Category Archives: Hotel

Chinese Owner to Privatize the Waldorf

Iconic New York hotel to be condo-ized.

Iwaldorf-new-logon London, the landmark Hotel Savoy underwent a three year, $354 million refit including new crystal chandeliers, gold leaf and polished marble floors, while the city’s exclusive Hotel Connaught has been renewed to the tune of £70 million, including a new wing with an Aman Spa.  In Paris. the splendid public rooms of the Four Seasons George V remain unchanged, while the 245 guest rooms have been brought into the 21st century.

WaldorfEntrance

Meanwhile, in New York, where greed rules, the legendary Waldorf-Astoria is slated to be closed next spring and many/most of its 1,413 rooms turned into pricy condominiums. In a real twist of irony, the owner is Anbang Insurance, located in the Communist-in-name-only People’s Republic of China. Cost to purchase the hotel: $1.9 billion. The plan to condo-ize it is an ultimately capitalist move. New York’s legendary Plaza Hotel underwent such a conversion — good for investors and condo owners but said for the city.

Even though the mother ship will close, the Waldorf’s prestigious name presumably will live on  dozen resort hotels from Florida to Hawaii, two in China, two in Puerto Rico, five in Europe, three in the Middle East and one in Panama. Also the Waldorf Towers, a luxury residential tower,  in New York is slated to remain open. For now, at least.

Two ElkFests. Two states. Two seasons.

ElkFest in Jackson, Wyoming is one of several spring events.

J-HoleElkFestEstes Park, Colorado’s ElkFest is in the fall during the rut when the the bulls issue their plaintive mating calls, the aspens turn golden and snow often begins to dust the high peaks. Jackson, in Wyoming’s wonderful northwestern corner, also has an ElkFest, but it is in spring when the wildflowers bloom and hibernating wildlife show up. ElkFest takes place May 21 – 22, followed the next weekend by Old West Days, May 26 – 30

Wagonloads of antlers along the streets of Jackson attract buyers from all over the world for ElkFest’s annual Boy Scout Antler Auction on May 21. Now in its 49th year, the auction typically features more than 10,000 pounds of the naturally shed elk antlers gathered by local Boy Scouts. That rustic antler chandelier probably was made with antlers gathered by the local Scouts. The majority of auction proceeds go back to the National Elk Refuge on the outskirts of town, which devotes approximately 25,000 acres to the preservation of winter range for elk and bison herds.

Continue reading Two ElkFests. Two states. Two seasons.

Santa Fe’s Fabulous Hotel on The Plaza

History, tradition and art in one excellent hotel.

LaFonda-logoWhen  registration  opened he Society of American Travel Writers  (SATW) Western Chapter meeting in Santa Fe, my first choice of the three fine downtown  hotels was La Fonda. This historic hotel is awash with Southwestern history, a place of legend, a repository of art and a very fine place to stay — to say nothing of dining and indulging in fabled margaritas. Here are a few images:

A gracious welcome basket of fruit, cheese and a bottle of wine.
A gracious welcome basket of fruit, cheese and a bottle of wine.
Floral painting of wood is a Southwestern tradition.
Floral painting of wood is a Southwestern tradition.
Tilework in the shower, presumably from a recent room renovation.
Tilework in the shower, presumably from a recent room renovation.
A French creperie and patisserie, accessed both from the lobby and the street, is a contrast to the predominant Spanis style.
A French creperie and patisserie, accessed both from the lobby and the street, is a contrast to the predominant Spanish style.
A corner of a corridor on the main floor.
A corner of a corridor on the main floor.
La Plazuela, the lovely restaurant in what was once an open courtyard in the tradition of family compounds.
La Plazuela, the lovely restaurant in what was once an open courtyard in the tradition of family compounds.
Regulation fire extinguisher behind a painted glass door.
Regulation fire extinguisher behind a painted glass door.
Typical tin frames with little scraps of fabric, sketches or other mini-art show the room numbers.
Typical tin frames with little scraps of fabric, sketches or other mini-art show the room numbers.

We didn’t use the pool or the spa, but we were grateful for an attached parking garage, given the middle-of-town location.

La Fonda is at 100 East San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501;
800-523-5002 or 505-982-5511.

Hot Valentines Day Package at Hot Springs

Lots of extras with Glenwood Springs “Romance Package.”

valentine chocolateI wrote this for MileHighOnTheCheap.com, but want to share it with other readers too.

The Hot Springs Resort in Glenwood Springs does not confine its Romance Package just to February 14 but makes it available for any two-night stay during the entire month of February.  Upon arrival, guests receive two free plush Mansfield spa robes to keep (value $85 each), chocolate truffles and a bottle of champagne.

