My Hotel Geek

Discover the luxurious hospitality industry with Isabelle Houle

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5 reasons to book Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix this winter

February 2nd, 2009 · 4 Comments

1.  Many onsite activities and great skiing in the region with plenty of snow

2.  Superb culinary experience at the 3 restaurants and in-room dining

3. Friendly local staff and comfortable accommodation in historic 1929, fully restored, property

4.  Affordable rates for your meetings or family getaway

5.  The hotel gives back to the local community with La Tablée des Chefs

Enjoy the video showcasing our beautiful region and Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu!  See you in Charlevoix this winter!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Hotels & Resorts

Financial crisis around the world in luxurious hotel & condo projects

January 19th, 2009 · 2 Comments

These are tumultuous time for the mega real estate projects around the world. The luxurious market is highly affected with the current recession and some of the best developers have no choice but to put on hold construction for the next year.

Nakheel Tower

In Dubai, Nakheel announced they were halting construction of the Nakheel Harbour & Tower, a 38.12 billion project that will take 10 years to complete. Nakheel also stopped work on the $790 million Trump Tower last month.

MGM Mirage and Infinity World Development are downsizing the scope of their 9.2 billion CityCenter project on the Las Vegas Strip as the gaming sector faces a weak hand. They will postpone the opening of the 400-room Harmon Hotel & Spa to late 2011 representing savings of $200 million and cancel the residential condominium component (savings of $600 million).

Ritz-Carlton-Vancouver

The recession is also hitting closer to home in Vancouver where work stopped, last October, on Holborn Group’s Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo tower. The cost of the project was estimated at $500 million and the hotel is no longer showing on the Ritz Carlton website under new opening. The Jameson House condo project is also on hold since November. Key lenders backed out of the 180-million architectural icon by Foster.

Let’s monitor the market and hopefully 2010 will bring better news.  There are still many hotel openings coming up and I will make sure to keep you updated!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Real Estate

The Peninsula Spa by ESPA in New York, a new urban resort destination

January 12th, 2009 · 4 Comments

After a complete yearlong, multi-million renovation, The Peninsula New York just reopened its three- storey luxury spa by ESPA. The spa is an extremely spacious 35,000-square feet and includes a host of amenities that mix Asian, Ayurvedic and European spa traditions. Twelve treatment rooms have personalized lighting and music options and many come with private showers. There is an Asian Tea Lounge, thermal suites with aromatherapy steam rooms, saunas and ice fountains. A 24-karat gold Bisazza backdrop frames the spa experience.

ESPA

The Spa also includes some staples such as men’s and women’s relaxation areas, fitness center, movement studio and a glass-enclosed pool with panoramic city views. Naturally Peninsula Cuisine is available for light dining. ESPA designed the offerings specifically for the Peninsula Spa, which combine innovative treatments with all-natural ingredients.

The theme of well-rounded and well-being at the ESPA spa is part of the Peninsula Wellness program, “ a lifestyle program that touches every aspect of a guest’s lifestyle, both during their stay and beyond, and which focuses on providing a sanctuary for the five senses.”

ESPA

ESPA partnered with well-renowned Designer Alexandra Champalimaud who was involved in the restoration of Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu and many more high end projects.

Prices are in the same range as the competitors in New York, for instance a 60 minute aromatherapy massage is $195 USD which is the same as The Caudalie Spa at The Plaza.

I am adding The Peninsula Spa by ESPA to my list for my next trip to New York!

→ 4 CommentsTags: News

2008 Review: World’s Top Hotel Events

January 5th, 2009 · Comments Off

2008 has been a busy year in the hotel world. Many acquisitions were announced by different banners around the world, especially in China. Since the Wall Street Crash in September, business has stalled and projections for 2009 are not looking so great. The good news is that we have been through recessions before and economic growth will come back. My advice is to stay positive and find new ways to book business!  Here is my 2008 review in the hotel world.

