Archive for Hotels

Collins Club Miami Beach, Hotel Meets Private Club

The Collins Club in Miami Beach

I’ve recently had Miami Beach on the brain as I was contemplating heading out West for Art Basel Miami. That’s of course a long time from now, December 6-9–but with airfares so high and airports so hectic, it’s never too early to start planning.

Perfect timing, as the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach resort recently announced a new membership program: The Collins Club.

If I haven’t mentioned it before on Chic Trek, I am a big fan of hotel private membership programs. A while back I participated in one at the Chamberlain West Hollywood.

Sometimes you don’t want to make the expenditure (and commitment) to a private club like Jonathan or SoHo, but you fancy getting far from the madding crowd for a little bit of privacy and exclusivity. What better non-commital luxury of which to partake?

In the case of Collins, you pay a flat annual fee, and the membership gives you access to resort facilities and activities, as well as a preferred pricing plan all over the property.

There are two tiers of membership there: Eden–which includes 15% off select spa and salon treatments (at their ELLE spa), 10% off floral arrangements and 15% off food, drinks and retail purchases; and Roc–which includes six gratis spa and salon treatments per month and a 25% discount for Camp Roc (for kids 5-12)

So, next time you find yourself on Millionaire’s Row during a stint at Art Basel Miami, on a business trip or just a private sojourn, pop in and ask them about the program.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel


Hotel Experience:
When the places you stay at are pivotal to your travel experience–be it by virtue of a uniquely artistic design, a special location, in-house events or unusual services that offer extra insight into the city or town you’re visiting

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles

Photo Courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Contemporary Glamour Meets Hollywood’s Golden Age

By Jacqueline Fitzgerald

Just steps away from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Zorro and Johnny Depp impersonators, tour bus operators and camera-wielding out-of-towners, the Roosevelt Hotel’s lobby provides breezy respite from the hubbub of Hollywood Boulevard. Since 1927, guests have appreciated its Moorish-influenced design (monumental walls, airy arcades, muraled ceilings) and atmosphere of glamorous tranquility.

A favorite of powerbrokers and stars, such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, the hotel was built to cater to East Coast movie-makers working in Los Angeles. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer were among its backers.

The first Oscars ceremony took place in the Blossom Room on May 16, 1929. Additionally, the Roosevelt has been a location for many films including Charlie’s Angels II (2003), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Internal Affairs (1990) and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987).

In 2005, the 300-room hotel became part of the Thompson Hotels Group and underwent renovation by designer Dodd Mitchell. The results managed to preserve the property’s Spanish Colonial Revival character while enticing the Hollywood in crowd and other offshoots of the Beautiful People tribe, whether for overnight stays or an evening’s entertainment.

This isn’t to say that everyone you see is strategically evading the paparazzi. There’s much potential for people-watching of all sorts and plenty of places to explore.

Teddy’s nightclub, for example, bills itself as a celebrity haunt hideaway. At the 1920s-inspired Spare Room, a gaming parlor and drinks lounge, you can bowl, play games or just relax. The Library Bar offers handcrafted cocktails. Public Kitchen & Bar is a casual dining room, and 25 Degrees puts a creative twist on burgers, fries and milkshakes. Outside, at the Tropicana bar, you can cool off with a beverage or a dip in the water and see David Hockney’s work on the bottom of the pool.

Cabana Rooms at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles

Photo Courtesy of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

On a recent visit, I stayed in one of the cabana rooms, which were refurbished in 2011. Clean lines, neutral colors (white, beige, grey) and a blend of textures (brick, blonde wood, glass and leather) catch the eye and create a mellow mood. The room wasn’t huge, but this is almost always the case in older hotels. If poolside lounging followed by a peaceful night is a priority, a cabana is the ideal place to stay.

All rooms and suites feature temperature-control units, two phone lines with speaker and conference capabilities, and in-room pantries. I enjoyed the oversized terry-cloth robe provided as well as the magnifying mirror and blowdryer in the bathroom. Bath products by C.O. Bigelow included conditioner, which is always a nice touch.