The package also includes a $30 gift card toward lunch or dinner at The Pullman or Glenwood Canyon Brewpub, both near the hotel. And it goes without saying that lodge guests have unlimited access to the fabled Hot Springs Pool, where soaking under the stars is a magical experience. Each registered adult also receives a $100 spa credit to use on any spa service at the award-winning Spa of the Rockies, including a couples massage (but excluding retail products). Complimentary daily hot breakfast is served in the poolside grill. To reserve, click here or call  800-537-7946 (SWIM).

Denver Zoo Package + New Giraffe Feature

Grand Hyatt in downtown Denver’s neat seasonal package.

DenverZooGiraffe-signThe Grand Hyatt Denver’s family-oriented new Zoo Safari Package  coincides with the opening of the Denver Zoo’s brand new Giraffe . Two platforms at different heights enable visitors to hand-feed lettuce leaves to the zoo’s four giraffes — the tallest of which is named Dikembe after the Denver Nuggets’ former star player, Dikembe Motumbo.  Zookeepers on-site answer questions and provide tidbits of information about giraffes.

Lucky youngsters get to be the first to hand-feed giraffes at the Denver Zoo's new Giraffe Encounter. Photo: The Denver Channel
Lucky youngsters get to be the first to hand-feed giraffes at the Denver Zoo’s new Giraffe Encounter. Photo: The Denver Channel

The package (from $229 per room) includes an overnight stay in a newly refreshed, spacious accommodation, two adult admission tickets to the zoo (regularly $17 each) and free valet parking in the in the hotel garage in the heart of the Mile High City — not a trivial savings.  A kids’ scavenger hunt challenges them to find favorite animals and then rewards them with a prize from the hotel’s treasure chest. And when families return to the hotel, a dip in the indoor pool awaits. The seasonal package (through September 30) is only available online or by calling 800-233-1234.

Opening Date Set for Westin at Denver Airport

Hotel to open before Thanksgiving rush.

DIA-logoDenver International Airport — the nation’s 5th busiest and the world’s 15th busiest — has operated for more than two decades without a hotel connected to the terminal. The Westin Denver International Airport, which is set to open on November 19, will change that.

The 14-story hotel with 519 guest rooms will serve both business and leisure travelers and locals when the 82,000- square-foot open-air public plaza is completed. It is expected to  become Denver’s newest venue for entertainment and will create a community connection between the airport and downtown Denver. When airport rail service begins, reaching it will be swift and easy.

The hotel's reception area provides a reflected view of the terminal's signature tented roof.
The hotel’s reception area provides a reflected view of the terminal’s signature tented roof.

A couple of months ago, I took a fascinating hardhat tour of the architecturally inventive hotel. It is designed with walls of towering, shimmering glass offering view of DIA flight paths and both the mountains and the plains. Building upon imagery of flight and aviation, the sleek hotel resembles a bird with its wings extended as it hovers above the public plaza, framing and accenting the signature tents of the Jeppesen Terminal roof.

New Inkaterra Property in the Sacred Valley

Luxury + commitment to preserving and rescuing Peru’s geography, nature, customs and cultures.

Inkaterra-logoWhen I was in Peru recently with the Society of American Travel Writers Freelance Council, we made a brief detour to visit a new boutique lodging property, the lovely and luxurious Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Our group witnessed a shamanic ceremony, but I neither understood the symbolism of the solemn ritual nor prosaically, did I have a clear idea of when it was supposed to open. Now it has.

Shaman ceremony to inaugurate the new Hacienda Urubamba.
Shaman ceremony to inaugurate the new Hacienda Urubamba.

Set deep in the countryside up a dusty road (at least it was when I visited), it is set on about 100 acres overlooking a vast panorama of the Sacred Valley. The Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba opens with 12 rooms, including a three-room “Owners Suite,” all featuring views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Guests experience the expansiveness of open space, serenity and relaxing solitude.  At approximately 9,515 feet in elevation, the property offers some of the  best climate in the Cusco region. This summer (which might be next winter in the Northern Hemisphere), 24 stand-alone luxury casitas will be unveiled, set among the property’s native pepper trees, high grass, cactus and wildflowers.

The grand entrance to the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.
The grand entrance to the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.

With architecture and interiors inspired by the area’s cultural history, the contemporary hacienda-style hotel was designed by Denise Guislain-Koechlin, the talented wife of Inkaterra founder and CEO, Jose Koechlin. She was in charge of the hotel’s layout, surrounding gardens and all interior décor, which includes custom-made furniture and the use of rare pre-Columbian textiles that adorn the property’s high walls. The property, which is in an agricultural area, features a 10-acre organic plantation, where guests are welcome to pick their own produce.  Crops include red, black and brown quinoa, artichokes, a unique Urubamba giant corn, purple corn, colored potatoes, lima beans, onions, beans and broccoli. Traditional medicinal and culinary herbs are also farmed and include lemon balm, rosemary, sage, green grass, mint, chamomile, cilantro and anise, among others. All crops are completely “carbon-free” — that is, farmed with traditional hand tools and oxen as was done centuries ago.

