With the New Year around the corner and winter in full swing, this is our favorite time of year to find inspiration for our next adventures. Whether it’s a ski trip or a beach getaway to dodge the cold, there’s nothing we stress more about than finding the right hotel. Picking the right hotel can elevate your vacation 10-fold and that’s why we are excited to share Inviato’s annual favorite list of hotel openings/re-openings around the globe for 2014! We will be checking out the recently opened Nizuc Resort in Mexico in January, The Firmdale newest London hotel in June and the latest &beyond camp in Kenya later on this summer and be sure to report back our findings!
Let the planning and daydreaming begin (and if you get to one – please share your feedback with us)!
Jackie Cittone-Magid and Christina Meza – Co-Editors, Inviato Travel
Aqua Mekong River Cruises by Aqua Expeditions, Mekong River
Two of the top things on my bucket list: take a river cruise and explore Southeast Asia. Aqua Expeditions will check both off my list in one fell swoop with the anticipated 2014 launch of Aqua Mekong. In signature 5-star Aqua Expeditions style, 20 outward facing cabins with floor to ceiling windows will transport guests between Cambodia and Vietnam. Choose between 3-, 4- and 7-night cruises to take you upriver or downriver starting at $3,000 for 3-nights. Experience life on the Mekong and interact with floating markets, explore flooded emerald forests and visit bamboo stilt villages accessible only by boat. Offshore explorations include Angkor Wat, Hindu ruins and Buddhist monasteries. What’s the best part about cruising the Mekong? You’ll have better temperatures on the water that allow for extended periods in the year to visit.
The Beaumont London, England
An art deco structure once used as a garage in the 1920’s will open as the elegant and stylish Beaumont this summer. Located in London’s upscale Mayfair neighborhood, the 73-room hotel will offer views of the Brown Hart Gardens and include a restaurant, lobby bar and spa. One interesting detail about this hotel is that it is being developed in partnership by two restaurateurs who built quite a reputation with The Ivy and The Wolseley. The most unique and intriguing detail of all, however, is one never heard of before in restaurant or hotel circles. It is the hotel’s plan to feature a sculpture that doubles as a guestroom (yes, you read it correctly). The sculpture created by British artist Anthony Gromley will be the first inhabitable work of art, making it a one-of-a-kind piece you can only experience at the Beaumont.
The Chedi Andermatt, Switzerland
Asia meets the Swiss Alps at the new Chedi Andermatt set to open on December 20th, 2013. As GHM’s first property in Switzerland, they made sure to blend their signature Asian-inspired style with the surrounding Alps and it shows the moment you set eyes on the hotel’s modern design. Nestled just below the Gemsstock Mountain of the Useren Valley, the hotel offers easy access to Zurich, Lucerne and Milan. With 104 contemporary designed rooms boasting Alpine panoramas, 200 fireplaces, two Japanese-inspired restaurants led by a Michelin-starred chef, a wine and cigar bar, wellness center and spa, no luxury is left behind. For those looking to travel this Christmas, the hotel is offering an opening 5-day/4-night package that includes, among other things, ski passes and two 60-minute massages.
The Ham Yard Hotel London, England
Central London has stylish new digs. The Ham Yard Hotel opens in Soho in May with 90 individually designed rooms, a bowling alley, 176-seat cinema, spa, gym, specialty shops, outdoor dining and its very own organic rooftop garden with views of the London skyline. This chic urban village design also extends to the hotel’s outdoor space where there will be a number of fully grown oak trees and more gardens. Sitting on ¾ of an acre and being built from the ground up, what guest wouldn’t expect British landscaping? After enjoying the scenery in Soho, nearby Piccadilly Circus is just a stroll away. The Ham Yard Hotel will mark Firmdale Hotels’ 8th and largest property in London (and yes, decorated by the extraordinary Kit Kemp) and we can’t wait to check it out.
Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Kenya
Having stayed at and visited the Masai Mara National Reserve during the great migration, I can personally say it is one of the most mystic places I’ve traveled to. While I didn’t stay in a tented camp, hearing the plans for the July 2014 reopening of the Kichwa Tembo Tented Camps makes me want to book my return trip ASAP. With an already outstanding reputation for its upscale comfort, &Beyond is upping the safari experience with a brand new look that includes 28 elevated suites for better viewing, an organic vegetable garden and an additional level that will be added to the camp’s bar. Obstruction of view can oftentimes be an issue with tented camping, but Kichwa Tembo’s renovations will offer better views of the Mara so you can show off your pro wildlife photo-taking skills back home.
The long-awaited reopening of the one of the first luxury hotels in the Caribbean – Malliouhana in Anguilla – is occurring in February as an Auberge Resorts property after a comprehensive renovation…and we can’t wait to see the results! For a hotel built atop a panoramic bluff overlooking the Caribbean, you wouldn’t think much needed to be done (although we’ve heard first-hand the rooms and public places were getting tired), but the renovations at Malliouhana have proven to be quite impressive. Full-scale upgrades to the 55 rooms and 15,000 sq ft spa are well underway and 2 open-air restaurants, bars and freshwater pools have been added. Any architecture that once closed off views to Caribbean will now be open with the new designs. For those that have fond memories of this hotel back in its heyday (you know who you are!), don’t fret, some of the hotels signature features will be kept and incorporated into this next chapter (although I am not so sure about the prices). Anything Auberge touches turns to gold in our opinion so we are excited to check out the results when it opens next month.
