Hotels + Resorts
Leave it to those wacky publicists to figure out new and unique ways of getting their clients a plug. So hats off to the one who came up with the "quirkiest" travel jobs. We've listed a few of them below. And, as you might have guessed, we've also added a few of our own that we'd like to see.
Sir Richard Branson just wants a damn cup of tea. Is that so hard to find?
When the 64-year-old tycoon is on the road, the answer, apparently, is yes. “Most hotels don’t serve a decent cup of tea at any hour, let alone after breakfast,” he says. How apt, then, that Branson’s new hotel serves breakfast—and properly made tea—23 hours a day.
The 250-room Virgin Hotels Chicago, which opened Thursday, occupies the Old Dearborn Bank Building, a 1928 Deco tower in the Loop. It’s the first property from the new Virgin Hotels brand—or, rather, the opening salvo. Hotels are a natural next move for the conglomerate three decades after its first foray into travel. It’s easy to forget what an outlier Virgin Atlantic was in 1984: a cheeky interloper in a room full of staid grown-ups. As Branson puts it, Virgin’s knack is for “entering stale markets where customers are being ripped off.” (Of note: the company just announced plans to launch a cruise line, too.)
Following on the heels of the world’s swankiest Ferris wheel and a series of other extravagant Las Vegas debuts is Omnia Nightclub, Hakkasan Group’s glitzy new party center at Ceasars Palace.
This spring, a cushy rooftop lounge, color-shifting light shows and interactive LED displays will summon ravers everywhere to the multimillion dollar renovation of the outdated PURE Nightclub.
From Cape Town to the bush, villas and private estates are the latest way to splurge in South Africa.
Luxurious new rental properties are making it easier than ever to create an extended-family dream trip in South Africa. The Oppenheimer clan turned one of its getaways into Tarkuni ($$$$$), in the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in the country. The five-suite property has a dedicated chef and a Land Rover for tracking black rhinos and Kalahari lions.
Mediterranean Surf package includes:
• Four nights in a Deluxe room.
• Daily surf lessons at nearby Banana Beach.
• 30 minute massages after each surf lesson.
Cost: $1,600 ($400 per night), double, February 1–March 30.
Most of the large booking sites don’t vet all their inventory, so it’s up to you to approach each listing with a critical eye. Below, T+L’s tips for searching intelligently.
Cast a wide net
Start with an aggregator like Tripping.com, which searches more than 2 million listings on partner sites that include FlipKey, HomeAway, and 9Flats. Once you find a rental, see if it’s run by an owner or a management company. The latter can usually respond more quickly and reliably than an owner, who may not have a handyman on call. Note that some properties appear on multiple sites— and rates can vary greatly between them. For example, we found listings for the same house in Palm Springs, California, that ranged from $2,088 (VRBO) to $3,470 (Airbnb) for a week in June.
The Chateau. The Pink Palace. The Riot Hyatt. L.A.’s big and buzzy glamour-puss hotels have served as sceney backdrops for the indiscretions of nearly a century’s worth of A-listers. But now that paparazzi lenses and cell-phone cameras rule the roost, privacy has become the real luxury. “No one likes coming down to breakfast only to have to take a selfie with a clueless fan,” hotelier Jeff Klein says. Klein should know: his Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood is a beloved hangout for regulars like Jennifer Aniston and Tom Ford. But his newest project, a renovation of the historic San Vicente Bungalows, is a decidedly under-the-radar affair, with just 29 rooms, no bar, and a small, shaded pool area. And it points to a growing trend in Los Angeles of discreet, personalized bolt-holes, often in historic buildings, where celebs and civilians alike can cocoon in privacy. “Any city is isolating—L.A. even more so because of the car factor,” Klein says. “Now people are craving these intimate hotels.” Here are four new favorites.
Navigating this teeming megacity can be a dizzying affair. T+L tapped three locals to show us around town.
The Impresario: Sanya Souvanna
Phouma Managing partner at Maggie Choo’s nightclub
Moved to Bangkok in 1997
Last great meal: Some buddies and I recently went on a dining tour: five restaurants, lots of drinking, and everything from French small plates at Maison Blanche to jamón ibérico at Vesper.
After dark: I often head to Jazz Happens, on the hipster strip Phra Athit, where everyone dances around the band. At Maggie Choo’s (320 Silom Rd., Bang Rak), we started doing a highbrow gay cabaret night on Sundays, something Bangkok hasn’t seen before.
Boutique hotel picks: Cabochon has Shanghainese sofas and an old-Orient feel. And I love the saltwater lap pool at Ad Lib.
Four small hotels that let you live large.
Montpelier Plantation & Beach, Nevis
This elegant Relais & Châteaux hideaway in the mountains, which also has a seaside club, has been drawing the in-crowd for years. And it’s more stylish than ever now that the 19 rooms have been redone with natural Caribbean accents (local-bamboo headboards, coral lamps). $$
Q: I found a great place through a vacation-rental website. What could go wrong?
The apartment was a dream: the entire light-filled top floor, a one bedroom with an eat-in kitchen and a living room, in a restored Victorian row house in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights for less than $200 a night. My friend and her husband were ecstatic and everything went smoothly… until they emerged from their bathroom on the first night, teeth brushed and ready for bed, to find the owner mysteriously puttering around their living room. “Just checking in,” she told them.