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The trend with hotel credit cards lately has been to increase the sign-up bonuses to about 2 free nights in a top tier property, like with the new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve and Chase Hyatt Visa. I’ve gotten in on these cards and several others, so with so many free nights to use I wanted to start planning to use them at some of the hottest, newest hotels out there. Here are my top 10 picks for exciting hotels opening up in the near future where you can redeem your points and free nights. Feel free to comment if you feel like I’ve missed any good ones!
1. Andaz Maui: As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Andaz Maui is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013 and will have 297 rooms and suites including seven two- and four-bedroom residential villas in their own little area along one side of the property. King rooms will have a bed, a small sitting area with a daybed/lounge, a wall-mounted flatscreen television, and a private bathroom area behind the bed, as well as floor-to ceiling windows that open completely to private lanais and balconies. The hotel will have two full-service restaurants – one of them by a soon-to-be-announced celebrity chef – two pool bar/grill venues, a retail market and a spa with 10 treatment rooms, an adult pool and fitness center. Guests will have access to Wailea’s tennis courts and golf courses. The resort’s main pool area will include four cascading infinity pools leading to the beach, while in the adults-only wing of the building to the northwest, there will be an adults-only pool. No Gold Passport category has been assigned, though it’s likely to be a top-tier Category 6 Hyatt property requiring 22,000 points per night, making it a great choice for people who have the Chase Hyatt Visa to redeem their two free sign-up bonus nights there.
2. Edition Miami: Though there are currently plans for new Edition hotels in Bangkok, London, New York and on LA’s Sunset Strip, it’s the Miami property that’s getting the most buzz these days. The hotel takes over the old Seville Beach Hotel (originally built in 1955) on the quieter, northern end of South Beach’s main artery, Collins Avenue, so guests won’t have to contend with too many partygoers as they try to relax. The hotel is scheduled to open late in 2013, so construction is still underway and details on the final setup are scant, but it appears there are plans for a second new tower and additional buildings for enhanced public spaces on the beachfront site. Stay tuned for more information on points requirements, the food and beverage outlets and more as the opening timeframe approaches.
3. Intercontinental London Westminster: Its opening has been pushed back several times, but this new London hotel should open its doors toward the end of 2012 in a historic former government building called Queen Anne’s Chambers. It will have 256 guest rooms 7 meeting rooms. The Chambers Bar & Dining Rooms that will serve American-style smoke house meat and grill dishes. The hotel will have an all-new gym, a completely up-to-date business center, and rooms will come standard with flatscreen TV’s with cable and satellite, DVD players, in-room high-speed internet, work desks, and all-marble bathrooms with separate walk-in showers and baths stocked with Agraria bath amenities. Rates are not yet available, but since this is an Intercontinental, free-night redemptions will start at 30,000 points a night (though this might rise once the hotel actually opens).
4. J.W. Marriott Cusco, Peru: As several readers pointed out in last week’s Destination of the Week, which covered Peru, Marriott has plans to open a JW Marriott in Cusco later this year. The six-story hotel is built around a former colonial church and Inca site in the city’s historical center, and will actually feature its own small museum of artifacts. Its 146 rooms and 7 suites will all equipped with an oxygen delivery system to combat the effects of high altitude, as well as in-room technology such as WiFi and LCD flatscreens, plus textiles inspired by local arts and crafts. The hotel will have a lobby lounge, an all-day restaurant called Pirqa serving modern Peruvian cuisine, the Qespi Lounge serving signature pisco sours, and a casual Nina Soncco Lounge for casual lunch and dinners, as well as a spa/fitness center. Rates later this year start at $305. This is a Category 6 hotel requiring 30,000 points for a free night redemption (25,000 PointSavers).
5. Park Hyatt New York: It’s hard to believe that New York City doesn’t have a Park Hyatt yet (the Stanhope Park Hyatt on 5th Avenue closed in 2005), so the brand is long overdue for a super luxury property in the Big Apple. The 90-story glass tower designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc will be located on West 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall, and will incorporate not only the 210-room hotel on the first 30 floors, but also 135 luxury apartments when it opens in 2013. The hotel will have a full-service bar and restaurant, retail space, a spa, fitness center and indoor swimming pool on a high floor described as a “three-story aerie.” Fancy. Further details are scarce, but the interior will be designed by design firm Yabu Pushelberg, and you can bet that this will be a top-tier Category 6 hotel requiring 22,000 Gold Passport points for a free night.