March 1st: Re-opening of The Plaza, a Fairmont managed hotel
The PlazaAfter a two-year, $400 million restoration, the world’s most renowned landmark made its return in majestic style. The Plaza is a must see while in New York. If you are thinking about going to the Big Apple this winter, you can get a third night free until April 1st when booking 2 nights at the regular rate of $595 US  (or more).

June 26th: Demolition Party at The Royal Monceau in Paris
The Hotel first auctioned off all of its furnishings and then held a VIP destruction event where guests were encouraged to smash anything leftover. Stars were invited to this unique party with the best DJs! The Royal Monceau is now under the creative eye of owner Alexandre Allard and renowned French designer Philippe Starck for a 16-month refurbishment. The French Masterpiece will be transformed into an ‘’art deco revisited’’ hotel with the main goal to attract a younger clientele under the Raffles banner.

September 20th : Bomb attack at The Marriott Islamabad, Pakistan
This was a very sad event that claimed the lives of too many people. The hotel reopened on December 28th. Let’s hope this won’t happen again.

November 27th : Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi complex’s Trident hotel attacks
Unfortunately and once again, India was the target of terrorism. This time, two major hotels and guests were involved with many casualties. The hotels recently reopened but it will take many months to bring every back to the way it was.

Dec 22nd: Steve Wynn’s Encore Hotel opens in Vegas
Despite the recession, 2.3 billion Encore Hotel opened with 2,034 suites. Encore is a casino-resort that was designed to grab up the wealthiest, most sophisticated visitors in town and charge them top dollar. Through the end of October, tourism for the year was down 3.2%, room rates were down 9.7%, and gaming revenue was down 8.5%. And even though some rival projects around town have been stalled or killed, other competitors are still rising. Only the future will tell us if Las Vegas is overbuilt or not…

My wishes for 2009
Obviously I hope for fewer acts of terrorism in 2009 and for a better economy so our colleagues in hotels won’t loose their jobs. I am confident hoteliers will continue to be creative and bring the hotel business to a different level. Happy New Year to all and continue to book hotel stays!

Comments OffTags: Hotels & Resorts

Las Vegas Crisis: One billion dollars for the Caesars Palace

October 22nd, 2008 · 3 Comments

Harrah announced a 1 billion expansion plan at Caesars Palace. This project includes the addition of a new 23-storey hotel tower with 665 guestrooms called Octavius and 263 000 sq ft of meeting space. The Ceasars Palace, once completed in the spring of 2009, will offer from 3328 to 4013 rooms.

This is quite impressive considering the current financial crisis affecting hotel occupancy rates all around the world and also in Vegas.  Occupancy was down with 88.3 % of rooms filled in August, down 2.9 % compared with August 2007. The privately held Harrah’s reported losses of $285.4 million for the first six months of 2008, compared with profits of $422.8 million in the first half of 2007.

Gary Selesner, president of Caesars Palace, said “This is all about the future,” “We’re building our capacity for the turnaround that will come, whether it’s one, two or three years down the road.”

Caesars Palace

Also coming in late 2009 between Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts is Las Vegas Citycenter developed by MGM Mirage & Dubai World valued at more than 9 billion dollars. More on this mega project later.

Will The Caesars Palace need to hire back Celine Dion to fill up the hotel?  Are there too many hotels in Vegas? Will the occupancy rate grow after the recession? I think it will!  Otherwise the world’s top resort developers would not have bet on it!  Like I said before… Viva Las Vegas!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Hotels & Resorts

Loden Vancouver, Kor Hotel Group’s first project in Canada

October 19th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Los Angeles-based hotel operator Kor Hotel Group opened its first hotel in Canada on 1177 Melville Street in beautiful Vancouver. The urban retreat offers 77 sophisticated guestrooms, 24 hour in-room dining and a fitness studio open 24 hours a day, perfect for a young & dynamic clientele.

Loden Vancouver

Loden will also feature a superb, Babey Moulton Jue & Booth designed, 80-seat restaurant called Voya (derived from Voyage) with one mission in mind: food can be a journey unto itself. Voya is led by popular ex-Lumière Québécois Chef Marc-André Choquette.

