Gateways to Gardens

July 22, 2014 on 7:45 am | In Adventure Travel, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off




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Gardens are good for you. Studies have shown that merely gazing at a garden can have therapeutic and healthful benefits. Experiencing scenery and enjoying greenery not only reduces stress, blood-pressure levels and depression, but it helps the brain to focus. With tight schedules and full itineraries, traveling can sometimes be a series of being stuck in enclosed environments: the airport, the hotel, the conference room. But booking a stay at a hotel that offers an oasis of green might just be the smart thing to do for yourself—and your brain.

Any one of the properties owned by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will proffer plenty of perks for the business traveler: sumptuous furnishings, serene spas, gourmet dining, luxurious amenities. But some Four Seasons pride themselves on an extra benefit: a glorious garden, right on site:

For lovers of history and horticulture, the Four Seasons Hampshire Hotel—set in the rolling English countryside just outside of bustling London—boasts a formal English garden that dates back to 1600 and the region’s oldest dovecote, built in 1570.

The century-old neoclassical building housing the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet used to be a Turkish prison. Now, the exercise yard that once corralled criminals is a courtyard garden lush with ornamental trees, fragrant blossoms and an herb garden.

A combination of historic Chinese and contemporary design infuses the Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake with a sense of poetic tranquility, and the inspiring garden features traditional Chinese architecture and willow-veiled views of world-famous West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara boasts landscaped grounds that are almost as legendary as its Spanish Colonial–style buildings. Originally designed by artist Lockwood de Forrest, the 20-acre gardens today include more than 3,000 plant species, cared for by a full-time team of 13 gardeners. Green-thumbed guests looking to cultivate some horticultural inspiration can book a botanical tour and will find a map of the gardens in each guest room.

Set in a glorious 11-acre garden called the Giardino della Gherardesca is the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. Originally planted as a Renaissance garden in the 15th century, the Giardino has been restored to its 19th-century design, filled with shade trees, vast lawns and vibrant flowers and dotted with statues, fountains and even a small Ionic temple.

As Albert Einstein reportedly said, “Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better.” And, as we know, Einstein was a brainiac.

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Starwood Preferred Guest and Westin Hotels 2014 US Open Experiences‏

July 22, 2014 on 7:35 am | In Hotels | Comments Off



SPG Member Experiences Include Private VIP Clinic with Legendary Brothers John and Patrick McEnroe, Match Viewing in the SPG Luxury Suite and More

STAMFORD, Conn.–Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT), is giving members courtside seats to best of tennis with the launch of its 2014 US Open SPG Moments schedule today. Known for providing its members access like no other for the most exclusive events around the world, SPG is offering elite US Open packages between August 25 and September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Members can bid Starpoints® on once-in-a-lifetime experiences including luxury suite and courtside seats to key matches, behind-the-scenes tours of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and a private tennis clinic with John and Patrick McEnroe.

In addition, Westin Hotels – official sponsor of the 2014 US Open – will offer exclusive access and giveaways that include a two-night stay at the Westin Grand Central with tickets to the August 30 day session, a five night stay at the Westin Grand Central through Tennis Channel’s US Open Sweepstakes, and a special “Westin Night” on September 2 with Heavenly® Bed giveaways accompanied by seat upgrades. Additionally, Westin and SPG will be providing special favors for all SPG Members as part of the SPG Luxury Suite gift bag.

“At SPG, we’re committed to bringing a variety of innovative and unique experiences to our members, which is why working with the USTA for the US Open each year has been a member favorite since the partnership’s inception four years ago,” said Mark Vondrasek, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Loyalty and Partnership Marketing for Starwood. “Through our partnership, we’re offering Moments to our members that they can’t find anywhere else, whether it’s playing with an actual legend like John McEnroe or watching a legend in the making from the comfort of our luxury suite. As the last major tournament of the year for the players and fans, the energy surrounding the entire US Open is palpable, and we’re proud to give our members the opportunity to be a part of that excitement.”