Nizuc Resort, Cancun, Mexico
I am very excited about this new resort – only a 15 minute drive from the Cancun International Airport (but away from the Cancun beach tower strip). Recently opened, this 274 all-suite resort (all with decks) was formerly a private Mexican presidential retreat. The original concept and design of the resort was by Aman (evident in the hotel’s design) but now run by Las Brisas Hotel group. Nestled on 29 acres, Nizuc has it all: six gourmet restaurants (Peruvian, Mexican, Italian, Asian-Fusion, Fish and Steak – take your pick!), 3 lounges, a 30,000 square foot ESPA spa all overlooking a pristine white sandy beach. No reason to leave! We are looking forward to checking it out for a girls weekend and will be back with a detailed review!
One & Only Hayman Island, Australia
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the estimated $50MM of renovations at Hayman Island, located in quite possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Set to re-launch under new management of One&Only in April 2014, this well established private island will benefit from many upgrades including enhanced accommodations, new dining options and a revamp of the cabanas and pools. Aside from the aesthetic upgrades, Hayman Island will continue to provide your typical resort amenities and activities such as golfing, watersports, health spa, etc., but as part of the reopening, will offer an experience you can’t find anywhere else: direct access to the world-heritage site that is the Great Barrier Reef with programs led by dive experts and marine biologists. This is just the right place for those looking to experience the Great Barrier Reef in a more intimate and luxurious way.
Plaza Athénée Paris, France
It was only last summer when I was at the Plaza Athénée, having tea and pastries with my 10 year old daughter (getting a little to comfortable with the good life, in my opinion). Even then some public areas were under construction.
100 years ago, the Plaza Athénée (now part of the Dorchester Collection) was described as one of the only “attractions” next to the Champs-Elysées. A lot has changed since then and after celebrating its centennial, renovations and expansions are underway to make this hotel “ready to embrace its next century”. With the addition of three recently purchased buildings adjacent to the hotel, the expansion will include 6 new guest rooms, 8 suites, a ballroom and 2 event spaces. And let’s not forget, a full renovation would not be complete without redesigning the restaurants: Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée and Le Bar. Additional restorations are taking place before the June 1, 2014 reopening (just in time for the French Open) for this iconic, quintessentially Parisian hotel.
Portrait Firenze, Italy
When the Ferragamo family decides to redefine luxury in Florence, you know you’re in for a treat. Opening in the Spring of 2014, the Portrait Firenze will offer 34 suites ranging from 430 sq ft studios to a 1,400 sq ft Signature Suite. The lavishly styled rooms with handcrafted furniture – meant to transport you to the haute couture era of the ‘50s – would even please Salvatore himself. This new addition to the Lungarno Collection offers to-die-for views of the city and countryside from balcony rooms overlooking the River Arno, Ponte Vecchio and the Florentine landscape that lies just beyond the metropolis. Only steps away from Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, this is an ideal location for shoppers!
Raffles Istanbul, Turkey
In a city where East meets West, the anticipated 2014 opening of Raffles Istanbul is no exception – literally, the hotel overlooks the Bosphorus Strait, one of the boundaries between Europe and Asia. What makes this hotel unique from the many other luxury hotels in the city is that it will be part of Turkey’s first mixed-use property, the Zorlu Center, which opened this past autumn with shops, restaurants and a performing arts center. Certainly a property of this undertaking couldn’t be complete without a luxury hotel brand with over 125 years of experience. Raffles Istanbul will offer 181 rooms and suites, a giant ballroom, two restaurants and bars, indoor/outdoor swimming pools, direct access to the much-buzzed-about Zorlu Performing Arts Center, and to make sure you have no trouble getting to the hotel, there is a heliport. What is making an equally bigger splash is that Raffles is bringing its signature spa which will be one of the largest in Istanbul.
Pikaia Lodge, Galápagos Islands
As an alternative to the Galápagos Islands’ cruise ships, consider staying at the 14-room Pikaia Lodge located on an extinct volcano crater on Santa Cruz Island. Did we mention it also has a giant tortoise reserve? Pushing the envelope for ecotourism, Pikaia is environmentally conscious yet, luxuriously understated and offers some of the best views of the Galápagos National Park. Scheduled to open September 29, 2014, Pikaia will offer special 4-, 5- and 8-day exploration packages that take guests on guided adventures to discover the natural landscapes and marine wildlife.
Guests can also visit other islands via the hotel’s 100-foot private yacht that comes fully equipped with a hot-tub and crew that is ready to prepare your next meal and take you to the best snorkeling spots. Packages start at $3,200 for 4 days and reservations can be made beginning April 7th.
Velaa Private Island, Maldives
Private island in the Maldives. Check. Yacht available for a leisure day trip equipped with a chef. Check. Tennis courts and a golf academy crafted by a Masters champion. Check. Watch the sunset, enjoy Michelin star inspired dinning and toast to life at the Champagne lounge. Check. Adopt a coral dome after a day of fishing and watersports. Check. Relax on cloud-shaped reclining treatment pods at the My Blend by Clarins day spa. Check. The feeling of being on your own private paradise with the utmost comfort and luxury. Like no place on earth. Built by a husband and wife team looking to create their version of, and I quote, “the perfect place on earth”, Velaa Private Island offers just that (or as close as some of us may get). Privacy is no issue with the 5 oversized residences and 43 villas on the property, each equipped with their own pools. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Romantic Pool Residence is featured on the next season of The Bachelor.