The buzz these days is about Jacques Garcia, the designer who gave the fashion fraternity its beloved Hôtel Costes in Paris. He's now redesigning La Mamounia in Marrakech ( www.mamounia.com). The hotel, with the richest history and best location in town, has been looking pink and dowdy for one year too many. The December unveiling should be fabulous. Back in Paris, Garcia will also recast his original designs of L'Hôtel (www.l-hotel.com)—that wonderful Left Bank address where Oscar Wilde spent his final days—for new owner Jessica Sainsbury of the British supermarket clan. Sainsbury launched the terrific Cowley Manor in England and could well boost L'Hôtel, opening in June, out of its four-star doldrums.
If there's one name to outshine Garcia, it's Gehry. As in Frank. As in Bilbao. Which is where you need to fly to for his first hotel, the Marqués de Riscal (www.starwood.com), opening September in Spain's Rioja region. Expect breathtaking titanium and a vinotherapy spa. Let's just hope the service—Spain isn't known for it—meets the standard set by a world-class building.
Across the Mediterranean to Lebanon, where Gordon Campbell Gray—the man behind London's One Aldwych and Antigua's Carlisle Bay—has let the news slip about his next venture, a yet-unnamed spot in Beirut. It may be just what the former war zone needs to be taken seriously by discerning travelers in the mood for something a little, well, emerging?
No place has emerged quite like China, where Banyan Tree (www.banyantree.com) is about to put up a luxe outpost in the southern Yunnan Province. Bravo! Last season in the World Heritage–anointed town of Lijiang, we checked out what was then the best pad around, the Ancient Inn. Quaint, but those twin beds were still mean, narrow, and unapologetically Chinese.
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