Where to sleep soundly in 2011
From the restoration of landmark buildings to new upmarket beach resorts, the hotel industry is raising its game.
Saturday 01 January 2011
Twelve months from today, London will wake up with Olympic fever. While the finishing touches are being put to stadia and transport links, hotels will be ready and waiting for a bumper summer. So in the run-up to 2012, we'll see a crop of enticing new hotels opening in the capital, starting with the St John Hotel (020-3301 8069;
stjohnhotellondon.com). Part of the Leicester Square regeneration project, the first overnight foray from the St John restaurant group inhabits the old Manzi's seafood restaurant site. After various construction setbacks, it is due to open later this month with no-nonsense "rooms", "post-supper rooms" and one suite.
Across the road, the proliferation of Starwood's W chain continues with its first British outpost. W London (020-7851 3228; wlondon.co.uk) opens on Valentine's Day with its signature razzle-dazzle style and glitterballs galore. Shortly afterwards, Avo Hotel is set to open in Dalston (handy for the Olympic village), with six "boutique chic" rooms, a penthouse and café.
In Mayfair, Four Seasons celebrates its 50th anniversary with the reopening of Four Seasons London at Park Lane (020-7499 0888; fourseasons.com/London) at the end of the month. A complete renovation has added a rooftop spa with views across Hyde Park. But the big news on this thoroughbred thoroughfare will be 45 Park Lane (020-7629 4848; 45parklane.com), a new sibling for The Dorchester. Just steps from the art deco grande dame, the new venture resides in the former Playboy Club and will have 50 rooms with contemporary styling and an American steak restaurant overseen by the celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. The soft opening is scheduled for this summer.
More than three years after the £800m refurbishment of St Pancras Station was finished, Sir George Gilbert Scott's Victorian-Gothic masterpiece will be completed with the opening of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (020-7841 3540; marriott.co.uk) in May. The Grade I-listed building's elegant design has been renovated in partnership with English Heritage, with a restaurant operated by Marcus Wareing and direct access to the Eurostar terminal concourse.
Other grand restoration projects include the Victorian-era Metropole Hotel, which re-opens on Whitehall Place in April as Corinthia London (020-7930 8181; corinthia.com), complete with a bar designed by David Collins, and the Waldorf Astoria Syon Park (020-7870 7777; waldorfastoria.com) on the Duke of Northumerland's estate. Completion has been put back to next month after a Roman settlement was discovered within the grounds.
We will also see Clerkenwell's The Zetter expand across St John's Square with The Zetter Townhouse (020-7324 4444; thezetter.com) in a Georgian edifice in March, and New York favourite Thompson Hotels coming to Britain with Belgraves ( thompsonhotels.com) in the old Sheraton Belgravia later this spring.
Further afield, after the financial storm that shook the foundations of Dubai, it appears the emirate is ready to pick up where it left off. Ian Scott, director of Dubai Tourism in the UK, says: "In spite of the difficult global economic climate, Dubai has reported good growth and the launch of countless new projects in 2010 will be followed by many more this year. New hotels and a continuously improving infrastructure give us a lot to look forward to."
Hoping to bolster these claims will be the Palazzo Versace resort ( palazzoversace.ae) at Dubai Creek, every bit as dazzling as the name suggests; while joining Atlantis and One&Only on The Palm are the Asian-themed The Royal Amwaj beach resort (00 971 4 444 0222; moevenpick-hotels.com) and the Jumeirah Al Fattan Palm Resort (jumeirah.com), with a private marina and beach club. Further north in the Gulf, the resplendent Hotel Missoni group is set to follow the success of its first hotel (in Edinburgh) with Hotel Missoni in Kuwait in early spring (00 965 9999 1357; hotelmissoni.com).
Could there be any more room for development in the Maldives? It certainly looks that way, with at least half-a-dozen openings scheduled for this year. Jumeirah will open two resorts: Vittaveli in the South Male Atoll and Dhevanfushi on the virgin island of Meradhoo. Both are due to open before spring. The first Viceroy resort ( viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/maldives) to open outside of the Americas will be in the Shaviyani Atoll this summer, boasting villas that will be "among the largest of the Maldives resorts", all with plunge pools.
