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A new year means it’s time to check out some of the newest hotels around the world, including many where you can earn and redeem your hotel points. Some are open already, some have opening dates set for the coming months, and a few will hopefully open their doors by the end of the year if all goes as planned. I hope to visit at least some of them (and already visited one!) in 2014 and beyond.
1. W Verbier, Switzerland
Cool setting, cool hotel. This newly opened hotel is all about location, location, location. Since its doors opened on December 1, guests have been able to explore this new Starwood resort’s 412 kilometers of ski runs and free-run terrain. Right outside the hotel is the main gondola which ferries guests out to the open ski slopes. Each of the 130 rooms, suites and residences offers the signature W beds, fireplaces and balconies, and many have breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. There are six different restaurant options on-property, including one by Michelin-starred Spanish chef Sergi Arola. If skiing isn’t your cup of tea, relax in the only AWAY Spa in Switzerland, fight fatigue in the FIT Fitness Center, or take a dip in the WET Pool. While I am not a huge skier, this hotel seems pretty sexy and glamorous, and like many W’s, it looks like there’s a thriving social scene within the hotel, all of which promise to make a stay here fun. The nearest airport is Geneva Airport, which is about a two-hour drive from Verbier. If you’d prefer to arrive in serious style, Helialps offers helicopter transfers from a variety of locations. Room rates start at 800 CHF ($893) or 30,000 Starpoints for an award night (Note: Starwood offers the 5th night free on award stays).
2. Peninsula Paris, France
Though it is approximately two years behind schedule, I am still anxiously awaiting the opening of this Parisian luxury property, which is now scheduled for August 1, 2014. Apparently they finally picked this date in hopes of being ready to accommodate people for Paris Fashion Week which will be in September. The hotel location not far from the Champs-Elysées in the former Hotel Majestic, built in 1906, and is just the latest grand palace hotel to open under the auspices of an Asian-based hotel group in the City of Lights following the lead of the Shangri-La, Raffles Le Royal Monceau, and Mandarin Oriental. In addition to the Peninsula’s planned 200 rooms, 43 of which will be suites suites, (some with private access to the roof), the hotel will have an 18,000-square-foot spa below ground, a swimming pool and a rooftop terrace restaurant with a view promises to be spectacular. This new establishment is also rumored to have an all-day dining restaurant in the lobby, a Chinese restaurant, a cigar lounge, and a rooftop bar and terrace. Though Peninsula does not have its own loyalty program, my hope is that it will participate in Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and/or Visa Signature Hotels and cardholders of certain credit cards will get special perks.
3. Shangri-La The Shard, London, England.
Another behind-schedule yet much-anticipated hotel, Shangri-La’s new London property was supposed to be open in 2012 in time to welcome guests for the Summer Olympics in 2012. Lo and behold, here we are in 2014 and still no confirmed opening date. Word on the street is that there were problems with builders…who knows…but more importantly, let’s hope it will open soon, if only for the spectacular views it will afford.. The location is just across the Thames from the City of London, on 34th to 52nd floors of Renzo Piano’s already-iconic, angular glass skyscraper. This will be Shangri-La’s first hotel in the UK and will have 202 guestrooms including 17 suites (all suites will come with personal butler), all with floor-to-ceiling windows, Shangri-La’s brand-standard free high-speed WiFi, and Bulgari bath amenities. The hotel will have three Asian dining options: Gong, Ting, and Lang. There will also be a large infinity pool on the 52nd floor, and a gym available to guests. Hopefully this hotel will be opening at some point in 2014!
4. Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica
Hyatt opened the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica on December 20, 2013, and I already had a chance to stay here over New Year’s and had a great experience. It’s the brand’s first property in Central America, and sits on a 28-acre plot of land adjacent to Marina Papagayo, and features 153 guestrooms (of which 21 are luxury suites), 8,200 square feet of meeting space, and a variety of amenities including three themed restaurants, a marina bar, ocean activities, and an 11,000 square foot spa and fitness center which also has outdoor training sessions. The decor of the 153 guestrooms is meant to blend contemporary design with touches of local character including woven textiles, solid wood fixtures, and carved artifacts, all while featuring Andaz’s signature modern conveniences such as complimentary WiFi, a 40-inch flatscreen TV, cable and satellite TV channels, complimentary non-alcoholic minibar and floor-to-ceiling windows. The international airport in Liberia (LIR) is a 20-minute drive away, and there are frequent connections to San Jose (the country’s capital) and the US. Room rates start at $600 per night in January, and 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points are required for an award night.
5. Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, Netherlands
Perched canal side right in the city center, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria is set to open August 20, 2014, and will have 93 guestrooms, lofts and suites, each featuring a 40-inch flatscreen TV, free WiFi and a Nespresso coffee machine. This Hilton-family property will offer all the amenities a luxury traveler expects these days: indoor pool, fitness center and spa offering a variety of facial and body treatments. There is also a courtyard in which you can relax with a cocktail. Dining options will be Peacock Alley, The Restaurant or the Vault Bar. Only valet parking will be available and it’s priced at jaw-dropping 65 euros ($88) per day, so take a bicycle instead! One of my favorite properties in Amsterdam is the Pulitzer, but I may have to branch out and stay at this hotel because it looks like it will be pretty amazing. Rates in late August start at 425 euros ($587) per night or 70,000 HHonors points.
6. Park Hyatt New York, New York
It’s about time New York had a Park Hyatt again! This would-be world-class hotel is slated to open in mid-2014. First off, the 90-story glass tower that will house the hotel was designed by world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, and the interior was design by the firm Yabu Pushelberg. They say the 210 guestrooms will be among the largest in New York City, starting at 475 square feet. Not too many details are available, but it’s been alluded that the hotel will boast a top New York culinary scene, including a tea lounge and a bar featuring trained mixologists, and 5,000 square feet of retail shopping. There will also be a fitness center, 20-meter indoor swimming pool and luxury spa. I spend a lot of time in New York, and I am definitely going to have to stay in this new property for a night to check things out once it opens.
7. Hilton Cabana Miami Beach, Florida
My current hometown is also expecting a few fun hotel openings this year, including this brand-new, upscale Hilton property just a short 119 feet from the beach, just north of the trendy South Beach area. All 231 guestrooms and suites have a 42-inch flat-screen TV, MP3 player, laptop-size safe, large work desk with ergonomic chair, windows that open, and ocean or pool view. Many rooms and suites have balconies. Amenities include two outdoor pools & beach-side service with children’s activities. The fitness center and business center are open 24 hours a day. The hotel will have one main restaurant, Brasserie L’echon, that will feature traditional French cuisine. This hotel is an HHonors Category 9 property and is presently accepting reservations for March 19, 2014 and on. Rates for March start at $379 per night or 41,719 HHonors points.
8. Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Japan
I’ve only been to Japan once and only in Tokyo, but I’d really like to go back. That’s why I was interested to learn that the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is supposed to open in February and will sit on the banks of the Kamogawa River. The 134 guest rooms measure 50 square meters on average, the largest in Kyoto, and have Nespresso coffee machines, flatscreen TVs, blu-ray DVD players, 600 thread count bed linens, complimentary WiFi, and Purple Water luxury bath amenities by Asprey of London. The hotel also features a babysitting service, ESPA fitness center and spa and Italian and Japanese restaurants. February rates start at 53,000 JPY ($505) per night or 60,000 Ritz-Carlton Reward points.
9. The London Edition, UK
The EDITION hotels are a boutique brand created by Ian Schrager in a partnership with Marriott International (and yes, you can use Marriott Rewards points!). This has been one of the most buzzed-about openings of the year, and is just the second in the Edition brand (Miami is set to open later this year). Located in central London’s Fitzrovia, The London EDITION was formerly the Berners Hotel, just opened late in 2013. The hotel features 173 unique rooms and suites, including lofts, some with terraces. All rooms include iPod docking stations, free WiFi, bathrooms with rainfall showers, and Le Labo bathroom amenities. There is also a 24-hour fitness center, and the Berner’s Tavern with Michelin-star British chef Jason Atherton at the stoves, as well as the Punch Room restaurant. I’ve got some BA Companion Tickets to use, so most likely I’ll be passing through London, and this hotel is on my list to visit in 2014 for sure. Room rates start at 270 GBP ($445) or 45,000 Marriott Reward points for an award night in mid-January.
10. The Ace Hotel Los Angeles, California
This new downtown LA hotel is the latest from this hipster mini-chain and is located in the historic former United Artists building, which includes a theater that will soon morph into the Theater at Ace Hotel Downtown LA. Their rooms come in five categories: small, medium, large, loft, and terrace suite, all offer a flat screen TV, Revo Radio, WiFi, Rudy’s toiletries and Pearl+ soaps. Small rooms start at $189 per night for dates in mid-January.
11. JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, Seoul, South Korea Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
This new hotel in central Seoul will open in February of 2014. The hotel will have 170 guest rooms, including 18 Executive View Rooms, 14 Suites and 1 Presidential Suite. Foodies will be happy to hear the hotel will offers some great dining selections: BLT Steak, Tavolo 24, The Lounge, The Griffin Bar and Seoul Baking Company. For a little R & R, the hotel will have a Club JW Fitness Center, The JW Spa and 25-meter indoor lap pool. Seoul is a very special city, and I hope to get back there soon and try out this new hotel, as Dongdaemum Square is a great spot to be in, with lots of shopping and access to different parts of the city. You can reserve rooms now at this Category 6 property for dates starting in February and they start at 280,500 KRW ($265) per night or 30,000 Marriott Award points for an award night.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.