6. Waldorf Astoria Berlin: This will be the Waldorf Astoria brand’s first new-build property in Europe (though its design will be inspired by the New York flagship’s Art Deco interiors), and is currently accepting reservations starting in January 2013. The 31-floor tower will be located near the Zoo Bahnof station in the city’s western section, and will have 242 guest rooms and suites. Rooms will start at over 450 square feet with Waldorf Astoria Signature king-size beds, 40-inch Apple TV flatscreens, and seating areas that include chaise lounges as well as large work desks. They will have panoramic windows (that actually open) for city views. The all-marble bathrooms will have separate showers and bathtubs, WC’s and underfloor heating. The hotel’s fine-dining outlet will be Les Solistes by famed French chef Pierre Gagnaire, while the more casual outlet will be the Romanisches Café, aimed at recreating a bohemian Berlin café culture. There will also be a bar named after pioneer film director Fritz Lang, and a lobby bar with the almost-too-good-to-be-true name, Peacock Alley. The hotel will also feature the only Guerlain Spa in Germany. Rates in January 2013 will start at 400 euros ($500) or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points.
7. St. Regis Abu Dhabi: Scheduled to open on December 15, 2012, along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche in the Nation Towers – near the city’s government ministries – this hotel will have 228 guest rooms and 55 grand suites including one on a connecting bridge between the two towers that will have panoramic Gulf views. Guest rooms will have all the usual tech touches including iPod docks, 42-inch LCD TV’s, and complimentary WiFi, plus other St. Regis hallmarks like Butler Service, Signature Beds, Remède bath amenities, marble bathrooms with separate showers and tubs, and double basins. The resort will have an outdoor pool, a children’s pool, a beach club, and offer spa services. It will also feature several dining outlets including a pool bar and grill, an Italian restaurant called Villa Toscana, cocktails and snacks at the St. Regis Bar, and regional cuisine at Rhodes 44. Rates will start at $820 in December, and this will be an Starwood Preferred Guest Category 5 property requiring 12,000-16,000 Starpoints for a free night.
8. Ritz-Carlton Vienna: Vienna’s not a large city, but thanks to a grand imperial past, a burgeoning food scene and one of Europe’s best collections of museums, the city is practically overflowing with luxury properties, so to make any sort of splash, you know the Ritz-Carlton (which just opened yesterday!) has to be something truly special. It is located in four 19th-century palaces located on the Schubertring portion of the city’s famous Ringstrasse. It has 159 rooms (which start at about 400 square feet) and 43 suites as well as a Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge on the seventh floor, which offers five food presentations daily as well as a bar. The hotel’s main restaurant, DSTRIKT serves casual Austrian, fare, a lobby lounge serves lunch, dinner and café specialties, a hotel bar looking onto the Ringstrasse, and Atmosphere, a rooftop terrace bar with views over the city. The hotel also has a fitness center with an indoor pool with music playing underwater, and a Spa at Ritz-Carlton for unwinding after a day of treading on the city’s cobblestoned streets. Room rates in September start at 415 euros ($520) or 50,000 points since this is a Tier 3 property.
9. W Bangkok: Scheduled to open in December 2012, this stylish hotel should add another dose of cool to the Thai capital when it opens on the city’s Embassy Row. It will have 307 rooms with signature W beds and pillows, iPod docks and oversize bathrooms with Bliss products in the rainforest showers and separate tubs. The hotel will have a Thai restaurant called Kitchen Table, a Living Room lounge, a spa and a rooftop pool on the smaller of two towers. Though Sathorn Road where the hotel is located always has congested traffic, the hotel is right next to a Skytrain station that should make getting around the city easier from here. The SPG category has not yet been announced, but I suspect it will be a Category 6 property requiring 20,000-25,000 Starpoints for a free-night redemption. If you got the current 30,000-point bonuses on the personal and business SPG Amexes, you’d have enough for three free nights here.
10. Radisson Blu Marrakech, Carré Eden: This new Carlson property was originally slated to open in 2011, but has been pushed back to 2013. It’s located in the Carré Eden development, which includes luxury apartments, a shopping mall, entertainment venues and other public spaces in Marrakech’s upscale, Westernized Guéliz district. It will have 204 rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a pool and a spa with a Moroccan hammam, and meeting and conference spaces. No word on rates or the category of hotel this will be, but most Radisson Blu’s tend to be in Carlson’s Category 6, requiring 50,000 Gold Points for a free-night redemption.