SPG’s Legendary Tennis Clinic with John & Patrick McEnroe

SPG is giving members the opportunity to improve their backhand and learn from two masters of the hard court, John and Patrick McEnroe, via a private tennis clinic. Members should prepare themselves for lively commentary as the McEnroe brothers host an SPG Member only clinic. Afterwards, Members will head to the SPG Luxury Suite to watch the women’s singles and men’s doubles finals while enjoying catered food and beverage on September 7.

SPG Gives Member the “Advantage”

SPG Moments will bring many more unique tennis experiences to SPG Members with unforgettable packages at the 2014 US Open including the following:

Behind-the-Scenes private tour of Arthur Ashe Stadium and US Open Media Center, including interview rooms, player dining areas, and more.
Breakfast for two in the Player’s Dining Room at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Courtside seats at matches throughout the tournament in the iconic Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium.
VIP access to watch matches from the SPG Luxury Suite at center court with the finest in catered food and beverages. Attend the post-match press conference with one of the day’s competitors at the press court.
One-hour training session with a USTA teaching pro on legendary Arthur Ashe Stadium Court.
SPG Booth on-site offering SPG Members special giveaways.
SPG Luxury Suite access to watch Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with tennis icons Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal along with scheduled performances by an array of musicians.

“Tap Into Luxury”

Whether at home, on the train, or at the US Open, SPG Members can ‘Tap into Luxury’ with SPG’s new online game at spg.com/TapIntoLuxury. From August 25-September 30, members across North America and in the UK can play Tap into Luxury for a chance to win a dream getaway to one of Starwood’s 1,200 hotels and resorts worldwide as well as instant win prizes including Starpoints and more. SPG Members attending the US Open can stop by the SPG Booth to experience the game firsthand.

Be sure to follow the conversation @SPG for a chance to tweet in and win a pair of courtside seats to the US Open.

For a full list of SPG Moments at the US Open, visit www.spg.com/USOpen

For more information about SPG Moments and to see the entire collection of events available, visit www.spg.com/Moments.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with nearly 1,200 properties in 100 countries, and 181,400 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element®. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com

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St. Regis Hotels & Resorts Celebrates American Polo

July 21, 2014 on 12:37 pm | In Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels, Sports Travel | Comments Off



With Nacho Figueras, St. Regis will Support Robin Hood Foundation in New York and Giant Steps in California This Year

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE:HOT), continues to celebrate its commitment to the international sport of polo with upcoming polo matches in Bridgehampton on the East Coast and Sonoma Valley on the West Coast. In August, Nacho Figueras will captain the St. Regis team in the third annual Piaget Hamptons Polo Cup, once again partnering with the Robin Hood Foundation in a continued effort to support New York families in need. The following month, the inaugural St. Regis Polo Cup will take place in Sonoma Valley to benefit Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of the disabled children through the extraordinary benefits of therapeutic riding. These polo matches follow on the heels of the seventh annual St. Regis International Cup in the United Kingdom, which pitted Nacho Figueras and the South America team against the England team, earlier this year.
St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras to captain polo teams Coast to Coast with St. Regis Hotels & Re …

“Polo and philanthropy are inherent to the legacy of St. Regis, and we are pleased to support these meaningful causes,” said Paul James, Global Brand Leader, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts and W Hotels Worldwide. “We look forward to offering St. Regis guests, spectators and their families the opportunity to experience this exhilarating sport, as we have done around the world from Bridgehampton to Beijing and from Abu Dhabi to Aspen.”

In New York, St. Regis will bring its passion for polo to life for families at the third annual Piaget Hamptons Polo Cup with sunset polo lessons with child-size mallets, pony rides as well as a traditional Argentinean ‘Asado’ barbeque followed by a signature St. Regis Afternoon Tea with children’s teacakes. In California, the inaugural St. Regis Polo Cup will premiere in the Bay Area promising to deliver an exhilarating day for guests, residents and the local community to experience speed, sport, food and wine.

