 201 room resort in Phnom Phen, Vietnam, featuring two pools, four restaurants and a sports complex.
Sheltered within the walls of the old city, the legendary Moroccan Palace, La Mamounia has re-opened after extensive $170 million renovations. Described as the ‘Dorchester of North Africa’ by The Independent, the luxury resort has played host to Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, Omar Sharif and Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker even made it her home during the filming of Sex and the City 2.
Set around 20 acres of gardens, the 36 room, 71-suite property boasts four restaurants, five bars and a 2,500sqm spa inspired by Moroccan traditions. There are also three traditional Moroccan ‘riad’ villas, located in the heart of the idyllic gardens. The 700sqm private residences combine three bedrooms, generous en suite bathrooms, a large dining room and individual outdoor terrace and swimming pool. The overhaul was directed by French designer Jacques Garcia, who has retained some of the Art Deco features but strived to return La Mamounia to it’s traditional Arabic roots, incorporating Almoravid horseshoe arches, chiselled Almohad stucco, delicate Merenid tilework and carved Saadian corbels.
Subsidiary of the Tata Group, Taj Hotels, has re-opened Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India, as a luxury spa hotel. The former royal residence was originally built in 1884 and has undergone a 10-year renovation, designed by Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo. The 60-room property is nestled inside 32 acres of gardens and also incorporates a 930sqm Jiva spa, two restaurants and an indoor pool.
Starwood Hotels have recently opened the St Regis Bahia Beach on a former coconut plantation in Puerto Rico. The 483-acre resort offers the signature St. Regis Butler Service, a 10,000 square foot RemSde Spa, a private Avery and an ocean-front golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Designed by architectural firm Hill Glazier, the 130 room resort include 35 suites with custom-designed furniture, spacious marble bathrooms, luxurious linens and high-tech luxuries such as televisions integrated into the bathroom mirrors and an iPod docking station.
Intercontinental Hotels have launched their Hotel Indigo boutique brand in Asia, opening in Shanghai, on luxury hotspot the Bund. Further openings for the brand are slated for Xiamen, Taipei, Hong Kong and Bangkok over the next three years. Designed by hospitality interior specialists, Hirsch Bedner Associates, the hotel features an indoor swimming pool as well as a rooftop restaurant and bar.
The Cosmopolitan seeks to return to old-world luxury on one of the planet’s most outrageous and least subtle strips of real estate. Moving away from themed resorts and neon lights, the 3,000 room resort combines art deco styling with Starck inspired luxury minimalism, commissioning a host of interior designers to create a relaxed glamour, speakeasy atmosphere. The property includes the Sahra Spa & Hammam; three pools at The Pool District; Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan, a 60,000 square foot multi-level integrated nightclub; nine retail boutiques, a fitness centre, many restaurants and plenty of meeting space.
The brands first entry into Taiwan, the 160-room Le Méridien Taipei seeks to combine the luxuries of a five star hotel experience with a focus on contemporary art and cuisine. The hotel offers guests 1,700 square meters of contemporary meeting and function space, as well as two new restaurant concepts: Humble House and Latest Recipe, an innovative coffee and chocolate café ChocoArt, lobby lounge bar Latitude 25 as well as the hotel’s destination bar Quube.
Small Luxury Hotels of the World recently added the Chrome Hotel, Kolkata, to it’s portfolio. The contemporary design hotel in Eastern India offers 63 rooms, including eight themed suites with a love room, a music room, colour therapy suite and a sports room to choose from. Personal butlers are on standby 24-hours a day to take care of anything guests require, also providing assistance with the extensive business facilities, extensive library, the swimming pool offering poolside manicures and pedicures and finally the fitness centre. The hotel also boasts restaurant ‘Khanasutra’, where guests can sample a gourmet 15-course connoisseur menu, prepared in their direct view, proposed as an ‘entertaining’ dining experience.
Pioneer of the all-inclusive holiday in the 1950s, Club Med has officially opened its first ever resort in China, Club Med Yabuli. Joining an existing portfolio of 23 ski resorts around the world, the ski-in ski-out resort is located in the Northeast of China, in Heilongjiang Province, just over 150km southeast of Harbin. There are a total of 283 rooms, including a Presidential Suite of 120m² and interconnecting rooms designed for families. As per the Club Med offering everything is included, covering lift passes, ski lessons and supervised kids clubs for children 2 to 17 years old. Those that do not wish to Ski may indulge in the L’Occitane Spa, outdoor Jacuzzi, swimming pool, fitness room or one of the three restaurants.