Westin Hotels & Resorts is rolling out new gyms worldwide, all with a more spalike atmosphere—neutral colors; woven flooring—and special blue light-therapy fixtures, which (apparently) have an energizing effect.
InterContinental Hotels Group, meanwhile, has announced a new wellness-themed brand called Even Hotels. Rooms will have jump ropes and exercise balls; breakfasts include free smoothies. The first property is expected in early 2013, perfectly timed to help with New Year’s resolutions.
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It’s been a bad year for Donald Trump when it comes to elections.
His latest voter-based imbroglio, however, has less to do with Washington, and more to do with hotel bars, golf and feisty farmers.
The real estate and resort mogul recently banned Glenfiddich whisky at all of his properties, reportedly after taking offense at some implied opposition to his new Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (The resort has no hotel yet: one obstacle is Trump’s dispute with a neighboring wind farm project, but that’s a whole other drama.)
In September, the Ritz-Carlton gave T+L exclusive early access to its new video series, the Art of the Craft—a behind-the-scenes look at key employees who influence the guest experience. But the company didn't just stop with four videos, and they've again given us exclusive early access to their newest: a florist in Barcelona and a steward in Washington, D.C.
Its not exactly reality TV—there's no screaming Gordon Ramsay–type character screaming (though let's face it, we don't really need more of that). But the videos do a good job showcasing the efforts of people we might otherwise underappreciate—knowing how much passion and experience goes into a hotel's flower presentations, for example, helps us all better understand all the intricacies of operating a luxury hotel.
An ocean-side cocktail is one of the numerous hallmarks of a quintessential beach escape. Now, the Niyama Resort on the Maldives’ far-flung Dhaalu Atoll is taking that concept to a new level, inviting guests to tope drinks and party the night away—wait for it—beneath the Indian Ocean. More than 500 yards offshore and a 40-minute seaplane jaunt from Malé, Subsix is the world’s first sunken club. When the full moon sets the ocean aglow, revelers can dance to international deejays and take in aquarium-like views of sea turtles wading in the surf and tropical fish interspersed on the reef.
In such a sensitive ecosystem, it’s encouraging to hear careful measures were taken to minimalize the environmental impact. Subsix was constructed above ground and placed delicately on a swath of empty seafloor. The resort also enlisted a marine biologist and launched a coral restoration program in which pieces of defunct reef are rehabilitated and returned to their natural habitats.
The only thing missing in this human fishbowl is the scuba diver figurine.
Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.
The capital of Azerbaijan has long been a stomping ground for oil-industry tycoons. And with a surge of glam hotels hitting the scene, it’s hoping to become the next destination for the Vuitton set. Here, five notable newcomers.
Opening date: Early 2013
Number of rooms: 318
What you’ll love: Multiplex cinema; designer stores; four restaurants; 18-room spa from Espa.
You know you’re in Baku when you…spy the undulating-flame-shaped building, which pays tribute to the country’s nickname, the Land of the Fire.
The heady scent of roses and exotic fruit tea is intoxicating as I enter the hotel suite. “We are so happy to have you,” says a smiling Indian gentleman in a perfectly pressed suit. His words are impossible not to believe.
Treating guests like royalty is a lofty goal that many hotels—too many—give much lip service to. Most properties, as we know, rarely live up to the promise. At New York City’s iconic Pierre hotel, which also happens to be the U.S. flagship for India-based Taj Hotels, a new butler service takes the challenge quite literally. Its “Royal Attachés” have tended to real-life kings and queens, as well as a who’s who of heads of state.
On a visit to the Pierre, I had the opportunity to taste, if only for a couple hours, the life of a Maharaja. Offered to Grand Suite guests, this level of Indian-style hospitality is the first of its kind in the U.S. For travelers who’ve experienced stilted, uncomfortably formal butler services near and far, the Taj Royal Attachés are a refreshing change. The overall service is, of course, as considered and detailed oriented as one might expect. But what’s unique—and what caught me off-guard—was the genuine warmth of the staff.
Palm trees, hammocks, sand: this is as stripped-down as a vacation experience gets, and one you’d swear couldn’t exist among the shell shops and tiki-festooned marinas of the Florida Keys. Yet here is the Moorings ($$$), a former coconut plantation with 18 tidy cottages, the vision of a peripatetic Frenchman who bought the 18-acre parcel in 1988 after spotting it from his windsurfer board. Despite the occasional frolicking model (the beach has seen its fair share of fashion shoots over the years), the resort still feels private. At sunset, amble across the road for rum cocktails and conch fritters at Morada Bay Beach Café, or do what the regulars do—bring back some stone-crab claws from the market to devour on your porch with a cold beer.
At this month’s 2012 PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, many in attendance agreed that the Travel Innovation Summit, held on Day One, was, always, a highlight. (Read our conference dispatches here and here.)
It comes as no surprise that some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees and presenters were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. At the conference, they breakfasted together behind closed doors, networked, and schmoozed investors. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel.
Call it another miracle of technology: You don't have to be a bathrobe-clad buzzkill anymore, who squints out from your hotel-room door in the wee hours to give a dirty look to some partier loudly staggering down the hall. There's now a machine to do that for you.
Thanks, that is, to Premier Inn. The UK-based budget hotel chain guarantees guests that they'll get a good night's sleep—and gives them a refund if they don't.