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Hotel Spotlight: The William Vale

Photo credit: TheWilliamVale.com

Photo credit: TheWilliamVale.com

The unique, 21-story mixed-use tower that is the  William Vale hotel gives people a lot to talk about.

Some have called it odd-ball… and wacky.  “Peculiar,” others have said.

To be sure, the Aldo-Liberis designed building is certainly “different looking.”

Floor plan - courtesy of thewilliamvale.com

Floor plan – courtesy of thewilliamvale.com

But there is one thing no one can deny: the views. They’re spectacular. The “full service, resort level experience” hotel offers vistas fit for a king: guests will wake up in the morning with all of Manhattan (or Brooklyn or Long Island) visually laid at their feet: floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning balconies attached to every room.

The views – and their relative importance – are no small detail in the hotel. No matter if it’s from a guest’s balcony, or from the 15,000 square garden promenade, or the 60-foot outdoor pool (with 5,000 square feet of garden space), or the hotel’s rooftop bar, Westlight, the hotel’s vista point is set to advantage.

Just as obvious is the hotel’s attention to detail: from the metalwork detailing to the handcrafted drinks in the bar, the hotel strives to bring a sense of service and luxury just as lofty as its views.   Higher ceilings, hardwood floors, and sleek, designer furnishings give the rooms a light, open feeling  of elegance that is simultaneously clean and tailored.

 

Photo credit: TheWilliamVale.com

Photo credit: TheWilliamVale.com

 

 

The William Vale gives a nod to its historical location through its name (a 19th century Brooklyn resident whose property boundaries the hotel), while looking to the future in its art and architecture.  The hotel capitalizes on certain trends in the industry: offering pet-friendly rooms and featuring local artists — both trends we’ve noted in previous articles.

But, of course, what we’re just crazy about is the black and white detailing in the bath areas.  Clean, crisp and clear, the baths evoke the modern scheme found throughout the hotel.The baths capitalize on the best use of space and design, with every attention to detail addressed, while leaving out the rest.

“The development team has allocated a specific budget to enliven The William Vale with local, Brooklyn-based art. Art will be a strong component of the brand as it works to cater to a refined community that’s deeply rooted in the Brooklyn arts scene,” said General Manager Sebastien Maingourd, as shared with hotelbusinessdesign.com.

 

 

 

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The World’s Most Gorgeous Hotel Baths: Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia

 

Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge via Architectural Digest

Photo Credit: Southern Ocean Lodge via Architectural Digest

While hotel baths are usually pretty utilitarian, they don’t have to be. And apparently, the folks at Architectural Digest think so, too. Here is the gorgeous bath from Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island in Australia. While the amazing view is clearly the focal point of the room, we’re pretty enamoured with the granite tub and heated limestone floors.

 

Visit Architectural Digest to see all the hotel baths that made their list.

 

 

 

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Hotel Spotlight: InterContinental New York Barclay

Architectural firm Stonehill & Taylor took charge of the restoration and preservation for the hotel's guest rooms, public areas, and function rooms. Photo by Pablo Enriquez via The New York Times

Architectural firm Stonehill & Taylor took charge of the restoration and preservation for the hotel’s guest rooms, public areas, and function rooms. Photo by Pablo Enriquez via The New York Times

Old historical building renovations can go one of a few ways.

They can be atrocities, without care or consideration for the historical context and relevance of the building.

They can be predictable, without any imaginative forethought to current or future users of the space.

Or, they can be respectful, yet creative rediscoveries of both a bygone era – while still cognizant of modern sensibilities and future needs: a perfect blend of honor, nostalgia, practicality, and vision.

 

 

Photo credit: Intercontinental New York Barclay

Photo credit: Intercontinental New York Barclay

After a 20-month closure, The InterContinental New York Barclay $180M restoration, lead by Stonehill & Taylor architects, found that breath-taking balance. And it was worth the wait.

The 1926 building, originally a residential hotel, has a storied past. Originally funded by the Vanderbilt family, the Barclay was home to a range of luminaries: from Gloria Swanson and Bette Davis, to Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Durante.  Then-Presidential Candidate Bill Clinton’s 1992 Campaign Headquarters even called the Barclay “home.” The hotel even featured a train ticket window in the lobby, with a spiral staircase leading down to one of Grand Central Station’s train platforms (which is even still in existence.)