Tickets for the Piaget Hamptons Polo Cup in New York are available by calling (212) 650-0007, while tickets for the St. Regis Polo Cup in Sonoma are available at http://www.stregissanfrancisco.com/polo-cup. Additionally, St. Regis will create opportunities for its global guests to experience upcoming St. Regis affiliated polo events through its signature St. Regis Aficionado program.

Through the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Moments program, Starwood will also offer SPG members direct access to bespoke polo experiences including the opportunity to meet St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras and participate in exclusive polo events around the world. The SPG Moments program allows SPG members to bid on insider access to once-in-a-lifetime St. Regis experiences beyond expectation. Please visit www.spg.com/moments  for more information.

The St. Regis brand has a long history with the world of polo, beginning at the turn of the 20th century when polo matches on Manhattan’s Governors Island were the highlight of the New York social calendar and St. Regis’ founding family, the Astors, were preeminent patrons of the sport. For more information on the St. Regis brand’s exclusive polo events, please visit www.stregis.com/polo

About St. Regis Hotels & Resorts

Combining classic sophistication with a modern sensibility, St. Regis is committed to delivering exceptional experiences at 31 luxury hotels and resorts in the best addresses around the world. Since the opening of the first St. Regis Hotel in New York City over a century ago by John Jacob Astor IV, the brand has remained committed to an uncompromising level of bespoke and anticipatory service for all of its guests delivered flawlessly by signature St. Regis Butler Service. From Bal Harbour to Bangkok, Saadiyat Island to Shenzhen, the St. Regis brand caters to a new generation of luxury travelers and continues to thoughtfully build its portfolio in the most sought after destinations at the heart of today’s grand tour. Plans for the brand to expand its legacy include much-anticipated St. Regis Hotels & Resorts in the Riviera Maya and in Asia, where St. Regis has announced plans to open hotels in Changsha, Chengdu, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Lijiang, Nanjing, New Delhi, Qingshui Bay and Zhuhai. In the Middle East, St. Regis will continue to expand in Amman, Cairo and Dubai. For more information on St. Regis Hotels & Resorts please visit stregis.com, to explore our recent debuts visit stregis.com/newgrandtour and for the privilege of residential ownership please visit stregis.com/residences. Connect with St. Regis on instagram.com/stregishotels, facebook.com/stregis pinterest.com/stregishotels , and youtube.com/stregishotels

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How Hotel Rating Systems Work Across the Globe

July 19, 2014 on 12:08 pm | In Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off



So, you’re researching a hotel or resort to go to in the Bahamas, but you’re confused.

Wait a second…this hotel was ranked five stars on TripAdvisor, but the American Automobile Association (AAA) ranked it four stars.

What gives?

Fortunately for you, TravelPulse is here to clarify things.

Interestingly enough, for some hotels and resorts, the AAA Diamond rating actually holds more water than star ratings these days.

Why?

Because star ratings on different websites and publications are generally constructed independently by these sites and publications.

For example, Hotels.com has its own system, as does Hotwire.com. Hotwire explains its ratings as the following: “For our Hotwire Hot Rates, we start with an average rating from other top travel sites. Then we make adjustments based on customer feedback. Since hotel chains often have properties in different categories, we base our ratings on each hotel, not on the chain as a whole.”

So, you can see how having different measures produces different results.

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil Travel Guide, lays claim to creating the five-star rating system back in 1958 and is generally the standard professional star rating measure in the United States. Forbes Travel Guide sends out anonymous inspectors that rate each property examined based on up to 800 different criteria. For the 2014 official Star Rating list, Forbes Travel Guide made nearly 1,000 visits to hotels, restaurants and spas. Only 97 hotels in the U.S. were dubbed “five-star” properties. Forbes Travel Guide is one of the star rating systems that still holds a lot of value, even for hoteliers who prioritize making AAA happy.

