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February 27, 2013
By Erin Schumaker | Hotels

A Rock-Star Villa in St. Barths
Courtesy of Eden Rock

The non-musical background of Eden Rock owner David Matthews (“I sing a bit in the bathtub,” he quips) hasn’t stopped him from creating a recording retreat that has attracted the attention of A-list stars and musicians from around the world.

Matthews and his family purchased the St. Barths property in 1995 and unveiled the Rockstar Villa, a 16,000-square-foot property and the only private recording studio on the island, in 2009. The hotel has a partnership with Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood—an agreement that was forged after Matthews and Ocean Way owner Allen Sides became friends. “We set up the St. Barths Rockstar Studio on a handshake years ago and it’s good today,” Matthews says. Though the studio was previously available only to guests staying at the villa, the recording doors opened to the public this year (packages start at $2,090 a song).

In addition to an easy-going attitude, amenities abound. Butlers are on hand to meet the needs of guests around the clock. Private access to the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, as well as a pool and a fully-equipped gym, croquet lawn, whiskey bar and 20-seat Cinemascope screening room, add to the state-of-the-art experience. With a villa-employed sound engineer for recording sessions and access to the same Neve music-mixing console that John Lennon used to record “Imagine,” it is no wonder that country star Kenny Chesney chose to record his most-recent album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, here. The title of the first single it released? “Feel Like a Rock Star,” of course. From $26,140 per night; St. Jean Bay; 590-590/297999; edenrockhotel.com.

December 21, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | Hotels

201212-b-rosewood-mayakoba.jpg

Courtesy of Rosewood Resorts

An attentive blend of modernity and local feel, Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a gorgeous getaway made all the more impressive thanks to a $1.6 million renovation that was unveiled in September.

Modernist whitewashed buildings populate the resort. The 128 spacious suites—indoor and outdoor sizes begin at, respectively, 788 and 1,016 square feet—feature indigenous limestone and include private plunge pools, rooftop terraces and boat docks. Guests are transported to their suite upon arrival by a private boat.

Staying on-site offers access to El Camaleón—the signature Greg Norman–designed, 7,000-yard, 18-hole golf course—and Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which resides on its own island. (The treatment menu is long and varied, from facials and massage to body therapies and “Sense Journeys” that utilize a variety of natural elements.) But venturing out presents a nearly endless array of activities. Snorkel and scuba dive at the world’s second-largest reef or in cenotes rising out of underground rivers. Organized day trips journey to Mayan ruins in Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza and the archaeological site Xcaret. So getting a historical handle on the area is as easy as relaxing at the spa. Rooms, from $475; Ctra. Fed. Cancun-Playa del Carmen km. 298; 52-984/875-8000; rosewoodhotels.com.

December 18, 2012
By Ted Loos | Hotels

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© Tony Soluri, 21c Museum Hotel

Hotels have been beefing up their fine-art programs for a few years now, but the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, was unique from the moment it opened in 2006. There is a savvily curated, legitimate on-site museum that is open 24-7, making art more available there than anywhere else in town. The property has garnered heaps of acclaim, and so the eccentric Kentucky-based art-collecting couple behind it—Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown—have now expanded the concept to Cincinnati.

The big difference at the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati, which opened on November 26, is that the owners have renovated a 100-year-old landmark instead of building a new structure, as they did in Kentucky. The former Metropole Hotel, a beauty clad in red brick and tile, has been respectfully updated to include a state-of-the-art spa while retaining original elements like mosaic floors.

The art program is just as ambitious as in Louisville: 8,000 feet of exhibition space, open all the time. The first show features works by an international cast, including acclaimed British filmmaker-photographer Sam Taylor-Wood and the American artist Kara Walker, a staple of major collections.

For those who prefer their artistry on the plate, the hotel’s German-inflected restaurant, Metropole, is run by chef Michael Paley, who made Proof on Main in the 21c Louisville a destination for lovers of pork, seasonal ingredients and fine bourbon. Rooms, from $199 (weekends), $259 (weekdays); 609 Walnut St.; 513-578-6600; 21cmuseumhotels.com/cincinnati.

December 12, 2012
By Chadner Navarro | Hotels

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Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels

Since opening its first London property in 2007, Hyatt’s Andaz hotel group has been largely anonymous in the European market, focusing mostly on growing its American presence (there are six hotels scattered throughout the United States.). But last week Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht opened: A 124-room, Marcel Wanders–designed home-away-from-home tucked into the former public library on Prinsengracht, one of the city’s scenic canal-side thoroughfares.

Wanders, an award-winning designer born in the Netherlands, didn’t look far for interior inspiration, using the country’s rich cultural heritage to drive his vision. That translated into tulip-shaped chairs in the lobby and Delft blue–tiled chandeliers to carpets and tapestries outfitted with maps meant to illustrate the Dutch history as an imperial superpower whose influence stretched from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean. No other hotel celebrates Holland more.

"Go Dutch" enthusiasm aside, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht also boasts an impressive video art collection—the largest in any hotel in the world—from an inventory of creatives like Ryan Gander, Erwin Olaf and Mark Titchner. The assemblage makes the property less a crash pad and more a gallery.

