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The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston is set to turn 100 years old in August, but the celebrations are already starting – $20 million of renovations are underway, and the hotel is also offering themed packages to guests. The hotel’s head-to-toe improvements, set to be completed in the spring, include a revamp of all guestrooms and suites, including the Fairmont Gold rooms and lounge; updates to the grand lobby and ballrooms; an entirely new health club on the rooftop; and the addition of a new restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Oak Room. (The Oak Room and Oak Bar have been relocated to the St. James room.)
The two themed packages on offer are both available now. If you’re particularly interested in the hotel’s 100 year history, consider the “Celebration of a Century” package, which starts at $200/night for a Fairmont Room. Included in the package is one night in a newly renovated room, a private history tour of the hotel, and a history booklet. The package is offered through December 31, 2012.
2011 has been a big year for hotels—we’ve scooped dozens of exciting hotel openings across the globe. On the flip side, we must bid farewell to a few monumental hotels that have closed. Here are a few of the goners we’ll miss most. A moment of silence, if you will.
Sahara Las Vegas (closed May 16)
One of Sin City’s last Rat Pack-era hotels has closed for good. The landmark casino-hotel held court on the northern Strip for 59 years. Scads of musical legends had graced its ballroom stage (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and Liza Minnelli, to name a few).
Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya (closed June 6)
We know Mexico tourism has taken a beating these last few years, but is the Mandarin’s closing an upshot? The luxury beach resort had been enduring increasingly low occupancy rates. Perhaps there’s hope—the property’s website indicates that the hotel will re-open in due course. We shall see.
The Chelsea Hotel (closed in August)
The historic artist enclave was sold to developer Joseph Chetrit and closed in August, save for its 100 permanent residences. Future plans are vague but Chetrit intends to keep the Chelsea a hotel. Phew! We can only hope that the history-packed rooms retain their legendary rocker grit post renovations.
The Plaza’s Oak Room (closed in May)
The celebrity-loved Oak Room will no longer host its famously outrageous afternoon parties, thanks to a rent dispute between restaurant operators and hotel owners. No word yet of what will become of the historic space.
Ritz Paris (temporarily closing in summer for renovations)
The oh-so-fancy Parisian landmark is, in truth, not so ritzy at the moment. The old gal is looking a little tired and will close for two years this summer for an extensive refresh.
Surfcomber The totally renovated and rebranded Surfcomber (now a Kimpton Hotel) opened yesterday on Collins Avenue. The 186-room oceanfront hotel has a playful vibe, stylish accommodations, and Kimpton’s personalized service and amenities. The pool deck and bevy of cabanas look inviting, as do the opening rates from only $149/night. www.surfcomber.com
Shelborne South Beach This Art Deco mainstay which spent the last two years under renovation reopened Wednesday. The look is retro glam, the vibe is sexy. The hotel’s own exhibition “Art of Night” features intimate celebrity images from nightlife photographer Seth Browarnik, but the catwalk runway connecting the two beachfront pool decks seems like the ultimate stage for eye candy. Opening rates here start from $159/night. Note: not all rooms have been renovated so be sure to request one. www.shelborne.com
For general trip-planning info, see our Miami Travel Guide.
The Sonoran summer is hot, but the living is easy. A weekend visitor to Phoenix and Scottsdale (or “Snotsdale” as the locals call it), would never know that America is experiencing one of the worst economic downturns since The Great Depression. Enjoying a cocktail on the patio at the infamous Phoenician after a leisurely facial at the spa then a quick dip in the pool, I need only raise my head ever-so-slightly to see Camelback Mountain in all its majesty. At sunset, when I retire with friends to the private wine cellar-turned-VIP dining room for a 5-course meal with local wines to match, the last thing on my mind is dearth. (The private dining room is called “The Praying Monk,” a name derived from the rock formation on Camelback that appears in profile to be a praying monk). Following is an up-to-the-minute checklist of renovations and improvements at a handful of Phoenix and Scottsdale’s most sought-after hotels and resorts.