Some properties, like the upscale Burj Al Arab in Dubai, claim they are “seven-star” properties, but these are either self-designated ratings or recommended as seven-star properties by certain reviewers. Standard ratings only go up to five stars.

The AAA Diamond rating system is the only rating system that encompasses the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Like Forbes Travel Guide, the AAA Diamond system sends out anonymous reviewers to hotels, who rate properties based on AAA member priorities. Each year, AAA evaluates more than 29,000 properties, including resorts, inns and bed and breakfast spots. Just 0.4 percent of these properties are awarded the distinguished AAA Five Diamond designation. Since 1976 (when AAA began rating hotels), only one hotel has maintained a Five Diamond rating every year: The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Co (take a bow, Broadmoor).

What distinguishes AAA Diamond ratings from star ratings is the fact that a Four Diamond property isn’t necessarily a peg below a Five Diamond property.

What differentiates a Five Diamond from a Four Diamond? One word: luxury.

So, a Four Diamond is still highly regarded in the industry; a Five Diamond simply has more money at its disposal. In that respect, AAA encourages travelers to sort through its ratings based on what they are looking for (for example, budget-friendly or ultra luxurious).

There is nothing wrong with a One Diamond hotel if you are looking for a “budget-oriented” property “offering basic comfort and hospitality.” After all, if you have one diamond that means you did indeed pass AAA’s inspection. It’s the properties that don’t have a AAA diamond rating at all that travelers should be concerned about.

You can find AAA’s specific hotel rating definitions on AAA.com.

Does that mean general star ratings shouldn’t be considered important at all?

Of course not.

It just means you should probably be more critical when looking at a star rating system. Most rating systems are explained if you dig a bit on the website (as for the ones that aren’t explained, steer clear).

For example, Hotels.com has two different ratings displayed for hotels: one based on the “industry standard” and another based on guest reviews (guests are required to complete their stay to be able to write reviews on Hotels.com).

Taylor L. Cole, APR, Director of PR and Social Media for Hotels.com North America, sees the value in star ratings.

“While there’s no universal guide overall, we feel that guest reviews really are imperative because those are users that have an opinion rather than something that the industry would say,” Cole said.

For instance, a four-star hotel according to the industry standard could be required to have: upscale décor, multiple conversation areas, a dedicated concierge, a turndown service, crown molding in rooms, granite or marble accents throughout the room, upgraded pools or pool servers, fresh flowers, original artwork, a custom fine dining restaurant within the property (often award-winning) and 24-hour room service with hot items. But, as Cole put, “A hotel guest could say, ‘Forget the fresh flowers; the hotel had a gorgeous view.’”

Of course, if you live outside of the U.S., ratings are different. If you live in Europe, you are probably familiar with the Hotelstars Union, created by Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Belgium, Denmark and Greece have since joined. The Hotelstars Union’s criteria can be found on Hotelstars.edu.

In the United Kingdom, there’s a five-star system maintained by the Automobile Association (AA), featuring 60 points of assessment broken up into three broad categories: Hotel type, Guest Accommodation type and Budget Hotels.

Then there’s the World Hotel Rating (WHR) project. Incorporated in 2009, World Hotel Rating aims to develop a worldwide system that rates hotels and resorts using the same criteria. Since 2009, WHR has established 10 different categories of hotels. It now features 75,000 hotels and more than 500 hotel chains in 25 countries across the globe.

Perhaps WHR will develop enough to be globally recognized down the road, but the project is certainly no easy task.

For now, travelers have to rifle through different types of rating systems with a judgmental eye, hand-picking which reviews suit them best.