Checking in was easy. The pot of Lamill coffee I ordered in the morning arrived promptly and, when the room phone wasn’t working, a technician came quickly to fix it.

Rates vary but you can expect to pay about $290 in the main building and about $350 for a cabana room. My only quibble is that wi-fi/ internet access is an extra $15/day.

Otherwise, my stay allowed me to enjoy the high energy of Hollywood, knowing I could later escape to quiet comfort.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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5 Designer Hotels of the Moment

1. Jade Jagger/Baglioni, Marrakech

Jade Jagger Designed Baglioni Marrakech Hotel
With a clothing boutique in London’s chic and always quirky Notting Hill, and a dad with moves like… well, you get the picture, Jade Jagger has her finger on the pulse. Add to that the fact that she’s the designer on the Baglioni Marrakech Hotel (2013), and the future is bright for the talented creator.

2. The Armani Hotel, Milan

Armani Hotel Italy

Armani and Milano go together like fric and frac (or fric and fashion). The Northern Italian city was the perfect location for a hotel by the legendary fashion house, the much-buzzed Armani Hotel. The look is masculine and subdued. The furnishings are from Armani Casa’s home collection. And, according to a New York Times scribe, even the Q-Tips are chic–black and a whopping six inches long (but don’t get any inappropriate thoughts).

3. Missoni Hotel, Antalya, Turkey

Missoni Hotel Turkey

The flamboyant stripey look is unmistakable: Missoni. Imagine an entire hotel decked out in that style. Antalya, Turkey (a.k.a. The Turkish Riviera) will get a taste of Italian chic in 2013 when it becomes home to the Hotel Missoni Belek Antalya. But forget all that fashion house fluff, what I’m most excited about is the 18-hole golf course designed by Swedish golf champ Annika Sörenstam.

4. Bulgari Hotel, London

Bulgari Hotel London

Founded in 1884, Bulgari has been a mainstay in the high-end jewelry, watch and accessory sphere for well over a century. Now, the Italian company is ready for its close-up, 2012 Olympics style. Just in time for the festivities, the hotel will open its doors in a London West End fashion hub: Knightsbridge.

5. Martin Margiela/Maison des Champs Elysées

Martin Margiela Maison Champs Elysees Hotel Paris

I’ve saved the best–or at least my favourite–for last: Belgian designer Martin Margiela’s epic and jaw-dropping Maison des Champs Elysées in the City of Light. The structure dates back to 1864 when it was the home of Princess d’Essing, Duchess of Rivoli. It marries the best of classical style with sparklingly spartan Post Modern splendour. A ‘oui,’ in my book.

Monte-Carlo Beach Relais & Chateaux… Deco-Futuro

Monte Carlo Beach Hotel

Designer India Mahdavi once told Index magazine that she counts among her heroes James Bond, adding, “He’s sexy, and it always puts me in a good mood when I see him.”

The timeless Ian Fleming character would certainly appreciate Mahdavi’s latest project: the refurbishing of the grand old Monte-Carlo Beach Relais & Chateaux which struts its stuff, so to speak in the coming month.

Monte Carlo Beach Hotel

Originally opened in the ’30s, it has been restored to its former glory with some contemporary even futuristic touches (although what is futuristic these days–the future is five minutes from now). In any case, the old upscale hospice has apparently still retained its signature Mediterranean style.

Some of its more interesting elements are the award-winning Deco-futuristic fixtures created by Roman company .PSLAB.

Monte Carlo Beach Hotel Chateau & Relais

However, beyond design, hedonists (present company included) will surely gravitate towards the hotel’s spa, Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo where Moroccan treatments await along with every woman’s best friend: facials and body treatments courtesy of  crème-de-la-crème skincare artistes La Prairie.

Related: Interactive Travel in the Cote d’Azur

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia


Hotel Experience:
When the places you stay at are pivotal to your travel experience–be it by virtue of a uniquely artistic design, a special location, in-house events or unusual services that offer extra insight into the city or town you’re visiting

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia

Photos Courtesy of Southern Ocean Lodge

Eco-Luxury Dreams Fulfilled at The Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

By Shana Ting Lipton

[Originally published on York Times Company]

If a consortium of international power elites were to meet to discuss world domination, it would be at a long table in the pristine and sleek restaurant at the Southern Ocean Lodge (SOL). Here, before a breathtaking view of the craggy beach, the Southern Ocean seems to go on forever–or at least 3000 miles until it hits land in Antarctica.