In addition to the opening of this property, Hyatt is on a brand-expansion roll, starting with the unveiling of the Hyatt Room in Amsterdam’s recently reopened Stedelijk Museum (Museumplein 10; stedelijk.nl/en), where works by artists like Picasso and Franz West are on display. And the new Andaz Salon program formed fully when its dedicated website (AndazSalon.com) went live on December 12. The new virtual venue will serve as a sort of public headquarters for the Salon, which creates community-based events spearheaded by a culturally relevant host in cities where an Andaz is located. Guests and web users can engage in discussions about fashion, art, film and more, as well as learn about upcoming Salon events that each of the nine Andaz hotels will stage and their featured cultural insiders. Rooms, from $421; Prinsengracht 587; 31-20-523-1234; amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com.

November 13, 2012
By Erin Schumaker | Hotels

Outlook Lodge Opens in Colorado
Courtesy of The Outlook Lodge

Nothing says “hideaway” like a stay at The Outlook Lodge, set in the tiny mountain town of Green Mountain Falls, located northwest of Colorado Springs. The six-room escape, which celebrated its grand opening on November 1, was designed to be completely hands-off. Guests make reservations online, and a key awaits them upon arrival in the mailbox. “You don’t have to see or deal with anybody,” says owner Christian Keesee (who jokes that it is the perfect place to have an affair).

Originally a parish house, the Victorian-style structure dates back to 1889 and sits just above the village church. When designing its rebirth as a luxury retreat, Keesee drew inspiration from the comfortable luxury of New York’s Bowery Hotel and the sleek minimalism of the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, Texas. His careful planning paid off. The lodge’s true charm is in the details, from the rustic wraparound porch with views of the mountains to a library of specially curated books about the region.

Keesee’s enthusiasm doesn’t stop at the lodge. He is passionate about art (the guest rooms feature pieces from his personal collection) and was integral in helping start the town’s Green Box Arts Festival, which is held every summer. He has since transformed many of Green Mountain Falls’ rundown buildings into artist-in-residence studios, and hopes to have a “green house” accommodation for artists open in time for next year’s event. “It’s about helping to restore interest in a charming town that time seemed to have forgotten,” he says. Rooms, from $90; 6975 Howard St.; outlookgmf.com.

October 09, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | Hotels

A Singular Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental

The Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, the third-tallest building in the City by the Bay, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the skyline, adds another highlight as it celebrates its 25th anniversary: a revitalized spa and fitness center.

The 8,000-square-foot space on the third floor of the hotel basks in warm hues punctuated by Asian details, museum-quality art pieces and a six-foot statue of Kuan-Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, holding the peach of life. The tea lounge is an ideal place to rest and reflect, but what goes on in the five treatment suites (one of which is designed for couples) is the real indulgence.

“Our spa is unlike any spa in the city with its array of treatments, Oriental heritage of service and blend of East and West spa philosophy,” says Kristy Whitford, director of the spa at the hotel.

Using products and essential oils from Aromatherapy Associates, treatments run the gamut. Book Time Rituals, which encompasses either 110 minutes or 170 minutes of bespoke treatments. The signature one-hour Oriental Essence full-body massage is a favorite, as is the 110-minute Oriental Harmony, which involves two therapists administering a scrub and a massage. Beauty by Mandarin Oriental features facials like the Ultimate Radiance, marked by the use of high-frequency electric current to lift and tone. The Reset, found on the Gentleman Essentials list, revives weary travelers.

The fitness center, populated with TechnoGym and Precor equipment, is available to guests 24 hours a day, and the spa is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. With access like that, overall wellness has never been easier. 222 Sansome St.; 415-276-9608; mandarinoriental.com.

September 25, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | Hotels

The Bentley Suite at The St. Regis
Bruce Buck

Driving a luxury car and relaxing in a high-caliber hotel suite are two experiences worth doing often. Thankfully, they blend into one at the new Bentley Suite at The St. Regis New York—a partnership that pulls hallmarks from both brands into a 1,700-square-foot abode that echoes the British carmaker’s wares.

The one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath suite sits on the 15th floor. (New York–based Wimberly Interiors collaborated on the design.) Wood, metal and Bentley Motors leather combine for a masculine feel with muscle that stays comfortably rich, thanks to high ceilings and silk wall coverings. A custom sleigh bed in the bedroom highlights Bentley burled wood, and the entryway wall features a diamond pattern stitched into tan leather in green—a signature of Bentley’s factory in Crewe, England. A chandelier over the dining room table calls to mind the insides of an engine.

“The goal was to produce a one-of-a-kind experience, only to be found in The St. Regis New York, which expressed the essence of each brand in a contemporary context,” says Paul H. F. Nash, general manager of the hotel.

Butler service and an in-suite Champagne bar are a few of the perks here, but access to the hotel’s 2013 Bentley Mulsanne—the first in the U.S.—might top them all. Guests can make use of the car, outfitted with the St. Regis crest on its headrests and crystal Champagne flutes, by driving it a few blocks around the hotel or hiring a private driver for longer spins. What a ride. From $9,500; 2 E. 55th St.; 212-753-4500; stregis.com/newyork.

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