Read more travel news at www.travelpulse.com

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WYNDHAM HOTEL GROUP’S FALL FOILAGE GETAWAYS

July 17, 2014 on 12:58 pm | In Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off



Rutland, Vermont – Famous for spectacular views and ample hiking paths, the Green Mountains just south of Rutland have some of Vermont’s most beautiful fall foliage. Take in the changing leaves throughout September and October, and be sure to spend some time in Manchester for their farmers’ markets and to see the Hildene mansion, which was once home to Abraham Lincoln’s son.

o DEAL ALERT: Book your stay at the Days Inn Rutland at least seven days in advance and receive 15% off your stay!

· Lenox, Massachusetts – A popular summer destination, The Berkshires is known for its tranquility and culture. Take a drive through the October Mountain State Forest to soak up the greenery and see what inspired the likes of Herman Melville.

o DEAL ALERT: Book your stay at Days Inn Lenox at least seven days in advance and save 10%!

· Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – Bordering Canada, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has some of the world’s most vibrant foliage, which is said to be visible from space! Drive along the coast of Lake Superior, or visit one of the areas’ many nature reserves and parks to experience autumn at its best.

o DEAL ALERT: Book your stay at the Days Inn or Super 8 Sault Ste. Marie at least seven days in advance and receive 15% off the total price, or book at the Ramada Sault Ste. Marie and receive the best rate plus 2000 Wyndham Rewards points!

· Glenwood Springs, Colorado – While Colorado is known around the world for its spectacular skiing, the foliage is noteworthy as well. Take a quick drive to Aspen to experience Independence Pass, which is only open between May and November. A hike or drive through the area is the perfect way to observe the changing leaves and take in the breathtaking views.

o DEAL ALERT: Book your stay at Ramada Glenwood Springs at least 7 days in advance and save 15%!

· Portland, Oregon – Portland is notorious for its farm-to-table dining, microbreweries and niche book shops, but visitors can also revel in the Pacific Northwest’s majestic autumn by taking a stroll through Hoyt Arboretum or the Japanese Garden, and driving through the Columbia River Gorge, the largest National Scenic Area in the US.

o DEAL ALERT: Book your stay at the Ramada Portland and save 15% on your total price, or book at the Days Inn Portland and receive the best available rate plus 2000 Wyndham Rewards points!

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Wyndham Rewards Gives Members a Shot at $1,000,000 this Summer!‏

July 17, 2014 on 12:26 pm | In Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off



Offers chance to earn up to 10x the Wyndham Rewards points

PARSIPPANY, N.J.  – Wyndham Rewards®, the only hotel loyalty program to offer guaranteed rewards after just one stay, is helping members win big this summer with a chance to receive up to 10 times the points for qualified stays plus a newly launched sweepstakes in which two lucky members could each win up to $1,000,000.

Now through September 15, 2014, members who visit www.wyndhamrewards.com and register for the program’s “Unpack Your Bonus Promotion” will receive the opportunity to virtually “unpack” a suitcase and reveal a bonus that will multiply points earned on future stays by up to 10 times. Bonuses range from two times to 10 times and are good for up to four qualified stays. Stays must be completed during the promotional period.

Members can also enter for a chance to win a prize of anywhere from $10,000 to $1,000,000 this summer via the program’s “One Million Dollar Sweepstakes.” To enter, members need only visit www.wyndhamrewards.com/win or call 1-866-996-7937. Non-members may enter by enrolling in Wyndham Rewards through one of the above methods, or in person at any participating hotel. There is no cost to enroll in the program or to enter the sweepstakes.

“Summer is that time of year when we all want to get out and travel,” said Mike Mueller, vice president of loyalty, marketing and partnerships at Wyndham Hotel Group. “Whether it’s a week at the beach, a road trip down the coast or just a quick overnight getaway, no one offers their members more hotels or a faster way to rewards. Plus, with bonus points and a million dollars on the line, this could be the year that the family vacation lets members bring home a whole lot more than postcards and souvenirs!”