 

The design team used subway tiles, reminiscent of 1920s New York architecture to maintain the period feel of the building. Photo by Biztravr via Tripadvisor.com

The design team used subway tiles, reminiscent of 1920s New York architecture to maintain the period feel of the building. Photo by Biztravr via Tripadvisor.com

The Midtown hotel, evocative of “Federal-style elegance” now boasts both restored as well as bespoke period details that set the perfect scene for anyone looking to absorb the rich ambiance that is so emblematic of turn-of-the-century New York City. For example, the revolving door is decorated with brass warblers and branches, an homage to the original birdcage that graced the hotel lobby until 1995.  Hudson River styled murals grace guest rooms.  With an eye towards homeyness and comfort, the design team created custom linens and furniture, along with replacing all of the windows to seal out the street noise from below. Add in modern touches like expanded bathrooms and 42″ LED TVs, and you have all the appeal of a grand historical building, but with the creature comforts of a modern traveler in desperate need of a “home-away-from-home.”

 

The revolving door is decorated with brass warblers and branches, an homage to the original birdcage that graced the hotel lobby until 1995.  Hudson River styled murals grace guest rooms.  With an eye towards homeyness and comfort, the design team created custom linens and furniture, along with replacing all of the windows to seal out the street noise from below. Add in modern touches like expanded bathrooms and 42″ LED TVs, and you have all the appeal of a grand historical building, but with the creature comforts of a modern traveler in desperate need of a “home-away-from-home.”

 

 

Photo by Biztravr via Tripadvisor.com

Photo by Biztravr via Tripadvisor.com 

With an eye towards homeyness and comfort, HOK and IHG’s in-house design team created custom linens and furniture, along with replacing all of the original windows with double-paned,

 

We, of course, are always interested in the baths. Expanded from their original footprint, the baths provide generous counter space and lit mirrors and a choice of walk-in showers or shower/tubs.  Argon gas insulated windows to seal out the street noise from below as well as the New York stifling heat and bitter winters. Add in modern touches like expanded bathrooms and 42″ LED TVs, and you have all the appeal of a grand historical building, but with the creature comforts of a modern traveler in desperate need of a “home-away-from-home.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hotel Spotlight: Hotel Riu Plaza

The Riu Plaza, opened in early 2016, offers sleek suites with modern European sensibilities in the heart of Manhattan.

But perhaps one of the biggest selling features to this hotel is, as any real estate professional might describe, “Location, location, location.”

Photo credit: fnetravel.com

Photo credit: fnetravel.com

Set in the heart beat of iconic New York:  from Central Park to Restaurant Row, Broadway Theatre to extraordinary shopping, the Riu Plaza is a natural springboard for the traveler.  For a total immersion into all that is New York…

I mean, really? Could a better location be had?

 

Graphics credit: Review page of Riu Plaza New York, Kayak.com

The Riu Plaza sits in the heart of all that is emblematic of New City: a tourist’s paradise for theatre, shopping and site seeing.  Graphics credit: Review page of Riu Plaza New York, Kayak.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Riu is typically associated with “sun and sand” hotel locations, the hotel chain has started a new concept:  The Riu Plaza New York Times Square becomes the second urban “city hotel line” in the US, and the first $100MM non-union construction project in New York City’s history.

 

Photo credit: fnetravel.com

Photo credit: fnetravel.com

The streamlined suites include just enough modern conveniences to keep the connected traveler satisfied: wifi to allow guests to stay in touch with their modern, busy lives, knowing that they’re likely going to be “out and about town” rather than “retreating” or cocooning in their suite.

 

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Hotel Spotlight: The Redbury

The historic hotel was built from 1901-03 in the Renaissance Revival style. Photo Credit: hotelopia.com

The historic hotel was built from 1901-03 in the Renaissance Revival style. Photo Credit: hotelopia.com

 

The latest revival of the landmark Martha Washington Hotel capitalizes on the building’s historic feel and neighborhood roots in a reconceptualized lodging, The Redbury.