That’s the sort of lofty notion that fuels unrestrained ambition, while paradoxically inducing a sense of peace. In laymen’s terms–in fact, even for a fairly seasoned traveler–this exclusive South Australian retreat feels like the sweeping, remote, near-mythical setting of a James Bond film.

Its positioning, on the largely eco-conserved Kangaroo Island (K.I.), is ideal. Take a flight from Adelaide and you’re at Kingscote airport in less than 20 minutes. A drive and ferry takes a few hours. In a couple of hours one can traverse the island East to West (the Lodge is situated on its southern tip).

The SOL’s design–by local architect Max Pritchard–is such that it blends unobtrusively with the natural landscape. Lodgings sit atop limestone cliffs and all have great views. Each room is named after a K.I. shipwreck (as it’s known as the ‘shipwreck island’). God is in the details here–from heated floors and local amenities like sea salts to tasty treats like the Aussie sweet ‘lamingtons’ displayed on a net-covered dish on arrival.

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia

Life–if you would consider four days (the average stay) at the Lodge ‘life’–is Utopian enough that it’s difficult to imagine leaving the premises. However, for visitors with perpetual wanderlust, the SOL offers activities on or near its 200 acre confines. You can, for instance, partake of canapes and cocktails on the jacuzzi-side balcony and then get whisked away on a nocturnal kangaroo spotting excursion.

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio had mentioned that eating at their restaurant was one of his all time top dining experiences. I myself sampled two particularly memorable dishes: a mouth-watering Moroccan spiced quail with char grilled vegetables and spiced K.I. sheep’s milk yogurt, and the best affogato I’ve ever had (topped with native Island Sting honey liqueur). The eatery’s visual tone is set by South Australian artist Janine Mackintosh’s pieces constructed from dry leaves.

My stay was sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission, but I can imagine the cost of a stay for ‘civilians’ would seem jaw-dropping (starting at $1100 per person per night) until you see the place, and consider that meals, guided tours, snacks and amenities are included. The feeling that all–with the exception of on-site spa treatments–is paid for from the start lends itself to a serene stay. The exception, of course, are those heated ‘world take-over’ meetings with your global elite cohorts. It’s hard not to think in such over-zealous terms when a stay in this special spot makes you feel like the world is already yours.

Southern Ocean Lodge

Read Full Review With Rating at Australian and New Zealand Travel

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Base 2 Stay in London’s South Kensington


Hotel Experience:
When the places you stay at are pivotal to your travel experience–be it by virtue of a uniquely artistic design, a special location, in-house events or unusual services that offer extra insight into the city or town you’re visiting

Base 2 Stay Hotel in London's Kensington

Hotel Photos: Base2Stay

A Lower-Cost Gem in Posh South Kensington

By Shana Ting Lipton

Don’t let the space-age name fool you. Base2stay is not some sci-fi pod dwelling geared towards contemporary Blade Runners. What it is is a tasteful, chic and central so-called budget hotel for London visitors not keen on battling crowds and notoriously high Central London accommodation costs.

I might put it in my ‘more caché than cash’ category, however, it’s not a dirt cheap budget hotel by any stretch of the imagination either.

If you like your hotels non-hotely, this place is for you. In other words, if you like to experience the sensation of what it might be like to actually live in Kensington (who wouldn’t?), base2stay will appeal.

Instead of returning from a day of city-touring to a busy hotel lobby with an adjacent mega-priced touristy restaurant, you return to a pretty little townhouse in a quiet mostly residential area. You get buzzed in, and when you enter, the small reception area is tucked away to the left. Straight ahead, a flight of stairs beckons.

My double-twin room was nicely sized. It had rather high ceilings and a spectacular view. One of the windows looked out onto a small, charming building across the street; the other onto a private garden (which most romantically inclined Americans would associate with the film Notting Hill).