Upon conclusion of the Wyndham Rewards Million Dollar sweepstakes, which ends September 15, 2014, two grand prize winners, one from the U.S. and one from Canada, will be randomly selected from all eligible entrants to participate in a yet-to-be revealed special event where they each will have the chance to hand pick a prize from a group of 50 random packages. One will contain the $1,000,000 prize and the remaining packages will contain a prize of $10,000. Whichever package each winner picks, that’s the prize that he or she will receive. If the $1,000,000 prize is won, it will be paid as a ten year annuity in USD or CAD, depending on the winner’s residence.

Both the Unpack Your Bonus Promotion and the Wyndham Rewards Million Dollar Sweepstakes are open to all eligible residents of the U.S. and Canada. For full terms and conditions of the Unpack Your Bonus Promotion and the official rules of the One Million Dollar Sweepstakes, visit www.wyndhamrewards.com.

About Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards, the free-to-join guest loyalty program of Wyndham Hotel Group, is the world’s largest lodging loyalty program as measured by number of participating hotels and the only hotel loyalty program to offer members guaranteed rewards after just one qualified stay.

With over 7,000 participating hotels throughout more than 50 countries, the program offers its over 8.8 million active members the opportunity to earn valuable points for their qualified stays. Those points may be redeemed for hundreds of rewards options including free hotel stays, airline travel, gift cards for leading retailers and restaurants and more. Free stays start as low as 5,500 points, while other reward options start as low as 50 points. Members may also choose to earn with approximately 20 leading airline carriers and other partners.

In addition, frequent travelers will appreciate the program’s Gold Status, which provides the program’s most loyal members with an additional free night after every 20 qualified nights. For more information or to join, visit www.wyndhamrewards.com

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Hotels Flock to Turkey

July 14, 2014 on 7:23 am | In Golf Resorts, Hotels, Middle East, Turkey | Comments Off



With 35 million visitors in 2013, Turkish tourism continues to set new records. As the world’s sixth most popular tourist destination and the world’s 18th largest economy, it’s not surprising that Turkey’s hotel sector is responding with an equal investment. The Turkish hotel inventory is growing in quality, quantity and diversity.

Such international brands as St. Regis, Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental are opening new properties this year and Hilton, which has been invested in Turkey since 1955 when it opened the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus just off Taksim Square across from the offices for Pan Am and American Express.

Hilton continued to add to that original stake and in the last few years has really been planting its flag all over the country at a rate that hasn’t slowed this year and looks to be maintained in the future. In January, Istanbul’s largest hotel and conference center, the 829-room Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center, opened in the Sisli district of the city.

The 126-room Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Beylikduzu, set in a mixed-use space in one of Western Istanbul’s fastest growing suburbs, is slated to open in 2015, and will feature an indoor pool and five meeting rooms; and a 170-room Hampton-by-Hilton Istanbul Dolapdere in central Istanbul is set to open in 2016.

PHOTO: The Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus opened off Taksim Square in 1955, pioneering luxury hospitality in Turkey. (Courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts)

The new 200-room Hilton Antakya is located near the Church of St. Peter as part of a new site that will also include an archaeological museum. Antakya, more familiarly known as Antioch in the West, is where the first Christians came together. The Church of St. Peter is literally connected to the caves where St. Peter preached. The hotel will have a spa, indoor and outdoor pools and 4,100 square feet of meeting space.

The 115-room DoubleTree by Hilton Izmir – Alsancak recently opened in Turkey’s third most populous city. The 21-story hotel recently underwent a refurbishment program and is known for its rooftop pool and bar, providing views over Izmir’s city center and the Aegean Sea. The hotel features a traditional Turkish bath, a spa and fitness center. Izmir is an attractive seaside city with a fine promenade known for great seafood restaurants.