Organic farming at the hacienda includes traditional agricultural methods.
Organic farming at the hacienda includes traditional agricultural methods.

Continue reading New Inkaterra Property in the Sacred Valley

Gran Hotel Bolivar’s Great Value in Lima

Terrific location, elegant architecture and down-to-earth prices. GranHotelBolivar-logo

The Gran Hotel Bolivar, located on Lima’s gorgeous Plaza San Martín, was very grand when it opened in the 1920s and was the social center of Peru’s capital. It faded and was even closed for a number of years, but it reopened with a bit less luster, to be sure, but with that enviable location, affordable prices and what I’m told are some of the city’s best Pisco Sours in the bar. The lobby is sparsely furnished these days, but the leaded glass dome is in place, recalling the original grandeur.  I didn’t stay there. I didn’t see any rooms. But I did wander around the main floor and think how fortunate it is that this landmark hotel has been preserved and is welcoming guests.

Glass and international flags above the main entrance.
Glass canopy and international flags above the main entrance.
Magnificent leaded glass dome.
Magnificent leaded glass dome.

Continue reading Gran Hotel Bolivar’s Great Value in Lima

Gunnison Motor Inn’s Upscale Look

Furnishings from Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch elevate Western Slope motor lodge.

InnTomichi-logoI’ve driven past the Inn at Tomichi Village any number of times. This sprawling motor lodge up on a little hill at the eastern approach to Gunnison always looked pleasant enough, but Crested Butte has always been my destination. But this time, instead of turning off US 50 in the center of Gunnison, my husband and I pulled into the inn’s curving driveway. When we opened the door to our room, we were amazed at the furnishings.

Elegant ambiance, softer and firmer pillows and tasteful wall art in Room 34.
Elegant ambiance, softer and firmer pillows and tasteful wall art in Room 34.

Beautiful, heavy-weight wood furniture — out of scale with the standard motel room size. Designer fabrics used for upholstery and bedding. A sign that indicated each bed was made up with both softer and firmer pillows. Pillow-top mattress. Classy decorative accessories. Quality frames on the wall art. Elegant wall colors and subdued light. Turns out that the magnificently upmarket Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch at Vail either had just remodeled or was about to, and the Inn at Tomichi Village bought a  load of gently used, well-cared-for furnishings.

This desk lamp says "Ritz-Carlton" rather than "motel by the highway."
This desk lamp says “Ritz-Carlton” rather than “motel by the highway.”

Continue reading Gunnison Motor Inn’s Upscale Look

Lodge at Vail’s New Room Decor

LodgeAtVail-logoThe 52-year-old Lodge at Vail, A RockResort in the heart of Vail Village debuts the final phase of its renovations. “Modern luxury” is the best description for the hotel’s ambiance. The rooms in the International Wing were renovated in 2008, and now the 56 hotel rooms, corridors, main stairways and lobby have been transformed.  Partners at NeoStudio, who designed Elway’s and the pool renovation last year, were responsible for the architectural design, and Oz Architecture handled the interior design elements, including interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, lighting and the installation of air conditioning, which was not deemed necessary in a mountain resort half a century ago.

The lobby maintains the historic charm of the arches above the porte-cochere and check-in desk, as well as the wood-stained grand staircase. The new design builds upon these iconic features with a striking chandelier, framed by a circular form in the ceiling as a centerpiece, plus refreshed colors, textures, lighting, furniture and artwork. Another prominent element of the new lobby is a large built-in monitor above the check-in desk that can display artwork, and such guest-centric messaging like events, snow reports and group welcomes.

Modern elegance defines the next room décor in The Lodge at Vail.
Modern elegance defines the next room décor in The Lodge at Vail.

 

The rooms now light walls and soft Apine tones that are complemented by dark wood accents and tasteful, subdued accent colors throughout the fabric of pillows, bedding and window coverings.  Natural, authentic textures createa design aesthetic that balances he soft color palette and speak to the luxury of the hotel. Bedding and other soft goods incorporate luxurious textures, soft wool carpeting, plus fabrics, wall coverings and dark wood respects the property’s history. With all that, the technology is creatively incorporated technology in its furnishings. The new headboards include power outlets, USB ports and reading lights. The large new in-room TVs are compatible with Apple and Samsung products for future smart TV offerings. Artwork in the guest rooms bring in a splash of color with a bright floral pattern. It brings to mind The Wildflower, the floral-themed restaurant once located where Elway’s is now. In the public spaces. artwork in the refreshed corridors features historic images of skiing and Vail that reflect The Lodge’s vintage, Alpine flavor as Vail’s first hotel.