Base 2 Stay Hotel in London's Kensington

The decor is clean, contemporary and bright–nothing too artsy and outrageous, but there are definite chic undertones.

Technically considered an ‘aparthotel,’ base2stay boasts a compact, hidden kitchenette in each room which includes a sink, refrigerator, microwave and shelves filled with dishes–which is perfect since, as mentioned earlier, there is no restaurant on-site. They do make up for the latter by offering 10-30% discounts at local neighborhood eateries though.

There is a wireless keyboard by the TV screen in each room and free Internet usage (there is a small charge for unlimited downloads via broadband). Most people will probably find the free wi-fi the most practical. The latter is a bit slow at times; then again whose wi-fi isn’t?

And if you’re eco-conscious, you’ll be pleased to hear that this is also a certified green hotel.

The location is damn near unbeatable. As I mentioned, you’re smack dab in the middle of a very pretty (especially when the flowers are in bloom in Spring and Summer) largely residential block in Kensington. The Earl’s Court and Gloucester Road tube stations are roughly equidistant from the hotel. And it’s about a seven minute walk from some great Spanish tapas spots on Old Brompton Road.

In summary, base2stay delivers on the promise implied by its name. I enjoyed daily walks around the lush gardens of lovely Kensington, only to return to a charming and oh-so-civilized home base.

25 Courtfield Gardens

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Francis Ford Coppola’s Restored Palazzo Casa Margherita

Francis Ford Coppola's Restored Palazzo Casa Margherita in Italy

A World of Interiors Spread of Coppola's Casa Margherita, Room #9

Apologies for the poor excuse for a photo of what looks to be a truly spectacular restored palazzo with walls of repurposed 1920s silk, 1940s furnishings, and custom-designed chandeliers in Southern Italy. It is owned by none other than legendary director Francis Ford Coppola.

The reason for the makeshift snap is that the original shot of Casa Margherita was from March’s The World of Interiors magazine. And although the rag is epic in its design tastes, it doesn’t seem to have gotten with the times vis-a-vis a proper website with previews of the edition.

In any case, I was mesmerised by the article and concomitant photos which depicted a gorgeously restored early 18th century historical structure in Bernalda decorated by none other than Jacques Grange (of YSL Morocco homestead fame) with a little help from Mr. Coppola’s wife and daughter Sofia.

Like all great places of integrity, this started as a labour of love. The director wanted to connect to his family roots (in the vicinity). When he found and purchased the property he became hell-bent on making it a place to which his kids would want to return.

Somewhere along the way, he decided to open it up to the public. So, although, usually one sits there rapt in envious reverie whilst pouring over the pages of such interiors glossies, this time, the reader can in fact partake of the grandeur and old-meets-new chic of Casa Margherita.

However, after word spreads with names like Coppola (Mr. and Ms.) and Grange attached to the buzz, it may be damned near impossible to secure a room.

This is where that dreaming comes in again…Now I’ve got Room #9 on the brain!

For the Swan Song Repertoire: Hayman Island Resort

Hayman Island Reef Resort Queensland

If seeing the Seven Wonders of the World is on your bucket list (or as I prefer to call it ‘Swan Song Repertoire’), there’s a rather enchanting and decontracté experience waiting for you South of the Equator.

Hayman Island–not to be confused with the Cayman Islands. This floating gem is home to a resort by the same name–Hayman- situated on the northern tip of Whisunday Island in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland. That’s right, you have to go all the way to Australia to insert yourself into the above photo and breathe in that pristine air–at once unified with nature and in the lap of luxury.

I personally developed something of a burgeoning penchant for slightly off-the-radar islands in Australia since my incredible trip to Kangaroo Island last winter. So, as far as I’m concerned the lengthy journey is just par for the course.

Hayman spans 726 acres and fashions itself a high end nature retreat (it’s also a member of The Leading Hotels of the World). And if you’re lucky enough to have a generous, romantic and wanderlusty spouse, you may be heading there for Valentine’s Day. They’re offering several extravagant V-Day packages. The two I’m eyeing with baited breath:

The Perle Degustation Menu: Dine at their Fontaine restaurant and receive a Perle dessert, featuring hand-crafted Valrhona White Chocolate draped with Depazzi 18 carat white-gold earrings with South Sea pearls and a pair of Marquis cut GVSI diamonds. Yum.