Izmir’s Alsancak district is within walking distance of Izmir’s many visitor sights, including its historic clock tower in Konak Square and the Kemeralti Bazaar. “Turkey is growing as a global holiday and business destination, attracting more than 34 million visitors in 2013 alone,” said Simon Vincent, president, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide. The refurbishment of the hotel added events spaces including a 350 square meter ballroom. And opening in 2016, the 182-room Hilton Garden Inn Izmir Bayrakli will be located just north of the city’s port and central district,

The DoubleTree by Hilton brand is newcomer to another important Turkish city, Malatya. The 202-room DoubleTree by Hilton Malatya is located in a new 18-story building in Malatya’s central business district. The hotel features a spa and health club including a 24-hour fitness center, two massage rooms, steam room, sauna, Turkish bath, sun terrace, as well as an indoor pool, guests will be able to completely relax in the hotel’s tranquil surroundings. The hotel isn’t too far from iconic Mount Nemrut, A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Aslantepe Ruins and Malatya Castle. The hotel is well-connected to the wider Anatolian region via highways and railways.

Other Brands, Other Plans

It’s not only Hilton that’s getting in on the act. Bodrum, a town at the end of a beautiful peninsula that juts into the Mediterranean, has over the last 30 years gone from a Bohemian beach resort for the Culturati of Istanbul to a high end yacht resort for the uber rich. The new 109-room Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum fits right in with the city’s current profile. The resort sprawls across a series of tiers on 109 hectares of landscaped hillside, surrounded by olive groves and pines on the northern side of the peninsula, at Cennet Koyu (Paradise Bay).

PHOTO: The new Mandarin Oriental in Bodrum occupies an idyllic hillside on the historic peninsula. (Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental)

The spacious view echoes the resort’s spacious rooms. The Sea View Rooms and Mediterranean Suites have the most spacious accommodation on the peninsula, ranging from 72 to 145 square meters, and are flooded with natural light. Most rooms have terraces with private dining areas and sundecks. In addition, each suite features a plunge pool and outdoor shower set in private gardens with views over the Aegean Sea.

The resort features 10 restaurants and bars as well as a 2,700 square meter Spa. The hotel is offering an opening three-night package, the Discover Paradise Bay opening includes a guestroom, suite or villa; and a daily dining or spa credit of €150 per room, or €300 per one bedroom suite or villa. The offer is valid through Dec. 31 at rates start from €595.

Still More Openings

The 118-room St. Regis Istanbul originally planned to open this summer in the Nisantasi neighborhood on the European side of the city is now eyeing a February opening. The 210-room Fairmont Istanbul, slated to open in 2016, will be part of the Quasar Istanbul complex, a new mixed-use development in the Sisli district.

Two 41-story towers will include a Fairmont Hotel and Fairmont Residences as well as Quasar Residences and offices. The 249-room Radisson Blu Conference & Spa Hotel, Istanbul Tuzla is Carlson Rezidor’s 7th Istanbul hotel property, opened in January. The hotel offers 10,800 square feet of meeting facilities, indoor and outdoor pools, a wellness area with sauna, Hamam and massage facilities and a tennis court.

A new Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts property is slated to open in 2016 in Cesme, near Alacati, a seaside town, located on the coast of Turkey’s Izmir province. The 176-room Ramada Encore Izmir which opened in late 2013 is the first of 30 planned Ramada Encore properties to be developed in Turkey over the next ten years. Later this year, Sheraton Samsun Hotel will be the first international five-star hotel in the emerging Black Sea business city of Samsun and Starwood’s 11th hotel in Turkey. The 29-story 220-room hotel will be the largest hotel and the tallest building in Samsun.

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Avoid Back-to-School Blues with Wyndham Hotel Group‏

July 10, 2014 on 6:57 am | In Beachbooker, Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off



Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowWyndham Santa Monica At The Pier is nestled along palm tree lined streets with breathtaking views of sandy beaches and the Pacific Ocean. With iconic attractions like the Santa Monica Pier and Santa Monica Beach just steps away – your family will never want to leave!

o DEAL ALERT! Stay three consecutive nights in one of the partial ocean view rooms and you get a 30% discount on your rate. At additional participating Wyndham properties, you’ll even earn 5,000 Wyndham Rewards Bonus Points, on top of your regular points, when you book a stay to arrive Sunday – Thursday – score!