Six Senses is adding to its "eco-friendly" portfolio with its third Maldivian resort in the south of the archipelago with Six Senses Laamu (00 960 680 0800; sixsenses.com) in April, while Mandarin Oriental ( mandarinoriental.com) arrives at the end of the year, with 114 villas, underwater dining and a spa. Finally, Anantara opens its fourth Maldivian resort on Kihavah Huravalhi island (00 960 660 1020; kihavah-maldives.anantara.com) at the end of this month with underwater dining as standard.
The Indian Ocean excitement continues on Mauritius, where luxury resorts continue to germinate around the coast. The most interesting will be Long Beach (00 230 401 1919; longbeachmauritius.com), which will bring Californian beach chic to the classically upscale east coast. A more traditional option will be St Regis Mauritius (00 230 403 7280; starwoodhotels.com) opening in June in the quieter, south coast resort of Le Morne.
Due north in the Seychelles, Raffles is opening on Praslin in February (00 248 296 000; raffles.com). The Indian Ocean's waves of development are also lapping on Zanzibar's shores, with Kempinski's Zamani hotel reopening as the Zamani Retreat (00 255 744 444 477; kempinski.com) at the end of the month with a new focus on holistic wellbeing. In April, The Residence is opening a resort on the south coast with a Carita spa and 65 villas set amid tropical gardens and pristine beach (01300 320 865; theresidence.com). On the mainland, the Saadani River Lodge ( saadaniriverlodge.com) is a new safari lodge opening on the banks of the Wami River in Saadani National Park on the coast of Tanzania later this month.
Notable news on the African continent is the Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma in Marrakech (00 212 5 24 32 77 77; mandarinoriental.com/marrakech), which featured in the latest Sex And The City movie and is set to open in summer; Sanctuary Zebra Plains (020 7190 7728; sanctuaryretreats.com), a luxury walking safari camp opening in June in Zambia; and The Queen Victoria on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town will be a reworking of an existing art deco hotel, to open in March (newmarkhotels.com).
Finally, the big news elsewhere. After selling his interests in New York's Gramercy Park Hotel, Ian Schrager expands his partnership with Marriott with The Istanbul Edition (00 90 216 570 0000; editionhotels.com) in Istanbul's Levent business district in the spring. The lifestyle hotel comes complete with a Cipriani restaurant and Billionaire Club. The founder of Morgans Hotel Group also plans to launch a new company – Schrager Hotels – in Chicago in September.
Asian expansion continues in Paris with Mandarin Oriental ( mandarinoriental.com) in June; and in Montenegro with Aman Resorts' Sveti Stefan (00 382 33 420 000; amanresorts.com), a sensitive restoration of what was once a 15th-century fortified coastal village. Throwing economic caution to the wind in Ireland, Ballyfin (00 353 5787 55866; ballyfin.com) is a lavish Regency mansion opening in May at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains.
New York saw impressive expansion last year, and the pace looks set to slow a little in 2011. However, two openings in February include Mondrian SoHo (001 212 554 6120; mondriansoho.com) from Morgans Hotel Group, just down the street from the Crosby Street Hotel, and The Nolitan (00 212 925 2555; nolitanhotel.com), which stands for "North of Little Italy" and looks like a hybrid of the Hotel on Rivington and The Ace hotel.
In the Caribbean, the high-street confectioner Hotel Chocolat is making its first foray into the hotels business with Hotel Chocolat ( thehotelchocolat.com) on its cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate in St Lucia. The 18th-century estate will offer sleek rooms from February.
Finally, in northern Australia the Wildman Wilderness Lodge (00 61 2 9922 4443; wildmanwildernesslodge.com.au) will introduce luxury living in the Mary River Wetlands just outside Kakadu National Park when the dry season begins in April.
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