Luxury hospitality – back with a bang in 2010

Luxury hospitality – back with a bang in 2010

Last year was one of the toughest on record for luxury hospitality. But now the sector is well on the road to recovery with a raft of new openings, plus some ground-breaking developments in the pipeline. Breaking Travel News picks the best of the new crop.

After a hiatus in terms of buildings and new openings last year, the luxury hotel segment is back with a bang in 2010.

(Left: CityCenter, Las Vegas)
Las Vegas is leading the field with CityCenter, an $8.5 billion mixed-use development which features three hotels, including the city’s first hotels not to feature a casino. Sin City was brought low by the global recession, in particular those hotels which relied on convention and meetings business. The huge new development – the biggest private development in the US – has been designed to give the city a boost and attract non-gamblers. It features the work of eight of the world’s best architects (Pelli, Vinoly, Libeskind, Rockwell, KPF, Helmut Jahn, Foster and Gensler) and dozens of interior designers.

The Vdara Hotel has 1,495 suites, a rooftop pool, numerous restaurants and 10,000 sq ft of meeting space.

Mandarin Oriental’s 47-storey, 392-room, non-gaming hotel, has six restaurants, an outdoor pool, Sky Lobby and spa and is the Hong Kong-based chain’s first hotel in the city.

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The ultra-luxurious Harmon Hotel is the third five-star property, again with no casino, and designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners, and is due to open later this year.

Staying in Vegas, Ritz-Carlton was forced to close its Lake Las Vegas property due to the downturn.

However, elsewhere in the world it has five new hotel openings this year: Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, Toronto and Los Angeles.

The Shanghai property is in the Pudong district, in the heart of the city’s new financial centre and is situated on the upper floors of an ultra-modern 60-storey tower. It has 286 rooms and suites. Four restaurants, 1,646 sq m of meeting space and a 1,500 sq m fitness center and spa.

When it opens later this year, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong will become the world’s tallest and a new landmark on the city skyline. The 1,574 ft building will have 300 rooms and suites, 360-degree panoramic views of Victoria Harbour, three fine dining restaurants, extensive meeting space, an indoor and outdoor rooftop swimming pool and a spa and fitness centre.

The 341-room, seven-storey, Ritz-Carlton Dubai is set in the heart of the city’s financial centre. It also includes 124 serviced apartments, three restaurants, a 1,400 sq m ballroom with a separate entrance; 10 additional function rooms and a health club, spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

The Ritz-Carlton Toronto is on Wellington Street in the city’s financial district. The 53-storey hotel has 267 rooms and 159 condominium residences.

The LA property will form the centerpiece of the city’s revitalized downtown district. The 123-room hotel will be the group’s third property in LA and forms part of the “L.A. Live” sports and entertainment development. The hotel will be situated on the upper floors of a 54-storey tower, which will also include 224 private condominiums.

Four Seasons’ most recent opening was in Beirut in January; it is opening two new properties in 2010: Vail, Colorado, in early summer and Marrakesh, Morocco, in late 2010; and reopening its flagship London property after a multi-million pound refit, also late this year.

Banyan Tree is opening a new property at the end of March in Seoul, Korea, its first in the country. Ten minutes from downtown, the 21-storey hotel will have just 84 rooms and suits – a maximum of four per floor – including 16 pool rooms and 16 pool suites, which feature their own personal plunge pools. The hotel also has a rooftop bar, a banquet/meetings hall and a spa.

Six Senses made a bold pronouncement last April, offering to buy up “troubled” resorts and developments which fitted in with their eco-sensitive approach.

(Right: Turks & Caicos)
Simon Allison, the group’s Chief Financial Advisor said: “We believe there will be excellent returns to be made in this sector in the next five years from acquiring top-end properties in strong locations at highly competitive prices. 

“We would like to find financial partners that will drive this initiative with us.”

The group announced in January that it will open its first Caribbean property on a 2.5 sq mile island in Turks & Caicos called Salt Cay, in 2013. In the initial phase, the project will comprise a Six Senses resort, residential villas, Six Senses Spa, and a golf course. Salt Cay is one of only 10 inhabited islands in a group of 40 islands and cays that make up the Turks & Caicos, and the island has remained virtually unchanged from an era when the salt industry, dating back to the 17th century, dominated the economy for over 300 years.

It will also open its first spa in Morocco, at The Baglioni, Marrakech, a boutique five-star hotel set within a 34-acre parkland resort, late next year.

Six Senses also announced the opening of its first spa in Egypt, at InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort, in Marsa Alam, Egypt. The 1,700 sq metre spa comprises of 16 treatment areas including three couples rooms, two Thai treatment rooms, and one wet treatment room with classically designed stone beds, a sauna, steam room, changing rooms, gym, and traditional hammams.

Starwood continues to expand its ultra-hip luxury brand W, as well as launching a new brand called Aloft.


(Left: W Hotel, Thailand)

Two Ws have opened this year, including a 300-room property in West Hollywood in January and a luxurious 217-room hotel in Downtown New York in February.

In April W opens its first hotel in Thailand on the island of Koh Samui, on a secluded 26-acre site on Maenam Beach; in May the 156-room W Retreat & Spa, opens in Vieques, Puerto Rico; and in September the group debuts in St Petersburg.

This summer a 192-room London W opens on the corner of Wardour Street and Leicester Square, and includes a retail store, restaurant and bar.

Aloft is Starwood’s latest brand, and as the name suggests has an urban feel to it. A number of Alofts are already open in North America, but the first will open outside of the US later this year in Abu Dhabi, followed by Brussels in September.

Hyatt’s hip brand Andaz opened in New York’s Wall Street in January and a second will open on 5th Avenue this spring.