· Hershey, PA – What could be better than chocolate and family fun? Howard Johnson Inn Hershey is just 1 mile from the famous Hershey Chocolate Factory and minutes from Hershey Park. The plethora of family-fun activities nearby will certainly make this a memorable chocolate-filled visit.

o DEAL ALERT! Book online at least seven days in advance to save 15% off the Best Available Rate and receive 500 Wyndham Rewards bonus points.

· Orlando, FL –The Ramada Orlando Downtown represents the best of the best when it comes to family fun vacation experiences. Not only is it an enjoyable and relaxing vacation destination, but it’s located just minutes from Universal Studios Orlando.

o DEAL ALERT! Book a stay for at least 3 consecutive nights at any Ramanda property and receive a 20% discount off the best available rate!

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First U.S. Riu Plaza Hotel Coming in November

July 9, 2014 on 12:37 pm | In Hotels | Comments Off



Goddess Swimwear from Today ShowRIU Hotels & Resorts will inaugurate on Nov. 1, 2014 its first Riu Plaza urban hotel brand in the United States. The Hotel Riu Florida Beach is closed for a major refurbishment following which it will open its doors as the Hotel Riu Plaza Miami Beach. While maintaining its characteristic façade, the hotel will completely change its interior décor to adapt the facilities to the standard of service of the modern and cosmopolitan Riu Plaza line. Total contemplated investment in the project is 15 million dollars.

The Hotel has an enviable location on Collins Avenue, with direct access to the famous Miami Beach and walk, near the famous Ocean Drive restaurant and bar zone, and very close to Downtown Miami, just 25 minutes away from Miami International Airport. The hotel is also perfect for shopping lovers as it is close to the renowned Lincoln Road and offers direct transport to Miami’s largest malls.

The new Riu Plaza Miami Beach will maintain all 284 of its bedrooms, which will be given a new design and completely new bathrooms in a very modern style with glass and steel prevailing in the decor. It will also offer a new main restaurant with a terrace overlooking the garden and the sea; a new “Capital Take Away” in the lobby, with take-away bites and beverages; in addition to a new swimming pool bar.

The hotel, which can be booked as accommodation only, with breakfast or half-board, will provide free Wi-Fi Internet access throughout the hotel, including the rooms, as well as a complete gym.

The Riu Plaza hotel collection in the United States will expand to a second member at the end of 2015. The Riu Plaza New York Times Square is currently under construction in the very heart of Manhattan.

For further information and reservation: www.riu.com

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Hilton Debuts Distinctly Designed New Builds in Premier Business Destinations

July 9, 2014 on 12:25 pm | In Gaming Resorts, Golf Resorts, Hotels | Comments Off



Hilton Worldwide recently announced the opening of the upper upscale Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, a 150 all-suite, new-build, full service hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Forming part of the Silver Sun Gallery complex, the newest hotel in Santo Domingo’s business district welcomes guests to an array of nearby attractions at special introductory rates starting at $99.

Strategically located on Avenida Tiradentes in the tallest building in the city, Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo welcomes guests to a striking design that blends a modern exterior with a warm and inviting interior.

The new hotel ideal for both business and leisure travelers joins a growing portfolio of new builds for Hilton Worldwide this year including the 260-room, Hilton Mexico City Santa Fe property. Forming part of Samara – one of the five largest mixed-use complexes in Mexico – Hilton Mexico City Santa Fe also welcomes guests with special introductory rates starting at $99* per night.

A great option for business and event guests, Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo offers more than 22,500 square feet of indoor meeting space, including two ballrooms, break out rooms, and a meeting room while the Hilton hotel in Mexico City’s Santa Fe area provides more than 8,000 square feet of flexible meeting space including a ballroom elegantly designed with warm textured wood feature walls and contemporary chandeliers.

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