The $35 million, 14-storey hotel was developed by the Amacon Group of Vancouver is now managed by accomplished hotelier Mrs Edel Forristal (ex Four Seasons, Pan Pacific, Hotel Vancouver).

Loden VancouverI think opening a hotel is the ultimate experience when you work in this business and I am very excited about this new product for Vancouver.

All the best to the entire team at Loden Vancouver for your successful opening!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Hotels & Resorts

The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel & Estates, Vancouver’s next landmark!

October 12th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Fairmont Pacific Rim

I could not believe how much Vancouver has changed when I went back last week for the annual CSAE conference. The most dramatic changes were the expansion of the VCEC, the almost completed 61-storey Shangri-La and the exciting 47-storey Fairmont Pacific Rim opening up in October 2009.

Fairmont Pacific Rim

Construction is currently at level 32 and the expectations are high for this upscale tower that will include 377 luxurious guestrooms and 175 luxury residential suites (levels 26-47). Developers are Westbank and The Peterson Group. This is the latest project of the master-planned Coal Harbour waterfront community.

Residents of the modern tower created by James KM Cheng and designed by Kay Lang & Associates will have access to the service of the 5-star, 5-diamond hotel 365 days a year: 24-hour in room dining, Willow Stream Spa, Fitness center & pool, dining outlets, etc. The Fairmont brand will become a lifestyle for the residents. What more can someone ask? Well maybe Miele and Sub-Zero appliances. Guess again!

Fairmont Pacific Rim

I look forward to staying at The Fairmont Pacific Rim next year. Stay tuned for more real estate updates in Vancouver: The Private Residences @ Hotel Georgia, Patina, Jameson House

YouTube Preview Image

→ 1 CommentTags: Real Estate

My exquisite culinary experience at Le Panache Restaurant at Auberge St-Antoine

September 7th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I am sure you all heard about Auberge St-Antoine in Quebec City? The Auberge is part of the Relais & Château collection and was named Top 100 best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure and best hotel in Canada by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.

Chef François Blais - Photo Michel JulienI finally took the time to visit the Auberge that everyone is talking about and had lunch with a friend of mine who’s the Director of Sales & Events, Ingrid Lemm.  I loved the welcome experience and the lobby area with its display of artefacts found during the archeological digs conducted right where the building was built in 1680s.

It was not just a lunch, it was an exquisite culinary experience at the four diamond restaurant Panache managed by Executif Chef François Blais.  Our meal started with a Brandade de canard confit, purée de roquette followed by a tasty Poisson Lune and the Pastry Chef’s chocolate delight.  Everything is cooked with local Québec produce. I really enjoyed the presentation and the originality of the menu.

Lobby Auberge St-AntoineI look forward to going back to Auberge St-Antoine for an overnight stay and another great meal at Le Panache Restaurant.

→ 3 CommentsTags: F & B outlets

The Burj Dubai, tallest skyscraper ever built in the world

July 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

Concrete keeps pouring and pouring at The Burj Dubai and I wanted to give you a quick update on the construction that is now 9 months late according to Emaar‘s representative.  Strong wind has affected the construction of the master piece now 636 m high (2086 ft), the tallest skyscraper ever built since Taipei 101.

The project will be completed next summer in August or Septembre 2009 inshallah and I can’t wait to see The Burj Dubai completed along with The Dubai Armani Hotel. Stay tuned!

→ 2 CommentsTags: News

What is your top travel destinations?

May 31st, 2008 · 3 Comments

Earlier this month, Tripadvisor.com, a well respected travel website, published the Tripadvisor’s world top travel destinations. The results are based on the members’ ratings that are actively participating in posting reviews on their website. Would you expect Milford Sound in New Zealand to be #1? I can’t say anything, I’ve never been…Tripadvisor

On a domestic side with the top 25 Canadian destinations, Quebec City made it as #6, Montreal #14, Tremblant #19 and Tadoussac #24. The Rockies and West Coast are all over the map!

Be involved on Tripadvisor and comment about our lovely & authentic province of Quebec, we need the business on this side of the country!

→ 3 CommentsTags: News