NPR | If you've ever dreamed of spending the night at the Palace of Versailles, you might get your chance. A building at France's cherished cultural landmark will soon be turned into a luxury hotel.
Hundreds of shivering tourists line up across an immense cobbled courtyard to visit Versailles.
Home to the French monarchy since Louis XIV, Versailles is a monument to royal grandeur. Soon, the palace may also become known for its five-star hotel. (Photo by Lyndsey Matthews)
London's iconic Savoy Hotel greets its first guests this Sunday following a nearly three-year renovation. The $350 million top-to-bottom restoration took months longer than originally planned, but that's what happens when you stage what the hotel calls "the most ambitious restoration in British history." And from the pictures I've seen, it looks like it was worth the wait.
A paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. A black sequin miniskirt by Haute Hippie. A retro Ouija board. A black-on-black Range Rover for the day. Your portrait shot by renowned photographer Ben Watts...
The newest lobby fixture in Manhattan's Hudson Hotel is your one-stop shop for all of the above. Semi-Automatic, a glowing green, touch-screen vending machine that opened for business last week, stocks a revolving selection of stylishly curated items broken down into five categories: Basics, Media, Fashion, Beauty, and GoFish.
For the most part, the exclusive Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo, 50 miles south of Miami, is off-limits to you and me--unless we've been invited or we're prospective members. But things open up to non-members during the annual Vintage Weekend, December 2-5, when hundreds of antique cars, planes, and yachts go on display. The Vintage Weekend package costs $1,440 double and includes three nights lodging at the Inn, road rally and lunch at the infamous Alabama Jack's roadhouse, a Concours d'Elegance (that's an automobile beauty pageant) and luncheon on Saturday, inspection of antique planes at the club's private airport, cocktail party, dinner reception, and more. In years past the event has sold out as early as October.
Last year, my kids invited one friend each over for a slumber party. I walked them to Economy Candy with exactly $7.50 to spend on “refreshments” for the evening, ordered a pizza, and let them stay up late for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. By all accounts, the party was a wild success. One kid got sick from washing down Sour Patch candies with milk (Who would have guessed there was anything as natural as citrus powder in candy?) and one kid fell off the sofa laughing, both of which events have provided fodder for a million jokes. I share this party-planning success story not because I see myself as the next Colin Cowie, but to illustrate that it doesn’t take a lot to excite most kids.
That said, the Plaza Hotel has a Live Like Eloise slumber party package for up to six children that costs upwards of $3,700.
Wall Street Journal | LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is checking into the hotel business. The world's largest luxury-goods company, home to brands such as the Louis Vuitton fashion house and champagne maker Veuve Clicquot, said Thursday it will develop resorts using the name of its Bordeaux winery, Cheval Blanc. The company tested the concept with a first location that opened in the French ski resort Courchevel in 2006. Two more hotels are scheduled to join the new chain by 2012 in Oman and Egypt, the company said.
The project is "a natural extension of activities in luxury hospitality with Cheval Blanc," LVMH said in a statement.
Like many top hotel operators, LVMH is limiting its exposure to the volatile hotel industry. It won't own the real estate or finance construction, but will instead run the resorts under management contract, a similar model to other high-end chains such as The Ritz-Carlton. The new LVMH Hotel Management business has six employees.
Is luxury a dirty word? That’s the question T+L Publisher JP Kyrillos just posed to the audience and an expert panel that includes:
Javier Barrera, EVP of Grupo Posadas
Erik Blachford, Chairman and CEO of Butterfield & Robinson
Marcus Samuelsson, Chef/Owner of Aquavit
Lisa Sun, Associate Principal of McKinsey & Company
The response was an unequivocal “no.” But, says Sun, it’s important for companies to communicate the value and authenticity behind the word. Companies like American Girl and The North Face have built premium products but have achieved success by creating a sense of value behind the products.
Samuelsson added that a new sense of luxury will come out of this downturn. People, he says, are getting back to the value of time—time spent together and the experiences they share.
And, says Blachford, that’s exactly what companies like his are trying to do—deliver value even if it comes with a high price tag.
JP also posed the following questions to the audience and asked them to indicate their answers by holding up either a green (“yes”) or red (“no”) index card:
- Do you believe in advertising in a recession? Green cards went up all around.
- How about discounting in a recession? A mix of green and red.
- Is the economy on a rebound? Lots of green, but a few reds.
- And is Twitter here to stay? Most people said no.
And as he closed the presentation, he asked, “Did everyone have fun today?” A sea of green cards filled the air.
The first discussion at MarketWatch: T+L’s Features Editor Nilou Motamed sat down with Stephen Hanson of B.R. Guest Restaurants for a discussion of his innovations in the hospitality industry and what he feels is important.
Hanson spoke of finding a new middle—that value is not supplanting luxury, but that the economy is pushing people to explore new hotels and restaurants. People have re-evaluated their values in this economy, he says, and they now feel they can enjoy the luxury experience a couple times a year instead of eight times a year.
But, says Hanson, what’s important is delivering value for the price, and that starts with service. “People are demanding 5-star service in a 3-star brand,” he says; that’s a difficult thing to achieve but is his goal. Discounting may get people in the door, but the hotel or restaurant has to make the customer feel special.
So how does he make the customer feel special? Hanson’s company has been tracking guest preferences to know what they like and give them that personal touch.
Let me introduce you to my new guilty pleasure: the The W Store website—the expertly curated online boutique of the W hotel chain. (There are several brick-and-mortar boutiques as well.) OK, so I haven’t actually bought anything from there yet, but just surfing through the merch makes for a compelling mid-afternoon escape, akin to a leisurely browse through the racks at Barneys—but you don’t even have to leave your desk!
What is being touted as the most luxurious train in the world is now accepting bookings for its first season. And trust me, this ain’t Amtrak.
The Maharajas’ Express has four itineraries of six and seven nights and takes passengers to some of the most exotic destinations on the subcontinent, including Jaipur, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal), Varanasi, Delhi, Mumbai, and Udaipur (voted the best city in the known universe in the 2009 World’s Best Awards), among many others.