Long an iconic landmark of the NoMad neighborhood, The Martha Washington Hotel originally opened in 1903 as a women’s-only hotel  that catered to the growing population of women migrating to the city for work historically done by men, education and the arts.  The hotel changed hands several times throughout the 20th century, changing brand names as well to include Hotel Thirty Thirty, Hotel Lola and King & Grove New York, before joining the SBE Hotel Group.

The Redbury’s creative genius, Matthew Rolston, brought the “Matthew Magic” to his latest elevated hotel experience by drawing inspiration from  the boutique hotel’s Tin Pan Alley location, the heart of the city’s music industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, while evoking a feeling of the Redbury brand environment.

Rolston, known for his relentless creative pursuits, has a particular connection to music:  from his Rolling Stone covers to music videos for everyone from Madonna to Beyonce.  And it’s this particular connection that seems to infuse his Redbury interiors.

 

Photo Credit: historichotelsworldwide.com

Photo Credit: historichotelsworldwide.com

In an interview, Roston described his inspiration:  “Reacting to the hotel’s site, I discovered that the surrounding neighborhood was the original home of American popular music in the early parts of the 20th century, an area known as ‘Tin Pan Alley.’ Because The Redbury as a brand is a music-centric concept, that discovery was a perfect fit…. The Redbury as a brand has unique qualities. It’s casual but also somewhat theatrical. It’s fun, but it’s a brand that takes service protocols seriously. The overall feeling is quite romantic—but, it’s a mixture—relaxing and exciting at the same time, and who doesn’t want that?”

 

Photo credit: theredbury.com

Gorgeous, herringbone tile work in the spacious baths.  Photo credit: theredbury.com

The guest experience was at the center of Rolston’s design, creating an environment that was both homey, and yet evoking high artistic drama at the same time.  The rooms are uniquely Bohemian, with super soft, eclectic linens, curated photos and artwork that create an immediate inspiringly relaxed atmosphere.

That, coupled with sleek and spacious baths and signature upscale bath amenities, and you have a one of a kind experience no traveler will soon forget.

We’re particularly fond of the creative use of herringbone tile work, as seen in the photo above.  It’s details like these – in conjunction with the patterned flooring, millwork and fluted columns you find on the Selldorf Architects renovated ground floor – that make the Redbury an architectural gem.

The ground floor of The Redbury still has the architectural characteristics of a bygone era, complete with soaringly high ceilings, blue cement tiled floors, fluted columns, and gorgeous millwork. Its juxtaposed old world style with modern stylings creates a unique home for Roman-style pizzeria, Marta. Photo credit: selldorf.com.

The ground floor of The Redbury still has the architectural characteristics of a bygone era, complete with soaringly high ceilings, blue cement tiled floors, fluted columns, and gorgeous millwork. Its juxtaposed old world style with modern stylings creates a unique home for Roman-style pizzeria, Marta. Photo credit: selldorf.com.

 

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Hotel Spotlight: The Four Seasons Lower Manhattan

We’re looking forward to seeing the Four Seasons Lower Manhattan opening scheduled for late summer. Its second Four Seasons location in Manhattan, the new hotel occupies the first 22 floors of one of New York’s largest residential buildings is in a prime spot of the revitalized Downtown area.

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

With classic Four Seasons luxury, guest rooms evoke elegance coupled with all the convenience of high-tech.  The suites, designed by the partnership of George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, are the epitome of urban retreat and Four Seasons style. Guest rooms have Smart TVs, Bose stereo systems, and generous closet space.

 

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

Photo by Four Seasons Downtown, Lower Manhattan

Of course, no article spotlight from us would be complete without a peek inside the bath. The bath suite includes a large tub, separate shower, and separate WC.  And for those of us who like to “unplug… but not too much,” Four Seasons has included vanity mirrors with a built-in TV.

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Hotel Spotlight: The Beekman

The Beekman is an architectural, historical and luxurious gem: or, as their parent company, Thompson Hotels,

describes the building, it’s  “a masterpiece rediscovered.”

Beekman Temple Atrium

As the forerunner to the modern office building, Beekman Temple Court building was the ideal location for lawyers working in the area in the late 1800s. Photo credit: scoutingny.com

 

And rediscovered it is.

 

Photo credit: thebeekman.com

Photo credit: thebeekman.com

Emblematic of a bygone era, this red brick, historical building is perhaps best known for its 9 story atrium.  Having once been the site of New York’s first theatre (Shakespeare’s Hamlet opened here in 1761), the location is home to a legendary past.