On October 14, the iconic Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills will reopen its doors after massive renovations that lasted two years. Now owner, Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has upped the luxury ante with new villa suites, complete with private infinity pools and outdoor fireplaces; a La Prairie spa with spa loft guest rooms; and an over-the-top, 2,265-square foot presidential suite fit for a king . . . ahem, sultan. Its remaining 91 rooms and suites have been totally made-over with new limestone floors, roomier bathrooms with heated floors, and glamorous trimmings. Wolfgang Puck’s new onsite restaurant officially opens to the public November 1 but hotel guests will be privy to the first bites if they’ve been able to snag an overnight before then. Looks like the place is practically booked up through November. Rates for a deluxe guest room in December go for $595/night. Ouch. www.hotelbelair.com
For general trip-planning info, see our Los Angeles Travel Guide.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Caesars Palace. Already one of the largest hotels on the Strip, the property will add 668 more rooms with the opening of the new Octavius Tower. The sixth tower at the resort complex promises a level of exclusivity over the other accommodations at Caesars, with a private entrance and separate lobby as well as primo access to the Garden of the Gods pool area.
Sporting dark wood furniture and marble floors covered by patterned carpets, Octavius rooms start at 550 square feet and boast pillow-top mattresses with Anchini linens and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Marble-tiled bathrooms come complete with whirlpool baths, glass-enclosed showers, and Gilchrist and Soames bath products.
One of our favorite Riviera Maya resorts just got even better. Azul Beach Hotel – featured in our Top 10 All-Inclusive Beach Resorts – has recently finished up $21 million in expansions and renovations that encompassed two new restaurants, a new 150-seat theater for live music and shows, enlarged suites, a new wedding venue, and a kids club partnership with Fisher-Price.
Punta Tragara sits high on the rocky cliffs of Capri across from the Faraglioni Sea Stacks, about a 10-minute walk from Capri Town. The splashy 44-room villa-cum-boutique hotel has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Eisenhower, Churchill, and, more recently, Jonathan Adler and Trina Turk. I checked in a few weeks ago and am happy to report that our few nights here were a highlight of our Amalfi trip. Read more
After a year-long, multi-million dollar renovation, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in Sausalito now boasts a 3,000-square-foot spa specializing in water therapy, as well as a revamp of the guestrooms and lobby.
Originally opened in 1885, the hotel emphasizes its waterfront location in design and décor updates, including shelves made from recycled sea glass in the spa and cottage rooms and nautical accents in the lobby. So far, 46 of the 63 guestrooms have been updated (including 15 of 22 primo cottage rooms); the remaining rooms will be finished by the end of 2011.
Get a taste of the city’s food scene with Casa Madrona’s Simply Sausalito package, which includes $30 towards breakfast at CIBO (featuring local and seasonal ingredients) and $100 for dinner at Sushi Ran. The package is available through December 31; July rates start at $328/night.
For general trip-planning information, see our San Francisco Travel Guide.
The Montpelier Plantation and Beach Resort, a Relais & Chateaux property, has upgraded its beach, doubling its size with two extra acres of sand, not to mention six new beach cabanas, complete with private showers. Lucky sun-worshipers can enjoy mango chilli-glazed mahi mahi and a fruit cocktail served in their private cabana or at the new pavilion lunch deck. If you can pull yourself off your cushioned lounger, adventure is at your fingertips: snorkeling, ocean kayaking, and mountain biking through the rainforest are all complimentary activities provided by the hotel. Vacationers can also venture off the resort to climb Nevis Peak (3,232 feet) for breath-taking views of the island or visit nearby Botanical Gardens. Save 42 percent through October 31 with the Montperlier on a Whim package, which includes a free room upgrade, complimentary nightly dinner for one, free tennis, and unlimited use of snorkeling equipment. Rates start at $242/night. 869-469-3462; www. montpeliernevis.com
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