And ladies, Oprah, Julia Roberts, etc. if you’re the ones footing the bill there’s also a couples helicopter tour that will whisk you up, up and away, above Hayman for a 15-minute joy ride. But, um, don’t get any ideas from the word ‘joy.’ It’s a helicopter, not a jet, ladies, comport yourselves!

Hayman Island Luxury Resort Near Queensland, Australia

Greece…Perchance to Dream?

On the Rocks Hotel Santorini

On the Rocks Hotel in Santorini, Greece

Is it terrible to have a deep desire to luxuriate and relax in Greece? Especially during such an inopportune time for the Greeks? I wouldn’t file this under ‘disaster travel’ (hunting for opportunities afforded in the wake of a major meteorological or terrorist incident) but it’s a bit of a vice.

I can’t help it though. Ever since the first time I went to Greece in the late ’90s I’ve been in love with it. And at the time I wasn’t even seeing the crème de la crème of the islands. I was–like the Blur song “Girls and Boys” implied–”following the heard down to Greece,” or Kos to be specific. And what awaited was a Euro-mélange of a party and hookup scene.

Still, I found one opportunity to get away and visit a beautiful cove in the middle of the night. I got to see the sun rise over Rhodos and set over Bodrum, Turkey.

new hotel athens

The New Hotel in Athens, Greece

Ever since I’ve been keen on getting back. And it’s not as if life in Greece is at a standstill–hospitality-wise. The New Hotel opened about a half a year ago in Athens.

Designed by Fernando and Umberto Campana (it’s their first hotel project), the vibrant and arty 79 room property is located next to the Acropolis and its new museum.

I’d love to stay there for a few days and take in all the rich art and architectural history and then hop over to one of the islands for a decompression sojourn. On the Rocks in Santorini would suit just fine.

Private Clubs: What’s a Fickle Socialiser to Do?

SoHo House Berlin

For a long time, the idea of joining a private club didn’t make sense to me. Being a bit ADD in my cultural fixations, I couldn’t imagine paying dues at one establishment which would then become my default social arena.

In LA, I visited the Jonathan Club which is lovely in the summer for its perfect positioning alongside the Pacific Ocean but ultimately more of a families-with-kids place (that’s Hell on a hangover on most weekends).

During the last months of my time in Amsterdam I met some colleagues at Baby, a fabulously stylish club on the Keizersgracht canal that was geared towards creatives (and tied to an uber-hip magazine of the same name). Sadly I departed soon after and so did Baby which has long since closed its doors.

In London, clubs are a big, big thing, and you can’t throw a stone without hitting one. Everything from the super-stuffy ones in Mayfair to Paul Allen and Dave Stewart’s ultra-casual, jeans-sporting Valhalla: The Hospital Club.

Initially, the most appealing of the lot to me was Home House. West End-centrally located in Marble Arch, it is housed in a gorgeous 18th century building and the plus (for an Angeleno) is that it has a gym–included in membership. The scene is perfect there too–not too grubby and casual but not too stick-up-the-bum.

I discovered, however, that they charge a trumped-up membership initiation fee of £1800 which I’m guessing is non-refundable. Beyond the fact that it’s the highest initiation fee of any club around here (according to some club survey sites), it’s even more of a killer if you’re a fickle frolicker and want to join a club for a year and then join another the following year.

SoHo House in Manhattan

Ultimately, the tried and true (for media types) SoHo House may well offer the most varied memberships–the ones to all of its properties: London (including SoHo, Notting Hill, Chiswick, Shoreditch and Somerset), Berlin, New York, West Hollywood and Miami. It doesn’t look like any of the London branches have gyms but there is a pool at Shoreditch House.

Besides, if you’re a constant traveller who likes style and taste, and you’re a tad lazy (ahem), there’s probably nothing better.

SoHo House Somerset England