The 1881 building truly speaks of New York’s glorious history, trimmed in detail work, filigree and cast iron you simply don’t see anymore. And amidst this character and charm, The Beekman is also LEED certified  as a sustainable building.

As the site, concretethinker.com defines it, LEED is “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.”

A gorgeous, historic building with stunning craftsmanship and to-die-for detailing?

Be still our hearts.

In addition to its architecture and sustainable sensibility, the Beekman is home to a few other jewels.  Restuaranteur and Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio brings his talents to The Beekman with his new restaurant, Fowler & Wells, to the hotel’s elegant and exquisitely detailed dining room.  With Colicchio’s passion for ingredients and world class techniques, the restaurant should turn the head of every culinary afficianado. Colicchio is also the mastermind behind the hotel’s in-room dining and catering.

Photo credit: thebeekman.com

Photo credit: thebeekman.com

But of course, we’re excited to see the detail and craftsmanship in the suites — particularly the baths. The “lived-in, luxurious glamor” feeling you’ll find in the Beekman is a hallmark of interior architect Martin Brudnizki.

Brudnizki capitalized on the suites’ superb assets — cathedral ceilings and aged wood floors — and maximized the glamour of a golden age, leaving his sophisticated touches in every detail of the guest experience.   Spacious Carrara marble-tiled baths. Rain showers. Curated artworks. Custom-designed beds with leather headboards. Sateen Sferra linens.

He also devised an extraordinary mix of vintage and bespoke furnishing touches that were painstakingly sourced from antique dealers throughout the world.

What results is an extraordinary bouquet of sensory experiences that no guest will ever forget.

 

 

 

Due to fire code issues, the breath-taking atrium was shuttered for nearly 70 years. Photo credit: untappedcities.com

Due to fire code issues, the breath-taking atrium was shuttered for nearly 70 years. Photo credit: untappedcities.com

 

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Marriott Innovating the Hotel Experience

Given shifting demographics and changing technology expectations, hotels have been trying to find new ways reinvent the hotel experience.

Generational graphic

Generational breakdowns by year and size. Graphic from Pew Research.

While millennials, those born between 1980 – mid 90s, are perhaps the most visible or talked about reason for hotels exploring rebranding, they’re certainly not the only reason.

Generation Z, those born from approximately 1995 – 2010 (ages 6-21 in 2016), is an equally large, influential population.  They are often described as “true digital natives, more pragmatic, more cautious, more money-conscious, and more globally minded” than previous generations.  (If you’re curious, Alpha Generation comes next and consists of all those children born after 2010.)

Then let’s add the changing face of technology as well as consumer expectations: wide spread wireless high speed access, on-demand everything, and unique one-to-one experiences.

Oh – and let’s do it all on a budget.

“For [Generation Z], traveling becomes a marker of adulthood,” saysMelanie Shreffler, senior editorial director at Cassandra Report. “Seventy-seven percent of 14 to 18 year-olds say that traveling without supervision is a marker of adulthood—and 42 percent of those teens feel like they are adults. That’s a significant number.” And in addition, Generation Z still has significant influence over purchasing decisions made by their Gen X parents and/or Baby Boomer grand parents.

The Cassandra Report’s Generation Z study shows 84 percent of kids aged 7-17  influence their family’s overall spending. “When it comes to family vacations and travel, 32 percent of parents say their kids hold a lot of influence on vacations and spending, and 54 percent of parents say kids have some influence,” Shreffler said.

But just because the following concepts were initially intended for the Millennial or Emerging Generation Z market, don’t think that other generations won’t appreciate them. “Baby boomers and even the Silent generation give us very high scores for the new approach,” Mike Dearing, managing director of Marriott Hotels, shared with Fast Company .

Which brings us to the innovation and re-thinking hotels like Marriott are exploring.  Examples include:

Moxie Hotel Public Living Room

Check out the Moxy’s public “Living Room” space where guests can mix, mingle and congregate. Photo credit Marriott via Washington Post.

 

Cozy and Cool micro-hotels. Designed to appeal to millennials, Marriott’s “Moxy” hotels are sensible, sleek spaces  “defined by attitude rather than affordability.” Rooms will typically be smaller than the average hotel room (approximately 200 square feet), with glitzy common areas, … or as shared in the Washington Post, “open bars, all-night cafes and a buzzing living space where things are always happening.”

 

 

 

 

Marriott’s Innovation Lab Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. Throughout the property, guests will find “beta buttons” and “beta boards” where customers can give an immediate “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to every part of the customer experience.  “The Charlotte hotel is really our innovation lab. This is where we’re testing our best thinking and new concepts. We’re staying in constant dialogue with our guests to figure out what works and what they connect with best,” Dearing said.

For example, through the Innovation Lab, Marriott found that guests preferred the homey feeling of rooms with hard wood floors rather than carpeting. That new finding has been incorporated in the last 20 Marriott renovation projects.

A Localized, Brand Experience.

Marriott found that while Boomers expected consistency of experience (ie: The Marriott burger you get in Denver is the same burger you get in Philadelphia), Millennials were looking for unique, culturally difference experiences based on where they were at. So Marriott has been cracking the code on how to evoke the “Marriott Brand Experience” with a localized twist: a Marriott guest stay that’s still unique to Omaha or Seattle or Miami.

One way Marriott is doing this is through amenities: the services and resources available in the hotel.  For example, a local chef may partner with the Marriott to include a new cafe or restaurant that reflects the local area’s unique cuisine or flair.  The Innovation Lab also found that Millennials sought out opportunities to meet people: like taking a gym class or mingling in the coffee bar area with cozy, comfy chairs and seating areas designed to invite conversation.

Finding new ways to maintain brand value, and yet appeal to the changing tastes of the traveling market will be vital. How is your brand finding ways to adapt?

 

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Hotels with Sustainable Luxury: The Peninsula Hotel Chicago

Chicago Peninsula Hotel Bathroom Renovation

The $37 Million renovation included high tech touches and luxury finishings in every aspect of the freshly redesigned rooms. Conde Nast touts the Peninsula “Chicago’s Most High Tech Hotel.” Photo Credit: The Peninsula Hotel – Chicago.

Spectacular. That’s the word that comes to mind when you get a glimpse of the Chicago hotel’s 329 room renovation. “We’ve taken inspiration from the existing hotel. And the existing hotel has a strong deco influence,” Bill Rooney, design director of Bill Rooney Studio located in New York City, the mastermind behind the re-design said.

Some of the more impressive details include:

  • Each guest room has an “art wall” that is both hand-painted and hand embroidered, incorporating traditional Chinese artisan techniques into the very fabric of the room.
  • The Peninsula took great care to source entirely from North America, and regionally when possible.
  • Every guest room has 3 tablets where you can find out what’s happening in the hotel or in the city, place a room service order, or read any of 3,000 magazines or newspapers (in any of 55 different languages.)

“We created a room that really accommodates all needs, and immerses that guest in luxury. It’s a space in itself that you like to spend time in,” the New York designer said.

 

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Hotels with Sustainable Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Lana’i

 

FS Lanai

The Four Seasons Lanai evokes the ultimate in luxury. Photo credit: Four Seasons.com

It’s easy to see why this Four Seasons property ranked as one of the most anxiously awaited renovations of 2016 by Forbes Travel.

The Todd-Avery Lenahan redesign incorporates a Polynesian feel to the hotel, bringing a cornucopia of natural elements into the new rooms.

The balance between technology and zen-like relaxation is found in the bath: with stone covered vanities, teak paneling, and slate floors the rain shower or deep soaking tub becomes a get-away in itself.

The Four Seasons Lanai bath suite with disappearing TV.  Photo courtesy: FS Lanai.

The Four Seasons Lanai bath suite with disappearing TV. Photo courtesy: FS Lanai.

But for those of us who just can’t seem to “turn off” the tube… never fear, there’s a hidden in-mirror TV too (see left).  The TV monitor disappears so beautifully, it’s easy to miss it in our photo.  (The mirror and TV monitor are on the left side of the photo, reflecting the bath towel next to it.)

How amazing?! Truly “now you see it, now you don’t” technology that enhances the experience without cluttering the ambiance.

The benefits of technology are in other areas too: the bed can be customized to your desired level of mattress firmness. Guests can also request wristband smart room keys.

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